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Are You Helping Our Bioregion? There’s a Prize for That

The new Edge Prize offers up to $20,000 for initiatives that showcase ‘what works’ in communities.

David Beers 24 Jan

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee.

First, they came up with a new name for the bioregion that includes Northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska.

Salmon Nation, they called it.

And now the Salmon Nation Trust has created a new prize to highlight, support and network the bioregion’s human inhabitants who are demonstrating workable best practices for a sustainable economy.

“The Edge Prize is building a network of individuals and organizations doing something that benefits their community and surrounding ecosystems, and offering cash prizes from $500 to $20,000,” reads a Salmon Nation Trust press release.

Its aim is to “amplify these ideas and initiatives so they can be shared more widely across the bioregion — and in turn be replicated and used by other communities with similar needs.”

Two years ago, The Tyee’s Andrew Nikiforuk heralded the launch of Salmon Nation, funded in part by the U.S. NoVo Foundation.

The project aims to “encourage conversations about what ought to happen on this well-watered landscape — instead of what can be extracted from the Pacific Northwest for the global economy,” he wrote.

“It also hopes to spark change by spotlighting stories about what works locally, and thereby plant seeds for change across hill and dale.... At some point a Salmon Nation Trust will raise serious capital to serve as an accelerator of economic development that must have public or nature benefits. The website favours the term ‘regenerative development.’”

So who should apply for an Edge Award, deadline Feb. 1?

The trust suggests individuals and organizations working in areas like food and agriculture, health, culture and education, water, energy, community finance and development, ecosystem restoration and governance.

In other words, it takes many gears to mesh if we’re to get the next economy rolling.

And those gears will be catalogued digitally. The trust says, “all applicants will have their stories featured on an online portal, creating a public open-source library of bioregional solutions.” Recipients will also be offered mentoring by experts in their areas.

British Columbia is fertile ground for the kinds of solutions seekers the Edge Prize is meant to support, says Edward West, who is helping with the initiative. “B.C. communities are hotbeds of innovation when it comes to regenerative entrepreneurial projects, Indigenous rights and governance and locally led practice and innovation.”

West notes that Salmon Nation laid groundwork with a Festival of What Works, held online in 2020 and again in 2021. Inspired by that gathering, “the Edge Prize seeks to create an entrepreneurial community and prize challenge for people working on extraordinary projects that benefit the land, waters and people,” he said. “A lot of great ideas from B.C. have already contributed to the growth of Salmon Nation and we expect we’ll see even more through the Edge Prize.”

The press release notes that applicants who live in rural or “systemically barriered” communities are especially encouraged to apply. Sometimes lacking access to big financial structures can be an advantage when imagining a new way of building and defining the good life in a livable world, say organizers.

Says West: “It’s in the edges where small-scale, off-grid solar originated; where permaculture and hydroponics developed; where microcredit was invented; fermentation advanced; current best practices in birth perfected; compounds for cancer treatment found; where mobile payments, Linux and the internet originated; and where many other foundational innovations began.”

Applying isn’t difficult. Participants complete a brief submission form, record a short video or are nominated by others through the same process, all accessible at the Edge Prize website.

Again, the deadline is Feb. 1. Winners from across the bioregion will be announced April 17, 2023. Read more about Salmon Nation and the Edge Prize.  [Tyee]

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