Credit: Flickr / GerryT

The Sanctuary at Hollyhock on Cortes Island

Vancouver sustainability leaders head to beautiful Hollyhock on Cortes Island for the Social Ventures Institute's 15th annual conference


On September 15, 2010, changemakers and entrepreneurs from Vancouver and North America will converge on a magical piece of land called Hollyhock, located on Cortes Island. There, they will gather for the 15th annual session of the Social Venture Institute (SVI), a five-day conference that brings together people who are committed to using the power of business to affect social change and sustainability.


Social Venture Institute

September 15-19, 2010
Hollyhock, Cortes Island
Website | Twitter

I've had the pleasure of attending both SVI, and the more community-minded Social Change Institute (SCI), in past years at Hollyhock and will be attending SVI again this year because it always delivers value in a way that no other conference does.



These are people with big ideas and big dreams...

To begin with, Hollyhock always does an amazing job of bringing together a unique collection of people. These are people with big ideas and big dreams—who are willing to go out into the world, take risks and turn them into reality.


There is something powerful about being together with like-minded people to share ideas, particularly when everyone is "isolated" together on a beautiful, natural campus—sharing meals and attending workshops together.


The workshops are interesting, relevant and interactive, as are the speakers that are brought in for the event. SVI creates and open environment for sharing and collaboration that I haven't found in any other business environment. If a participant can't find any gems of advice or experience to strengthen their business in a socially conscious way, then they might want to check their pulse for signs of life.



Hollyhock is a beautiful place with a menu to match

As for the setting and food at Hollyhock, it is simply beautiful. The workshops take place in small buildings dotted throughout the forest. Everything revolves around a central garden that is continually exploding with vegetables and flowers. Most of the food that is grown there goes into making the gourmet vegetarian meals that have made Hollyhock legendary.


No matter what your taste in food, the chefs at Hollyhock create a delicious assortment of foods that will leave you feeling energized and satisfied.




Beyond networking at SVI

Throughout the five days there is an emphasis on social activities, so that by the end, people have made friends, not just contacts. It's these newfound relationships and bonds we take back to the real world that are the real value of attending SVI at Hollyhock.


Of course there's always the opportunity to chat with Joel Solomon (pictured above), president of Renewal Partners and founding member of event host Social Venture Network, or the event's dynamic planner Heidi Hartman. If you're attending this year you will probably run into great companies like Bandidas Taqueria, Howe Sound Brewing, Biro Creative and the Co-operative Auto Network, just to name a few.


The conference builds to a peak where everyone's head is buzzing with new ideas and perspectives and an expanded network of people to tackle them with. By the end of SVI on September 19, I know I'll be inspired and thinking about this army of revitalized warriors heading back into the world to continue the amazing work that they do to make our world a better place.


If you ever get the chance to attend SVI, don't let it pass you by.


If you can't get there this year, follow @HollyhockLive on Twitter or search #svihh. You're sure to see some interesting things in the coming weeks.


Toby Barazzuol blogs for Granville Online about Vancouver’s changemakers, social enterprise and the value of community in the DTES and beyond. He is president of Eclipse Awards, a world-class recognition awards company based in the Strathcona Green Zone. Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter