Ahava Shira – The Heartful Entrepreneur


Who are you?

I am a poet, storyteller, performer, photographer, and long-time journal writer. I am the founder of the Centre for Loving Inquiry, where I facilitate individual and group mentoring programs, retreats and home-study courses for people who want to bring more creativity and compassion into their lives. The practice of Loving Inquiry supports us to open our hearts and to engage with more kindness and curiousity toward ourselves and others.

I also work as the program facilitator for the Connecting Generations Program, which creates opportunities for conversation and learning between high school students, youth, adults and elders in the Salt Spring Island community.

I am the host of Love in the Afternoon, a radio show that walks listeners through the practice of Loving Inquiry, and encourages them to live with more creativity and compassion (on Salt Sprig Radio, CFSI 107.9FM or www.cfsi-fm.com online).

I am also the author of a book of poetry, Weaving of My Being and a poetry CD, Love is Like This. To learn more about my work visit www.ahavashira.com/

What do you do for fun?

I write, do yoga, walk in nature, hang out with my Goddess-son, listen to all kinds of music, host my radio show, make raw truffles, watch movies with my partner, play in a collage journal, read novels and non-fiction books on relationships, work and spirituality, sip tea in cafes and have wonderfully deep conversations with friends and clients.

What is your favourite community? Why?

The human and more-than-human community because I am intrigued and delighted by our interconnectedness. I live on a farm and find joy and refuge in nature’s variety and beauty.  I also love listening to people’s stories and learning about the diverse ways they live.

What is your superpower?

I am present and alert when I am speaking or being with others and that makes me highly intuitive and a really good listener. I am also very good at improvisation: being willing to “not know” what’s going to happen, to stay open and to say yes to whatever emerges in the moment. I use these superpowers in my work as a writer, facilitator, mentor, radio show host and as a speaker and performer.

How do you use it to build community?

In my experience, we build community when we are kind and authentic and when we share our unique gifts and ways of being in the world. Through the Centre for Loving Inquiry, Connecting Generations and Love in the Afternoon, I am helping to create a world that honours the diversity and interdependence of all people and all beings. In my writing and teaching, I seek to relate to people with openness, empathy and compassion.

My Three Favourite Things About Ahava Are…

1. Entrepreneurial Spirit. I love the myriad ways that Ahava both engages and builds community; from hosting a radio show to truffle making, she is an absolute model as to how the practice of education can uniquely realize its potential. Ahava speaks with authenticity and positive energy that captivates audiences and clients in a one-on-one environment and her many projects reflect the passion with which she connects with her community.

2. Connecting Across Generations. The Connecting Generations Program is just fantastic! Our elders have so many stories to share and so much history that can, well, warn us about mistakes we might be repeating and, more importantly, inspire us to build a better and happier future. Connecting youth and elders represents an unfortunate gap in many communities, and it’s inspiring to see how Ahava and her team are creating and sustaining such an important connection.

3. Lovin’ the Creativity! Reading this interview simply makes me feel love and creativity. Such things radiate from Ahava. And this is a beautiful thing!


Karly Pinch – The Cynical Optimist

Who are you?

I’m Karly, and I’m an environmentalist, a feminist, an outspoken introvert. I’m a traveller, a homebody, a mediator, a cynical optimist. I’m a partner, a volunteer, a friend, a colleague and a neighbour.

What do you do for fun?

I try to get outside. I go camping and hiking, I play softball, make trips to the farmer’s market, or sit on my rooftop balcony overlooking the ocean. I’m not really the type of person to go out to restaurants or clubs or look for places with lots of people, but I love to have people over to play games like Settlers of Catan and Cranium. And I like to curl up on the couch on a rainy Sunday with a cup of tea and watch movies.

What is your favourite community? Why?

I find that some of the best communities form around food, with people who are taking the time to connect with their food, rather than grab it on the go or buy pre-packaged meals. I go out to join other vegetarians to try out veggie restaurants around the city through a meetup.com group, Meatless Meetup. I love the energy of farmer’s markets, and I went to a cheese making workshop recently. I’m starting to learn about all of the amazing and innovative things going on around Vancouver surrounding food security, urban farming and gardening. It’s a new community for me, but maybe that’s why it still holds so much mystery and excitement.

