Canvas Host plants trees with Friends of Trees

friends-of-treesAt the start of 2014, Canvas Host kicked off a new partnership with Friends of Trees. Our goal is to plant one new tree in the Portland Metro area for every new customer that signs up with us. Thanks to Friends of Trees, this goal is now a reality.

Tree planting is a simple but powerful way to support our community. As we grow, so are we helping green our city.

For more information on Friends of Trees or its corporate tree planting sponsorship program, please visit their website.

Thank you again for choosing Canvas Host!

David Anderson

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WebValence Merges With Canvas Host

signing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 1, 2014, Portland, Oregon – WebValence, a long-time client of Canvas Host, was acquired by Canvas Host on December 31, 2013. With 350 customers and more than 650 domain names among its assets, the merger represents a substantial acquisition for Canvas Host. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Marty and Eddy Crouch, the owners of WebValence, said, “We are pleased to announce the merger of WebValence with Canvas Host, as of Dec. 31, 2013. Since 1997, WebValence has been a trusted name in internet services, assisting coaches, consultants and business owners. Canvas Host shares our values of ethical service, caring customer support and sustainable practices. WebValence’s customers will benefit from Canvas’ modest fee structure, expanded support hours, and new services and areas of expertise.”

“Web hosting can be a challenging industry. Growth can occur organically, as has been the case with Canvas Host over the years, or it can happen rapidly through mergers and acquisitions,” said David Anderson, the Principal of Canvas Host. “We were pleased to work with WebValence for many years. It’s a testament to the great work they did. It’s always been a pleasure supporting their hosting needs. We’re honored they selected us to carry on his legacy of ethical, excellent hosting service and support for their clients.”

The transition of customers over to Canvas Host came at a time when the company was already considering a complete overhaul of its customer support and billing system. To facilitate the acquisition, Canvas Host opted to roll out a new billing system expressly for the new customers. The new system has already proven its worth, and Canvas Host will look at transitioning over its existing customer base to the new support system in early 2014.

About Canvas Host

A sustainable web host located in Portland, Oregon, Canvas Host provides comprehensive web hosting, domain registration, email, e-commerce and dedicated hosting services. The company rebranded from ‘Canvas Dreams’ in 2013 to better represent its service line. Canvas Host became one of the first registered Benefit Companies in Oregon under a new legal designation recognized by the State on January 2, 2014. Active in the sustainable business community, Canvas Host’s owner serves on the board of VOIS Alliance, Portland’s green chamber of commerce. The company also helps manage and promote Green Drinks, Portland’s monthly sustainable networking mixer, and helped design a business tree planting program with Friends of Trees to plant one new tree for every customer signup, to give back to the Portland community.

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Canvas Host Becomes a Benefit Company

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

benefit-companies

Portland, Oregon – On January 2, 2014, Canvas Host, LLC joined 28 others businesses in registering as Benefit Companies under a new Oregon company structure. Signed into law on June 18, 2013 by Governor John Kitzhaber, House Bill 2296 enables Oregon businesses to incorporate social causes into their operating by-laws.

Benefit Companies stand apart from traditional businesses by showing a higher level of transparency and accountability in all facets of operation. Benefit Companies are legally required to:

1) To create a materially positive impact on society and the environment;

2) Expand its fiduciary duties to require consideration of the interests of workers, community and the environment; and

3) Publicly report annually on its overall social and environmental performance using comprehensive, credible, independent and transparent third party standards. Benefit Company status offers businesses more freedom to define success and provides legal protection for those looking to pursue a corporate purpose other than exclusively maximizing profits for shareholders.

Additionally, Benefit Companies must be credentialed by a recognized third-party auditor, such as B Lab, a Pennsylvania non-profit that champions the work of enacting Benefit Company legislation in all 50 States. Through an extensive process, B Lab independently audits businesses and gives each a B Score. Those that pass the are granted Certified B Corp status. In states where Benefit Companies are not legally recognized, being a Certified B Corps is nevertheless an important designation as proof of a company’s efforts in transparency and accountability. Canvas Host has been a Certified B Corp since February 2010.

david-kate

“It’s amazing to see Oregon leading the way with Benefit Companies,” said David Anderson, Principal of Canvas Host. “We’re big supporters of the B Corp community, and to have a record number registered and recognized now in Oregon, is proof positive that Oregon is not only a great place to do business, it’s also a great place to do good.”

