Archive for the ‘Shuswap’ Category

How we launch #startups #salmonarm
May 7, 2017

This column first appeared in the May All Month Edition of the Friday AM.
As you read this, the latest round of Shuswap Launch-a-preneur winners will have been announced. Congratulations and sincere thanks to all those who sponsored and mentored competitors in the 2017 edition of this popular entrepreneurial initiative. 


It’s important for me that you know that in the ten weeks proceeding Thursday night’s gala event, all the teams exhibited a winning attitude in participating in 7 workshops, a sneak peek trade show at the local mall and hours and hours of preparation for their 2 and 10; a two minute pitch and a ten minute presentation. 
 
Something to consider is that business ownership and entrepreneurship is, in the grand scheme of history, a relatively new opportunity and privilege.
 
History reminds that in the Middle Ages, the rulers decided who could and couldn’t operate as a business. You might not know that, by definition, a journeyman is someone with a recognized trade who has been given permission by the ruling Monarch to journey from town to town. A brand, something we’re so fond of marketing today, was originally a symbol, on a tool, so that illiterate peasants would be able to recognize from whom they purchased their original tool when the time came to replace it. 
 
Entrepreneurship and business ownership is especially important in small communities and on that front, Salmon Arm is considered, both provincially and nationally, as a very entrepreneurial city and editorial rankings from business magazines support this. 
 
Those of you who have lived in big cities might relate to my own experience of life there. Most of my friends and colleagues worked for someone or something else. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve had where I knew my manager, but I did not know my owners; from teenage work at McDonalds, to university shifts at Eaton’s to a stint with Western Living Magazine in graduate school. Owners would fly in and fly out with little time for the employees. 
 
But in a small town, we are in business together. I can’t get through a day without relying on another small business. We are less so competitors and more so collaborators. Because we know our community and we know the job needs to get done. 
 
An important economic metric is what’s called the multiplier effect. By most accounts, the multiplier effect of a small business punches above its weight. It’s a high as 8 to 1 which means that every dollar spent is circulated locally as many as 8 times in the supplies and wages they pay. The same can’t be said for multi-nationals. Not that they don’t make an important contribution, because they do on a national level, but it isn’t quite the same.
 
Case in point, next time you go to a local fundraiser for a cause that you care about, check the logos at the bottom of the event poster. Are there multinationals supporting it? Unlikely. Not because they don’t care but because it’s a different business model run from a different place. Local business understands community in ways that multi-nationals do not. They both make significant contributions overall but the measure of support favours local business. It’s important to remember this. 
 
It’s also important to support them in return. Inclusion and partnership are key to the very thing we love and work so hard for; leisure. Their support is critical to events and projects so that we, as a community, have events and projects to enjoy in our leisure time. We work hard for leisure time. That’s the basis of the economic model; work hard to enjoy leisure. I hope you haven’t forgotten this. It’s important to find a balance wether your leisure is baseball (as it is for my husband Dave), or art and culture (as it is for me) or sports (as it is for my kids and their friends).
 
Entrepreneurs are brave souls – for whom we should all be grateful – for without their appetite for risk and reward – our community would be much weaker, as would our economy. 
 
I will say, as a now entrepreneur, there are days I shake my head and wonder why I take the risk and responsibility of being a small business owner. Will the cheque clear? Will the deadline be met? It can be very stressful. But those moments pale in comparison to the joy and pride I feel for a job well done, a fellow business made better by our work, a positive balance in my bank account and the knowledge that I make more than money. I help to build community. None of which I could do without you. None of which I could have done had I not moved to Salmon Arm going on twenty years ago. 
So to the new batch of Launch-a-preneur businesses, make sure you carve out time for your own well being and leisure. And to those of who enjoy the hard-earned privilege of leisure time as a result of your work, please make sure you carve out time to support our brave local businesses.
 
I am fond of saying that team work makes the dream work. Congrats to all.  I have total faith in you. And if you find yourself a bit short on that front, please reach out. We’ve got more than enough to go around. 
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Summertime and the living is eas(ier)
August 4, 2016

This column first appeared in the August 2016 All Month edition of the Friday AM in Salmon Arm, BC

As I write this, I have vacation on my mind. 
 
Of course, when you live in a place that is someone else’s vacation spot, there can be challenges. Other people’s vacation keep many of us locals a fair bit more busy. And that’s a good thing. But it’s summer. And we all deserve to enjoy it. 
 
We really are so fortunate. I have enjoyed visits to the gallery for the Trail Mix Exhibit (don’t miss it) and WOW (don’t miss that either) and I marvel at the work being done by Roots and Blues as they prepare for festival 24. Amazing team. Please go. 
 
I’ve enjoyed evenings at the Hive and my kids have had a great time on the lake. I’m more of a beach dweller, myself. I live for the late night campfires in my backyard.
 
But I’m trading it all in come Monday for three weeks in North Bay on Lake Nipissing, the town in which I grew up. Crazy right? Who would leave the Shuswap mid summer? Me, that’s who. And I’m beyond excited. 
 
