Category Archives: Uncategorized

BluPlanet Recycling

If you are a resident in Calgary, you’ve likely heard about the fairly comprehensive overhaul that the City of Calgary has been doing with Waste and Recycling management. Since February 2016, multi-family buildings are required to provide residents with recycling services, and starting November 1, 2017, food and yard waste services will also become mandatory for the same types of residential buildings.

Landlords and building owners will have the option to decide between service providers, so long as they meet the requirements set forth by the City. With only seven months until the new bylaw comes into effect, it’s a great time to begin considering which company can provide the best service. BluPlanet Recycling, a candidate for the Local Economy Leader Award in REAP’s 2016 Be Local awards, can handle both your waste diversion needs while also being a champion for the environment and the Calgary community.

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If you’re looking for a provider that knows the City requirements inside and out, BluPlanet has been instrumental in creating these new bylaws, participating in the process for the last seven years. Their consistent participation has helped create the comprehensive waste management legislation that the City of Calgary is now introducing.

In 2016, they set out to change their business model from being a single service recycling company to offering other waste solutions, including organics. They have specifically designed their services to meet the needs of multi-family residences, by adding garbage collection in order to provide comprehensive waste management. They aim to not just meet City requirements but go above and beyond, achieving the highest waste diversion rates possible. In 2016, they had a goal to divert 2,500 tonnes of materials from Calgary landfills and began offering recycling services for large-volume cardboard, electronics, and fluorescent bulbs, among many other materials.

During a REAP event that they learned about Certified B Corporations. Intrigued by the concept, they did their research and started the process, becoming the fourth business in Canada to become a register Benefit Corporation. This means that while they are a for-profit business, they have a third party measuring their impact and their commitment to the environment and community, holding themselves to highest standards for social and environmental sustainability. Through this, they maintain a triple bottom line policy, considering how they work towards bettering their community and the environment, alongside their financial wellbeing.



BluPlanet demonstrates their commitment to the environment in a number of ways: they are a VCC living wage leader that pays all employees a salary with health benefits and insurance, they are an ABCRC Community Champion, they sit on the Recycling Council of Alberta, and they offer pricing incentives for their fellow REAP members and not-for-profits.

The deadline for compliance with the new bylaws is fast approaching! Contact BluPlanet today – early adopters can beat the Fall 2017 rush and may also qualify for discounts.


Take Action

Follow BluPlanet on Twitter, Facebook, or hit them up on their website.

If you are a landlord or owner of a multi-family property, contact BluPlanet to learn more about discounts for early sign up.

If you are a Calgary resident in a multi-family property, get in touch with your landlord and let them know how they can benefit from early signup with BluPlanet Recycling.

Learn more about Calgary’s Waste Diversion Resources.

Village Brewery is this year’s Community Economy Leader

Thrive is happy to announce this year’s winner of the Be Local Community Economy Leader Award is Village Brewery! Village submitted an unbeatable application and wowed Thrive’s selection committee with a passion for community building, supporting their competitors, and engaging their fellow Calgarians in the craft beer industry. They’ve certainly showed economic success over the past five years, but their mission seems to be more geared towards gathering people than anything else. After all, it takes a village to create a craft beer movement!



What really stood out to Thrive’s selection committee was Village’s dedication to supporting their competitors and helping to grow the industry rather than just their own business. In 2016 they teamed up with The Dandy Brewing Company, a local nano-brewery to produce Village Friend: Dandy Baltic Porter. The proceeds from this one-brew batch were donated to Dandy to help them buy equipment to continue to expand their own capacity. Rather than focusing on their own financial bottom line, Village is assisting new breweries to tackle the challenges of being a small business in a big market. So if you’re into great, unique beer that’s building a local economy, keep an eye out for the 2017 Village Friend in February. If you want a sneak peek at who they’ll be collaborating with, Village just put out a teaser video!

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Village also showed us that they don’t just partner with other breweries. They partner with other Calgarians as well, including Fiasco Gelato, Big T’s and…you. One of their community engagement activities is the Village Gardener: Community Involved Ale. In 2016, Village partnered with twelve community gardens and dozens of independent backyard growers to produce a fruity, floral, fun brew grown as local as you can possibly get. They expect even more local support and involvement in 2017 and encourage anyone with backyard hops or crops, or anyone involved in community gardens to reach out. Plus, Village provides kegs from this small batch brew to each community garden hoping to get them to know each other a little better or perhaps even fundraise for a local cause. You grow the crops, and Village will help you brew community out of what you harvest.

