I am a strong advocate for giving people opportunities. One of the reasons I started Strathcona 1890 Urban Seed Collections was to eventually give people with barriers to employment a stepping stone towards future independence.
Many years ago I had to go on social assistance. It was not an option, I had just graduated from college and had no money left from my student loans to cover rent or even a bus ticket. I was tired of trying convince bus drivers to let me on for free and I needed to get to interviews if I was ever going to get a job. It was a life changing moment. The whole process was so demeaning and depressing that I swore I would never go through that again.
There have been a few people who criticize me for creating a product line that targets a higher end clientele. I have even been told I don't "belong" in the neighbourhood I have lived in for 12 years (the DTES) that all my efforts to change the way things are down here are self-centred and my products too expensive for people who live here. I will admit, my vision is different from some of the people who live here. And frankly, my products are not primarily targeted at people who live here. (Although, I do not think that $28 for 12 varieties of non-gmo heirloom seeds in a reusable canister is expensive.) What I want to do is sell my products and service to people and companies who can afford them and use some of my "profits" to help bring about positive change in my neighbourhood. (I am still waiting for the profits to support my endeavours.)
Admittedly I don't know all the "players" in the area or all the rules of engagement. I can be very Type A and I think outside of the box. There are people who are not comfortable with this, but it gets things done. And quite frankly I have spent hundreds of hours in various meetings (which I willingly volunteered to do) and I see very little positive change as a result of these meetings.
Not everyone is the same, but I believe there are people who live in the DTES who would like have a better life and ultimately get off social assistance and be their own master rather than under the thumb of bureaucrats who have the ability to cut off their social assistance with the flick of a pen. It is these people I want to empower.
As well, I am a huge proponent of food sovereignty and I want to enable as many people as possible to grow some of their own food. This is why I helped with the food wall at RayCam, the Vertical Teaching Garden at Lord Strathcona and helped get funding for seed collections to go to 200+ lower income residents in the DTES. I also made these as beautiful as the collections I sell by creating a new illustration for them and coming up with a cost effective alternative to my canisters. I see no reason why people who get them deserve any less.
I encourage anyone and everyone to follow their passion and find ways to effect positive chance in the world. This is mine, and I make no apologies for it.