Spring Gillard


tatooslveThe Pride Parade is today and it is fantastic, but the shopping at the festival on Sunset Beach is also pretty spectacular. Many of the vendors who were at Folk Fest will be there. I got this tatoo sleeve at Pride a few years ago. I’m not brave enough for permanent ink. Have fooled many a friend and family member though. Here’s a message from our Mayor that makes me proud to be a Vancouverite.

This time last week I was at the Vatican City, wrapping up meetings with Pope Francis and world Mayors on how we can and must rise to the urgent challenge of climate change.

As the only Canadian Mayor to take part, I was proud of our work together to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world – and grateful for the opportunity to share our story and our goals with cities and states from around the world.

After speaking with the Pope and fellow Mayors from around the world about the injustices of climate change and poverty, it was inspiring to return home to the beginning of Pride Week in Vancouver – and a panel at City Hall on next steps for trans* rights and inclusion.

This kind of leadership and activism – with community-led discussion and dialogue – is really what keeps Vancouver on the leading edge of building a world that is more sustainable, more just, more prosperous, and more free.

When I’m in cities like Rome or the Vatican City, I hear from mayors and leaders from around the world who appreciate the leadership that we’re able to demonstrate in our city, because of the courage, bravery, and heart that is here in our community. We have a society that is opening up and welcoming full inclusion and equality for the LGBTQ2+ community and all of our residents in a spectacular way, which is not the case in many cities around the world where it continues to be very difficult and perilous for people with all different sexualities and gender identities. We know that Vancouver is so much stronger and more vibrant because of that commitment to equality and diversity.gregorpope

That’s why it was a special honour to raise not only the Pride flag at City Hall this year, but also the trans* flag  for the first time ever – following Council’s unanimous passage of my motion to provide stronger legal protections and inclusive programming for trans* residents in Vancouver and all across Canada.

I hope I’ll see you at this Sunday’s exciting Vancouver Pride Parade, and I look forward to continuing our work together to expand Vancouver’s leadership both here at home and on the world stage.

Thanks for your ideas and engagement,

Gregor Robertson
Mayor of Vancouver

Green Story Time



The City of Vancouver has reached the halfway mark on its Greenest City Action Plan and is asking for input.

It’s the Bright Green Summer! The Greenest City 2020 Action Plan is at its mid-point, and it’s time to celebrate successes to date and look at what’s to come. Join us this summer and fall for events and online engagement.

 The GCAP was developed thanks to a community-wide effort, and now we’re looking at what actions need to be taken next in order to achieve our ambitious targets.

 We want to hear your thoughts about the fifty newly proposed high-priority actions for reaching our goals. Share your thoughts on all ten goal areas, or just those that matter to you most, on our Talk Vancouver survey. While you’re at it — weigh in on priority areas for the renewable city strategy that is currently under development.

Since Vancouver launched its goal to become the world’s Greenest City, Chris has started walking to work, Sharon made invasive plant removal an art project, Susanne bought an electric vehicle, and Jessica, Karen, Jayde and Shea have been repairing broken items to reduce waste.

 Becoming the Greenest City is taking the efforts of everyone – and we want to hear YOUR story. Big or small, we would like you to share them all!

 Submit your story online and read about what your friends and neighbours have done at Greenest City Stories.

 This initiative supports: ALL GREENEST CITY GOALS

Chilling Premise

mayneforestDerrick Jensen, an author, teacher activist and small farmer wrote a book called Endgame, The problem of civilization, Volume 1. It is 451 pages long and pretty dense reading. But in the front of the book he lists 20 premises of our current civilization that pretty much summarize the contents. The premises are shocking and heartbreaking because of their stark truth. Here’s the last one, for which there are several modifications.

Premise Twenty

Within this culture, economics—not community well-being, not morals, not ethics, not justice, not life itself—drives social decisions.

Modification of Premise Twenty: Social decisions are determined primarily (and often exclusively) on the basis of whether these decisions will increase the monetary fortunes of the decision-makers and those they serve.

Re-modification of Premise Twenty: Social decisions are determined primarily (and often exclusively) on the basis of whether these decisions will increase the power of the decision-makers and those they serve.

Re-modification of Premise Twenty: Social decisions are founded primarily (and often exclusively) on the almost entirely unexamined belief that the decision-makers and those they serve are entitled to magnify their power and/or financial fortunes at the expense of those below.

Re-modification of Premise Twenty: If you dig to the heart of it—if there is any heart left—you would find that social decisions are determined primarily on the basis of how well these decisions serve the ends of controlling or destroying wild nature.

You can read the rest of them here.

Grey Water Time

sink-positive_2In the early 1990s, I read a little booklet on grey water systems by Robert Kourik. Kourik has gone on to become a widely published landscaping expert. I see on his blog that he now mostly confines “grey water” to legal applications. As we are in a period of drought and our premier is busy selling our water to bottled water companies, I thought it was time to revisit grey water systems.