The thing about summer is that it’s about nostalgia. And I’m headed that way. North Bay is much like Salmon Arm, a tourist town on a beautiful lake. It’s no wonder I ended up here. Like Canoe, I lived in an older neighbourhood very close to the lake. We would wander over to the beach at all hours for a quick swim as my kids do now at the dock. We were about 10 minutes from town as we are here. As kids, we would ride and skateboard around the neighbourhood till dark. When the porch lights turned on, it was time to come home. Same goes at our house now. 
 
But my homing beacon is calling me back big time. Some years ago, facing some difficulty in my business and helping my best friend move to the East Coast despite the prospect of missing her and her family terribly, I made a decision. I went to my high school reunion in North Bay. I didn’t have the money or the time but I knew I needed to go. So I did. And I reconnected with people who have known me since I was seven years old.
 
It was a watershed moment. In that three day weekend I remembered that I am who I have always been. A happy kid from a small town full of ideas and optimism. And it was a reminder that I sorely needed. I have been back since and I’ll go anytime I’m invited. There’s something about spending time with people who knew you before you were a grown up with expectations and responsibilities that does a soul good. I can honestly tell you that since that reunion, things have worked out for me both in terms of my business and my connection to this community. I’m proud to be a city councillor and small business owner. I’ve now lived in Salmon Arm longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere else. It’s my new home. And I Iove it. But nostalgia is a powerful force. 
 
This is the first time that my husband, my boys and my best friend will see where I grew up. I can’t wait to show them. I know they’ll say it reminds them of Salmon Arm.  We’ll see my parents, my brother, his wife and their kids, some cousins and some wonderful friends. I can’t wait. We’ll visit our neighbourhood, my old school, my hang outs and we’ll take quick dips in the lake at all hours. 
 
If you ever have to leave a place you love for a new place, please find a way to go back. It’ll help. Nostalgia is the best part of summer. I’ll miss Salmon Arm if only briefly but I’ll appreciate it more for going back to the place that made me fall in love with this town in the first place. 
 
Be safe. Be happy. Enjoy each other. That’s what summer is for. See you in September.

Art is at the Heart of the Shuswap this Summer
May 1, 2015

There’s nothing like some time away from your community to help you understand all that your community has to offer. This was much the case for me when I attended the Arts BC annual conference in Penticton as Salmon Arm Arts Centre’s Community Development Coordinator. It’s good to get away. Especially for me, as I’ve been hyper-focussed on learning all that I can as a new city councillor. 

The first take away for me was how big this province really is. It’s one thing to jump in a car and get to your destination, but when you take out a map, and give it some serious consideration, you might be surprised. BC is four times the size of the United Kingdom. It’s bigger than Japan and New Zealand combined. It’s all of Florida and then some. It’s big.

For all the benefits of big, it’s not without its challenges. How do we, as a province, made up of individual communities, plan and partake in a provincial cultural plan? Is it even a realistic option? These are questions I took home with me after the conference. We have big island communities, small island communities, northern communities, mountain communities, coastal communities, rural communities and urban communities. We’re a complex place. That’s a good thing. But it’s messy when it comes to provincial policy especially as it relates to culture.

But sometimes, big is just too big. We need to focus on specifics and learn from that. For example, did you know that more people earn their living in the arts in BC than any other province in the country? Maybe it’s the landscape, maybe it’s the sense of place. Whatever it is, it’s exciting. And come this summer, our region is in for some major excitement.

What might seem “normal” to us, is extraordinary in other regions. Both the Roots and Blues festival (23 years young) and Caravan Farm Theatre (now producing four shows per year) have been identified as national treasures in terms of cultural offerings. We’re very fortunate. Roots and Blues brings Grammy and Juno award winning artists to our community on an annual basis. Caravan Farm Theatre, over its long history, continues to have legendary influence and attract national talent in the theatre world.

When that level of talent is attracted to a region, other good things start to happen. Creatives like to cluster with other creatives. That’s how it works. In 2006, internationally renowned installation artists Cardiff and Miller, based in Alberta, moved their Canadian studio to the area. And here’s the small town benefit. The curator at the Salmon Arm Arts Centre, Tracey Kutschker, was a student of Janet Cardiff’s at the University of Lethbridge. When she learned her former professor had relocated her studio to the Shuswap, she began the process of securing a loan of a Cardiff and Miller piece. It took six years to secure as good things take time. This summer,  two Cardiff and Miller pieces, Experiment in F# Minor and The Muriel Lake Incident will show at the Salmon Arm Arts Centre.

So next time someone asks you “should I head to the Shuswap this summer?”, I’ve got an important answer for you to deliver. Say yes. There’s only one place in North America where you can see world renowned artists Cardiff and Miller, award winning performers at Roots and Blues and ground-breaking theatrical talent at Caravan Farm Theatre. It’s all right here.

So, much like me, you might not be an artist, or a musician or an actor. But you still have a role to play in your community’s cultural capacity and that starts with yes, come and visit. Art is at the heart of the Shuswap this summer. And we’re all the better for it. BC might be big, but the Shuswap is a small gem. Just as the milky way is big, ultimately, it’s the small star that sparkles. That’s us. Let’s enjoy it.