I love this funky little café in my neighbourhood. It reminds me of a place I used to frequent in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. Not only is the café atmosphere pleasant, but the owners have done an amazing job beautifying the boulevard. With all the community gardens along the nearby railway tracks, they’ve added nicely to the green belt effect. Not to mention pole-r warming.
One of the bonuses of being a grad student is participating in a vast array of professional development courses – for free! I would pay serious coin for similar ones “out in the world.” UBC is committed to getting its grad students employed post-degree. I’ve taken a number of courses already. So far, they have all been top notch.
Last summer I enrolled in Instructional Skills and Presentation Skills. I’ve taken workshops on conflict resolution and business effectiveness. There are courses to prepare you for interviews or to polish your CV. There are also school-related workshops, like getting your thesis back on track or learning the variety of software programs you may need to do your research. This coming week I’m taking a facilitation course and a two-day project management course.
School starts back up again this week too. And work has not eased off. Maybe I should squeeze in a time management course.
All my life, I’ve been told I look like my Mom, which is a great compliment. I think my Mom is beautiful. When I was growing up though, I tried not to be like her. She loved to garden. I did everything I could to avoid it. She canned and pickled. I didn’t. We knew when she had baked buns and bread or one of her legendary pies, because we could smell the heavenly scent halfway home from school. She always prepared wonderful home-cooked meals for us. For many years, I preferred to eat out or order in. She sewed clothes for me and my Barbie dolls, made amazing Halloween costumes for us kids. My attitude was, why bother? There’s a store for that. She worked alongside my Dad in the family business too and managed to become an accomplished golfer; she was club champion one year.
But her priority was her home and her kids. She truly was a homemaker. Still is. And now my little nephews are growing up in the warm glow of this smart, gifted and generous woman, their grandmother. I didn’t begin to value these talents until I was much older. Now of course, I’m trying to be more like her. I’m so grateful she’s still here, and willing to teach me. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
My community garden, the one with the cute purple shed, is having a fundraiser this Sunday. The BBQ bash takes place at Choices Market in Kits. Choices will provide burgers with a drink by donation. And you can chat with members of our garden who will be set up at a table there. If you’d like more info on our thriving little community of gardeners, go to our blog.
Kitsilano Community Garden
BBQ & Fundraiser
Choices Markets Kitsilano
2627 West 16th Avenue
Sunday May 12th
11 am to 3 pm
We grew quinoa (keen-wah) at the City Farmer garden for awhile. It was extremely difficult to harvest, all those tiny little seeds. We decided to stick with amaranth which is slightly less labour intensive. I buy quinoa regularly, even though it is expensive (I just paid over $16 for .8 kg of bulk organic red quinoa at Whole Foods). I’m a vegetarian and I value its high protein content. I also like the texture.
The grain, a staple of South American countries and grown in the Andean region, has been gaining popularity in recent years. Due to its high nutrition content it has been labeled a superfood. It has also surfaced in the news. According to some reports, its popularity was pricing locals out of the market and they were now eating less nutritious wheat products.
I was at a dinner not too long ago where the host served quinoa and a discussion ensued. The host insisted that this ugly truth had been proven wrong. I doubt that very much. This is an old story. Whenever “the west” becomes enamoured with a food, farmers start growing more of it, selling more of it to foreign markets and less of it at home. When I was in Belize one year, I remember a local telling me that they only drank orange juice there, because all the good oranges were sent to foreign markets.
As with the recent disaster at the garment factories in Bangladesh, the story is complicated. If the companies just pull out in response, the lives of those workers will be devastated too. So, it doesn’t mean we should stop buying quinoa, it just means we should think and learn more about where our food comes from, and what effect we are having as consumers.
For a more in depth account of this complicated story, read this article from the Guardian. To learn more about food and the myths surrounding our food supply, visit the Small Planet Institute. They have a recipe for coconut infused quinoa on their site!
I Skype with my young nephews quite frequently. Half the time they’re running in and out of my view during the “conversation,” but it’s still lovely to connect. I feel like I’m part of their lives, even though I only see them in person a few times a year. Recently the eldest one, he’s nine, emailed me to say, “Auntie, can we Skype?” Made my day. We not only had a conversation, we fired instant messages back and forth for another 10 minutes after shutting down the video. “Bye.” “Bye-bye.” “No, I’m really going now.” “K.” “Seriously, I’m signing off.” “LOL” And on it went.
