Monthly Archives: June 2013

Calgary is Buzzing with Urban Beekeeping, Thanks to Eliese Watson

Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

Urban beekeeping is buzzing around Calgary. With Eliese, the founder of Apiaries and Bees for Communities (A.B.C), queenbee-ing the movement.

Eliese has always been fascinated by beekeeping, although she has a degree in American Agriculture from Mount Royal University.  She was introduced to urban beekeeping at a youth sustainability conference over 4 years ago. After starting beekeeping as a hobby, she quickly gained local attention and saw a need that Calgarians were longing for. With a grant for 5,000 dollars, she started Apiaries and Bees for Communities and began collaborating with local beekeepers to develop educational workshops. “I taught my first course and it’s been flowing since then,” Eliese explained.

Eliese is one busy bee herself. Apiaries and Bees for Communities provides elementary school programming, key-note speakers, bee doctoring, swarm capturing, community workshops and more. This year alone she has introduced over 125 new colonies into the city and she herself maintains 28 hives across Calgary. As part of A.B.C. she coordinates home-2-hive bicycle tours, where 10 participants have the opportunity to explore urban spaces, learn about honey bees and check out urban apiaries. In addition she has developed The Community Hive Network which is a volunteer-run organization that connects people interested in beekeeping to information through a chat room.

It doesn’t stop there! She facilitates the collaborative purchasing of bees and equipment, which makes purchasing affordable, sustainable and easier.

On June 9th I had the opportunity to attend one of Eliese’s field workshops, with 25 other eager beekeeping students in the humble community of Inglewood. We set up shop at The Area, which is a quarter acre of land that hopes to be a collaborative community space for sharing urban agricultural techniques, cooking, art, music and so on. It’s another step in the neighbourhood revitalization taking place in the community. The space aims to foster the cross pollination of ideas to promote community engagement and development. The workshop did just that, with beekeepers in training exchanging stories of past workshops and the best way to build a good Langstoth hive.  Our bellies full of delicious potluck, generously supplied by the beekeeping students, we were ready to learn about Splits & Swarms. The workshop had an oh-so-very-sweet ending, with fresh honeycomb shared among the students! Her passion was experienced by students who proclaimed a lot of admiration and praise for her hard, knowledgeable work. Her love for beekeeping was truly infectious.

It’s been a struggle financially Eliese noted, with 100% of revenue coming from the educational workshops. She explained the difficulty in covering the expenses of equipment, expanding the apiary while also keeping prices affordable.

With the rapid expansion, and the phenomal uptake of urban beekeeping, Eliese has been spread pretty thin. She has hired staff, Stacy & Danielle, who both started as driven, passionate volunteers. She also has exceptional support from friends, volunteers and community champions.

The power of partnerships.

Eliese is very conscious of the power of partnerships to help facilitate growth, awareness and community. She aims to have a cross pollination of ideas to utilize others skills for the best possible learning experience.  Her list of valuable partners in the city is long. Currently, with Bees for Communities she is partnering with Forge Food, Palliser Hotel, Ox & Angela, Una Pizza & Wine and Calgary Food Tours. She maintains beehives at each of these locations to provide fresh, sustainable honey. These partnerships are important since urban beekeeping is another pillar in the sustainable and health food system.

“My goal is to get 500 unique people inside a beehive,” Eliese said. “My goal is really building that hive mentality…it’s about people having an opportunity to look in a beehive and seeing in action a hundred million years of evolution of honeybees. And seeing bees work collectively for the common good while taking what they need from nature and always giving back, ” she added.

She aims to reconnect people with nature. Noticing the rise of Calgarians aware of where their food is coming from, with a longing to get back into agriculture and to connect with their local ecosystem.  She has a love for bees but has a long-term goal of community engagement and development. “Because as soon as you become a beekeeper you slow down and learn to practice the goal of observation,” she said.

“In an urban city like Calgary… I feel like its important for people to observe nature in it’s richness and really recognize the replicability of that hive mentality,” Eliese added.

Building a sustainable infrastructure.

