Eclipse Awards - celebrating 19 trips around the sun!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/4/2017

19th Anniversary
Amazingly, this week marks the 19th anniversary of Eclipse Awards! Since 1998 we’ve helped thousands of organizations to appreciate and celebrate their people, and in the process we’ve gained unique insights and perspective on the power of recognition. Ironically, people think I talk about the power of recognition because I lead an awards company, however the deeper truth is that I started Eclipse Awards because I believe in the power of recognition.


Admittedly, I didn’t understand recognition to the extent that I do today, however, at my first job after school, I had the opportunity to witness many people being recognized and appreciated while receiving awards. I noticed how many of them became overwhelmed by happiness, many of them shedding tears of joy. I realized that there was something happening that was primal, positive and powerful and I wanted to help bring more of it into the world. So Eclipse Awards was born, our tagline was “Happiness Delivered”, and we started to grow and establish ourselves as makers of awesome awards.


As the years passed and we saw example after example of companies that strengthened themselves by cultivating their people. We realized that any organization is essentially a community, and communities thrive best when their members feel valued and appreciated. Along the way, we also won some awards ourselves, and began to understand the transformative power of recognition. When we are recognized for certain qualities by our community, it helps us see ourselves in a new light and it empowers us with the confidence to grow and transforms how we see ourselves. Though simple, the ability to recognize and appreciate people is indeed a leadership skill, and perhaps the most accessible tool we have to encourage positive social change.


As a company, we’ve devoted ourselves to quality, service and integrity, and we’re committed to the idea of creating value for our clients, consistently over a long period of time. We’ve handcrafted tens of thousands of personalized awards with virtually no errors or complaints. We’ve also seen countless competitors enter the market by offering rock bottom prices, only to watch them disappear a couple of years later, unable to maintain their commitments. Eclipse Awards also embraced sustainability, initially as a way to lighten our footprint and improve our products. Eventually though, we figured out how to harness it as a driver for design, innovation and community building. Today the idea of generating the most value out of the fewest resources, which is the essence of sustainability, is what pushes us forward.


Our hope and vision is to continue creating beautiful things that make people happy and celebrate the human spirit. Together, we’ll encourage and celebrate those who are making the world a better place for all of us. With good fortune, we’ll be doing this for decades to come and we hope you’ll join us for the journey!


PS - with each passing year, I like to reflect on our journey so far and what we’ve learned. In that spirit, here are this year’s 19 tips and insights:

1. Treat everyone with equal respect

We may all have different roles and responsibilities and backgrounds, but in the end, we are all simply people trying to make our way in this world. The love you take really is equal to the love you make.

2. Your people are your greatest asset

Work with great people, let them do their job, and find ways to make sure they feel happy, engaged and appreciated.  These are the people that will work hard, generate ideas, solve problems, and impress your clients...or not. Recognize their efforts and celebrate them as an important members of your community. Build a culture of appreciation and you will be amazed by what follows!

3. Recognition, encouragement, praise...these are just business terms for love

Every organization is made up of people who want to feel love, these are some accepted ways of showing it.

4. Celebrate the human spirit!

Ultimately, recognition is about celebrating the wonderful things that make us human. If we are not building a society that values and celebrates the human spirit, what exactly is the point?

5. Recognition is primal

It speaks to a basic human need that we all have to feel recognized and appreciated and feel valued as a part of our community. We can empower others in our tribe by recognizing and appreciating their strengths, and with stronger members, our tribe itself grows stronger.

6. Your integrity is priceless

Your integrity is a foundation that permeates and adds value to all that you do. Cultivate your integrity, build strong relationships, carry yourself with grace, dignity, and respect and you will attract the same.

7. Community is everything and everything is a community

At Eclipse we talk a lot about community and the importance of building resilient and engaged communities. After all, everyone plays roles in many different communities - your company, your team, your department, your association - these are all communities that you’re are part of.  Recognition can be a powerful way to communicate intention, accelerate change and supercharge a community.  

8. Recognition is transformative

When others recognize or appreciate certain qualities within us, it can boost our confidence and help us to see ourselves in ways we hadn’t before. This feeling of empowerment and new perspective can transform how we see ourselves, helping us to grow into new roles and responsibilities.

9. Energy flows where your attention goes

Recognition is energy and so everything we talk about, think about, and do, is a form of recognition.  What do you want to manifest in the world?  Cultivate that with your energy through the things you choose to recognize.  

10. Be bold and daring

When you dream, go big and bold. If you make a guarantee, make it strong and stand behind it completely. If you embrace technology or sustainability, do it in a way that sets you apart from others. Businesses are amazing vehicles for accomplishing things – think outside the box and unleash your creativity in ways that add value to your community.

11. Embrace awesomeness

At Eclipse, striving for sustainability is not an end itself, it’s simply an extension of our commitment to being awesome. “Going green” or “being awesome” simply means holding ourselves to higher standards when we relate to one another and our planet. How are you embracing awesomeness?

12. Choose simple over complex

Wherever possible, remove excess and make things easier for everyone. Design simple systems and simple policies. Leonardo Da Vinci said it best:  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

13. Believe in magic

In business school, they teach that everything comes down to money.  However in reality, the truly magical and wonderful things happen when we de-prioritize money and focus on other things such as beauty, happiness, integrity, community and creating memorable experiences.  

14. If you make a mistake, take responsibility and fix it (without complaining)

It’s inevitable – at some point a mistake will happen. When it does, we accept responsibility and do our best to fix it, whatever the cost, without complaining. It’s how we carry ourselves when things go wrong that is often the most important. We’ve earned some of our most loyal and longstanding customers because of how we handled something that went wrong.

15. Enjoy yourself!

Have fun with the people you work with and the people you work for! Take care of business and make things happen, but don’t take yourself too seriously :) PS - in 19 years we’ve never worked weekends, a fact that we hold dear to our hearts.

16. Put your clients’ minds at ease

Find out all of the things that might worry your clients, then put systems, policies and guarantees in place to address them. Erase any concerns from their minds.

17. In a world awash with garbage, it’s simple to stand out….

You can be exceptional simply by committing to quality, service and integrity.

18. Collaborate!

It’s hard to do everything alone, and honestly not as much fun. Explore creative new ways to work with your staff, your suppliers, other organizations in your community, even your competitors! All business happens within an ecosystem, and we can accomplish a lot more together than we can alone.

19. Profit comes in many forms

The Eskimo people have dozens of names for snow to describe its subtle variations. Yet in English we have only one word for profit, which is unfortunate because it too comes in many forms. Intergrity, love, trust, respect, compassion, gratitude, reciprocity...these are the currencies of the new economy, pursue them with passion!

So these things to us 19 years to learn, what do you think, any surprises? What role will recognition play at your organization this year? How will you appreciate the people that you admire in your communities? What are the important lessons that you've learned on your journey so far?

We'd love to hear your insights and experiences...the more we share, the more we have.

Onwards good people!


Toby Barazzuol

Vancouver, BC

April 2017


Eclipse Awards embraces green energy and green fuels!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 9/20/2016

Eclipse Awards embraces green energy and green fuels!

This week we are proud to be one of 4 companies in BC, and only 14 companies in Canada, to commit to Bullfrog Power's new green fuel alternative! With Bullfrog's green fuel program, we now offset 100% of our ground shipping with biodiesel and continue our ongoing efforts to minimize the impacts of our operations.

In our quest to reduce our environmental footprint over the past decade, we have now completed Climate Smart certification 6 times! Each time we discover new opportunities, though it becomes increasingly challenging to achieve gains. We started purchasing BC Hydro's green power certificates in 2005. Then in 2009 we committed to 100% green electricity (wind energy!) via Bullfrogpower. In 2011 we added 100% green natural gas. This year, we add green fuel to the mix. Our goal is always to minimize our emissions as much as possible, then offset the remaining amount. With the help of Offsetters and Brinkman Climate we became the world’s first carbon neutral awards company.

Our philosophy and goal is to use as few resources as possible to create as much value as possible. Our clients can purchase from us, knowing that we have minimized the impact of their purchase as much as possible.  We salute other businesses who are on the same path, and we thank our clients who appreciate and value our environmental commitments!

To learn more about Bullfrog Power’s suite of green energy options, read on:

Bullfrog Power’s producers put renewable electricity and green natural gas onto the grid and pipeline to match the amount of conventional electricity and natural gas used by our office and warehouse. Across Canada, Bullfrog’s green electricity comes from a blend of wind and low-impact hydro power sourced from new Canadian renewable energy facilities. Bullfrog’s green natural gas is sourced from a unique methane-capture project situated on one of Canada’s landfill sites. Through innovative technology, biogas is captured, cleaned up, and injected onto the national natural gas pipeline.

Bullfrog also ensures green fuel is injected into the Canadian fuel system to match the amount of conventional fuel our ground shipping uses, displacing conventional fossil fuel litre-for-litre. Bullfrog’s green fuel is an earth-friendly, renewable alternative to fossil fuel. Bullfrog sources from biodiesel producers that repurpose waste streams from food and feed manufacturing, and used cooking oils from restaurants and kitchen facilities.  

2016 Ma Murray Awards Celebrate BC's Community Newspapers
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/16/2016

2016 Ma Murray Awards Gala

We recently had the honour and pleasure of attending the BC and Yukon's Community Newspaper Association's 2016 Ma Murray Awards at the River Rock Casino. The annual awards gala is a celebration of excellence amongst community member newspapers and the coveted "Newsboy Awards" recognize all aspects of the newspaper industry including reporting, photography and community contribution. People come from all corners of BC, representing nearly 300 newspapers, to attend this annual event and it's always interesting to hear the different stories from communities across the province!

Eclipse Awards has been supplying the famous BCYCNA Newsboy Awards since 2005 and in 2015 we also became an event sponsor. We've had a long and good relationship with BCYCNA so I was surprised to learn that they have been hosting these awards now for over 90 years - an impressive record indeed!

As with any awards named after a person, it's always interesting to find out more about who that person was. This time we learned more about Ma Murray and the tremendous impact she had on community newspapers and journalism in BC.

Who is Ma Murray?

Local newspapers are important for sharing stories relevant to communities, so it's great to see them celebrated and appreciated! Here are 3 things we love in particular about the Ma Murray Awards:

1. They build community. It's a challenging time for independent community newspapers as they face growing pressure and competition online. This event is a great chance for people from within the industry to get together, commiserate with each other, congratulate each other, and inspire each other to excellence.

2. Award recipients have a chance to speak and say thank you. This is important because it gives the recipients a chance to be heard and seen, which is an important part of feeling appreciated. When you're presenting 45 awards, this can be challenging, however BCYCNA has a good system that moves quickly and yet doesn't feel rushed.

Receiving a Newsboy Award

3.They understand the value of celebration. Hosting the Ma Murray Awards is a big investment in both time and resources, yet they are committed to it because they know the value that it brings to strengthening their community and industry.

Once again, kudos to BCYCNA on hosting another successful awards gala. Be sure to support your independent community newspapers and we hope to see you at the 2017 Ma Murray Awards, already confirmed for May 6, 2017!


Climate Leadership: Action, Commitment and Imagination
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 12/22/2015

Climate Leadership: Eclipse Awards

With the historic agreement reached at the COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris recently, many of us are thinking about what more we can do to help our planet flourish. At Eclipse Awards, we pursue sustainability as part of our aspiration to be an awesome company and valuable partner to our clients. It's one of the reasons we were recognized as BC's Greenest Business. Over the years, we’ve made some big strides towards minimizing our footprint and fighting climate change. We’ve had breakthroughs and setbacks, tiny victories and ongoing frustrations. Most importantly though, through this ongoing journey and process, we have come to view sustainability not as a limitation, but rather as a source of inspiration, innovation and insight.

So as 2015 comes a close, we took a look at 5 things we’re doing at Eclipse Awards to fight climate change and create value for our clients:

We Are ClimateSmart

This year we completed our 6th ClimateSmart certification since the program was first launched in 2010! If you don’t yet know about this program, be sure to check it out. What it offers is a new way to look at business, through a lense of energy consumption and operations. The certification process helps organizations understand and track their carbon footprint, plan for improvements, and identify both savings and new opportunities. We are grateful for what we have learned from the ClimateSmart community and we are more resilient because of it - it's hard to imagine an organization that wouldn't benefit from becoming ClimateSmart.

Eclipse Awards - We Are Carbon Neutral

We are carbon neutral thanks to Brinkman Climate! Recently we retired 113 tons of carbon offsets via Brinkman Climate to offset the last 3 years of our operations and become “carbon neutral”. What this means in theory is that you don’t have to calculate the carbon implications of anything you buy from us, because we have already accounted for it as responsibly as possible, and then offset its effects. To accomplish this in 2015 we were attracted to the locality of the Cheakamus Community Forest Carbon Offsets and the dedicated climate work of Joseph Pallant, a carbon dynamo. By purchasing our carbon offsets through this program, we are honouring our forests and helping this beautiful BC bioregion to flourish.

Green Awards by Eclipse Awards

Several years ago, we realized there weren’t any “green” awards in our industry. Crystal awards will always be elegant and timeless, however we couldn’t find anything designed specifically to recognize leadership in sustainability. So we set out on what has become an 8 year journey to design and produce the world’s greenest awards - exploring, testing, designing, collaborating and learning. This year we reached a milestone in that journey with the launch of our Vancouver Awards. These awards are not only green and sustainable, they are also admired by recipients. Said one: “Thank you so much for the amazingly beautiful award. It is growing and gorgeous. I cannot imagine a more beautiful award”. Our green awards are also now featured in Canada's first Zero Waste Design Portfolio. Salvaged locally, natural, organic, unique, personalized, beautiful and crafted by hand from a single material - these awards represent a pinnacle in our journey and play a large role in reducing both our clients’ and our own carbon footprint.

Eclipse Awards - clean energy

We aim to create as much beauty and value as possible, using the fewest resources possible. We have created a healthy and inspiring workspace that is flooded with natural light, so we only turn on the lights 4 months a year. We also have a greenroof and garden. As well, we have been Bullfrog Powered with 100% green energy since 2009. As a partner, Bullfrog feeds green energy into the grid on behalf of Eclipse Awards, another important step in minimizing the impacts of our energy consumption.

Eclipse Awards - We're Active!

Ultimately, climate change leadership is about voluntarily holding ourselves to higher standards and setting an example. We have signed the Vancouver Climate Pledge and believe we can accomplish more together than alone. In the spirit of collaboration, we run our Community Partners Program and work closely with organizations we admire and respect, helping them to empower emerging leaders, strengthen relationships and increase their impact.

The years ahead are vital in terms of our planet’s climate. We will continue to minimize our footprint, while aspiring to create more value and beautiful things for our clients. We hope you’ll join us!

Cheakamus Communtiy Forest

The High Cost of Cheap (Awards)
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 8/18/2015

Every once in awhile, a potential client will contact us with an awards project and ask us if we can match another company’s ridiculously low price. Now, in our early years we might have chased inquiries like this to the ends of the earth, cutting our margins as thin as possible to secure an order, just because someone asked us to. Over time however, we began to see just how damaging this was to both ourselves and our clients because it devalued the service and quality we deliver so consistently.  

Today, we don’t compete on price because there’s simply no point. If cheap prices are your primary concern, then there are lots of companies offering rock bottom prices. Over the past 17 years, we’ve seen a lot of these awards companies start up each year, offer extremely low pricing in an attempt to attract clients, then disappear after 2 or 3 years because they’re unsustainable. Not only is this an unfortunate use of resources, but it creates an unrealistic expectation of value and what is possible.

So today, if a client wants “the cheapest awards out there”, we ask them to consider these points:


1  If your awards supplier has razor-thin margins, can they offer you any service or support?

In many cases, they can barely afford to ship your order as promised. What happens if there are any delays or damage in transit? Likely they won’t have the resources to provide any support or follow up service, which could leave you without any options.



2  How much have you saved if your awards arrive late?

Some organizations spend thousands of dollars and involve hundreds of people in hosting an awards ceremony. But if their awards arrive broken or late, have they really saved any money? In some cases they may incur even higher costs in securing last-minute replacement awards, or worse yet, have to hold their awards event without any awards to present.


3  What will the quality of your awards be like?

To keep costs down, some companies hire seasonal and inexperienced staff. Are they able to produce quality pieces that will amplify your message of appreciation? Are they able to advise you on your recognition needs? At Eclipse our staff has an average of 7 years of service, which means they have both skills and experiences that go into your awards and into serving you.


4  Cheap awards may have not have the effect intended.

So often we hear of companies that presented awards to their staff, but were then surprised because they didn’t receive the reaction they expected. Often it turns out that the awards were made from plastic, or were simply poorly made. Recognition isn’t something to simply check off on a list - to do it well does require some thought and intention.  Recognition done poorly can have the opposite effect as intended, especially if the recipient perceives it to be cheap or low quality. Imagine taking your best friend out for a birthday wouldn’t take them to the cheapest place you could find, you’d take them to a nice place that reflected how much you appreciate them.


5  The pursuit of the lowest price is a race to the bottom.

In many ways, the relentless pursuit of the lowest price is one of the biggest problems we face today. It places a constant and tremendous pressure on companies to cut corners, to cut quality, to pay less, to do less. At Eclipse we contribute to our community, we maintain community gardens and green roofs, we’ve paid Living Wages and we’re carbon neutral. These things require resources, but they also contribute to a better world. As consumers, if we want to see more of these things in the world, we need to consider more than simply low prices, and start supporting regenerative companies by actually buying from them.

People say that when choosing suppliers, you should consider Quality, Speed and Price... but you can only pick two. We believe that we deliver on all three, but in the end the choice is yours.

What are the main things you consider when choosing your suppliers?

A Tale of Two Tribes...
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 7/27/2015

Since humans first started to gather in groups and live together for safety and a better life, I believe that we have used recognition to strengthen and empower one another. We built one another up, because in doing so we were also strengthening our tribe and improving our chances for a healthy and successful life.

Imagine if you will two tribes of people that live on neighbouring islands. The people in both tribes work long hard hours for a better life.In one tribe, the people work hard every day, but they mostly work alone, wandering from job to job and doing what they can. By the end of the week they are exhausted, yet somehow they soldier on, keeping up the same routine, month after month, year after year. The work is barely getting done, and it's dreary. 

The other tribe also works hard, however they also take the time to appreciate one another’s skills and celebrate their accomplishments regularly. By recognizing the qualities they appreciate in one another, each person begins to understand their own strengths and roles within the tribe, and how they can best contribute to its success. Their celebrations give them time to reflect on what they’ve accomplished and what they can achieve together.

Over time, which tribe do you think will be more successful? Which tribe would you rather live and work in?

In this regard, recognition is primal. It’s something that we’ve likely done with and for one another since we started living together as groups of people, in tribes, in communities. We wanted fellow members of our tribe to be successful because their success would translate to our tribe’s success and our personal success. Our fortunes were intertwined.

Today our tribes still exist. Though they are now called companies, or organizations, or departments or teams, the underlying idea of community and shared interests remains. However in many ways, the art and practice of appreciating one another has virtually vanished. Luckily though, we can still strengthen and empower these communities by recognizing and appreciating the people within them.

Recognition comes in many forms - encouragement, appreciation, acknowledgment, mentorship, gratitude, awards, plaques and certificates - yet the underlying goal is the same: to bestow confidence, to empower, to cultivate and to uplift. Strengthen people and you will also power up your tribe.

Remember, our fortunes are interconnected, so how will you recognize and appreciate the people in your tribe?

Building Lasting Change - Green Building Expo in Vancouver
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 6/3/2015

LEED Definition

Today we’re excited to exhibit at Building Lasting Change, Canada Green Building Council’s annual expo that brings together people and companies from across Canada who support green building and LEED Certification.

The LEED Certification program has been a textbook example of accelerating change through recognition. We move communities forward by celebrating the things that we value, and CaGBC has shown us exactly how it’s done in the green building community. Builders aspire to LEED certification in part for the recognition it provides, recognition which confirms that their building has been built to higher environmental and performance standards. These aspirations to “do more” have raised standards in the building industry over time.

“The LEED plaque on a building is a mark of quality and achievement in green building.” - US Green Building Council

The LEED rating system was first introduced in the US in 2001, then in Canada in 2002. Eclipse Awards began working with CaGBC in 2007 because of our commitment to sustainability. 2015 marks our 9th year as the official supplier of LEED plaques in Canada and it’s been an honour to work with them in advancing sustainability in Canada!

Over the past few months we’ve been fine tuning and preparing for the launch of the LEED Halo Plaque, which is the new standard of LEED certification in Canada. As of March this year, every building that is LEED Certified now recognized with a Halo Plaque to help identify it and let people know that it was built to higher standards of quality and sustainability. This show will be the first time the public has had a chance to see the Halo Plaques.

We make the LEED Halo Plaques using 16” diameter ¾” thick glass that we sandblast in stages by hand to create depth. Halo Plaques are mounted using 3 aluminum standoffs. The result is an eye-catching, versatile and durable plaque that adds value to the building it commemorates.

Builders work hard to achieve LEED Certification and it translates into additional value for their buildings. The LEED Halo Plaque is a visual symbol of that achievement and let’s people know that they are in a green building. We also supply metal wall plaques and produce LEED vinyl decals to help identify these green buildings.

Since 2004, CaGBC has certified over 1800 LEED buildings in Canada and registered over 5000, the second highest number in the world. We’re grateful to have played a small role in helping to accelerate the adoption of green building practices in Canada, which have translated into:

LEED Canada Infographic

If you’re in Vancouver, drop by the show at the Vancouver Convention Centre this afternoon between 1-5pm. It’s free and open to the public, so if you’re interested in the state of green building in Canada, drop by, say hi and have a look at some of our green awards. We’re at booth #107, hope to see you there!

Welcome 2015 Community Partners!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/15/2015

Wow, you guys did not make it easy, but after days of deliberations, we finally emerged with five new Community Partners for 2015! There was a wide variety of applicants this year and all are worthy organizations doing inspiring work, however we could only select five.

Our new Community Partners are all organizations that we admire and respect and they work in diverse areas such as community economic development, forest protection, youth education, skills building. All of them are involved in community building and are working towards making the world a better place for all of us.

We selected these community partners based on the amazing work they are already doing, and how their work might enhance our vision to:

...create beautiful things that make people happy, build resilient communities, regenerate the environment, and transform the way people think about recognition.

We hope that you’ll take a deeper look at these organizations, like and follow them on social media, and watch as our journey together unfolds over the next few years.  Without further delay, here are our 2015-2018 Community Partners: 

BALLE: Be A Localist - a national organization focussed on social justice, food security, resilient communities and real prosperity for all.

Board of Change - an inclusive business network fostering an economic model that values the pursuit of sustainability.


Canopy - works with the forest industry’s biggest customers to protect the world’s forests, species and climate. We love these guys!


EYA: Environmental Youth Alliance -  a non-profit charity that cultivates transformative nature experiences for children and youth in urban environments to foster community connectedness, build ecological leadership skills, and enhance their well-being.


Potluck Cafe Society - a social enterprise focussed on transforming lives by creating jobs and providing healthy food for people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

We’re excited about working with these organizations to see what we can accomplish together through collaboration and sharing resources.

Big thanks to all the wonderful organizations and companies that applied this year. We hope that you will consider applying again during our next intake in 2016. Onwards good people, there is much for us to do!

In Celebration of Community Newspapers
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/1/2015

Last weekend we had the pleasure of attending the annual Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards Gala hosted by the BC and Yukon Community Newspapers Association (BCYCNA) and Coast Capital Savings. Eclipse Awards has been making the coveted Newsboy Awards for 10 years now, though this was the first time we attended as an event sponsor. It was a wonderful evening and we even ended up on the cover of the Maple Ridge News!

BCYCNA did a fantastic job in creating a big stage for the awards presentation that night. As I walked into the room I could sense the excitement of the attendees, many who had travelled from far away communities to be there for the awards ceremony and to spend time with colleagues and friends.

The stature of the event, the polished production values, the impressive venue, and the quality of the Newsboy Awards themselves (if we may be so bold), really helped to underscore the importance of the recognition given out that night. As the MC’s said in their opening comments “The Ma Murray Awards are all about celebrating the successes of this industry” and reinforcing the good things that are happening in it. It was in inspiring message, as many would see community newspapers as an industry in decline.

From what I could see, community newspapers are going to be just fine. These organizations are documenting the important stories of their communities and sharing them with the people that live in those communities, and there will always be a need for this. It’s true the community newspaper industry may be evolving, but recognizing and appreciating the good things that are happening is probably one of the best ways to influence and direct the transformation.

We watched them present all 45 Newsboy industry awards that evening, as well as 3 Lifetime Achievement Awards. It was nice because each recipient had a chance to say a few words, and it’s always inspiring to witness people’s happiness and gratitude. This is the reason we do what we do.

Big congratulations to all the winners and nominees that night, your efforts are appreciated! Hats off to BCYCNA and Coast Capital as well for investing in recognition and building community with it. Here’s to a promising future for community newspapers!


The stage is set at the River Rock Theatre for the Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards



The anticipation builds….



Quality was evident in all aspects of this awards ceremony.



Each recipient had a chance to say thank you.



Gratitude and appreciation... behind the scenes.


Front page of newspaper.jpg

Toby Barazzuol presents Carly Moir (L) and Lisa Prophet (R) from the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News with first place in the Eclipse Awards Ad Campaign Award category at Saturday's BCYCNA Ma Murray Awards Gala. 

Community Partner Profile: Mission Possible
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/13/2015

The following post was written by our first Community Partners Mission Possible as they were preparing for their annual Momentum Awards last year. It illustrates the simple yet profound way that recognition can impact and improve people’s lives by giving them confidence in themselves. Presenting awards at a ceremony like this is exciting and helps provide both context and meaning. It is powerful to be appreciated in front of your community and it can affect how you see yourself within that community. In actuality though, the deeper transformations come in the weeks and months that follow, as these new perceptions sink in and the recipients see themselves in a new light. Ideally, a beautiful award will remind us of feeling appreciated by our community every time we see it.  If you’d like to become one of our next Community Partners, apply today!

Ashley Dreger, Office Manager, Mission Possible:

As we prepare for our third annual Momentum Awards ceremony, we are struck again by the value and importance of recognition. For three years now we have honoured graduates from our work readiness program and members of our community who have made outstanding contributions. We gather together – employees, community members, family and friends of those being honoured – to present awards and celebrate the accomplishments of our amazing people. The concept of being celebrated is foreign to many of them. Most of our honourees have had challenging life circumstances and many have experienced homelessness and poverty. Most have never been given opportunities to feel proud and dignified for having accomplished something. That’s what makes the award that we present to them so significant – it gives testimony to the greatness in them! The award, with their name engraved on it, symbolizes their hard-work, potential and perseverance. The value of recognition cannot be underestimated.

Every year when we hand them out the recipients can’t stop looking at it. They take them home and day-after-day the award reminds them of their capability and strength. They really are momentum-builders! We are very excited for our next ceremony in May and can’t wait to see the joy on the faces of our amazing honourees as they receive their awards.

2013 Momentum Awards (1).jpg

We are extremely appreciative of Eclipse Awards for their Community Partnership Program and for the many ways they positively impact our community. They have really helped us understand the power of recognizing people for their accomplishments and helped us implement this in many different ways. We’re incredibly thankful for how their involvement has benefitted us and continues to impact the lives of our community members!

Super Seventeen… Sweet!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/1/2015

As a boy, not much older than my son is today, I really enjoyed taking baths. I would take bars of soap and rub them in my hands, and I remember being fascinated because it seemed like I could create endless amounts of bubbles. I think that’s when I decided I wanted to start my own company, as it just felt to easy to create things.

So as I sit here 40 years later, on the 17th anniversary of starting Eclipse Awards, I have a big smile on my face. Running a company turned out to be far more difficult than rubbing a bar of soap to create suds, but if you do things carefully, you actually can create an amazing amount of value out of very few resources. In fact, creating the most amount of value out of the least amount of resources turns out to be the essence of running a business!

Over the past 17 years we’ve weathered the rise of the internet, a financial boom, an economic bust, and a sea change in society and the planet we live on. Each year has brought us wonderful successes, and also serious challenges. Through it all, we have had the honour of working with thousands of amazing organizations that truly value their people, and we’ve seen what happens when you build a culture of recognition and appreciation. We continue to explore how to create and deliver ever more value, while at the same time using ever fewer resources - the essence of sustainability. And most importantly, we continue to find ways that recognition can be used to empower people, accelerate social change, strengthen communities and celebrate the human spirit!

Each year I sit down and look back at what we’ve learned. In keeping with that tradition, here are 17 of our homegrown business insights, one for each year:

1. Treat Everyone with Equal Respect

We may all have different roles and responsibilities and backgrounds, but in the end, we are all simply people trying to make our way in this world.  The love you take really is equal to the love you make.

2. Your People are your Greatest Assets

Work with great people, let them do their job, and find ways to make sure they feel happy, engaged and appreciated.  These are the people that will work hard for you, generate ideas for you, solve problems for you and impress your clients...or not.  Recognize their efforts and celebrate them as an important part of your community. Build a culture of appreciation and you will be amazed by what follows!

3. Recognition is Powerful

It speaks to a basic human need that we all have to feel recognized and appreciated and feel valued as a part of a community. Recognition empowers people by bestowing confidence and helps people see themselves in a new light.  Recognizing people for their efforts helps engage them in your community and culture. People who are engaged tend to be happier and contribute to stronger and more resilient organizations.

4. Your Integrity is also your Greatest Asset

Your integrity is the foundation of your business and it permeates all that you do. Cultivate your integrity, build strong relationships, carry yourself with grace, dignity and respect and you will attract the same.

