sustainival – the world’s premiere green carnival

One of my dearest friends, Joey Hundert (pictured right), is rocking it out hard with Sustainval.

What is it?

Says his website:

Sustainival has been designed to become the world’s premiere Green Carnival & Festival, bringing in all of the coolest stuff that you can possibly imagine.  The world of “Green” is pretty huge these days, and it includes all of the greatest things about our future on this planet.  We like to think of it as: cooler cars, better food, fitter bodies, happier neighbors, awesome toys and cleaning up the mess that we have inherited.  Sustainival seeks to tap you directly into the experience of a vibrant tomorrow.  We are all about bolstering the local economy, long-term sustainable food & energy, lifestyles that allow us to avoid disease, empowered learning & innovation and community building.  Sustainival is an umbrella for all of these things to happen underneath.

Here’s a quick video to give you a taste:


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green, indigo and foodie drinks

You may have heard of Green Drinks. It started in England years back and now is in over 600 cities globally. It’s an event where people in the ‘green scene’ (e.g. academics, entrepreneurs, ngo or government workers) can get together to meet each other in a casual environment.

We host one here in Edmonton and it goes really, really well. We just had one on January 18th and it went super well.

Last year, we hosted an event called Indigo Drinks – which was about bringing together people in the Edmonton holistic health scene. We got about 50 people out and it was a huge success. In the end, the group hosting it needed to step back so none have happened since then – but I think it will be coming back.

Well, here’s another event – for folks passionate about local food. Some words from their facebook event . . .

“Foodies” aren’t just those who care about the best dish – they care about expanding access to healthy food, supporting farmers and animal welfare too.

Come out to the next casual get together for Toronto’s food movement, this time at the Gladstone! The Gladstone serves local, sustainable food certified by Local Food Plus and does much more to support local farmers and the environment:
The new Gladstone is celebrating its fifth anniversary, but this bar’s been rockin since the 1890s.

This month we’ll again be highlighting a local non-profit and business. We’ve confirmed the business will be

Event is free, but we encourage you to make a $10 donation if you’re able to help us cover costs of organizing events and pushing good food policy forward at City Hall.

I chatted with Foodie Drinks founder Darcy Higgins and asked him some questions.

How did this all get started?

There is a lot of energy in Toronto’s food movement. I wanted a casual opportunity for folk involved in many different aspects to meet, mingle, have some fun and share ideas. Green Drinks, started in England (of course), now happens in cities throughout the world. The food movement here is big enough that it deserves it’s own meeting spot.

How often are you planning to run this? And what’s the response been so far?

We plan to have monthly events. January’s will be our second. The response was really good for the first – folks really enjoyed the night – and it’s going to be bigger this month.

Who is this event targeted to?

I’m hoping that staff and volunteers from local food organizations will come, students, workers and entrepreneurs in new food businesses and various parts of the sector, and people just interested in the issues or looking to be involved.

What impact on the community are you hoping this event will have?

I hope that the event supports a scaling up the positive local activity and brings together people to see themselves as part of a larger movement for change in the food system. (People are broken up into working for better food access, sustainable production, urban agriculture, etc. but the problems parts of a better food system, where the problems are symptoms coming from broader system issues.)

If the above happens, we’ll be in a better position to work together for broader policy and system change, which is Food Forward’s piece in making change. I’m hoping that people will learn more about what Food Forward does and continue to watch and get involved.

What are you charging for the event?

At the first event we asked attendees to donate to “buy a drink for Food Forward”, basically help us out a little bit. We want anyone to be able to attend, but if you can afford a drink, maybe you can also skip one and donate five or ten bucks. Food Forward depends on contributions from individuals and group, so this i an opportunity for people not already giving a monthly donation to do o at our event.

What exactly happens at these events? What’s the program?

For each event we are inviting a local food business that’s doing sustainable work, as well as a food-involved non-profit in the community.

What’s in in for Food Forward as a hosting organization?

So at Foodie Drinks people will get to learn a bit about what Food Forward is up to as well as other local events, as well as get a quick profile these two groups – about mid-way through the evening. Other than that it’s just casual opportunity for discussion.
This month will be Not Far From the Tree and Backyard Urban Farm Company – both also very interested in food policy and supportive of our work.

Why did you choose the Gladstone as a venue?

We chose The Gladstone Hotel this month because of they sell Local Food Plus certified foods along with local brews.

How many people came to the first one and how many are you expecting for the second?

We had about 40 people to our first event. For January 31st I’m actually guessing closer to 60-80 people.

And how did you market it?

We’re using our Facebook group/event, Twitter, friends posting through social media, our and other email lists and event notifiers, universities lists.. aside from these the Gladstone is doing a great job helping us by putting the event in their social media and listings, including their ad in NOW and EYE magazines.

