The first time I met John Richardson
The first time I met John Richardson, I was interviewing for a volunteer outreach position at Pivot. It was late 2004 and Pivot was in a tiny office on Water Street. I walked into the office, past a well-used couch and boxes of legal files, and sat down at a small table surrounded by people working feverishly. I was quickly introduced to John and he returned to work, hunched over his computer. The interview went well and I began to volunteer regularly.
John was always around the office, but in those first few months, we didn’t really find the time to actually talk. It wasn’t until a job became available and I applied, that we actually sat down together. The first question John asked me was “do you want to be a lawyer?” I told John that I was unsure whether becoming a lawyer could truly have any social impact. John looked me straight in the eye and said – “well, you haven’t seen Pivot yet.”
John’s vision changed our city. By putting legal tools in the hands of people directly impacted by poverty and marginalization and by allowing them to articulate a vision for change, Pivot’s campaigns have shifted the balance of power in Vancouver. Pivot has also challenged the traditional non-profit model by being aggressively entrepreneurial, open-sourcing campaigns, and leveraging amazing volunteer talent (like the design and development of this website – major thanks to Joel Bennett).
John has been many things to many people over the years – activist, radical, social entrepreneur, visionary – but to me he was a mentor and a friend. Occasionally, it is difficult for me to look up from my desk and not see him sitting across our busy office; but John is off preparing his next big thing for the world – and I am certain the world will be better for it.