5. Be Bold & Daring

If you dream (highly recommended), go big and bold. If you make a guarantee, make it strong and stand behind it completely.  If you embrace technology or sustainability, do it in a way that sets you apart from others.  Businesses are amazing vehicles for accomplishing things – think outside the box and unleash your creativity in ways that add value to your community.

6. Embrace Awesomeness

At Eclipse, striving for sustainability is simply an extension of our commitment to being awesome!

“Going green” is about choosing to hold ourselves to a highers standard when we relate to one another and our planet. Understanding sustainability is indeed the single greatest investment that you can make towards your future success, but it's not an end itself.  

7. Choose Simplicity over Complexity

Wherever possible, remove excess and make things easier for everyone. Design simple systems and simple policies. Leonardo Da Vinci said  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” - and he knew what he was talking about.

8. If You Make a Mistake, Take Responsibility & Fix It Quickly (without complaining)

It’s inevitable – at some point a mistake will happen.  When it does, we accept full responsibility and do our best to fix it, whatever the cost, without complaining.  It’s how we handle ourselves when things go wrong that is often the most important. We’ve earned some of our most loyal and longstanding customers because of how we handled something that went wrong.

9. Enjoy Yourself!

Have fun with the people you work with and the people you work for! Take care of business and make things happen, but don’t take yourself too seriously :) PS - in 17 years we’ve never worked weekends, a fact that we hold dear to our hearts.

10. Energy Flows where your Attention Goes

Recognition is energy and so everything we talk about, think about, and do, is a form of recognition.  What do you want to manifest in the world?  Cultivate that with your energy through the things you choose to recognize.  

11. Be a Localist

A business is more than something to simply generate dollars.  It’s also about putting your time and resources into enriching the social, environmental and cultural fabric of the communities you’re part of.  I believe we should all be volunteering 20% of our time in service to our communities - imagine what our world might look like!

12. Collaborate!

It’s hard to do everything alone, and honestly not that much fun. Explore creative new ways to work with your staff, your suppliers, other organizations in your community, even your competitors! All business happens within an ecosystem, and we can accomplish a lot more together than we can alone.

13. Don’t Base Your Decisions Simply on Dollars

In business school, they teach that everything comes down to money.  However in reality, the truly magical and wonderful things happen when we de-prioritize money and focus on other things such as beauty, happiness, integrity, community and creating memorable experiences.  See our commitment to the Living Wage.

14. Compete on Value, Not on Price

Our world is changing quickly and we need to find new ways to live together and with our planet. See #13, but when we purchase solely on price we are forcing companies to continually cut quality.  Instead, we need to make our decisions based on the full spectrum of value that a company creates: financial, social, environmental, visual and cultural - these are all important considerations for both consumers and successful companies of the future.

15. Community is Everything

At Eclipse we talk a lot about community and the importance of building resilient and engaged communities. After all, everyone plays roles in many different communities - your company, your team, your NPO, your family, your association - these are all communities that you’re are part of.  Recognition can be a powerful way to communicate intention, accelerate change and supercharge a community.  Follow along, we’ll show you how it can be done!

16. Put your Clients’ Minds at Ease

Find out all of the things that might worry your clients, then put systems, policies and guarantees in place to address them. Erase any worries or concerns from their minds.  See #5.

17. Profit Comes in Many Forms

The Eskimo people have dozens of names for snow to describe its subtle variations. In English tough we have only one word for profit, which is unfortunate because it too comes in many forms.  Intergrity, love, trust, respect, compassion...these are the currencies of the new economy. Imagine what it would be like to pursue these riches as well!

So there we have it - these things took us 17 years to learn, but you can grasp them in a few minutes.  What do you think, are there any surprises? What role will recognition play at your organization this year? How will you appreciate the qualities and values you admire? What are the important lessons that you've learned on your journey so far?

We'd love to hear your insights and experiences...remember, the more we share, the more we have! Onwards good people!

Community Champions Part 2 of 2
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/16/2015

Having seen some great results and impacts from our first Community Partners over the past few years, we’re eager to expand this program! Our hope is to further invest in communities by finding awesome organizations, then partnering with them to share our recognition experience and services, which in turn will help amplify their influence, accelerate change, and increase their impact. Our community partners will be focussed on empowering new leaders, cultivating community, and making the world a better place for all of us - we’ll simply help them to do more of those things and to reach more people!


We’ll work with our Community Partners and help them use recognition to:

  • Build Social Capital: by creating a culture of appreciation that recognizes staff, volunteers, donors and key stakeholders

  • Accelerate Change: by developing emerging leaders and empowering champions within their communities

  • Attract Resources: by communicating their values and increase team stakeholder engagement in their mission

  • Celebrate More: by making people happy and developing a culture of appreciation

  • Become More Resilient: by strengthening relationship and engaging stakeholders

To become a community partner, we require a 3 year agreement which allows us to develop our relationship over time. Each year we review it for feedback and improvement.


Each year, Eclipse Awards will provide the following:

Year 1: 70% discount on personalized and handcrafted stock awards (in lieu of quantity discounts)

Year 2: 60% discount on personalized and handcrafted stock awards (in lieu of quantity discounts)

Year 3: 50% discount on personalized and handcrafted stock awards (in lieu of quantity discounts)

  • up to 3 hours of recognition consulting

  • 30% discount on rush services. Rush charges apply to orders required in 10 days or less.

  • sharing stories and events through our social media network (Twitter, Facebook, Google , Blog)


At the end of our 3 year agreement, all of our community partners will receive a 15% legacy discount that will continue indefinitely.

In return, our Community Partners will provide:

  • shareable stories of successes and milestones with pictures, if/where possible

  • mention of Eclipse Awards where possible and appropriate in social media networks

  • invitations to recognition events, where possible

  • 2 blog posts over 3 years on your experience as a Community Partner

  • annual feedback to Eclipse on how to improve this program

Our hope is to create win-win-win partnership that will strengthen and improve communities, while also making people happy and sharing stories about the power of recognition.

If you’re interested in becoming a Community Partner or know of a group that could benefit from this program, please click here to apply.



Community Partnership Program Part 1 of 2
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 2/25/2015

Over the years at Eclipse we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the transformational power of recognition time and time again. We’ve seen recognition bestow confidence on people and empower them to go on to achieve amazing things because of it. Thoughtful recognition paired with beautiful awards can be a potent combination for cultivating emerging leaders and building stronger communities. At the same time though, we see a lot of great organizations hustling to make things happen in their communities, yet very few of them appreciate the potential and power of recognition, so they don’t budget for it and consequently, miss out on tapping into one of the most effective ways of empowering champions within their organization and community.

So in response we created our Community Partnership Program to help smaller organizations flourish and advance their missions through the use of recognition and awards. The idea is to partner with organizations that we admire and respect, commit to working together for at least 3 years, show them how to use recognition effectively, deeply subsidize any awards they used, and then demonstrate value by sharing the stories and experiences that emerge.

In 2011 we launched our pilot with Mission Possible as the inaugural member of our Community Partnership Program. Mission Possible is an inspiring social enterprise that aims to create opportunities for people challenged by homelessness and poverty. We admire the work that they were doing in Strathcona on a shoestring budget and we wanted to help them be more effective at what they do, so they were our perfect first partner. It’s been exciting working with Mission Possible, first reviewing their “recognition inventory and resources”, then helping them apply recognition in a way that would make them a stronger and more resilient organization. In the first year of our partnership, Mission Possible launched their Momentum Awards which were aimed at recognizing the accomplishments of clients who had graduated with them. I attended that first ceremony and the looks of happiness on people’s faces as they received their recognition and awards in front of their peers and friends was truly heartwarming! For many folks it was the first time in their lives that they had been celebrated or appreciated in this way and they expressed how special that was to them. Executive Director Brian Postlewait was also recognized with one of the inaugural Awesome Awards for all of his inspiring work in leading the organization. Last year Mission Possible held their second annual Momentum Awards and we’re excited to see what other recognition events will emerge in the months and years ahead!

Our second community partner was Sharktruth. We were inspired by their commitment to stop shark finning and their ability to communicate across cultures to educate people and change behaviours. Sharktruth would go on to help prevent over 80,000 bowls of sharkfin soup, and also faciliated Canada’s first Ocean Wise Chinese restaurant. Last year, Sharktruth evolved into the Hua Foundation, a lean organization with even bigger aspirations to address food security and provide pesticide-free, locally grown asian vegetables in Vancouver. We serve as an advisor to Claudia Li and Kevin Huang, the main folks behind the Hua Foundation and we are excited to help them accomplish great things with recognition in the years ahead!

Recognition is an underutilized tool for most organizations. Yet as we refocus on the importance of people and communities, it becomes even more vital to understand how to use it effectively. There are dozens of organizations that we would like to support through our Community Partnership Program, though to commit fully we have to ensure there is a solid fit.

If your organization could benefit from our Community Partner Program, check back later this week for Part 2 of this post where we outline the benefits of the program and what we are looking for in potential partners. If you’re interested, let us know. See you soon!

Winning Tips for the Small Business BC Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/17/2014

On October 1st, nominations opened up for the 2015 Small Business BC Awards, BC’s premier recognition event aimed at celebrating local small businesses and entrepreneurs. Participating in award programs like this can be a great way for businesses to raise their profile, build confidence, establish their reputation and create new opportunities, regardless of where they place.

The 2015 Small Business BC Awards look to be bigger than ever with an expanded total of 10 award categories. This opens up the field and means that with a little strategy and planning, you could go pretty deep into the competition. So as two-time past winners of the Small Business BC Awards, we thought we would share some tips on making the most of this opportunity for your small business.


The nomination….

If someone has already nominated your business for an award, skip ahead. If there is a business that you love and admire, go ahead and nominate them... they’ll love it!

However if you haven’t yet been nominated, you do have the option of self-nominating. Nominating yourself is perfectly fine, that’s why it’s an option. Both first-party and third party nominations are accepted, and the nomination form is simple to complete. Wherever your business is at, it’s always important to celebrate your milestones and accomplishments, and the process of applying for awards can be valuable in itself. So go ahead and nominate yourself, you deserve it! And do it sooner than later because the nomination and voting period closes on November 30th, so the earlier you get started, the more momentum you can build.

side note: in 2012 we self-nominated and went on to win Best Employer. In 2014 Eclipse Awards was nominated by Matthew Tsang of MyLoudspeaker and we went on to win Best Green Business.

Choose wisely…

Even though there are 10 award categories this year, you don’t want to participate in all of them. We recommend choosing 2 or 3 categories at most to compete in. Remember, you have to drive votes in each category, so you don’t want to dilute your efforts.

Rally your community….

Once you’ve completed your nomination form, you’ll be given a dedicated webpage where you can send your supporters to vote for you. This is the time to rally the troops and call in your favours. Spend some time to identify your allies. They might be social clubs, business associations, or alumni groups you’re involved with. Ask them for help in promoting your webpage via social media. If possible, prepare some social media updates that they can use easily. This is your chance to let people know about some of the great things you do!

Vote Vote Vote!

It doesn’t matter where you’re located in BC or when your nominated, in the first stage all of your efforts should be focussed on getting votes to support your nomination. We feel that one or two vote requests per day is fine, but any more than that and you run the risk of annoying your supporters. Treat your supporters with respect and they will do the same in return.

Voting closes on November 30th and after that votes are tallied and adjusted for geographical location. If you’ve placed within the top 10 votes in your category, congratulations, you will move on to the next round. If not, you can still be proud of your efforts because more people know about your business now than they did before, and you can always come back again!


Round 2…

As a Top 10 finalist you’ll be given one month to provide the judging panel with a more detailed application outlining why you deserve to win the award. Focus on providing the information that they request, and also consider the sponsor of the award category. What qualities do you think they would want to see in the winner? Take some time with your application as this may be one of the rare occasions where you reflect on your business and what exactly have you accomplished. Not only is this reflection important and valuable to you and your business, your application will be used to narrow down the Top 5 finalists.


Pitch Perfect….

If you make it to the Top 5 finalists, you will be asked to make a live presentation to a panel of judges. This is where some preparation can help you bring it all home. First of all, you’ll want to use some presentation software. We used Prezi, which is not only a fantastic and easy to use tool, it also sets your presentation apart from typical Powerpoint presentations. It’s worth spending a day or two getting familiar with this in order to create a memorable presentation. Here is the Prezi that we created for our 2012 Best Employer Award presentation.

Again, review the requirements of your award category, consider the sponsors and the members of your judging panel. Emphasize the elements of your company that support the category that you’re in. Then practice your presentation until you know it well and comfortably. The judges want to see the real you, so authenticity is important. And remember to have fun! Yes, the stakes are high, but don’t take things too seriously.

After your presentation it’s time to relax. You’ve done all you can do and you’ve come a long way. Whatever happens, you’re already in the Top 5 in the province in your category, and that is an accomplishment itself!

These are some simple tips to guide you through the 2015 Small Business BC Awards. With a little planning and effort, these awards can be a tremendous way to draw attention to your business and create new opportunities. They’re also a great way to have some fun, connect with other small businesses throughout BC and ultimately, celebrate the spirit of small business.

So we hope you’ll nominate a business you love, or challenge yourself with a self-nomination. Either way, see you at the awards ceremony on February 26 in 2015!

Hip Hapa Hooray
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/6/2014

Hapapalooza - 5.jpg

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby to attend Hip Hapa Hooray! It was the inaugural awards event of the Hapa-palooza Festival, which is itself a celebration of mixed heritage identity and culture, and Eclipse Awards was the awards sponsor, so I was excited to attend for a number of reasons.

Full disclosure, I’m part Chinese and part Italian and certainly fit the definition of a “hapa”, which is a person of mixed cultures, usually part Asian and part European. Growing up, we simply thought of ourselves as Canadian, so when I found out there was an emerging hapa culture and community in Vancouver, and they were organizing their 4th annual festival, I knew we had to get involved! In my experience, recognition is a great way to build community because it empowers people and also helps to identify the community to itself and outsiders, so we offered our services to the good organizers of Hapa-palooza.

The festival organizers were excited because they were able to celebrate some of the leaders and builders of this community, and they had selected some great folks to recognize: Kip Fulbeck received the Community Builders Award for his artwork that celebrates mixed-ethnicity people; 16-year old Ann Makosinski received the Youth Achievement Award for her creative mind and amazing inventions, which include a flashlight powered by body heat; and Fred Wah, Canada’s fifth Parliamentary Poet Laureate, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for a career of recognizing racial identity through his writing.


It was a pleasure to see these people recognized at Hip Hapa Hooray! Not only to see their joy at being celebrated and appreciated by their community, but also to hear their stories and learn about their struggles and triumphs. It was also inspiring to hear the awards presenters Anna Ling Kaye of Ricepaper Magazine and filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns describing how they had been influenced and impacted by the award recipients. Overall, it was a wonderful evening of learning about one another and feeling connected by our celebration and shared experiences. The organizers even took a moment out to appreciate Eclipse Awards for our contributions, which I really appreciated :) (photo by Lorene Oikawa)

hapa 6.jpg

I have no doubt that Hapa-palooza will be back again next year, building community and celebrating the people in it. In fact, Fred Wah summed it up best when we said “Gee, we ARE here! It has been such a gift to have Hapapalooza” because it allowed us to recognize and celebrate ourselves as a community. Going forward, I imagine that each award recipient will be an emissary for hapa culture and the Hapa-palooza Festival because they feel even more so like they are a part of this community.

So hats off to the organizers of the Hapapalooza festival! Building community is never simple, but it can certainly be powerful and recognition can play a role in helping communities come together. If your organization or association is looking for help in building a stronger community, let us know and we can help!



the beauty of the Awesome Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 9/2/2014

140902 Social Media - Awesome - Thumbs Up (4).jpg

The beauty of the Awesome Awards is that anyone can be nominated, for anything. If you think someone is awesome or doing something awesome, you can nominate them for an Awesome Award, it’s that easy! Most award programs tend to recognize special accomplishments...think Highest Sales, Years of Service or Volunteer Hours. Award programs such as this are relatively simple to run because very often they are tied to specific metrics or key performance indicators which can easily be tracked. Though simple, many companies use award programs like these to great effect. However, beyond the world of accomplishments and achievements, there is an equally important world of traits and qualities, which are virtually never recognized or celebrated...until now.
The Awesome Awards give you a chance to recognize people who display awesome qualities that you admire and respect. Do you have a friend who is deeply compassionate? Do you know someone that has an amazing green thumb? Do you know people who are wildly creative? Have they ever been appreciated for these qualities? Most likely they haven’t, which is unfortunate because all of these people and qualities are valuable elements of our communities. So when we choose to recognize and celebrate human qualities that we value, we are in fact empowering people and strengthening and our communities.


If you nominate someone for an Awesome Award and rave about the qualities that make them special, not only are you creating a wonderful tribute to that person, but you are also letting everyone know that these qualities are important to you. If they matter to others as well, connections will begin to form and community will begin to grow. Not only will your nominee feel empowered and energized by the recognition, they may even start to see themselves in a new light because of it!

Below we’ve assembled a list of qualities that you might want to celebrate through the Awesome Awards. Consider the potential and importance of recognizing people for the admirable qualities they possess, and remember, a nomination is itself a form of recognition!

Some qualities you may want to recognize and celebrate in your community:

creativity generosity resilience
motivation persistence curiosity
 humor  green thumbs reliability
enthusiasm civic-mindedness selflessness


leadership compassion courage

sense of beauty

resourcefulness spontaneity

sense of wonde

systems thinking

imagination kindness integrity
love determination respect

Celebrate the human spirit!

The Noodlemaker's Tale: happiness, craftsmanship and the transformative power of recognition.
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 8/22/2014

Hidden within this beautiful short film (5 minutes) is a wonderful tale of recognition and how it can actually transform and shape our lives. The film is about Tetsuo Shimizu, a farmer living near Tokyo who has been growing wheat and buckwheat and making udon noodles for most of his life. We love this story because it so gracefully touches on creating value, handcrafted quality and artistry, community, making people happy, the desire for excellence, caring deeply for your land and place - all things that we too value at Eclipse Awards.

Yet if you look closely, you’ll also find a powerful substory about the transformative power of recognition:

For Udon and Country from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

Tetsuo says: One day I made Udon for my mother...
"You made it well, you are excellent!" she told me.
“And I let it go to my head...I thought I was the best Udon maker. It has been 45 years now and I hope every day that I will cook perfect Udon noodles.”

Simple...yet profound.
Recognized at an early age by his mother as an excellent noodle maker, Tetsuo would devote the next 45 years and beyond to improving and mastering his craft. The recognition his mother gave, helped him to define himself and his role, and also empowered him to step into that role with confidence and energy, ultimately setting him on the path of becoming a master craftsman.

Tetsuo’s story highlights how recognition can be used to empower, bestow confidence, and help people define themselves and their role within a community. Imagine then, the potential of using recognition with intention.

So the next time you wonder if recognizing and appreciating someone will have an impact, even with something as simple as noodle making, we hope you’ll think of Tetsuo’s delicious Udon noodles and how they came to be.

The story of our amazing midwife: and it's not what you might think!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 8/21/2014

Thank you for visiting, however the story that you’re looking for has been removed. Why? Funny you should ask...

After the birth of our son Cosmo, we went back to thank the midwife that assisted us. During our conversation, a casual comment she made led me to one of my most important realizations about the power of recognition. It took me nearly two years to develop the idea and write a post about it, so when we finally posted it to this blog on July 18th, I was pretty excited. The post talked about the transformative power of recognition and how it can help people identify their role. Indeed, being recognized helps people define their role within a community and empowers them to step into that role with more confidence and energy.

What I didn’t realize is that there are issues around confidentiality in midwifery, and so within 2 hours of our posting, we removed it to protect the privacy of those involved.

It’s unfortunate because there were several important insights in this story, however we can’t share it publicly.

If you would like to request a copy of this post “The Story of our Midwife: and it’s not what you might think!”, which has now been updated for confidentiality, please email to request a copy.

Thank you for your time and understanding.


Indeed, since we humans first started gathering in groups, we have probably stood in circles and recognized one another for our strengths, and in doing so we defined our roles, empowered one another, cultivated experts, and improved our tribe’s collective chance for success. (read more)

Can recognition fight oppression? Yes!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 8/14/2014

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to explore the evening streets of Denver with BALLE Fellows Malik Yakini and Andrea Dean, both respected champions of food justice and equality in their respective places of Detroit and the big island of Hawaii. As we wandered together and talked, we came upon some wayfinding signs that told us we were in a neighbourhood had at one time been a thriving black community. I was surprised to read however, that this community had been intentionally marginalized and dispersed by development and gentrification decades ago. Malik pointed out that this same scenario had played out in dozens of cities across the USA, and in many cases, the people in these communities are still being oppressed by outdated laws, racism, social pressures, lack of opportunities, and countless other challenges.

Naturally, this got me thinking about the power of recognition and how it might be applied to strengthen oppressed people. Could oppressed communities somehow harness the power of recognition and use it to empower themselves and fight oppression? I believe the answer is yes, recognition can indeed dilute oppression and minimize its effects for the following reasons:

Recognition Empowers: there’s no question that being recognized, appreciated and celebrated is empowering on an individual level. Recognition bestows confidence on people and gives them a boost of positive energy and reinforcement because it makes them feel appreciated. This confidence encourages people to aspire for greater things and also creates opportunities for them to do so because other people start to view them in a new light. Indeed, recognition is one of the most powerful tools available to any community to empower emerging leaders and cultivate champions.

Recognition is Transformational: recognition can be transformation because it not only changes how others perceive you, it changes how you perceive yourself.  People who have been recognized and celebrated are often inspired and motivated because their role in their community has been clarified, and they have been given a vote of confidence to step into that role. For example, if someone is recognized as an outstanding caregiver, they will likely aspire to become an even better caregiver, in part because they feel that is what is expected of them by their community, and in part because that is what they expect for themselves.

Recognition Inspires: recognition inspires people because it is intentional positive energy. Recognition, appreciation, encouragement, praise...these are all simply business words for love. Everyone wants to feel appreciated for their efforts, and when we feel well appreciated we feel a sense of reciprocity and want to give our best efforts in return.  Similarly, witnessing others being recognized can be a great source of inspiration: it motivates people to try to accomplish the same, or even more, because it's clearly something that is valued and appreciated by that community.

Recognition Strengthens Communities: this happens in a number of ways. Most obviously, recognition strengthens relationships, which are the building blocks of any community. In fact, when an organization chooses to recognize something, it is in fact helping to create a community by identifying people that share similar values. For example, if organization A starts to recognize leaders in urban agriculture, it will essentially start to create a community out of all of those who share an interest in or value urban agriculture. People begin to realize that there are others that share their same values, creating this social fabric is ultimately the foundation of any community.

Recognition Attracts Resources:
recognition and recognition awards can be a great way of attracting new and additional resources to a community. Stories of recognition are often good news stories, which means they can get picked up by the media and help raise the profile of an organization or cause. In some cases, people may be inspired by the awardees and may want to contribute time or money to support them. Similarly, some people that learn of the awards may be inspired to support the organization itself when they realise they share similar values and interests.

Recognition Communicates Values:
people often underestimate the power of this. When a community or organization chooses to recognize and celebrate certain qualities, or people or achievements, it is also communicating its values. To get a glimpse into the values of an organization, look at the things they choose to recognize and celebrate. When organizations choose to recognize things that reinforce their values and beliefs, the results can be tremendously powerful.

Oppression is a massive and pressing issue and recognition is simply one effective tool that can be used to counteract it, unfortunately however, it is a tool that is often misunderstood and underused. Hopefully these points provide some insight into how recognition can be used by organizations and communities to fight oppression. From empowering individuals and emerging leaders, to communicating values, to attracting new energy and resources, recognition is a tool that any community can use to power itself up, become more resilient, and dilute the effects of oppression.

How does your community empower itself? If you’re looking for ways to cultivate leaders and accelerate social change in your community, we can help!

The Art of the Campfire: Recognition 101
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 7/31/2014

140731 Social Media - Eclipse - The Art of the Campfire (Recognition 101) 0 (Medium).jpg

With the arrival of summer, the season of warm crackling campfires is upon us again! As we head out to the forests and beaches, many of us will have the pleasure of lighting and building our campfires.

Now, have you ever started a campfire? First, you take some paper and dry kindling and then you light it. As the flames begin to grow, you slowly add pieces of wood and continue to fan the most promising glowing embers. As the fire struggles to take hold, you continue to blow and fan until, finally, the fire starts to roar and cackle as it takes on a life of its own!

If you have ever started a fire like this, congratulations, because you now also understand the basics of recognition and appreciation.

In your community or organization, the embers are your people. People are the source of your community's energy, and they can either burn long and bright, or they can simply burn out - the outcome depends largely on how you treat them. In our campfire example, the act of fanning the fire is the act of recognition. Recognition can happen in a lot of different ways - thoughtful comments of appreciation, handwritten notes, personalized gifts, bespoke recognition awards - and when these recognition efforts are successful, your embers will burst into flames. The flames of the fire are the mission of your company or the movement your organization supports. With proper care and intention, these flames can become a powerful and consuming force.

So the next time you’re thinking of your organization, think of it like a campfire. Think of the embers that you would like to focus on, then think of how to fan those embers to create the flames of change that you’d like to see, and soon enough you’ll be sitting beside a warm and crackling campfire!

Happy summer everyone!

One day, colossal trees will grow again in downtown Vancouver....
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 7/25/2014

Colossal Trees.jpg

Last week, we took a step in that direction as the Strathcona BIA launched the Urban Tree Nursery along Hastings Street. The project has faced a few challenges over the past couple of years although its goal has always been simple: to reintroduce trees and greenery into some of our most hardened urban areas. So to see 14 young trees and planters installed along one of the busiest streets in Vancouver was indeed rewarding.

The Urban Tree Nursery is the result of an ongoing collaboration with our community partners Hastings Crossing BIA, Tree Canada and Greenest City. Though this is a pared down version of our original vision to green the Hastings Corridor, working with our partners has been a rewarding experience and an important first step in rewilding Strathcona.

Now some of you may be asking why a business association, or an awards company for that matter, would support a program that adds trees to a neighbourhood. The reason is that "we believe that a healthy and engaged community is the foundation of a healthy and thriving local economy. Trees clean our air, cast shade, soften the concrete streetscape and are beautiful to admire - these qualities benefit all people. So by strengthening our community, we are also strengthening our economy." The health and wellbeing of both are closely connected.
tree quote from toby.jpg

In addition to having more trees in our community, we're also looking cultivating other important elements of this program. This is a tree nursery because it implies a sense of care, ownership and cultivation, which is what we want for the community of Strathcona. Local businesses and non-profits have been asked to care for these trees in the years ahead. Similarly, youth groups have been trained at Raycam Community Centre to support in helping the trees to grow stronger.

The Urban Tree Nursery has already created a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with community partners, engage them in different ways, and work towards a shared goal. People are connecting in new ways that will strengthen the social fabric of the DTES.

As each of the dignitaries spoke, and as we watched the Git Hayetsk Dancers and the Sawagi Taiko drum group bless the opening ceremony by paying tribute to our history and ancestors, I couldn’t help but think of the ripples that this project and the rewilding of Strathcona might have on our community, for years to come. It was indeed a celebration!

One day, giant trees will grow again in downtown Vancouver... The Urban Tree Nursery takes steps in that direction.

Thanks again to our staff, partners and funders who have worked to make this possible! Stay tuned in the years ahead as this program grows, matures and inspires.



It took a great team to pull this together!


The Git Hayetsk Dancers blessed the launching of the tree nursery and provided historical and traditional perspective on the importance of trees to all people and cultures.


Urban Tree - 13.jpg

Sawagi Taiko, Canada’s first all-female Taiko drumming group, performed at the ceremony, paying tribute to the deep roots of the Japanese community in Strathcona.


The Git Hayetsk dancers


Big thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this street party possible!


Talking about community with Heather O’Hara from HXBIA and a local resident


Git Hayetsk dancer at opening ceremony


Git Hayetsk dancers scattering eagles’ down to symbolize treading lightly upon our land

Generating value? Look upstream!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 7/7/2014

Generating value in creating and beautiful ways!

At Eclipse Awards we are continually exploring creative ways to generate more value. Our baseline value proposition is that we will design and make beautifully handcrafted, bespoke awards and safely deliver them to you to amplify your message of recognition and appreciation. This is our starting point, the very least that you can expect from us, and yet from there we continually add layers of more value. These additional “layers of value” might fall anywhere along a wide spectrum that includes building community, generating social capital, regenerating the environment, creating happiness and celebrating the human spirit.

Wide ranging initiatives such as our Regenerative Marketing, or using wind energy to power our company, or building community gardens, or working with local artisans, or running programs like The Awesome Awards - each element adds to the total value that we contribute to society as we operate and grow. So when you purchase from Eclipse Awards, you’re making it possible for more of these things to happen; you’re voting with your dollars and confirming that these things matter.

Whenever people ask us about creating value, we always tell them to “look upstream”. In other words, look up your value chain and explore the source of the reasons for doing the things you’re doing. By example, here is our journey of heading upstream over the past 16 years.

Making Beautiful Awards - in the beginning, we started off making beautiful awards that people loved and we were happy.

Happiness Delivered - as time went on and we looked upstream, we realized that we weren’t just making beautiful awards, we were actually making people happy. We were creating awards, but we were delivering happiness!

Building Community - over time, we realized that we were making people happy because we were helping them feel appreciated and valued by their community. It doesn't matter if your community is your company, your department, your team or your association, being recognized and celebrated by your community is empowering, energizing and transformational. Being recognized is like a big warm hug from your community!

Celebrating the Human Spirit! - today we understand that recognition is ultimately about celebrating the human spirit! Yes, it’s still about beautiful awards, creating happiness and strengthening communities, and it’s also about rejoicing in the qualities that make us human! Feeling reassured and appreciated is the essence of recognition.