And what was the best form of marketing for you?

I’d say building up our friends and contacts through and then letting them know through email and Facebook. Contacting individuals directly and they help spread the word to more networks. And people will then make the effort to come out if they think the event’s “a great idea”.

Consider the advantages of hosting this kind of gathering:

  • it brings your community together and tightens it. Deepens the relationships. This is like taking care of the fertility and health of the soil in your garden. It doesn’t GROW anything – but it makes all growth possible. Trust is the health of the soil in human community.
  • it connects people who might otherwise have never met and gets people out of their silos.
  • the seeds of new projects are planted. They might take years to take root and grow – but without this space – nothing would have happened.
  • it’s sustainable. How hard is it to get a venue and spread the word? Not very.
  • it can position you as the hub if you’re the one hosting it. It can bring together your ideal hubs and prospective clients. They come to you! How easy is that.
  • super fun! You’re bringing together a tonne of like minded people. Woot.


What event could you host for YOUR community?


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Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program



New Moon Soiree

A client of mine from Toronto, Dee Dussault (pictured to the left), has figured out a great way to become a hub in the holistic scene. Throw a party.

Once a month, on the Friday nearest the new moon, she hosts her New Moon Parties. She describes it this way . . .

Every month on the Friday nearest the new moon, a group of healing-arts practitioners gather at Follow Your Bliss, and offer 20-minute samples of our services. We’ve had Reiki, Pranic Healing, Reflexology, Chair Massage, Reconnective Healing, Palmistry, Tarot readings, Yoga Nidra, Shiatsu, Hypnotism, and Thai Yoga Massage (to name a few!)

These parties allow new clients a chance to see how this eco-conscious, community healing home is developing, and enjoy socializing and networking with a conscious community over some wine, cheese, and great conversation!

a moment at the New Moon Soiree

With Child Care provided (upon request), it is a great chance to mingle, network, and share resources, while sampling amazing and affordable healing arts in between!


We had experimented with a variety of pricing structures, and found that the current pricing scheme ($20 admission, which includes the first treatment, $35 for two friends… $10 for additional treatments) to be the best.

We used to have it at $30 admission, which includes your first three treatments, which is actually a better deal than the above one, but $30 seemed to be too high a price point for many of our guests. $20 seems to be the ideal. One bill. And then just $10 for additional. Most people receive three treatments, and end up paying $40 for them, so it works better for us than three for $30! – But more people come than if we’d given the three-for-thirty. Funny eh?

I think the impact of doing these New Moon Parties is that I get “street cred” from the other practitioners, yoga teachers, and movers/shakers in the healing-arts-consciousness-spirituality-yoga-scene.

Because I openly teach and talk about Ganja Yoga, people who don’t know me might think I’m nothing more than a stoner hippie. But I like to show them that I’m that, AND so much more!!!

So, being able to successfully connect practitioners with new clients shows that I’m as interested in community as I am in smoking a doobie. LOL. And building my online hubs (facebook,, my website, my google group – the latter of which I post people’s events for them) has been amazing too! People say they “have heard of me” (or Follow Your Bliss) which is awesome.

Thanks again for everything Tad!

Consider the benefits of this: the practitioners get introduced to new clients. People get to sample various practitioners to see if there’s anyone they like. Dee becomes a hub – so people will know who she is and what she does and are more likely to refer her business because of it.

Once a month she does a small version of the parties and then quarterly she does a larger version. This is smart. Promoting events works best when they’re special in some way. As soon as they become routine – they often lose their draw. By making the big and exciting ones only quartely, they’re more likely to get buzz every time – and people are more likely to make the effort to come because, if they don’t, they know it’s going to be three whole months before they get another chance.

And, having been to two of these, I can attest to the fact that they are incredibly fun, full of great connections and good people. And food!


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Tour Stop #2: Winnipeg (day three)

Morning Yoga Jam Crew

Day three in Winnipeg was so full of non stop amazing things.

Jeff and Beth and I were still basking in the glow of the past two days of sold out events at Hollow Reed.

The day started with a ‘yoga jam’ of myself and three friends. Super fun. We each took turns leading a bit of yoga. For my turn, I led us in an improv comedy game of telling a story one word at a time.

Then it was off to The Tallest Poppy – our caterer for the secret Green Grub and Gather party we were hosting that night.

At The Tallest Poppy, we have made an absolute commitment to preparing our food with love.

