Our National Partner
- Commons Academy
- Fees & Payments
- Lunch & Learn Resources
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) – February 21, 2012
- E–Commerce for Small Businesses. October 19, 2011
- Export Readiness with Ann Worth. October 05, 2011
- Proposal Writing – Responding to RFPs with Vicki Bryanton. November 30, 2011
- Social Media for a Small Business with Suzanne Scott – January 11, 2012
- Tools for Keeping Organized and Saving Time & Money with Matt Sullivan. September 21, 2011.
- Member Bios
- Bryson Guptill
- Chris Comar
- David Brannen
- David Lobie Daughton
- Dianne Birt
- Dustin Sparks
- Edmond Ratelle
- Jeff Geddes
- John Morris
- Julie Devon Dodd
- Karen Murchison
- Kelly Burke
- Kim Reddin
- Kirstin Lund
- Matt Sullivan
- Members Emeritus
- Mitchell O’Brien
- Network Members
- Patrick Ledwell
- Rob Paterson
- Sue Sullivan
- Tara Costello-Ledwell
- Troy LeBlanc
- Vicki Bryanton
- Membership Info
- The Commons?
The project is lead by Karen Murchison of the Queen St Commons and her partners at the Murphy Community Centre (Where most of the “Farm” will be) The City of Charlottetown, Cycle PEI, Holland College and the Food bank and Soup Kitchen in Charlottetown
It’s a tiny project but has huge potential to make PEI more sustainable. If you want to make a difference that please help. Your help can be a few dollars or a donation of stuff.
Or you can help with stuff like this:
Here is how I see this project and why I am backing them and why if you care for the future of PEI, you might help too.
It starts often like this – with a community using a barren public space to grow food as a demo. The idea is to inspire us to think differently about the urban landscape. No longer only grass, concrete and isolated trees. When we see this in downtown Charlottetown, we can imagine how different our street could be.
This is not simply a new esthetic either. In World War II 40% of the food eaten was grown by people at home – most in cities.
At the heart of this is the food and the health crisis. By making urban farming – which uses very small spaces and high intensity – important we all learn how to grow our own food. This Saturday there is a workshop on this. We meet our neigbours in a new way. We are more active and we have better nutrition.
We start to escape the trap of being dependent on Factory Food. The Food Bank becomes a hub of a network of people who help each other grow food and cook food. Growing food and making meals return as skills that most of us have lost.
This is big – isn’t it? And you only have to make a small step to help.
We start this weekend!
PEI punches way above its weight – Why?
Few places in Canada could be further away from the main markets of North America. Few places have less resources than PEI. But I found last week, as I travelled with StartUp Canada around PEI, that our entrepreneurs are doing very well.
Many have operations, such as Marks Work Warehouse and Island Abby Foods, that are amongst the best in class. Many have businesses, such as BioVectra and DME, that have found a niche that makes them unrivaled in the continent. Many are astonishingly novel like Thinking Big and Screenscape.
Why should small businesses in a small place be so competitive?
It’s in the Island DNA
PEI is too small and too far away to attract large mature businesses from away. So business on PEI is naturally always small and owner operated. And because PEI itself is small, PEI business has always had to find a place in the larger markets off Island. It’s been like this for 200 years.
Potatoes were run to the Caribbean in exchange for the official cargo of molasses and the unofficial cargo of rum. Fish was run to Boston. Lumber to the UK. Fox fur and lobster to Upper Canada.
So like their forefathers, Lorraine MacAulay had to start her Mosquito repellent business by breaking into the large national stores. Peter Toombs had to sell his brewing equipment all over the world. They had to begin by being very clever and persistent.
So how did they get so smart?
It’s not school – It’s Family and Mentors
We think that having great schools are key to developing smart people. But most of the entrepreneurs I met last week told me that they did not fit into school culture. Some never finished school. Others had to force themselves to finish. Dico Reijers took 7 years to do his BA.
All told me that culture of entrepreneurship was set at home. All told me that they grew up in a family where running your own business was the normal. The dinner table was their classroom.
Some entrepreneurs went to business school. But for most, the best business lessons were taught by mentors. They learned the old fashioned way, like an apprentice, from advice given by a person who lived their life. Entrepreneurs helping Entrepreneurs.
I asked all of them about whether school needed to be changed. None of them dismissed school. They acknowledged that not everyone should be or even could be an entrepreneur. But they hoped that the school system would see that it could help by identifying the characteristics of kids, like Matt below, who were destined to be entrepreneurs. Then the entrepreneurs could help.
For entrepreneurship on PEI is a personal and individual thing. All the older PEI entrepreneurs I spoke to want to reach out and offer more of their time as mentors to the young up and coming new class of rebels. What they want is a better way to connect.
If PEI stays true to its business DNA – we will do well
Large bureaucratic structures are dying. Youth unemployment in Canada and the US is over 20% and in Europe is close to 50%. Many middle aged workers are being made redundant. Pensions that many have relied are being diminished. For societies that have more embraced the job and the bureaucracy, the transition will be very hard.
But here on PEI, I see now that we could adjust quite well. The modern PEI entrepreneur is already competing in the new networked global marketplace. They are hiring. They are growing. They are doing what Island business people have always done.
All they need to do now that is different is to work together.
If the PEI entrepreneurs get together and work with each other to boost the local ecosystem.
This insight is the great gift that the visit of StartUp Canada brought. They held up the mirror to who we really are. Now we must not waste this gift. Time to act .
It’s up to us now.
PS Next week I will start a 2 week series on what I have learned from our wonderful entrepreneurs
Work really is social. Here a view of Google’s new office in London.
Its design is all about the reality of work being social and not machine like.
Cubicle land us really a typing pool with more barriers. This is where work design makes it impossible to be social. And this got worse with cubicles.
Now many of us work at home. But that is not social either – except when your kids and spouse interrupt you.
What is your office like?
This is what we at the QSC are like
The office of the future – here today – social + boundaries