So as you can see, we can discover a lot of value and direction when we look upstream to explore the source of our passions. Indeed, as our economy evolves, this ability will become increasingly important as organizations work to survive and thrive. How will you create value in the future? How will your organization look upstream and to the future? We’d love to hear your ideas!

Look upstream to create value


BCCLA - Why We Love and Support the Liberty Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 6/26/2014

This year Eclipse Awards sponsored the BC Civil Liberties Association’s Liberty Awards for the second year in a row. The BCCLA is a vitally important organization because it defends the rights and freedoms of those who have been marginalized or are unable to defend themselves. As award sponsors, we enjoy working with organizations who share our values, and we also prefer to commit to a relationship over time. With the BCCLA we share a belief that all people should be treated with respect and dignity, and for that reason we are pleased to sponsor the BCCLA and their Liberty Awards.
This year’s Liberty Awards took place on June 19th with over 300 people in attendance. It was an energized gathering of people who are passionate about human rights and freedoms, and everyone was there to help celebrate some of the champions from their community. Several Liberty Awards were presented that night, recognizing an Unsung Hero, Excellence in Legal Advocacy, Excellence in the Arts, Excellence in Youth Activism, and Excellence in Journalism - for which Edward Snowden appeared via video to help celebrate the winners!

So in honour of our relationship with the BCCLA and their important work, here are 3 things that we love about the Liberty Awards:

  1. We love the fact that they are holding an awards ceremony in the first place! So many organizations never take the time to celebrate their champions and milestones, so kudos to the BCCLA for making it a tradition to recognize members of their community!
  2. The Liberty Awards empower and energize people who are doing important work. These awards will bestow confidence upon the recipients, will help raise the profile of their work, will create new opportunities and hopefully attract new resources and supporters. With luck, these awards will empower the recipients and amplify their efforts for years to come.
  3. The Liberty Awards are a great way to strengthen the social justice community and power up the tribe. Holding a ceremony where everyone can gather to reconnect and get inspired is an important part of building a resilient and engaged community, so it’s great to see the Liberty Awards gala play this role.

We look forward to watching the work of the BCCLA and the Liberty Award winners to see what they will do in the years ahead! What about your organization? What are you doing to strengthen your community and power up your tribe?

Celebrating Sweet Sixteen - what a trip it's been!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/1/2014

16 years ago today I turned on the lights in a tiny Yaletown studio and launched Eclipse Awards. Though at the time it was the realization a life’s dream and months of groundwork, I had absolutely no idea that I was setting off on one of the most challenging, exhilarating, exhausting and magical adventures of my life. The journey of taking an idea and forging it into an actual business - working relentlessly in early years to establish and grow that business, building an excellent team, then harnessing an emerging phenomenon called the internet for nearly a decade of dizzying double-digit growth and working with the world’s most successful organizations, to getting crushed financially in 2008 and the years that followed, to emerging stronger and more resilient than ever before - is an amazing journey that I’m unlikely to take again in this lifetime. So with each passing anniversary I sit down to appreciate our unique vantage point and reflect back on what we’ve learned at Eclipse Awards over the past 16 years.

     The past year has been ripe with wonderful experiences and opportunities, many the result of seeds that we had planted and nurtured years before. We launched The Awesome Awards, a pay-it-forward recognition program that we created to celebrate the everyday heroes who make the world a better place for all of us. I was selected as one of 16 national Fellows for the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies and travelled to both Harvard and to the White House to discuss recognition and the emerging new economy. As well, Eclipse Awards was recently recognized as BC’s Best Green Business by Small Business BC, so it’s been a rich and full year.

     Through it all, we have the pleasure and privilege of working with amazing companies that truly value their people and partners. We continue to learn how to create and deliver ever more value, while at the same time using fewer and fewer resources - the essence of sustainability. And most importantly, we continue to find ways that recognition can be used to empower people, accelerate social change, strengthen communities of any size and celebrate the human spirit!

     So in keeping with tradition, here’s an updated list of our homegrown business insights, with a special #16 added for our Sweet Sixteen this year:

  01.  Treat Everyone with Equal Respect

We may all have different roles and responsibilities and backgrounds, but in the end, we are all simply people trying to make our way in this world. The love you take really is equal to the love you make.

  02.  Your People are your Greatest Assets

Work with great people, let them do their job, and find ways to make sure they feel happy, engaged and appreciated. These are the people that will work hard for you, generate ideas for you, solve problems for you and impress your clients...or not. Recognize their efforts and celebrate them as an important part of your community. Create a culture of appreciation and you will be amazed by what follows!

  03.  Recognition is Powerful

It speaks to a basic human need that we all have to feel recognized and appreciated and feel valued as a part of a community. Recognition empowers people by bestowing confidence and creating new opportunities that didn’t exist before. Recognizing people for their efforts helps engage them in your community and culture. People who are engaged tend to be happier and contribute to stronger and more resilient organizations.

  04.  Your Integrity is also your Greatest Asset

Your integrity is the foundation of your business and it infuses all that you do. Cultivate your integrity, build strong relationships, carry yourself with grace and dignity and you will attract the same.

  05.  Be Bold & Daring

If you dream, make it big and bold. If you make a guarantee, make it strong and stand behind it. If you embrace technology or sustainability, do it in a way that sets you apart from others. Businesses are amazing vehicles – think outside the box and unleash your creativity in ways that add value to your community.

  06.  Embrace Awesomeness

At Eclipse, striving for sustainability is simply an extension of our commitment to being awesome! “Going green” is about choosing to hold ourselves to a highers standard when we relate to one another and our planet. Understanding sustainability is indeed the single greatest investment that you can make towards your future success, but it's not an end itself.

  07.  Choose Simplicity over Complexity

Wherever possible, remove excess and make things easier for everyone. Design simple systems and simple policies. Leonardo Da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” - and he knew what he was talking about.

  08.  If You Make a Mistake, Take Responsibility & Fix It Quickly (without complaining)

It’s inevitable – at some point a mistake will happen. When it does, we accept full responsibility and do our best to fix it, whatever the cost, without complaining. It’s how we handle ourselves when things go wrong that is often the most important. We’ve earned some of our most loyal and longstanding customers because of how we handled something that went wrong.

  09.  Enjoy Yourself!

Have fun with the people you work with and the people you work for! Take care of business and make things happen, but don’t take yourself too seriously :) PS - in 16 years we’ve never worked weekends, a fact that we hold dear to our hearts.

  10.  Energy Flows where your Attention Goes

Recognition is energy and so everything we talk about, think about, and do is a form of recognition. What do you want to manifest in the world? Cultivate that with your energy through the things you choose to recognize.

  11.  Be a Localist

A business is more than something to simply generate dollars. It’s also about putting your time and resources into enriching the social, environmental and cultural fabric of the communities you’re part of. I believe we should all be volunteering 20% of our time in service to our communities - imagine what our world might look like!

  12.  Collaborate!

It’s hard to do everything alone, and honestly not that much fun. Explore creative new ways to work with your staff, your suppliers, other organizations in your community, even your competitors.! All business happens within an ecosystem, and we can accomplish a lot more together than we can alone.

  13.  Don’t Base Your Decisions Simply on Dollars

In business school, they teach that everything comes down to money. However in reality, the truly magical and wonderful things happen when we de-prioritize money and focus on other things such as beauty, happiness, integrity, community and creating memorable experiences. See our commitment to the Living Wage.

  14.  Compete on Value, Not on Price

Our world is changing quickly and we need to find new ways to live together and with our planet. See #13, but when we purchase solely on price we are forcing companies to continually cut quality. Instead, we need to make our decisions based on the full spectrum of value that a company creates: financial, social, environmental, visual and cultural - these are all important considerations for both consumers and successful companies of the future.

  15.  Community is Everything

At Eclipse we talk a lot about community and the importance of building resilient and engaged communities. After all, everyone play roles in many different communities - your company, your team, your NPO, your family, your association - these are all communities that you’re are part of. Recognition can be a powerful way to communicate intention, accelerate change and supercharge a community. Follow along, we’ll show you how it can be done!

  16.  Put your Clients’ Minds at Ease

Find out all of the things that might worry your clients, then put systems, policies and guarantees in place to address them. Erase any worries or concerns from their minds. See #5.


So there we have it - these things took us 16 years to learn, but you can grasp them in 16 minutes. Like any annual list, some things have changed since last year. Some things seem more timely while others feel more relevant. What do you think? What role will recognition play at your organization this year? How will you appreciate the qualities and values you admire? What are the important lessons that you've learned on your journey so far? What are your secret insights?

We'd love to hear your secret insights and remember, the more we share, the more we have!

BC's Best Green Business: Eclipse Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 2/28/2014


Last night, at a gala event with over 500 people, Eclipse Awards was recognized as BC’s Best Green Business in the Small Business BC Awards. The ceremony capped off a 5 month, 3 round competition that involved over 400 nominated businesses from 55 communities in BC, facing off in 9 categories. We faced over 34 nominees in the Green Business category, including our friends at Natural Pod, a company we admire and respect that is equally deserving of this award.

Being recognized as BC’s Greenest Business in front of our peers, in the Greenest City in the World is an honour that we will always cherish! This award means a lot because it recognizes that being green is about so much more than simply being eco-friendly. For Eclipse Awards, being green also means building stronger communities, regenerating the environment, creating beautiful things, and celebrating the human spirit! This award also demonstrates that it is possible for a traditional company to embrace sustainability and have it drive innovation, design, engagement and impact. When Eclipse Awards first began in 1998, we didn’t even know what sustainability meant, and now we have been recognized as leaders in sustainable business.

When we won BC’s Best Employer in 2012, it not only helped us see ourselves in a new light, it also opened up lots of new opportunities for us. These are some of the benefits of recognition and we look forward to the new opportunities and transformation that this award will create.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported us on this journey so far, we are grateful for your support. It’s been a long and wonderful trip and we’re excited about where it will take us next. Onwards good people!

What does Bill Murray know about recognition? Well it turns out, quite a bit...
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 1/17/2014

The other day I was reading a great post by my friend Lauren Bacon entitled “Pushing Out Into the Deep Water”, and it referenced an award presentation speech by the charming and quirky Bill Murray. I thought, what could the lovable actor know about recognition? Well, it turns out, quite a bit.

It’s human nature, we all love to see other recognized and celebrated - the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes, The Independent Spirit Awards, the SAG Awards and the list goes on. These popular events are watched by millions and are filled with speeches of recognition and appreciation, though rarely do speeches delve into the nature of recognition and why we award people. But Bill Murray’s did, and that’s what makes it stand out. If you haven’t read the whole speech, here are a some of the key parts:


“So why do you give this person an award? You give them an award because they need to be encouraged. […] Because now she’s had this success, she’s had this work, she has this life, she has this family, she has this thing going, and now is when people like you have chosen well to say, ‘Let’s give this person another boost, let’s give this person another boost to say keep going, because now life will come to you hard, like it’s come to everyone that’s lived long enough.
[…] So we’ll give her a boost to say, go on, you’ve made it this far, push her out into the deep water, push her out into bigger and deeper films, more and more films. She has a beautiful eye. She has great taste in the people she chooses to work with. She’s a kind and thoughtful director and editor and producer. She’s all the things that we hoped we could be when we were like this. She’s been lucky so far, and she’s been strong so far. Let’s keep her going.

And this is where he captures the essence of recognition. Recognition is indeed boost from your community. It’s your community saying you’re on the right track and we appreciate what you’re doing, please keep it up. It doesn’t matter if that community is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts, your company, your team, your family, or any of the numerous communities we all belong to. The important thing is, we all need these boosts to reassure us, to strengthen us, and to let us know that we’re headed in the right direction. Recognition does help push us “out into the deep water” and it gives us the confidence to swim there. As we all aspire to better ourselves, recognition transforms us and gives us the courage to evolve and grow.

For something so powerful, recognition is underused and often misunderstood. An award is simply the physical symbol of recognition - something to remind us forever of the time we were celebrated and appreciated by our community. Don’t get me wrong, an award can amplify or undermine the effectiveness of recognition, however the important takeaway is that recognition is fundamental - find the good and then celebrate it. Nurture it. Cultivate it. Imagine how your communities could grow and benefit by recognizing the people that make it special. Now once you’ve done that, take a minute to nominate them for an Awesome Award… go on, Bill Murray will be proud of you!


Top 10 Semifinalist for Best Green Business in BC
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 12/19/2013

Today we’re honoured and grateful to announce that Eclipse Awards has been selected as a Top 10 Semifinalist for BC’s Best Green Business in the 2013 Small Business BC Awards! Nearly 40,000 votes were tallied, and thanks to your votes and support we are one step closer to reaching our goal of being recognized as the Best Green Business in BC!

The Top 5 Finalists will be determined in the next round by detailed written applications, with the final winner selected based on personal presentations. The award for BC’s Best Green Business will be announced on February 27th, 2014 at the Small Business BC Awards Ceremony. Click here to view our nomination profile.

Eclipse Awards was fortunate enough to be selected as BC’s Best Employer in 2012 - it’s an honour that we are proud of as it reflects on how we do business and value people. We’re equally excited about this award as we have been on a journey of exploring what it means to be a sustainable business for over 8 years now. It’s no longer simply about recycling and reducing our energy consumption, now it’s about regenerating the environment, cultivating stronger communities and celebrating the human spirit!

None of this is possible without your ongoing support, so thank you, thank you, thank you! Top 5 Finalists, here we come... onwards good people!


Parke Place Coffee House
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 11/13/2013

Last week at Eclipse we had some visitors from our neighbours down the street at the Jim Green Residences. They told us that the owners of the Parke Place Coffee Bar were closing shop and heading back to Korea to retire. This news was a surprise and shock to the community because it had been here to so long and was one of the few local restaurants that everyone could afford to eat at.

I would often have breakfast meetings there and enjoyed the tiny booths from an era gone by. I always admired the owners John and Jenny because they never put up bars on their windows and they treated everyone with respect. They would carry a tab for people who were short on money. Jenny always wore a small teddy bear lapel pin on her apron and everyone called  her "mom" because would always make sure they had something to eat. They were a living example of treating your community with respect and having that respect mirrored back.

So we jumped at the chance to help recognize John and Jenny's service to the community and so many people over the years. We wanted to add our voice to the thanks, so we offered to donate an award to the Jim Green Residences that they could present on behalf of their residents and the local community. The next day we had created a beautiful award for them and we were excited to see it presented on the weekend, the last day of the Park Place Coffee Bar.  They provided so much support in a quiet yet important way and they will certainly be missed in Strathcona.

Here is how our friends described that day:

Jenny was filled with gratitude, and love.
Pictures of her hugging longtime clients at doorways;
Deep crying by one patron while sitting together, having her “last” meal;
And thanking Jenny for years of being an accepting & kind “mother” role.
John, as usually seen, was behind the counter creating the food to keep  
All fed, warmed, cared for, and having a sense of belonging.
Toby and Eclipse Staff: Thanks so much for your part in honouring
some awesome Community Service Providers.

Recognition Case Study: Frogbox and the Small Business BC Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 11/1/2013

In 2011 our friends over at Frogbox took home the Small Business BC Award for Best Green Business, the same award that Eclipse Awards is nominated for this year.  Winning the award had a profound impact on Frogbox and in this video, their general manager Mathieson McCrae reflects back over the past two years and explains what it meant to win the Best Green Business Award


This is a great case study on the transformational power of recognition because it highlights some key elements that we don’t always consider when thinking about awards:

The nomination process

Mathieson refers to the importance of the nomination process itself and how applying for the award encouraged them to reflect on their mission and vision and “why they opened their doors in the first place”. Taking the time for thoughtful contemplation is something that organizations rarely do, but it can be an invaluable and important part of focussing your mission and/or correcting course.

Recognition bestows validation and confidence

Winning the Best Green Business Award helped Frogbox to validate their business model and concept, undoubtedly giving them more confidence and support to pursue their aspirations. It’s important to note that the organization presenting the award, in this case Small Business BC, influences the degree of validation. This means that if you are an organization with a high level of integrity, you are well positioned to recognize the good work of others.

Recognition inspires people

Winning this award inspired the team at Frogbox and brought them closer together. It also inspired other businesses to pursue their sustainability goals and work towards becoming greener companies. And there are always the intangible elements that make up the subtle magic of recognition.

Recognition attracts resources and creates opportunities

The exposure from being recognized publicly attracts new resources and creates new opportunities. For Frogbox, winning the Best Green Business Award helped create the conditions that would allow them to expand into 20 cities across Canada and the US. Impressive results that were triggered in part by winning this award.

It’s clear that winning this award was a transformational experience for Frogbox - they became a stronger and better company through the process of applying for the award and being validated and celebrated in the process.  

If you are a company or organization, don’t underestimate the value of applying for an award. As an individual, you can see the power of an award nomination and how it can assist companies that you admire. And if you are an association, consider the value of starting a recognition program to empower your members and cultivate new champions.

Congratulations again to Frogbox, and don’t forget to vote for Eclipse Awards as BC’s Best Green Business!



Jenn Farrell | Spruce Award
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/25/2013

Over the last few days, the Awesome Award known as Spruce changed hands quickly a couple of times and in the process, something amazing happened! Whenever an Awesome Award is presented to someone it’s an occasion to celebrate, but when the latest recipient Jenn Farrell shared her story, the first words she wrote sent shivers up our spine:  

It means so much to receive this Awesome Award! My personal training client and friend Cynara presented it to me, and while I’d like to say I remember all the nice things she said, I started getting a little weepy and forgot some of them.

 People are often overcome with happiness and tears of joy when they are recognized and appreciated, so we were pleased to hear that Jenn was touched by her Awesome Award. For the Awesome Awards, Jenn’s comment is a wonderful affirmation that the Awesome Awards are living and growing! 

Many of the first Awesome Awards were presented to amazing people within our community, so it’s been fascinating to see who the awards have been subsequently presented to as they make their journey from person to person, community to community. The fact that we didn’t know Jenn before she won her Awesome Award is pretty awesome in itself, but through the magic of recognition, we now know about this well-loved person who is passionate about her work, and inspires others to feel great about themselves!

We created the Awesome Awards with hopes that it would become a perpetual motion machine of community building, strengthening relationships and creating happiness - all powered by the human spirit! It’s stories like Jenn’s that inspire us to believe that decades from now the Awesome Awards will still be travelling from person to person, bringing joy and goodwill wherever they go!


The Power of Award Nominations and Applications
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/10/2013

Usually when people think about awards, they think about the actual awards or the public recognition that’s often associated with them. Rarely do we think about the award nomination or the application process that’s often required to win an award. Many awards are determined based on merit, so they require an initial nomination, usually from a 3rd party. In most cases nominees will first have to accept the nomination, and then complete an application process which provides relevant details and stories. In some cases, the applications can be fairly simple, while in others they can be extensive.

Eclipse Awards | Recycled Emerald Glass Rectangle Award | Vancouver, British Columbia

Having recently completed a comprehensive application for the Margolese National Design for Living Prize, I found myself thinking about the whole process of nominations and what we can learn from them.  Here are four things that came to mind:


A nomination is itself a form of recognition

The fact that someone has taken the time to nominate you for an award implies an intention or desire to see you recognized. This in itself is important, so if you’re ever been nominated for an award, congratulations, you’re already appreciated by someone in your community! If you’re thinking of nominating someone for an award but are concerned about the effort required, look at it this way: the energy that you put into their nomination will be converted into feelings of happiness, gratitude, pride and reciprocity. Take the time to nominate people you admire and respect - it’s a simple way to show them that they are appreciated. Why not nominate someone for an Awesome Award?


Applying for an award creates time for reflection

It is rare that we take the time to look back at our accomplishments in a thoughtful way.  Too often we get swept up in our day to day activities and never take the time to celebrate or interpret the good work that we’ve done. When you’re nominated for an award, the application process forces you to take time to reflect upon your work and either assign meaning to it, or derive meaning from it. This process of reflection is powerful and in many cases transformative because we are considering the impact and scope of our work. When is the last time you truly stopped and spent focussed time reflecting on your work?  Applying for an award obliges you to reflect and consider, an important process regardless of the outcome.


Award applications encourage focus

Reflecting on past work and accomplishments can help you focus your future efforts. Do you want to accomplish more of the same, or do you want to make an impact elsewhere? The process of applying for an award can reinforce that you’re on the right path, or it might nudge you to explore a different path and focus your energies elsewhere.


Award applications generate content

Sure, it might be a bi-product of your efforts, but much of your work in consolidating information and writing down your thoughts can be used in other ways beyond your application. Some of it might be used for company promotional materials or shared through social media. Get creative and find ways to leverage your investment in the application.

So if you’re thinking of nominating someone for an award, remember, your nomination is meaningful itself as a form of recognition and appreciation. And the next time you’re considering applying for an award - maybe it’s a Small Business BC Award or perhaps applying to be a 2014 BALLE Fellow - don’t be discouraged by the process, embrace it! Challenge yourself to reflect on your work and focus your energies going forward. Regardless of the outcome of the award, you’ll be stronger for having gone through the application process.

What do you think? Does this shed any new light on the nomination and application process for awards?  We’d love to hear your comments and experiences!

Vancouver BIA Partnership Summit
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 9/13/2013



Last night Mayor Gregor Robertson attended the BIA Partnership Summit with #Vancouver  city councillors and senior city staff. I spoke on behalf of the city's small businesses and 22 Business Improvement Associations and here is what I said in my 2 minute presentation: 

Mayor Robertson, thank you for putting forward a motion in June that was unanimously approved by Council to direct the  Vancouver Economic Commission to work with all the BIAs to recommend immediate and long term actions to support the retention and growth of locally owned small businesses.  For our elected leaders to acknowledge this and direct the Vancouver Economic Commission to work with us on this is indeed commendable.

As a small business owner for 15 years at  ECLIPSE AWARDS I can attest that the challenges facing small businesses are too numerous to list here and always changing, but suffice it to say that all efforts taken by the City to improve the business environment in Vancouver are both welcomed, encouraged and appreciated!

As you deliberate on the recommendations put forward by the Vancouver Economic Commission in the months ahead, remember that small business is the backbone of the local economy, employing thousands of residents in the 22 distinct neighbourhood districts that make Vancouver special. In fact, 76% of all businesses in Vancouver have fewer than 10 employees.

Going forward, we encourage you to look at our local economy as an ecosystem. In nature, the most productive ecosystems are always the most diverse and varied. Indeed, proposed larger scale projects like Oakridge Mall, Park Royal and Guildford can actually throw things out of balance, threatening the survival of smaller independent businesses and eroding the very fabric of our streetscapes and communities.

As well, in recent years Vancouver’s Industrial Areas have not been given the importance they deserve.  They are home to many family-based businesses that have historically served the needs of the city for many years while also providing good jobs for Vancouver citizens. And if we want things to be made locally in the Greenest City, we need to protect and nurture our industrial lands in the same way we do our agricultural lands. So we ask that City Council reiterate the importance of our industrial areas, protect them, and undertake a strategic vision/planning exercise as well as a zoning analysis in consultation with the BIAs.

Lastly, we ask you to think of #sustainability  not an industry like cleantech or solar power, but instead as a philosophy - a certain way of thinking about business that all businesses can learn and apply to make themselves more competitive, more resilient and more productive. By looking at sustainability as an approach to business, not as an industry, we can engage a full spectrum of small businesses and truly energize our local economy on our way to becoming the world’s #GreenestCity. Thank you.

Much appreciation to councillors Heather Deal,  Andrea Reimer,  Geoff Meggs, Adrian Carr, Elizabeth Ball, Tony Tang,  George Affleck, and Chief Constable Jim Chu for attending!

The White House Visit
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 9/3/2013


Recently, I had the honour and pleasure of being invited to visit the White House in Washington, DC for the Champions of Change Awards Ceremony recognizing pioneers of crowdfunding in the United States. Only a week earlier I had been in Boston at Harvard attending the Growing the Impact Economy Summit. Both amazing opportunities emerged from my Fellowship with the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE).

Needless to say, I was excited to visit the legendary White House to learn how they practice recognition at one of the most influential organizations in the world. And just in case, I brought along a special edition Awesome Award, because you never know who you might run into at the White House...

With only 24 hours in Washington, there wasn’t time to explore the wonderful city. So shortly after noon I connected with fellow BALLE Fellow Mickki Langston from Denver and we made our way down to the White House for the Champions of Change event that afternoon. We were instructed to enter by the South Eastern visitor’s gate where people were slowly filing in past security. Most passed easily enough, but somehow, I was held back, possibly due to the spelling of my name, possibly due to the fact that I’m from Canada. After a 45 minute wait, during which we saw President Obama fly overhead to another meeting (dang, there goes my plan!), I was cleared by security and our tiny group of 4 detained foreigners made our way inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) to await our escort to the event.

Inside the EEOB we went through another security check and were joined by an intern who guided us through the hallowed halls to the event chamber for the day’s main event. The Champions of Change is an ongoing White House program that recognizes a different group of changemakers every couple of months - this particular event was focussed on pioneers of crowdfunding.

On this day, 12 changemakers were recognized in two moderated panel discussions, with each panelist allowed a few minutes to share their story and insights and experiences. It was inspiring to learn of so many great companies that are accomplishing impressive things through creative uses of finances and funding models. Indeed, many of these pioneers are creating models as they go and having a chance to learn from them is one of the many great elements of the Champions of Change program.

I was surprised to see that the recipients didn’t receive any physical awards as part of the ceremony. I guess the invitation to and recognition from the White House was considered enough. Certainly the prestige and honour of being recognized by the White House is memorable, but it would have been nice for the recipients to have taken home beautiful awards that they could have showed their friends and displayed proudly for a lifetime.

Following the two panels, there was some time available to network and, of course, take pictures on the White House podium for posterity. I had the chance to meet many of the Champions and other people from across the US who were working on amazing and creative projects. Amid the flurry of business cards and the buzz of networking, I spotted President Obama’s Deputy Assistant and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Paulette Aniskoff near one of the exits. As I knew the President was currently flying somewhere in a helicopter and wasn’t about to make a cameo appearance, I knew I had to move quickly so I introduced myself to Paulette and thanked her for hosting this recognition ceremony. Then I asked her a favor...would she be willing to present an Awesome Award to the President on our behalf? After a brief explanation about the awards, she seemed particularly delighted when I told her that you can’t buy an Awesome Award - the only way to get one is to win one by being awesome! My dream was that Obama would feel so empowered by the award that he would have the confidence to stand strong for the environment. Needless to say, I was totally surprised when Paulette accepted the Awesome Award and said she would do her best to get it into the President’s hands! Stay tuned to see what happens!

Following the networking, we were transferred to the White House Conference Centre for some crowdfunding workshops. There were 5 breakout sessions, each exploring a different theme: Education, Culture and Creativity; Global Development; Main Street Small Business; Technology and Startups; and Scientific Research. As attendees, we could participate in any session we chose, and each workshop also included Champions and was moderated by a senior government official. The focus of each workshop was to discuss and explore what was happening at the leading edges of these communities, not only to share and cross-pollinate ideas, but also to make the government aware of trends on the horizon so that they could incorporate them into their government policies. I attended the workshop on small business and the conversations and ideas around crowdfunding was lively and spirited. There are so many interesting possibilities as we start to explore new ways of financing and new models of value in what many are calling “the new economy”.

After the sessions, the groups dispersed into Washington and I decided to walk around the White House grounds and explore the city. Overall, it was an amazing experience and a unique opportunity to see how recognition is practiced at the highest level of government. I certainly learned a lot of new things in regards to cultivating leadership through recognition - things that can be applied in communities of any size. And at the same time, I felt that we could have offered the White House some tips on improving the overall effectiveness of their Champions of Change Program. Hopefully, both of those things will happen one day soon.

As for that one Awesome Award waiting to get to President Obama? We’ll just have to wait and see….







J Stewart and the latest chapter in the legend of awesome...
Author: Teena Gin   Date: 6/21/2013

What a treat for a Wednesday!  A new chapter was added to the Legend of Awesome earlier this week when J Stewart, the Manager of Community Engagement & Creative Services of the Vancouver Union Gospel Mission was celebrated and presented with an Awesome Award (AA:Walnut).

The top secret presentation was coordinated by the Pivot Legal Society’s Peter Wrinch (an inaugural  recipient of the Awesome Award himself, of course) and included a good many of UGM staff and J’s peers. J was only told to attend a staff presentation at lunch time and to make sure his staff were present.  As the people gathered for the ceremony, I spotted J sitting towards the back of the room, unaware that his name would be called within moments. Genesa Greening introduced Eclipse team member Nelson Borges to say a few words about the Awesome Awards and also announced that there would be a surprise presentation by Peter.

As Nelson shared the background story of The Awesome Awards and our hope of building stronger communities by recognizing the people that make them awesome, I could see people quietly nodding their heads in agreement.

Then Peter came forward to make his presentation and called J to the front for his award. Peter spoke warmly of J’s longtime commitment to Pivot and to helping the people of the Downtown Eastside through his work at UGM. It was an open and heartfelt celebration of a man that is clearly loved by his community. Though he was surprised, a very humble and flattered J thanked his staff and all of those who work and volunteer at UGM for the work they do everyday. The ceremony ended with a well-deserved standing ovation for an awesome community member.


I spoke to J after his presentation, and he was both honoured and grateful to have been acknowledged for his work. In fact, the next day J sent us the following note:

I think my head has sorta stopped spinning, but just wanted to drop a very brief note of thanks on each of you.

That was a very thoughtfully executed surprise and I’m flattered beyond words. Please know I deeply appreciate the honour and am proud to share it with my friends and colleagues at both Pivot and UGM.