What is your superpower?

I think my superpower is my sense of adventure and exploration. I can never sit still, and I love discovering new places. I’ve spent years living overseas in Japan and Cameroon, and taken the time for long adventures travelling through Asia and Eastern/Southern Africa, and I’m working on my local exploration, last year around BC and Washington, and an upcoming road trip to the North West Territories.

How do you use it to build community?

I hope that I use it by being the type of person who wouldn’t say no. I’m always up for learning something new, especially about someone or something I know nothing about, and everybody has interesting stories to tell and a new perspective to bring to a project. I want to experience things first hand, get my hands dirty, and learn from life. I try to implement that through side projects and volunteering, and this summer my goal is to learn a lot more about gardening, farming and food security. Literally, getting my hands dirty!

My Three Favourite Things About Karly Are…

1. Passionately Environmental. Certainly, this is one of the many touchpoints and the over-arching worldview that Karly and I share, which is great, because we also share the seemingly incongruent capacity for cynical optimism. While significant changes and, well, sacrifices will be what it takes to save humanity from the Revenge of Gaia, I appreciate how Karly finds and inspires little victories such reduced printing/copying, cycling to work, composting things, and educating her colleagues and friends about some of the small things that we can all do to keep the planet greener. Follow her on The Twitter – @KarlyGreenP – for such updates.

Karly’s sense of adventure not only explores people, places and cultures, but also takes her to the intersection of some pretty interesting and important environmental stories, which I love hearing her tell. You will, too.

2. Expressively Introverted. Oh wow. When it comes to our communication styles, I’m not sure if I’ve worked with someone so dyametrically opposed to how I prefer to give, receive and create information. Karly is an unapologetic introvert from whom I learned a lot during our 13 months as colleagues; and I especially appreciated how she not only tolerated my loudness, but was also loud herself when the situation called for – or demanded – it. For example, Karly has a whiteboard-based, professionally-cartoonish graphic-story describing experiential learning (and its value) that is one of the best demonstrations of the concept that I’ve even seen in over 12 years of teaching this stuff. Not only does she pick her extroverted moments, but she delivers work of the highest quality during said moments – after all, she probably thinks a lot about what to say during hours and hours of thoughtful introspection…

3. A Foodie Through and Through. I love that she loves the energy and ideas – not to mention the products and services – of Farmers’ Markets. Karly is an important person to have on the front lines of urban farming in Vancouver and I look forward seeing and tasting the results of her energy, ideas and actions in this field…or a field…or balcony. Also, Karly’s marinated tofu recipe (she often showed me, but never shared, delicious sandwiches with marinated tofu in the middle of ‘em) has taken on many forms in my recent culinary endeavours, so thanks again for your ideas, Ms. Pinch!

Special Bonus Reason!

She Took a Cheese-Making Class. Truly, this is one of the greatest things ever. I need not say another thing, for this is an amazing reflection of how Karly is explorative, adventurous and turns ideas into actions! Delicious, delicious actions that go with any meal any time.

Claudia Garcia – Soulfully Photographic

Who are you?

Claudia, a.k.a. “cgg”. Mother, photographer. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay & exiled to Canada in 1977.  My parents arrived with $450 in their pocket, 2 suit cases & 2 young children under the age of 7.  Through hard work, they were able to provide us with a happy home and education.  I have learned so much from all of their sacrifices.  Although I have lived most of my life in Canada, my roots and that “pull” to my culture has always been very much alive & raw inside me. This has inspired me to raise my girls as little Uruguayan Canadians. I only speak Spanish to them.  Spanish books and music are a big part of our lives. Thanks to YouTube we can watch different cultural events that happen in Montevideo, such as the yearly Carnival and various festivals and Skype keeps us connected to our family.  My husband (being East Van born and raised) has embraced this and has learned a lot of Spanish along the way. It is fascinating to watch our 2 ½ year old switch back and forth between Spanish & English depending on which parent she is talking to.

What do you do for fun?

Photography.  I love it.  When I was just a kid, I was fascinated with my father’s camera and would get in so much trouble if I touched it, but I didn’t care – I just HAD to hold it and sneak in a few pictures.  Those were the film days when film and processing was expensive.  At 14, I finally got my own camera and did black & white dark room photography for 5 years.  I have lugged my camera all over Cuba, Jamaica, North & South America through my travels. I love to document life – people working, people having fun.  I also have a thing for buildings.

