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Activism & Action Featured

Gaming for a Greener Future

Photo of asian woman in a blue puffer coat with spring cherry blossoms in the background
Jane Li, founder of Springbay Studios. Photo by Springbay Studios.

Jane Ji hopes for a better future.

In efforts to make her hope a reality, Ji works with an eco-focused mindset that includes educating young people through gamification. Her feminist enterprise, Springbay Studios, develops interactive children’s games and experiences that aim to engage kids with environmental science. The climate crisis belongs to everyone. But it’s the youth of today whose future is at stake. Ji’s goal is to empower young people to take action toward building a world where humans and nature live in harmony.

Where It All Began

Ji grew up in mainland China and when she entered the job market in the 1990s she found work with a Taiwanese gaming company that was hiring anyone with an engineering background.

It’s rare that a feminist biomedical engineer ends up in the gaming industry but that’s what happened to Jane Ji. Her first job in the video game industry was a programmer, writing code. Through experimenting with software development, Jane discovered her passion for digital storytelling and that video games were an ideal tool for learning.

“It was kind of an accident, but fortunate for me to find something I really love,” says Ji. “I think a lot of people who have an engineering or science background are also interested in art.”

Back then, Ji was chosen for the job because of her skills and qualifications, not her gender. She remembers the fairness of not being judged as a female in a male-dominated industry and went on to use the same equal opportunity hiring practices years later within her own enterprise.

Ji became the lead game designer at the company and worked on a game that was based on the classic Chinese novel and love story, Dream of the Red Chamber. Being the lead gave her the opportunity to design with a feminist lens where she fostered a collaborative and inclusive environment with the other programmers and artists. She worked with another female engineer who led the software design and they were the only female-led team within the company. While the men focused on traditional time-based strategy games, Ji took a new approach to gameplay  that included simulation plus role play about emotion.

However, the gaming industry faced many challenges in China. Software piracy and illegal licensing was a big problem in this country. Ji couldn’t see a future in her home country as a game developer and decided to immigrate to Canada in 2000.

The Path to Springbay

Her sister Grace was already in Toronto so Ontario was the obvious choice. Once Ji was settled, she sought out work at companies which were making games that aligned with her feminist mindset and values of learning and caring for others. She attended conferences like the Game Developers Conference to network and meet people in the gaming industry. Ji worked as a freelance consultant before co-founding Springbay Studio in the early 2000s with her business partner—also her sister—who had a degree in computer science as well as managerial experience.  

Springbay’s original tagline was: Create Fun Gameplay From a Feminine Perspective.

Original Springbay business card. Photo provided.

This perspective was – and is – how Ji sees the world. Her perspective includes nurturing and supporting people and preservation of the natural environment in which we live. Springbay projects reflect and promote the creators’ feminist values of equality and inclusion. They benefit women, men and youth, because players come in many shapes and sizes.  

Springbay’s early projects included games like the Living Garden at a time when Facebook games were gaining popularity. The game reflected feminist values “I always think, when we play something, I hope that we learn something,” Ji says.

Another early Springbay project was inspired by the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. The game, Mark and Mandi’s Love Story was distributed by Big Fish Games and is still available for purchase. Ji worked with a team of artists, programmers and developers to create the game. Ji enjoyed the challenge of using game design to present the different ways that men and women view certain subjects in a fun and lighthearted way.

New Perspectives, Bigger Impact

After Ji had children—who are now both young adults who have attended university—she was motivated to create more meaningful gaming experiences that had a bigger impact. She had always been aware of climate issues but her research was an eye opener and as a mother felt a responsibility to take action to care for the future, for her kids. “We are biological creatures. If this biosphere is messed up, we do not get a chance.”

When Springbay looked at who their audience was and the content they were building, it became clear they should start with children. Screen time is an ongoing issue for young people growing up in today’s digital work and Ji is well aware of the pros and cons of what online learning can offer. “If we are developing a game, we’re not going to glue them to the screen, because this is not how you are going to build a foundation,” she says.

