Since it’s earliest days over four decades ago, Hollyhock has been committed to nurturing ecology and people; we’ve always recognized the intricate connections we all have with the natural world.
For some of us, Hollyhock has become a state of mind—a place to imagine possibility and potential. For others, it’s also a profound place of learning—a place to explore new practices and ways of being in the world. For others, it’s a place of rest and rejuvenation—a place to reconnect with self, one another, and the natural world.
For all of us, though, Hollyhock is a magnificent jewel of a place—a vignette of coastal, temperate rainforest, perched on the edge of a shallow shoreline and a sandy beach, looking out toward the Salish Sea.
The land underpins all that Hollyhock is, does, and stands for. Hollyhock’s original shareholders made the momentous and generous decision to give the land to the charity that operates Hollyhock today. We call that visionary generation of stewards ‘Sharegivers,’ and their gift has secured this special place so that it can host Hollyhock’s important work decades later—and hopefully for many more decades into the future.
Hollyhock’s board of directors continued their conversations about the distant future, turning their attention to a long-held aspiration newly informed by our strategic planning, and inspired by the extraordinary efforts, impacts, and generosity of the Sharegivers….
What if we could protect this place forever?
We explored how we might go beyond the legal covenants and protections already in place and design a legal structure that might permanently and forever protect this idyllic piece of land, so that countless future generations could continue to enjoy it into perpetuity….
The Forever Land Trust Foundation
Our solution is the Forever Land Trust Foundation. With the support of experts in charity law and other long-serving, deeply valued advisors, we devised a new model that we hope will inspire others to make similar commitments to the future.
The Forever Land Trust Foundation was conceived in the wise practices of multi-generational care. It works within Crown Law to embed principles of stewardship and honouring of place. It respects the intentions of the committed people and families that founded Hollyhock, while ensuring it remains a place that will support us all to live in right relations with ourselves, one another, and the natural world, for generations to come.
The structure is elegant in its simplicity: we created a new, registered charity, the mandate of which is to ensure protection of the land for 80 years—the maximum allowable under Canadian law—with an option to renew for a further 80 years. The total of 160 years meets the widely shared aspiration to think multiple generations into the future.
Next, we put in place a contract between the new Foundation and the existing charity that owns the Hollyhock lands. This contract describes seven potential, future scenarios that might put the Hollyhock lands at risk. Should any of those scenarios come to pass, the new Foundation would have the right to acquire the Hollyhock lands for just $100. The elegance of this simple contract lies in the unlikeliness the situations it describes: the contract reinforces the commitments of the Sharegivers, now held by the boards of directors in the Hollyhock organizations, to ensure the land is preserved in as close as possible to its natural state for many, many years to come.
We are happy to share deeper insights into the specifics of the legal structure within anyone interested to use this approach elsewhere.
The board of directors of the new foundation is a group of people selected because of their commitment to protecting the land on which Hollyhock sits. Some are past board members and staff of Hollyhock. Others are life-long Cortes Island residents. All are enthusiastic supporters of Hollyhock and its work—including its impact on the local community and more broadly in the world.
Hollyhock still owns the land, still operates the leadership learning center, and still sets the strategy for our work and impact. The Forever Land Trust Foundation is a further deepening of our commitment to Hollyhock—the place and the organization’s work.
Why is this Important?
We’re at a moment in history when economists seem keen to put a ‘market value’ on everything, when decision-makers too frequently focus on the ‘here and now’ with too little focus on the future implications of their actions, and when the climate emergency is clear, present, and dangerous to life and society.
In short, the world needs examples of better ways to think about ownership, access, and community benefits. We hope this example inspires others who steward land today, and that many future generations will take similar responsibility to protect the land they love.
Particular thanks go to the team of board members and advisors who worked tirelessly to design and implement the model: Board Chairs Joel Solomon and Mike Rowlands, trusted advisor Jim Morrissey, long-time CEO Dana Bass Solomon and Treasurer Eduardo Schwartz, and charity lawyer Margaret Mason and her team. Thanks, too, to the board members who approved the commitments, and finally to the Sharegivers, whose vision and generosity enabled all that Hollyhock is.
Photos of Hollyhock from the archives: Hollyhock Lodge (1980s) | The original hot tub build (1980s) | Lodge deck (1990s) | early Annual General Meeting (1980s)