What is your favourite community? Why?

My favourite community is the one we are submerged into right now.  We moved to the TriCities last year and our children attend a Parent Participation Preschool which is just amazing.  The group of families that run the preschool really walk-the-walk.  When one of the teacher’s husbands broke his leg, everyone got together and cooked up a storm and delivered meals to the family.  We put on a successful coats & toy drive this winter for our local food bank. The fund raising committee that I am part of has done a great job in raising the money that will keep the school up and running for next year.  Next month we are holding a big fair which will give back to the local community with bouncy castles, pony rides, and entertainment, all for a very nominal cost.  Thanks to this community and preschool, our children are in a positive play-based environment and it gives you the warm and fuzzies to watch them discover, thrive and gather confidence.

What is your superpower? People look at me and tell me stuff.  My skin must emit some kind of “truth serum” pheromone or something.  I am like the bartender in all the movies that you see working behind the counter and people come and sit down, order a drink and then tell them things their best friend doesn’t even know.

How do you use it to build community? Of course, this new discovered truth that people share now comes with a sense of responsibility because people often want words of wisdom.  This superpower helps me to build community one person at a time.  Someone once said “pretend that everyone you meet has a sign around their neck that says ‘make me feel important’”.  Every person is different, but fundamentally, people just want to feel accepted and we also want to feel hope.  By listening, it gives them permission to feel vulnerable which is very powerful.

My Three Favourite Things About cgg Are…

1. She’s Really, Really Nice. To make a long story short, Claudia played a very big role in getting my career to where it is today – when an opportunity came up at UBC’s Sauder School of Business it was with Claudia’s recommendation that I made it to (and through) the interview process and into the role. To this day, I am both incredibly grateful and also very much in her debt. Thanks, Claudia!

2. Photographic Awesomeness. Claudia has a wonderful eye that spectacularly captures the soul of people and places (see awesome photos of Uruguay). She’s creative, poetic, cool, and super-classy when it comes to the pictures she snaps, sure, but especially through how she presents her work – a knack for powerful storytelling is reflected by Claudia’s words and images above. Even through a lens people seem to tell her things! Oh, and any great photographer must have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, which totally shines through in cgg’s story of how her family grew a happy and healthy life in Canada while staying connected to their roots in Uruguay.

3. Intercultural Community Building. The fact that Claudia’s toddler can flip back and forth between Spanish and English – depending on the parental audience – will serve the child/children well in our hyper-globalized world. I love cgg’s stories about using technology (YouTube and Skype) to maintain a healthy cultural connection between the national/local communities of Uruguay and Montevideo as well as the very important connection to family.

Special Bonus Reason! URUGUAY! I love Uruguay. So does Michelle. We wrote about Montevideo a lot during our month in South America and, well, I can simply say that Montevideo is on of my “favourites” list of global cities. One of the reasons that we had such a great time is because Claudia gave me some great insider tips – because, like I said, she’s really, really nice!

All photos courtesy of the lovely and talented Glaudia Garcia aka cgg.

Community Dialogue with North Van Urban Forum

michaelnugent / flickr

[Editor's note: the transcript below is from an email exchange with Ben Woodyatt, President of the North Van Urban Forum - enjoy the awesome, folks!]

1. Tell us about your organization.

We are the North Van Urban Forum.  We are a group of local (North Vancouver) residents and business owners from diverse backgrounds with a shared concern for the shape of our community.  We are interested in transparency, dialogue, and meaningful participation in the development of the public realm.  We believe that the creation and development of our neighbourhoods must not be a passive activity, but rather should be wildly participatory, a process that fosters enthusiasm and creativity and allows inhabitants and visitors to feel proud of their surroundings, and create a sense of community.

