Gordon Price, from SFU is hosting a conversation on Sept 5th about corner stores in Vancouver. I really like the idea of the corner store. I think this is another one of those concepts that will return as society re-evaluates itself like it is with the local food movements and the return of organic food that used to just be called “food” before the advent of the “modern day” agriculture industry.
“Before the 1950′s, Mom & Pop grocery stores were common features of Vancouver’s single-family residential neighbourhoods. Then car culture, supermarkets and rigid zoning rules that relegated commerce to main streets changed how communities functioned. A handful of “grandfathered” locations survived, and now their successors are transforming their neighbourhoods’ social life. Is it time to legalize new corner stores, or would they create noise and activity problems?”
I think it is time to bring this concept back. The definition of the corner store I think needs updating but these corner stores could become micro hubs in some communities.
I like the idea and would love to see a corner store in my neighborhood that had a general store and coffee shop/cafe. Not quite sure if the density allows or what the exact business model would have to be but it’s an interesting idea.
A few nights ago on a walk around the Squamish Oceanfront with my family, the idea struck me that a permanent obstacle course in Squamish would be a great asset to the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada. So, I’m taking on the task of proposing the idea to see what others think.
Updates: I’m adding detail as I go so this post will be updated as new ideas come forward and as the concept evolves so check back again later.
If you like what you see, have some ideas to add to it or have a question, please leave a comment below this post or reach me on Twitter. This is just an idea at this point to gauge interest.
The proposed Squamish Obstacle Course Trail would consists of a trail equipped with obstacles or stations distributed along its length for exercising and physical fitness training. The course could have various circuits between 5km and 20Km with 15 to 20 obstacles or fitness stations. Runners could start at the official start, possibly the adventure center or anywhere on the course. They could run a short 5km circuit or the full 20km course. A similar timer like the what is used for the Grouse Grind could be used to help runners keep track of their personal times and a leader board could be posted in the Adventure Centre.
The course could follow existing trails in the Squamish area focusing on the area from the Oceanfront to Brennan park community center. The following is a proposed trail map with potential obstacles/ training stations in red. This is just a proposal at this stage for illustration purposes. More research and community involvement would be needed to determine the exact trail, number of obstacles and obstacle locations.
Proposed Obstacles and Fitness Stations
The proposal would include 15 to 20 obstacles or fitness stations placed on the designated trail circuit.
Here are examples of the types of obstacles and fitness stations that could be setup on this course throughout Squamish.
The slack-lines on the Oceanfront are a great example the types of obstcles t to this course.
Hand held Zipline
This is the simple zipline, low to the ground that requires that the person hold on with their arms to bridge the distance. Could be created as the image below or between two trees.
This is just a sampling of possible obstacles. There are many different obstacles and fitness stations that could be used on this course. Here are obstacles from the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, The RAID race and the Warrior Dash. They could be made out of the natural timber and the terrain of the surroundings. What would you like to see?
The obvious benefits are the health benefits of the people that would use the trail and the obstacles fitness course.
A fitness tourism attraction for trail runners from Vancouver and the lower mainland
Local Boot Camp programs could use the course
Crossfit athletes could use the course for training
A yearly race could be created for this course
People could train here for races like Tough Mudder, and the Spartan Race.
Potential revenue source for Adventure Centre through Timer
Business Startups are the economic engines that drive innovation and progress in today’s hyper-connected global economy and it’s Startup Communities that are at the center of this revolution.
Startup communities are entrepreneur ecosystems. They’re being created around the world in small and large cities like Boulder Colorado, Vancouver, Iceland and Russia to name just a few. These communities are driving innovation, creating jobs and invigorating small business energy. Simply stated; start-up communities attract and breed entrepreneurs who go on to build companies like AirBnB, Dropbox, Sendgrid and many, many more.
Squamish is a small town with big ideas currently going through a transformation. It was once a forestry town that’s now transforming into an outdoor recreation tourism destination. It’s challenged in finding ways to create local jobs and to evolve into a sustainable, self sufficient community. The population is growing quickly but the local job market is not keeping pace.
Squamish is my community, I love this place and I want to see it succeed and prosper. It’s beautiful and has the ability to provide what I consider the best work-life balance opportunity in Canada. That may sound biased but for me and many others, it’s the truth. There’s an abundance of great activities at our doorstep and this is what mainly brought me to Squamish in the first place. However, the challenge to completing the work-life balance equation is local jobs. Like me, there are many people that commute to Vancouver or Whistler for work and therein lies the challenge.