If encouraging people and inspiring them were part of your mandate in developing the Awesome Awards, please believe me when I say you have created a highly effective tool for doing so.

I look forward to also paying this forward and will spend a few days in careful deliberation as to who I would like to see receive it next. Again, thank you so much.

So, on this Wednesday, June 19, 2013 another unsung community hero becomes the latest chapter in the Legend of Awesome.  Not bad for a Wednesday! 


 Standing Ovation for J Stewart at UGM after receiving his Awesome Award



After the ceremony, we were able to get a picture of J with his Awesome Award in front of the donor recognition wall that we built for UGM a few years ago. We believe it's the world's largest donor recognition wall that is made from reclaimed materials and it's another community contribution that we're really proud of!



J in front of World's Largest Donor Recognition Wall made from reclaimed materials by Eclipse Awards

The Awesome Awards take their first step...
Author: Teena Gin   Date: 6/6/2013

The Awesome Awards

A milestone has been passed!  On Sunday, June 2nd the first Awesome Awards was paid forward when Tina Chin presented her award (AA: Elm) to Tony and Darlene Lourenco at the Miracle Weekend Telethon (which raised over $18million!). I had a conversation with Tina on Saturday, only 3 days after we presented her with one of the original 15 Awesome Awards and I asked her what her plans were in passing on her award.  With only a single moment of remorse as to the short time frame she would have to savour the award, unquestioningly she knew that passing on her award the very next day at the Miracle Weekend Telethon would bring immense honour to Tony and Darlene who had recently lost their daughter Lindsey, after a long bout with cancer. Lindsey and Tina’s son, Aidan had been in the same teen cancer support group and had become close.  

 One challenge Tina faced in presenting her award was how to present it and when. Making the presentation was tough to coordinate as both Tina and the Lourenco’s were volunteering at the Miracle Weekend Telethon with different tasks, and in different tents. However doing something awesome is rarely simple, so while on a break, Tina enlisted a fellow volunteer photographer to locate the Lourencos in another volunteer tent.  It was there where Tina read from her prepared speech about how she had been presented one of the original Awesome Awards for her contributions to the BC Children’s Hospital and her support of the families of patients there.  She told Tony and Darlene that they were her inspiration and  that they had assisted immensely in how she would learn to cope with a child diagnosed with cancer. Tina also had the opportunity to express how much their friendship meant to her family.  It's a great example of how a strong sense of community can help us be stronger individuals.

Tina’s Awesome Award has taken the 2nd step of its journey, however Tina’s awesomeness will continue to burn bright because once you have been “Certified Awesome”, it’s for life and you become part of a unique and growing community of awesome people! Thank you for all that you do Tina! You can read more about Tina’s award presentation in her own words at

You can learn all about the Awesome Awards and the entries from the many exchanges of the awards at, follow the awards on twitter using hashtag #awesome15, or Like us on Facebook!

The Awesome Awards: Awesome Humans and the birth of a legend.
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/31/2013

The Awesome Awards :: powered by Eclipse Awards

On May 29, 2013 at Eclipse Awards in Strathcona we unveiled The Awesome Awards - the world’s first living recognition program aimed at building stronger communities by celebrating the people that make them awesome. It was a magical ceremony - relaxed, fun, warm, humbling, emotional, joyous and inspiring! We came together to recognize 15 awesome humans - everyday heroes who are quietly determined to make the world a better place. There is only one way to win an Awesome Award and that is by being awesome. So it was an honour to celebrate these 15 amazing folks with the first Awesome Awards, wonderful folks with undeniable qualities that we would describe simply as “awesome”!

Frank Barazzuol
Kurt Heinrich
Tina Chin
Peter Wrinch
Tammy Tsang
Joji Kumagai
Carole Brown
Luglio Romero
Matt Smedley
Brian Postlewaite
Liz Charyna
Kathie Dawe
John Horn
Kali Dukouski
Mark Wilson

These awesome people are tireless community builders and became the first guardians of the original 15 Awesome Awards as their legendary journeys begin...we'll be sharing some of their stories in the days ahead!

The beauty of a great recognition event is that everyone leaves feeling enriched and inspired. It is certainly transformational for the awardee, not only because they feel valued and appreciated by their community, but also because it can help them understand their value to the community. It clarifies how they are perceived by their community and inspires them to step into that role to contribute more to that community. At our ceremony, each Awesome Award was presented by the person that nominated them, so there was a great deal of respect and admiration in each award presentation.

It’s also inspiring for those who are in attendance and witnessing the award presentations because the act of recognition is generous, heartwarming and reassuring. People learned stories about others in their community or in other communities - lots of awesome people met lots of amazing people.

The presenters can also be filled with emotion when they have an opportunity to openly express their appreciation for someone. As a society, we don’t create a lot of situations to do this. The secret of the Awesome Awards is that they create social situations that allows people to appreciate one another, and that is both powerful and transformational.

Together, these shared experiences offered a glimpse into the beauty of the human spirit: empowerment, inspiration, joy, connections, ideas, confidence, motivation, generosity, honour, reciprocity, love, happiness, camaraderie, fellowship - all were present at the inaugural ceremony of the Awesome Awards and all will create ripples building stronger, more resilient communities. 

What makes the Awesome Awards a living recognition program is that each unique award is on a perpetual journey from person to person. Each Awesome Award recipient becomes responsible for selecting the next awesome recipient and then bestowing them with their award, and so on, and so on, and so on. Unfailingly, each Awesome Award must change hands every month, celebrating one awesome person after the other, seeding happiness and inspiration through community after community on their perpetual journeys to connect and transform. The tales from these journeys will be shared and recorded at

To all who attended the unveiling of the Awesome Awards, we salute you! To the 15 inaugural Awesome Award winners, we thank you for being awesome and for taking the Awesome Awards into the world! Can't wait to see where this goes! This is the legend of the Awesome Awards...

The Awesome Awards - a celebration of the human spirit!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/29/2013

After months of dreaming and planning and then dreaming some more, today we are preparing to unveil The Awesome Awards - the world’s first living, organic recognition program!

To commemorate our 15th anniversary at Eclipse Awards, we wanted to do something special and unique. We wanted to incorporate our experiences and aspirations into something that might make the world a better place. The results of distilling what we’ve learned over the past 15 years are The Awesome Awards - a celebration of community, generosity, reciprocity and ultimately the human spirit.

We’ve had the unique pleasure of working with hundreds of companies and organizations that value recognition and appreciation, and countless times we’ve witnessed the transformative and energizing effects that recognition can have on people. Essentially what we’ve found is this:

Each of us wants to feel valued and appreciated by our community for our efforts. It doesn’t matter if our community is a company, a non-profit, a team or an association - when we feel valued it engages us and makes us want to contribute more and be our best.  Ultimately, this strengthens our community because we are inspired, empowered and energized. Reciprocity is a powerful feedback loop!

So the Awesome Awards are born out of the idea of building stronger communities by celebrating the people that make them awesome. The only way to win an awesome award is by being awesome and there are no other requirements other than that. Tonight we will honour 15 awesome humans that make their communities stronger. What makes this program unique and living, is that each winner becomes responsible for selecting the next awesome person from their community and then bestowing the award upon them, and so on, and so on.  In this way the program will take on a life of its own and grow organically.

We’re also launching a website at to support the Awesome Awards where people will be able to share their experiences and stories about recognition and nominate new people.  As well, each Awesome Award has a unique name, so we’ll be able to follow each award as it journeys from person to person, through community after community.

As for the Awesome Awards themselves? Well, we think they’re pretty amazing too, but you’ll have to wait and see what they look like when the program is unveiled tonight.

The Awesome Awards are part game, part experiment, part celebration, but all awesome! We hope that you’ll join us on this journey as it unfolds.

Eclipse Awards turns 15 - celebrating our Crystal Anniversary and the year ahead!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/1/2013

Wow, it was 15 years ago today that we first turned on the lights and opened the doors at Eclipse Awards! It’s been an amazing journey of learning, challenge, faith, determination, creativity, experience, improving and evolution - metaphorically, we are still turning on the lights and walking through new doors every day, so the journey remains challenging, magical and rewarding!

As the founder of Eclipse Awards, I’m proud that we have reached this milestone as less than half of businesses survive beyond 5 years. 15 years has given me the time to truly explore the many diverse elements of running a company, and in some cases it’s provided us with the opportunity to have some real breakthroughs in terms of designs and thinking.  My hope is to build a business that will last 100 years while delivering quality, creating value and building community, so I feel like we’re off to a great start!

As a company, we are equally proud to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing organizations who value the happiness of their people and partners. We have fine-tuned our service and the quality of our workmanship to become a world-class supplier of recognition awards. We’ve balanced our roles as manufacturer, retailer, consultant, supplier, employer and thought leader. We’ve also developed an aspiring new vision statement to guide us through the years ahead, and most importantly, we are more committed than ever to building stronger communities through recognition and appreciation!  And without a doubt, we’ll continue to explore the frontiers of recognition and appreciation, while also ensuring that we are delivering legendary service and quality, handcrafted awards.

This year, to honour all of the awesome people and organizations that we’ve worked with over the past 15 years, we’re gearing up to launch the Awesome Awards - a pay-it-forward recognition program aimed at celebrating the awesome unsung heroes doing awesome things in your community. Visit to learn more, or better yet, nominate someone in your community to be recognized with one of the very first Awesome Awards later this year!

People refer to the 15th anniversary as the Crystal Anniversary, which is appropriate given the crystal awards that have been our foundation since day one.  So in keeping with tradition, here’s an updated list of our secret business insights, with a special #15 added for this year!

1. Treat Everyone with Equal Respect

We may have different jobs and responsibilities, but in the end, we are all simply people trying to make our way in this world.  The energy we put out is the energy we receive back.


2. Your People are your Greatest Assets

Work with great people, let them do their job, and find ways to make sure they feel happy, engaged and appreciated.  These are the people that will work hard for you, generate ideas for you, solve problems for you...or not.  Recognize their efforts and appreciate them as an important part of your community!


3. Recognition is Powerful

It speaks to a basic human need that we all have to feel recognized and appreciated and feel valued as a part of a community.  Recognition empowers people and creates new opportunities for them.  It helps engage them in your community and culture.  Happy people make companies and organizations stronger.


4. Put your Clients’ Minds at Ease

Find out all of the things that might worry your clients, then put systems and policies in place to address them. Erase any worries or concerns from their minds.  See #5.


5. Be Bold & Daring

If you make a guarantee, make it a strong one and stand behind it.  If you embrace technology or sustainability, do it in a way that sets you apart from others.  Businesses are amazing vehicles – think outside the box and unleash your creativity in ways that make the world a better place!


6. Embrace Awesomeness

“Going green” is simply the evolution of how we do business and how we choose to relate to one another and our planet. Understanding sustainability is the single greatest investment that you can make towards your future success, but it's not an end itself.  At Eclipse, striving for sustainability is simply a part of our commitment to being awesome!


7. Choose Simplicity over Complexity

Wherever possible, remove excess and make things easier for everyone. Design simple systems and simple policies. Leonardo Da Vinci said  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” - he knew what he was talking about.


8. If you Make a Mistake, Take Responsibility & Fix It Quickly (without complaining)

It’s inevitable – at some point a mistake will happen.  When it does, we accept responsibility and do our best to fix it, whatever the cost.  It’s how we handle ourselves when things go wrong that is the most important.


9. Enjoy Yourself!

Have fun with the people you work with and the people you work for!  Take care of business and make things happen, but don’t take yourself too seriously :)


10. The Genesis of Recognition is Intention

Recognition is energy and everything we talk about, think about and do is a form of recognition.  What do you want to manifest in the world?  Cultivate that with your energy through the things you choose to recognize.  


11. Get involved in your community

A business is more than something to simply generate dollars.  It’s about putting your time and resources into enriching the social, environmental and cultural aspects of the communities you’re involved in.  I believe we should all be contributing 20% of our time in service to our communities - imagine what our world would look like!


12. Collaborate!

It’s hard to do everything alone, and not that much fun. Explore creative new ways to work with your staff, your suppliers, other organizations in your community, even your competitors.! All business happens within an ecosystem, and we can accomplish a lot more together than we can alone.


13. Don’t Base Your Decisions Simply on Dollars

In business school, they teach that everything comes down to money.  However in reality, the truly magical and wonderful things happen when we de-prioritize money and focus on other things such as beauty, happiness, integrity, community and creating memorable experiences.  See our commitment to the Living Wage.


14. Compete on Value, Not on Price

Our world is changing quickly and we need to find new ways to live together and with our planet. See #13, but when we purchase solely on price we are forcing companies to continually cut quality.  Instead, we need to make our decisions based on the full spectrum of value that a company creates: financial, social, environmental and cultural - these are all important considerations for both consumers and successful companies of the future.


15. Community is Everything

At Eclipse we talk a lot about community and the importance of building resilient and engaged communities. After all, we all play roles in many different communities - your company, your team, your NPO, your family, your association - these are all communities that we are part of.  Recognition can be a powerful way to communicate intention, accelerate change and supercharge a community.  Follow along, we’ll show you how it can be done!

So there we have it - these things took us 15 years to learn, but you can grasp them in 15 minutes.  As we look to the future we are eager to help build a new economy that values happiness and the human experience.  What will the next 15 years hold?  We’re excited to contribute and help figure it out!

How about you?  What are the important lessons that you've learned on your journey so far?  What are your secret insights?  We'd love to hear from you - the more we share, the more we have!

the subtle magic of recognition
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 2/28/2013

This morning I rode the skytrain into work. It was nice because it gave me some time to catch up on some social media while thinking about recognition and the day ahead. Believe it or not, the two are connected, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Today is a big day for a couple of reasons.

Tonight, we’re excited to be supplying the awards for the Successful You Awards. It’s a great local event that will celebrate 6 amazing BC businesses, although in reality, they have already
recognized 30 outstanding companies who made it as finalists.  Many companies will be transformed by the events that happen at the awards ceremony tonight...I know that we were transformed when Eclipse Awards was recognized as BC’s Best Employer in the 2012 Successful You Awards. It’s sure to be an exciting night for all of the companies involved, as well as the onlookers and other participants!

It’s also a landmark day for me as I will be recognized this evening by the Government of Canada with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award.  These awards are presented to Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their communities, so being recognized for my community building and sustainability work in Strathcona is truly an honour.  If past experiences are any indication, I’m sure that I will be transformed by the event as this recognition is a way for one of my communities to help define and celebrate my role within it.

Recognition is undoubtedly a transformational experience for those that are being recognized. However, the little known magic of recognition is that is also has the ability to transform and inspire those that are looking on. Consider the onlookers - we’ve all been one at some point when we think “oh wow, how great that this person is being recognized for their efforts...I could do that too!” or maybe even “I could do better than that!”.

This is the power and magic of recognition - it indirectly shows people what is valued within a community and inspires them to pursue more of the same. Think of the millions of kids who get into sports after watching a Stanley Cup or Superbowl victory. Think of the young business owners who will aspire to be the Greenest Company or Best Employer. In many ways, it’s the people who are watching who may be most affected.

So what’s the connection with social media? Well I saw this video posted by a friend who was "paying it forward" by sharing it. This heartwarming video really captures the subtle magic of recognition and appreciation and how it can help build resilient and engaged communities. We hope you’ll watch it and we’d love to hear what you think of it!

2013-2014 BALLE Local Economic Fellowship
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 12/14/2012

So today I step through a doorway...

I'm excited and honoured to announce that I've been selected as 2013 BALLE Local Economy Fellow! Earlier this year, 
Be A Localist (also known as BALLE: the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) began a search through thousands of communities across North America. Hundreds of community leaders were considered and only 16 selected for this 18-month leadership program. It's a truly amazing opportunity to connect with other dreamers who are at the forefront of re-imagining and building the new economy. Together, we have an opportunity to mold how we create resilient communities and foster a new era of doing business across North America. We have an opportunity to develop an economy that values the human experience and regenerates the earth.

It's also recognition that the work that we have been doing in the Strathcona Green-Zone over the past years has been world-class and innovative. Community collaboration, resource sharing, celebrating sustainability, recognizing leadership...these things aren't happening everywhere, but soon they may be. I'm really eager to get started!

“What stands before us is an opportunity to build a new economy based on respect, recognition, creativity and collaboration. An economy that creates value in ways that regenerate the environment and make people happy. Figuring out how to do this has fallen upon the shoulders of our generation, so I’m more than excited to connect with a group of sustainability leaders who are not only imagining a better way, but are also figuring out how to do it.”

I'm also excited to share our experience with recognition and appreciation and how it can be used to accelerate social change, make people happy, empower emerging leaders, bestow confidence and build more resilient communities.  Indeed, this is one of the most effective tools that we have in terms of changing the world we live in.

2013 BALLE Local Economy Felllowship locations

I also look forward to working more closely with LOCO BC's Amy Robinson and I think the fact that 2 of 16 BALLE Fellows were selected from Vancouver speaks volumes about the creative and progressive business community here. Now we'll have to share our experiences on a national stage.

I hope you'll follow's going to be an amazing ride!

as one door closes, another opens...
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 12/13/2012

I love the work that we do at Eclipse Awards and I'm still excited by the possibility of what we might do tomorrow with recognition and awards.  However one of my proudest accomplishments comes from my community work - it was the formation of the Sustainability Committee at the Strathcona BIA. Since forming the committee in 2007, I served as its Chair until recently stepping down in order to lead the organization. Over those 5 years we accomplished a lot!I We would imagine things and then make them a reality. Things like:

Sustainability 1.0: the upside of greening your business - Canada's first sustainability expo for small businesses in 2008

Sustainability 2.0: the evolution of green - featuring Majora Carter on her first visit to Vancouver

Sustainability 3.0: redefining green - featuring Bob Willard

The Resource Exchange - a network to facilitate the exchange of unused materials.

The Zero Waste Challenge and most recently the Strathcona Resource Park - a centralized depot for businesses to exchange unused resources and recycle organics
Most importantly however, we started to build a community - the Strathcona Green Zone - that celebrates diversity, collaboration and sustainability in one of Canada's most challenging neighbourhoods. We've come to understand the value of strong relationships and the role of recognition in building a resilient community. And we've learned that building a resilient community will result in strong businesses and a stronger local economy.
I will always treasure my time as Chair of the Strathcona BIA Sustainability Committee, I'm proud of the work that we did to put Strathcona at the forefront of the Greenest City in the World, and I hope to continue and expand that work in my new role as Chair of the Strathcona BIA.
The new Chair for the SBIA Sustainability Committee is Emma Carscadden, a dedicated board member who will do a great job carrying on our tradition of creative and practical thinking, while also creating value for our members.
When one door closes, another always opens. As we learn to look at communities and economies as ecosystems, I can't wait to see where we can take things next!

2013 Successful You Awards - Best Green Business nominee
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 11/29/2012

2013 Successful You Awards - Best Green Business Nominee Eclipse Awards

We're back! This time Eclipse Awards has been nominated as 2013 Best Green Business in the wildly popular Successful You Awards hosted annually by Small Business BC. We currently hold the title of 2012 Best Employer, but we're excited by the opportunity of being recognized for our sustainability efforts as well.

As in past years, the first round of cuts is determined by online voting, which means we need your vote to make it to the next round. so before we go on, can we ask you to visit our nomination page and vote?  It takes only 1-click and no registration is required. Voting closes on November 30th!  Click here to vote for Eclipse Awards as 2013 Best Green Business

Click here to vote for Eclipse Awards as BC's Greenest Business!

I'm proud of the accomplishments that we've made over the past 8 years in terms of greening our company, and the recognition from this award would help us bring our brand of business to a larger audience and hopefully inspire younger companies to embrace sustainability. 

Maybe you appreciate the green awards that we've designed over the years using recycled glass and reclaimed wood.  Maybe you appreciatethe first greenroof that we built on the Blueberry Building?  Or maybe you prefer the second greenroof that we built atop our current building Strawberry Fields?  People who visit our office are always amazed by the amount of natural light in our workspace - we really only use our electrical lights at night and in the winter.  All the natural light makes it a great place for us to grow plants!

green office space at Eclipse Awards

When we do use gas or electricity, we are 100% bullfrog powered which means all of our electricity comes from wind energy, and our gas comes from methane recapture.  We have also completed ClimateSmart certification twice now, and offset all of our company's emissions from our operations.  In fact, Eclipse Awards was the world's first carbon neutral awards company!

Perhaps you respect the fact that we are Living Wage Employer and were one of the first companies in BC to commit to this program.  Or maybe you just like our style of business!

We hope our consistent and determined drive towards sustainability over the past 8 years has earned your respect.

If it has, please take a moment a vote with a single click to show your support for our efforts.  If you're in the mood, please share this link with your network and ask them to vote as well.

Click here to vote for Eclipse Awards as BC's Greenest Business!

Thank you for your support, and if we win this award we will do our best to share our experiences with other small businesses that are figuring out how to become more award ideas from Eclipse Awards

Eclipse field trip: paradise and the greenest awards in the world
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 8/3/2012

Last week we shut down the office for a day so that we could take our whole team to visit one of our favorite suppliers, Clegg Woodcrafts. I met the founder Steve Clegg several years ago after seeing a display of some of his impressive woodwork at an artisan fair. We found that we both shared an interest in sustainability and the natural beauty of wood, and since then we’ve gone on to design and develop some of the greenest awards in the world together.

Clegg Woodcrafts lies on a 20 acre piece of paradise in Chilliwack where the air is crisp and the deer still roam freely. Steve offered us a chance to get some first hand experience in terms of how the green awards are made - from salvaging fallen trees to milling the logs to shaping and finishing the wood, we tried it all!  Not only was it a great opportunity for us to try some new activities and spend time outdoors as a group, but we also learned a lot about the skills required to make our beautiful green awards.

The first step in salvaging logs is to ensure that the trees have been freshly fallen. If a log has been sitting for more than 2 weeks, it starts to deteriorate and the bark can no longer be salvaged.  To ensure a vibrant Living Edge on our green awards, newly fallen trees must be harvested quickly.  Here's Jim, our art director,  trying his hand at salvaging a newly fallen tree with the tractor.

After the tree has been secured, it’s time to mill it to size on the portable mill. This machine cuts fallen trees into panels and planks while still keeping the bark intact. Usually the tree goes to the mill, but this mill can also go to the tree if it’s too difficult to move.  Here Sarah takes a turn cutting panels of wood from our salvaged log.

Next, the panels of wood are cut into “blanks” that will eventually become green awards.  The blanks are slightly oversized to allow for finer cutting and finishing, however before then can be used, they need to dry.  Coating the ends of each board with wax helps ensure that the wood dries at an even pace to avoid cracking, while also ensuring the living edge bark stays intact. Here you can also clearly see the heartwood of the tree.

The wood is then air dried in a climate controlled room for several months.  Once it has stabilized in terms of moisture, it is then ready to be cut, shaped and finished.

Next we went to the workshop where Steve showed us the measurements involved in cutting and planing these pieces to size.  It certainly takes skill and experience to ensure consistency, minimize waste and bring out the beautiful grain in each piece!  Clegg’s workshop is a model of efficiency where every scrap piece of wood is eventually used in another project until it is too small to be used...then it goes into a furnace to heat the home and workshop. It’s an impressive zero-waste system that uses a renewable resource of wood - perfect for our green awards! Plus he has a Liger in his workshop that watches over cool is that?

The final stage involves 2 levels of sanding that give the wood an almost mirror-like smoothness before the pieces are finished with a natural food grade tung oil.  After a final quality check, the pieces are then sent to Eclipse Awards where they become special, one of a kind symbols of recognition and appreciation.

After a great day on the farm and in the workshop, we all shared a meal of Chilliwack corn and salmon cooked on a cedar plank.  It was a special day for everyone at Eclipse.  As we learn more about the people and products we work with, we build stronger relationships and an ability to develop better ideas together. We feel confident about calling these the greenest awards in the world because we know exactly where everything comes from.

Stay tuned as our partnership evolves and brings even more beautiful and unique awards for our clients to recognize people with!

Eclipse Awards - Vision Statement
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/4/2012

Vision statements are tricky things. Ideally, they represent the highest aspirations of a company and answer the questions “Why are we here? Why does our organization exist?” - powerful questions indeed in these changing times, yet the answers ultimately inform everything that a company does.  It’s a tall order for a single sentence, especially as your aspirations evolve, so last month I decided to revisit our vision statement and I have to say, it felt a little stale:

Eclipse Awards is dedicated to bringing fresh ideas, reliable service and high quality standards to the recognition market - all in a way that recognizes sustainability.

It was good vision statement for many years, but let’s just say it has now been retired. It seemed to me like our vision from year one, with an extra sentence added on in year eight when we discovered sustainability...not quite the aspirational vision I was hoping for. Especially considering the fact that my firstborn baby will be arriving any minute now and I'm looking at the world in new ways.

So now in our 14th year of business at Eclipse Awards, we’ve nearly mastered the arts of production and customer service, we’ve deeply explored the many facets of recognition, we’ve gained a lot of experience along the way, we’ve survived, and our aspirations have evolved.  Today we want to generate a spectrum of values that range from social to cultural to environmental, all in addition to the business value we provide our clients.  We want to contribute to the betterment of people and communities...a vision that transcends Eclipse Awards.

Everything we have done before has lead us to this point and In now present to you our new vision statement:

Eclipse Awards aspires to create beautiful things that make people happy, build resilient communities, regenerate the environment, and transform the way people think about recognition.

If you want to know why Eclipse Awards exists, this vision statement captures the reasons and the essence.  It is the vision statement that will guide us into the years ahead.

Remember, Henry Ford said "A business that makes nothing by money is a poor business" and that is more true now than ever before.

What do you think?  What does your organization aspire to? We’d love to hear from you!

Transformation and tears of joy!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/26/2012

Some of you may recall our story about recognizing Diamond Dave back in 2010.  We saw firsthand the transformative power of recognition that day, but we never expected how much we would learn from the series of amazing events that it triggered, including what happened this week.

Dave was so inspired by being recognized on that day in 2010, that ever since he has been looking for opportunities to recognize others that are living and working in the Downtown Eastside. So last month, when Dave asked us to make an award to honour one of his dearest friends at the Vancouver Native Health Society, we were happy to oblige.  We had helped Dave recognize Doreen once last year, but this was different because Doreen was retiring from her position as nurse coordinator.

On the day of the presentation this week, Dave came to our office so that we could walk over together to the Native Health Society for the ceremony.  He wanted us to take some pictures to remember the day by, and also see Doreen receive her gift.

When we arrived, there were close to 40 people setting the place up for a party.  Some were moving tables, others were watching TV and a few others were taking it all in on methadone. Out of the chaos, the room came together quickly and within a few minutes Doreen was brought into the room.  Dave brought her to the front and said a few kind words to thank her for her years of service and endless compassion...then he handed her award.  Doreen looked at it and her face lit up as tears of joy came to her eyes.  It took her nearly two minutes of crying and smiling before she could read aloud the words on the award:

“It's a small world and if everyone had a heart as big as yours, the world would be a better place...from your friends at Native Health”

And with that, the room broke out in applause.  Doreen was obviously well-loved!  A string of other people presented her with gifts they had made and with words of thanks for her years of caring and compassion.  Several people chanted and drummed a native blessing. Then one older gentlemen stood up to thank Doreen for all that she had done, but apologized for not having a present.  Doreen replied “no present? you’ve given me the biggest gift of all because you’re still alive!” This seemed to surprise him at first and then he said “you’re right, I am still alive because you saved my life Doreen”.  And with that, a chorus of agreement came from the crowd " saved my life too” and “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you!”.  I was floored by the outpouring of love and affection in all its different forms!

Doreen said to everyone that they had all helped to create a community of caring, and in doing so they had reduced their client death rate from 10% to 2%!  While most of us struggle with improving ROI's, the Native Health Society is dealing with life and death situations in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.  By creating a stronger community they were actually saving people's lives! 

As the speeches ended, Dave called for a group photo with all of the staff and volunteers.  As the group assembled, more and more people were asked to join in since they had helped out or volunteered at some point.  Then Doreen said “this is a family photo...this is what family means to us”.  After 10 minutes of reshuffling, nearly everyone that had been in the crowd was now included in the photo - the group had been transformed.  It was amazing!

Over the space of an hour, I had seen joy, love, community and affection.  I realized that tears of joy are the same for everyone.  I realized that community and recognition are powerful forces that can actually save lives.  Imagine the potential! So much of this stemmed from our recognizing Dave 2 years ago...

Above all though, I realized that I too had been transformed by the experience!  As a simple bystander in the room, I had gained a deeper understanding of the power that accompanies love and compassion and community.  It was an amazing reminder of why we do what we do at Eclipse Awards and as I walked back to our office, I couldn't help but think about the potential we have to change communities and improve peoples lives through recognizing them and building community around them.

What about you?  Have you ever been transformed by recognition? Have you ever been inspired by seeing others be recognized?  We'd love to hear your stories!

Eclipse Awards turns 14!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/3/2012

It's hard to believe that Eclipse Awards started 14 years ago this week in a 400 sq.ft office in Yaletown.  We've come a long way since then - gaining experience, learning, improving, experimenting, evolving, perfecting our craft, creating value, and making people happy.

We're lucky to be able to work with thousands of wonderful companies and organizations that also value happiness in the workplace and appreciating their people!  It's given us a unique perspective on the power of recognition and what it means to nurture your social capital.

As we approach our work with a broader, long-term perspective, it's encouraging to see so many new projects and ideas coming to life through Eclipse Awards.  The past year has been amazing as we've watched the seeds we planted in previous years start to blossom. Some of the highlights include:

What's next for Eclipse Awards?  We'll certainly continue to share our experiences on the power of recognition and the importance of happiness in the workplace.  We'll continue to explore how to create more value while using ever fewer resources because this is the essence of sustainability for us.  And we'll continue to cultivate the idea of building stronger communities and developing community champions through recognition. Finding a way to mix these ingredients together in a magical way is the passion that drives us!