“I have started this really big movement in the city, which is wonderful, but I’m really afraid of there being some sort of guruship behind it. Guruship creates a pyramid and eventually the bottom falls out. I’m really trying to build a sustainable infrastructure around beekeeping.”

In the event that Eliese ends up leaving Calgary, she aims to have a resilient community that will continue to be active beekeepers, exchanging knowledge and innovations.

A community is like a beehive.

She is active across Calgary but more so in the Beltline, Montgomery, and Bowness communities. She explained that a community is like a beehive, with everyone having an important role to play. It’s very important to understand your micro-region or community, with each having different needs, variables and ecosystems.

For more information visit:


YYC Local Businesses Stepping Up & Helping Out

Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

At this time our hearts and thoughts go out to all the lives, communities and businesses impacted by the recent Alberta floods. There is no better time for communities and local businesses to work together than during this time of crisis. Inspiring stories of Calgarians uniting to get this city back on track have been heard across the city. And they are offering more than just donations. From coffee shops handing out free cups of joe, to recreation centers offering a place to workout to photographers offering photo sessions for those who lost all their photographs to community halls hosting  dinners in Bridgeland and Inglewood. The offers are endless. Neighbours helping neighbours, and strangers helping strangers.

Here are a few ways local businesses have offered their assets and are helping out:

Calgary Food Trucks

Food trucks dispersed across the city to feed those displaced and volunteers working hard to provide relief. Those trucks included: Bambino Gelato Sandwiches, Fiasco Gelato Truck, Jelly Modern Doughnuts, The Naaco Truck, Perogy Boyz, Purple Pastry Chef, Red Wagon Diner, Steak Out Truck, and others.

Photo from Twitter

Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association

On June 26th the market will provide a special relief edition where they will be accepting financial donations for Hillhurst Sunnyside flood victims. In return, along with regular vendors, there will be food trucks and live music. Currently the acts include Knots, Hexray, Feel Alright, Ghostkeeper, Cousins, Lab Coast and Kris Ellestad.

Downtown Foods

They have been working hard providing meals for first responders and clean up crew.  Call 587.353.3474 to make arrangements.


Notables has been offering free meals to Bowness community members in need of a meal. Call 403.288.4372 or tweet @NotableCalgary to make a arrangements.


cSPACE is opening King Edward School for artists, art organizations and all non-profits who have lost studios/workspace/storage to the Calgary flood. Find out more information here:

Westside Recreation Centre

Westside has opened its’ doors to members of the Eau Claire YMCA. Free access to all of the Westside facilities.

Bite Groceteria

Bite has generously supplied food for the Inglewood community BBQ occurring this evening at the community hall.

Café Beano

In the community of Mission, Café Beano was handing out free coffee on Friday as the flood damage began.

Alberta Flood Photo Restoration

The company is offering their services free of charge, to those whose photos were damaged in the floods. Click here for information on where to send your photographs:

The Ship & Anchor

On June 24th the Ship was busy grilling for a flood relief fundraising BBQ. They had help from the Palomino kitchen crew, Blink Restaurant, Crepes Cravings and Clive Burger! Lots of team work here.

Pure Energy Dance Foundation

The foundation has 2 dance studios available for use for dancers needing practice space for shows during the summer that have been displaced from there space due to flooding.


In Inglewood this organization is acting as hub for volunteers to get connected to opportunities in the Inglewood community. Helping residents, businesses, churches and more. DaDe 1327 9 Ave SE, Calgary

Thank you to all the businesses that have opened their doors and hearts to the affected Calgarians. The power of community is truly inspiring. Keep up the hard work and together we can have this city back on track.

What is a co-operative?

Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

Simply put, a co-operative is a business owned by its members who use its services and are working towards a common goal. Co-operatives can be successful, replicable and impactful just like any other business.

One of the key principles of a co-operative is having an open and voluntary membership that is inclusive. Furthermore, co-operatives are entrenched in the values of democracy, equality and social responsibility. Since a member is entitled to only one vote at a general meeting, regardless of the number of shares he or she holds, cooperatives are able to maintain democratic control. They also work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members. And that’s not all!

