Q: What is "alternative-to-business"?

 Not a one word answer, that's for sure.  The complexity of the answer is dealt with on a regular basis at Groundswell.   In fact, it's mostly answered with more questions, for example:  How is what we're doing -  alternatives-to-business -  different from what other social entrepreneurs are doing? How does social innovation fit in - and what does that really mean?  Is there such a thing as too alternative or not alternative enough? How much impact do I have to - or can I - make?Another answer we give is not in the form of words, it's our projects, spanning scales and sectors, our personal gifts to the world.   
We also answer with a lot more feeling than "business" is used to:   Just that word puts me off.  It makes me feel _______ , or even *%@#*&!$!!!  Tears, laughter, spontaneous beat boxing and dance moves, inspired and supported by the community we do this in.  If Groundswell can do anything, it can create a safe place where all questions and feelings are given space and attention.


But one thing we acknowledge here is that change happens - needs to happen - at all scales, and in many different ways.  Inside, and outside, yourself.  That how you do something matters more than what you do.

Here is a crowdsourced blog post from the Groundswell cohort and team answering the question: what do think alternatives-to-business is?  

What is it?
Business to me is the exchange of goods or services. alternatives to business would be just giving. Burning Man comes to mind when I think of alternatives to business. Giving to give. 
What do you think it means?
I think more so think of alternative "approaches" to businesses. What I WANT it to mean is "compassionate businesses". Honest exchanges.
Currency can be other products and services. Historically, money was anything from salt to labour. Money is a human societal construct. It's not bad nor good. It's just part of the current system. Why hate it? It's us, the people, behind our held currency that dictates how it is used. So if we don't like something, let's change the root of the problem - us. 
What do you think it is?
What do you feel it should be?
I feel that business should be honest, beneficial to the everyone including the environment, caring and fulfilling of needs for the world as a whole. I also believe everyone has the right and space for their own interpretation. Business should feel good and not icky like oil spills.  
What you are doing to build it?
Hopefully helping others build more honest, compassionate businesses (compassionate to themselves and others). Building my own businesses to be honest and compassionate. 
What does it look like?
A long luminescent string of spaghetti. 
- Tiffany S.

Fearlessly self-reflective, Recklessly compassionate,

Celebrations of our ability to create joy, abundance, and love.

Endlessly in process, yet

Certain of our capacity to organize for equality, inclusivity, diversity, regenerative ecologies, healing and vitality.

They are Hope.
~ Stuart H.
Creatively negotiating the maelstrom of boredom, uniformity and staleness that is Capitalism.
~ Kim D.V.G.
Mutual aid and community care.
~ Kelsey C.
The Surrey Youth Space borrowing from the Vancouver Tool Library with a Modo car?
-Spencer R.
Taking time for our individual selves to heal from what it is we find ourselves in.
Meeting people where they are at....providing a safe, welcoming space for people to come and create meaningful work.
~ Jocelynn R.
Hopefully this isn't too academic sounding, but when I think of alternatives to business I think of the opening of space, both physical and literal, for a different kind of energy to flow--into our economy, our daily relations, our literal spaces and places where alternatives themselves are lived, rather than only imagined. An alternative path is not one where we see the end, or have control over the finished product. It's driven by an ethos that acknowledges we need to begin where we are, and hope that our contribution allows for ourselves and others to live better.

Or something like that, anyway.

~ Chris N.
Radically shifting how we think about profit - what constitutes it, how we create it, who benefits from it
Working together to minimize our blind spots
Being prepared to be wrong… learning to shift and grow from this
Bringing joy and love to all that we create and do!
 - Emily H.
Reimagining what is possible, going there, pulling others with us by showing the way, calling them in.  Putting humanity back into flows of exchange by incorporating design principles from nature: resilience, self-regulation, strong healthy networks, resource sharing, creativity, cycles, adaptive flow, just distribution of resources...

Increasing other types of capital besides financial: social, living, material, cultural, spiritual, natural, intellectual, experiential and place capital. 
- Paola Q.
What do you think? #alt2biz @groundswellYVR