Springbay’s mission is to use gamification as a way to encourage young people to learn about and take action toward sustainable lifestyles. The innovative products are on a scalable, gamified platform for global educators to inspire greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The beauty and benefit of gamification is that it provides the feeling that you are playing a video game, but it’s not truly a game. Players are earning badges and points in a structured way that involves user interaction. The iBiome-Wetland game and app and the iBiome-Ocean school editions offer resources for students to build and explore natural habitats in virtual settings. The blend of virtual learning with real life field trips is a winning combination in that nature doesn’t necessarily guarantee results such as spotting a specific type of wildlife. But you can count on the online version to deliver. Educators have told Ji how the gaming components keep students engaged and complement their teaching units on the ecosystem and natural habitats.

Springbay’s recent endeavour is the League for Green Leaders.

Springbay Studios video that features youth talking about their experience with the games.

The goal of the League for Green Leaders is to give young people an opportunity to build a virtual ecosystem where they can learn about biodiversity. Including ‘leaders’ in the name was a deliberate choice says Ji: “We’re trying to make our children become the leaders rather than be the sufferers for the eco side.”

It’s Not Easy Being Green

What’s missing? What would help?

In addition to building sustainable lifestyles, sustainable funding is what Springbay needs develop their learning products. Ji says that guaranteed monthly income from donations or ongoing matching funds from accelerator or government programs would be a step in the right direction. 

But funding is hard to come by. Some days are more discouraging than others. In some cases, it has come down to a matter of semantics where Springbay has been excluded from government funding because they don’t meet the criteria requirements of ‘clean technology’. The term ‘clean technology’ is limited to tech such as solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars. Ji isn’t arguing that these sectors aren’t important but insists that environmental education needs to be part of the equation if we are going to limit global warming in the near future

Still, she has hope.

“Our games are not all gloom and doom,” says Ji. “I think people are trying different ways to convince people that if we work together, there is hope. We cannot change this by ourselves.” 

If people think that the younger generation aren’t mature enough to tackle these complex issues we need only look to examples such as Greta Thunberg, the origin of Earth Day or the success that Springbay has seen.

My fourth graders really enjoyed tracking their CO2 footprint by participating in the League for Green Leaders Pilot Program.”  – Lynne Caffee, Pennsylvania, USA

“This smartly designed environmental sim lets kids explore three wetland habitats. By drawing connections between different species and creating a web, kids learn about producers and consumers, and about predator/prey relationships.” Common Sense Education, Best Learning Apps

“See what happens when you add extra of one species to your biome. Students will see right away how species depend on one another and how easy it is for an ecosystem to get off-balance.” American Association of School Librarians, Best Teaching and Learning App


Publishers Note: Springbay Studios is part of the Fifth Wave  Initiative, a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media sector in southern Ontario. All enterprise founders in the Fifth Wave community are selected for both their potential and commitment toward weaving intersectional feminist ideals of equity and fairness into sustainable and scalable business growth strategies. Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to minimum of 50% participation per cohort by members of underrepresented groups. The Fifth Wave is a LiisBeth ally sponsor at the Lighthouse levelApplications for Cohort 5 are open. Apply here

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Activism & Action

A Fictional Political Forecast: Windy with a Chance of Democracy

A photo of a white red headed woman named Riveral Sun. She is outside. There is snow in the background.
Rivera Sun, protest novelist and peace activist outside her home in Taos, New Mexico

The Author’s Note in Rivera Sun’s Winds of Change reads, in part: “The Dandelion Trilogy has always stood in a time that looms around the corner of today, in a place on the edge of our nation. It is fiction that reveals the problems and possibilities lurking in the shadows of our work.” The trilogy sparks ideas and provides examples of how grassroots organizing and nonviolent activism results in true change. The books are about resistance and resilience. They’re about recognizing a system that’s not working, and doing something about it.”

Protest novelist and nonviolence activist Rivera Sun was the featured guest on October’s episode of The Fine Print, an online conversation series with contemporary feminist authors. Like previous episodes, a group of feminist changemakers gathered on Zoom to hear the writer discuss ideas in her novel, Winds of Change—the third book in the Dandelion Trilogy

The evening did not disappoint.