So in keeping with our tradition, we wanted to share 14 of the most important things that we've learned over the past 14 years:

1. Treat everyone with equal respect
We may have different jobs and responsibilities, but in the end, we are all simply people trying to make our way in this world.  The energy we put out is the energy we receive back.

2. Your people are your greatest asset
Work with great people, let them do their job, and find ways to make sure they feel happy, engaged and appreciated.  These are the people that will work hard for you, generate ideas for you, solve problems for you...or not.  Recognize their efforts and appreciate them!

3. Recognition is powerful
It speaks to a basic human need that we all have to feel valued and appreciated and part of a community.  Recognition empowers people and creates new opportunities for them.  It helps engage them in your community and culture.  Happy people make companise and  organizations stronger.

4. Put your clients’ minds at ease
Find out all of the things that might worry your clients, then put systems and policies in place to address them.  Erase any worries from their minds.  See #5.

5. Be bold & daring
If you make a guarantee, make it a strong one and stand behind it.  If you embrace technology or sustainability, do it in a way that sets you apart from others.  Businesses are amazing vehicles – think outside the box and unleash your creativity!

6. Embrace Awesomeness
“Going green” is simply the evolution of how we do business and how we choose to relate to one another and our planet. Understanding sustainability is the single greatest investment that you can make towards your future success, but it's not an end itself.  At Eclipse, striving for sustainability is simply a part of our commitment to being awesome!

7. Choose simplicity over complexity
Wherever possible, remove excess and make things easier for everyone. Design simple systems and simple policies. Leonardo Da Vinci said  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

8. If you make a mistake, take responsibility & fix it quickly (without complaining)
It’s inevitable – at some point a mistake will happen.  When it does, we accept responsibility and do our best to fix it, whatever the cost.  It’s how we handle ourselves when things go wrong that is the most important.

9. Enjoy yourself!
Have fun with the people you work with and the people you work for!  Take care of business and make things happen, but don’t take yourself too seriously :)

10. “Full effort is full victory”
Mahatma Gandhi said, "Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment.  Full effort is full victory".  Take satisfaction in your commitment to an idea or a task - give it everything.  This is even more important than the eventual outcome.  Commit yourself to service and to making people happy.

11. Get involved in your community
A business is more than something to simply generate dollars.  It’s about putting your time and resources into enriching the social, environmental and cultural aspects of the community you’re located in.  This is how we will change the definition of value, as businesses become engines of community regeneration.

12. Collaborate
It’s hard to do everything alone, and not much fun. Find creative new ways to work with your staff, your suppliers, other organizations in your community, even your competitors.  All business happens within an ecosystem, and we can accomplish a lot more together than we can alone.

13. Don’t base your decisions simply on dollars
In business school, they teach that everything comes down to money.  However in reality, the truly magical and wonderful things happen when we de-prioritize money and focus on other things such as beauty, happiness, integrity, community and creating memorable experiences.  See our commitment to the Living Wage.

14. Compete on value, not price
Our world is changing quickly and we need to find new ways to live together and with our planet. See #13, but when we purchase solely on price we are forcing companies to continually cut quality.  Instead, we need to make our decisions based on the full spectrum of value that a company creates: financial, social, environmental and cultural - these are all important considerations for successful companies of the future.

So there you have it, the essence of our style of business at Eclipse Awards.  Today more than ever, people want to feel valued and appreciated.  We're rediscovering the imprortance of the person within the organization and it's a powerful insight.

What will the next 14 years hold?  We're not sure, but we're certainly ready for it!

What are the important lessons that you've learned?  What are your secret insights?  We'd love to hear from you!

Office Bliss: How Happiness Fuels Success
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/30/2012

We're firm believers that happy staff are more engaged, motivated and resilient.  This is great news for any organization because it means you can actually increase your chances of success by focussing on the happiness of your people!

So when we saw this infographic from our friends over at Socialcast, we had to share it.  We are all social creatures and each of us belongs to many communities. Oftentimes our work community is the one we are most involved in, so it makes sense that this should be one of the places we are most happy.  Think about it...every company and organiziation is made up of people - they are the social capital.  Do you want your most important asset to be happy and thriving, or disengaged and unproductive?

Developing a culture of recognition and appreciation is one of the most effective ways to encourage happiness in your workplace. We've seen this in company after company, year after year, and so thought we'd share a few of the simple ideas that we've seen work well in this article for Small Business BC.

What are some of the things that you do to encourage happiness at your workplace?

The Importance of Happiness at Work

Timeline 1998 through 2012: Eclipse Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/12/2012

Sometimes, the best way to look ahead is to take a quick glance over your shoulder to see where you've been. Being recognized as BC's Best Employer by Small Business BC has been a real honour.  It's given us a reason to reflect on how we arrived at this point and added confidence to forge ahead on the trajectory we've set ourselves on. So we thought we'd share a few of the turning points and milestones that make up our story and the path that led us to place.

Recognize. Create. Appreciate. Share. Celebrate. Grow. Repeat.

We all grown stronger when we work together and collaborate.  Let us know how we can work with you to help create changes in your community.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Eclipse Awards - BC's 2012 Best Employer - Winner
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/2/2012

Wow....after a 4 month elimination process and three rounds of judging, this week Eclipse Awards was recognized as BC’s Best Employer in front of a full house at a gala event hosted by Small Business BC! Over 150 BC businesses originally applied in 6 categories for the 2012 Succesful You Awards and we were up against some stiff competition in our category - in fact the MC said it had been their hardest decision in years - so when they called our name as the winner, you can imagine our surprise!

Over the years, we’ve made thousands of awards for thousands of organizations...but the feeling of receiving an award never gets old - it really is both a heartwarming and powerful experience!  All of a sudden, people are looking at you through new eyes, which in turn affects how you see yourself from that point on. Humility, happiness, pride, ambition, respect, gratitude, reciprocity - all of these feelings emerge at once. The process of recognition truly is transformative and the recognition award becomes an enduring symbol and reminder of the event.

Being selected as BC’s Best Employer means a lot to us, not only as a stamp of approval on our business philosophy and the direction we’re heading, but also because of the message that it sends to other businesses. The Best Employer Award means that our commitment to Living Wages is important, it means that building a healthy and inspiring workplace is appreciated, it means that our community contributions are valuable, it means that our long-term vision is respected, and most significantly it means that recognizing and celebrating people is more important than ever! If you want to learn more about some of our initiatives, check out the prezi presentation we put together.

With over 55,000 businesses registered in BC, the significance of being recognized as the Best Employer will take some time to sink in.  It will take some time for the best learnings to emerge and be shared.  In the meantime though, we’re simply enjoying the glow of being recognized for something we’re passionate about.

Thank you to everyone who voted for us through the social media round of these awards, as well as to those who have shared our story since! Our success has not been in spite of our commitment to our staff and community and the environment, but rather because of it.  This is the lesson that we hope to share with our businesses.  Thanks again and onwards!

2012 Successful You Awards - Best Employer - Finalist
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 2/22/2012

As a company, our mission is to help other organizations recognize and celebrate the human elements of business. As you might imagine, this is also a philosophy that guides how our company operates and how we value our team.  So when we're lucky enough to find ourselves on the receiving end of some recognition, it's a great reminder of why we do what we do.

Recently, we were excited to learn that Eclipse Awards had been selected as a top 5 finalist for Best Employer in the 9th Annual Successful You Awards.  This recognition awards program is organized by Small Business BC and not only does it aim to help raise the profile of small businesses doing great things, it also helps to set the direction of business in BC through the companies it recognizes.

The recognition process involves a nomination, followed by a period of online voting, followed by a written submission from which the top 5 in each category are determined. Each finalist then makes a presentation to a panel of judges, with the winners being announced on awards night, February 28th.

We’re proud of the things that we’ve done to be considered as one of the top 5 employers in BC.  So for our presentation we put together a list of the top 5 reasons why we feel we should be in the running for BC’s Best Employer.  We used prezi for this presentation, and I have to say that I was pretty happy with what we put together.  What do you think?


Sometimes it feels good to look back at some of the things we've accomplished. We're happy that we've come this far and it feels good to know that others appreciate our commitments to creating a great work environment.  No matter what happens from here, we've already learned a lot about ourselves through this process.  Fingers crossed!

2012 Sustainable Communities Awards and Conference
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 2/17/2012

Last week Eclipse Awards travelled to our nation’s capitol in Ottawa to exhibit at the 2012 Sustainable Communities Conference.  The 3 day event organized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) gathered representatives from 94% of the municipal governments from across Canada to focus on sharing best practices for building more resilient and sustainable communities.

It was a great opportunity to meet with city staff and political figures who are looking for creative and effective ways to develop stronger communities despite shrinking budgets. Many of the exhibitors there were offering improved equipment or infrastructure, others offered consulting skills and resources. We were the only ones discussing how recognition can build stronger communities.

Our goal was to introduce recognition as a way of communicating leadership and driving social change. Companies have known this for years - recognize and celebrate the things that you value to encourage more of the same and drive the organization forward. Municipalities have been slower to adopt this, however the principals remain the same when dealing with communities. In fact, thoughtful recognition programs can help municipalities accomplish any one of, or many of these things:

  • leverage its budget (when people feel appreciated, they naturally want to “do more”)
  • develop community champions
  • establish trust while increasing motivation and engagement
  • raise it’s profile to attract new resources and partnerships
  • communicate leadership, direction and strategic goals
  • generate positive success stories
  • accelerate social change
  • and celebrate leadership and excellence

We designed our exclusive series of eco-friendly, green awards to help organizations amplify the effectiveness of their recognition campaigns while also communicating their sustainability commitments.

The FCM understands the power of recognition and hosted their 2012 Sustainable Communities Awards on the first evening of the conference.  It was great to see communities from across Canada getting recognized for their amazing and ambitious green projects.  Not only do these awards raise awareness of these projects, but it also makes it easier for the champions of these projects to go back to their communities and access more resources and support.  *Special congratulations to the City of Vancouver on winning the Planning Award for their ground breaking Greenest City Action Plan - great job!

We met a lot of great people who really connected with the idea of using recognition to strengthen their communities and we look forward to sharing our experience and building relationships with them in the months and years ahead.  Recognition really is one of the best ways to accelerate social change and provide leadership. 

Do you have any examples of great recognition programs in your community?  Have you ever learned about something new or been inspired to do something because you saw it being recognized or celebrated?  If so, we’d love to hear your stories!

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. - Awards & Recognition
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 1/16/2012

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today the world honours Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the amazing dreams that he brought to us all.  He touched the lives of many people in his drive for social justice, freedom, human dignitiy and civil rights.  Without a doubt, we all owe a debt a gratitude for the sacrifice that he made to improve the human experience.

In the vision of Dr. King, we believe that recognition is important for everyone, not only exceptional individuals, but it's interesting to see how he was recognized during his lifetime and beyond:

  • Recognized by Time Magazine as one of the most outstanding personalities of the year, 1957
  • The Spingarn Medal from NAACP, 1957.
  • The Russwurm Award from the National Newspaper Publishers, 1957.
  • The Second Annual Achievement Award - The Guardian Association of the Police Department of New York, 1958.
  • Magazine of New Dehli recognized Dr. King as one of the sixteen world leaders who had contributed most to the advancement of freedom during 1959.
  • Named American of the Decade by Laundry, Dry Cleaning, and Die Workers International Union, 1963.
  • The John Dewey Award, from the United Federation of Teachers, 1964.
  • The John F. Kennedy Award, from the Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago, 1964.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize, 1964
  • American Liberties Medallion for his “exceptional advancements of the principles of human liberty” from the American Jewish Committee, 1965
  • Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 1966
  • The Marcus Garvey Prize for Human Rights, presented by the Jamaican Government. (posthumously) 1968.
  • The Rosa L. Parks Award, presented by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (posthumously) 1968.
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom from Jimmy Carter, (posthumously, 1977)

People such as Dr. King are a rare breed of true heroes that change the world, however we all encounter different types of heroes in our lives everyday.  They are the dreamers and doers within our communities, working hard to make the world a better place.

Do you know of heroes within your community that deserve some recognition for their efforts?

simple secrets from a 550 year-old store...
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/5/2011


Earlier this year I had the fortune of visiting an amazing store in Kyoto called Aritsugu.  The store has a stellar reputation for making the best sushi knives in the world - they aren’t cheap, but they are the best and the quality is obvious.  It’s a small store, and the pleasant staff are happy to discuss the beautifully hand-made, metal wares on display.  What makes this store amazing though, is that it was founded in 1560 and is one of the oldest existing knifemakers in Japan!  How could a company grow for that long?  They must have been creating real, enduring value.

In many ways, the search for the lowest price is at the root of our financially unstable and short-sighted society.  The continual pursuit of ever lower prices erodes companies by forcing them to cut corners, limit service, reduce quality, lower compensation, design less, focus short-term and essentially generate less value.  Our system may not have been designed with these intentions in mind, but these are the ultimate outcomes and this is why it is so hard for small businesses to succeed and prosper over time.  How many small businesses last more than 3 years?

If we are to create sustainable financial systems that are both fair and regenerative, consumers need to consider more than simply pricing.  We need to allow companies to invest in their people and to focus on designing and innovation and creating real, enduring value.  Without that, we are simply in a slow race to the bottom.

Over the years, we’ve seen many competitors appear offering rock bottom prices that we simply can’t match. If and when something goes wrong however, they have neither the resources nor the experience to correct the situation. Usually these companies disappear within a few years because they are unsustainable in so many ways. What an unfortunate misuse of resources! Don’t we want small businesses to last for 20 years? or 50? or 500? the whole while generating value and building community?

As you might imagine, at Eclipse Awards we price our awards and services fairly and typically don’t chase competitor prices. We work to deliver value with integrity by creating beautifully hand-crafted, awards of enduring quality that convey your message of recognition.  We guarantee on-time and safe delivery without question so you don't have to worry about your awards arriving damaged or late.  We design and create your awards in-house, while also delivering legendary customer service.  We do this consistently by paying our staff a Living Wage for their skills, experience and creativity and by providing them with a healthy and inspiring workplace.  

We are 14 years into our journey of building a company founded on integrity, excellence, and making people happy.  Over that time, our concept of the value we create has evolved and expanded beyond business to also include enivonmental, social, community and cultural elements.  

What do you think?  What would a business have to do to earn your business for a lifetime? 


Brown Bag Award
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 9/30/2011

We all belong to many communities.  Your community at work is different from the one in your neighbourhood, and probably different from the ones in your industry, your city, your associations and so on.  Communities draw us together around different sets of ideals and values which make them unique and distinct.  So how do we know what values are shared within a community?  Often we communicate those values through the things that we choose to recognize and celebrate within a specific community.  What is held up and recognized as important?  This recognition highlights a shared value within the community and enables us to move forward together.

Within our community at Eclipse Awards, some of the things that we value are good food, healthy eating and reducing our carbon footprint.  So to celebrate and encourage these things, we launched the Brown Bag Award Program this week.  The idea behind the Brown Bag Award is to encourage our people to think about their meals, cook more,  and bring healthy food to eat at work.  We want to discourage a stressful and rushed drive somewhere at lunchtime to eat fast food.  This will save time, money and gas, while also helping with healthiness and reducing our carbon footprint.  Plus, it shouldn't be too hard to eat lunch on the green roof or near the bay door at Strawberry Fields.

Our program starts in October. Every 2 months, we'll select the staff member that has eaten at work the most times, and we'll award that person with a $300 bonus and the prestige of victory.  If there is a tie, the prize will be split.  We've made it fun and the competition is already heating up...who will win it?  Time will tell.  But just by launching this recognition program, we've already taken a step to communicate some things we value at Eclipse Awards.

What about your communities?  What are some of the things that you recognize and celebrate?  We'd love to hear your ideas!

"Follow" if you "Like" #FF - the Phenomenon of Recognition in Social Media
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 9/2/2011

 If you’re reading this, you probably already know that social media has quickly infiltrated our society in complex and fascinating ways.  It’s creating new social situations while also reflecting some of our most basic elements of being human.  Online communities are both a reflection and an extension of our everyday worlds and they provide us with some useful insights into ourselves.

It’s interesting to see how in both Facebook and Twitter (and to some degree LinkedIn as well), recognition has prominently emerged as one of the defining features of each community.  I’m referring to Facebook’s popular “Like” feature and the trio of recognition elements - follows, ReTweets and #followfridays - that help make Twitter unique.

One of the main elements of recognition involves publicly appreciating someone for doing something that is valued by your community.  That community might be your business or organization, your industry, your social circle, your neighbourhood or even your society.  However at any scale, being recognized in front of your peers can really make an impact.  As people, we reinforce the things that we value by celebrating them...or at least we should.  This is why we say “thank you”.  This is how communities learn shared values, become focused and move forward.

On Facebook, this element of recognition is expressed with the "Like" button.  Every time you “Like” a comment or photo, you’re letting both the poster and everyone else in that community know that you approve of what you’re seeing and that in fact, you might even like to see more of the same.  The recognition comes quickly, as it should, usually within one or two days, we learn from it and then move on.  On a personal level, we come to at least understand what kinds of things are liked and which aren’t.  And we appreciate the recognition - who hasn’t smiled after seeing a comment, link or photo light up with “Likes”?  We tend to do more of the things that are appreciated by our community and less of those that aren’t.  So by Liking and recognizing the things that we appreciate and value, we are helping to guide ourselves forward.

On Twitter there are at least three elements of recognition that play a major role in the social media experience. The first is the recognition from someone that appreciates you enough to “follow” what you’re doing.  By following you, they are saying that they find you interesting enough to pay attention to and apply some resources towards.  The desire to earn more followers drives many people to behaviours they feel will earn them more followers.  A second element of recognition is the idea of a Retweet or RT.  When you select a comment to Retweet and share with your community, you’re again publicly recognizing that you value that comment (and person) in some way. You're also suggesting that you want to see more like it within your community.  Lastly, there’s the reliable tradition of #FollowFriday (or the green focused  #EcoMonday) where twitter users recommend other people to follow.  As with good recognition, the #FF appreciation is direct, frequent and clear.  #EcoMonday recommendations are like green awards, recognizing leadership in sustainability.  Again, these are simply more examples of recognition - public confirmations that our values encourage this kind of behavior....whatever it may be.

Recognition can be a powerful source for changing cultures and performance - intuitively its something we all understand and want.  The reality is however, that very few organizations understand how to recognize appropriately.   In fact, most organizations don’t do any recognition at all.  

Clearly recognition plays a prominent role in at least two of the largest social phenomenons in recent years.  Why?  Because it’s fundamental to any group of people - we all want to feel recognized and appreciated. So why isn’t a culture of recognition more common in businesses and non-profit organizations?

What are the things that you value at your company, or in your community?  How do you celebrate the people who embody those values?  How do you “like” the awesome things that they do?  Let us know if you’re considering how your organization could use recognition to engage your people and create a common vision of the future...we’d be happy to help!

ClimateSmart : Redux
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 8/4/2011

This week we were happy to graduate from our 2nd ClimateSmart session!  We had previously completed ClimateSmart in 2007 when the program was first launched, however this time we wanted to take a more ambitious approach to calculating our carbon inventory.  We were also excited to see how some of the commitments that resulted from our earlier participation had turned out.

The ClimateSmart workshop consists of 3 half-day sessions and some homework on your company energy bills.  The goal is to calculate how much green house gas (GHG) your company generates, then learn creative ways to make your organization more resilient by reducing your emissions.  This session was particularly fun because there were some other great companies there with us, including Saul Good, Fairware, Van Houtte, and Albion Fisheries.  The classes passed quickly as we shared stories of our successes and challenges and how we generate value from reducing our carbon footprints.  

I really like how the program helps companies look at their businesses from an energy perspective - we’ve found that this has lead us to some creative insights and serious cost savings....and we're not the only ones.

This time around, we found that our carbon reduction efforts from 2007 had really started to pay off.  We found that we had reduced our overall footprint from 31.94 tonnes in 2007 to 27.04 tonnes in 2010....a net reduction of nearly 15%.  This is significant because in 2010 we also increased our Scope 3 calculations to include all outbound shipments as we hadn’t included this in 2007.   The chart below outlines what we know about ourselves and we’re looking for meaningful metrics to incorporate.  Maybe it will be tonnes of C02 produced per $10k of revenue, or tonnes per award. 

The more data we have available, the more we can predict patterns, so as part of our ongoing commitment, we are going to be tracking our GHG data and water usage on a quarterly basis instead of annually.  We're simply building it in to our regular bookkeeping. 

Towards the end of ClimateSmart, we reviewed the goals we had written earlier for 2007-2012.  Some we had completed, some we hadn’t yet.  Some had had tremendous impact, others hadn't.  And 2012 is only a year away, then what of beyond that?  So we brainstormed some ideas for future plans:

- research rooftop solar panels owered or wind turbine system to power festive night lights
- measure and track electricity and gas consumption on a monthly basis with a view to reduction
- measure and track water consumption - gather baseline information
- purchase energy star appliances or better for equipment that needs replacing
- developing new sustainable products with local suppliers
- continue moving our company to the cloud to reduce our hardware requirements - collaborative consumption
- "Watts Up" Campaign: measure and track energy and cost savings from turning off office equipment
- encourage computer shut down at night and on the weekends
- better maintenance of equipment for higher and cleaner performance
- build an office worm composter to manage organic waste and create food for office plants
- educate staff on how to use Strathcona BIA Resource Exchange, and encourage use
- participating in the Stratcona BIA Zero Waste Challenge
- making a new "Brown Bag Award" for the person who eats in for lunch the most (reducing travel miles)

Do you have other ideas we might try?  We'll see how these play out in the years ahead.  Like so many things, our GHG inventory is an ongoing journey and one that helps us look at business in new ways.  Whatever happens, I'm sure it's going to be interesting.  But by reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible, we help decrease the carbon footprint of clients that choose us as their partner.

What is your organization doing to reduce your footprint?  Our green awards can help keep your footprint as low possible.  If you have any tips or ideas, share them here!

Carnaval del Sol 2011
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 7/7/2011


Last week we participated in LatinCouver’s “Carnaval del Sol” Festival - a celebration of Latin American people and sustainability in Vancouver.  Over the course of a beautiful sunny Sunday, thousands of people joined in the festivities, many of them stopping by to visit our booth where we had our green awards on display. It was definitely a celebration with lots of great food and music, although many were there to hear from Canadian environmental legend David Suzuki, Vancouver’s Green Mayor Gregor Robertson and Chief Ian Campbell, a heriditary chief of the Squamish Nation.

We were there to see these inspiring people as well, and to see them receive awards that we had made for them.  We worked with Steve Clegg to create some of our beautiful Living Edge Awards that are made from locally reclaimed maple trees.

We design green awards to help encourage and accelerate the shift towards sustainability.  So to see some of the great heroes of sustainability receive these awards was definitely a rewarding experience.

We know that there are many more community heroes out there that need to be recognized and celebrated so that they can continue to do the good work that they do.  Who are some green leaders that you would like to see get recognized? 

Watch David Suzuki's inspiring speech about diversity and community.

Love Vancouver Love your Planet | Green Gem Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 6/8/2011


This Sunday we had the pleasure of taking part in one of Vancouver’s largest outdoor eco-festivals called Love Vancouver, Love your Planet.  It was a truly beautiful day, the kind that you long for all year in Vancouver, and it seemed like everyone was out to make the most of it.  There was a steady stream of visitors all day which provided a great opportunity to talk with people and get some firsthand feedback on our green awards.

Love Vancouver was a memorable show for us for a number of reasons.  This was the first show  we’ve done where we displayed only our green awards and awards made from recycled materials.  In the past, green awards were a small but growing percentage of our primary line of crystal awards.  Over the past few years however, we’ve developed enough unique green awards that they can stand on their own as a product line.  At the same time, we’ve watched the demand and interest in using green awards really increase as well.  We’re seeing more and more people want to recognize excellence and leadership in sustainability and that’s exciting!

We also designed and presented the first Green Gem Awards for Love Vancouver and used our new recycled glass Riverglass Awards for the special occasion.  There were awards to recognize Eco Innovation, Rising Star and Community Environmental Leader.  I was honored to be part of the panel of judges that included the one and only Amy Robinson from LoCo BC and the wise Rob Weatherbe from Recycling Alternative. Together we spent the day talking with the various vendors there to learn about their sustainability initiatives, and it was inspiring to hear so many stories and perspectives!  There are a lot of creative minds at work in both green art and green business.

It was a tough decision, but in the end, Saul Good Gift Co emerged as the Community Environmental Leader winner for their tremendous efforts to revolutionize the gift basket industry;  Ethical Profiling won the Eco Innovation Award for their innovative approach to textile manufacturing and creating revenue sources for non-profits; and Salts Organic Clothing was chosen as the Rising Star for their zero-waste policy and complete approach to sustainability.  Jennifer Graham, the owner of Salt, was overjoyed to receive her award saying “it’s so rare to get recognized for this kind of work!”.  All in all, a great group of companies and it was nice to see them celebrated at Love Vancouver.

It’s never easy to launch a new festival but Limelight Events did a fantastic job and are definitely on the leading edge of holding green events.  We’re looking forward to many more times to Love Vancouver and Love our Planet in the future!

The Power of Recognition: Spotlight on Emily Jubenvill
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/16/2011

At Eclipse, we believe that recognition has the power to accelerate change in your community.  It doesn’t matter if that community is your company or association, your neighbourhood, your city, or the very world that we live in.  It’s important to recognize and celebrate the things that we value.  Doing so helps to raise the profile of those who are recognized - building their confidence and opening up new opportunities for them to succeed.

To kick off our new feature called “The Power of Recognition: Spotlight on...” we’d like to share the story of one of our favorite people in Vancouver, Emily Jubenvill.  Emily has emerged as a tireless grass roots organizer and entrepreneur who brings positive change to all of the communities that she’s involved with.  In 2008 she took 2nd place in a worldwide contest to find the “World's Greenest Person”.  We learned of Emily through the publicity of this contest, and since then we’ve watched her get involved and really make an impact - doing great things like developing green jobs in Vancouver, building the Edible Garden Project and helping launch the Loutet Community Garden in North Vancouver, and most recently, encouraging students to vote in Canada’s latest federal election.   And so we asked important was it for her to be recognized as “the World's 2nd Greenest Person” and what did it lead to? 

What award did you win?
2nd place in the Greenest Person on the Planet Contest (Greenest Person in Canada)

When did you win it?   
September 2008

How did you feel in the months and years after winning this award?  
Throughout the entire contest I felt surprised by the support and positivity that the contest generated. Rarely are contests intended to find and recognize the "everyday" people that make an effort to make a difference in their communities, and it was received very well. I felt honored to have the spot light for things that I had become so accustomed to doing in my daily life.

What has had a lasting impact on me is the responses (some I still get today) from people that I meet randomly that heard about or followed the contest and that were inspired by my story to change something in their own lives. The excitement on their faces when they told me about the garden they started or the compost bins they took to work, and how proud they were to have made these changes was incredibly inspiring for me.

Do you feel this award affected how other people perceive you?  In what ways?
It's hard to say how it has affected the way that people perceive me because I haven't asked anyone directly about it. I think that often people are eager to hear what they can learn from me, and I feel like in some ways it has given me more credentials or authority to share my thoughts or experiences. 

Did winning this award create any new opportunities for you?  If so, in what way?
I can attribute a lot of the opportunities that I've had over the last few years to winning this award - directly or indirectly. One good example is that I had the opportunity to share my story at the Fraser Basin Council's (FBC) Youth Congress and Conference; it was an amazing experience, and I met a lot of wonderful people, strengthened my public speaking skills, and built a good relationship with the FBC. Building on that relationship, I'm now on the Board of Directors for the FBC as the first youth representative. Again, it has been an incredible learning experience for me that I may not have heard about if I was not involved with the Youth Congress and Conference.

Generally speaking there were a lot of media interviews that resulted from the contest, and that was something that I had not had any prior experience with. I've used what I learned from that in media interviews representing other organizations and projects I've been working on since then (i.e. Get Your Vote On), and have really appreciated that experience.

I'm sure that there are many other direct and indirect opportunities that have been a result of this contest and recognition!  

Emily’s recognition as the Greenest Person in Canada has played an important role in her effectiveness within the community.  It didn’t create her passion and drive, however it did help expose her good work to a larger audience and open some new doors....Emily has used that as a springboard and done the rest.

If you’d like to know more about the amazing sustainability and community work that Emily does, follow her adventures on Twitter or on her blog at
www.urbanwren.wordpress.comKeep up the great work Emily! 

Are there any heroes in your community that could benefit from a greater profile and a wider audience?  Perhaps recognition could help take them to the next level.  Let us know if we can help.


First Annual Paper Airplane Contest
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/13/2011

The last few months we’ve really been pushing ourselves on a lot of great new recognition projects, so we decided to take a little time to have some fun and do something different.

So yesterday we held our first ever Eclipse Awards Paper Airplane Contest for our staff.  Anticipation undulated throughout the week as our extreme Vancouver weather went back and forth between torrential rain and hail to beautiful sunshine.  Luckily, the weather eventually cooperated enough for us to have a BBQ lunch and then launch our paper planes from the green roof.

The wind was strong, but it wasn’t enough to stop our production team who were the big winners of the day, walking away with both prizes for Longest Flight and Longest Hang Time.    Ronan won gift certificates to the local eatery Deacon’s Corner, while CY won the newly minted “Stroll in at Noon” Award (valid for coming into work at noon one day).

