Blog Feature Vol. 2
Meet Kiana Heighton
Co-founder of Community For A Sustainable World, Lady Hustler and Visionary
Where do you live and what's your favourite part about living there?
I live in Vancouver and my favourite part about living here is the diversity. From food to workouts and adventures, Vancouver has lots of options.
What do you do for a living and how long have you been doing it? What's the best part of your job?
I am co-founder of a local non-profit, Community for a Sustainable World which was founded in November 2014. The best part about being a part of this organization is looking back and seeing how all of the dots started to connect. Over the last few years, I have been able to connect with many people with different passions and talents. To have these individuals come together as a community in new projects and witnessing what the power of community can accomplish is my favourite part about managing CSW's community engagement.
Tell me what Community for a Sustainable World is all about?
Our vision at Community for a Sustainable World (CSW) is to support and develop communities around the world to be in a place where they are self-sufficient and sustainable. We have partnered with our first community in South Africa to bring this vision to life. This August we are hosting our first volunteer trip where volunteers get to support the 2017 Project List. You can check out the details here.
How did you start/get involved with the organization?
Growing up I volunteered a lot and with every initiative that I was involved in, I never got to see where my efforts were going. I wanted to know that the money and effort I was putting into these initiatives were going to the intended places to support with empowering others. With starting CSW, I was really excited to see a project from start to finish. Last year I went to Botshabelo to see the community and be there for the initial site assessment with Alanah and Matt. They now head up our volunteer trip and project scope in the Botshabelo community and I focus on developing our local community and strengthening our project awareness. We love collaborating with other people so please say hello if you want to learn more about how you can get involved!
What are your roles with the organization?
I manage our local events, collaborations and foster connections with others to bring awareness to the projects that we take on. What I actually do would be best described as building webs and seeing them flourish within the vision of a specific project. I directed our summer event/project called commYOUnity which consisted of interviewing 30 local entrepreneurs and hosting a screening event to support our locals and raise money for the project. As a project of that scale required a solid team, I scouted the three leaders individually and was blown away by how well they all worked together to make the magic happen.
You can learn more about the commYOUnity team on Instagram @commyounityyvr
What is the most rewarding part for you?
I love meeting new people and being able to collaborate on creative projects that have an impact. With any project, it is really important to me to consider how it creates the space for others to feel supported. I get to oversee many moving parts and being able to coach people through something they are working on and to share the success with them is probably my favourite part. It is so rewarding to be there and support someone else's development. Just the coolest.
What do you hope this will be able to accomplish within the next 5 years?
What makes us different as an organization is that we do not want to create a co-dependency with our communities. We want them to be in a place where the community is fully sustainable and self-sufficient. With that, in 5 years
I hope that we are doing work in a second community and continue to create spaces for people to come together a community to share and support each other. We will have a YouTube channel that features all sorts of content so people can count on it for inspiration and to keep up with all of our initiatives.
How can people get involved?
If you are interested in learning more about the project in Botshabelo and getting involved you can head to our website
What type of sports or physical activities do you enjoy doing?
You can usually find me at a hot yoga class, hiking, swimming outside or at a rowdy spin class.
What do you spend your spare time doing?
As spare time can be hard to come by, I love unwinding with a bath and a good book. I also really enjoy making dinner for my friends. We are all so busy and it is a great way to catch up and remind my soul tribe how important they are to me. Meditation and journalling also really help me stay grounded and refreshed.
What's one thing you can't do without?
Who is someone that you look up to and why?
It's definitely not easy to be vulnerable and you have to be when putting something out into the world. I have my favourites (Beyonce, Oprah, Demi Lovato) but I look up to the people who are out there sharing their stories with others. The ones who are sharing their passion and work even when they are scared. The people creating change are the types of people I look up to.
What is one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurial women?
There have been many times where people have shared their opinions with me to the point where I started to believe what they were saying as if it were true. Maybe my idea was too ambitious or it wasn't going to work - until I discovered that on my own, nothing anyone else was saying mattered. Don't take any advice from anyone who isn't in the arena with you.
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