Plant & Pine seems like a simple enough moniker for this new project- but it took a while to come up with the name. After months of debate and brainstorming, I hit on an idea that I felt resonated more than all the others.
The Plant half of the name refers to a primary source of sustenance – the renewable, life-giving flora that nourishes us as food, keeps us warm as fabric and enhances our lives in a million different ways. The other half of the name is more of a personal reference, while also broadly alluding to a common symbol of nature. Pine trees, for me, have always been synonymous with Canada’s natural landscape. Most of the trees here are in bloom for less than half the year, and so our evergreens become a source of visual nutrition during the long winter months
So I see the name Plant & Pine as describing an intersection of nature and sustenance – one that bridges the disconnect between the products we use and consume and the source of those products.
In our very commercialized, consumerist society, where our stuff comes from is largely hidden from view by the manufacturers – and most of the time it’s for very unscrupulous reasons. It seems like an intimidating task to try and pull down some of these curtains and show the nastiness that’s on the other side, but I think people, in general, are increasingly ready and willing to do that for themselves. What I’d like to do with Plant & Pine instead is work to create awareness of ourselves, of each other, of other species, and the organic elements of our world and how they, and we, are all intertwined. And I’d like to do it in an optimistic and enthusiastic way without moralizing.
I’ve been vegan for ten years and I’m pretty dedicated to it as a cause but I’ve never been one to tell others that they should be vegan. I’d much rather find mutual ground, share a delicious meal, connect on a broader sense of pleasure and empathy. Pursuing more humane and ethical consumption doesn’t necessarily have to involve sacrifice, and I think if people realize this they’ll likely find their own way forward.
This is the philosophy I’m also applying to Plant and Pine – an optimistic venture intended to function as both a commercial enterprise and as a conduit for advocacy. That’s a pretty broad ambition and I’ve been struggling to articulate my specific vision and the means by which to develop that vision.
I’ve tried my best to outline a few basic goals that I’m reaching for now and in the future, aspirations for myself as an entrepreneur, rules to stick to, a written reminder for myself as things evolve, a brief manifesto that explains this is where I am now, this is where I want to be, this is what I want to contribute and how I want to achieve it. Here they are:
Build, support and provide restitution to communities
This is a big one for me. A strong sense of community seems to be a rarity these days, and it feels more and more difficult to find a supportive network whether it be for business, pleasure or creative pursuits. But you can’t complain about the lack of community unless you’re actively contributing towards one or building your own. So, while I don’t really know what this is going to look like for Plant & Pine, I do know that I want community building to be an integral part of the trajectory. This could include developing initiatives to assist or promote organizations that are doing good, or simply distributing goods that are mindful of community impact.
Provide An Outlet for Optimism and Inspiration
It’s easy to be cynical in 2019. Everything seems to be going in a bad direction politically, socially, economically and environmentally. The “be positive” mantra rings increasingly empty – now too often used as a shallow excuse to defer responsibility. But I’d like to start framing positivity, optimism, and inspiration in a different light – not as a platitude, but as something that reflects the uniquely resilient human spirit.
Inspiration means helping to ignite a spark, it means laying down a potential path, offering strength and hope as we work towards building something. It’s not about ignoring the bad, but a way of declaring our strength in the face of overwhelming odds
What would we happen if we, as a community, channeled all of our endurance, all that strength and the extraordinary ability to heal and rebuild, towards transforming our world? Optimism can be a political action, a powerful and provocative statement proclaiming, definitively, that whatever it is that’s inside us, that tough fibrous human essence we all have, cannot and will not easily be broken.
Again, I don’t necessarily know specifically what this will entail but I’m trying to ensure this attitude permeates both the product lines and whatever subsidiary ventures come into play.
Pursue Leadership and Innovation
Maybe it’s just me (it’s definitely not), but it seems like nearly everyone in positions of power – those imbued with all the resources, influence and authority, and those that would be capable of initiating genuine and meaningful change – are always the most incapable leaders. I sometimes wonder where my contempt of authority comes from – but when I think back to all those that had jurisdiction and/or responsibility over my life, I’m hard pressed to find someone among them who hasn’t failed me or burned me in pretty spectacular ways. I think it’s safe to say that there is a lot of people out there who can relate.
What I have found, however, is that those that do offer support, that provide guidance and treat others with care, diligence, and respect are usually those with the least amount of obligation to do so. What accounts for this contradiction? The ways in which our society bestows power and influence is problematic. We’ve commodified education, created systematic barriers to success, and hindered progress for the vulnerable. The discovery of our aspirations, the pursuit of happiness, our satisfaction with life, is now almost entirely dictated by how much wealth and privilege we are born into.
Inverting this paradigm means putting the tools to succeed, to create, to innovate, to lead, back within reach. That is my ambition: to create and elevate new leadership – which also means, that Plant and Pine must also always be striving to be better, do better, push for a better way and lead by example.
There are just a few very broad ideas currently swimming around my rather overwhelmed mind, and while it may take a while to sort out the specifics of all this, I’m also feeling optimistic about launching this organization. All we can do, after all, is give these things a try. So here we go.