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Village is also using their brewery as a community space and uses it as a catalyst for community growth. Non-profits and community initiatives can use their tasting room at no cost, they host local musicians at events, and they provide weekly tours that bring their fans and customers together. 10% of their bottom line goes to support arts, community, and culture in Calgary. It’s more than just a financial boost they give to Calgarian creators, too – their tasting room operates as a rotating gallery featuring art that patrons can both enjoy and purchase, a service they provide at no cost. 100% of the sale goes to the artist. Obviously, Village believes in paying people for their work – which is why after only five years in the craft brew industry, they have 20 full time employees and 30 part time employees all earning more than a Living Wage.

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There’s a reason the first line under “Our Story” on Village’s website is “Let us gather for mutual benefit. And beer.” They want to create community around craft beer that supports the industry as a whole, their neighbours, aspiring home brewers, their city, artists and musicians, and anyone else who wants to be involved. Village invites people into their space to congregate, they invite competitors to collaborate, and they invite all Calgarians to participate. They’re truly showing that doing business and doing good are one in the same.

Village Brewery – congratulations on being Calgary’s 2016 Community Economy Leader. Well deserved, well earned, well brewed.


Take Action

  • Follow Village on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Want to learn more about Village’s unique brews? Subscribe to their YouTube channel.
  • Find a Brew New You using Village’s interactive map.
  • Enjoy a tour and a pint (or flight!) every Thursday – Saturday at their 5000 12A St SE location.
  • Have hops growing in your backyard every summer? Part of a community garden? Reach out at to have your crops be part of the Village Gardener: Community Involved Ale in 2017.



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Food Sovereignty Supported by Small Scale Farming


Eat local, buy local messaging has captured our attention, and we’re becoming more interested in how our food is created. But is this having a real impact on our food system?

Third-generation farmer, City of Calgary Food Sustainability consultant and Calgary EATS! Co-Chair, Renée MacKillop says it remains an uphill battle for small-scale farmers who are committed to the concept of food sovereignty. Or, food as a human right.

“We don’t have the distribution systems and infrastructure that make it more economically viable to be a small-scale farmer. For example, meat regulations are created for industrial agriculture and have made it so difficult for small abattoirs that there just aren’t many anymore.”

Nonetheless, MacKillop decided to return to the farm after university because she saw an opportunity to work toward a more sustainable paradigm of agriculture. Just west of High River Alberta, MacKillop’s grass-based livestock operation is a closed loop system that nurtures the animals and the land. The Highland beef is sold direct-to-market to happy customers who embrace MacKillop’s philosophies of animal welfare and environmental stewardship.

“Our customers are inspiring because of their dedication to us; it’s great to feel so supported by people we have just met because they want to buy our beef (they hug me!). It makes me want to try harder to find a way to make this work because right now the local food movement is not perfect.”

Which is why MacKillop spends half her time in the city, engaged in policy and advocacy work with Calgary EATS!. Heading up the city-led community collaboration MacKillop, and her colleagues have a guiding document in the approved 2012 Food System Assessment and Action Plan. But the group isn’t working on quick wins, their recommended actions toward a sustainable and resilient food system are rooted in imagineCALGARY’s 100-year vision.

“Food sovereignty is about justice throughout the entire food system, and we can start in our own communities. Right now food, including animals, is commoditized like any other widget. The local food movement is trying to change that. There are social, economic and environmental benefits that come with a more sustainable local food system,” says MacKillop whose studied social justice, and more recently community economic development (CED).

Buying local is important because it plugs leakages in our economy says Simon Fraser University CED instructor Michael Shuman. “Every new purchase of local food through a local grocery store, restaurant, or community supported agriculture (CSA) means more income, wealth, and jobs for a community. It’s also good for local resilience, entrepreneurship, tourism, social equality, political participation, and public health.”

MacKillop explains our food currently travels approximately 4500km from farm to plate. So buying locally not only reduces food miles, it also builds social relationships between people and their farmers. According to MacKillop if Calgarians shifted just 10 dollars of their weekly grocery shopping to local food it could potentially create 1500 new jobs and retain $150 million in the local economy each year.

“Buying local is making a difference for small-scale farmers as it creates demand for new market channels, such as farmer’s markets, CSAs and direct farm retail,” says MacKillop. “However, to scale-up the local food system beyond its current niche status will require a more democratic, localized food system that recognizes the human right to food and the value of working with nature.”

A love letter to the Calgary Folk Fest

This article was originally published on Engage, Momentum’s blog.

