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THRIVE on Bowen Donation

Community Resilience THRIVEs on Bowen Island

    Posted: May 31, 2022 by First Credit Union - Social Impact

    The last couple of years have thrown us some curve balls. The impacts of climate change, combined with a global pandemic, have created a sense of instability that is new and uncomfortable for many B.C. residents.

    But out of the shadows inspiring stories of community resilience and innovation have sprouted, and one of them is emerging now on Bowen Island.

    David Adams is the Co-founder of THRIVE Bowen, an unincorporated group dedicated to promoting community resiliency.

    “We started THRIVE Bowen about two years ago,” David says. “One of the key critical issues we’ve been looking at is food security and resilience and what's emerging around climate crisis in terms of access to farmland, access to resources, and supply chains.”

    When the floods of November 2021 cut the Lower Mainland off from the rest of Canada, the threats of climate change became all too real. “These events are only going to become more frequent, more intense, more unpredictable,” David says. “So how do communities such as Bowen ensure that we have access to the food that we need?”

    That’s where THRIVE Bowen is helping. In 2021 the organization, in partnership with Kwantlen Polytechnic University, was seeking funding to support a feasibility study for community-owned commercial greenhouses on the island. First Credit Union was one of the first to step up with a $5,000 donation.

    “It could not have happened without First Credit Union because they were one of the first in. We're very grateful because their vote of confidence really did provide the steppingstone we needed to build the rest of the momentum to reach our target.”

    Though THRIVE was able to raise $23,000 from a variety of donors, they still needed $12,000 to meet their target. Community members stepped up.

    “We have immense buy-in from our community. We put the call-out and in less than two weeks we had the money we needed, and more. The recognition within the community that food resiliency is of vital concern is reflected by how quickly people were willing to donate. They recognize that it is important, and that we can only look to ourselves to address the issue.”

    A team from Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Institute for Sustainable Food Systems has been doing research on the soil-based options for greenhouses in several locations on Bowen. THRIVE is expecting that data to be complete by the end of April, and David says they are producing some promising results.

    THRIVE also hired a local sustainability consultant who has also worked in Europe to investigate non-soil based solutions that could work on Bowen.

    Another component of the study is a demand analysis, which will provide information about whether there is enough local and off-island demand for the food that would be produced.

    “Finally, we are looking at what our governance model would be if we move forward. We know it is to be community owned. So, what might that look like? Is it a social enterprise? Is it a co-op? Is it some sort of public/THRIVE partnership? We've hired David Lepage and Buy Social Canada to provide insights into what a community enterprise could look like.”

    The project is at an exciting juncture. “We have some potential solutions that are emerging, and a number of different directions we could go in,” David says. “It is giving us some very tangible ways of addressing the crucial issue of food resiliency. We consider it a very important study for Bowen, which has larger implications for other communities as well.” He says THRIVE Bowen is willing to share the results of the study and the work they are doing with other communities who are looking at the same issues. Looking to the future, David is hopeful there may be ways that communities can collaborate to create economies of scale.

    At the end of the day, it feels good to be doing something proactive about food security. “It's not going to be good enough, in a year or five months or five years from now to say, ‘Oh, we didn't know.’ We do know. And it's up to us now to be responsible and to do something about it.”

    For those who are interested in connecting with THRIVE Bowen, please contact First Credit Union and we will put you in touch.