In addition, the cooperative enterprise is not designed to maximize profits to shareholders but to maximize quality products and services at the best price.  Although the primary goal is not profit, the cooperative needs to generate enough revenue to cover its costs and ensure sustainable growth. Any surplus profit can then be returned to its members or it can be treated similar to a non-profit and used towards common social goals.

A co-operative can be a non-profit or for-profit. There are various kinds of co-operatives such as financial, retail or worker co-operatives. You could shop from a retail co-op, live in a housing co-op and send your children to a child care co-op. Really the possibilities are endless and reach to all aspects of our social, environment and economic sectors. For more details on the various types of co-operatives and their differences read more here: Various Kinds of Coops


Regardless of the type, all co-operatives are guided by the same seven principles:

  1. Voluntary and open membership 
  2. Democratic member control
  3. Member economic participation
  4. Autonomy and independence
  5. Education, training, and information
  6. Co-operation among co-operatives
  7. Concern for community

There are many advantages to having a co-operative such as receiving the commitment and support of its members to solve a problem. It provides a way to protect everyone’s interests and enables collective decision making. In addition, co-operatives often experience high worker satisfaction and better quality products due to the high motivation of workers for common values and goals. There are many proven small and large enterprises that have succeeded as co-operatives such as Mountain Equipment Co-op and CO-OP grocers, although the list goes on and on.

To learn more about co-operatives visit the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association: ACCA website

SideWalk Citizen Bakery

Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

Tucked away in the Sunnyside Natural Market, you’ll find Sidewalk Citizen Bakery serving fresh organic bread, biscuits and croissants.  The artisan shop was founded by Aviv Fried, a baking hobbyist turned small business owner.

Back in university,  Aviv’s career path was taking him in a different direction. After graduating with a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Calgary, he was signed and ready for a career with TD Bank Toronto. Aviv took a bold chance and abandoned this career path to follow his love for making good quality bread.

“I always really liked food and cooking. I started baking for fun, and really liked it. I thought, I need to give it a shot,” he said thinking back to the deciding moment.

He began baking from his own home, delivering fresh bread by bike to the Calgary core. He cycled because it was good for the environment, fun, quick and made delivery a lot easier. With the help of his partner Michal, the two processed orders and  donated proceeds to an organization that builds libraries for schools in Africa.

The shop continues to give back, but now to the local Calgary community. They are happy to support events and charities such as the Calgary Tweed Ride, an Inglewood fundraising event  and Calgary Reads. In addition, Aviv enjoys sharing his craft with the community through monthly workshops focusing on sour dough and pizza making.  “It’s good to be apart of this community,” he explained.

Successful streets have small businesses.

He definitely is apart of the vibrant community. The bakery has a lot of regular customers that the staff know by name and have built strong relationships with.  Which is well suited, since their name is based on a book by Jane Jacobs. “It’s about how the sidewalk changes throughout the day and how small businesses play a role in that. They use the sidewalk to go to work, shop and go to school. Successful streets have small businesses,” he said, explaining why they chose the current name.

“We act a bit like a guardian of the street. When you walk past us you feel a little bit of safety,” he added.

The shop definitely had a feeling of openness, warmth and friendliness. Patrons were striking conversation with other patrons and asking staff members about the delicious ingredients. It was a place you could easily start working into your regular routine.

When asked to describe an experience of community, he explained that one recent memory really stood out. “I have a vegetable garden in front of my house that I started a year ago. Just the feeling of people walking by and talking to you because you’re sitting in a garden, which they never would do if you aren’t. It was a good lesson for me. It was interesting to see their reaction. It’s Calgary, like any other city, I don’t think many people otherwise talk to their neighbours,” he said.

If you want to work at the bakery, you might try your luck walking in and asking. Their first Executive Chef was a previous customer with restaurant experience. He asked for a job and he got it. Similarly the customer service staff, also regular customers from the neighborhood, were hired by simply asking or even texting.

