The Amp, a coworking space in Downtown Vancouver, was launched in 2014 as a social enterprise by Ecotrust Canada. What started as a solution to a need for affordable office space, has grown into a thriving community of mission driven organizations creating impact across Canada.
Over the last 10 years, not only have residential rental rates increased in Vancouver, but so have commercial and office spaces. During the last 5 years The Amp has provided an affordable home for over 20 different organizations and more than 100 individuals from a wide range of organizations, each creating impactful work socially or environmentally. Members are supported daily by the Coworking Community Manager to help develop inter-member collaborations, build relationships and help with day to day tasks.
Coworking with co-workers
Two words with important differences (other than just the hyphen). Co-workers have the same employer, while coworkers work in the same location. Having both at The Amp is advantageous as individuals can get support from their colleagues (co-workers) and also benefit from shared knowledge and resources from within the community of different organizations sharing the work space (coworkers). An example of this was seen over the summer when two of our members Light House Sustainable Building Centre and Catalyst Community Developments Society were able to share an intern. This provided the student with a broader range of work experience from different industries, and the organizations could share the cost and time between them.
RevAmp-ing office culture
Collaboration within organizations can be difficult, luckily The Amp’s Coworking Community Manager seeks to tackle this task by facilitating the networking process through hosting weekly Huddles to exchange news about projects and achievements, regular lunch & learns and of course – monthly pub nights!
Coworking spaces contain a mix of different work cultures and individual personalities that may not naturally mix outside of the space. We like to approach this as though conducting a cacophony of sounds into harmonic symphony that enables each unique organization to feed into a thriving coworking community.
Book a desk and join the community!
The Amp’s members are an inspirational community of change makers, and we are always on the look-out to welcome similarly driven organizations into our space. In the last year:
- Spring have raised over $18 million for early stage impact businesses and launched Cohort 2 of their Impact Startup Visa (ISV) with 5 entrepreneurs who have moved to Vancouver.
- Catalyst Community Developments completed their award winning project Madrona which provided 49 affordable housing units at 30% of Housing Income Limits.
- Affordable housing developer, New Market Funds have invested in 49 units of affordable housing in Victoria, BC and have committed to invest in another 358 units in Vancouver.
- Fellow member Light House celebrated the first-year anniversary of their circular economy program NISP and has contributed to helping notable green building projects achieve certification.
In 2013, after several years of work and document review by federal agencies, Ecotrust Canada became the first charitable organization to obtain Corporation Certification to deliver at-sea and dockside fisheries monitoring programs. These programs include training courses for human Observers as well as data collection, entry and delivery protocols to ensure all federal fisheries data standards are met.
Amanda Barney, our General Manager for the Marine Monitoring Initiative, shares her personal insights on the human observer training happening with small indigenous fishing communities on Vancouver Island, and the benefits it’s bringing them.
Meeting a community need
For the last two years we’ve been working with the five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations supporting T’aaq-wiihak fisheries by delivering a dockside monitoring program for their Suuhaa (chinook) and Mi?aat (sockeye) directed salmon fisheries. T’aaq-wiihak refers to fishing with the permission of the Ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs) to catch and sell all species traditionally harvested within their territories, and comprises the rights of five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations.
While the T’aaq-wiihak were collecting valuable data for their own fishery management, like many First Nations communities they were also having to hire external human monitors to be able to report that data back to the federal government based on the national standard. These intense hiring costs are not economically feasible for smaller fisheries, which limits their ability to keep boats on the water, and hence their ability to bring employment and income into their local communities.
Local knowledge and Indigenous-led monitoring
In order to support these First Nations located around Tofino on Vancouver Island, Ecotrust Canada actively works as a service provider. We offer training programs that enable the hiring of local Dockside Monitors, data entry and program coordination, as well as offering remote data collation and delivery services. While fisheries monitoring may seem like a strange thing for a charity to pursue, we have seen the invigorating effect our work has had on the industry and local communities.
Our goal for the training program for the T’aaq-wiihak fisheries is to reinforce and continue to build local fisheries knowledge and capacity in order to meet the needs of First Nations, local fishing communities and meeting the national standards from the DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) for the designation of Observers. Observer training courses prepare students for employment as catch monitors, biological samplers or both, and guides them through the Observer certification process.
