Reimagine co-founders Kara Rijnen and Heenal Rajani were deeply hnoured to receive the Urban League of London's Green Umbrella Award on June 21, 2023. Read on for our acceptance speech.
Good evening, esteemed members of the Urban League of London, fellow nominees, dear friends and family, and members of our London community. We are honoured to be standing here today to accept the Green Umbrella Award.
Our story began more than a decade ago in a remote Guatemalan village, where we found ourselves constructing a school from eco-bricks, learning firsthand the power of sustainability and community. This experience ignited a dream, a shared vision that would become Reimagine Co.
We are more than just husband and wife, more than just co-founders; we're a team
united by love and a profound sense of responsibility towards our planet and future generations.
When I immigrated to this London 6 years ago, I knew nobody except for Kara. It touches my heart how this City has welcomed me and made me feel at home. Reimagine Co is our love letter to London, the city that has embraced us and our dream.
Reimagine is a place where the supermarket meets sustainability, where community engagement meets environmental action.
Our vision is to make London a beacon of change, a city where each citizen plays a vital role in shaping a sustainable and equitable future.
The Co in Reimagine Co stands for collaboration. It stands for togetherness – the knowledge that, united, we can achieve far more than we can apart. It stands for co-creation, co-being, co-visioning, and community.
We believe that every dollar we spend is a vote for the world we wish to see. And so, we invite you all to join us in our mission, to vote with your wallet, and to shop at small businesses that support the planet and our London community. You're not just purchasing products - you're investing in a planet-friendly future and a city that embraces sustainability and belonging.
In December, Reimagine shifted to an online-only model as a way to carry on our mission, as in-person shopping was not sustainable for ourselves and the business.
We will keep pivoting in order to carry on our mission, to serve Londoners who want to reduce their waste, to serve the greater world, to demonstrate that a different way of business is possible.
It’s been such a blessing to be able to do this work. And we’re so lucky to be able to do this with each other!
But we couldn’t have come this far without the immense support and dedication of countless individuals and organizations.
We want to extend our deepest gratitude to the Urban League of London for recognizing us with this award, and we want to thank you for all your work over more than 50 years, that embodies the community citizenship that we strive to uphold at Reimagine.
To our amazing team members at Reimagine Co, past and present, your passion and commitment have breathed life into our dream every day. Our journey wouldn’t be the same without you.
To our beloved community of customers, suppliers, partners, volunteers, board members, advisors, mentors, and Londoners at large – thank you for believing in our vision and being part of this change. You have proven that collective action can change our world.
Thank you to the amazing London environmental organizations that have supported us and inspired us on our journey. Thank you to the London Environmental Network, Thames Region Ecological Association, London Community Resource Centre, Urban Roots, Climate Action London, Antler River Rally, London Cycle Link, ReForest London Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, and so many more!
A big thank you to Pillar Nonprofit Network and Innovation Works, to the City of London and UnLondon, who believed in us and gave us opportunities right from the beginning.
Thank to the funders and partners of Reimagine’s programs: the City of London, ECO Canada, Libro Credit Union, London Community Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, Downtown London and Tuckey Home Hardware
Thank you to all the school teachers, professors, Neighbourhood Associations, Neighbourhood Resource Centres, non-profits and businesses who have welcomed us into their space and their imaginations.
Thank you to all the Zero Waste Stores, Thing Libraries, and Repair Cafés across Canada and across the world who have advised us and supported us along this journey
And a special thanks to everyone who has shopped at Reimagine, become a member of the Thing Library, brought a broken item to a Repair Café, come to one of the events that we’ve been part of, or followed us on social media
Last but certainly not least, thank you to our parents and our children and all our family and friends, whose love and support have been our guiding light throughout this journey. We love you and appreciate you more than words can express.
As we conclude, we want to leave you with a thought: We are just vessels in this tide of change. The award we receive today is not just for us, but for every individual who believes in a sustainable future, and for every Londoner who takes a stand to reimagine our world. It's a shared victory for our community and our planet.
Thank you again to the Urban League for this award, thank you to all of you here this evening and thank you to all those who have been part of our journey.
Let's continue to dream, act, and reimagine – together.