The Greywater Action group defines grey water as the “gently used water from your bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines.” It may contain a bit of dirt, food, grease, hair, and household cleaning products, but it can still be used to irrigate ornamental plants and trees, or better still, to flush toilets. The nifty bucket system above is one such solution. It is criminal in my mind that we are using drinking water to flush our toilets. Low flow toilets are simply not the answer.

Grey water is not toilet water—that is known as “black water.” Although there are very effective black water filtration systems as well. There are both grey and black water systems in use at the UBC Choi Building. Buildings in the Olympic Village were designed to use rainwater. Pretty sure that’s not happening at the moment.

Go Solar Tours

pluggininsolarThe Society for Environmental Conservation (SPEC) 
invites you to join them on a tour to the Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) store on Broadway to learn about solar energy. On August 6th, a solar expert will animate the tour on the MEC rooftop parking lot.

These solar panels were installed in June by Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading green energy provider, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Canada’s leading outdoor retailer, and the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), the oldest environmental non-profit in BC. The array generates about 7 kwh per day, and over 2,900 kwh annually. It has enough power to run a modest energy efficient household!

On the tour you will learn how to:

-Identify different types of solar panels

-Determine the costs and savings of Installing a solar panel

-Make your home/building solar ready

-Integrate solar energy Into a building

-Move away from fossil fuels and into renewables

 Sign up here.

Watershed Tours

WatershedToursI’ve been on one of these watershed tours before and they are fabulous. Metro Vancouver offers them July to September. Details below.

Every summer we open our protected watersheds to let you discover these pristine valleys first hand. Join us for an engaging and scenic guided tours of our three protected watersheds to let you discover the source of your tap water.

Tours are offered Thursday to Sunday from July to September.

Coquitlam tours run Thursdays and Saturdays
Capilano tours run Fridays and Sundays
Special tours for families are available at the LSCR on select weekends

Capilano Bus Tour

Start your day overlooking the majestic Capilano Reservoir complimented by the Lions, two of Vancouver’s most iconic peaks. Join our tour guide for a journey into this protected watershed to explore unique landscapes that tell the story of your tap water from past to present. On this tour you will visit the Cleveland Dam, the historic Settling Ponds and Rodgers Lake (an alpine reservoir that feeds into the Capilano River). Through short presentations, you’ll learn about the history of the region’s water supply, water quality, treatment, how it gets to your home and the role of a healthy ecosystem in maintaining exceptional water quality. Please be aware that this tour includes a significant amount of driving on gravel roads and some short walks on uneven ground.

Dapper Buddha

buddhatLook what my Buddha picked up at the Folk Fest this year. It rivals last year’s head dresses. This work of art is from Dropping Form Designs in the Artisan Market. My friend Linda said I should use it as a “thinking cap” as I try to wrap up the thesis. Worth a try.

Saffron & Chickpeas

saffronchickpeaTried this recipe from Alive Mag recently. It’s yummy.

Saffron Stewed Chickpea Tagine with Olives

Being one of the world’s most expensive spices, saffron is an indulgence. However, a little bit goes a long way, as this tagine’s judicious application of the spice will show you.

2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into 1/2 in (1.25 cm) cubes
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 28 oz (796 mL) can diced tomatoes
2 cups (500 mL) dried chickpeas, boiled and drained
1/3 cup (80 mL) orange juice
1/4 tsp (1 mL) saffron threads

1/2 cup (125 mL) green manzanilla or black Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Sauté for 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, orange juice, and saffron. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in olives, cover, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

Each serving contains: 283 calories; 10 g protein; 11 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 39 g total carbohydrates (13 g sugars, 7 g fibre); 439 mg sodium

source: “Trace the Spice Route“, alive #391, May 2015

Allison Day, RHN, is a nutritionist, blogger, writer, and recipe developer. She’s currently writing her first cookbook and spicing up her life.

Joined at the Hipster

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Portland and Vancouver have often been accused of being joined at the hipster. Just like us, they have cool coffee joints, craft breweries, food trucks, farmers markets, and yoga studios. Read this Biz in Van mag article by former city councillor Peter Ladner about how Portland is actually beating Vancouver in the race to be the greenest city. I think they may be in the lead with most tattoos per capita too.

Charm of the Name

buddhafruitOh! the charm of the Name! It brings light where there is darkness, happiness where there is misery, contentment where there is dissatisfaction, bliss where there is pain, order where there is chaos, life where there is death, heaven where there is hell. – Swami Ramdas

Repeating the mantram is a powerful way to harness a very natural tendency of the human mind: to brood. Every compulsion gets its grip from this tendency. The mind takes a trifling remark or incident – no bigger than a limp balloon – and starts to inflate it by thinking about it over and over and over, blowing it up until it fills your consciousness. You can’t think about anything else.

When the mind starts this blowup routine, the mantram restores your perspective by letting out the air. Every time the mind pumps, the mantram pricks open a little hole and lets some of your attention get free. The balloon may not collapse immediately – after all, an emotion like anger or desire has powerful lungs. But right from the first, it will not get so obsessively large, which means you have introduced a measure of free choice. Next time the situation comes up, you will find your freedom of choice even greater. –Eknath Easwaran, Thoughts for the Day