December 17th, 2014 · 2 Comments
Well it has been a pretty well-assembled year here at Green Briefs and Unicycle Creative. To celebrate, I made this fun little card with my family, showing how all the pieces of 2014 clicked together (more or less) to create a pretty awesome set. Many best wishes and gratitude to all my readers, clients and friends who make being in this crazy business such fun. See you in the bigger, better 2015 set!
If you want a closer look, click on the image to download a PDF.
*’If I was King I’d Make the World Out of LEGO’ is actually the title of a blog I wrote for Sustainable Minds a few years back, imagining a completely standardized and upgradable world. Ahead of its time, perhaps… Read the original here.
Tags: Art · Printing · Production · Sustainable Lifestyle · Unicycle Case Studies
December 15th, 2014 · 2 Comments
Tags: Art · Environment · Green Politics
#BCbuylocal from LOCO BC on Vimeo.
We all get a warm fuzzy feeling when we think of the old corner store of our childhood. The friendly grocer, pacing the well-wooden floor, doling out neighbourly wisdom and penny candy… unfortunately, for many people, that’s still the impression they get when they think ‘Buy Local’. But LOCO BC is out to evolve that, with a new campaign developed in partnership with Fluid Creative and yours truly at Unicycle Creative.
At it’s core is the message that buying local has actual tangible economic benefits, as more money circulates in the economy and businesses support one another to build stronger communities. Check out the motion graphic #BCbuylocal video, produced by Unicycle (Lorne Craig) with graphics by Backyard Creative‘s Lisa Hemmingway. The numbers are real* and the impact is genuine.
The #BCbuylocal website features a plethora of pink dots that let shoppers know WHERE to shop local, and helps them understand what that even means. LOCAL OWNED, LOCAL MADE and LOCAL GROWN are the designations, and shoppers and merchants alike become LOCAL CHAMPIONS for joining the cause. The program also features stickers, signage and posters that local businesses can download and use to help spread the word. Funding support from local financial industry champion Vancity helps make it all possible.
So by all means, stop by and talk to your local merchant and feel the love. But also know that if you are marketing a local business, there may be a bigger economic story to tell as well.
*Video Data Sources: “The Power of Purchasing” (LOCO, Columbia Institute, Sauder School of Business), May 2013; ‘Independent BC: Small Business and the British Columbia Economy” (Civic Economics), February 2013
If you didn’t know we had a 25-year regional plan, don’t feel bad. Most people’s brains rust over when faced with terms like ‘Regional Context’ and ‘Transportation Demand Strategies’. But ‘Metro Vancouver 2040 – Shaping Our Future‘ is a plan so thorough, it was adopted unanimously in 2011 by 21 municipalities, a treaty First Nation, Translink and adjacent regional districts. So if you live here, your council approved it. One would be be hard pressed to get that herd of cats to agree on the colour of the sky.
So why isn’t this miraculous self-help book for our area’s growth and development being taught in schools, lauded in coffee shops and dissected on radio phone in shows? We’ll get to that. But first, let’s look at a few highlights that I discovered by getting up early for one of Metro Vancouver’s Sustainability Breakfast events.
With a million people saving up to move here by 2040, we need to align regional vision and local plans. We need to decide where to put our new friends, where they will work and how they will get around. It’s obvious that we can’t just build a taller downtown and spread single family sprawl miles into the suburbs. (Ask Calgary how that’s working out for them) Besides the fact that we have a mountain range, a border and the Pacific Ocean hemming us in, the simple math on transit shows that sending full trains and buses one way into town just so they can ride back to the burbs 90% empty to pick up more commuters just doesn’t make sense. That’s why density is being deliberately created in a series of urban centers and transit hubs that feed each other. Much to the apparent surprise of every neighbourhood that gets a residential tower approved.