How do we create jobs and transform Squamish into a great place to live, work and play?
The solution to me is simple in theory. Jobs come from businesses and businesses come from entrepreneurs so it seems logical to me to find, attract, nurture and support entrepreneurs. One proven way to do this is by establishing and growing an inclusive startup ecosystem.
Startup communities are not something new. Author, entrepreneur & investor, Brad Feld is the co-founder of TechStars; a mentor-driven business accelerator in Boulder Colorado that has succeeded at building one of the most successful models for startup communities. Boulder has an incredible Startup Community. Brad’s authored several books including Startup Communities, Do More faster, and Venture Deals. All great books I have read and that have inspired me and given me great knowledge and guidance on this subject.
“The effect on the local startup community in Boulder has been even more amazing than we anticipated. Boulder has developed a culture of sustained mentorship, where new founders place great value on seeking out mentors, and experienced entrepreneurs generously offer their time and expertise. This mindset makes the community better as a whole and it helps everyone in the community be more successful.”
To get a better understanding of exactly what I’m talking about, this great video gives a quick explanation of what a startup community is and what it needs to be successful. These lessons can be applied in Squamish or anywhere, to establish a local vibrant startup ecosystem.
The Key Points of making this a reality in any community
It takes long term commitment. (20 years) Creating a entrepreneurial ecosystem is a marathon not a sprint.
The entire entrepreneurial stack needs to be engaged.
Continually attracting and recruiting fresh people into the system
“In order for Techstars to be effective, there have to be the best mentors in the community who are ready and willing to participate and who understand the “give first” culture that is so important to successful startup communities. When you have a whole community behind you, rooting for you to win, and making connections for you—it’s a huge, unfair advantage.”
What’s being done for startups with Techstars in the past 7 years is fascinating and exciting in that the mentorship-driven accelerator model is and has been duplicated in over 1000 local communities around the world with great success. Techstars has helped fund over 100 companies a year, and they have more than $70 million under management.
If Squamish wants to create a sustainable economy well into the future, it needs to look at new solutions for creating jobs and I feel that creating an active, vibrant startup community is a long term solution to our present day challenge.
I finally bought new running shoes and had a chance to take them on a good trail run this past weekend in Squamish. I’ve needed new ones for a while now as my current New Balance runners have to put it bluntly; died.
I bought the New Balance MT10 minums shoes and I couldn’t be happier with them. These shoes are minimalist barefoot shoes which are a little different from what most people would consider running shoes. If you’ve never heard of minimalist barefoot shoes, they’re a bit of a paradigm shift from the typical raised padded heel shoes.
I was introduced to barefoot running a few months ago by a colleague that started running in barefoot running shoes and he loved them. The whole concept intrigued me as I love being barefoot. In the summer, I try to be without shoes as much as I can because it just makes me feel more connected to the earth. I even remember a trip I was on in Central America where I hiked all kinds of jungle trails without shoes on as it just gave me a better sense of control and traction on slippery, wet, muddy trails. It just feels natural to me. I started to do my research and learn all about barefoot running.
For the past half century, we’ve been led by a common misconception that cushioned, padded sneakers are better for us. Science now tells us that this thinking is wrong and that we need to re learn the skill of running and use our feet the way they are designed to work. There is a lot of great information out there if you are a runner that is interested in learning more. Just Google barefoot running!
I almost bought the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail shoes for $90. I had ordered them back in May but they never came. I finally got a call from them telling me that they were out of stock and that I would have to wait till July so I bailed on the Vivo’s and bought a pair of New Balance MT10 minums shoes from the store on Robson in Vancouver.
I read this review, this one and this one and then saw the video below of pro mountain trail runner Anton Krupicka. I figure if this guy does what he does in these shoes, they are more than enough for me. All the reviews were very positive with most people saying that the shoes feel like slippers and that they are a great shoe for transitioning from padded shoes to barefoot shoes.
As the literature states; The New Balance MT10’s are a trail running shoe built for the most aggressive trails but designed with lightweight breath-ability.
Its fitted, odor-resistant upper lets you go sock less on top while the rugged Vibram® outsole provides the protection needed for running on trails. The shoe is also very light at only 175 Grams (6.2 oz).
Here is a quick snapshot of the features.