(Watch video highlights from the evening’s conversation below, or on LiisBeth’s YouTube channel.

The trilogy follows protagonists Zadie Byrd Gray and Charlie Rider— a feisty and passionate young couple—in their leaderful movement that challenges the existing government structure in the United States and hopes of replacing it with a people-powered, representative democracy. The stories involve conflict with oligarchy and the wealthy elite. “If this sounds a little familiar to U.S. culture it’s because it is a little familiar to U.S. culture,” Sun said on the video call from her Earthship home in New Mexico. She started writing The Dandelion Insurrection, the first book of the trilogy, back in 2013, just a few months before Edward Snowden leaked information about the NSA spying on American citizens. “I was a little paranoid for a couple of months as the reveal came out because I had actually been writing about that, as a speculative fictional scenario,” she told the group 

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Protest novels are books defined by their intent that often challenge political views, depict social injustices and/or offer alternative perspectives from underrepresented groups. According to Sun, “In a world like ours where injustice runs amok and so many are crying out for change, I think all of us can bend our talents and skills in solidarity with demands for respect, dignity, fairness, inclusion, safety, and sustainability.”

Sun has a few favourite protest novels she uses for inspiration including  Starhawk’s Fifth Sacred Thing, Victor Hugo’s classic Les Miserables and Ursula K LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness. For more examples of books written in response to, or inspired by, political strife, check out the list compiled by Electric Lit.

The author’s writing is influenced by her lived experiences. 

Sun described herself as someone who was once an ‘ignorant activist’ who has since come a long way in her activism journey. The 39-year-old has been involved in participatory democracy from bike messenger co-ops to member-mechanic operations, leaderful movements to consensus-based nonprofits. “I believe in this kind of democracy the way I believe in nonviolence. They both have challenges, but they offer more hope than any other system I’ve seen.”

Not sure what leaderful, non violent movements or actions might look like?  Watching starlings in murmuration provides a useful way to imagine it. 

Winds of Change largely focuses on the belief that for participatory democracy to work, “People need to have a direct and active role in determining the laws and policies by which our lives are impacted.” Sun was quick to address the idea of participatory democracy as a lofty goal but also something that is not entirely out of reach. “We’re at such a point of division that sometimes it’s hard to believe, or imagine, or trust that humanity as a whole has this kind of inherent wisdom…but we do have a pretty innate sense of wanting to solve problems together.”

While Sun isn’t alone in recognizing that our current systems aren’t working, she attributes the lack of change to the fact that people aren’t meeting and discussing issues in a room together whether it’s virtual, physical or metaphorical. “They’re not actually engaged in collective problem solving and they’re often spouting political opinions in reaction to the lines and the commentary that are fed to them by elite groups to keep them divided and disempowered,” said Sun.

Writing the trilogy allowed her to grow both as a writer and as an activist. For example, while researching how to bring her stories to life, she actually Googled “How to bring down dictators non-violently.” She discovered plenty of people are already out there doing it.

Sun said there are no shortage of examples of nonviolent activism successful in heralding change. “We have to remember there are over 300 different methods of non-violent struggle ranging from holding that sign, to civil disobedience, to shut downs, blockades, boycotts, occupations, covert actions, refusals to comply with work, slowdowns, walkout strikes. The list goes on. So that’s the kind of hopeful news that people are engaged in.”

Spreading the Word Like Dandelion Seeds

By self-publishing her books through Rising Sun Press Works and printing copies on demand, Sun doesn’t feel the pressure of answering to a publisher’s vision of her work.

Where does Rivera Sun find hope?

Through crowdfunding different projects, she has built an audience of loyal followers and created uniquely community-published work. She is encouraged and humbled by the amount of support and positive feedback she receives from readers. For example, commenting on Winds of Change in Transition US, Marissa Mommaerts wrote, “These practical and inspiring examples of direct democracy are exactly what we need to move forward as society.” Tom Altee at the Co-Intelligence Institute and Wise Democracy Project also has high praise for Sun’s work. “I was totally captivated [by] Rivera’s vision in Winds of Change. It was the best participatory democracy imagineering creation I’ve ever seen.” 