Metro 2040 protects certain kinds of land uses. Industrial lands are becoming more scarce, under pressure from residential development profiteers. But we need those spaces for industries to employ people and provide local products and services. Likewise with our agricultural lands, which, although only comprising 1.5% of BC’s farmland, provide some 27% of the province’s farm receipts. So don’t expect it to get any easier to get approval to plow under a blueberry field or industrial park for your next townhome project.
We all know Vancouverites try to work as little as possible anyway. So 47% of the region’s land base is designated for conservation and recreation. And you can bet a majority of people want that protection to continue. Metro 2040 identifies sensitive ecosystems, wildlife corridors and areas for humans to get their nature fix. So again, we are looking at more people in about the same space. Trying to get around.
Which brings us to cars. Or rather, not. The auto; a fun idea for the 20th century, when we didn’t really know any better. Car use in our region is actually flat and/or declining. Even now, 27% of trips in Metro Vancouver are made by walking, cycling or transit. The target for 2040 is to almost double that total to 50%. Which brings us to the Mayor’s Council and the upcoming referendum on Transit. You’ve probably heard of THAT by now, as it means we are being asked to once again dig into what’s left of our take home pay with a half-percent added on to the PST in Metro Vancouver. With this sacrifice, we are supposed to also get a bunch more money from Victoria and Ottawa to build a Broadway subway, light rail through Surrey and a bunch of other stuff the really smart transportation people say we need.
But of course, so few people have been paying attention so far, that the whole Metro 2040 house of cards is in danger of being scuttled by a bunch of folks whose annual salaries average what the President of Translink spends on lunches in a year. They are understandably pissed about that inequity, and like anybody coming to a meeting late, think they must be able to offer a better idea than the one the overpaid desk jockeys have been working on for years.
So what’s a citizen to do? And how can Metro Vancouver tell their sustainability story better to help?
Well, if you have read this far (thanks – both of you) then why not continue by reading some of the Metro 2040 website. There’s a dry video that takes you through the overview, some cool maps and a baseline annual report on how we are doing so far.
But overall, you’ll probably find the experience daunting. It’s a lot of text, a staggering amount of data, and you have to really dig to find any cool bits. Which is too bad, because there is a lot of great thinking here, and it’s information that is unquestionably relevant to the million and a half people who live here.
So in the spirit of encouragement, here are a few thoughts:
How about introducing the whole 2040 site with a fast-paced, captivating info graphic animation? Show the challenges, the contexts and the solutions proposed. Heck, SELL the idea a bit more.This is a GOOD plan made by SMART people. And it’s already been approved by almost everybody. Include a cute dog.
Demonstrate what happens to regions that grow WITHOUT a plan like this... deserted downtowns, clogged freeways… this could be us if we don’t, say, approve the Transit referendum.
Show what the plan means to individuals. In the marketing business we call this creating a profile. Describe how a student will get around in 2040. Where a senior will travel to connect with her friends. How a farm worker will live and work here.
I am sure the hard working folks at Metro Vancouver have quite a lot on their plate, but I hope they can bring more of the Metro 2040 plan to the public with the impact it deserves.
Because it doesn’t matter how GOOD your plan is if no one knows it’s there.
Tags: Green Points of View · Green Politics · Research · Sustainable Lifestyle
It’s interesting how the perceptions and realities of sustainability ebb and flow. It wasn’t too long ago that we were all shunning the printed page, saving trees by not printing that e-mail. Until we calculated the carbon footprint of the server farms that dish up all that e-spam. Or the piles of wasted devices we use to read it.
Meanwhile, good old-fashioned ink-on-paper printing has been steadily cleaning up its act. Take CORONADO® SST 100 paper stock for instance. Offered through a partnership with Neenah Papers and BC’s Hemlock Printers, it’s FSC Certified, created from 100% post-consumer recycled fiber, and made with Green-e certified energy. It’s also certified carbon-neutral throughout its life cycle by Hemlock’s ZERO Program. What this means it that very sheet of Coronado SST 100 that you use supports Offsetters portfolio of carbon offset projects, including BC’s Great Bear Rainforest Carbon project, which offsets approximately one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere annually.