Why a paper airplane contest?  Each of us is closely focused on the work that we do.  It takes creativity, close attention to details and experienced craftsmanship to produce beautiful awards under tight timelines.  So the art of designing and making flying origami paper airplanes seemed like a fun way to exercise the same skills, but in a different way.  We also liked the fact that we could do it right at our office, everyone could be involved, and it was a great way to reuse some of the unsolicited fax paper that we had (our friends at ClimateSmart will be happy!)

It makes sense that our production team were the big winners - they’re so skilled with their hands and it shows up in the exceptional awards that they produce every day.  We’re lucky to have them on our team!

If you’re looking for a fun team-building event with a low-carbon footprint, we would definitely recommend a paper airplane contest.  It was so much fun, we might even hold another one this summer....if you're interested, sign up here.

The World’s Largest Donor Recognition Wall made from Reclaimed Materials
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/18/2011

Today, after months of design and collaboration, Union Gospel Mission (UGM) unveils the donor recognition wall that we built for them at 601 East Hastings.  The donor wall, which we’re referring to as "the world’s largest donor recognition wall made entirely from reclaimed materials", marks the opening of UGM’s new building and recognizes the significant donors that helped make the new community facility possible.  Even Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was there for the opening ceremony.

UGM has a long history in our community of the Downtown Eastside, and they do some important work in terms of providing help to those that need it most (check out some of their stories here).  In fact, their goal is to end homelessness and cyclical poverty.  Working with them was a pleasure, and we tip our hat to their creativity and willingness to explore the use of reclaimed materials.

We also discovered that both Eclipse Awards and UGM share a belief that there is beauty and value in everything, when we choose to see it.  It doesn't matter if it's people or materials or organizations.  We can recognize and celebreate the good elements in them all.

For Eclipse Awards, this project was a real milestone in many ways because it beautifully combined so many of the things that are important to us:  recognition, sustainability, collaboration and community.

Recognition:  this is at the core of everything we do.  It’s so important to recognize the things that we value and appreciate, so building a large scale donor wall to celebrate the people that made UGM’s new building possible was a great fit.  The donor wall is a thoughtful public testament to how much UGM values its contributors and the people who make its mission possible.

Sustainability: we are passionate about creating beauty from reclaimed materials, so the opportunity to create an installation of this scale with a client that shares the same values, was truly unique.  We used recycled glass to make the fish “plaques” and then sandblasted them with donor names.  We fashioned salvaged pine beetle wood, traditionally a waste product, into unique and beautiful bread accents.  And we created the remaining fish out of aluminum, one of the most highly recycled metals that exists.  Incorporating all of these elements into a project of this size really confirmed our belief that there is value and beauty in all things.  Installing the donor wall only 2 blocks away from our office in Strathcona didn’t hurt either.

Collaboration:  our work becomes really exciting when we get the opportunity to collaborate on new projects.  It’s always a challenge to figure out how we can work together in a way that creates value for everyone involved.  UGM's new facility was the result of collaboration between all 3 levels of government.  The donor wall was a collaboration of UGM's vision and ideas with our experience and creativity.  Even our team got got to work together in new ways as we managed the installation over several days.  Check out the time lapse video below:

Community:  being an active member of our community is also an important part of who we are.  Strathcona and the Downtown Eastside are simply a part of our company.  So when the relationships that we’ve built in the community blossom into to new business relationships, it helps reinforce the idea of businesses as engines of revitalization.  

At over 12’ high and 20’ wide, we believe that UGM’s installation truly is the world's largest donor recognition wall made from reclaimed materials.  It shows that we can accomplish amazing things when we collaborate and think outside the box.  Most importantly though, it shows that there really is beauty and value in all things, when we choose to see it.

If your organization would like to explore the idea of recognition in your community, we would welcome the opportunity!

The Living Wage Revisted
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/13/2011

In 2010 Eclipse Awards became a Living Wage Employer, one of the first companies in BC to do so, and I wrote about why we did it here.   Earlier this week at the Vancouver Public Library, I was fortunate to be invited to speak on a panel in a public forum on the Living Wage Campaign.  I’m proud of our decision to commit to the Living Wage, so it was a great opportunity to share our experience from a business perspective.

If you’re interested in recognition, employee engagement, sustainability, and the human element of business, you’ll see that the Living Wage ideal embodies all of these things nicely, and I would urge you to consider it for your organization.


Committing to the campaign is public recognition of our staff.  It let’s our staff know that we value them and that  we’re committed to developing their skills and providing them with opportunities.  It also lets our clients know that we value our staff, both as people and as part of the team at Eclipse Awards.  We are making a long-term investment in them and helping them reach their potential.  Our people are focused on their work as they are not juggling 2 or 3 jobs with their eye constantly on the door.  This translates into a happier and more engaged team, which ultimately means great service and more beautiful recognition awards for our clients.

In Metro Vancouver, as of March 2011, the Living Wage has been calculated at just over $18 per hour.  This is the amount required by a 2 parent family to meet their basic needs in this city.  It’s also composed of several elements which include an hourly wage, health benefits and vacation time.  To learn more about how the Living Wage is calculated, click here (pdf).   SAP has even developed an online Living Wage Calculator that helps you figure out how your oganization is doing.  Click here to view a list of other organizations that have committed to providing a living wage.

As organizations, we must value and recognize our staff, understanding that people are the foundation of everything we do.  The more we can share with them and appreciate them, the more they will contribute to success.

What do you think?  Is the Living Wage an idea whose time has come?

Eclipse Awards turns 13 today!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/1/2011

Like a runner hitting the perfect stride, today marks our 13th Anniversary at Eclipse Awards.  Glancing back over our shoulder it warms our hearts to see 13 years’ worth of smiling faces and happy clients along the sidelines.  Over that time, we have learned and grown and evolved, eventually emerging as one of the world’s most respected suppliers of recognition awards.  Most importantly, we’ve learned how to make people happy, while also generating financial, social and environmental value in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

As with any birthday or anniversary, it’s a time to reflect on what we’ve learned, and also to look ahead at what we hope to accomplish.  The recent years have been filled with a great mix of experiences and milestones: 

What does the future hold for Eclipse Awards?  We’ll definitely continue to explore and share our experiences on the many facets of recognition and how it can strengthen your organization.  In fact, we’re already developing some new ways to harness the power of recognition for social change...stay tuned!.  We’ll continue to design more beautiful awards out of reclaimed materials, trying to create more from less.  And of course we’ll continue to explore our social and environmental commitments, trying to find ways to weave these into the value that we create as a company.    It’s the challenge and excitement of mixing all of these ingredients together in a magical way that is our passion!

So in keeping with our tradition, we wanted to share 13 of the most important ingredients to doing business that we’ve discovered so far:

1. Treat everyone with equal respect
We may have different jobs and responsibilities, but in the end, we are all simply people trying to make our way in this world.  The energy we put out is the energy we receive back.

2. Your people are your greatest asset
Work with great people, let them do their job, and find ways to make sure they feel happy and engaged.  These are the people that will work hard for you, generate ideas for you, solve problems for you...or not.  Recognize their efforts and appreciate them.

3. Recognition is powerful
It speaks to a basic human need that we all have to feel valued and appreciated and part of a community.  Recognition empowers people and creates new opportunities for them.  It helps engage them in your community and culture.  Happy people make  organizations stronger.

4. Put your clients’ minds at ease
Find out all of the things that might worry your clients, then put systems and policies in place to address them.  Erase any worries from their minds.  See #5.

5. Be bold & daring
If you make a guarantee, make it a strong one and stand behind it.  If you embrace technology or sustainability, do it in a way that sets you apart from others.  Businesses are amazing vehicles – think outside the box and unleash your creativity!

6. Embrace sustainability
It’s already happened. “Going green” is simply the evolution of how we do business and how we choose to relate to one another and our planet. Understanding sustainability is the single greatest investment that you can make towards your future success.

7. Choose simplicity over complexity
Wherever possible, remove excess and make things easier for everyone. Design simple systems and simple policies. Leonardo Da Vinci said  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

8. If you make a mistake, take responsibility & fix it quickly (without complaining)
It’s inevitable – at some point a mistake will happen.  When it does, we accept responsibility and do our best to fix it, whatever the cost.  It’s how we handle ourselves when things go wrong that is the most important.

9. Enjoy yourself!
Have fun with the people you work with and the people you work for!  Take care of business, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

10. “Full effort is full victory”
Like Mahatma Gandhi said, "Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment.  Full effort is full victory".  Take satisfaction in your commitment to an idea or a task - give it everything.  This is even more important than the eventual outcome.  Commit yourself to service and to making people happy.

11. Get involved in your community
 A business is more than something to simply generate dollars.  It’s about putting your time and resources into enriching the community you’re located in.  This is how we will change the definition of value, as businesses become engines of community regeneration.

12. Collaborate
It’s hard to do everything alone, and not much fun. Find creative new ways to work with your staff, your suppliers, other organizations in your community, even your competitors.  All business happens within an ecosystem, and we can accomplish a lot more together than we can alone.

13. Don’t base your decisions simply on dollars
In business school, they teach that everything comes down to money.  However in reality, the truly magical and wonderful things happen when we de-prioritize money and focus on other things such as beauty, happiness, integrity, community and creating memorable experiences.

So there you have it, the essence of our brand of doing business at Eclipse Awards.  Today more than ever, people want to feel valued and appreciated.  They want to feel celebrated as part of a community, and we can help you do that with beautifully crafted recognition awards.  What will the next 13 years hold?  Only time will tell, but we’ll be ready to react and adapt!

We’d love to hear your comments!  Is there something we’ve missed or overlooked?  Let us know so that we can learn from you.

Eclipse Awards - our new power source
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/9/2011

Today we’re proud to announce that Eclipse Awards has become one of the first companies in North America to be 100% powered by green natural gas.  This means that all of the natural gas that we use to heat our building and water (123 gigajoules in 2010) is now reclaimed from renewable, organic waste materials instead of non-renewable fossil fuels.  Add this to the fact that we’re already 100% wind powered and it now means that we’re totally powered by sustainable energy through bullfrog power.

Why is this important?  To us, it’s simply part of our continued efforts to reduce our footprint on the environment, while also leading by example.  So when clients choose to work with us for their recognition awards, they’re not only making a great business decision, they’re also making the best decision that they can for the environment.  It’s an extension of our commitment to excellence in service, workmanship, reliability and social responsibility.

At Eclipse, our goal is to maximize the beauty and value that we create, while also minimizing the resources that we consume - and we’re proud of the commitments we’ve made in the process.  Nearly two years ago, after redesigning our office with energy efficient lighting and adding extensive skylights for lots of natural light, we made the commitment to become 100% wind powered for all of our remaining use of electricity.   We trained ourselves to turn off anything not in use.  We even developed a virtual way of displaying our awards to reduce the number of samples we were shipping.  Now, with the addition of 100% green natural gas, we’re helping to create a market for a sustainable energy source, while also finding a way to create more value out of waste materials.

To learn more about how green natural gas is produced and what it’s benefits are, take a look at this video:

Energy is something we all use, often without thinking about it. Once you’ve reduced your energy consumption as much as possible, consider some of the creative alternatives out there to reduce your footprint even more.  You might even enjoy yourself in the process!

Recognizing Diamond Dave
Author: Sarah, Photos by Jim Park   Date: 11/10/2010

 Diamond Dave

Regular readers of our blog will know that Eclipse Awards is situated in what is often referred to as Canada’s poorest area code.  While there are a number of different ways to qualify this phrase, it is generally agreed that Vancouver’s Downtown East Side has a reputation for being a bit rough around the edges.

About 3 years ago, when Eclipse Awards was looking to move to a larger space, many of us thought this would be the perfect time to move "up”, so to speak, and out to some industrial area where the property is less expensive and the population more affluent.  However, staying true to character, Toby did not take the obvious route but instead, insisted on staying in this neighbourhood of Strathcona.  He had already made a considerable investment of time and energy in his belief that Eclipse could make a difference here by encouraging sustainable business practices, creating gardens & green spaces for everyone to enjoy, and speaking out to improve the current social situation in this area.  He had no intention of bailing out when it was convenient.  But, running a business in this area is not without its stories.  

One enduring character in the stories at Eclipse Awards is Dave.  I don’t know his last name, but he is affectionately referred to as "Diamond Dave" by our team. He has been a long time resident of the Strathcona area and in 2002, when Eclipse first moved into the neighbourhood, he approached us and offered to keep our block clean for a small monthly fee.  While most people would have quickly dismissed him, Toby looked beyond his rough exterior, appreciated his entrepreneurial spirit and accepted the offer.  Since then, he has been a constant fixture at Eclipse, helping us maintain our green roofs and street gardens, doing some painting and general building maintenance, and keeping the streets around our building clean (often an unpleasant task).

Dave is an incredibly hardworking and honest individual.  Even though we often leave him to work outside independently, he never inflates his time, or slacks off, and does his best at whatever he is asked to do. Over the years, we have seen life give him a few hard knocks (there are too many stories to tell in this one blog), but he has always managed to pick himself up and keep a positive attitude.  He is incredibly appreciative and sincere.  While we have given him a sense of belonging, and an opportunity to earn an honest wage in a neighbourhood where opportunities are sorely lacking, he has just as importantly taught us the meaning of a strong work ethic, the power of a positive attitude, and the strength of character that comes from being self-motivated.

Naturally, it was Toby and our resident Recognition Guru Nelson Borges, who decided to show Dave that he was an appreciated member of our team at Eclipse Awards.  We created a blue recycled glass Inukshuk award for him last week, and surprised him in a small presentation with our whole company present.  Initially confused, the worry on his face revealed the number of disappointments he had had in his life, and that he thought this would simply be another.  But as Toby pulled out the award and read the engraved message, the weathered lines on Dave's face smoothed into an almost bashful grin and tears came to his eyes - for a moment he was overwhelmed with happiness and at a loss for words.  Though the ceremony only lasted a few minutes, Dave left that day eager to show his friends his recycled glass award, saying that it had been one of the best moments of his life.

That day was a good reminder to all of us at Eclipse Awards about why we come to work every day.  While we spend much of our time here at Eclipse working with large corporations, genuine recognition for something that is truly appreciated has the power to deliver an incredible amount of happiness, not only to the recipient, but also to those that share in the celebrations.  Our day with Dave also reinforced the fact that not everyone has the same opportunities in life, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

Inspired by this thought, we've decided that we would like to help others recognize those in their community that are not in obvious positions to receive it.  It is still just an idea that we are working to refine, but please stay tuned to find out more in the near future.

In the meantime, think about who you know in your community that deserves a little recognition and appreciation.

Gardens to heal and inspire a community!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/8/2010

Aviva Community Fund - Strathcona micro gardens

Eclipse Awards is located in Strathcona, a diverse light industrial/residential area of Vancouver that, over the past few decades, has become characterized by lots of concrete, barbed wire, fences and barred windows.   We've come to believe that this harsh and sometime cold environment contributes to the many social challenges we face in the area - it certainly doesn't instill any sense of inspiration or improvement!

So a few years ago we built our first garden on the street outside of the Blueberrry Building at 121 Heatley, our office at the time.  Our goal was to soften the streetscape and create a healthier and more beautiful space that could be enjoyed by everyone that lived and worked here. 

We hired some students to dig out the dead soil and replaced it with rich organic soil and promptly planted it with flowers and lavender.  We didn't know what to expect, but we were surprised and amazed by the reaction of the people in the community - they loved it!  In fact, they loved it so much that they wanted to start taking care of it and protecting it.  Once they saw that other people were taking pride in their environment, they started to do the same - respect nurtures respect

To this day, this little stretch of land is used continually to plant flowers and vegetables by people with no access to land or nature.  In terms of size, its only a small strip of garden, but the lessons we learned have been huge.

Since that time over 5 years ago, we've trucked in over 12 tons of organic soil to build 2 street level gardens and 2 green roofsWe've created over 4500 sq.ft. of new green space and contributed to projects like the SOLEfood urban farm getting off the ground.  It's simply a part of how we contribute to and integrate with our community, and part of developing the Strathcona Green Zone.  It's also how we measure the value that our company creates and part of our regenerative marketing.
Heatley Street Community Garden by Eclipse Awards

In fact, just today we're working to complete our 3rd street level garden.  We created the planter box completely out of reclaimed materials and leftover membranes that we had from our latest green roof.  We partnered with another Strathcona company doing great green things, (read Emma's "Crawling Toward Sustainability" blog series in GranvilleBruce Carscadden Architects, to share in the delivery of soil as they are also building a garden in front of their office.  One things we've found is that moving soil is neither cheap nor easy - it can take a lot of hard work to get it into place!  Today in the rain we enlisted the help of Diamond Dave, our local man in the field and a front line soldier in keeping our streets clean...nice work Dave!

To try and multiply the number of gardens in our community, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association has applied to the Aviva Community fund for $80,000 in funding to help build dozens of micro-gardens.  Imagine the inspiration of seeing this community bloom and grow as the heart of the greenest city in the world!  Imagine the jobs we can create!  Imagine the world that you want to live in!


We've reached the semi-finals and are now up against 30 other projects.  Starting December 2nd, we need your votes and support to make this happen!

You can help us make this a reality by logging on to the Aviva website, registering, then returning to the Strathcona Community Micro-Gardens project place to vote.  You can vote once a day from December 2nd 9am PST unti Decemer 15th, and every vote counts!

Can gardens really help to change a community?  We believe they can by providing beauty, inspiration, and a connection with nature.  So help make Vancouver's Downtown Eastside a vision of what is possible  - vote and spread the word!

Planter Garden by Eclipse Awards

Businesses Supporting Bikes
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 9/29/2010

Today Eclipse Awards joined dozens of other Vancouver businesses in becoming a founding member of the Businesses for Bikes campaign.  As Vancouver moves towards becoming the greenest city in the world, we need to make decisions as to what modes of transportation we will invest in.

We have always believed that people do their best work when they are healthy and happy, and cycling is a great way to contribute to both health and happiness.  In fact, at Eclipse we have 4 bikes on hand for staff to use at any time and also also offer per/km incentives for those that choose to walk or cycle to work instead of driving.  Less gas, more exercise, faster just makes good sense.

So in honor of Businesses Supporting Bikes, we're running a guest blog post on "Bike to Work Week" from our friends @FairwarePromo who are avid cyclists.  This was originally posted in on April 13, 2010 and written by Leah Nielsen (twitter: @Leahlink)  We hope you enjoy it!

Bike to Work Week is fast approaching. At Fairware we’re almost ready to go. Half of us have our bikes out for the season and a couple colleagues will be pulling theirs out in the coming weeks. Fairware is well set-up for cycling staff. We have a shower in the bathroom, adequate bike storage, a casual dress code and central Vancouver location. Plus, we love bikes and the passion is contagious.

There are many benefits to businesses that encourage staff to commute by active transportation including better employee retention, less sick days, improved morale, productivity and more. From an employee perspective, it feels good to get a little exercise before and after work and it’s a nice break from public transit. Plus it’s fun!

Here in Vancouver, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition manages Bike to Work Week – and helps mobilize workplaces across the Vancouver Region to get staff out of their cars.

Is your workplace ready for the fair weather bike season? If you’re looking for direction, we found some great online guides for helping offices become more bike-friendly. We’ve included a list of our favourite links at the end of this post.

Check out this excellent article in Momentum Magazine which outlines some of the more innovative cash and tax incentives being offered in places like San Francisco, Oregon, the UK, and Australia. Pretty exciting stuff!

How is your office preparing for Bike to Work Week? Leave a comment below.

And stay tuned, we’re in the process of adding more products to the Bike to Work section on our website. It’s filled with useful products to promote your commitment to active lifestyles and sustainable transportation.

Guides to help your office become cycle-friendly:

Employer’s Commuting Guide: Is promoting bike commuting right for you? – San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

Be a Bike Friendly Workplace – Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition

The Cycle-Friendly Workplace: Your step-by-step guide – Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Department of Health and Ageing

A Guide for Employers: Getting your workplace cycle-friendly – London Cycling Campaign

Employer Guide to Bicycle Commuting – Baltimore Metropolitan Council and Baltimore Regional Transportation Board

Sustainability 3.0: Redefining Green
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 9/24/2010

Next week is an event called "Sustainability 3.0: Redefining Green" that I'm really proud of and excited about.  It's the third annual sustainability expo hosted by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA), a local organization I've been a board member of for over 6 years, and vice-chair of for 4.  Last year, Sustainability 2.0 featured Majora Carter from Sustainable South Bronx and the year before at Sustainabilty 1.0 our current Mayor Gregor Robertson gave the keynote.  I typically donate 20% of my time towards community building, so seeing events like this come to life is particularly rewarding and it helps to reinforce the social mission of Eclipse Awards.

As you would expect, Sustainability 3.0 will address the business case for sustainability - why it's important and why companies should care.  The keynote speaker this year will be Bob Willard - thought leader and author of three books including The Sustainability Advantage.  The event will also feature shorter Pecha Kucha-like presentations by Kira Gerwing, city planner for Vancouver's Downtown Eastside;  Brian Dodd, executive director of United We Can and SOLEfoodMark Trotzuk, CEO of Eco-Apparel;  and Sophie Agbonkhese, Vancouver's first BIA sustainability coordinator.  There will be ample time for networking, as well as a green marketplace showcasing products and ideas from progressive Strathcona companies like Saul Good Gift Co, Agro Cafe, bullfrogpower, Gulf & Fraser Financial Group, and of course Eclipse Awards.  The refreshments at these events has become legendary, and this will be no exception with the amazing One Planet Catering providing delightful local food and drink.  We'll also be launching the Strathcona Resource Exchange, an innovative new program that allows business to exchange unused resources, while also creating green jobs.

More importantly though, Sustainability 3.0 will highlight that there is indeed a movement happening in Strathcona. Companies are locating here to become part of this unique community, and they are learning that working in collaboration is better than working in competition.  A single company can only become so green on its own, however once it starts to work with other organizations and truly integrate into it's community, magical things start to happen - things that can't be accomplished alone.  Beyond recycling, and changing lightbulbs, and energy conservation metrics, sustainability is ultimately about community and culture.  What do we value and celebrate as a society, and how do we want to relate to one another?  That's the thinking behind the Strathcona Green Zone.

Sustainability 3.0 - Strathcona Green Zone

In Strathcona, we've set the ambitious goal of becoming Vancouver's Green Zone - heart of the greenest city in the world.  We want to educate companies about the principles of sustainability and how they can apply them to strengthen their own organizations.  However, we also want them to look outwards to see how they can collaborate with other businesses, residents and artists.  We are creating a community that will attract like-minded businesses and organizations to the area, and supporting them with unique services and celebration.  The strongest and most interesting ecosystems are also the most diverse, and this is no different with communities.  Here in Strathcona we value diversity and collaboration, business and the arts - and we use sustainability as the framework to draw them all together.  Best of all, there is room for everyone to participate, contribute, learn and connect!

Sustainability 3.0 is a free event and open to all (click here to register), with the purpose of inspiring the communities of Strathcona, the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver and beyond.

The event will be held at the historic Japanese Language Hall from 3-7pm on Sept. 28th at 475 Alexander St. in Vancouver, BC.

You don't want to miss this one!

Eclipse Awards & the Living Wage Campaign
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 8/27/2010

Eclipse Awards and the Living Wage Campaign

This week, Eclipse Awards proudly became the 8th company in Vancouver, BC to be recognized as a member of the Living Wage for Families Campaign

This commitment is simply an extension of our belief that people are the most important part of any organization. We find ourselves amongst a group of early adopters who see this as a tremendous opportunity to re-weave our social fabric.  Our staff work hard to ensure that Eclipse Awards performs at the level that it does, and in return we try to recognize them as best we can.  Our company already provides our staff with incentives towards zero-emissions vehicles, walking to work, and using public transit - we're simply adding one more commitment to help provide them with a good quality of life.

What is a Living Wage?

A Living Wage is different from the minimum wage, which is a minimum legislated by the government.  A Living Wage reflects a higher standard that people need to support their families based on the actual costs of living.  In 2010 post-Olympics Metro Vancouver, now aiming to be the Greenest City in the World by 2010, the living wage happens to be $18.17 per hour (as of August).  If you're interested to see how close you are to a living wage, check out the Living Wage Calculator.

What does this mean to our customers?

Some people are concerned that with higher wages, the costs of everything else will go up.  However, we have found the opposite to be true.  In fact, there are several great things that happen when you recognize your staff and appreciate them with a living wage.  Sustainability starts with people.

Here are the top 5 benefits of a Living Wage for you, our customers:

1.  Happy people do beautiful work - when you feel appreciated and engaged, it shows in your work.  The recipients of the awards we make can feel the love that goes into them!

2.  Staff that feel engaged stay with the company and provide consistency.  All of our staff have been employed here for a minimum of two years - we don't use transient staff that are simply looking to pass the time.

3.  We pay people and develop their skills.  We encourage our staff to learn and grow.  We invest in them and give them room to develop.  Recently, our Nelson Borges became Western Canada's first Certified Recognition Professional.

4.  We attract great people to work at Eclipse Awards - our commitment to excellence and sustainability attracts the best people, and they in turn improve our company and service.

5.  Our staff are dedicated to their work and to you - they approach their work as professionals and take pride and ownership of what they do.  You will notice this when you work with us.

The value of Eclipse Awards as your partner depends on the skills and talents of our staff.  Our performance shows in the quality of the awards we produce, the responsiveness of our service and the experience that we share with you.  

Recognition Hand Shake

With our involvement in the Living Wage Campaign, you can be sure that we are committed to providing you with the best value and customer experience in the awards industry!

So, you're in charge of planning a golf tournament?
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 7/29/2010

As the official awards and trophy sponsor of the Professional Golfers' Association of BC (PGA of BC), we often get asked about what it takes to plan a great golf tournament and the role that crystal golf trophies can play.  It takes an incredible amount of organization and logistical planning to create an successful event, and the trophies that you select can make the difference between a good tournament and an unforgettable one.

Too often though, we see event planners overlook trophies for their golf tournament, simply considering them as an afterthought.  In many ways, planning a successful golf tournament is like cooking a great meal - bringing together the right quality ingredients in the right proportions at the right times to create that memorable WOW!-factor. 

Think of your golf trophies as the dessert - after a gourmet meal, everyone expects and looks forward to that perfect finish to cap off the event.  The difference between traditional plastic or tin golf trophies and a beautiful crystal golf trophies is like the difference between twinkies and hand made creme brule - one is predictable at best, while the other leaves you wanting to come back for more.

So if you're in charge of planning a golf event and you want to make it successful and memorable, be sure to budget some resources for trophies and consider these 5 things when choosing your golf trophies:

1.  People love trophies.  From our earliest memories we associate trophies with winning.  Trophies are tangible proof that we are the best at something and they give us something to display and be proud of.  Make sure that your event has some great trophies that people will want to win and compete for.  Crystal golf trophies can lend class and elegance to your event.  Eco-friendly, green golf trophies can underline your commitments to the environment.

2.  Trophies symbolize the stature of your event.  Big golf tournaments require beautiful trophies and awards.  Similarly, beautiful trophies and awards can create big tournaments.  How do you want people to perceive your event?  The trophies that you present will give them a strong visual clue that could be positive or negative.  This is why we recommend using quality made golf trophies for your event.

3.  Your golf trophies will become the lasting symbols of your event.  If you've done it right, the trophies will sit proudly displayed by the winners for years to come.  What message will these silent sentinels be sending out during that time?  How many people will see them?  What will they think of your event and organization?  Be sure that your trophies are creating a positive buzz for years to come!

4.  Quality trophies attract quality sponsors and players.  It's true - people want to be associated with quality and success.  Every year we watch golf event planners grow their tournaments after incorporating a trophy program or using crystal golf trophies.  More players, more sponsors and bigger sponsors.  Word travels quickly, so be sure that your golf tournament is associated with quality and success.

5.  The golf trophies you present are a reflection of your organization.  Quite simply , do you want your organization to be perceived as thoughtful and successful, or careless and unorganized?

With some careful planning and consideration, anyone can organize a successful golf tournament or fundraiser.  Just remember to have all of the important ingredients on hand and make sure you consider quality.  Done properly, beautiful golf trophies can raise your tournament to the next level and help create an unforgettable event.

If you're looking for some assistance or suggestions in planning your golf tournament, contact Nelson at our office - he is a Certified Recognition Professional and would be happy to help.

Stronger families, stronger communities
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 6/17/2010

2010 Adoption in Action Award

Last week, Eclipse Awards entered a four-year sponsorship agreement to support the Adoptive Families Association of BC (AFABC).  We really enjoyed working with them last year, and will continue to do so, providing recognition awards to help them appreciate the people and organizations that are supporting the good work of the AFABC.

Why is this important to us?  At Eclipse Awards we contribute a large amount of our resources towards building a stronger community.  We believe that strong communities are the foundation of our society, and that strong families are the foundation of strong communities.  All of this is tied together through the power of love and the bonds that we share as people.  Adoption brings together the power of love and family in a healthy and important way.  It provides children with families and a safe place for them to grown and develop.  So supporting adoption supports strong familes, which supports stronger communities.

This year's awards helped to celebrate the people and organizations who are making a difference through volunteerism and leadership:

Tania Elvin accepts her award from AFABC Borad Member Sarah Phillips.

Tania Elvin accepts her award from AFABC Board Member Sarah Phillips

2010 Spirit Award - Corporate
Presented to a Business who has made a contribution to activities of AFABC
Winner:  HSBC

2010 Adoption in Action Award

Recognizes a BC business or organization that offers excellent adoption benefits.
Winner:  Ernst & Young

2010 AFABC Champion Award
Acknowledges the dedication, hard work and outstanding contribution of a volunteer.
Winner:  Tania Elvin

2010 Helen Mark Excellence in Adoption Award
This lifetime achievement award recognizes an outstanding contribution to children and families and to adoption in BC.
Winner:  Lex Reynolds

Christine Little accepting the Adoption in Action Award on behalf of Ernst & Young from AFABC Board of Director and Award Committee Chair Susi Proudman.