Additionally, supporting small and medium-sized fishing boats contributes to a less intensive and less stressful environment for the fish in comparison to modern industrial vessels.
Thus, we use the DFO designation as an umbrella to support small community fisheries and First Nation fisheries, offering affordable services to all, not just affluent industrial fisheries that can afford external monitoring. We believe that offering this service to small local fishing communities contributes to their long-term economic health, as well as local community culture and well-being.
Natural stewards of lands and resources
From my own perspective, I have come to my role as lead trainer for our Observer programs very organically. Not only did I work many years ago as both a dockside and an at-sea Observer in Alaska, but in my first years at Ecotrust Canada I did salmon Observer work in Prince Rupert and helped deliver training programs to our North Coast and Namgis’ partners.
I find training local community members to monitor and engage with the fisheries that occur in the waters around their homes particularly fulfilling, as they are connected to the resource and area in such a mindful way that makes them very natural stewards, and also, very engaged students.
For more information, read about our Observer Training Program.
It is your last chance to make a tax-deductible donation to Ecotrust Canada in 2017. End the year by showing your commitment to transforming communities into vibrant, sustainable and interconnected hubs of health, justice and security. With your support, we will develop, pilot and scale innovative economic solutions that promote environmental sustainability and social equity.
The holiday season has been busy and the New Year is at our doorstep.
Around the world and at home this has been a year of experiencing what is possible when people believe in a more equitable, sustainable and vibrant world – and come together in community to create it. And it’s been a year of experiencing the consequences of inaction when we don’t.
At Ecotrust Canada, we are committed to developing, piloting and scaling innovative economic solutions that support widespread community prosperity. We are demonstrating that when we embrace the connection between economy, environment and human wellbeing, we successfully support all three.
We have big plans for 2018. With your support, we’ll work to ensure that promising innovations developed and piloted in specific communities, become available to all communities. Together, we will take real steps towards a fair future where every parent has a job they feel good about, every child has the education they need, and every person has access to the basic ingredients for economic success without damaging themselves, their community or their environment.
Today is your last chance to donate this year. End of the year with a commitment to help transform communities into vibrant, sustainable and interconnected hubs of health, justice and security.
In moments of quiet reflection, we can see through the messiness of this complex work to a fair future where every parent has a job they feel good about, every child has an education that sets them up for success and every person can access the necessities of life without damaging themselves, their community or their environment. Will you join us in realizing this vision?
The past few days have given us an opportunity to stop, breathe, reconnect with family and friends and reflect on all the incredible work we’ve done together in 2017.
Through our work in partnership with communities, we’re proving beyond doubt that when we embrace the connection between human, environmental and economic wellbeing, we can build fair economies and healthy communities that benefit us all.
In those moments of quiet reflection, we can see through the messiness of this complex work to a fair future where every parent has a job they feel good about, every child has an education that sets them up for success and every person can access the necessities of life without damaging themselves, their community or their environment.
As 2017 draws to a close, we renew our commitment to developing, piloting and scaling practical economic innovations to support that vision.
We know it’s possible because we’ve seen it emerge in communities where we work. Please join us.
There are only three days left in 2017 to add your name to the growing community of Ecotrust Canada donors committed to this work.
The opportunities for impact in 2018 are monumental – beginning with the historic review of the Canadian Fisheries Act – but we can only ensure the promising innovations developed and piloted in specific communities become available to all communities with your support.
Close your eyes. Imagine a future where new economic models transform our communities into vibrant, sustainable and interconnected hubs of health, justice and security. Together, we can achieve this.
Join the wave of new Ecotrust Canada monthly donors who believe that when we embrace the connection between economy, environment and human wellbeing, we successfully support all three.
Thank-you amazing Ecotrust Canada Community!
Through our work we’ve come to believe that it is absolutely possible to create fair, sustainable and resilient economies that support widespread community wellbeing.
We’re inspired to learn that you do too!
All month, we’ve been sharing stories about the impact of developing, piloting and scaling innovative economic solutions, and have asked for your support to help us take it to the next level in 2018.
Your response is awesome! New donors have signed up to support Ecotrust Canada. And existing donors have increased their contributions. Will you join us?
Like others around the world, we’ve witnessed how easily progress can be unraveled when viable alternatives to broken economic models aren’t readily available.