My friend Jan told me a sweet story about how technology is even making weddings more accessible. A friend of her son’s was getting married. His grandmother wasn’t mobile enough to make the trip. So, friends set up a computer in her home and one at the wedding venue. On the morning of the wedding, the son’s mother logged on to Skype and found her mother already sitting in front of the computer. She was dressed in her finest with a string of pearls around her neck.
“Mom, you’re all dressed up,” said her daughter. “Well, you don’t think I’d show up at my grandson’s wedding in my housecoat, do you?” said the grandmother.
And speaking of weddings, congratulations to Brooke and Ben who were married in Little Rock, Arkansas this weekend!
When love unites with technology, the results can be very powerful.
One of my professors has done a longitudinal study on students from three BC high schools, analyzing their work experiences and decisions on higher education pursuits. She has collected a vast body of data over the 22 years, data that might well inform educational policy. However, the BC Ministry of Education has never been interested in seeing her work.
There continues to be a disconnect between academia and the “real world.” I catch myself using this phrase frequently, even though universities, including UBC, are increasingly forging partnerships with community to inform and enrich each other’s work and to attempt to resolve some of society’s most dire issues.
I was happy to see that at the upcoming Canada Green Building Council national conference in June, there is one stream where PhD students will be presenting their work. The pre-conference sessions, called Pushing the Boundaries: Net Positive Buildings, are hosted by UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA). The sessions are marked “invitation only” – giving them a veneer of academic exclusivity (change is slow to happen). No doubt every one will be scrambling to get an invite, including me. If we are going to build lasting change, there’s no more time for us and them.
A couple weeks ago, I received an e-newsletter announcement from the City declaring their support for a brand new art gallery on “two acres of the City-owned site at 688 Cambie, formerly known as Larwill Park.”
Since then, it’s been all over the local news. I received a second e-letter from the Mayor on April 25th to further convince me of the benefits of a new art gallery.
The debate over whether or not the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) should move from its current beautiful historic building in the centre of the city has been going on for some time. There have been innovative proposals from our city’s eminent architects that have redesigned and expanded the current site. One of those architects, Bing Thom, was very vocal about his displeasure. But when it looked like that battle was lost, he proposed a dynamic plan for the current site that includes a concert hall and underground arts venue that stretches underneath the art gallery plaza. Others have suggested that VAG set up satellite galleries to show some of the collections that never see the light of day due to lack of exhibition space.
As with the backing of the SkyTrain extension to UBC, I am mystified by the City’s decision on this proposal. There are several perfectly good solutions that would keep the art gallery where it is. Who wouldn’t want to be in the heart of the city, in an already iconic building, where people already gather? I was a member of VAG (until they raised their memberships by $25 in one swoop), and used to pop in when I was downtown. Now it will not only be unaffordable for me, but less accessible because it is out of the way.
So once again I ask myself, who is benefitting from this development? The information I’ve received is a little vague. The Mayor says this “is a huge opportunity to bolster our creative sector, showcase local artists from Vancouver and across BC, and make a clear statement that Vancouver makes arts and culture a priority.
We’ve done a lot of work to support the arts in recent years, but this has the potential to really elevate our creative economy to the next level.”
A lot of small arts groups are still really struggling since the 2008 economic downturn when the province and the feds cut funding to non-profits. I’m not sure this is really about promoting the arts at all. Sure it’s about developing the economy, but I suspect it won’t be the bottom lines of small arts and culture groups that will be enriched.
I love Facebook because I see things there that I don’t see anywhere else. Two urban agriculture shots were circulating recently. One from Geneva Switzerland, where it looks like everyone there is growing food. This aerial shot shows 900,000 allotments (community gardens), an equivalent of 3,000 medium sized farms. It’s from the Grow Food, Not Lawns Facebook site, but the original source is : Organic Green Roots with photo by Yan Arthus-Bertrand.
The other shot, also from Grow Food, Not Lawns is of a Union Street urban orchard in London. A group of architects transformed the site into an urban orchard and community garden for the London Festival of Architecture. Sadly, the site was dismantled at the close of the festival, but all the plants and trees were moved to new homes.
Here’s a great idea to dress up your stairs. Lushness and fragrance in every step.