Additional Resources and Information

Secretary of State Kate Brown’s press release on the Benefit Company Law

Canvas Host’s B Score

Canvas Host attends HB 2296 Signing:

Information on B Lab and Certified B Corps:

About Canvas Host

A sustainable web host located in Portland, Oregon, Canvas Host provides comprehensive web hosting, domain registration, email, e-commerce and dedicated hosting services. The company rebranded from ‘Canvas Dreams’ in 2013 to better represent its service line. Active in the sustainable business community, Canvas Host’s owner serves on the board of VOIS Alliance, Portland’s green chamber of commerce. The company also helps manage and promote Green Drinks, Portland’s monthly sustainable networking mixer, and helped design a business tree planting program with Friends of Trees to plant one new tree for every customer signup, to give back to the Portland community.

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Canvas Dreams is becoming Canvas Host

canvashost-logo

Canvas Dreams began in 1998 as a freelance venture based around a simple theme: We wanted to create a business from an international collection of creative minds, and tie it all together with technical tools.

The name “Canvas Dreams” drew on the idea of a blank artist’s canvas, one that you paint with your dreams. In those early days, we employed creative problem solving to help our customers achieve their business, marketing, and website design challenges. We created e-commerce websites, content management systems, and mobile websites. For a diverse range of services, we needed a brand to summed up who we are. Canvas Dreams was just that.

Since 2005, our primary business has focused on web hosting. To better serve our growing customer base, we feel the time has come to refocus our brand to better reflect what we do. The hosting portion of Canvas Dreams will soon become Canvas Host.

The name, Canvas Dreams won’t go away immediately, but you may start to see branding changes on our website, our email addresses, and throughout our Support system (which itself is due for a complete overhaul before the end of the year). Canvas Dreams will continue on as the umbrella company that in addition to www.CanvasHost.com, oversees all of our services, including www.Renewsing.com and www.OregonWines.com.

For our existing customers, please understand that no change in staffing is occurring as a result of this branding change. We’re still owned and operated by the same devoted team of professionals. We stand by our commitment to provide you the very best hosting and Support possible.

For potential customers considering our services, we welcome you to contact us and chat about your hosting needs. Canvas Host offers complete web hosting and e-commerce services with a sustainable take on it all. Our name may be changing, but our commitment to you remains unwavering.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Principal
Canvas Host, LLC

 

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Thoughts on the 2013 GoGreen Conference

Yesterday, I attended the GoGreen 2013 conference here in Portland, Oregon. GoGreen is a business conference for business leaders in the green economy, and each year has drawn increasing interest. Yesterday’s event was packed with attendees, and several dozen exhibitors lined the main hall that doubled as a networking space. With a great lineup of speakers and sessions, and scheduled networking breaks throughout the GoGreen is a powerful place to meet new faces, get the word out about your business, and learn from other companies as they progress down the path of sustainability.

I wanted to share thoughts on the day and some of the points that resonated strongly yesterday.

1. Morning session: “Leverage Your Data: Tools to Build Your Sustainability Strategy”

This session was led by a group of panelists who talked about their companies’ sustainability programs and how they have learned to tell the story to interested audiences. The session lasted for about 90 minutes, with break-out small discussion groups. After their presentations, the room split into three groups that focused on a) identifying sustainability tools to collect and report on data; b) how to talk with an organization’s staff or leadership to help educate them on and gain their acceptance of a sustainability program; and c) how to take the information, make sense of it, and use it to tell the story of the company’s efforts.

I joined the third group. It was a powerful experience to be in the presence of business leaders, sustainability coordinators, and purchasing managers alike who work at non-profit agencies, for-profit businesses, and even city departments, and yet to hear them all express in their own words similar challenges they are facing: How to quantify the data, how to collect and measure it, and then how to summarize it into a story that shows their organization’s sustainability efforts. Collectively, session attendees identified important points, including:

– The term “sustainability” means something different depending on each industry. For example, an IT firm may be concerned more about reducing its electricity use or e-waste generation, whereas a paper mill is more interested in cutting back on wood pulp waste or water consumption. For every industry — and even every company — the precise set of goals for sustainability logically vary. Each company’s KPIs (key performance indicators) are unique. While this opens up the door for every company’s sustainability story to also be unique, it also presents a challenge in that each company needs to decide for itself, what it wishes to improve upon, and in doing so understand that its own goals may not be fully understood or appreciated by other industries, simply due to unfamiliarity.

– Finding and using a tool to collect and report on the KPIs can be a simple exercise, or it can be a very costly, involved process. Many attendees reported using Excel spreadsheets to store and report on data, as they found it simplest to share the files with others in their organization; others used home-grown applications; and yet others used third party software subscriptions like Scope5, which offers integrated, customized reporting based on targeted KPIs. (separately, Scope5 had a booth in the exhibit hall demonstrating their service, and as an example showed an industrial manufacturer’s reporting on waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and electrical usage, among others).

