Entrepreneur Driven By Renewable Energy Passion

Entrepreneur Driven By Renewable Energy Passion

Donna Morton creates business in response to Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest

Donna Morton has been instinctively opposed to nuclear power since she was 15 and saw a documentary featuring anti-nuclear advocate Dr. Helen Caldicott.

It was during an after-school club showing If You Love This Planet that Morton says she realized she wanted to be like Caldicott.

Donna Morton
Donna Morton

“I thought that’s what I’m going to do, I want to do what she’s doing, that there’s something inside me that knows that’s what I’m supposed to do, and then, how the heck do you do that was the question of the rest of my life,” recalls Morton.

Morton is CEO and co-founder of First Power, a Delta, British Columbia-based organization that blends business innovation with social purpose. She is also founder and executive director of the Centre for Integral Economics, and was awarded an Ashoka fellowship in 2003.

She says she couldn’t help always wanting to be an entrepreneur, noting when she was younger there were times it was not easy to have her inclinations, particularly when working in larger non-government organizations.

Morton notes she was a bit ahead of her time being an entrepreneur in the social sector.

Leading environmentalist and social activist Paul Hawken has been a mentor for Morton, being “extremely generous with his time and support.” Hawken is dedicated to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment.

Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest examines the environmental and social justice movement and looks at the strength of the multitude of non-profits and community organizations dedicated to environmental protection and social justice.

Blessed Unrest was just a huge book for me, and in many ways I think the book ushers a series of challenges,” says Morton.

One of these challenges is that there is a current in humanity, a beauty underground in human civilization that sometimes we have a hard time seeing, notes Morton.

“It’s really important first of all to see it and know that there is this beautiful force, this loving, co-operative, collaborative justice-seeking force inside human beings because we can focus on the negative really easily and that doesn’t serve us. So, for me, that was the first lesson in the book,” Morton tells Axiom News.

Another lesson is Hawken’s message that this is the moment in history where First Nations rights, social justice and learning to love the planet need to come together as everyone is part of a global force seeking justice.

Morton says this message was “huge” for her, and in essence First Power is a “sort of love letter back to Paul Hawken.”

At the core of First Power is the three interwoven pieces Hawken describes: First Nations justice; social justice, alleviating poverty and building community development; as well as clean energy as the alternative to nuclear power.

This is a moment for Canadians to decide “who do we want to be in the world, what do we want our legacy for our children and global children to be on the planet,” she says.

Inspiration over the years has come from lessons learned in surprising places, says Morton, such as racial reconciliation in South Africa and democracy in the Middle East.

“Maybe in the next 10 years Canada is going to turn just as dramatically and move from being one of the more wanton environmentally destructive nations to actually being a green super power,” she says.

“And my hope is that First Power plays some role in catalyzing that by giving people the confidence that you can touch energy differently, that energy can supply more than just heat, light and power, that it can actually be a place to stand, a platform to build a healthy economy and a way of life.”

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Writer Bio

Jennifer Neutel's picture
Jennifer Neutel

Jennifer Neutel is a Story Advocate and Generative Journalist at Axiom News. She completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2006, and joined Axiom News in 2007. She has taken on a variety of roles at Axiom including new social media intiatives and has a passion for creating strengths-based questions that can lead to positive change.

Contact Jennifer: jennifer@axiomnews.ca, or 705-741-4421 ext. 26.

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