Spring Gillard

Naomi Klein

Thanks to a dear friend, who stood in a line-up in the rain yesterday, I am one of the lucky ones going to Naomi Klein’s event on Sunday night at UBC’s Chan Centre. She’s promoting her latest book. Good to see such a great response. Another friend, who wasn’t so lucky, took this photo.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein will be addressing the Vancouver Institute on Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 7:00 p.m., Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, University of British Columbia.

Naomi Klein is the author of the critically acclaimed #1 international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies which have each been translated into more than 30 languages. She is a contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine, a reporter for Rolling Stone, and a syndicated columnist for The Nation and The Guardian. Additionally, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail, El Pais, L’Espresso and The New Statesman. Naomi is a member of the board of directors for, a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics. She holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia. Her new book is This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (September, 2014).

A Sticky Issue

cuponbenchI participated in the Coffee Cup Revolution a couple weeks ago, an event put on by The Binners Project and community partners. I arrived at 8:45. The event didn’t officially start til 9:30, but there was already quite a line forming. Binners were eager to trade in their used coffee cups for some hard earned cash. I was assigned a job at the counting table set up with one other counter. We experimented by counting the cups from a couple of binners who were also working with us that day. It was soon clear that we would need more counters as the counting took quite awhile, even when the cups were stacked in tens or twenties. By the time I left, we had three tables with a pair of counters at each and we were still swamped.

Most of the binners were bringing in their maximum count of 400 cups and would receive five cents a piece for each. I wore protective gloves but it was sticky and intense work with a line-up that never seemed to end. I was conscious of people having to wait a long time – and realized that line-ups were probably standard in their life. I was aware of how much these cups signified – gentrification in the neighbourhood, people being displaced, high priced cafés moving in, and many of the locals not being able to afford the coffee at the new establishments. I was struck by how the wasteful habits of the rich could now potentially provide jobs for the poor. As I watched all the logos flashing through my hands, I wondered where the companies were in all of this – where was their responsibility? Many of the establishments even use the paper cups when customers are drinking in store.  And all the while, binners would plunk their bags on the table, smiles on their faces after picking up after us, proud of their haul. All through my shift, they were thanking us for putting on the event. I was horrified and humbled all at the same time.

After all the cups were collected, people created sculptures out of them. A Coffee Cup House would have really captured the irony of chopping down trees to make coffee cups when we can’t house many of the people who were collecting our garbage.

Learn more about The Binners Project here.

Free Movie Day

24b9c83c6730e91b8e330338b83ed8157c533a4fLooks like a great (rainy) day to sit in a Cineplex movie theatre. It’s community day and movies are free. Popcorn, candy and drinks go for two bucks a pop with 100% of the proceeds going to Free the Children.

Farm Truck

farmtruckLook what I found on one of my lunch time explorations. The Strathcona Truck Farm was inspired by a similar project in Brooklyn. You can read all about the truck and their urban seed project here.

Feast for All

pumpkinsThis seems like a good event to promote on a weekend when we are all feasting. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Feast Worldwide is a day of global dinner parties in 40+ cities across 6 continents. The goal? To spark collaboration that drives local entrepreneurs and social initiatives forward. More information here.

On October 18, we’re inviting Vancouver to explore the global theme of PROGRESSION through food and sharing. Join us in envisioning, “A world where growing and eating healthy food connects people.” RSVP here.

The idea is simple. Come for an interactive dinner that explores connections between food, community, technology, sustainability, business, health, design, and more! We’re inviting incredible entrepreneurs from Mealshare, Social Bites, City Beet Farm, and The Food Connection to share their work. Let’s sit together over dinner – and instead of talking about problems, talk about ways to support each other, collaborate, and make things work a tiny bit better.

This dinner is about connecting with each other over a simple meal and weighing into a global problem solving session. It’s a movement to get full on good.

Like our Facebook page for ongoing updates.

Magic in the Air

MECHANIC-MOBILE-BIKE-PROSHOP-Velofix-Ron-Sombilon-Photography-20-EditAs I rode to work yesterday morning, I was thinking that I needed to get some air in my tires. When and where could I do it? I wondered. It’s not as convenient anymore now that so many gas stations charge for their air. Then as I was approaching Science World I saw a cluster of people at a table. One of them called out to me, Do you need a tune-up? I stopped. No, but do you have any air? Sure enough, they did. They were Velofix, the Mobile Bike Proshop – with air and every bike fixing tool you could imagine in their van. They make house calls, or will come to you no matter where you are. When I arrived at work that morning and told my boss about my experience, he said I had magical powers and should buy a lottery ticket. Hmmm, then I could manifest a brand new bike.

Legendary Loves

Have you seen the latest commercial for Addition Elle, the plus size women’s clothing store? It’s for their Love & Legend brand featuring their “hottest street styles.” The commercial is titled Meet My Love which is beautifully shot, but it was the song that caught my attention – I Will by Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. When I googled around I found previous ads with equally arresting music – like Turning Heads by Quebecoise singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin-Goyer. She was featured on the ad for the Ashley Graham lingerie line. She was also on the first season of La Voix (The Voice). These sexy ads and the heart stopping music is making it hip to be hip-py. Will be adding this ‘real woman’ store to my play list.

The Shuttered Gentry


A young colleague who also works on the downtown eastside was commenting on the gentrification in the neighbourhood. He told me he is conflicted. On the one hand we know that as the condos and cafes and high end restaurants move in, it drives out the low income housing and affordable food outlets. On the other hand, he said, some of his friends can afford to buy a home in Vancouver for the first time. Affordable housing has many layers. Still when homeless people are camping out in Oppenheimer Park, it must be hard to close those pretty yellow shutters and feel good about the new bed bug-free condo.

Pink Rocker


Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

She was sitting on the sidewalk at the corner of Pender and Hastings whaling on her guitar when I walked by at lunch one day this week. She had a sign in front of her that said: Sorry, I know I sound bad, but I have a cold. She sounded amazing, her voice a little more hoarse than usual perhaps. She was thin with bright pink hair, tattoos and nose rings, but there was a sweetness about her. I dropped a loonie into her hat. “You’re really good,” I said. “Nah, I’ve got a cold, so I don’t sound that great,” she apologized. “You would make more money on the westside,” I said. “I love Chinatown,” she said. “It reminds me of a certain corner in Toronto, had some happy times there. Things have been rough lately.” “You should post a video on Youtube,” I said. “I am on Youtube,” she says, “I’ve done a few gigs here and there.” “Well, you’re really good – and you would probably fare better on the westside.” “I dunno,” she says, “someone dropped a hundred dollar bill on me yesterday.” Lesson learned from a pink rocker.

UBC Learning Exchange Celebrates 15 Years

storefront-smallThe UBC Learning Exchange has been part of the downtown eastside community for fifteen years. I’ve been working there for two months now as the peer-led English conversation program coordinator. This campus is a community-driven place of learning, where people can make connections, share their gifts, skills and ideas, and in the process build capacity for social change. Through the month of October, in concert with our many partners, we are celebrating with a feast of events. For those of you working in social and environmental sustainability, you may be interested in the Coffee Cup Revolution on Monday, October 6th in Victory Square or perhaps the World Poetry Film Festival on Saturday, October 25th. You can view the full program here.

Update: POSTPONED: October 18th Operation Oblivion Screening

We are saddened by the news of the passing of one of the veterans featured in Operation Oblivion. Out of respect for the mourners, our October 18th screening of the film will be postponed. Please share the news of this postponement. We’ll be in touch soon with a new date.