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The Vancity Movement: Local Banking as an Ecosystem

 

In the Spring of 2011, I was at a LOCO BC party watching game 1 of the Stanley Cup in Vancouver. During the game, I was asked what I was going to do to shift my behaviour to purchasing local. As a locally owned and operated business, I have spent many years building community around local purchasing and featuring local products in our gifts. I have also been working to help establish LOCO BC since 2008. The only missing piece was our banking.

 

It became clear that the Saul Good Gift Co. needed to move to a local Vancouver credit union where our business banking supports our community. Vancity is instrumental in most of the social and environmental initiatives that are interconnected with the Saul Good Gift Co. From the Strathcona Business Improvement Association to the SOLEFood Urban Farm and LOCO BC.

 

Our local economy is an ecosystem. Money is like the sun. Vancity is like water.

 

 

Deserts vs. Rainforests

 

The sun shines all day in the desert. It is powerful and hot from morning to night. There is no soil or vegetation to absorb the sun’s energy. When the sun tucks down behind the mountains, all the energy dissipates leaving you cold and waiting for those first rays of light. There is emptiness and loneliness.

 

Buying from locally owned stores keeps money in your community and creates a diverse economy. The money touches many different hands and creates a diverse web of rich relationships.

 

The desert is like a big box store. All day long consumers buy up goods at the lowest price. The money does not absorb into the local economy. It dissipates and profits shareholders elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

Rainforests are rich and diverse

 

A diverse local economy is like a mature ecosystem where the sun shines on the forest canopy of the tall trees. Within this canopy, there are birds and animals eating the fruit and seeds created by the trees. Plants and animals collaborate and compete in order to disperse resources where they are needed. Energy flows through the ecosystem and spawns diverse forms of life. Medicinal plants grow in these systems. The interconnection exudes beauty and richness.

 

Vancity functions like water in an ecosystem. It connects us and supports us.

 

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Last week, I was honoured to speak to a group of bankers as part of the GABV conference in Vancouver. I spoke about the interconnection between local businesses and social enterprises in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. The Saul Good Gift Co. had recently put together some gift baskets for new homeowners at an affordable housing development (60 West Cordova Street). These local Vancouver gifts included organic fruit and veggies from SOLEfood Urban Farm, a social enterprise that trains inner city residents to grow organic food. The urban farm and the affordable housing are both supported by Vancity Credit Union.

 

Community is the story. We are all connected. I am proud of the day that I decided to switch my banking to Vancity and I am proud that the work we do is helping to build the Vancouver we want to live in. Not only for today but also for our grandchildren.