Dear Folk Fest,

As my colleagues and I recover from your 35th gathering, we have been reflecting on all the ways you demonstrate community economic development principles. Momentum is, of course, a proud CED organization. Our people care deeply about making Calgary’s local economy work better for more people. Yesterday, over lunch, we celebrated the five ways you show localist leadership:

  1. You hire small: You don’t expect all side-stage artists to have a brand new album, a huge fan base, or an A-list promoter. By being willing to hire small, musical surprises abound for us, your audience, and you help lesser-known, quality artists to make a living in a tough business.
  2. You seek local money: Most of your festival sponsors are Calgary area businesses. You provide great exposure to these businesses, and a chance for their profits to circulate many times for local benefit.
  3. You buy from around here: From the food you feed volunteers to equipment you rent, many of your supply contracts are with local businesses. They are strengthened by your business and can in turn create jobs for local residents.
  4. You care for nature: By prioritizing biking, insisting on plate re-use, buying wind-power and sorting waste, you show a deep understanding that your festival relies on a healthy yet fragile island ecosystem.
  5. You promote entrepreneurship: In the artisan village, the food vendor alley and beyond, you create exposure and markets for smaller businesses.  You value sharing: Whether it’s by sharing a tarp, a jug, a stage or a song, you curate an environment where guests and artists feel connected to each other. Connection yields a virtuous cycle of generosity, and that, above all, is what keeps us coming back.

Each year, you give me four days of island bliss, followed by four more of withdrawal and recovery. This year, I’m going to spend my next 358 days thinking small, favouring local, caring for nature, supporting entrepreneurs, and maybe even sharing sometimes. My hope is that these shifts extend the good vibes I enjoyed on the weekend and into my off-island life.

Of course, I’m going to play my new stack of music, too.

See you next year, CFMF!



Get your CED Certificate


We are recruiting twenty-five leaders to take the Community Economic Development certificate program from January to May 2014 with a special cohort of Calgary’s most active change-makers.

  • Are you currently working in community development or economic development?
  • Are you interested in how we can build a more people-friendly and planet-friendly economy?
  • Are you interested in bringing your work in to the classroom and taking your impact to the next level?
  • Would you like to roll up your sleeves with a highly skilled, highly innovative, group of professional peers?

Applications accepted between October 18 and November 28. Apply now! Bursaries available thanks to generous support from First Calgary Financial


We’re Hiring!

After almost two years with the network, our CED Coordinator Courtney Hare is moving on to new opportunities. That means – we’re hiring!

Are you interested in systems change and public policy? Are you a skilled facilitator who engages people and invites them to act in making positive change? Do you have a love for community economic development? If so, view the Community Economic Development Coordinator – Job Posting and consider applying!

GOOD Company: Changing the way Calgarians think about Business & Meaningful Employment!

Chris and Gillian jump2_smlWritten by Allison Smith, Thrive

This year marks the 1 year anniversary of GOOD Company doing good for good people.  The company was founded by the talented, community champions Gillian Hickie and Chris Wharton (pictured above). The nitty gritty of what they do is branding, promotional materials and website design. Plus, they strive to work with clients that they connect with and that are making an impact in Calgary. While having a bit of fun too!

Both have rich backgrounds in graphic design, with the dream of being business owners on the back burner. Thankfully for Calgarians, their shared dream came to light last year.  “Being able to create something that is aligned with our own thinking rather than have it dictated to us, has been a fantastic, positive experience,” Chris described his experience as a social entrepereneur.

Creating a Model for Meaningful Employment.

The two described the transition as a leap of faith that has been very rewarding. With nothing but good things to say about their work, community and their clients, the words meaningful employment practically exuded from their smiles.

“What is a good model for a creative company? What do people want in their  job-life balance?” asked Gillian. They are very conscious to consider meaningful employment both for themselves and their contract designers. Such as ensuring work place flexibility or fostering a collaborative, open work culture. Prior to launching GOOD Company Gillian created a company culture handbook that has been integrated in their everyday practices. She’s already dreaming ahead to when they start taking on more full-time hires. “Treating our employees fair is a given, it’s about going further than that,” Chris added. Although, the vision has always been to become a boutique size design firm.

The two are living wage advocates and definitely take it into consideration when contracting. “If people are happy with what they are being paid, they’ll do better work and end up wanting to work for you more often,” Gillian explains one reason why it’s important to pay a living wage.

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They’re Picky About Their Clients… For Good Reason.