The Ecotrust Canada Community is stepping up. Together we are building and scaling those alternatives. In partnership with communities, we are demonstrating that when we embrace the connection between economy, environment and human wellbeing, we successfully support all three.
The coming year is stacked with critical opportunities to prove what’s possible – and with your support we will do just that!
The first big opportunity in 2018 is already here – we’re getting ready to contribute to a historic review of the Canadian Fisheries Act. Because this once in a generation opportunity represents a critical chance to bring a decade’s worth of innovation and learning to a pivotal piece of policy that benefits us all, we want to leave nothing on the table.
As a charitable non-profit, donations to Ecotrust Canada qualify for a charitable donation tax credit. Monthly donations received by midnight December 31st will matched by a generous donor and have double the impact.
And yes, you absolutely can make your donation in honor of friends or family. Because we agree that your support is a wonderful holiday gift.
At Ecotrust Canada, we work to develop, pilot, and scale innovative economic solutions that enable sustainable communities. This work is messy, imperfect, and complex, and we don’t tell enough of the stories of the lives that are changed by our work.
Starting today, we are going to change that by sharing more stories from the communities, partners, and individual people that we work with. We hope that these stories inspire you to join us on our mission to develop, pilot and scale innovate economic solutions that enable the emergence of sustainable communities.
In 2007 a group of fisherman on the West coast of British Columbia recognized the link between the loss of their vibrant fishing industry and the community’s socio-economic challenges. They wanted a solution for the fishery that put the wellbeing of community at the centre of the plan, and partnered with Ecotrust Canada to develop it.
Together, we built and piloted a Fisheries Licence Bank, based on a triple bottom line approach. We wanted a fishery that would keep the ocean and the community healthy – a fishery that would ensure parents had jobs, kids had opportunity and families stayed safe and stayed together. We built a model through which the community shares the risk and the benefit of the fishery, and the results were promising. Based on learnings from this work, we refined the model and created a toolkit for other fish harvesters or communities to replicate it.
In 2008, the government of Canada introduced a new program to help First Nations rebuild their commercial fisheries. The ‘Namgis Nation recognized the opportunity to leverage this program in support of their own, much larger vision for a healthy, vibrant community based fishery, firmly rooted in their identity as a seafaring nation. Ecotrust Canada, who had supported the ‘Namgis in the development of their fishery vision, partnered with the Nation to adapt and operationalize their own Fishery Licence Bank, Mama’omas, with the explicit mission of creating as many viable local fishing jobs and as much benefit across community as possible.
These initial successes proved the potential for a Fishery Licence Bank model rooted in a community vision. Since then, triple bottom line Fishery Licence Banks have been replicated from coast to coast to coast and are supporting the emergence of healthy, sustainable and resilient communities.
Despite these successes, we still have a very long way to go. Models like the Fishery Licence Bank have the power to be catalytic, but their full potential has yet to be realized. To realize their full potential, significant changes in policy and regulation are required.
In 2018, The Federal government of Canada is conducting an historic review of the Canadian Fisheries Act. With your support, we can bring a decade’s worth of innovation and learning to the review of this keystone legislation and the policies it will direct. Together, we can create lasting transformational change.
Ecotrust Canada is small non-profit that’s proving it’s possible to build fair, sustainable economies that reflect and support the community. With your support, Ecotrust Canada will continue to develop, pilot and scale economic innovations to build healthy, sustainable communities. Please join us as a monthly donor or make your one-time donation before Dec 31st.
Donations made before December 31st will be matched by an anonymous donor, doubling your impact.
Ecotrust Canada is dedicated to developing innovative economic solutions that promote environmental sustainability and social equity.
We’re on a mission to scale our impact.
For more than twenty years, we’ve been developing viable economic innovations based on our belief that healthy economies and resilient communities are built on the connection between human, environmental and economic well-being. And we’re going to keep doing that because our results are extraordinarily compelling.
Through our work in partnership with communities, we’re proving beyond doubt that healthy economies and resilient communities are built hand in hand, based on economic models that embrace the connection between human, environmental and economic well-being.
2017 has been a year of reflection and refinement. Like others around the world, we have witnessed how easily progress can be unraveled when viable alternatives to broken economic models aren’t readily available.
So now we are committing to scaling our impact to achieve systems change. Our work moving forward is to develop, pilot and replicate innovative economic solutions that enable the emergence of sustainable communities.
