Put all the good eggs in one basket: Foundation pitches nonprofit hub in Coquitlam

file photo Jeremy Shepherd

There are dozens of nonprofits in the Tri-Cities that work to make residents’ lives better. What if, rather than operating in silos across the community, they were all under one roof?

That’s the project recently pitched to Coquitlam council by Vanessa Wideski, executive director of the Low Entropy Foundation.

“There’s so many of us in the Tri-Cities who really want to help and make a difference, we need to find a platform where we can collaborate,” she said. “We’re so much stronger when we work together and we support and we care, and we cooperate.”


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The City of Coquitlam has a number of lots that are set to be developed at some point in the future, but are not currently in use. Among them is a lot near Coquitlam Centre Mall on Ponderosa Street. This lot would be perfect for the foundation’s proposal, said Wideski.

“Rather than it sitting vacant and empty, we could turn that into a community hub,” she said during a presentation at the council-in-committee meeting April 3.

It’s not a new idea for the city. Several of the Tri-Cities community gardens are built on parcels set for development down the road.

The idea for a community hub came out of a community-building session the Low Entropy Foundation hosted in the Tri-Cities a few months ago. Those who attended noticed “there was a gap and there was a need for folks to work together,” said Wideski.

She was joined at the presentation by Low Entropy Foundation assistant executive director Ness Gale who spoke about the potential for collaboration in the theoretical space.

“We have so many amazing nonprofits in the area and some of them are so small,” she said. “By banding together, sharing resources and ideas, we can do so much more for the community.”

If bringing a group of nonprofits together under one roof is phase one, phase two would be offering transitional modular housing.

The housing could be used by newcomers, immigrants, and refugees, as well as those aging out of foster care, or looking for a fresh start from a bad living situation.

Wideski said modular homes are “convenient, accessible, and doable and realistic.

“They’re easy to put up and they’re easy to take down because we know that this land, you know, it’s not permanent.”

Mayor Richard Stewart said the city does have land that fits the bill and use of those parcels is “something that council can talk about in closed (meetings),” he said. “I guarantee that we will be discussing that kind of element.”

What’s in a name?

In 2015, Wideski was looking for a fresh start in her own life and started a group called Conscious Connections. The idea was to offer a space for people to gather and “have meaningful conversations around vulnerability and authenticity, emotions, purpose in life,” she said.

They held their first meeting at Rocky Point. In its first year, the Port Moody group multiplied into five different groups across five cities. The next year, they launched a youth program called Youth Empowering Youth, and the following year, became a nonprofit under the name Low Entropy Foundation.

Entropy is a scientific term that measures the quality of energy. It’s commonly used in physics, but it’s relatively unknown to the layman.

“When people hear low entropy, it invokes curiosity, so they’re like, ‘Oh, what is that?’ And then we get to share our vision.’”

A society with high entropy is chaotic, explains Wideski.

“What we want to do is lower the entropy and create a social system where we work together and cooperate, and we really take care of one another,” she said.

Service for all

When asked who the Low Entropy Foundation serves, Wideski laughs as she answers: “Everyone.”

“I was advised not to do that because I’ll never get any traction and can’t help everybody,” she said. “That’s what everyone always says. But really, it’s been our motto — you know, no one gets left behind. And if we don’t have the resources to help you, then we will find the resources for you because they’re available. There’s so many incredible people in our community who can help.”

with files from Jeremy Shepherd

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