2. What do you do for fun?

We hold events that try to get people talking.  Great ideas and insights come from all quarters, not just the people that are paid to come up with them.  Transformative imaginings often come from silly places.  We invite people to submit their thoughts and fantasies of great public spaces, to share their experiences from around the world.  If we want people to use a public space, then (I mean really, you’d think this was obvious?!) we have to build a public space that the public wants to use!  Great public space is too important to leave to the official actors alone.  The official process should be augmented (infiltrated, even) by parallel processes of community conversation.  Democracy is not, or should not be about simply turning up on polling day.  It is about turning out to voice concerns, and give vitality to discussions along the way.  This is not about protest (you asked about what we do for fun!).  A truly functioning democracy should in fact be so collaborative that protest becomes unnecessary.  Protest occurs when people feel disconnected from the ongoing creation of the communities they are a part of.  It occurs when people feel that all other  attempts to be heard (or really listened to) are exhausted.  We think it’s fun when people want to discuss their community.  When they want to come out and be a part of the community.  When they want to participate in its construction/constitution.  Rabble-rousing is vital.

3. How do you build community?

By engaging in conversation with everybody.  When you develop cordial relationships with all inhabitants, policy makers, community leaders, visitors, business owners, even when you disagree, magical things happen. Especially when you disagree!  Conversation, dialogue and participation take all forms, and different forums appeal to different people in different ways.  The question is how to spark the imaginative spirit, build wildly engaged communities to be a rich part of.  Constantly striving, and pushing for dialogue, transparency and collaboration is key to our goals.

4. Who are some of the people that do this building?

It is the whole community that builds a neighbourhood.  As an organisation (we are a registered non-profit society) we are actually a small group of key organisers, coming from different backgrounds.  Our key group of founders and organisers includes:

  • Benjamin Woodyatt
  • Tony Valente
  • Elena Giorgetti
  • Tyler Russell
  • Kevin Lee
  • Sandra Grant
  • Marianne Ketchen

Check out our profiles on our website here.  

5. Why should people get involved with your organization?

If you live in North Vancouver, visit North Vancouver, own a business in North Vancouver….. or are just interested in the process of community building, urban design, or municipal politics, then you should get involved.  We want to hear your ideas, and we want to build a bridge between the voices of the community and the voices of those paid to create it.  What makes this a great place to live, and what would make this an ideal place to live? We want to hear from you!

My Three Favourite Things about the North Van Urban Forum are…

1. Rabble Rousing. I love the description of how the organization is “wildly participatory” – managing a community dialogue while accepting/creating/inspiring a culture of dissent is difficult to say the least, so my hat goes off to you folks for being so collaborative.

2. Topical Conversations about Community Building. How our communities look, feel and behave – especially in the Lower Mainland – represents one of the most important topics being discussed from dinner tables to City Council meeting rooms. Reconciling density with green building with vibrancy with fairness and equity is not an easy thing to do. It will take transformative dialogue, creativity and collaboration to imagine, create and play with a shared, positive vision for our communities in the 21st century – the North Van Urban Forum is a wonderful part of this conversation.

3. Tony Valente and Elena Giorgetti are Members! And this Italian-Canadian power-couple is all kinds of awesome!

Alex Chuang – Philanthropist 2.0

Who are you?

Hello! My name is Alex. I am the Founder and CEO of Weeve, an online social fundraising platform for nonprofit projects. I have an unquenchable thirst for learning new things and figuring out the better ways of doing things. I am a big fan of Disney, Apple, and the Canucks. I have a bunny who thinks the universe owes her its origin.

What do you do for fun?

Board games! I love strategic board games such as 7 wonders, Pandemic, Small World, and Dominion. Board games are awesome mental workouts. From reading the rules and understanding them to being able to explain them to your friends and apply them during the course of a game, you become more well-versed in communicating your ideas across. Here at the Weeve HQ, a lot of our team-building exercises involve boardgames.

What is your favourite community? Why?

I am very fortunate to be living in the most livable city in the world-Vancouver. I have been to many cities in the world and I must say that Vancouverites are the friendliest and most generous people.

The word community literally means “giving among each other” and the Vancouver community definitely fits that definition. Through my work at Weeve, I have connected with many local nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit organizations are an integral part of the society who provide a wealth of services that many people are urgently in need for. The people who work in the nonprofit sector are amazing. They are so passionate about what they do! I have a lot of respect for that and I really admire the work that they do. That is why the Weeve team is working so hard to help them have their stories heard.

What is your superpower?

My superpower is my ability to spot pain points and devise solution.

How do you use it to build community?