So when you are considering marketing alternatives, remember that print may not be the choice that creates the greatest footprint. Make sure you aren’t printing excess quantities, choose the right stock and remember to tell the world you are making conscious choices by featuring the FSC logo and the correct recycling symbols on your publications.
Want more information on sustainable print? Talk to me, or visit hemlock.com.
*Unicycle Creative worked with Hemlock to help brand the CORONADO® SST 100 launch, sourcing this amazing Spirit Bear photo from ace shooter Ron Theile.
. What’s more,
Tags: Green Creative · Printing · Sustainable Products · Unicycle Case Studies
September 24th, 2014 · 1 Comment
A fair question. Canada’s certified organic food and non-alcoholic beverage market was worth $3 billion in 2012 – tripling since 2006. To help consumers understand where some of this cash is flowing for Organic Week 2014, Unicycle Creative was commissioned by organic food manufacturer and distributor Left Coast Naturals to design an infographic. For this example we used industry estimations to compare a 200g bag of organic granola produced by a mid-sized local company, with the same product produced by a large conventional manufacturer. To learn more, check out the Left Coast Naturals blog.
September 23rd, 2014 · No Comments
As a sustainability marketer, I attend a variety of events that wouldn’t get most people off their couch. To be honest, I thought the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference 2014 might be one of those, as I pictured a room full of trash academics debating diversion rates. But it turned out to be a lot more big-picture visionary than I had anticipated, and I left quite motivated. Here are a few of the high points of the day’s pile of information. Hope you dig them.
1. Waste is Food.
Here’s a brutal stat: More than 30% of our food is wasted before reaching the consumer. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to repurpose all that wasted nutrition? Enterra Feeds is a BC company that takes discarded food, and turns it into sustainable protein and oils, (to feed fish and livestock), and a natural organic fertilizer. It does this with the help of the Soldier Fly larva – a big greasy pupa that eats the food and converts it into oils. Gross? Heck, yeah. But not to the larva, to animals that ultimately get the feed, or to investors.
That’s just one example. A big part of the conference agenda was devoted to the Circular Economy (which is actually more of a butterfly shape, as the chart illustrates – find out more on the Metro Van blog here). This is the ‘new’ way of thinking, actually pioneered by billions of years of evolving species before us, that says there really is no such thing as waste. Every output from one system should be nutrients for another. The only thing disposable is the concept of disposability itself.
That’s why for Metro Vancouver, banning organics from the landfill and getting people to divert their food scraps is a major priority.
The Macarthur Foundation
2. Vancouver is shipping garbage to the US – and People Don’t Like Incinerators.
OK, that’s two things. But the fact that they have been lumped together is part of the problem, so please bear with me. During a networking break, I spoke with Paul Henderson, General Manager of Solid Waste Services at Metro Vancouver. He filled me in on how private waste haulers are bypassing municipal recycling and disposal regulations by shipping their trash out of the region. A recent Vancouver Sun article describes how haulers are fined here for banned items in their loads, and as a result, find it cheaper to truck trash up the valley, greenhouse gasses and all. In response, Metro is pushing the BC Minister of Environment to approve bylaw 280, which would require that garbage generated in Metro Vancouver be processed at regional facilities – a plan supported by many local recycling companies and organizations.
Meanwhile, Metro Vancouver is also looking at constructing a larger waste-to energy incineration facility, a move that received expressions of broad disapproval by almost everyone at the conference.
Now, opponents of bylaw 280 are linking the two issues, using ‘Stop the Incinerator’ initiatives to put pressure on government to reject the bylaw, so they can continue to ship waste and avoid the fines.
Paul Henderson says the incinerator is not a done deal, but that we need the bylaw to support our common goals. I fully support the bylaw, but methinks they are going to have to publicly de-couple those two issues.
