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Bringing Sustainability & Collaboration to Vancouver

Being a BALLE Fellow means that I have better access to the information I need to advocate for local businesses, and feel a greater responsibility to do so.

Themes: Cultivate Connection

By BALLE Fellow Amy Robinson

I come to Localism from a career that began in sustainability work with business. Business sustainability expands the idea of prosperity from the measurement of financial returns to include returns to people and the planet. After seeing one of the founders of BALLE (Judy Wicks) speak at a sustainable business conference years ago, I began to understand how the economic and social parts of sustainability were rarely addressed, and that the idea of socially responsible public corporations would actually require a rethink of the entire economic system.

Amy Robinson runs LOCO BC, building community and partnerships to move sustainability deep into businesses.

At LOCO BC, Amy Robinson builds community and partnerships to move sustainability deep into businesses.

I was inspired by BALLE’s idea that socially minded businesses could remain small and grow deep instead of big. I had yet to discover the many local business owners across North America who are innovators, environmental stewards, community builders, job creators, responsible employers and wealth creators. It’s been a privilege to get to know those businesses in my community.

Am I still concerned about climate change and other sustainability issues?  Of course. I work on building the local economy in the Vancouver region because I believe that when climate change starts to impact our economic system and our lifestyles at a drastic level, the knowledge of the skills and resources in our place, and the relationships we’ve created will help sustain us and move us through the transition to a new system.

I feel so honoured to be a BALLE Fellow. It means having a closer connection to the movement that has inspired me. It means that I have better access to the information I need to advocate for local businesses, and feel a greater responsibility to do so. Besides the cohort of 15 other leaders from around North America, it’s a privilege to be connected to the previous cohort and BALLE’s board and staff-many people I’ve admired over the years. They’ve very quickly become some of my favorite people in the world.

BALLE is not so well known in Canada – something we’re trying to change – but I definitely feel like some of our members were proud of me and LOCO when they heard we became part of the Fellowship. We always say that LOCO is not about the organization but the community of businesses it brings together, and so I feel like it was an achievement for all of us. Being part of the Fellowship has been a special process of sinking in to my own leadership style, understanding my strengths and the strengths of my organization and building from there.

At LOCO, we’re community builders, place makers, conveners and collaborators, and we are working to build a network of allies that share our vision. Just as we ask businesses to see how their competitors are not other local businesses but big corporations, we have other business networks and non-profit organizations that we approach who see us as competitors. To our business members, we say, “We are stronger together!”  Among our peer business support organizations, we’re working to spread a sense of what is possible if we all work together, to speak what’s in our hearts and to work towards what we know is possible – that only then is change within our reach.

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