I noticed a pain in the nonprofit sector where thousands of nonprofit organizations are struggling to meet fast-climbing demands for their services due to lack of funding and exposure. My solution -Weeve – helps local nonprofit organizations raise money for their community projects through our free, simple and secure funding platform. At Weeve, our goal is to build sustainable and resilient communities across the globe.

My Three Favourite Things About Alex Are…

1. The way he pitched the idea for Weeve. I can’t describe it here, because I’m not Alex. So let me just say that when he presented me with the idea for Weeve the young man showcased one of the stickiest pitches I’ve ever seen. He drew pictures with voice-over (I’m sure that some Ken Robinson or Daniel Pink whiteboard-cartoonery will be coming down the pipe with Weeve’s pending launch) and, by the time he was finished, Alex had articulated a simple and elegant solution to some of the funding challenges that non-profit organizations face by connecting philanthropy, social shopping and technology – Alex is a Philanthropy 2.0 changemaker for sure.

2. Board Games! Fantastic stuff. Little else need be said about how cool liking board games makes Alex. All that’s left to say is this: well played, sir.

3. Passion for Positive Changemaking. Alex cannot hide his goodness. His persistence in aligning his work with the communities’ pain points is a true realization of the kind of creativity, positivity and drive (call it a sense-of-urgency) that it will take to untangle our planet’s problems and put them back together as solutions. Best of all, Alex is a master-connector who will be able to create and sustain the necessary buy-in to ensure that his ideas are transformed into tangible results.

Special Bonus Reason! Alex has a keen sense of style and, more than anyone else I know, he emulates the fashion sense of The Vancouver Tech-Startup Entrepreneur with impeccable precision. Lovin’ the hat-vest-combo, Mr. Chuang!

- As told by John Horn

Patrick Lacroix – The Community Historian

Who are you?

Identity is a process, no? Quite briefly, then, the process has made of me a happy graduate of Bishop’s University and Brock University, a graduate of history programs in both cases. I am also a product of Cowansville, located an hour’s drive east of Montreal. (I may or may not resent the latter’s accidental proximity to my hometown; to quote Graham Chapman’s King Arthur, “’tis a silly place!”) When I am not making unnecessary references to British film culture, I work as reporter in and around Cowansville for The Record, Quebec’s only non-Montreal-based daily English-language newspaper. Of course, one would expect there to be only one of those. Next fall I will be pursuing doctoral studies in History at the University of New Hampshire.

What do you do for fun?

Through the better part of the last decade I have sought, in my spare time, to address the deficiencies of my formal education. The most glaring omissions are literary: only recently have I become acquainted with Dumas, Faulkner, Maugham, Swift, and Zola. While I cannot minimise the enjoyment of conversations and occasional (er, yes, occasional) mischief with some very close friends, the fun I take away from intellectual pursuits fulfils a deep, visceral need. Some people, in addition, have the luxury of visiting exotic locales all around the world; I immerse myself in philosophy and history and at times I build, quite discreetly, an extremely abstract world that suits only me. Thrust into an exotic setting I would find a way to escape to a plane of pure ideas… I am an odd duck.

What is your favourite community? Why?

I wish I could cite that ancient order of errant scholars who travel far and wide in the process of acquiring and disseminating knowledge – most universities have been and remain model United Nations by the diversity of their teaching corps. But of course, scholarly pettiness and intellectual pride have interceded, a sign perhaps that knowledge and wisdom are of two perfectly distinct species. My favourite community, then? I care deeply for my dear old Cowansville and its familiar faces, and the community I found at Bishop’s University, in Lennoxville, was beyond all expectations. In fact the sense of shared identity and mutual affinity at Bishop’s was unlike any other personal experience I might recall, and it taught me the many definitions of community. Yes, let’s say Bishop’s. ‘Tis a silly place as well as a sophisticated web of blooming individualities. (Perhaps should we consider putting that on the university crest.)

What is your superpower?

I am a committed seeker of knowledge, but my superpower would rather be that of expression. It is one thing to absorb, to amass information, and quite another to make sense of it, so as to ultimately share it without being redundant or reductive. While most superpowers must be used sparingly and with great caution, while literary inclinations are often misused and abused, I relish opportunities to harness language to thought, to put pen to paper, and offer a new vision, a new voice.

How do you use it to build community?