Sun is mindful about the message of Winds of Change: “I hope no one takes this book as a blueprint. It’s not. It’s a story that is meant to spark ideas, thoughts, and reflections in the reader. It’s intended to provide more questions than it answers.”

BONUS! Download and read an excerpt from Winds of Change © Rivera Sun 2020.

Plus! You can watch all previous episodes of The Fine Print with authors including Shaena Lambert (Petra), Leanne Betasmosake Simpson (Noopiming) and Farzana Doctor (Seven) on YouTube.

GOOD NEWS! THE FINE PRINT returns in 2022. Free for FEC members or you can purchase access tickets on Eventbrite. 

Watch for updates! 

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Activism & Action

Solutionary Ideas from a Love-based Revolutionary

Rivera Sun, Author, The Dandelion Insurrection

This week, LiisBeth spoke with Rivera Sun, a change-maker, a cultural creative, protest novelist, pragmatic strategist and campaign designer for social change movements, and workshop leader at LiisBeth’s premier social innovation event of the year, the Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum, held in Toronto on Dec 2/3.

LiisBeth: We are so excited about having you conduct one of your practical change making workshops at the upcoming Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum! It’s also your first time in Canada!

Rivera Sun: Occasionally I have fantasies about running away to Canada! But the reality is, as you know, Canada’s far from perfect. You’re working on lots of different issues too. For example, you have major environmental issues that you’re dealing with…. But one thing that I really thought a lot about in terms of speaking to Canadian women in business is…I’m not an expert on Canada’s political system. I get to talk about the thing I really love, which is how do we take action outside of the political system, right?

LiisBeth: Tell us a little about you and how you became an expert in non-violent activism?

Rivera Sun: I am a novelist and entrepreneur by trade and an activist by necessity. I grew up on an organic farm in Northern Maine. My undergrad is actually in dance and theatre. And I have a twin sister! Today, I continue to write and I teach strategy for nonviolent movements. The workshop enterprise emerged while I was on my book tour with my first novel, The Dandelion Insurrection. After my talks, people would ask me to do workshops on nonviolent struggle. So that’s how I started to actually teach this work and now it’s kind of taken off on its own, because people need the tools so much.

Rivera Sun and the first book in her trilogy, The Dandelion Insurrection

LiisBeth: Why this work?

Rivera Sun: I think we now all live in a time that requires us to all be engaged, in social economic, political, racial, sex, gender, justice (issues). All of it, like never before. But I was not always interested these issues. I spent a lot of my young adult life not so concerned with politics…I didn’t think anything I did would make a difference. It wasn’t until the Occupy Movement that I learned that there were a lot of ways to make a difference in the world. Occupy woke me up. After Occupy, I was getting involved in all sorts of activist campaigns. Like most people, I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I was also writing The Dandelion Insurrection, in which I posited a hidden corporate dictatorship. Once I had invented the problem, I really didn’t know how to get the characters out of that problem, so I Googled it. I asked, “How to bring down dictators non-violently.” I thought I’d get some insight from people who might have written about it in their books, like, Ursula Le Guin or Margaret Atwood. But it turns out, there were a lot of real people around the world who have been using nonviolent struggle very successfully for the past three decades, especially to solve their social-political problems, oust dictators, stop invasions, overturn occupations. I learned by reading history that people are actually more successful at driving social change with nonviolent action versus more violent approaches…. So I immersed myself in reading material…and gave myself a crash course in how to use nonviolent action effectively, strategically and kind of used my novel as my thesis study. How would I play this out with the characters in my book? How do you model it out? The novel did well, and soon after, my readers reached out and asked, “How do we make this book real?” So, I developed a set of tools based on what has, and has not worked historically, and began sharing these tools with others.

LiisBeth: Do politics and business mix?