And since we’re scaling impact, we need to scale our donor base too!
So over the month of December, we’re going to be sharing stories of impact from our community, stories that prove the possibility of building sustainable, resilient economies that work for community, and stories that we hope will inspire you to become an Ecotrust Canada Monthly Donor.
And since we’re scaling things, we will also scale the impact of your donation! Until December 31st, a generous match donor will double your gift.
There are unique and momentously important opportunities to scale impact through policy reform and community engagement in 2018. We are committed to pouring our energy into maximizing this moment. So please, help us scale our donor base too by making a one time or monthly donation today.
The Amp offers a productive space for Vancouverites who work to make the world a better place. And yes, Rover can come, too.
As big-city real estate pressures increase the appeal of shared spaces and employees and entrepreneurs seek out alternatives to the dreaded cubicle maze, coworking is surging in popularity. In Vancouver’s changemaker community, The Amp is getting the formula right. We caught up with Nicola Parr, The Amp’s Coworking Community Manager.
What is The Amp?
It’s a coworking space located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. We’re a social enterprise launched by Ecotrust Canada in September 2014, and our name was inspired by our location in the historic BC Electric Railway Company Building. We offer supportive, affordable, creative space for organizations and individuals that are working towards positive change. Just to name a few, we have environmental organizations as members, such as Fraser Riverkeeper, an entrepreneur-focused impact accelerator called Spring, and we have a group called Kids Up Front that works to get children in need into concerts and shows.
Do you actively screen prospective members for values alignment?
No, it just happens organically; we get a lot of enquiries from possible members who already know what we’re about, because they already know someone in the space. When we do get an enquiry, we start a dialogue to get an idea of whether it’s a good fit or not. If it isn’t, there are other coworking spaces in the area, and we all refer people back and forth all the time.
Do you tend to capture organizations and companies as they are just starting out?
Not necessarily. We have the Light House Sustainable Building Centre, they’re eight-plus desks, they have been around for a while, and then yes, there are newer ones. We are a little different in that we don’t have a lot of your classic freelancers. A number of our members are smaller teams linked to larger organisations. That’s the case with Evergreen, a social enterprise working to transform public landscapes into community spaces with environmental, social and economic benefits. Their main office is in Toronto, but they have team holding down the fort out here in The Amp.
How has coworking evolved in recent years?
It’s been around for a while, but in the past few years it has started to grow massively. Deskmag, an industry trade publication, recently released its 2017 Global Coworking Survey. As of 2015, the researchers were able to identify 8,700 coworking spaces worldwide. Two years later, here in 2017, they found 13,800. Membership more than doubled over that time; about 1.2 million people around the world now work in a coworking space.
What’s driving the coworking boom?
Societal preferences around work are changing. People used to need, and want, cubicles where they kept their heads down in a private space, but now people are looking for more flexibility and freedom. In addition, commercial rents in cities like Vancouver are very high—it has become very difficult for smaller organizations, and especially NGOs, to afford their own dedicated space. Also, many people just don’t want to work on their own at home. It attracts the growing number of people who are not wanting to work from home, but who don’t want to pay for a full office, so they just pay for a desk.
How are large companies and organizations responding?
It’s getting difficult for for them to ignore coworking, and many are trying to figure out how to make it work for them. Companies know they need to keep their workers—and in particular their millennial workers—interested and motivated. And so they’re offering perks they might not have had to think about before, such as flexibility and a creative work space. Coworking spaces offer those attributes. That said, coworking isn’t just for millennials! We have a wonderful generational diversity represented at The Amp.
There are so many coworking options in the market now, what ties them together?
The core coworking values of community, openness, collaboration, accessibility, and sustainability are practiced all over the world. This may be why coworking seems to work so well for the mission-driven organizations and individuals we have here at The Amp. We share similar core values, and that is important to our members and the community and network they work with.
What challenges are common to all coworking spaces, and how is The Amp tackling them?
We are in an open office, so you will find people on the phone and chatting, and maybe it might get too loud for some, but we are pretty open about that. We ask people to be mindful of others, we don’t want anyone to sit in silence, but if you are having a meeting we ask you to please not have it at your desk!
You mentioned referrals. Do you compare notes with other coworking spaces?
Yes, we are a founder and a member of the Coworking BC Society, which spreads the word about coworking and shares best practices. We see one another as allies, and yes, on some level we are competitors, we also know that we are each unique, and we understand that we can all help each other.