Metro Vancouver Current WTE Facility
3. Plastic is everywhere. Yet most people know nothing about it.
Could you pick polypropylene out of a pile of ABS? Which is better for recycling, PET or expanded polystyrene? According to presenter Mike Biddle, from MBA Polymers, humans now produce an consume more plastics than steel. Yet the reuse rate of plastics is only about 8%. And that’s largely a sorting problem.
Mike took us through some of the sophisticated ‘processes’ used in the developing world to sort and recycle plastic, such as burning it and smelling the fumes. Then he showed everyone pictures of his big, shiny, global plastics recycling facilities where the job is done more effectively. Several of the audience speculated on how nice it would be to have a facility that that here in BC.
Biddle, though no market interventionist, stated that to do that, society and governments would need to ‘prime the pump’ to help encourage the use of recycled plastics in product design and production.
Seems to me like we need to start with a little Plastic Literacy first. Maybe that would be a future communications goal for the Metro Vancouver team.
All in all, there was a lot more information and future envisioning at Zero Waste 2014 than I could encapsulate here. So watch their website, they are planning to host some video recaps of the presentations.
In the meantime, keep on separating that waste and recycling. Currently, about 55% of our garbage is recycled. Metro is aiming for 70% by 2015, and 80% by 2020.
Tags: Environment · Events · Green Points of View · Green Politics · Uncategorized
It was the early 1600′s. The Catholic Church, ie, government of the day, was opposed to the radical new idea that the earth was NOT the center of the Universe. The Copernican view, that the Earth revolves around the sun, was considered heresy. The infamous radical astronomer Galileo (himself a Catholic) was tried by the Roman Inquisition and forced to recant his views and spend the rest of his life under house arrest.
In a similar way today, climate scientists employed by the Canadian Federal Government (well, by taxpayers, really) are being told they no longer have the right to speak freely to the media or public, or they might just face their own form of house arrest – unemployed. In 2012, the Privy Council Office, an arm of the Prime Minister’s office, put the big freeze on Canadian scientists wanting to spread the news of the greatest summer arctic ice melt levels on record.
Neither the Vatican or the Harper Government can win at this game in the long term. Because natural systems don’t play politics. They just keep on doing their thing, as the evidence stacks up. Or melts away.
Tags: Art · Green Points of View · Green Politics · Sustainable Lifestyle
August 28th, 2014 · 1 Comment
The vines are so close to the driveway I could pick grapes out the car window. A rooster runs by and I wonder if I’ve made a wrong turn. Then, a short distance ahead, I see other cars parked between a farmhouse and a small rustic wooden barn.
This is the Clos du Soleil winery, one of the Similkameen Valley’s secret treasures. Judging by the Thursday afternoon crowd buzzing around Tasting Room Manager Jesce Walker, its status as an undiscovered brand is already in jeopardy.
I’m at Clos du Soleil to find out a few things – like how a french style winery came to be in this remote southern BC valley; why the word ‘organic’ doesn’t appear on their labels or website; and what is their long-term vision for this upstart brand?
What ‘Clos du Soleil’ is French for.
The winery’s French roots come from owner Spencer Massie’s experiences in Europe.
“Spencer wanted to bring Bordeaux flavours to BC and infuse them with the terroir of the Similkameen,” Walker tells me as she pours, “A ‘clos’ is a rock wall, or enclosure traditionally found in French country yards, and ‘Soleil’ is the sun. The rock cliffs behind the winery absorb the sun’s heat and reflect it back, ‘enclosing’ the sun for the benefit of the vines. Clos du Soleil a microclimate within the microclimate of the Similkameen Valley.”
We begin the tasting with a black label Fumé Blanc. My palate is good enough to notice the grapefruit and pineapple tones, but I just nod knowingly when Jesce refers to notes of lemongrass and make a note to steal the term.