As a reporter for The Record, I use my pen to give expression to public trustees, small businesses, local community organisations, and concerned citizens. As an historian, I use my pen to give expression to ghosts – or so I would hope. I scour old, oft-dismissed documents and I find faint voices, rising, asking only to be carried forth into their future, our present. Readers need not worry; I have no interest in building a community of dead people… though I think I will have an advantage when the zombie apocalypse at long last strikes. Anyway, my point: community, like identity, is not a static fact, or a structure, but a process. Any present-day community exists in the past as much as it does in its acknowledged, tangible manifestations. Let forerunning voices speak, I say, and enlighten – in every sense of the word – the builders of today. Let there be a communion of the living and the dead in the interest of the former, a dialogue made only possible by the historian qua interpreter.

My Three Favourite Things About Patrick Are…

1. His favourite community! In spite of my incredible connection to – and powerful articulation-skills about – Bishop’s University, I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the community described in such a perfect way: “‘Tis a silly place as well as a sophisticated web of blooming individualities.” Amazing.

2. Seeker, Amasser, and Expresser of Knowledge. Patrick seeks, amasses and expresses knowledge as a student of the most noble discipline in the humanities: History. He’s an Historian, too. The metaphor of giving his pen to ghosts is a great one. Patrick, for your noble pursuits of History – and your commitment to scouring the words of ghosts – I salute you.

3. So, He Made a Reference to the Zombie Apocalypse. I think that Patrick’s on to something with his idea of an Historian like himself colluding with ghosts to survive – if not lead – the Zombie Apocalypse. Pretty great. And this is all kinds of forward thinking genius.

- As told by John Horn

Jessica Pautsch – Positively Wooing Community

Who are you?

Hello, I’m Jessica.  I’m still working on figuring that question out, but so far I’m a hopeful optimist, and an aspiring social entrepreneur volunteering to make cool community centric ideas into social profit ventures. Professionally, I am an aboriginal-industry engagement consultant that helps companies become more responsive to the communities in which they operate.

What do you do for fun?

I’m a big outdoor, food, eco, people, sport, and random encounters enthusiast.  So throw any of those into the equation and I generally have a good time.

What is your favourite community? Why?

I’m super lucky that my work, study, friends, and volunteer work expose me to so many interesting and dynamic communities in this city. The more I see the types of social organization here, the more I love this city.

This may sound nerdy but one of my favourite communities I’ve found is what’s been formed around the “social enterprise” movement.  This emerging community attracts socially and environmentally minded entrepreneurs who use business tools to create positive change in some aspect. People are supportive of other’s business efforts and often offer their experience to help build yours. That’s so cool!

What is your superpower?

If I love something, I benevolently coerce you into loving it too.

How do you use it to build community?

I love healthy communities.  I think that the number and type of connections you have with your social and physical environment ultimately determines your health and overall happiness. So, all of my professional and volunteer efforts have been geared towards creating positive connections between people and their environments. I started a non-profit called Eco Trek Tours with the intent to connect people to innovative environmental initiatives in their own back yards through fun, informative and affordable tours.  With my professional work, I’ve learned that financial independence is critical for First Nation self-determination and nation building, and so I use my role to help empower First Nations from the benefits of sensible resource development by building bridges between opportunity and need in responsible and collaborative ways.

My Three Favourite Things About Jessica Are…

1. The Power of WOO. The art of Winning Others Over can be used to achieve nefarious ends (never paying for anything, world domination, convincing others to do the wrong thing, etc.), so I’m pretty darn happy that Jessica uses her superpower – mindful passion that is convincingly contagious – to achieve positive, healthy and community-driven projects. Her “nerdy” love of the social enterprise community makes sense, too, as it takes both entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to persuade a diverse audience (investors, community-members, collaborators) to build and execute a common vision. And, well, when it all comes together its a beautiful thing!

2. Hardworking Team Spirit. I got to know Jessica on the football soccer field, where she is a force to be reckoned with. Jess brings the same kind of energy to sport as she does to work, and the team can always count on her to make plays and spark positive chatter with her hustle and willingness to throw herself into tough situations. And, when it comes to post-game-reflection, Jess is always well equipped with one or two timely, um, quips that reflect the kind of social intelligence that allows a person to speak with anyone, anywhere about anything. This is probably what makes Jessica such a great random encounters enthusiast.