Rivera Sun: I think it’s a great question and a question for anybody on the spectrum, whether you think that you’re working in the capitalist arena to do better ethical business, or whether you’re way out in the totally non-monetary end of enterprise and trade. There are intersections of enterprise and movements that we don’t usually see as enterprise-based activism. Consider co-ops, worker credit unions, and the work of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta who founded the United Farm Workers Union. Or Mahatma Gandhi’s constructive programs [carrying out struggle through community and self-improvement by building structures, systems, processes, and resources that are alternatives to oppression and promote self-sufficiency and unity in the resisting community]. Constructive programs were not thought of as businesses per se, but they had a significant economic impact. Two of his 17 constructive programs denied the British Empire an estimated 18% of their tax revenue, right? That’s a major economic impact that relates to the course of their struggle. So, when it comes to the intersection of business and social change, the very first thing that I think about is that business and politics have always been intertwined.

The question I think most entrepreneurs looking to drive social change struggle with is how to design products or services and operate our businesses in such a way that we can make sure they create the change we want yet are robust and financially sustainable enough to withstand the inevitable blowback of having a political position that is not popularly supported by the bulk of the people we may be wanting to have as customers or consumers, right?

LiisBeth: So true! So what are some of the things that people learn by taking your workshop?

Rivera Sun: Change doesn’t just happen through protest. It doesn’t just happen – for regular people anyway – through calling politicians or senators. And it doesn’t usually just happen through buying the right goods as individuals. It happens when we organize. It happens when we look at the whole system, identify what’s holding us back, and starts when we begin working with others — and connecting our enterprises and organizations in ways that leverage each other’s strengths to drive the desired change. We would never have gotten the Civil Rights Act of 1965 in the US without an enormous civil rights movement, 95% of which was organized and galvanized outside of the electoral system.
So if we’re looking at business changes, how do we drive industry standards? How do we make marketing campaigns that not just advance the justice work that we’re doing, but also support the justice work of many groups and movements. How do we help to crack the stranglehold of certain industries that are continuing injustice?
We’re going to learn pragmatic tools and strategies for making massive change from the vantage point of being in business.

LiisBeth: Very cool.

Rivera Sun: Because we need everybody. We need the scientists, we need the lawyers, we need the business leaders, we need the plucky little activist groups. We need the mass movements for change, we need the churches. And every single one of those groups has a different set of ways that they can leverage who they are and what they do, to maximum effectiveness.

Publisher’s note: For tickets to the Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum, click here. Two day pass $299. One Day Pass: $160. Students with ID: $99


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Sample Newsletter


Photo By Thais Ramos Varela


Creating a Feminist City: We Rise By Lifting Others

The other day, I came across an article written by the incredible Mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena Castrillo (elected in 2015) in which she wrote about Madrid’s commitment to “to promoting gender equality and fighting the continued discrimination which women face daily.” Then I did a little more research.

I was blown away.

In the article, Mayor Castrillo lists the plethora of innovative initiatives and programs that the Madrid City Council have underway to advance gender equity including “Spaces of Equality” which among other things work to legitimize women’s knowledge and provide them with a safe space to question gender roles defined by patriarchal society, and offering funded, extra curricular programming to “raise awareness and mobilize the population around issues of equality by disseminating the great contributions brought by feminism and implications around the concept of gender.” Not one to mince words, Castrillo goes on to say “Our society needs a breakthrough and profound transformation in this regard. The structural inequality between women and men takes many forms …[including] the alarming rise in macho attitudes among the younger generation. These forms of inequality require a determined and firm response from all of us.”

Let’s pause for a moment. Can you imagine the Mayor of your city even mentioning the word patriarchy at a Board of Trade luncheon or economic club? Or launching a new program to educate citizens about the contributions of its-heretofore mostly maligned feminist community? I can’t. I live in Toronto.

Introducing the Feminist City
There is a strong business case behind the idea that a Feminist City would produce incredible economic development opportunities – so why aren’t all city mayors rushing to become one?

And what if we could rank cities according to how desirable they were for women to live, work and play? What if this equated with sustainable economic growth for all?

If we could pinpoint and, hence, strengthen factors that would attract women and in particular, women entrepreneurs and investors, to move to a city, what might those factors be? Safety in all areas of a city, during day and night? A thriving diverse women-led entrepreneurship ecosystem. A feminist enterprise district? A thriving and well connected feminist community? A self-identified feminist Mayor?.

Sound attractive? We could call this The Feminist City.