– In the scope of sustainable business, qualitative is just as important as quantitative. While data supports a company’s sustainability claims and is vital for reporting progress and long-term trends, how that data is presented, and to whom it is presented, is just as important. A high-level executive may be more interested in financial information showing corporate savings, compared with a customer who’s more interested in the waste-reduction and environmental values of the company their dollars are supporting. Understanding what information to present, and to whom it will be presented, is crucial for helping a company tell its story.

2. Lunch Keynote by Charlie Hales

At lunchtime, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales gave a presentation on the City of Portland’s sustainability program and ways the city is working with community organizations, schools, and businesses. Charlie also highlighted Portland’s work with Portland General Electric, the local utility, to offer 100% wind energy to customers at $.003/kWh. This represents an huge drop in price and, while it is likely due to the glut in local wind energy mixed with government subsidies, nevertheless means switching to wind power is more affordable than ever. It was nice to hear a city official talk about community experiences in his younger years and how it has shaped his views on helping Portland continue its sustainability efforts.

3. Afternoon session: “Benchmark Your Performance with B-Corp”

For those of you unfamiliar with B Corporations, it is a status earned by a company that has gone through an extensive assessment administered and certified by B Lab, a Pennsylvania non-profit. B Corporations are companies that operate on triple bottom line principles and which have instituted into their articles of incorporation, legal verbiage requiring the administrators and managers of the business to consider the interests of the company’s stakeholders, community, and environment when making decisions, not simply profit. B Corporations can be held accountable for this language, and in some cases may be sued by the stakeholders if found to be in breach. B Corporations uphold sustainable principles as an outward show of their belief in doing business in a better, beneficial way.

The session was led by a group of panelists, all of whom are owners of or who represent certified B Corporations. Two of the panelists, Eric Friedenwald-Fishman of Metropolitan Group, and Nik Blosser, publisher of Portland’s Chinook Book (a coupon book advertising sustainable companies), also served on the team that helped draft Oregon’s Benefit Company legislation, which passed this last summer and goes into effect January 2014. I previously met Eric at the Benefit Company signing that took place in Gov. Kitzhaber’s office, and it was great to hear him speak. While Canvas Dreams is a certified B Corp, there’s a tremendous amount of information that was shared in the session, and I took away a bunch of new ideas on how to further develop the benefit corporation portion of our overall sustainability program.

Attending the session was a good mix of for-profit and not-for-profit companies. About 1/4 of the attendees represented certified B Corps, with the rest showing a lot of interest. Oregon has a strong B Corp following, and with Benefit Company status becoming officially recognized by the state, the timing for this session was crucial. Stephanie Ryan, along with several other representatives from B Lab — the organization that certifies B Corps — helped guide the panel discussion.

Each panelist introduced their business and talked about why they became a B Corp. Eric then detailed out the differences between a Certified B Corp (which any company can attain by completing B Lab’s comprehensive assessment and requirements) and a Benefit Company (a legal business structure that exists only in States recognizing such company types and for which third-party certification, such as through B Lab, is one requirement). In Oregon, Green Business Network members also meets the requirement and can become a Benefit Company. For companies in States not recognizing Benefit Company status, certification through B Lab is an excellent option.

After the discussion, the floor was then opened to audience questions. One member asked if the panelists saw a difference in sales and business, before and after becoming a B Corp. The overwhelming response (and I can vouch for this with our business) is that in the minimum, the return on investment equaled the effort put into it; but in the grand scheme of things, business certainly improved, not to mention the enormous community of almost 900 Certified B’s that are always seeking companies with whom to do business. What you put into it largely determines what you get out of it.

4. Evening Networking at Green Drinks

Following the conference, GoGreen members headed to a nearby space for an evening networking function organized by the VOIS Alliance (Voice for Oregon Innovation and Sustainability) and PDXGreenDrinks (a monthly networking meet-up group in Portland, which VOIS has just taken over managing).

You can think of VOIS as a green chamber of commerce. VOIS actively works to pass legislation at the city and State levels that helps small business, enforces equal pay and benefits to workers (such as paid sick leave for Portland’s hospitality workers), and supports environmental causes (such as opposing a coal export terminal along the Columbia River), to name but a few recent efforts. More importantly, VOIS acts as a focal point for progressive and green businesses of every industry and hosts ongoing events throughout the year.  I’m honored to serve on the VOIS board and encourage you to consider joining VOIS (www.voisalliance.org). With VOIS now running Green Drinks, monthly events will continue, and there is an opportunity for greater education and call to action so attendees can get involved.

If you’re not located in Oregon, I would definitely encourage you to participate in a green chamber or organization close to you. Your local participation is needed all the more to effect positive change in your community.

That’s it for now. If you want to learn more about B Corporations, VOIS, GoGreen conferences or anything else, I welcome your thoughts and feedback. Write to us at ideas AT canvasdreams DOT com.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Principal
Canvas Dreams, LLC

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