Only recently has he expanded to 22 staff members. Aviv still does a lot of the baking but has hired two more bakers to help offset the workload. “I try to give them a little bit of room. The problem is that it is a trade so I can explain it to them a million times but they have to really get the feel with their hands… It’s definitely a challenge to let them do it. But I have to,” Aviv said.

In the last few years the expansion has been a rapid, tough change for Aviv. Moving from solely a baker comfortable with dough, to having to learn the business side of things with his partner Michal.  There has definitely been a learning curve for the duo, moving from a business where relationships are familiar to a shop where relationships become more distant and require structure.

Learning from local small business owners.

Being a small business, the two have battled a few challenges together. “In a small business we always have to be cautious with where we are and what we’re doing,” Aviv said.

Fortunately, they have learned from their local small business friends Phil & Sebastian Coffee Makers. They have a mutual partnerships with the local coffee brewers; Aviv sells their coffee and they sell his baked goods.

The bakery also has a lot of support from Pat & Patty, owners of the Sunnyside Natural Market. When the extra space was acquired by the market, the owners asked Aviv if he would like to partner with them.  Aviv went on to explain how partnership in business and personal life can be tricky. However, so far the partnership with the Market has only been positive.

Buying organic flour and supporting local farmers is a must.  

Having organic flour has been a no brainer for the duo but can come with its’ challenges. From the beginning they were clear about the quality and values they stood for. “If this is what you want to do, you don’t think about the options,” he noted.  He explained that it’s about finding a solution that works for them but this can be different for everyone. “Using organic butter might be too costly with a cookie costing $20,”  he added in regards to some of the cost challenges.

The shop takes steps to be sustainable beyond providing local, organic products. They recycle, compost and use Bullfrog Power.  They continue to deliver by bike throughout the winter season. In addition Aviv is proud that they use whole wheat Red Fife flour, which is Canadian Heritage wheat that has been growing in Canada without modification.

Calgarians care about local, quality food.

“I think Calgarians really care about the quality of their food and who  makes it. I think in general people have moved away and realize there is quality behind the big boxes,” Aviv explained in regards to the shifting perception of food in Calgary. He aims to continue to focus on experimenting with new foods, flavors and techniques for Calgarians to enjoy.

If you’re going to try anything, Aviv insists you try the bread – of course because he is the baker! But don’t just take his word for it, try it yourself! You can find more information on their location, hours and mission here:




Community Economic Development 2013 Career Opportunities

Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

If you’re looking for Community Economic Development career opportunities in Calgary, our partner organization Momentum is hiring!

Director of Operations: OperationsDirector_June2013

Math & Science Facilitator – Contractor: MathSciContractor_May2013

Immigrant Access Fund Facilitator: IAF Facilitator May 2013

Finance Administrator: Finance Administrator – May 2013

The GoodLife Community Bike Shop

Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

The Goodlife Community Bike shop is a local non-profit housed in the buzzing Kensington community. GLB strives for sustainability by offering reconditioned/recycled bikes, bike repair resources and training workshops. The space doubles as a community meeting place, where GoodLife continues to build strong community relationships and to support a growing Calgary cycling community.

I had the opportunity to tour GLB with long time volunteer Steve Loo. Steve has been a Calgary commuter since 2003, and credits GLB for keeping him connected to the city’s bike commuter network. He is such a loyal biker that he barely keeps an eye on gas prices anymore!

The shop was founded in 2003 by Jackie Mann and John Barrett. Since then, they have developed a strong biking community that supports eco-friendly businesses and transportation. To help support the Calgary economy the shop fully accepts Calgary dollars.  In addition, they partner with other Calgary like-minded organizations to provide meaningful community programs.  For example, the Earn-a-Bike program teaches  youth about bike mechanics, team leadership and group riding. Youth walk away with a bike, new friends and elevated self-confidence.

A strong community with loyal volunteers

I arrived at the shop just in time for opening duties. Patrons were already waiting outside the door to get their hands on some reconditioned bike pieces. Steve made his way to the loading dock where donated bikes can be dropped off during closed hours.  He laughed at the large heaping pile of nearly 50 bikes that were dropped off that morning. “It’s been an incredible experience with people donating bikes quite regularly from their basements, backyards, church groups, or the drop-in center,” Steve said.

