Spring Gillard

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.

Leading by Example

Some wise Sunday thoughts from EE. pink-lotus-109000-300x188

Loving someone does not mean automatically acquiescing to their every whim. Sometimes love shows itself in saying no to an attitude or desire that is harmful. But your opposing must be done tenderly, without anger or condescension. This is a difficult art.

Go slowly. Remember that it is better not to react in the heat of the moment. Whenever time allows, don’t respond immediately. Speak and act when you can do so with patience and kindness. Remember, too, that the very best way to change someone is to embody that change with your own example. – Eknath Easwaran, Thought for the Day

Building Energy

passiveThanks to the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City newsletter for this post.

Vancouver’s rezoning policy, updated in June 2014, now recognizes Passive House as a compliance option.

 Rezoned lots, like the 3-6 story apartment buildings on Hastings or townhomes along Cambie, are great for the surrounding community because greater density helps public transit work and the developer helps fund public projects like parks, street furniture, and community centers. 

Passive House, a compliance option, is a standard requiring an 80-90% reduction in energy use for space heating. A two bedroom apartment built to code might pay about $680 a year to heat, while the same sized apartment in a passive house certified building could expect to pay less than $90 annually. 
If you’re a homeowner looking to upgrade your natural gas furnace (or boiler) and water heater, consider a combined space and water heating system. FortisBC is looking for 100 single family homes to participate in a pilot to test the performance and efficiency of these systems. If you’re a successful applicant you could be eligible for a rebate of either $1,300 or $1,800. Learn more and apply today.

 Attend Canada Green Building Council’s (CAGBC) annual conference and expo — Building Lasting Change 2015. This event is known for quality education, networking opportunities and dynamic presenters including world-renowned keynote speakers Dr. Michael Braungart and Edward Mazria.

 Your registration includes:

  • Business to business meetings for delegates, exhibitors and trade commissioners
  • New one-day expo with 100 booths offering delegates information on green building products and services
  • The CaGBC’s annual Leadership Awards Gala and Dinner

This initiative supports two of the City’s Greenest City goals: GREEN BUILDING, CLIMATE LEADERSHIP

Clean the Green

KVS2015I pulled this little notice from the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City newsletter. This annual month long event is a great way to meet your neighbours and help to keep our “green city” clean. There are several other greening events listed below as well. Happy Earth Day!

Keep Vancouver Spectacular (KVS) celebrates 20 years of thousands of volunteers pitching in to keep Vancouver’s streets free of litter. This Earth Day, April 25, you too can keep Vancouver spectacular:

This year, KVS aims to reach a new milestone of 20,000 volunteers. Sign up today!

On April 25 you can also celebrate Earth Day in Everett Crowley Park (11am-3pm). At the event, you can help plant 1,000 native trees to grow the urban forest. Vancouver Biennale will also be there with their I Have a Dream project, which invites the community to get involved with their global gardening and farming initiative.

The event supports several of the City’s Greenest city goals: ACCESS TO NATURE, LIGHTER FOOTPRINT, LOCAL FOOD, ZERO WASTE.

City Birds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you haven’t seen the heron colony in Stanley Park, it is well worth a visit. There are other city birds worth tweeting about too. Some of them are listed in this announcement of the recently launched City Bird Campaign in the Greenest City newsletter.

Stanley Park is home to one of North America’s largest urban heron colonies. According to the Stanley Park Ecology Society, last year the heron colony had 116 nests and produced 131 fledglings. Herons have been nesting in the park since at least 1921. 

Now, you have access to a bird’s eye view of the Pacific Great Blue Heron nests with Vancouver Park Board’s new webcam. Watch as the long-legged herons go about their daily lives — courting, mating, laying eggs and hatching in early April.

 You can even ask an expert about the birds on Twitter at #herontalk.

Meet the candidates that are competing for the title of City Bird 2016 and cast your vote. Follow the birds on Twitter and tweet them with your questions or words of support with the hashtag #VanCityBird.

Bird Week is May 2-9. Keep an eye out for how you can participate in great birding events planned in Vancouver. If you want to help with the campaign and lend your bird photos, fan art, Photoshop skills, or tweet suggestions, please email us.

This initiative supports one of the City’s Greenest City goals: ACCESS TO NATURE

Got Milkweed?


Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science

Riffing on the Got Milk campaign, the David Suzuki Foundation has launched the Got Milkweed campaign in an effort to help save the dwindling monarch butterfly population. Female monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed plants which also provide food for the caterpillars. Milkweed has nearly been wiped out, so the Foundation is encouraging all gardeners to grow more. As with the butterfly, so with the plant. More info and links below.

We want you to plant milkweed in your neighbourhood. Start with your garden or balcony. Ask your neighbours, local parks and school groups if they’ve #gotmilkweed.

If you live in Toronto, you can buy milkweed plants during April, while supplies last, and pick them up at a fun event on May 24.

Live elsewhere? Call your local garden centre and ask them to stock milkweed native to your region. Or you can contribute to the #gotmilkweed campaign and we’ll plant milkweed on your behalf.

You have three options:

1. BUY A MILKWEED PLANT FOR $5: Purchase milkweed plants (in bigger, four-inch pots this year!) online during the month of April.

2. GET A #GOTMILKWEED KIT FOR $100: A kit includes 20 milkweed plants, #gotmilkweed stickers and great resources for butterfly gardening — perfect for planting milkweed at your school, park or workplace.

3. FOR $25 WE’LL PLANT MILKWEED ON YOUR BEHALF: Support the campaign with a donation so our Homegrown Park Rangers can plant milkweed as part of the Homegrown National Park Project.

All plants and kits must be picked up on Sunday, May 24 at Toronto’s Christie Pits Park.

More info here. Also, great photos and more information on monarch butterflies on the Houston Museum of Natural Science blog.

State of the Soil

state-soil-bgWoody Tasch, Founder of Slow Money, on the perilous state of our soil. This is from his address at Food + Enterprise in Brooklyn, New York this past February.

We are strong in terms of tillage, but weak in terms of fertility.

We are strong measured in chemical and mechanical power—millions and millions of tons of NPK, petrochemicals, herbicides and pesticides and the sophisticated technologies to apply them—but we are weak in terms of soil erosion, weak in terms of our connection to the land, weak in terms of sense of place.

Our industrial systems are taking carbon from the soil instead of building carbon in the soil. We have less and less organic matter, and fewer and fewer people who know what it feels, smells or tastes like.

This is a crisis in its own right, but it is also a spoke in the wheel of a larger crisis. Some might opine that food and agriculture are not merely a spoke, but are actually the hub, because if we don’t get agriculture right, then we can’t get industrialization and consumerism and globalization and urbanization right, and so, we can’t ever really get at the great systemic crisis of climate change and the increasing dysfunction of our institutions. – Woody Tasch

Read more.

Hunger Cure

There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much.

– Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Our modern civilization is so physically oriented that when we hear the word hunger, we immediately think of vitamins and minerals and amino acids. It seldom occurs to us that just as the body develops problems when it does not get adequate food, the person who is deprived of love – or worse, who finds it difficult to love – becomes subject to problems every bit as serious.

This doesn’t mean just emotional problems, which of course are included. More and more evidence indicates that lack of love not only leads to loneliness, despair, and resentment, but also contributes to the deterioration of physical health. When spiritual figures like Mother Teresa talk about our need to love and to be loved, the need is not metaphorical. She is not talking about some vague spirituality; she is talking about good nutrition. Resentment, hostility, alienation, and selfishness are deficiency diseases. You can have all the essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals known and unknown but if you cannot love, you are not likely to remain in good health. – Eknath Easwaran, Thought for the Day.