In a former life, my boyfriend-then-husband Art and I would drive almost every July to Timmins, where he'd grown up. We'd stay at the family cottage which was built in the Finnish style, with a sauna right by the lake. The countryside in northern Ontario was like no other I'd seen before in Quebec, Muskoka or even the rugged region around Parry Sound. It was harsh like a pre-tundra, with the Canadian Shield bursting out of the ground. Rocky landscapes, cold cold deep lakes, lots of birch trees, evergreens and sparse, hardy plant life. Cold mornings in the hottest part of summer.
I'm remembering this because it's Earth Day and one thing that stuck out as remarkable for me about Timmins and the country around it at the time was how little the people there valued the beauty of nature around them. Mining was what had built the region and the physical devastation it and the logging left hit me viscerally. The people who lived there didn't seem to notice it though. I was a child who'd read Rachel Carson's eco-warning Silent Spring at an oddly young age: a fish out of water in the north, some big city girl in my 20's with all kinds of nutty stuff, attitude and ideas that made me different there. I was a party of one who cared, some eco-concerned city girl who, in their eyes, had these cute ideas and was clearly out of touch with reality – their reality, which was something along the lines of, the land was there to be used.
I haven't been there for ages and I'm sure it's changed. Yet Canada's a huge country still stuck in between two world views that are diametrically opposed. One represents traditional resource-based industries on which much of the country's riches are built on. The other looks at our resources differently and says, how could we do this better? This world view is invested in innovation and new technologies to build a healthier future – for the planet, the economy and for people. Cleantech VC and advisor Tom Rand's new book, Waking the Frog, shows how switching the way we frame the conversation about climate change from scary, insurmountable problems to viable solutions that already exist opens up a door to a better future. In the time since I was a little girl reading Silent Spring, then growing up to work on big brands and shift away from them to the startup world, I've invested a lot to help projects that are making a difference succeed. It keeps the little girl in me alive.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every great brand that's making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.