Christine Little accepting the Adoption in Action Award on behalf of Ernst & Young from AFABC Board Director & Award Commitee Chair Susi Proudman

We congratulate all of the award winners and nominees for their thoughtful and selfless efforts to build stronger communities by building stronger families!

Be sure to keep an eye out in 2011 when nominations for their awards open again.

As with any cause or movement - be it adoption, the environment, volunteerism, safety, excellence, leadership or equality - recognition can help to create new leaders and empower emerging ones.  It's important to take the time to appreciate and value the behaviour you want to see - whether it's in your team, your organization, your community, or our society as a whole.

Everyone appreciates being recognized for their efforts.  Who are the heroes in your community? 

An epic recognition conference!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 5/3/2010


Last week we returned from an epic conference of the Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Association in Henderson, Nevada.  For Eclipse Awards, the conference was a success on many levels - over 5 days we attended workshops and courses, learned best practices from Fortune1000 HR managers and recognition professionals, displayed our crystal awards while introducing our new line of green awards, and generally gained a deeper understanding of the power of recognition and acknowledgement to strengthen an organization.  In addition, our resident recognition guru Nelson Borges even became Western Canada's first Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) after 4 days of intensive training.  In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more of this knowledge, but for now, here is an overview of the conference.

The RPI conference provided an opportunity to network with HR managers from massive organizations that manage thousands of staff - 5000, 20000 or even 75000 people!  Companies like United Airlines, Delta Airlines, DirectTV, BELL, TD Canada Trust, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo were in attendance, as were organizations like the University of Florida, Ohio State University Medical Center, City of Calgary, and McGill University Health Care.  There were even attendees from India and the Netherlands.  In all, an amazing cross section of recognition professionals that provided unique insights into the current state of employee engagement, motivation and best practices.  Here are the top 10 key learnings, and though some may seem simple on the surface, they have some deep implications:

  1. recognition helps reinforce positive behaviours and improves employee performance through improved attitude and morale. Recognition also improves employee engagement and commitment.
  2. your staff can be engaged, unengaged, or actively disengaged.  Their state will directly affect their performance and productivity. A recent Gallup study showed that on average, 27% of staff are engaged, 59% aren’t engaged, and 14% are actively disengaged.
  3. engaged employees work over 50% harder and are 9 times less likely to leave.  Unengaged staff are contagious. Actively disengaged staff are acting out their unhappiness at work.
  4. employee engagement is a strategy, not a tactic. To be successful, it requires buy-in from all levels.
  5. employees today want to work in service of something larger than themselves - they want to be engaged.  How can you provide them with that opportunity?
  6. the ability to recognize and acknowledge well is a leadership competency. Recognition is the role of many people in an organization, not just one person.
  7. people don't leave companies, they leave managers.
  8. acknowledgement builds trust and creates powerful interactions.  Acknowledgement energizes people while lack of acknowledgement dulls them.
  9. positive reinforcement is 17 times more effective than negative reinforcement
    • it takes 4 positive statements to undo the effects of one negative statement
  10. every interaction with staff is an opportunity to engage them in a positive way.  Say "thank you" often - people watch and model the recognition behaviour of those in charge.

Needless to say, we learned a lot of from these large organizations and their approach to recognition and awards.  We'll explore these ideas more deeply in future posts as there are rich concepts here that can help any organization improve it's performance and effectiveness.

The conference was also an opportunity to launch our new line of eco-friendly, green awards.  Just as we learned from the large organizations, we felt that we were able to take our experience with sustainability and green awards and influence their thinking as well.  On an individual level, people loved the look of our green awards - particularly the Chocolate Walnut Canopy Plaque Awards, Roots Awards and recycled glass pieces.  Quite simply, there are no other awards like these available in the world today - beautiful green awards, made thoughtfully and responsibly by a company that has embraced sustainability.  As more and more organizations "go green" they will need the recognition awards that are consistent with the values of their organization and the values of the award recipients.  At Eclipse Awards, we will continue to source more reclaimed materials and develop more green awards that will help elevate your message of sustainability and excellence.

Lastly, Eclipse Awards would like to recognize the efforts of Nelson Borges who became British Columbia's first Certified Recognition Professional!  Several days of intensive training with industry leading recognition professionals covered topics such as:

  • Structuring Recognition Systems for Success
  • Strategic Planning & Measurement of Recognition Programs
  • Recognition Management & Maintenance
  • Applying Recognition Systems and Using Recognition Awards

Nelson, who's known as our resident recognition guru, uses his knowledge and experience to add to the value of Eclipse Awards as your recognition partner. Nelson is a great person to know if you’re going to use recognition awards, or if you’re planning a golf tournament that requires golf awards. You can also get in touch with him if you’re planning to implement a recognition program and want to learn more about best practices.

The world of business is changing at a rapid rate and we need new ways to engage our staff and make committed employees. The power of recognition and acknowledgement is quickly becoming the new competitive advantage.

How are you and your organization keeping your staff engaged and appreciated?

Green Awards!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/23/2010

Green Award by Eclipse Awards

Every once in awhile, a business passes a turning point – when something changes and a new world of opportunities emerges. Sometimes you see them coming, sometimes you don't.  With the launch of our new green awards after nearly a year in development, we feel that we're well prepared for this turning point at Eclipse Awards and in the recognition industry.

We developed these green awards for our clients – for the amazing organizations and people out there that are changing the world!  Our green awards were designed with the principals of sustainability in mind, using as few virgin materials as possible, while still creating beautiful and impressive awards that will bring smiles to people’s faces.  Green awards make it easier to recognize sustainability and excellence in a way that is consistent with your values.

Our recycled glass awards are made by a social enterprise from 100% post consumer reclaimed glass.  Our Live Edge green awards include wood from locally salvaged trees and are designed to use minimal resources.  Note that the Canopy Wall Plaques and Living Edge Awards have only 2 metal standoffs, instead of 4 as you might expect.

We’re working with as many local suppliers as we can, while continuing to develop more local capacity.  Of course, we are still continuing to develop our green roof and other initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint another 20% by 2013.  It’s a continual process that drives Eclipse Awards forward.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, more and more organizations are recognizing their staff to engage them and build community.  If sustainability is on your agenda, then your recognition awards should reflect that.  When you’re recognizing excellence in sustainability, using thoughtfully made, beautiful green awards will amplify your message, not detract from it. 

This afternoon, we’re off to Henderson, Nevada to attend the Recognition Professionals Association’s Annual Conference.  In part, we’re there to introduce our new green awards to HR Managers and other recognition professionals.  However we’re also there to learn more about recognition programs and how they can help make organizations more successful by making stronger teams.

Our world is changing and we need new ways to engage staff in ways that resonate with their values and beliefs.  How can we continue to make people happy and move our organizations in the directions we want?

Stay tuned as well as we share how these green awards were designed and some of the challenges we faced in making them a reality. 

In the meantime, we'd love to hear what you think so far.  Could these awards help your organization?

the Recognition Professionals and building community
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/6/2010

Today at Eclipse Awards we're excited to join the Recognition Professionals Association.  It’s our first time with this group and we’re looking forward to learning from the new ideas and people that it will expose us to.  Of course, we’re also looking forward to exposing them to our green awards and our approach to recognition.

As the economy continues to evolve, recognition is more important now than ever.  The growth of organizations like the Recognition Professionals Association (RPA) and the Awards and Recognition Association (ARA) are a testament to the fact that more people want to understand the power of recognition and how it can be used to improve performance and make people happy.

At Eclipse Awards we were members of the ARA for over 10 years.  In fact, we still look forward to their annual awards convention in Las Vegas.  People from around the world gather there to see the latest in crystal awards, green awards, golf & sports trophies, and employee recognition awards.  This year though, we wanted to explore some fresh ideas, which lead us to join the RPA – largely because their philosophy of “Encouraging Excellence” is similar to ours.

The idea of associating with like-minded professionals is certainly not new.  The explosion of social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are a testament to the fact that we want to connect with other people and build community.  We want to learn from one another and share our experiences and best practices.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a recognition professional, a sustainability consultant, a school teacher, or a CEO – we all want to feel as though we’re part of a group.

And ultimately, recognition is about building groups and building communities– it’s about rewarding and encouraging the behaviours and people we like, and discouraging those that we don’t.  Through positive feedback loops we can begin to create the larger communities that we want to be a part of.  We believe that recognition and recognition awards can play a big role in this, which is why we've become members of the Recognition Professionals Association.

What communities and associations are you a part of?  How would you like to see them change and improve?  How do you recognize and reward the things you’d like to see?

Eclipse Awards turns 12!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/1/2010

Today marks our 12th anniversary at Eclipse Awards - the start of our 12th year in the business of creating beautiful awards and making people happy!  Over that time we’ve evolved from a small 2 person office in Yaletown, to one of the world’s leading suppliers of personalized recognition awards located in the heart of the Strathcona Green Zone. It’s been an ongoing journey of growth, improvement and refinement as we’ve learned how to make clients happy, while generating financial and social value as a company.

We’ve also come to understand some of the surprising intricacies about the power of recognition – how it can motivate and engage people, how it can create new opportunities for them, how it can strengthen organizations, how it can help build community, and most importantly, how it can make people happy.  Crystal awards, green awards, spoken words, gift cards…they are all simply different ways of saying “thank you” and letting people  know how they are appreciated.

One of the great things about business is that it’s kind of like cooking - there are so many different ingredients to choose from, and yet how you choose to put them together can mean the difference between an amazing experience and an average one.  So in light of how far we’ve come (and how far we have yet to go) we wanted to share 12 of the most important “ingredients” to doing business that we’ve discovered so far:

1. Treat everyone with equal respect.  We may have different jobs and responsibilities, but in the end, we are all simply people trying to make our way in this world and the energy that you put out, is the energy you receive back.

2. Put your clients’ minds at ease.  Find out all of the things that might worry your clients, then put systems and policies in place to address them.  Erase the worries from their minds.

3. Be bold.  If you make a guarantee, make it a strong one and stand behind it.  If you embrace technology or sustainability, do it in a way that sets you apart from others.  A business is an amazing vehicle – unleash your creativity!

4. Embrace sustainability.  “Going green” is no longer an alternative.  It’s simply the evolution of how we do business and how we choose to relate to one another and our environment. Understanding sustainability is the single greatest investment that you can make towards your future success.

5. Enjoy yourself.  Have fun with the people you work with and the people you work for!  Take care of business, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

6. Your people are your greatest asset.  Find great people to work with, let them do their job, and find ways to make sure they feel happy and engaged.  These are the people that will work hard for you, generate ideas for you, go to bat for you...or not.  Recognize their efforts and the things you’d like to see.

7. Recognition is powerful.  It speaks to a basic human need that we all have to feel valued and appreciated.  Recognition can also empower people and create new opportunities for them.  It helps to encourage the changes we’d like to see.  It helps make organizations stronger.

8. Get involved in your community – a business is more than something to simply generate dollars.  It’s about putting your time and resources into enriching the community you’re located in.  This is how we will change the definition of value, as businesses become engines of community regeneration.

9. Choose simplicity over complexity – wherever possible, remove excess and make things easier for your clients. Design simple systems and simple policies.  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” said Leonardo Da Vinci.

10. If you make a mistake, take responsibility & fix it quickly (without complaining).  It’s inevitable – at some point a mistake will happen.  When it does, accept responsibility and do your best to fix it, whatever the cost.  How you handle yourself when the chips are down is the most important.

11. Collaborate.  It’s hard to do everything alone, and not much fun. Find creative new ways to work with your staff, your suppliers, other organizations in your community, even your competitors.  We can accomplish a lot more together, than we can alone.

12. Don’t base your decisions simply on dollars.  In business school, we learn that everything comes down to money.  However in reality, the truly magical and wonderful things happen when we de-prioritize money and focus on other things such as beauty, happiness, integrity, community and having great experiences.

Of course there are more, and we will continue to tweak and experiment with our brand of doing business.  Now more than ever, people want to feel valued and appreciated, and we’ll continue to help you do that with beautifully crafted recognition awards.  What will the next 12 years hold?  We’ll be looking forward with an open mind and anticipation!

Are there any ideas that we’ve missed?  Let us know so that we can add it to our ingredients list!

Eclipse Awards sponsors F5 Expo
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/31/2010

Next week on April 7th, the inaugural F5 Expo takes over the Vancouver Convention Center for a full day of refreshing business strategies and amazing speakers.  It’s billed as a business conference on changing technologies in the online space such as social media, search marketing, cloud computing, and future trends.  It also features Malcolm Gladwell, the insightful author of cool books such as Outliers, Blink and The Tipping Point!

Eclipse Awards is proud to be the awards sponsor for the F5 Expo.  In part because we’ve always respected the work that event organizer TechLinz has done to develop the Vancouver’s technology community, but also because we’ve always embraced technology as a fantastic tool to help deliver awards and recognition to our clients in creative and efficient ways.

At Eclipse, finding creative uses for technology has always been a driving force: we’ve created photo-realistic computer generated images to improve the presentation of our crystal awards, we’ve implemented a paperless system to provide all artwork proofs electronically, we’ve developed a personalized email notification system that keeps our clients updated on their order status, and created a back-end system that allows us to manage multiple project timelines to ensure critical on-time delivery (which we guarantee). 

Our efforts were recognized in 2008 when DELL selected Eclipse Awards as one of Canada’s Top 10 Small Businesses that use technology to improve their customers’ experience.

DELL recognized Eclipse Awards as one of Canada's Top 10 Small Businesses

In recent years, our investments in technology have freed up large amounts of company resources and time, and we now use these freed resources to pursue sustainability and greening initiatives that we wouldn’t normally be able to.  I’m now able to contribute close to 20% of my time to community building initiatives such as developing Strathcona as Vancouver’s first Green Zone.  Of course, many other resources are put back into developing new designs for green awards and crystal awards, while also finding ways to improve our client’s experience.

The goal of the F5 Expo is to help companies embrace emerging technologies and create refreshing new ways to look at business and how they create value.  At Eclipse, we’re not a tech company, but we’ve used technology to elevate our performance and customer experience, while also reducing our environmental footprint and enabling us to pursue our social mission.

How will you find creative ways to use emerging technologies?  Come to the F5 Expo and expose yourself to new thoughts, new people and new ideas!

Post a comment on this blog and we’ll provide you with a free tradeshow pass to the F5 Expo next week.  * Bonus * the first 3 posts will also get a free Slim Pass valued at $79.

Vancouver 2010 - recognizing excellence on the world's largest stage
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 2/15/2010

Canopy Eco-Award by Eclipse AwardsLast week, the 2010 Winter Olympics arrived in Vancouver after years of anticipation, excitement and curiosity. The games have already proven to be an exciting spectacle and will surely be remembered forever in our city, but what do they mean for local businesses?

From a business perspective, the experience has been an interesting combination of highs and lows. When we first learned that Vancouver was to host the Olympics, it seemed as though the future horizon was lined with low hanging gold and silver. The games would be in our laps and none of us would be able to avoid the opportunities they presented. One of the world’s most prestigious recognition awards events was going to be held here celebrating excellence– how could we not be a part of it?

Alas, it didn’t turn out quite that way….the bidding process was foreign and unclear. Could we really bid? On what?  If so, how? And what was this thing called “sustainability” that they kept referring to in their bid requests? In truth, I didn’t understand the term sustainability at that time, but I realized that we would have to learn about it if we were going to earn any Olympic contracts. Little did I know that sustainability would eventually become the most defining principle of our company’s operations and philosophy.

In fact, I’ve come to believe that understanding sustainability is the single greatest investment that a business can make towards its future success.

So when people ask if the 2010 Olympics will be the “greenest games ever”, I tend to agree. Sure, there is tremendous room for improvements and there will be greener games in the future, but VANOC has done a great job of raising the sustainability bar. I believe that this will be their legacy – all of the people and organizations that they inspired and guided towards learning about sustainability. They have helped propel an army of small businesses into being green leaders and in part, that is why Vancouver is at the leading edge of sustainability and green business.

From a purely financial perspective though, things haven’t been quite as bright. I don’t know any business that have profited directly from the games. We pursued award contracts and leads for nearly 3 years before finally resigning ourselves to spectators a couple of years ago. As a small business located in Vancouver’s Dowtown Eastside and committed to sustainability and our community – qualities supposedly coveted by VANOC – it was a little hard to accept and believe, but we moved on to other exciting projects making awards for the COP15 Copenhagen Conference and developing LEED Plaques (pictured here) for the Canadian Green Building Council.

sustainable Silver LEED plaque by Eclipse Awards

Recently, we were lucky enough to do use some of our newly designed Canopy Eco-Awards (see top and bottom images) to recognize VANOC’s Champions of Sustainability. We’ve also been providing some of our LEED Plaques to some of the green Olympic Venues such as the Richmond Olympic Oval. I think the work we’ve done in previous years around sustainability has allowed us to create these green awards that didn’t exist before, and so using them to recognize VANOC and the Olympics is kind of fitting.

Did the Winter Olympics bring us a financial windfall of opportunity? I really don't think so.

Did they help set the stage for a new generation of green businesses to emerge to the forefront of the world’s stage? I really think that they did.

In the bigger picture, which do you think is more valuable?


Canopy Eco-Awards for VANOC's Sustainability Champions

Climate Change and Recognizing Leadership
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 12/23/2009

Last week, Eclipse Awards was proud to play a small role in the United Nations historic COP15 Climate Change conference in Copenhagen.  Though we have worked directly with the UN before on earlier climate change conferences, this time we worked with Environmental Defence to help them recognize acts of climate leadership in Canada.

For this event, we created 10 of our Emerald Tower Awards which are made from 100% post consumer used recycled glass.  We even used non-toxic wax as the color fill to help make these as sustainable as possible.

These climate change awards helped recognize the following Canadian projects:

Greenest City Action Plan – City of Vancouver
Reaching Out to Global Energy Cities – City of Calgary
Early Initiatives to Reduce Carbon Footprint – City of Edmonton
Tower Renewal and Transit City – City of Toronto
Climat : Plan de Transport – Ville de Montreal
Economy Wide Carbon Pricing – Province of British Columbia
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Initiatives – Province of Manitoba
Green Energy Champion – Province of Ontario
Climat : Engagement Constant – Province du Quebec
Absolute Electricity Emissions Cap – Province of Nova Scotia

Overall though, Canada took a lot of well-deserved heat in Copenhagen, even winning the embarrassing Colossal Fossil Award for our regressive approach to climate change.  The attention that this focused on Canada once again reminds us of the power of recognition awards to change behaviours and opinions.  Awards can be used effectively as both a carrot or a stick.

Could Canada and other countries be doing more to avoid climate change?  Of course, there is still huge progress to be made.  

However as Rick Smith, executive director for Environmental Defence said “It’s important to recognize leadership when it happens” and we couldn’t agree more.  We have to recognize and celebrate leadership wherever it’s emerging.  These are the seeds that we need to nurture so that their energies and influence can be shared, spread, and celebrated!

The success of any movement - environmental, social or otherwise -requires that we recognize the leaders of those movements.  We need to celebrate the behaviors and visions that we want to see repeated throughout our organizations, our communities and our world. 

By recognizing leadership, we not only visibly encourage and endorse it, we also empower it to move forward.  Recognition awards can provide a strong vote of confidence and help emerging leaders step into their roles.

Climate change discussions aren’t just about reducing emissions – they represent a battle to redefine humanity.  As the United Nations event now fades into history, the world is left to wonder what will happen next.  Some solutions will be found at the government levels, however true changes will come from people working at the community and municipal level.  They will come from inspired and motivated people working at your organization.

We need to work at all levels to ensure that positive change will happen.  At Eclipse Awards, our role is to help you recognize leadership and excellence in a way that encourages it and nurtures is.

How do you recognize leadership and how will you recognize these emerging leaders of tomorrow?

3 new R's and our quest for Zero Waste
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 12/8/2009

the green roof enters the building....

At Eclipse Awards, we create value through a genuine commitment to quality workmanship and quality materials.  As your recognition partner, we will ensure that your awards are made with care and attention to detail.  The craftsmanship that goes into your awards helps emphasize your message of recognition.

However, what you may not realize is that our commitment to the environment is equally important - we also consider the resources that go into them, the materials that are used and unused, how excess materials are reused and recycled, and how we can make your awards even more beautiful by using less. 

As part of our quest for zero waste, how can we create the most value for your recognition awards while using the least amount of resources, and without sacrificing quality or service?

Most people have heard of the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  We’ve explored these as they relate to our business and continue to look for new opportunities to expand on them.  However, we’ve come to realize that there are some other R’s that we feel are also really important.

Rethink & Redesign:  we’ve reviewed virtually every product, process, and system and redesigned it for improved efficiency.  Don’t just look at how to do something more efficiently, but also why are we even doing something at all?  
Example:  we used to make and ship lots of sample awards which consumes a lot resources unnecessarily.  So instead we invested in developing photorealistic images of our products, so that you can see 360 degree views of our awards.  Clients really appreciate this service and physical sample requests have dropped by 90%.

Realize:  our planet’s resources are finite and limited.  The actions of virtually every company consume and convert these resources into other materials, some that are used and valued, and others that are unused or unvalued.  So every time you purchase from a company, ask them what they are doing in terms of minimizing their consumption of resources. 
Example:  as part of this growing awareness, we’re developing and expanding a new line of green awards that are truly beautiful and made from reclaimed wood, glass and aluminum.  Stay tuned for more details to follow... 

  in many cases, waste is simply misplaced resources.  Though we may not be able to use it, there is probably another entity that can.  We've developed relationships with other companies to collaborate and find productive uses for misplaced resources.
Example:  we’ve partnered with The Urban Source and several children’s art programs, and every month we provide them with many of our unused presentation boxes.  We’ve also looked at ways of using other “used” materials in new ways.  One that we’re particularly excited about is etching glass water bottles to be reused as drinking bottles.  This also helps avoid using more plastic bottles.
Etched glass bottles

As our landfills near capacity and as our oceans fill with plastics, businesses will need to evolve to understand and limit the waste they produce, while still creating real value for their clients.  Rest assured knowing that we will be doing our best to redesign and rethink our processes to deliver the highest value to you and your recognition awards program, while also minimizing our environmental impact and contributing to our community.

If you’re interested in learning more about what some companies are doing to minimize their waste, join us this evening for:

“Trash Talk: Collaborations in Business Garbage and Recycling” an event hosted by LoCo BC.

I will be making a short presentation on our experiences at Eclipse Awards and our efforts to create a materials exchange network in the Strathcona Green Zone.

We are all learning as we go and sharing our experiences is how we will move forward together.  What changes have you made to reduce the environmental impacts of your organization?

Green Awards, Open House & Green Roof Party
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/6/2009

As a recognition awards company, we’re usually focused on creating beautiful recognition awards for other people (our clients) to recognize each other with.  Last Friday though, we held our first annual open house and green roof party and spent the day celebrating and recognizing many of the people that we work with, including many of our own clients.  What a day it turned out to be!  The picture above shows our green roof with the sun coming out to receive our guests.

We met with dozens of our clients over the course of the day, many whom we’ve worked with for years, but had only known through email and by phone.  There is definitely something special about meeting face to face, and also sharing the space where all of our work is done.   We've worked with one of our clients, Silverbirch Hotels, for close to 8 years and finally had a chance to meet in person and show them where their awards are designed and how they are actually made.  This really added some depth to our relationship as well as a new understanding that there are good people here taking care of things for them.

Though we’ve been making crystal awards for over 10 years now, this was our first open house and first chance to share our newly renovated green building.  We’ve worked for over 2 years to create an inspiring and healthy work space with natural light and a living green roof.  We believe that if our team is happy, then the awards we create will reflect that, and the final award recipients will be able to feel and appreciate it.

The event was also a great occasion to launch some of new “Living Edge” green awards (pictured above) that are made from reclaimed wood, glass and aluminum.  Also on display were our Inukshuks made from reclaimed crystal, and both our Emerald recycled glass awards and Cobalt recycled glass awards that are made from 100% post consumer used glass.  As more and more organizations begin to understand the value of going green, these awards will help underline their sustainability values and commitments.  Stay tuned as we will formally be adding these green awards to our product line in the coming weeks!

green awards and gifts by Eclipse Awards

A party is definitely more fun with party favors!  So we gave away some fun gifts to those who were able to visit us.  We made dozens of etched green glass holders (above) that were filled with tiny sedum cuttings from our green roof, so that people could take these home and spread the little plants to other places.  We also made up dozens of etched glass drinking bottles that were made from recycled juice bottles.  People really loved the personalized glass bottles and so we’ll be adding these to our line of green gifts and awards soon, which will also help reduce the amount of plastics that people use.

As the day turned into night, we welcomed another wave of friends and supporters for an evening of music, laughter, and conversation.  A healthy number of world changing folks from the recent Social Ventures Institute and Web of Change events helped keep things going.  There was a great energy throughout the building as new connections were made and people felt the positive energy we had put into the event.  The fact that we’re doing all of this in one of Vancouver’s most challenged neighbourhoods, makes it even more satisfying for us!

Putting on an event that spans over 16 hours is not an easy task.  Our team, as well as our friends and families, worked hard in the weeks leading up to the event, by painting our building, cleaning up, reorganizing, and remaining flexible.  We also worked closely with Saul Good Gift Co. who specializes in sustainable gift baskets and shares our office space.  The abundance of healthy and delicious food was graciously provided by oneplanet catering, another progressive local company.  Lotusland Vineyards was on hand with generous samples of their organic, small batch wines.  Guests were kept warm by SaltSpring Coffee’s organic, fair trade blends.

This open house was really rewarding and helped our clients get a better understanding of not only what we do, but how we do it, and why we do it.  Recognition is a powerful tool!  It was definitely a day of positive collaboration between local businesses and something that we’re already looking forward to doing again!

Night falls on the party at Eclipse Awards.

green roofs are living engines
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 6/11/2009

Wow, we just took little break to visit the first green roof we built, and it was amazing how much it had grown in since our last visit two weeks ago.  We completed our Heatley Green Roof about a year and a half ago, ironically just as we were moving out of the same building.  Luckily though, we didn’t move far, we’re still on the same block, and the roof is really cared for well by our friends there at Frogfile (check them out if you're looking for green office supplies).

What amazed us most was how quickly the tiny sedums had exploded with flowers, and how the whole colorful roof mass was covered with bees thrumbling from plant to plant.  It was bustling with life before we arrived there, and I’m sure it is still bustling now, long after we’ve left.  You can find the latest images here, on our Eclipse Awards Facebook fanpage.

Sitting in the sunlight, smelling the honeysuckle, and watching this little oasis of color and life, we were overcome with a sense of happiness and pride.  We built this green roof!  As a company, and as a group of people, we chose to put our resources and time to build this living engine that works around the clock to save energy and protect the roof, support local biodiversity, cool the area, grow vegetables, look beautiful, and make people happy!  Not to mention the value it adds to Eclipse Awards in terms of regenerative marketing and how we measure our worth in terms of contributing to our community.  In our society today, how do we determine the "value" that a business provides to a community, it at all?

Of course we didn’t build the living systems, but we did create a nice place for them to gain a foothold in a sea of concrete and pavement.  When you put this against the backdrop of the challenging neighbourhood we’re in, it really adds a sense of accomplishment.  Not only is Eclipse Awards creating beautiful crystal awards, we’re also creating environmental and social value within our community.  

We can hardly wait to see how this green roof will continue to grow and evolve, through season after season, year after year.  I’m sure it will be wonderful process to follow and learn from.  We will of course, share what we learn.

In the meantime though, we’ve got our hands full with our newest green roof that we’re creating on the building Eclipse Awards is currently in.

Now there are 2 green roofs on this block of Strathcona in Vancouver…how many more will come?

Green Golf Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 6/9/2009

Last week, the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of BC announced Eclipse Awards as “the 2009 Official Awards Sponsor to the PGA of BC”.  Click here for the official press release from the PGA.

This is exciting because they selected Eclipse Awards for our commitment to sustainability as much as for our commitment to quality, service, design and beautiful crystal awards.  So this summer we will be working closely with organizations planning golf tournaments and event, supplying them with crystal golf awards, golf trophies, and a new line of green golf awards and golf gifts that we’re currently developing.

At Eclipse, sustainability is something that we try to infuse into everything that we do, so that we use fewer resources, create less waste, and make our people happy so that they create beautiful awards.  However, it’s never a reason to provide subpar service or less value.   I can’t say that we’ve found solutions for all of the challenges we face, but I assure you that we’re working on them as you read this.

Our partnership with the PGA of BC, an organization that promotes excellence, simply reinforces our commitment to excellence and to sustainability.  Our commitment to green principles adds value to the services and products that we supply.   So thank you to the PGA of BC and hello to the world of golf trophies and green golf awards.  Here are the top 3 reasons we’re looking forward to the year ahead:

  1. Collaboration.  Our partnership with the PGA of BC reinforces the idea of collaboration and working together for mutual benefit, something that we’re working towards here in the Strathcona green zone.
  1. The potential to affect a new industry through a focus on design and sustainability.  At this time of writing this, a google search for “green golf awards” brings back a total of 8 results, and virtually all of them refer to the same online article.  So there is definitely room to explore and develop new kinds green golf awards and trophies for our clients
  1. Exposure to new markets.  Being selected as the PGA’s “Official Awards Sponsor” exposes us to a whole new group of clients and organizations that may not have heard about Eclipse Awards before, so it’s an opportunity to present our brand of excellence and integrity

Should you require any assistance in arranging crystal golf trophies or green golf awards for your event, we look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

spinning plates
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/22/2009

As a boy, I remember going to the circus and watching in amazement as an acrobat spun plates on sticks.  He would balance a plate on a stick, and then wiggle the stick until suddenly, magically…it would spin on its own.  One by one, he went down the line until there were over a dozen plates spinning on sticks.  Every so often he would run back to a plate that was slowing down and wiggle the stick until the plate was spinning quickly again.  Eventually though, there were too many plates to keep going and one by one, they started to crash down.