One of the morning patrons included a retired volunteer who was there to pick up a much needed bike piece. When he saw the backlog in donated bikes, he threw on an apron and started sorting. That was my first glimpse of the loyal, strong biking commuting that GLB has managed to build.

Once GLB receives a donated bike, the staff and volunteers take the bike to ‘bike triage’. Here, they try to fix it up and replace missing pieces. If the bike cannot be salvaged it’ll move on to the recycling pile. The reconditioned bikes can stay in the shop for as little as an hour or for up to a month. “There is a huge amount of diversity in bikes that come through here,”  Steve said as he pointed out banana seats, vintage bikes, racing bikes, yellow frames, kids bikes, mountain bikes and more.

The shop has managed to thrive due to the hardworking founders, staff, volunteers and unconditional  community support.  The organization has over 6,000 members coming in and out of its’ doors.

Swapping time for a cycle.

To purchase a bike you need to become a member which is by donation. Then, bikes can be purchased and that money will be put towards operating costs. Alternatively, the bike can be earned. The shop never turns anyone away, allowing low-income individuals or anyone walking in off the street to earn their bike through volunteering time. One hour of volunteer time translates to $5 of store credit that can be used to buy parts or saved up for a bicycle.  Steve said, “if a kid comes in and asks for a bike, it’s by donation, whatever they have….’ 25¢? alright cool!’”

“We make sure the bikes go to a good home,” Steve added. They ensure this by having members sign a form stating they will abide by GLB values of inclusion, community, sustainability and non-discrimination –  regardless of ‘the tires they spin’.

Mutual relations with local businesses.

“Kensington has been great, the Sunnyside area is one of the most friendly for biking,” Steve commented when asked about the shop’s presence in the Kensington community.  “Individuals come back and forth from the surrounding cycle shops. It’s pretty nice that way… they send customers to us and we send people to them,” he added.

Life hasn’t always been easy for the shop. A year ago the shop lost its’ home in Eau Claire Market. Now in Kensington, the shop has until the end of August to find a new home since the property is set for demolition to make room for condominums.  They are currently searching for a new home, and are open to suggestions! “It’s been a spectacular ride so far,” Steve exclaimed in regards to life in Kensington.

Keeping decision making in the community.

To support collective decision making in the shop, GLB conducts Box Socials every second month. The Box Socials are consensus-based decision making open to all members whether they are a seasoned Good Lifer, or have never been to the shop before.

When I asked him why people keep coming back he said, “there’s a great social aspect and … people just like working on bikes, it’s an empowering feeling when you’re building your own transportation and using that to transport around the city…you’re providing your own fuel. That’s a great feeling!”

June has been declared bike month in YYC. To kick off the month long dedication, The City of Calgary has challenged Calgarians to bike to work for the week of June 2nd to June 8th. Be sure to pop by GoodLife Bikes to pick up a bicycle for the summer season!

To find out more about GoodLife Community Bike Shop  programs, visit their website here:

Meet-up for local businesses and local community builders

Written By Courtney Hare, Thrive

Join our monthly meet-up for local businesses and local community builders!

Join us for a new series of community conversations focusing on three things: Supporting local business, supporting community, and understanding how they are connected. Register to attend here. This two hour meeting will take place once per month at Momentum or elsewhere in the community. A light dinner will be provided.

In the first hour we will hear from presenters on local business development, buy local campaigns, the idea of taking mainstreet mainstream, community development and creating neighbourhood vibrancy. The last hour will focus on a discussion or practical activities related to the topic presented. The purpose of the monthly discussions is to provide business owners, residents and communities’ new ideas, strategies and practical tips for strengthening community social and economic resiliency.

This group is being hosted by Thrive, Momentum, and varying partners. Should you attend? If you’re a local business owner, community builder, resident leader, community association member, or community social worker, then YES!