The wine label colours are a clue to their brand category. Black labels are the approachable everyday drink-right-away wines. Gold labels indicate collaborations with other vineyards and the white label Clos du Soleil wines are the ones you want to stock away in your cellar for a few years. A logical hierarchy, if perhaps a little mysterious to the consumer.
Is ‘organic’ a bad word?
I put this question directly to Jesce, wondering why it doesn’t appear on their labels or website. She assures me they are known for organic growing and people do feel good buying and drinking organically-grown wines, just as they do shopping for organic food. (Clos du Soleil does add sulfites, so even through the grapes are grown organically, the wines themselves are not certified organic)
“I think in the past, people got the idea that organic equaled poor age-ability,” says Jesce, “Now when I pour them our wines that are two or three years old, people are amazed at their richness and complexity.”
The tasting moves to a crisp rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. This starts off with a classic rosé strawberry patch nose, but has a surprisingly earthy finish. Jesce tells me the Similkameen Valley has volcanic clay ash soil, similar to that in regions of France (and unlike the more glacial sandy soil of the Okanagan) That is what gives these wines more rich minerality.
Grapes first, brand later.
As we move into the reds, I delve deeper into the topic of brand vision.
“When Clos du Soleil started, the focus was purely on growing the grapes,” Jesce continues, “Our 10 acres of vines are certified organic, and we also work with the principles of Biodynamics.”
This approach to growing includes tending the vines with the phases of the moon and, in a delightfully pagan-sounding ritual, burying animal horns full of manure to re-energize the soil with its naturally occurring microbes. Another story that bears more fruitful telling.
“Now we are planning to build a new tasting room, and can concentrate more on getting customers involved with our brand,” Jesce says as she pours a rich merlot. “For example, we see more and more people in their 20’s here, looking to learn more about wine.”
I compare this to the burgeoning craft beer market, and ask if Clos du Soleil plans to compete in the creative name and label trend that has brought so many unique brands to the Okanagan.
“No, we want our look to stay more classic, with a sense of elegance.” Jesce pauses to check on the roosters outside who have recently fended off an unleashed dog. “It’s our vision one day to have a Clos du Soleil wine served in one fine restaurant in every country in the world.”
The wines certainly seem capable of standing on their own, and it helps that the Similkameen was recently named by enRoute Magazine as “one of the world’s 5 best wine regions you’ve never heard of”. But is French-style elegance enough?
Cellaring the brand.
I can’t help but think there is a more unique, rustic and and authentic brand story here. A story that somehow expands on the term ‘elegance’, to embrace everything from the volcanic rock cliffs to the kittens and roosters that prowl the farmhouse yard. Not to mention the warm, genuine hospitality.
And perhaps, properly told, the organically-grown and biodynamic story could open doors in many fine restaurants across the globe, too.
Whatever Clos du Soleil decides to do with their brand evolution, As I savour the raspberry reduction overtones of the Grower’s Series Guild Merlot, something tells me they are going to have to build a bigger parking lot.
Tags: Brand Identity · Sustainable Businesses · Sustainable Products
The Mount Polley Mine Environmental Disaster, as it’s soon and forevermore likely to be known, has thrown into sharp focus the incredible liability the mining industry faces whenever they decide to store a toxic swamp full of lead, cadmium, arsenic and whatever other delightful chemical combinations these elements can create. (Which is pretty much every time a copper/gold mine is built these days)
Yet BC Mining Companies continue to pressure governments, at home and abroad, for less and less environmental oversight. And when governments like the BC Liberals oblige, everyone loses.
(And if you think these are just the ravings of a left-of-center hippie cartoonist, read Stephen Hume’s Vancouver Sun column on the subject. He’s hardly what you call a card-carrying eco radical)
Perhaps if we made mining companies bear the true costs of extracting gold, copper, silver, zinc, aluminum, platinum and other metals that are so in demand for our high-tech lifestyle, the e-waste recycling business model would prove more attractive.
Tags: Art · Environment · Green Creative · Green Points of View · Green Politics