GOOD Company works with clients that are doing good. There is no strict criteria as to what “GOOD” is, whether that’s environmental, social or economical. “Nothing is clear cut, they have to be trying to do good things and trying to innovate,” Chris explained. Although, they have turned away individuals that do not meet their impact model. It’s been a bold and brave move to set such criteria, that could have worked against them. However, they’re happy with its reception, especially with the movement in socially responsible businesses in Calgary. “There’s something distinct about us, that people want to self identify with,” said Gillian.

“There is a bit of mythology about Calgary and the industry in Calgary, that you need to have some oil and gas,  or you can’t make it without a little in Calgary,” Chris described the misconception.  On the flip side is the belief that if you want to do good, you have to design for charity. They have been pleasantly surprised that neither holds true. With clients ranging from non-profits, for-profits and social entrepreneurs.

They are changing the way we think about business and how we do business, especially in the design sector. Businesses can look beyond the bottom line, and critically think about their mission, impact and their choice of clients. By setting such principles and guidelines in their business practices, hopefully GOOD Company can influence other local business owners to do the same!


To help celebrate their 1 year anniversary, GOOD Company is hosting its’ second Grow Your Good Initiative. It’s simple. Let them know the good you’re doing, and you could win $1000 in design work! For more information on contest details, visit: GrowYourGood

Check out the new GOOD Company website  and more awesome jumping pictures here:

A Geek, a Conversation Killer & a Social Impact Market Creator. Stephanie Robertson discusses her journey in building SiMPACT Strategy Group.

Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

“I use to be a professional dinner party conversation killer,” says Stephanie Robertson, the founder of SiMPACT Strategy Group. Ten years ago her work was barely talked about, and often lost among her peers. Now, with a lot of hard work to create a prosperous market, Stephanie has managed to turn the unknown into a thriving curiosity among Calgarians. Continue reading “A Geek, a Conversation Killer & a Social Impact Market Creator. Stephanie Robertson discusses her journey in building SiMPACT Strategy Group.” »

Cate Ahrens & the Sustainable, Inclusive Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Food Program

Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

“To Preserve and Enhance a Healthy and Vibrant Quality of Life for the Residents of Hillhurst-Sunnyside”

Housed in the vibrant Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association, is the sustainable, accessible and inclusive Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Food Program. Leading the important initiative is the friendly Cate Ahrens, the Community Food Program Supervisor. I had the pleasure of meeting with Cate to learn more about the awesome work her and her team have been doing this past year, in addressing some of the community’s food security and accessibility issues.

Cate explained that the food programs build off the momentum of the community association’s popular Farmer’s Market and were incorporated in the HSCA food strategy. All the food programs are founded on the CED principles of community development and resident skill building. Currently, there are 5 programs that address the varying food accessibility needs within the community (outlined at the end of this post).

“Farmers shouldn’t be asked to lower their prices, people living in poverty deserve to have better incomes.”

At the mention of living wage, Cate quickly chimed that she is a living wage advocate and that it’s integrated in all the food programs. Although there is a lot of anti-poverty work being done in conjunction with sustainable food programming, there is definitely still a divide. “There is a place in the middle where people living in poverty can’t afford sustainable food. Farmers shouldn’t be asked to lower their prices, people living in poverty deserve to have better incomes,” Cate passionately explained.

Cate went on to describe the disconnect between sustainable food purchasing and poverty displacement both locally and abroad.  “If we’re buying coffee that is not fair trade or organic, because that’s all we can afford, then we’ve just impoverished people in another country. It’s just displacing the poverty, ” she explained. Cate sees the food programs as an opportunity to bridge this gap in the community.

“The farmer’s market isn’t for everyone.”

HSCA has conducted a community need assessment, that is the foundation for all of the food programming. The assessment has helped to address resident’s needs in terms of content, timing and location.

“The farmer’s market isn’t for everyone. It’s about breaking down those perceptions. There has been criticism that farmer’s markets are generally white affluent spaces. How do we challenge that? How do we respond in ways that provide other services for people that don’t feel comfortable there.” said Cate.

They are constantly striving to be more inclusive by  supporting initiatives such as senior specific programs and a farmer’s market seniors day. They also work with residents and partners to ensure that the needs are properly met and aligned.

The importance of partnerships

The HSCA strives to share their knowledge, experience and resources with other Calgary communities interested in food programming. Cate explained having a lot of key partners will help them achieve this goal.  In addition, their existing partners have helped strengthen their existing initiatives and programs. For example the Collective Kitchen Program partners with the Women in Need Society and CUPs. In addition, The Calgary Foundation has been a big supporter of the food programs, and has made it possible for the HSCA to develop these programs.  Other strategic partners include: the Calgary Horticultural Society, Alberta Health Services, local farmers, Calgary Housing,  the City of Calgary Office of Sustainability, Green Calgary and more.