Imagine the sign on the highway as you cross into city limits: Welcome to The Feminist City: We Rise by Lifting Others. Please Take Our Values Home.

Read more about the feminist city idea in the full VIEWPOINT essay here,


100% woman owned and queer feminist lead, The Gladstone Hotel is located in Toronto, Canada

New ideas must use old buildings.” – Jane Jacobs

Artist, activist, and entrepreneurial feminist Christina Zeidler runs the Gladstone Hotel, Canada’s first B-Corp hotel. Lana Pesch visits the Inn With Agency that operates under an anti-oppressive feminist framework. Zeidler and her team are challenging the status-quo…one magic pony at a time. Read the feature story here.

Rivera Sun, author of The Dandelion Insurrection and workshop facilitator at the 2018 Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum

Solutionary Ideas From a Love-Based Revolutionary

Rivera Sun, author of the Dandelion Insurrection Trilogy, says she has fantasized about running away to Canada. Sun grew up on an organic farm in Northern Maine, but now lives in New Mexico–even further away!

Though oh-so-close at one time, Sun has never had the opportunity to check out our native land first hand. Until now. Sun arrives in Toronto on December 2nd by invitation to facilitate a workshop at the Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum on how entrepreneurs and business leaders can leverage non-violent activism to drive systems change.

In this interview Sun says, “Change doesn’t just happen through protest. It doesn’t just happen – for regular people anyway – through calling politicians or senators. And it doesn’t usually just happen through buying the right goods as individuals. It happens when we organize. It happens when we look at the whole system, identify what’s holding us back, and starts when we begin working with others — and connecting our enterprises and organizations in ways that leverage each other’s strengths to drive the desired change.”

Check out more Rivera’s thoughts on enterprise-based activism on LiisBeth this month by clicking here.

It’s Campaign Season! If you think our advocacy for women and gender-non conforming entrepreneurs is worthy, or you find our content of value professionally, we hope you will consider contributing to our 2018 Patreon Fund Raising Campaign. Each online magazine refresh and newsletter takes a community to create and disseminate. We have 2000+ subscribers, but less than 30% contribute financially. We are open access and rely 100% on reader donations. Our impact is measurable. So if social justice and economic transformation are on your intentions and gratitude list this year, here’s your chance to donate to LiisBeth. 

Lana Pesch, LiisBeth Newsletter and Associate Editor, at the Made by Feminists GH Marketplace in the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom


Win the t-shirt that speaks for itself by being the first 2 people to TAKE OUR SURVEY TODAY  and drop us a note here when you’re finished. We’re on the home stretch but we still need a few more responses before we can publish results.

We sold a few of these at the FAC markets at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto last month and the first feminist entrepreneurship t-shirt is available for $32 here. Use the LiisBeth reader discount code LIISBETH10 for a 10% discount!

LiisBeth is not in the t-shirt business, which is why we partnered with Jamie “Boots” Marshall so you can #buywomenled. Marshall owns and runs Boots Tees, an online shop for her t-shirts, art, and other fun stuff. Her hobbies include: reading, board games, and fighting the patriarchy.


The 2018 Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum in Toronto less than A WEEK away!

NEW ADDITION!  Lunchtime writing sessions led by Sarah Seleckyauthor and creator of Sarah Selecky Writing School.
Sarah believes good writing needs heart, consciousness, skill, and presence

What else? Three thought provoking foundational talks, three deep dive lab sessions, six 90 minute “think and do” workshops, two embodied movement classes, journaling and creative writing break rooms, a poster sessionreception and more!
Full speaker bios and session details here

Tix are still available!
$299 for ALL sessions // $99 for Students — For TWO WHOLE DAYS!  
Get your tickets here

ONE DAY PASSES ALSO AVAILABLE for December 2nd or 3rd

Read about our official transportation partner, child care support + local dog walking services below! 


Kids, Dogs, and Automobiles

Can’t get a sitter? Pooch need a pee? The 2018 EFFs has all your dog walking, childcare and local transport covered!

Jack Jackson of DoggyDatesToronto is available to provide dog walking services while you’re attending a session and ticket holders’ little ones can be left with Helm, Toronto’s leading babysitting app. Download the Helm app HERE.