3. She’s a Stylish Changemaker! Full disclosure: the “style” comment comes from my obversation that Jess can pull off colourful, possibly-Hawaiian, shorts on the soccer field and an argyle sweater vest during post-season-celebrations with unique aplomb. As for the changemaking, well, she lives it every day by engaging with First Nations communities for some of the most difficult and important conversations in this part of the world as well as, in her volunteer/”free” time, building community-minded enterprises that not only make a difference but, ideally, also an organization-sustaining profit. How she has the energy to play sports once a week is a superpower all on its own!

Fidel Vila – The Spanish Hurricane

Who are you?

A guy who loves  being around his family.

Psychiatry is a passion of mine, and I am fortunate to practice and teach at both Saint Paul’s Hospital and UBC Hospital; also, I combine my clinical work with research on mental health.

What do you do for fun?

I am a relentless soccer player, and a photography enthusiast. Since my first daughter was born, however, I can spend hours just witnessing the wonders of live reflected in her development. It might have something to do with sleep deprivation, but when I’m around her the notion of time and space often seem to get on hold and I can submerge into a pure here-and-now moment. Frank Cottrell, a British writer, once said that family is probably the only distraction that makes you feel virtuous when you surrender to it; and I couldn’t agree more.

What’s your favourite community and why?

Even though I have lived most of my live in large cities and feel comfortable living in them, there is something reminiscent of my childhood that I can only experience whenever I spend time in small communities. It is difficult to pin-point what it is, but I sense that a special connection between people happens in such communities. The Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast are places in BC where I have had such experiences.

What is your superpower?

This is rather mundane, but I have recently been told that I am a people’s person.
Reflecting on this recent comment, I realized that I have always seen myself as someone who enjoys listening to people around me, and that has allowed to create meaningful connections.

How does your superpower help you build community?

A great deal of what a can be accomplished as a community relies on the strength and meaningfulness of the relationships its members create among themselves.

Patient and active listening seems to be a good ingredient to promote the above.

My Three Favourite Things About Fidel Are…

1. Phenomenal soccer prowess.  There’s a reason that we (or maybe it’s just me…?) call him the Spanish Hurricane. It’s not just his ball control or killer spinning shot that makes him great. It’s that way he moves and passes and sets his team-mates up that makes him truly inspiring. When Fidel’s on the field, you know he’ll make you somehow pull off beautiful plays. It’s inspiring to play with so a generous a player.

2. His sympathetic and kindly manner. Here’s a guy who exudes warmth and thoughtfulness. He’s the type of person you feel you can trust and who general aura gives off a kinship. This might be something that you’d think would be a given as a psychiatrist. But with Fidel, it isn’t professional; its personal.

3. Commitment to helping his community. Be it his hard work writing grants to raise money for the Portland FC, his thoughtful suggestions at countless organizing meetings or the hours he devotes to coaching and mentoring street soccer players on the court – this is a guy who’s committed to his community and giving back to it wherever possible. And that’s just his volunteer stuff. His day job is to help those suffering from all sorts of mild and severe mental illness find their way in life.

Special Bonus Reason #4. He makes an amazing Spanish tortilla!

As told by Kurt Heinrich…

Holly Langland is Carpe Diem!

Who are you?

Well, my life purpose is bringer of light, play and possibilities and the older I get [Editor's note: she's not old] the more I realize how true it is and how hard I strive to achieve my purpose. And I realize how much I need to get out of my own way and just be it and live it!

What do you do for fun?

First of all, I do whatever I can to make my life fun. In fact, I take issue with dividing fun from everything else. So, for me living is fun. My life is fun. Having said that, I really enjoy cooking, listening to the birds – communing with nature, that is – and defying the odds.

What is your favourite community? Why?

In [self-assessment tool] StrengthsFinder my top strength is Connectedness. My community is humankind, and I need to live in a community that is limitless; I need to be a part of something that recognizes the beauty in all human beings as well as the fact that, really, I’m no different from someone in, say, Ghana. Humankind’s similarities far outweigh our differences and through understanding and celebrating these similarities we can overcome our differences. I think that this kind of approach and understanding will allow our community to not be run down by all the mechanisms of life, like bills, debt, structure, rules, and all the rest of it.