Barefoot friendly internal construction
Flexible overlays in optimal areas
Lightweight and extra-durable, the Cushion-Pushin’ EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) midsole rewards and supports your feet with the ultimate cushioning system, keeping feet cozy while offering unmatched resilience.
Lightweight mesh upper
I’ve gone for two trail runs since I got them and i’m loving these shoes.
Both runs are on my home trails in Squamish where I generally run on logging roads and dual use mountain biking trails. You can check out my latest run on Strava.
Squamish Days is a weekend long festival that includes music & art events, children’s activities, a parade, wacky bed races, a 10K run, pancake breakfast and two world class Loggers Sports Shows. The logger shows are very cool with competitors from all around the world competing in all kinds of unique logging events like chainsaw chair carving, Axe throwing and tree climbing just to name a few.
It’s a great family event and all this logging and forestry stuff it reminds me of this little vignette from the 70’s called the The Log Driver’s Waltz. If you’re in your 30’s and 40’s and grew up in Canada, this one should be familiar to you.
“Countries are shifting from service-based economies to become increasingly driven by a new generation of fast-moving software and technology organisations.”
The Startup Ecosystem Report published by Telefónica Digital was released recently ranking communities around the world that have the right ecosystem to promote tech startups as compared to the current well known Silicon Valley.
Vancouver was ranked in the top 10 which is great for BC in general and could help support a niche hub region in Squamish. The study provides tangible evidence and insight for investors, entrepreneurs and policy makers on where entrepreneurship takes hold in a community.
What is interesting to me is that this study also provides insight in to areas that a community like Squamish can focus on to attract tech startups to help build a more diverse economy. Squamish, being a outdoor recreation mecca can provide a work life balance unlike many locations in the world which is already significant lure to entrepreneurs. We already have companies like Tiipz, a tech company that’s developed a location based mobile marketing platform that enables brands to capture real time consumer insight. We also have hundreds of knowledge based consultants and professionals that are part of Inside Edge.
In the report, each ecosystem was ranked using the index below. It’s based on data from more than 50,000 startups around the world. It ranks them based on 8 weighted component indexes that are defined in more detail in the report.
Each ecosystem was profiled in the report and an investor, entrepreneur and policy maker perspective was described. Here are some of the highlights I found interesting and relevant for any community interested in establishing a startup ecosystem.
“Silicon Valley has given birth to more billion dollar companies than any other ecosystem because of its plentiful risk capital, world class talent, inclusion of the headquarters of many giant public companies, a vibrant support ecosystem, and an openminded, trust, “pay it forward”, change the world culture”
“People in Silicon Valley really believe in “pay it forward”. It’s not all transactional and tit-for-tat. Folks help each other and those not as far along as them. It’s also very accepting of failure; if you have some real catastrophes on your resume, that’s considered a badge of honor – there are not a lot of places on the planet that’s true. It’s also the easiest place in the world to start a company. Everyone is here to help you kick ass.”
“Over the past 15 years I have co-founded startups in the Bay Area, Boston and NYC, which has given me a first-hand look at their ecosystems. Boston’s key strength as an ecosystem is its diversity. There is no other place on Earth that comes close. Boston is #1 in biotech, #2 in high tech and top 3 in medical devices, energy technology, materials & environmental science, robotics, etc. This is fueled by the large number of top universities and by the diversified New England economy. Whatever your dreams may be—no matter how crazy they may seem—there are people here who can help you build a product and a business.”
“It’s all about people and their mindset. Startups need inspiring people to follow, mentors to teach, and money to support ideas. You can build an ecosystem with just a few committed people to help inspire others. A necessary requirement is an entrepreneurial mind set and there is no policy to easily foster that entrepreneurial mind set.”
Policy maker perspective
Decreased payroll tax to support high-head count low revenue tech companies(Silicon Valley)
Supporting the development of new “collaborative consumption” startups, such as AirBnB, by deregulating lodging ordinances that protect hotels and bed and breakfasts, and Lyft, by deregulating traditional transportation services like taxi cabs to support ride sharing services(Silicon Valley)
Policy makers can help closing the funding gap by attracting late-stage venture funds through tax breaks and incentives, and investor-friendly policies.(Toronto)
Policy makers can encourage more investors set up late-stage funds with appealing tax breaks and tax incentives. (Paris)
More accommodating immigration policies, tax breaks and incentives for startups and investors could help. (Australia)
Policy makers are only supporters. They should not lead development. (Russia)