Our official transportation partnerDriveHer is the new alternative & safe ride-sharing service dedicated to women by women. Uber for women but without all the deliquency. DriveHer’s priority is to help you arrive safely, comfortably and in style. Click HERE to download the ride sharing app.


Turning the Grey Tsunami into the Silver Economy

If you’ve got an hour to spare, the video above is 60 minutes worth of wisdom, advice, and inspiration from Helen Hirsh Spence and others about finding purpose post retirement.

She was a disruptor in the 60s and 70s and now she is disrupting in her 60s and 70s. The 69 year-old  started Top Sixty Over Sixty when she discovered seniors’ superpower: invisibility. Unless you’re wearing Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, feeling unseen can erode a person’s confidence and be damaging. Spence wanted to create something that would undo that damage. Top Sixty Over Sixty is a platform to celebrate, educate and amplify the positive impact of older Canadians. “We should be maximizing and growing the potential of older people and seeing them as an asset as opposed a detriment,” says Spence. “It’s about a change of mindset.” And entrepreneurial opportunities for Boomers abound in areas like housing and transportation, health and well-being, education and learning, fashion and design.

The site houses articles like Best Before Dates are for Products Not People, dispelling commonly held myths about ageing, entrepreneurship and generational differences, like:

  • older people are less reliable in the workforce

  • you can’t train older people

  • older people are taking jobs away from young people

Spence developed the ReSet program which is a series of modules that focuses on reducing ageism, helping older adults redesign their future and also increase their entrepreneurial mindset to facilitate better multigenerational teams. “In a youth obsessed culture very often we’re looking at the frailty or older people, not their energy.” The program was supported by Ontario Centre of Workforce Innovation and Ryerson UniversityOut of 48 participants, 44 were women, and people like Vicki Jasperse (also in the video up top), jewelry artisan/entrepreneur, gained validation from the course to understand that she was on the right track.

Spence is in the process of evaluating next steps and is following her own consult: “Contrary to what you thinkthere’s nothing that stands in your way other than your own mindset.”

Good advice at any age.

Francesca Da Costa

Welcome Francesca Da Costa! 

LiisBeth’s new Advisory Board Member is Director Of Philanthropy at The MATCH International Women’s Fund. She is a fundraiser, diplomat, community advocate, entrepreneur, volunteer, foster parent, and foundation builder. Francesca believes we all have the power—and responsibility—to make our communities a better place for all. As a former intelligence and security officer for Global Affairs Canada, she has lived in and traveled to over a dozen countries. It is these experiences that have formed the foundation of her career and a desire to “do more” and we are thrilled to have her join the team.

We are still looking for two additional directors to join and diversify our board. If you, or someone you know is interested in advancing entrepreneurial feminismwe would love to hear from you! Drop us a email here outlining your interest.

From the UK’s The Poola 7 minute video from author and brand communications maven Mary Portas about five ways to improve your working life and your sense of yourself. The tips are taken from her new book Work Like a Woman and include being vulnerable in a confident way and supporting other women.

From left to right: MP Arif VeraniHeather GambleMinister Mary MgPK Mutch

Last month in Ottawa, we gifted Minister Ng with one of our signature t-shirts. She was pleased with message and promised to wear it the next time she announces more funding support for Women Entrepreneurs.  

Lana’s cat, Neil


We’re stunned with how many good queries come to LiisBeth and sometimes it’s hard to know what readers want. So we thought we’d do it the feminist way and ask you directly! 

Below are the top 3 story ideas we’ve received recently:

1. The Duality of Entrepreneurial “Struggle Porn” and Unseen Women’s Labor from a business owner in the gaming industry
2. Portrait of Swedish Feminist Party leader Gudrun Shyman
3. Women are the backbone of Africa’s labor force but lack of opportunities, gender-based violence and policies reduce their ability to advance. Why a conducive environment for African women to thrive makes sense.