What is your superpower?

You know, I think my superpower is seeing peoples’ beauty and vulnerability at the same time. Whether it’s at a bus stop or Starbucks I am often approached by people – one time, a guy started singing me a song – because I feel like I’m on the same page as them. So, showing kindness is my superpower; I give people the benefit of the doubt without seeking any judgment.

How do you use it to build community?

People like to be seen, noticed and acknowledged. I’m able to extend a hand – physical, mental, emotional – and do it in a way that make people trust me. I strive to give more than I get and this approach naturally creates an opening in any community.

My Three Favourite Things About Holly Are…

1. The Big Picture. She gets it, explores it, and celebrates it. Such an approach is very evident given her above description of her favourite community: humankind. Holly is positive and hopeful about our inteconnected global community recognizing that we’re all more similar than different and that, through acknowledging this fact, we can make the world a better place. You gotta love this kind of positive mindset!

2. Amazing Listening Skills. I worked with Holly for just about three years. One of the many things that makes her so good at developing talent is her ability to listen … actively. Holly knows how to take in information – even rambling, semi-disconnected, incredibly tangential stuff from yours truly – and ask really, really, really good questions based on what she heard. And, through these questions, the person to whom she’s conversing is usually empowered with the necessary tools that will allow them to develop their own solution and/or strategy for being awesome. So, thanks for that, Holly.

3. She’s an Amazing Cook. My lovely and talented wife, Michelle, has four rules about meals: they must be affordable, healthy, tasty, and easy to make. Not only do Holly’s many creations hit all of the previous touchpoints, but they exceed them! Dinner parties at Chez Holly are simply delightful, and it was always a pleasure when she brought in culinary creations for potlucks.

As told by John Horn…

Mike Worth – Man of a Dozen Communities

Editor’s Note: This profile was done over beers at Vancouver’s Alibi Room. Anything inaccurate is entirely Gumboot Editor Kurt Heinrich’s fault!

Who are you?

Mike Worth. Software Developer for ATIMI, a local Vancouver company.

What do you do for fun?

I love to spend time with my son, play the guitar, listen to interesting music and read about the latest tech gadgets.

What is your favorite community?

Oh boy. That’s hard to say. I’m a cinephine and love movies. I love BBQ and how tasty sauce and dry roasted ribs binds together enthusiasts from across the province. I’m just as crazy about the craft brewery scene and the wide range of adherents. I love to partake in all of these things with my friends and family.  I guess you could say that I am a man of a dozen communities.

What’s your superpower?

The super power that pops into my mind is my super-pallet for identifying the best BBQ and craft beer around. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

How do you use it to build community?

By taking one for the team and exploring the best that various communities have to offer (as aided and abetted by my super BBQ pallet) I’m able to share with my close family and friends a tasty home-style (cornbread, ribs, pulled pork, brisket, coleslaw, roasted chicken) culinary experience. It’s wonderful to take something that’s near and dear to one’s heart and to share it with one’s loved ones who may never have experienced it before.

My three favorite things about Mike Worth are:

1. His drive to find the best in all of his diversity of interests. Mike isn’t one to shrug his shoulders and settle for something that’s just “ok”. He wants to find the best the world (or at least the region) has to offer. Because he’s programmed to track down the best types of beer, music, BBQ, etc. his friends and family also reap significant benefits. That might be exposure to new songs (ie. Jonsi and Sigur Ros), phenomenal BBQ (best BBQ pork ribs in Whistler) and or new tech know-how (not sure how to properly pimp out your android phone? Ask Mike).

2. His devotion to his son. Mike’s always looking out for his young son. He’s always thinking of him. He’s proud of him and you can see the love and complete and utter commitment burned into his face whenever his son is nearby. Talk about a lucky kid (and a lucky dad!)

3. You’ll always learn something new about beer. Each time I spend an afternoon or evening with Mike, I learn about a new craft brewery. Maybe it’s Deschutes Brewery. Maybe it’s Rogue Brewery. Maybe its some random small craft brewery based in Fort St. John that you’ve never heard of. The best part of it all is with Mike, you don’t just learn about the beer, you also get to sample some of the best tasting brews in the Pacific Northwest. Over and over again…