Spring Gillard

Cedar & Bamboo

Cedar and Bamboo2We’re hosting a cool event at the UBC Learning Exchange next week in partnership with the Chinese Cultural Centre. We’re screening Cedar & Bamboo, a film about the shared history of First Nations and Chinese immigrants in BC. Elder Larry Grant, who is of Musqueam and Chinese descent, will facilitate a discussion afterwards. The event celebrates Vancouver Asian Heritage Month.

Garden State

gardenstateEver wish you hadn’t started a project? Can’t even begin to imagine how it will ever be done? That’s the state of my balcony garden and my thesis at the moment. The long weekend just won’t be long enough I’m afraid.

Brown is the New Green

Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan

Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan

I prefer to grow food in the front and back yard, but it’s nice for the kids and dogs to have some grass to roll around on. If you must have lawn, here are some tips to conserve water from the Greenest City newsletter – and a great deal on a rain barrel for Vancouverites.

The key to a healthy lawn is applying the right amount of water and only when necessary. Sprinkler systems can help keep your yard beautiful and healthy. With simple changes you can ensure that you don’t overwater your lawn. With an efficient system, you’ll reduce your water consumption, lower your water bills, and prevent water runoff. This is especially important in summer when demand is high and supply is low.

 Consider these tips from the City’s irrigation foreman:

  • Water early in the morning. At this time there is less evaporation and water will be absorbed deeper into the soil.
  • Soil can only hold so much water. Long watering times can result in water waste and runoff.
  • Saturate root zones and let soil dry. Over watering results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease, and fungus.
  • Inspect your irrigation routinely for leaks, clogged heads, and other problems which could lead to watering issues, burnt grass, and wilted plants.
  • Watering needs may differ by area. Consider sun/shade exposure and most importantly soil type to identify the different needs in your yard.
  • Don’t water when it’s raining. Rain sensors are inexpensive and easy to install for almost any irrigation system.
  • Install low-volume drip irrigation systems for gardens, trees and shrubs. This will minimize evaporation, run-off, and overspray.

Better yet, don’t water your lawn at all. Lawns do not require watering to survive. If they are not watered they will become dormant and turn brown. When the rains return (and they always do) the grass will quickly return to its beautiful green without the use of valuable potable water.

Quench the thirst of your plants with free water from a rain barrel. Water collected in rain barrels is chlorine-free and an ambient temperature — a perfect drink for a happy garden. Using rain barrels reduce demands of treated drinking water, which is often in short supply in summer months.

Pick up a rain barrel for $50 at any of these locations:

Pre-ordering is advised but not required.

Inspiration Lab

Photo credit: Alex Ramon, July 2005

Photo credit: Alex Ramon, July 2005

Cool new tech space at the library. Spotted this in the Greenest City newsletter this week.

The Vancouver Public Library’s Downtown branch is now home to a new custom-built digital media space, the Inspiration Lab. Featuring high-performance computers, recording studios, creativity and digitization stations, and collaboration and program spaces, the 7,500 square foot lab is fully equipped to help users   The goal of the Inspiration Lab is to provide an opportunity for Vancouver residents to share ideas, information, and cultural expressions in a space that’s free and accessible to everyone. Be sure to check it out!

Earth Mothers

grdnThanks to my mother for my love of the earth, and all its glorious gardens.

I’m going to plant a heart in the Earth
water it with love from a vein.
I’m going to praise it with the push of muscle
and care for it in the sound of all dimensions.
I’m going to leave a heart in the Earth
so it may grow and flower
a heart that throbs with longing
that adores everything green
that will be strength and nourishment for birds
that will be the sap of plants and mountains.

— Rosario Murillo

Sustainability Competencies

3d-abstract_widewallpaper_fractals_36758Wals and Corcoran (2012) summarize some of the competencies considered key to the sustainability professional, including “thinking in a forward manner (anticipatory thinking), seeing relationships and interdependencies (systems thinking), the ability to put yourself in the mind of others, even other species, having different backgrounds or living elsewhere (empathic understanding and open-mindedness), utilizing diversity towards creativity, and coping with uncertainty” (Learning for Sustainability in Times of Accelerating Change, p. 24). Local sustainability strategist, Coro Strandberg has also compiled a list of five competencies that businesses will need for the future. Check out her article on systems thinking here.

Grooves & Moves

dancerobsonRobson Square skating rink has been transformed into a hip hop dance studio. The smooth floor is great for slides and spins. What a wonderful public space to get your groove on, or just to make a few subtle shoulder moves as you watch. Looks like Salsa Sundays are returning this year too!

Messing Up

garbageThis is what the garbage containers looked like along 4th Avenue today. So much for the new city recycling program. David’s, Starbucks, 49th Parallel, Whole Foods – everyone of you were littering the street today. The minimum retailers could do is charge a significant fee for the paper and plastic cups to encourage people to bring in their own travel mug. The fee could go to the city to help clean up this mess and to pay for an effective education campaign on recycling and composting. Enlightened business associations like the one in Strathcona are being very proactive about waste management. Time for west side BIAs to get busy.

Change Makers

I’ve been dipping into a great book called Getting to Maybe, How the world is changed, as I inch along on my thesis. Here the authors offer wise words for changemakers. A leader is only one part of the equation.

A leader often intensifies or clarifies communication. In this sense she may act as a powerful attractor. But unless the communication resonates at some level with local experience, the self -organizing pattern—or flow—will not emerge.

– Westley, Zimmerman, Quinn Patton (2007), Getting to Maybe, pp 99-100

Bag O Taters

geopot_blackHandles_edit_mediumI’m trying out one of the grow bags to grow some potatoes this year. I used the Geopot, but there are others on the market. The porous fabric bag allows moisture to drain out easily and provides good air flow for roots too. I put a couple inches of soil on the bottom of the bag, planted three seed potatoes, and then covered them with soil. Once the plants leaf out and grow to about 6 inches, you add another layer of soil, burying half the plant. Supposedly, you can then harvest potatoes at each layer. We’ll see if that’s what actually happens.