For us, “love” means that the food we serve is produced and sourced locally wherever possible. OK, we live in Winnipeg, so in winter, obviously, produce will come from other markets. But when it is available, we will source our food locally. It means that our meats are purchased from Frigs Natural Meat Market, because their meat is raised naturally, locally, and has no antibiotics or growth hormones. It means our coffee is Black Pearl, beans roasted in our neighborhood, with care to ensure that the coffee is always rich and flavourful. Our eggs are free run.

Then we wandered over to Aqua Books for lunch. It’s a super cool used bookstore/restaurant in Winnipeg. I could spend too many hours in bookstores. It’s true.

Then it was back to Jeff’s place to prepare for the party that night.

A Scene from the Winnipeg Green Grub and Gather

Which brings us to the topic of parties – and how they relate to marketing. I did an interview about how you can use parties to market yourself and you can go to read it here.

Jeff and Beth and I invited who we thought were the key hubs in the Winnipeg green and holistic scene. You can view the invite and list of attendees here.

The party started at 7pm and folks slowly drifted in. And then at 8:30pm Beth Martens led us in a beautiful kirtan style, call and response song. And then we did a go around circle where everyone had one minute to introduce themselves. By the end of the circle everyone was buzzing with ideas and possibilities for collaboration. All the while enjoying the incredible food from The Tallest Poppy.

A Mediocre Picture of the Amazing Food From The Tallest Poppy

Parties as Marketing

Photo from the Toronto 2009 Green Grub and Gather

So, I think parties are one of the best marketing tools ever. I’ve been talking about it more and more – and here’s some proof! This is an excerpt from an interview I did with Joel Monk (JM) and Laurens van Aarle (LV) of Coaches Rising in Amsterdam. I think you’ll dig it.

JM:            So tell me more about this hot marketing because you’ve really got me going here. Did you say about hosting your parties and stuff?

TH:            Yeah, one of my big things these days has been this idea of parties as marketing. And where this came from was I was in Toronto doing a workshop and I heard about this guy in L.A. who on the Saturday night of his workshops, his business marketing workshops, he would take everyone out for dinner at this Italian restaurant.

I just always thought that was the coolest idea. I felt like, that’s so classy. That’s so nice.

What I liked about it, too, was it created a social setting that wasn’t there at the workshops. Because the workshops I do are super-interactive but it’s still a workshop. It’s not like hanging out with people.

One time I did that and it went really well. I really loved it.

What I found is we went to a restaurant and everyone basically sat at their tables. They were in a big, long row but nobody moved so people were just mingling with the people sitting directly next to them and that wasn’t what I was wanting.

So I tried a few more restaurants, same kind of thing and eventually moved to a house party called the Green Grub and Gather. But as that transition was going, I remember sitting there right before the dinner thinking about, “Oh, I’ve got these other clients of mine who I would love to—from past workshops who I really love—and they should come to dinner.”

So I fired off a few texts and a few of them came. And then it really occurred to me that there are people in Toronto who are super successful already and have just no interest in coming to my workshop. Like there’s a guy, in Toronto who’s a green realtor. He’s incredibly well known, super tapped in in the Toronto green scene. He’d never really come to my workshop. He doesn’t need my workshop. But if he knew about what I did, it would be useful.

People might ask him, say, “Hey, Chris. Seen this marketing workshop for hippies and green businesses. Is this worthwhile?” And if he says, “I don’t know.” That’s one thing. But if he could say, “Yeah, it’s totally worth your time,” that’s a really solid endorsement to have.

And how do I do that because he’s not going to come to my workshop to check it out but he might come to a party. So it eventually evolved into doing house parties for like 40 people. Everyone at the workshop, and I had like 20 people at the workshop so maybe 15 of them actually show up and can make it.

And then I invite my favorite alumni from that area, plus people who are hubs, people who are influencers, people who are connectors in the scene in that area. And that party has been awesome for me in terms of building relationships, building connections with people who I normally probably wouldn’t have had a reason to connect with. Yeah, I could have gone to lunch with all of them but that would have taken a lot more time so I did that.

JM:            I love the idea of getting them all in one place. Because a party’s so relaxed, isn’t it? You’re at a party to have fun and people just let down a lot of those boundaries. It’s just a great place to make a friendship with someone. I could see that being really—I’m thinking about how we could do that. Everybody loves a good party.

But yeah, I don’t know what you think, Laurens, but I love this idea of just having a party. It takes away all that pressure, doesn’t it? You’re just going to have fun. Everyone wants to hang out and maybe get some good music on. What stands out for me from what Tad said is even if you just speak to that guy for five minutes, you’ve already made a connection. He’s already put a face to your name. He knows what you do and he’s probably going to be pretty impressed that you’ve put on a party like that.

LV:            Yeah, it sounds like a great way to both have fun, market, connect, make that human connection with people, expose everybody to what you’re doing and at the same time, just enjoy great food, music and company.