Years later, I came to realize how similar this is to running a business, or building community, or even life in general.  Every project or initiative that we begin takes some planning and energy to get it up and running.  We have to work, sometimes pretty hard, until that project is spinning nicely and humming along.   Then once it’s going, we can sometimes  leave it for a little bit and coast along ...but not forever.  Invariably, wobbles and problems begin to appear – small at first, but usually getting bigger until we decide to commit more resources to “wiggling the stick” again to make that plate spin nicely.  If we leave it unattended for too long, it will eventually come crashing to the ground (or fade into obscurity).  Crashing plates is one thing, but when we're talking about business responsibilities or relationships, it's definitely another.

As a business, we have to decide which plates we’re going to spin and how much energy we can put into each one at any given time.  Too much energy in one place and other things will start to wobble.  Spinning too many plates and we’re frantically running around trying to keep them all going.  After 10 years, we’ve got a pretty good idea how many plates we can keep going, we've developed a world class team that keeps many things aloft.  Eclipse clients, staff and family always get the most attention...if those plates are not spinning at top speed, trouble is on the horizon.  Community building, technology, social media, designing, learning new things and having fun...those are all a close second.   Then sometimes we just need to buckle down and make sure that everything is spinning nicely so that we can rest for a bit and take a break from everything.

How many plates are you spinning in your life or business or family?  Are you putting in the right amount of energy into each one?  Do you have too many plates on the go?  Or can you “wiggle some more sticks” and contribute more to your community, family, or work?  These are ongoing questions, but there is something deeply satisfying when all the plates are spinning harmoniously and we can step back and appreciate the results of our energy.  Then life taps us on the shoulder and tells us it's time to jump back in the game, there's a plate that's getting wobbly...

Majora Carter & Mayor Gregor Robertson visit Eclipse Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/15/2009

Wow, what an amazing few weeks!  On April 2nd, we helped to host “Sustainability 2.0 – the Evolution of Green” with the Strathcona Business Improvement Association.  The event created an atmosphere of positive energy and hopefully created a new kind of awareness that encourages people to collaborate and work together in building community.  It's not enough to have solidarity amongst the business, artists, and low income communities....we need a solidarity and shared vision across these groups, as a whole community.

Both Eclipse Awards and I have put a lot of energy into moving sustainability forward over the past several years.  This commitment is based on the belief that understanding sustainability as it relates to your organization is the single greatest investment that you can make towards your future success.  Last year, when we planned Sustainability 1.0 there were virtually no results on a google search for sustainability 2.0, which is why we secured the name then.  A recent search now shows over 13,000 results for sustainability 2.0 which just goes to show how people’s thinking has evolved over the past year.  We’re entering new areas of sustainability where things such as recycling and conserving energy are simply the first steps in creating a green company.  Now sustainability involves exploring collaboration and sharing resources to become more green.

In our experience, a company can only go so far on its own…once you’ve implemented recycling programs, minimized your energy consumption, and streamlined your operations, you kind of reach a limit in terms of what you can accomplish in sustainability.  To reach the next level, companies need to start collaborating with one another in order to obtain services and opportunities that they can’t on their own.  For example, one company alone has limited options to dispose of its waste, however if that company is collaborating with other companies in a materials exchange network it may be able to trade its waste for reuse, or freely obtain another companies unused resources instead of buying them.  So when we talk about sustainability, it’s important to think of individual companies, but it’s even more important to think about how these companies work together and the relationships between them.  Ultimately, sustainability boils down to community and culture…what are the things we celebrate, value and support?

This is the idea behind the Strathcona Green Zone, where we hope to create a community that celebrates sustainable thinking, diversity and the arts.  We want to be known as a progressive and dynamic place to do business, not as Canada’s “poorest postal code”.  Local paper Business in Vancouver covered the Strathcona Green Zone Initiative and the Sustainability 2.0 expo in this recent article.

So to help us communicate this message to the Strathcona community, we were lucky enough to secure Majora Carter as the keynote speaker at Sustainability 2.0.  Majora is considered by many as one of New York’s top environmental and social activists and if you haven’t seen her impassioned TED talk, you can view it here.  She gained a lot of recognition for her work with Sustainable South Bronx and "greening the ghetto" by training people with skills to build green roofs, care for trees, and create green spaces.  Majora is a beautiful soul who shares her wisdom and experience in an open and joyful way, and I was lucky enough to spend part of the day with her before her talk.  

For me, the highlight of the day was doing a walking tour of Strathcona with Majora Carter and Gregor Robertson, the mayor of Vancouver.  Gregor is also an amazing person with a deep understanding of sustainability, so to have them both visit the area and then stop by our green roof, was truly an inspiring and rewarding experience.  It also shows what can be accomplished by setting an audacious goal, and then working to make it a reality.

Eclipse Awards is a small company with big aspirations.  We not only make crystal awards to recognize people and make them happy, we also want to create happiness within our community and have worked to incorporate this in our core mission.  
Touring Strathcona and Eclipse Awards with Majora and Gregor was a really special occasion and one that I hope will help set a new trajectory for our future and the future of this neighbourhood.  Yet it’s simply one more step in our efforts to show how small businesses can have positive and lasting effects within their communities by inspiring people, sharing knowledge and building beautiful things.

Regenerative Marketing - are you in?
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 4/1/2009

At Eclipse Awards we’re working on a new style of marketing that we’re calling Regenerative Marketing. It’s one that we hope will ultimately turn small businesses into engines of community revitalization and richness, rather than beasts of consumption.    At Eclipse, we take our marketing budget and instead of pursuing traditional direct mail campaigns, we put these funds towards real, substantial projects that contribute value to either the environment or our community, or ideally both.  Then we tell those stories through word of mouth and social media such as twitter and facebook.  This focus has allowed us to build some true community assets, while also conserving many of the resources normally associated with direct mail. We call this Regenerative Marketing in the sense that it helps regenerate our community and environment, while also helping to renew peoples’ confidence in businesses as a positive force in society.

If you’ve used or followed Eclipse Awards, know that we take great pride in crystal awards, green awards, and the philosophy of recognition.  You probably also know that we place tremendous value on the quality of our work, our reliability and integrity, the happiness of our staff, and our commitment to sustainability and our community.

What you might not have noticed immediately though is how we market our awards and company.  You will definitely see us online and possibly in some magazines.  Word of mouth referrals, testimonials and notable clients have also contributed to our growth.  What you won’t see much of though, are printed materials and mailouts.  In part, this stems from our commitment to minimize our footprint by limiting our consumption of materials, or avoiding them altogether.  In our experience, the majority of these promo materials typically end up in the landfill, fewer are recycled, and even fewer result in any sort of a sale of awards.  We also spent several years perfecting a photorealistic way of generating our award images by computer.  In fact, DELL recognized us as one of Canada’s top 10 Most Innovative Small Businesses for this as it allowed us to virtually eliminate the need to create and ship samples.  We’ve also invested heavily in technology to provide better, more efficient customer service, and we’ve used these freed resources to pursue more sustainability initiatives.

By reallocating our traditional marketing budget, Eclipse Awards has been able to:

These are lasting projects and assets that will benefit our community for years to come.  In the past, we’ve pursued traditional marketing campaigns which had questionable value event 2 weeks later.  How many flyer campaigns from last month can you recall?

Today’s consumers are intelligent and thoughtful...they can separate the real from the superficial and they yearn for integrity and values in a service market that’s become devoid of service.  Our clients also love the fact that by using Eclipse Awards, they’ll not only get world class service and personalized awards, they’re also empowering us to make our community a better place.    
Admittedly, we are in new territory and learning as we go.  The important thing is our fundamentals are in place - quality, service, reliability and convenience – so it gives us some freedom to explore new ways of doing things.  Now, if ever, is a time to be bold and creative!

Will it work?  Only time will tell.  A lot depends on our ability to get these messages out through non-traditional channels and if clients will continue to value the types of sustainable, community projects that we pursue.  In my mind though, this is the new generation of marketing – substantial, real and positive, presented in a way that respects people’s intelligence.  It’s working for our company, so maybe it will work for yours.  Can you imagine a near future in which small businesses support meaningful projects instead of mindless, superficial marketing messages and become successful because of it?  Imagine the next generation of businesses that will build community gardens, green roofs, renewable energy projects, or that will support community arts, or education, or caring for our elders.  What kind of a world would it be if love and compassion were rewarded in business?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on regenerative marketing.  Can it work?  Are you doing something similar?  Are there any things you’d like to see us try?  Let us know because the future is what we all decide to make it.

Sustainability 2.0 - the Evolution of Green
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/30/2009

As a client of Eclipse Awards, you probably know that we are committed to excellence, reliability and service.  What you might not be aware of is that we are also committed to sustainability and that I commit roughly 20% of my time to community building in Strathcona and the Downtown Eastside where our office is located.  

What does this mean exactly?  It means that we make great efforts to reduce our environmental footprint by reducing our energy consumption and committing to green power on the way to becoming the world's first carbon neutral awards company, we’ve built 2 green roofs and invested in creating a healthy and inspiring workplace for our staff, we’re exploring new ways to create beauty and value out of reclaimed materials, and we are helping to build a community in Strathcona that celebrates sustainable thinking, the arts and diversity.

I currently serve as vice-chair of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association and chair of its sustainability committee.  The committee is based on the idea that understanding sustainability is the single greatest investment that a business or organization can make towards its future success.  The Sustainability Committee's mission statement is:

to educate members about the business case for environmental and social sustainability;  provide them with the tools and resources to implement sustainability as it relates to their organization;  and develop the broader community that will both support and attract green businesses.

We have been working towards holding Vancouver’s second small business expo called Sustainability 2.0 – the Evolution of Green which takes place this April 2nd at ChapelArts.

The event will feature a panel of green business people exploring the leading edge of sustainable thought in business…why are companies doing it?  Are they still doing it in this current economy?  How has it helped strengthen their businesses, if at all?  The panel will feature Saul Brown from Saul Good Gifts, Danielle Carrie from Frogfile, Peter Joe from Sunrise Soya, Clay Braziler from Eco-Industrial Solutions, and me, Toby Barazzuol from Eclipse Awards.  We hope to explore the idea of collaboration and how businesses can work together to achieve the next level of sustainability.  

There is only so much that a single business can do on its own in terms of greening, so sustainability ultimately boils down to community and culture and working together through collaboration.  What kinds of things do we value, prioritize and celebrate as a community?

Sustainability 2.0 will also feature Majora Carter who has done amazing work around “greening the ghetto” as director of Sustainable South Bronx.  She is considered by some to be New York’s most influential environmental and social activist.
To learn more about Majora, here is a quick 30 second clip or her more in-depth TED talk on "greening the ghetto".
Majora has also received a McArthur Genius Grant as well as funding from the Clinton Global Initiative.


This Thursday she will be doing a walking tour of Strathcona, possibly joined by Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson.  The tour will end at ChapelArts in time to start Sustainability 2.0.

All in all, we hope that this will be a defining event around sustainability and community in the Downtown Eastside.  It’s free to attend and we hope that you do, you can preregister here.

Strathcona receives a lot of negative press which is unfortunate as there are a lot of positive things going on here.  Our vision is to build on the positive, and focus our resources on developing the diverse, creative and inclusive community that we’d like to see.

At Eclipse Awards, we are committed to creating beautiful awards and delivering them on time.  We are also committed to developing a strong community and believe that small businesses can ultimately become the engines that heal the environment, support arts and culture, and build stronger, healthier communities.  So when you choose to partner with Eclipse Awards, you’re not only getting world class service and awards, you’re also helping to make the world a better place.

Eclipse is bullfrogPowered (now with 100% local wind energy)!
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/24/2009

Updated on November 26, 2009

Eclipse Awards is now 100% wind powered thanks to bullfrog power's new Bear Mountain Wind Farm.  This wind farm is the first to come online in British Columbia and offers bullfrog clients the chance to become fully wind powered for the first time.

Click here for more information.

March 24, 2009

This week Eclipse Awards became Bullfrog Powered!  This commits us to our 5th year of being green powered (our first 4 years were with BC Hydro’s Green Power Certificates program which is currently in transition). Using green power is one part of Eclipse’s commitment to reducing our environmental footprint, being carbon neutral, building the community we believe in, and providing leadership to other small businesses.

   B.C. Mix

So what does using green power mean? In this case, being bullfrog powered means that for all of the electricity used by Eclipse Awards, bullfrog contributes and equal amount of electricity into the BC grid from renewable energy projects located in BC and Alberta. Bullfrog's current mix in BC is approximately 80% from certified low-impact hydro, and 20% from wind energy sources.  All projects are EcoLogo certified meaning they're verified by a 3rd party to ensure accuracy.


Without a doubt, conservation and simply using as little electricity as possible is the best and fastest way to lower your energy footprint.  Some people call these negawatts - they are the least expensive tool at our disposal and the one we should use first.  As with design, the elegance of conservation lies in what you don't use.  We designed our new office to emrace natural light and in fact, we rarely even turn on the lights between April and September. When we do use electricity though, we want that power to be produced as cleanly and as locally as possible.  By working with a partner like bullfrog, we help to create more demand for green power projects in BC.

Choosing green power is definitely affordable and something most organizations should consider, especially when you think about these benefits:

  1. Green power means fewer greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s)
  2. Staff and clients feel good knowing they are contributing to a solution
  3. It strengthens our commitment to sustainability and appeals to clients that share our values
  4. It's a simple way to help support the emergence of green power and renewable energy projects. 
Sustainability has a lot of dimensions and power and energy are definitely big considerations. Using green power to lighten our footprint, differentiate our company, and help enable new renewable power projects is a perfect example of the win-win-win situations we like to create at Eclipse Awards.  Working with an excellent partner like bullfrog is also enjoyable and rewarding.

Let us know if you decide to help lead the way and go bullfrog too!

6 things that everyone should know about recognition awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 3/6/2009

Last week was the biggest event in the world of awards and recognition, the 2009 ARA Show in Las Vegas.  Last year, our whole company went and had a great time, however this year I went with our resident recognition guru Nelson Borges and Saul Brown, owner of Saul Good Gifts.

I’ve always found the show interesting because it brings together all of the biggest companies and personalities, showcases their latest awards and designs, and gives us a chance to listen and share ideas.  About 4 years ago, following the launch of our new website for crystal awards, Eclipse emerged as a leader in the awards and recognition industry.  Suddenly, we were no longer following the trends, we were setting them.  Now when we visit the show, we try to guide the manufacturers in the direction we believe will benefit our clients.  Every day we deal directly with dozens of companies of different sizes across North America and we hear what they want in terms of personalized recognition awards, crystal awards and green awards.

Our strength at Eclipse Awards has always been our ability to listen, understand, and then deliver.  So what have I learned from attending 7 of the last 10 ARA Shows? Here are the 6 things everyone should know about recognition awards:

1.    Recognition is a powerful instrument.  Everyone wants to be appreciated for their work or contribution…it’s a common emotion and part of being human.  When done properly, a recognition award has the power to inspire, to motivate, to enable and empower, and to open new doors while also building confidence and good feelings.  These incredible intangibles are often underappreciated, yet they can add real depth and value to your organization.  Recognition done poorly however, can actually create the opposite of the intended effect.

2.     Make it personal.  Personalizing a recognition award with a name and a thoughtful message changes it from something generic into something that is truly unique and highly valued by the recipient.

3.    Simple is beautiful, elegant and timeless.  That award with the flashing LEDs might look great during the event, but how will it look in 3 months or 3 years?  When choosing a recognition award, aim for something personalized, timeless and classy that will stand the test of time.  We want people to be proudly presenting our awards 10 years from now.

4.    Never underestimate quality and craftsmanship.  The gift or award that you select to recognize someone symbolizes your message to them.  If the awards you’ve chosen are poorly made or lack quality, you’ve likely undermined your message and possibly even insulted the recipient which is not what you set out to do.  On the other hand, if the award is thoughtful and well made, you’ve just reinforced your message of appreciation in a subtle yet powerful way.  Isn’t this what you set out to do in the first place?

5.    The only true currency is the quality and depth of our relationships with one another.  In the end, we’re all people trying to get along and be happy.  Nothing will ever replace a heartfelt thank you with eye contact or an appreciative hug.  However, sometimes we need to go out of our way to make people feel special and give them something beautiful that symbolizes how others feel about them.  We all know how amazing and empowering it can be when we’re made to feel special, and a properly done recognition award can help create those lasting feelings.

6.    Timing is everything.  It’s best to recognize positive behavior as quickly as you can.  Feelings tend to diminish over time, so the strongest reinforcements are possible right after the behavior you want to reward occurs.   On a more practical level, you need you're awards delivered to you on time.  Your awards aren't worth much if they arrive late for your event.  Think of the Oscars arriving one day late...that's why we guarantee on time delivery.

So that’s a quick summary of what I’ve learned in the past 10 years.  Recognition isn’t necessarily about the latest and greatest, it’s about sincerity, consistency and quality.  It’s about taking the time to make someone feel special in a lasting and positive way.  
In these challenging times, are there people that you’d like to recognize for their contributions and loyalty?  Make sure they know how much you appreciate their efforts and sacrifices on your behalf because we are all stronger together than we are apart.

Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 2/19/2009

As most of you know, Eclipse Awards is about more than crystal awards and recognition...we also put a great value on sustainability and our community.  In fact, I usually contribute about 20% of my time towards building a stronger, happier and healthier community in Strathcona where Eclipse is located.  One of the main projects I've been focussed on over the past few years involves working to create a Green Zone or sustainable business community through the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA).

The idea is based on the assumption that understanding sustainability is the single greatest investment that a business can make towards its future success.

However, there also comes a point where a business has gone as green as it can on it's own...there are limits to what you can do once you've minimized your footprint and gone carbon neutral.  So eventually businesses need to look at ways to collaborate with one another and share resources in order to reach the next level of sustainability.

Which leads us back to the focus on community.  We want to develop a community that not only supports, but celebrates sustainable thinking, green businesses and the arts.  Creating things like a materials exchange network, a zero emissions courier to faciiltate the movement of goods, a complementary currency to spur the local economy, and urban gardens to grow food are all ways of realizing a green business community where collaboration is favored over competition.

Our Green Zone movement recieved a big boost today as Canada's federal government, through the Western Economic Diversification Fund, the City of Vancouver and other groups, committed $60,000 to help the SBIA develop it's mission to "educate members about the business case for environmental and social sustainability;  provide them with the tools and resources sustainability as it relates to their organization; and develop the broader community that will both support and attract green businesses".

Our world is changing quickly, and in many ways this gives us the opportunity to find newer and healthier ways of doing business, newer and healthier ways of treating each other and our planet.

Thank you Western Economic Diversification Canada for believing in and funding our vision of a stronger and healthier community based on sustainability.

Here is a link to a similar article from New York announcing the event, though I'm not sure what this one says as it's in Chinese :)

Wow, this one made it all the way into the China News!

Twitter, CBC and Eclipse Awards
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 1/20/2009

At first you might wonder about the connection here...Twitter is a 2 year old disruptive company that’s shaking up the online world; Eclipse Awards is a 10 year old awards company hitting its stride near the top of its game, and the CBC, at close to 80 years old, is a venerable institute of Canadian news and broadcasting. This past week, all 3 came together in a way that was both unexpected and exciting. Last Thursday, after 30 years as a CBC listener and viewer and 2 months as a Twitter user, I suddenly found myself on both CBC Radio One and CBC News on the same day with chances to talk about Eclipse Awards, our commitments to sustainability, and the idea of developing Strathcona as a green business community.

TV spot from CBC News.
Listen to the interview from CBC Radio

I got started on Twitter about 8 weeks ago at the urging of marketing wizard Kaya Rosenbloom.  I’d looked at Twitter before but had discounted it since I didn’t see how it was different from the status update portion of Facebook.  After using it for a few weeks though, I realized it’s power in terms of branding, sharing information, and creating relationships and community online.  Twitter’s value doesn’t really lie in letting people know what you ate for lunch, it lies in sharing the ideas and information that are influencing your thoughts.  Limiting posts to 140 characters means you have to communicate clearly, and relatively often (though I think 3-5 short posts per day is more than enough).  The strength of social media lies in 2-way conversations and the rapid dissemination of information - these factors are really changing the face and pace of business today.

Through Twitter I connected with Lisa Johnson, a cool environmental reporter at CBC.  Over time and through our posts, I imagine she became interested in what we were doing at Eclipse Awards…our green roofs, our new green awards, and our commitment to sustainability and greening the Strathcona community.   Then last week we got in touch by email on Tuesday, had a conversation the next day, and by Thursday morning I was preparing for the CBC camera crew and then radio interview.  And so with that, the power of Twitter became crystal clear.  If you’re interested in what Lisa is up to, you can follow her Twitter updates here.  You can follow me on Twitter here.

Twitter and social media will continue to grow in 2009 and I think that’s a good thing.  As business evolves, we'll focus less on creating imaginary brands, and focus more on doing real things with integrity.  In this coming year, you’ll find out more about the people that make up Eclipse Awards and you’ll hear about the things that we’re committed to.  We’re refocusing our marketing budget towards sustainability and community building projects, and then using social media to tell those stories as our marketing campaign.  Will this work?  I don't know, but I like how it feels and time will tell.  I've come to believe in the reality of a shared consciousness and the idea that the same idea can emerge in many places at the same time, indepenently of one another.  With the inauguration of Barack Obama, there is an undeniable urgency and an energy in the air these days that tells us anything is possible, and now is the time to evolve and improve.  We’re looking forward to doing this with you because,if wasn't clear enough before, we really are all in this together.
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 1/5/2009

Snowed in and working alone at Eclipse Awards over the past few weeks has given me time for some deep thought.  Not only did we end 2008, we also ended our first decade in business.  Ten years in business can provide you with insights into a lot of different things, if you’re open to seeing them.  Over that time, our awards have brought happiness to a lot of people and I’m proud of the trust that we’ve built with all of our clients by delivering on our promises, consistently.  I’m proud of the team that we have at Eclipse Awards, not only for their skills, but because of the way they conduct themselves as people. I’m also really pleased at how we’ve been able to embrace sustainability and explore what that means as a business in the real world.

Five years ago we moved from Vancouver's funky Yaletown to Strathcona in the Downtown Eastside, considered by many to be one of the most challenged neighbourhoods in North America.  This is definitely a community in transition and one of our goals was to make a positive and substantial contribution towards building a healthy and balanced community .  Though there is still much to do, I’m really happy with where we’re at and the direction we’re going.  Some 2008 milestones were:

2009 promises to be interesting, with recognition becoming even more vital to companies looking to retain their staff.  After all, is anything more important to an organization than its people?  We will continue to focus on crystal awards while also developing more green awards made out of other sustainable materials.  We’ll put more resources into communicating with our clients, while always maintaining our commitment to excellent quality and service.  We enjoy setting the pace in the awards and recognition industry and will continue to explore new and beautiful ways to help you recognize and appreciate the people in your lives.  We hope you’ll continue to check back in as we learn to weave excellence with sustainability, business with community, and art with recognition.

New green FSC wooden frames
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 12/11/2008

The last few weeks have been pretty exciting as we've worked to develop some cool new green awards.  Crystal awards remain elegant and timeless, yet we see a strong and growing demand for green awards made out of sustainable materials.  Our team has been busy brainstorming and designing new awards with sustainability in mind, and so we're pleased to launch a new line of beautiful FSC cedar frames.

I think frames look beautiful and yet it's what you can't see that I find equally as beautiful. I'm really proud of the work and teamwork that went into making these, especially when you consider the climate smart certificates as well.

The frames are designed to use minimal materials and are made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cedar.  This means that the wood was grown and harvested in an environmentally sustainable and verifiable way.  You can even check on the chain of custody by looking up a certification code that's unique to each batch of wood. The frames are made and assembled by Tradeworks which is a training society aimed at providing skills training and work opportunities for women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.  So there are strong social and community ties as well.

The climate smart certificates are something we earned this summer.  They were presented by Ecotrust Canada to verify that Eclipse Awards has completed a comprehensive study and inventory of our environmental footprint and carbon emissions.  It took over a month to gather the data, complete the calculations, and design a reduction plan looking forward 5 years.  Currently, our annual carbon footprint is 32 tonnes.  Not great, but not too bad and we'll be purchasing carbon offsets from Offsetters in the next few weeks so that we can finally become Carbon Neutral.

So at first glance, it simply looks like a nice frame and certificate.  However, it's taken us a few years to get to the point where we could create these pieces.  It's not a matter of simply throwing together some pieces of wood and paper then calling it a green award.  It's about understanding the elegance of good design and the conservation of resources, it's about understanding the social side of community and how business can contribute to building capacity, it's about understanding our evnironmental footprint and taking steps to reduce it, it's about understanding the changing nature of our world and what clients are looking's really about understanding sustainability.

I hope that when people consider our awards, they will not only see beautiful objects, but they will understand the thought and consideration that went into making them.  There's a lot happening beneath the surface at Eclipse Awards and we will continue to use our experience and perspective to develop new green awards that are beautiful on many different levels.

Special thanks to Nelson who has worked hard to make these a reality, to Saul who has helped facilitate some of these new relationships, to the ladies at Tradeworks for their efforts, and to Jim for making it all look good!

Stay tuned as we continue to launch new green awards over the coming months!


the second green roof this year
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 11/21/2008

Well, after several months of designing and planning, we finally completed the second portion of our new green roof at Eclipse Awards.  This roof was designed more as a green amenity space for staff that will be focussed on growing food.  Once it's finished, the roof will be ringed by planter boxes that will provide everyone here with a small gardening plot.  The "green island" in the center includes Irises, Lemon Thyme, and woodland strawberries.  I love looking through the skylights and seeing the grass and sky.

Crystal awards and green roofs may seem like an unusual combination.  Yet every organization needs to look at creative ways to reduce their environmental footprint while also creating happy and healthy work spaces.  Green roofs are an amazing way to accomplish both.  In fact, the other green roof that we completed earlier this year has alread saved a lot in terms of both heating and cooling, while also providing space for growing vegetables and additional green space for insects and birds.

We worked closely with Erika Richmond Green Roof Design to create both of these beautiful green spaces.  I can't recommend her enough if you're considering a project like this.  Thanks Erika!

Sustainability, technology and the future of computing
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/21/2008

Earlier on this year, Eclipse Awards was selected by Dell as one of Canada's top ten most innovative small businesses.  This is an award that we take great pride in as we've made some bold investments in technology in order to improve our customers' experience, elevate our performance and reduce our environmental footprint.

When Dell invited me to speak as part of their Future of Computing tour, I was a little nervous as I'd never done a presentation on technology before.  However, I was interested in the green element they were promoting at the event, and curious about the prospect of bringing green ideas to a room full of IT professionals. 

Aside from the technical side of things, my basic message was this:  invest creatively in technology to improve the customers' experience, while also improving efficiency and freeing up company resources.  These freed resources can then be used to pursue sustainability initiatives that ways that were not possible before.  These initiatives can then help reduce your environmental footprint, advance your social mission, and strengthen your company by differentiating it.  In our case, it allows me to put close to 20% of my time towards community building and sustainability projects in Strathcona. 

Overall, it seems as though these ideas were well well received, which is all I really hoped for.  There is more to our company that crystal awards.  Technology does have a role to play in moving sustainability forward - we just have to use it wisely and creatively, like any powerful tool.

Let's get this started
Author: Toby Barazzuol   Date: 10/4/2007

Well it seems as though this gets harder to start every day, so why not just jump into it?  My name is Toby Barazzuol and I founded Eclipse Awards almost 10 years ago.  At that time, we were a small company just finding our feet and learning about the possibilties of the internet.  We had no idea of the opportunites it would provide us with!

Since that time, we've learned what it takes to consistently be a world class awards company.  We also learned about the amazing power of recognition and how it can create leaders, motivate organizations, fuel movements, and above all, make people feel happy and appreciated.  The latest version of our website took close to 2 years to develop and we hope it draws together our years of experience in a way that makes it easier for you to recognize people you value and respect.

I'm really proud of our team and we get a lot of satisfaction from creating beautiful crystal awards that really connect with people.  We've built a solid reputation based on years of "getting it done" and I'm confident of our ability to work with organizations of any size around the world.

In a few months we'll be moving into our new "green" headquarters that we've carefully been renovating over the past few months.  With a solid foundation in place, I think that things are about to get really interesting!  We're committed to environmental and social sustainability as well as staying active in our community.  As we move forward, we want to explore what it means to be a company that cares about how we treat people and the environment.  Hopefully, we can do it in a way that will make others want to follow.

Just a few weeks ago we finished a big awards project for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal.  The conference resulted in a "historic" ozone pact that was described as "perhaps the most important breakthrough in international environmental negotiation process for at least five or six years".  Sometimes, it's tempting to hope that in some small ways, the work we do helps make the world a better place.

I hope that our story will help other companies as they tackle issues of sustainability and explore new ways of doing business. 

New Company Blog
Author: Kaya Rosenbloom   Date: 7/30/2007

Stay tuned for a new blog from Eclipse Awards covering issues relating to the award and recognition industry as well as corporate social responsiblity.

The Awesome Awards


Vancouver Award

 © 2013 Eclipse Awards International Inc.

Dell Small Business Excellence Award bullfrog powered
Join our mailing list: