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Last night, Paul Hawken spoke at Vancouver's historic Orpheum Theatre. The room was packed with social entrepreneurs and inspired Vancouverites, who want to improve the world for our children, and our children’s children. I was happy to see some great local characters in the house! There were students and alumni from Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), local business leaders, (Salt Spring Coffee, Climate Smart, SHIFT Urban Cargo Delivery, Save on Meats, Recycling Alternative), investors (Renewal Partners), non-profit leaders (LOCO BC, SOLE Food Urban Farm, Hollyhock, SFU Woodwards) and local manufacturers (Crown Skis).

Last night was a meaningful evening for me, because Paul Hawken inspired me to embark on the path that led me towards creating local, eco-friendly and socially responsible gift baskets in Vancouver BC. This path began during my undergraduate degree when I was a wide-eyed idealistic Environmental Studies student at the University of Victoria. As I learned more about the state of our planet, I became increasingly daunted by the challenges facing my generation. Although I was well-versed in the problems, I was unsure of where I could find solutions. In the Spring of 2001, I was lucky to read a transcript from a presentation by Paul Hawken.

Hawken's work helped me to realize that business is an ideal opportunity to address social and environmental issues. He provided a framework for proactive solutions and inspired me to investigate opportunities for strategic change. On a finite planet with limited resources, how can an exponentially growing population survive in a system that continually depletes the Earth's assets like we're living off the interest? Innovative solutions are urgently essential.

After studying Hawken’s work, I shifted my path towards sustainable business and enrolled in the Bainbridge Graduate Institue (BGI). This unique graduate school allowed me to dig deeper and explore solutions to social and environmental problems. Through innovation in material, energy and resource use, business can create value beyond profit. In addition to environmental solutions, it is important to look at our planet as one interconnected system and examine how we treat each other.

As humans, we are not separate from the environment and we must find ways to treat each other like precious resources, that cannot be carelessly harmed and mistreated on behalf of financial “gain”. Social enterprises can create important solutions through green jobs, living wages and social justice.

Last night's inspirational evening was hosted by Vancity Credit Union. In addition to hosting Paul Hawken, Vancity was celebrating 65 years of investing and doing business in Vancouver. This last spring I made a commitment to shift my business banking to a local credit union. I’m proud to announce that we’ve recently started doing business banking with Vancity. As the Saul Good Gift Co. continues to grow, we look forward to nourishing and strengthening relationships throughout our local economy and community.

For more photos from the Paul Hawken event, please click here.