SFU Continuing Studies’ Sustainable Community Development Certificate, 2013
Mariana Garcia has launched a new business she hopes will help revitalize communities.
Garcia came to Vancouver for a different kind of career—one that focused on creating positive change.
At home in Brazil, Garcia had built a career working for a firm that specialized in helping businesses increase profits—but something about it “felt wrong,” she says. There was almost a singular focus on money, and little concern for employees.
Within a few months of getting here, Garcia was coordinating a project that empowered Downtown Eastside artisans. A few years later, after operating two other retail businesses, a new idea began to percolate. It came, in part, out of something Garcia had studied at SFU.
While working on the DTES, Garcia had wanted to learn more about sustainable business practices. Her search led her to SFU Continuing Studies’ Sustainable Community Development Certificate.
A course on green economy resonated with her, advocating a different kind of business philosophy: Rather than mass production and a primary focus on profit, “green” economic practices stressed local sourcing, community needs and treating employees well.
Garcia had learned in her work on the Eastside that profit didn’t need to be separate from social consciousness. Her new business, The Pop Villa, which specializes in boutique pop-ups, reflects this. In addition to helping businesses grow, it’s helping revitalize communities by bringing something fresh to empty retail space and providing a way for community members to engage.
“It’s a way to help make communities more vibrant,” she says.
Submitted by: Amy Robertson