Sharing her knowledge and expertise has gone far beyond just residents and communities, but to the greater Calgary community.  Cate sat on the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative,  Food Constellation and aided in the food strategy recommendations.

The food programs play a vital role in poverty reduction, community engagement and food security. The collective impact of the food programs include:

  • Citizens that are actively engaged in shaping the communities in which they live
  • Citizens are accessing sustainable, healthy food sources
  • Citizens understand the local food system and its place within the global context
  • Citizens are engaged in local, sustainable food production
  • Citizens have gained transferable skills
  • Replicable programs that are available to other communities
  • Multi-sector partners are established or strengthened

The programs are constantly adapting to the needs and issues of the Hillhurst-Sunnyside community. Presently, HSCA food programs include:

1) Kids Food and Garden Leadership Program: The program focuses on leadership development, healthy food production and active community gardening. In addition, the program promotes youth civic engagement by encouraging participants to take action on local food issues that are important to them. Activities have included planting seeds, transplanting, worm composting, garden journals and making herbal teas.

2) Collective Kitchen/Adult Program: This program focuses on Adult skill development, building social connections and creating a positive environment. They use food safety, budgeting and skills training as the medium to do so.

3) Community Food Events/Local 301: Local 301 is an initiative aimed at bringing awareness to food issues such as urban agriculture, raising and eating sustainable meats, and growing food indoors.  These are free public events and gain an audience of between 30-60 people.

4) Community Garden and Orchard Programming: This program intends to build community, relationships and resilience through a shared, collaborative gardening initiative.  That’s not all. The food is then donated to local community agencies.

5) Community Food Network: The goal of the network is to help replicate the food program in other interested neighborhoods. They will do this by using the Hillhurst-Sunnyside experience and community assets to empower other communities to facilitate resident led programs and opportunities.

To learn more about the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Food Program, visit their website here.

On their own terms: Street youth entrepreneurship.

Written by Kevin Hayes, Free Range Youth

“Success is not what you have, but who you are.” –  Bo Bennet

When I started my first company a few years ago, I enjoyed playing games like  “How am I going to eat today.” or “I wonder if today is the day that my phone is going to be shut off”. My favourite game took place while standing in line at my favourite pizza by the slice place and waiting to see if I got the “Approved” or “Declined”. Sometimes I won that game, sometimes I didn’t. Eventually my business started to gain some traction. I started to acquire clients, deliver services, receive cheques, and pay myself. Going from keeping a single digit bank account and living on crackers and peanut butter…who am I kidding, I couldn’t afford peanut butter…to having a profitable business that provides financial security, confidence, and a stable life, did not happen over night. In fact, it didn’t happen in a year. I think I stopped borrowing money from the Bank of Family & Friends over two years after I started my business. It wasn’t easy to get by for those two years, but I made a decision to keep going until I couldn’t any more. Thank goodness I did, the reward has been amazing. I have made it.

The relentless pursuit of “making it”, surviving at all costs, and persevering regardless of life’s conditions, are the qualities that have given me the life I have today. Being an entrepreneur is not about being the smartest person in the room – being an entrepreneur is about moving forward and forging ahead, even when all odds are against you.

This is what Free Range Youth, FRY, is about. FRY is a program that teaches street youth about entrepreneurship. FRY is really about equipping young people with the tools to help them make decisions for themselves. Street youth are already entrepreneurial. They sometimes earn their own income. They survive day-to-day thanks to their incredible resiliency in dealing with the social and economic challenges that come with a life on the streets.

Through a five-step process, FRY takes young people from conception to execution of a business idea, utilizing skill sets they already possess. Essentially, our intention is to show them that their existing skills are valuable – we’re trying to expose these young people for the brilliant shining stars they already are.

What are the business ideas you ask? Well, we have had youth come to the program wanting to open everything from bakeries and restaurants to computer companies and healing centres. The real
magic happens when these kids realize that they have a real shot at achieving whatever they want in life.

FRY is a small part of the journey for these young people. At the end of the day, our goal is to support them as they achieve their goals. Whether these young stars start their own business, or use their newfound confidence to go out and apply for a job, FRY provides the framework and structure that can help them move in whatever direction they choose.

Free Range Youth offered its first program in January 2013, and have since had 30 students attend.  They believe that supporting young people in challenging life circumstances is important for a strong future, economy and community.  To learn more about FRY, visit their website here: