expert guest speaker series

A helping of super local food expert & entrepreneur Ryan Spong of Tacofino &

tacofino truckWhen : Tuesday, April 14th @ 5:30 pmWhere: Groundswell Cafe & Learning Space, 566 Powell St. Why: Because slow food/zero waste/local business expert and entrepreneur Ryan Spong is in the clubhouse for a q&a session...and he's bringing burritos to share!

**Interested in what Groundswell is doing? Stay for a Groundswell Info Session after the chat!***

ryan spongWho:  In Ryan's words:
I'm entrepreneurial by definition in that I initiate calculated risks to take advantage of opportunities through innovation or improvement. I have experience in public and private markets and I've channeled that entrepreneurial attitude into everything I've done.
But I'm also an entrepreneur who has a history of starting, growing and selling innovative businesses. When I returned to Vancouver, I leveraged my experience, contacts and licenses (NASD and BCSC) to form Mainstreet Advisors, a boutique financing company, which raised several million dollars for public companies, some of which I've served as CEO and CFO.
food.eeI lost interest in public markets - at least the Venture market - and Mainstreet now focuses on incubating business ideas. In 2006, we founded Raincity Rock with two very talented operators which we sold in 2013 to a civil contractor. In 2008, we established Preform Construction - a sustainable high-end prefab manufacturer - with Architect firm AARobins, which we closed in the 2011 housing crash and sold for assets. In 2010, I invested and partnered in Tacofino Cantina. We cook surf-inspired, Asian-Mexican fusion with a focus on slow-food practices and reducing our waste. We support the people who support us by giving back to the communities we serve through volunteerism and donations.
In September 2013, I joined Foodee and we instituted a loco bccommitment to quality and best practices. It's a high growth story that our team is very proud of.
I spend my free time advocating for local business on the LOCO BC board and enjoying Mount Pleasant where I live with my wife Chloe, my boys Sawyer and Kincaid and our dog, Gucci."

Toby Barrazuol: Infusing Your Brand with Your Values

toby barrazuol "Real prosperity is about creating a new economic system that is driven by different ideals, not simply greening our existing economy. Real prosperity is an economic system that regenerates the environment, builds social capital, and enhancing the arts and culture. Real prosperity values beauty, happiness, respect and the human experience."

Toby infused his own values of giving and recognition into his company, Eclipse Awards, which he founded in 1998.  He will be talking about his experience as an entrepreneur and about branding and marketing for values-based businesses in general.


Come join us at Groundswell to hear and chat with Toby Barazzuol: Tuesday, March 17th, at 5:15 PM, at the Groundswell Café, 566 Powell St.


Toby was born and raised in the rainforests of Vancouver, BC.  He is Board Chair & President of BALLE -, (where this bio is sourced).  Toby also serves as the Chair of the Strathcona BIA, which includes Groundswell. Toby believes that understanding sustainability is the single greatest investment that a business can make towards its future success and he volunteers 20 percent of his time to building a resilient community in one of Canada’s most challenging neighborhoods. Toby is fascinated by the intersection of business, the arts, and the environment, and is inspired by the idea of communities and ecosystems.


  • strathcona resource exchangeCreated the Strathcona BIA Resource Park to build a place for local businesses to address waste reduction and organics recycling.
  • Hosted Canada's first small business sustainability expo, Sustainability 1.0, an event that galvanized the Strathcona community around sustainability and provided a collective vision for the neighborhood.
  • Subsequently hosted Sustainability 2.0 and 3.0, further building collaboration and sustainability in the Strathcona community.
  • Through the work with Strathcona BIA and Building Opportunities through Business, Toby built support for SOLE Food Street Farms, an urban farm project in the Strathcona Green Zone that provides opportunities to learn to grow local, organic food.


Presenting the radical credit union's Ross Gentleman

CCEC is a self described radical activist credit union on Commercial Drive and it's General Manager is Ross Gentleman. WHEN: Tuesday, March 10th, 5:15 pmccec history WHERE: Groundswell Café, 566 Powell St. 

The kindest, most personable guy in finance, Ross with have some interesting stories about the role of a credit union in our community, from it's humble beginnings, to it's still humble - yet increasingly important - role in the future of our communties.

A big thanks to CCEC not only for lending us Ross for an evening but for it's continued support of Groundswell and it's radical endeavors, from awarding us the Roger Inman Memorial Award for Community Economic Development in our first year, financing micro loans for our participants, to financial sponsorship.

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Crowdfunding with filmmaker Dima Alansari

Dima AlansariDima is a beautiful soul and will be sharing with us her knowledge of producing crowdfunding campaigns for this week's expert in the community session. Join us!

Where: Groundswell Café, 566 Powell St. When: Tuesday, March 3, 5:15 pm

Filmmaker, Multidisciplinary & Theatre Artist, Yoga Teacher and Community Advocate Dima Alansari was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Daughter of a Palestinian/Kuwaiti dad and Lebanese mother, Dima was born and raised in Middle East and appeared on the Vancouver scene in 2010 after co producing the internationally acclaimed National Geographic’s ‘Journey to Mecca, a 2D IMAX® feature-length docu-drama about one of the greatest travelers that ever lived, Ibn Battutta.

Dima Alansari obtained her BA from the Lebanese American University in Radio/TV/Film and Theatre. 
She also completed a Diploma from the New York Film Academy from King’s College London and continued with a Chevening Scholarship to obtain an MA in Feature Film from Goldsmith College, University of London.

With over +14 years experience in the TV & Film production industry, Dima has worked in Kuwait, Lebanon and Dubai and most recently was the General Manager and Executive Producer for one of the top leading and most active film investment and production companies in the Middle East, Desert Door Productions.

urbaninkDima has a history of acting in theatre and presenting on TV in Kuwait where she won a national award ‘best upcoming young actress. She now lives and creates in Vancouver, Canada where she is an artist in residence with MT Space & urban ink productions. She is also the co-founder of Salam Films and Salish Sea Productions. Dima has spent the past two years balancing her artistic and political voice within the community; working with several indigenous non-profit organizations and community centers as a media consultant and Producer.


The Rise and Implications of Social Enterprise in the DTES


A talk and discussion about social enterprise in the DTES with Wes Regan 5:15 - 7 pm, Tuesday, January 6th

566 Powell St.

wes reganWes Regan has worked in community economic development in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside since 2009, with a particular focus on social innovation and inclusion, social enterprise and community programming. As a current graduate student in the SFU Urban Studies program Wes was the 2014 Rosenbluth Intern with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, where he conducted research into the social economy space, social enterprise and gentrification along with Jeremy Stone, PhD candidate at UBC SCARP, also a Rosenbluth Internship winner. Wes is the Executive Director for the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association, current Chair of LOCO BC and is a Partner in the BC Partners for Social Impact, examining the impact and potential of social innovation throughout British Columbia. Currently he was Business and Communications Associate at Building Opportunities with Business. This presentation focuses on the rise of social enterprise in the DTES, considerations in this emerging industry and community space, typologies of social ventures and forms of community impact.