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Spring Gillard
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Tropical Dreams

palmtreeMy Dad and brother left for Mexico this morning. Even though our winter has been very mild and surprisingly sunny, I am still dreaming of tropical climes. It helped when I stumbled across this palm tree on my walk today. A windmill palm is perfectly happy growing in northern environments. The palm trees sprout yellow leaves, but only the female trees produce the palm nut fruit that you see here. Olé!

West Coast Winter

snowdropsWeather report: Snow drops in Vancouver.

Ancient Landscapes, Living Culture

citybeforecityThe Museum of Anthropology, the Musqueam First Nation and the Museum of Vancouver have collaborated on a new exhibition series called cəsnaʔəm, the city before the city. The region, currently known as “Marpole” was first occupied by the Musqueam five thousand years ago. In three locations, the exhibits explore Musqueam identity, culture and ongoing connection with their traditional territory. Through first person stories in person and multi-media, maps, artifacts, guided tours and interactive exhibits, the series showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Musqueam. The City before the City runs January 23, 2015 through January 28, 2016 at the following three locations.

Musqueam Cultural Education Resource Centre
4000 Musqueam Ave.

Museum of Vancouver
1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver
604-736-4431

Museum of Anthropology
6393 NW Marine Dr.

In Like a Lamb

LionDanceThe year of the ram is upon us, according to the Lunar Calendar. The ram (or sheep or goat) is said to usher in a calmer, gentler time. Nevertheless, Chinatown was abuzz this week with New Year’s activities. There’s plenty to do during the spring festival this weekend. The vibrant multicultural parade starts at 11 this morning.

Alien Tomato

tomato1My mom as been keeping a pet tomato. The eversprouting fruit looks like an alien life form. She took the plant into Art Knapp, her local garden store where Scott Austin, resident garden columnist, did a bit of research. Turns out that this strange sprouting phenomenon is not that uncommon. It’s called “vivipary” and, according to Scott, “it’s a function of the hormone that controls seed dormancy becoming weaker under certain conditions.” I can’t help but wonder if the hormone might be overactivated by the application of certain fertilizers and pesticides. Thoughts?

Bike Arch

bike-art-green-renaissanceThe weather has been so spring-like on the west coast that I am thinking about getting my bike tuned up and out on the road again. With cycling on my mind, I came across this inspiring bike art on a blog called Bikes4Life. Looks like it was originally posted on Green Renaissance though. Artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector created the bicycle arch after combing through the junk heaps of nonprofit bicycle organizations. It took 300 bikes to create the archway in Los Angeles, California.

Nature is Speaking

There’s a lovely nature series on Youtube by Conservation International. In one of them Harrison Ford is the Ocean, in another Robert Redford is a Redwood, Penelope Cruz is Water, Kevin Spacey is the Rainforest. You get the idea. Listen to mother nature via some great celebrity voice overs.

Not the Safe Way

safewayI cross the Safeway parking lot everyday on my way home from work and always feel as if I’m putting my life in danger. A man died in August of 2005, when he slipped and fell and was hit by one of the large food trucks that are constantly coming in and out of the busy lot. There are no walkways across the vast parking area, the sidewalks are just short extensions of the main entrances, designed to make you walk through the store instead of around it. The store caters to the car culture, not pedestrians.

When I was active with the Westside Food Collaborative, we offered a tour of local grocery stores as part of a survey of food access in our neighbourhoods. We were looking at the size and number of stores and how they were distributed in the neighbourhood. We compared prices and whether or not the stores stocked fresh, healthy and culturally appropriate foods. Many mid-size local grocers serve as a community gathering place in addition to providing food within easy walking distance. Community-minded grocers consider the community they reside in and what their needs are. We have a large seniors population on the westside, many of them walk or take transit and are not as able to sprint across the lot. Ironically, Safeway is a member of the Safer Parking initiative, which is geared to anti-theft measures, but obviously the program doesn’t consider the safety of pedestrians.

Although it is not my main grocery store, I do shop at Safeway a few times a month. Perhaps if they made their parking lot more inviting, I might feel more welcome there.

Dance Dance Dance

1114-002-so-you-think-you-can-dance-top-4-performMy brother and I are heading to So You Think You Can Dance, 2014 top 10 on tour in Vancouver tonight! The 12th season begins in June.

Getting to Maybe

71gFA-QpKQLI’m reading a wonderful book called Getting to Maybe, which I highly recommend to anyone working for social change. In very accessible language and through compelling case studies, the book describes the change process based on the interdisciplinary systems view of life. In one chapter, the authors speak of the importance of engaging the “powerful stranger.” They mean the “other,” those people, politicians, organizations, and businesses we often label as the enemy. Progressive activist groups and social innovators are already embracing powerful strangers, realizing that true sustainability cannot be won without them. Here is an excerpt.

Early power and resources for change are often found through connection, through joining together with fellow travellers, like-minded individuals whose chief resources are their passion, their time and their energy. If successful at this stage, the community becomes a movement, which opens the door for confrontation and possibly conflict as those who control larger portions of money, authority and access resist demands for change. If the system is to be transformed as opposed to overturned, collaboration between the radicals and the establishment must be created. If it succeeds, deep shifts in the distribution of resources may occur. Connection, confrontation and collaboration each offer their challenges and have lessons for social innovators.

– from Getting to Maybe, How the world is changed, by F. Westley, B. Zimmerman and M. Quinn Patton.