Spring and the Chinese New Year, A Fruitful Collaboration, and Expanding the Valentine’s Love

Chinese Lion Dance, ©Mike Kwok|Dreamstime.com

Chinese Lion Dance, ©Mike Kwok|Dreamstime.com

Happy Chinese New Year

This Sunday (February 10th) marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year (also known as the Spring Festival). For those of us who tend to feel a little discouraged right about now because some of our New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the way side, here’s a chance to revisit those goals or intentions with a second New Year’s celebration. I find that trying to start new habits or projects on January 1st is something of a lost cause: I’m just not motivated or energized to take on new goals, projects, or good habits on January 1st when it’s still the middle of winter and some part of my brain is still in hibernation mode. So, I wait a few more weeks until there’s a little more daylight, the days warm up a bit, and the Chinese New Year rolls around—complete with a lion dance and loud drums that chase away all the mental cobwebs—and then I’m ready to start taking action on new projects or establishing new habits. A new year that starts on a new moon in early spring makes far more sense to me than an arbitrary calendar date that falls just past the middle of winter.

This year, I decided to do a little bit of research on the customs and themes associated with the Chinese New Year celebration. It seems the main themes are family (specifically, honouring elders and ancestors) and taking actions that increase good luck, longevity (i.e., health) and prosperity. I noted, in my reading, that many of the customs involve sharing the existing wealth through gifting younger, unmarried family members with money tucked inside red envelopes and bringing gifts of fruit and/or sweets to friends during the two weeks of celebrations.

Speaking of gifting others with fruit, a couple of weeks ago I came across a local news story that highlighted some quick thinking that yielded a most , er, “fruitful” collaboration between a private company, a non-profit organization, and a social enterprise.

When Life Hands You Bananas, Make Banana Bread!

According to the story in The Vancouver Metro (written by Emily Jackson, January 31, 2013), when a transport company found itself stuck with 48 pallets of bananas—or roughly 40, 000 lbs of bananas—because a supermarket decided that the bananas were too ripe to sell, the transport company made the choice to donate them to the food bank rather than throw out perfectly good bananas. The people at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society were more than happy to accept the donation and distributed as many of the bananas as possible to food banks and agencies throughout the lower mainland.

But the food bank society still had a ridiculously large quantity of bananas left over and didn’t want them to go to waste, so they, too, did some quick thinking and paid their good fortune forward. They contacted a social enterprise called The Potluck Cafe, which trains and employs inner city residents to cook and serve healthy food for the cafe and it’s catering services, and enlisted the Potluck Cafe to transform the remaining bananas (into banana bread. The food bank donated all of the ingredients for the banana bread, and the Potluck Cafe supplied the paid labour. Staff at the Potluck Cafe produced 6,500 loaves of banana bread. So, there you have it: some quick thinking, generous donations, and collaborative efforts transformed a potentially colossal waste of food and embedded energy into a sustainable, socially responsible sweet treat for the multitudes.

Organic chocolate heart, © Susan Chambers

Organic chocolate heart, © Susan Chambers

It’s Valentine’s Day: Be Generous about Sharing the Love!

Last year for Valentine’s Day I wrote a post about thinking outside the heart-shaped box, and encouraged readers to look for ways to celebrate love and romance that were more sustainable and socially just than the usual candies, flowers and cards. If you must buy into the traditions of buying chocolates and flowers, I hope you’ve remembered to show your love to the planet and the people who grow the chocolates and flowers by opting for organic and fairly traded goods.

Just like last year, I will also encourage you to make a donation in your loved one’s name to an organization that is working to make the world a more sustainable and socially just place for all people. Oxfam has some great gifts that keep on giving through their Unwrapped campaign. Other organizations also have some great programs that make a positive difference in the lives of people and/or animals either here at home or in the developing world. Choose an organization that is meaningful to your sweetie; remember, the gift/donation is also supposed to reflect that you care enough about your sweetie to know what’s important to her or him.

This year, I’m going to suggest you go one step further and show/share the love with your employees and your favourite local businesses. On February 14th, my friend Karl Staib is offering a teleseminar that outlines five ways to show your employees you love them. You don’t have to run billion-dollar businesses to make your employees feel special—you do have to acknowledge all of them and take the time to figure out what actions or benefits would be meaningful to them. Need some more ideas? Find out what a few caring microentrepreneurs do for their employees in Small Business, Big Change: A Microentrepreneur’s Guide to Social Responsibility.

You could also show your love for your favourite local businesses. How do you do that? Recommend and refer their services or products to other people in your personal and professional networks, give them a bit of publicity through your social media communications channels, or just drop in or send an email telling them how much you appreciate their services/products.

It’s your turn. How do you find sustainable ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day? If you have employees, how do you show them that they’re greatly appreciated and valued? What local businesses do you love and how will you show them some love? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

February 14, 2013

© Susan Chambers

February 14, 2013 · Susan · One Comment
Posted in: Uncategorized

One Response

  1. Susan - February 15, 2013

    Dear readers,

    Thanks to my friend Kate Sutherland, it’s come to my attention that my blog is not letting readers post comments. It would appear that one of the plug-ins has been taken over by a gremlin. I apologize for any inconveniences/frustrations you’ve experienced if you tried to leave a comment only to have it rejected. 🙁

    I hope to have this not so little problem fixed soon so we can all benefit from your inspiring and insightful comments. Thanks for your patience.

    Kate has asked me to post her comment for her, and here is what she said about showing the love for some of her favourite local businesses:

    Hi Sue,
    Tried to respond with this — see below. I hope you can post it for me.

    I have been buying dried figs from Famous Foods for years. The other day, I noticed that the price was about $2 lower than what it has been for [ages]. Betting that this was a pricing error, I walked to aisles to find one of the managers, and told him about the price discrepancy. Felt like a way to give back to a store that gives me so much.

    I have told lots of people about the wonderful “Soap Dispensary” store that you profile in your book, and ditto for restaurants and consultants that I appreciate.

    Thanks for the inspiring post!

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