paul harris

Paul HarrisPaul Harris is one of Central Alberta’s most influential and innovative personalities. Paul is a successful business owner, community leader, social entrepreneur, author, housing developer, and visionary. His ability to think both critically and creatively has extended its reach beyond his own endeavours to foster a culture of innovation and excellence in the non-profit and arts communities, and in Red Deer.

As part of his efforts to revitalize downtown Red Deer and contribute to cultural life Paul developed and now operates two businesses.

Sunworks, practitioners of good taste, is a boutique specializing in lifestyle products, from books to music, interior and garden furnishings to the culinary arts; it’s been serving the hip and trendy since 1995. As a member of 1% for the Planet the store contributes 1% of it’s gross revenue annually for community and environmental initiatives.

Emerging artists and new business owners have been encouraged and assisted through space and partnership within Sunworks’ buildings. This has had a transformational effect on the main street in Red Deer.

In addition, Paul recently embarked on the development of Swerve Living, an innovative housing project in the heart of Red Deer’s downtown. The philosophy of this project balances between the needs of the community, the individual, and the earth.

Once complete, Swerve Living will be a six-storey exemplar of sustainable multi-family living that enhances the streetscape through small business, public art and functional design.

Paul’s belief in the symbiotic relationships between business, community and the environment has led him to participate in several community initiatives which focus on quality of life. He has been active on the board of the Red Deer and District Community Foundation for seven years and currently serves as Chair. He previously served as Chair of the Cultural Development Association of Red Deer, President of the Downtown Business Association, a member of the Mayor’s Task Force to End Homelessness, and a member of the Chamber of Commerce Civic Affairs Committee.

Paul is now developing his facilitating and community development practice through networks in Canada and in Europe. Paul recently led the community inquiry which culminated in the Red Deer Community Culture Vision and Plan for Action 2008. This work was adopted as one of four documents that guides the City of Red Deer’s work in the urban landscape.

Paul is currently writing about community change and the complex issues that interconnect all of us. His belief is that community dialogue can be positive and visionary and, if encouraged, enables people to co-create beautifully enriching places for community to flourish.

In 2005 Paul was honoured with both the Mayor’s Recognition Award and the Alberta Centennial Medal for his outstanding leadership in, and contribution to, his community.