Alright, Nicola. Hit us with the pitch. What do I get if I join The Amp?
We have a boardroom and a mezzanine meeting room, a lounge space, nice big kitchen, secure indoor bike storage on the ground level, a free gym in the building, and phone booths that allow people to make a private call. Our desks are custom-built from FSC certified plywood, and the space is bright and beautiful and full of heritage character, with high ceilings and lots of natural light. Of course there are also all the usual things you get in an office: A staffed reception, free coffee and tea, a fully equipped kitchen, WiFi, photocopier, printers. There are many events, and we offer community building opportunities like yoga, meditation, knitting, running groups, and pub nights. We try to provide opportunities for members to connect with one another, to build the community. We are also dog-friendly, that’s another feature common in coworking spaces. If that sounds like a match, give us a call or drop us a line!
“It’s a windless day,” I noted in dismay to Chas Fritz, Ecotrust Canada’s Project Manager and GIS technician.
We were standing in downtown Vancouver, at the edge of the empty parking lot that hugs the northwest corner of False Creek. In my hand, was a limp 9 ft wide Delta kite attached to a 1000 foot long kite reel. What wasn’t attached to the kite was a compact digital camera I was hoping to loft into the air to capture aerial images of the banks of False Creek. It was late January and I was leading a DIY aerial photography and mapping workshop in collaboration with Ecotrust. We were interested in comparing the footage we hoped to capture with existing maps and imagery of False Creek to examine how industry and human activity have changed the shoreline over the last several hundred years.
This method of mapmaking was developed by Public Lab, a non-profit I am affiliated with as an organizer. It’s part of the toolkit I am using to document the lives and environment of the communities along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which I have been doing since October 2014 on a Fulbright-National Geographic grant focused on digital storytelling. In addition to personal documentation, I am organizing and leading community workshops along the way, showing people how they can gain the skills to make their own maps of the places they live. The project’s premise is, could mapping be a way to engage communities in seeing their environment from a different perspective? Could oral histories and storytelling be combined with maps in a creative way, stretching the limits of digital narratives?
My research and these questions led me to Ecotrust’s doorstep. I had the great fortune to connect with Chas, who introduced me to the mapping, data collection and traditional knowledge projects that Ecotrust has produced, Living Atlas being one of them.
I learned that the work, information and data that Ecotrust gathers to help First Nations negotiate and navigate resource management decisions within forestry, fishing and energy projects were similar to the kinds of information I am also interested in gathering as well, but for a more creative, multimedia outlet.
I am in the final months of my grant and still on the road. What all the interviews, photographs, audio recordings and video I’ve gathered will become remains to be seen. Read my blog post on National Geographic about the False Creek mapping to find out what happened.
Ann Chen is an artist and researcher from New York. She is a Fulbright-National Geographic fellow in Canada and is interested in the creative use of mapping, data, community-driven science and storytelling. She visited the Vancouver office in January 2015 and co-organized a community mapping workshop of False Creek at the end of her stay.
With my final week at Ecotrust Canada quickly approaching I’ve been reflecting about what I’ve learned during my practicum these past five months.
When I came to Canada in April my goals went beyond simply getting some more work experience and adding an additional international experience to my CV. My main objective was to discover if sustainable development and consulting were truly the industries in which I wanted to chart my career. At Ecotrust Canada I got the opportunity to experience both.
My consulting work for one of Ecotrust Canada’s Forest Stewardship Certification projects confirmed that I truly enjoy doing consulting work. Because of that I’m only more driven to become a green consultant. Working here has given me just that extra bit of experience, confidence and maturity to now work as a junior consultant back home in the Netherlands.
These five months were really interesting and I’m grateful that I got the opportunity to work at Ecotrust Canada and all the wonderful people I met while working here. I wish them the best with all future endeavors and the possibilities created by the new co-location office.
My hope for the future is that more and more people will realize that things need to change, on a grand scale, to conserve Earth’s splendor. Ecotrust Canada is demonstrating how listening and engaging at the local level can generate new ideas, approaches and innovations that could move that dial. Especially here in Canada where there is such breathtaking natural heritage.
Sebastiaan Zeeman hails from the Netherlands. He has been an intern with our Ecosystem Services and Forestry programs since April.