VOTE HERE on the one you want to read most.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash


Recipients of last month’s FEMINIST FREEBIES:

Tickets to the Move The Dial event went to:
Golnaz Golnaraghi, Toronto, ON

WE Connect conference pass was won by:
Golnaz Golnaraghi, Toronto, ON

3 signed copies of Gender Physics went to:
Alyson Nyiri, Wroxeter, ON
Heidi Phillips, Santa Barbara, CA
C. V. Harquail, Chicago, OH

YES! We still have three signed copies of Betty-Ann Heggie’s new bookGender Physics! The first three people to do the energy evaluation quiz (that under a minute to complete) and send their response (including their address) to: will receive the next three copies. FREE! Old school in the mail! (unless you’re at the EFFs)


Financialization not only refers to the incredible power of the financial sector over economics and politics, it also refers to the creep of financial ideas, metaphors, narratives and measurements throughout society and culture more broadly.  Examining a wide range of examples and case studies, this book argues that, at the same time as popular culture and everyday life are increasingly saturated by a financial idiom, the financial sector as a whole is more deeply invested than ever in everyday life and culture writ large. From the security culture of Walmart to children’s play with Pokémon trading cards, from the hype around the “creative economy” to the economics of austerity and precariousness, this book seeks to reveal financialization at work where we might least expect to find it. In an age when seemingly imaginary financial assets determine the fates of whole economies, this book suggests we take the idea of “fictitious capital” seriously as a way to understand the power of finance, and what might be done to stop it.

Where are we right now? With feminism and all that? There was the vote. We got the vote, which was lovely. Then there was work, and the pill, and sexual liberation, which was all great, and today there’s #MeToo, and Beyoncé, and something else – something like a sinking feeling: a realisation that these might have been a series of battles won, rather than the war promisedMeg Wolitzer’s 11th novel sympathetically satirises this complicated landscape of contemporary feminism, while also pressing knowingly against these bruises. ” – Eva Wiseman, The GuardianThe Female Persuasion (Penguin Random House) deals with female mentorship, power, ambition and how a single encounter can forever change a person. It’s a story about an intergenerational female friendship encompassing
ideas of influence, ego, and loyalty in Wolitzer’s signature wise and witty style.

Wolitzer’s social commentary can be as funny as it is queasily on target.” The Wall Street Journal


  • On Nov 5th, the Canadian government revealed a list of seven “alternative model” venture funds who will receive some piece of $50M in federal venture capital money which they in turn, can invest in companies. Great idea. The only problem is that only one of the funds is woman-led (Pique Ventures, Vancouver B.C.). All the other recipient venture firms are male dominated. And tech/STEM focused. Not very alternative in our books. We say to Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Minister Bains-good initiative overall. But uncreative, status quo perpetuating selection criteria. #patriarchy

  • Our book recommendation from last month won the Governor’s General’s Award for Fiction! Sarah Henstra’s The Red Word was among the seven English language books announced in November. Listen to Henstra on CBC radio here. (12 minute segment)

  • Do Women’s Networking Events Move the Needle on Equality? The short answer: yes. Author Shawn Achor wrote this article in the Harvard Business Review full of stats about the power of connection, and it’s not just about gender. (See you at the EFFs!)

  • Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is everyday, but especially this past week, on November 19th, following the WEDO Summit (Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization) at the UN in New York City. See who attended the summit here.

  • Nearly 9.1M firms in the US are owned by women and generate $1.4 trillion in sales. Celebrate #ChooseWOMEN on November 28th, by joining the greatest movement to empower women in business. Click here to join

  • In a recent survey, The Girl Guides of Canada found out what teens in Canada really think and how girls start to experience gender inequality at age 11. The good news is by having these tough conversations, girls can get the tools to grow their confidence and reach their full potential. Read the full report here.

That brings us to the end of our November newsletter. You’ll see a website refresh and newsletter mid-December, 2018, after we come up for air post-EFFs.

Did you read something of value in this newsletter?

LiisBeth is the only media voice in the world which supports the work of feminist entrepreneurs and innovators. We are 100% reader supported. If you love what we do, become a subscriber to LiisBeth! We humbly remind you that subscriptions are $3/month, $7/month or $10/month.

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Save the daylight, winter is coming.