Spring Gillard

Feast Bowl

Feast-Bowl-March-29-2011-11-360x239A group of people from the UBC Learning Exchange went to Feast Bowl this past month. It’s a fabulous monthly community meal, with freshly grown ingredients harvested from the Indigenous Health Education and Research Garden at UBC Farm. Staff, students, faculty and community members prepare and share the meal together at the First Nations Longhouse. Sign up for their monthly newsletter here.

One Wild Casserole


This is an old recipe that used Uncle Ben’s wild rice. I’ve updated it here. I took it to my work potluck last week and it was a hit. So creamy.

Wild Rice & Broccoli Casserole

2 cups wild rice, cooked (I use Lundberg Wild Blend)

1 large head of broccoli

2 tins mushroom soup

1/2 pound shredded cheddar

Cook rice and steam broccoli lightly. Shred cheese and mix into mushroom soup. In a greased casserole dish, layer in the rice, soup mix and broccoli. Depending on the size of dish you use, you could have a few layers. Sprinkle with more cheddar or some dried romano or parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.


skatingThis week I participated in holiday festivities at work for the first time in many years. We had Christmas Tree decorating and a skating party for all our patrons, a lunchtime potluck, and an evening staff Christmas party. While I wouldn’t call myself a “Christmas person,” I have loved every minute of it. But I realize that what I have been celebrating, is this feeling of belonging. At this time of year, we notice more when we don’t belong somewhere. One of our patrons said to me at the end of the skating party, “This has made my Christmas.” Mine too my friend, mine too.

Women’s Wishes

dewc-banner-photoI’ll be making a trip to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre this week to drop off some soaps and socks and other items on their Christmas Wish list. The Centre was established in 1977 as a drop in centre for women and children living in poverty. They also provide a women-only emergency night shelter. They are a safe haven for women on the downtown eastside. Check out their wish list. They need food items for their holiday meals as well.


img2551kits-beach-filming-workshopjumpsizedJust found out about this innovative public education project, a partnership between Emily Carr, the David Suzuki Foundation and Roundhouse Community Centre. Unfortunately, it ended this past Monday, when the 17 art students, 3 musicians and 3 city planners presented their soundscapes, videos, and artwork. I include it here as inspiration. There are so many ways to engage the public in sustainability.

Empowering art students to become future community leaders in sustainability, the project is taught by Sarah Van Borek, Faculty of Culture + Community, as part of our Social Practice and Community Engagement (SPACE) program. The project’s over-arching goal is to promote a Regional Green Infrastructure Network (connected urban green spaces, thereby protecting and restoring wildlife habitat and healthy ecosystems) across Metro Vancouver.

Fragmented habitats make it harder to maintain biodiversity. Connected green spaces also make nature more accessible to all peoples regardless of income, race, culture, etc. Through the project, Emily Carr students are collaborating with 3 professional musicians (each based in either Vancouver, North Vancouver or Surrey) and a sound engineer in producing 3 original songs and music videos and an 8-week campus radio show using site-specific sound recordings, photos and video from specific green spaces in 3 municipalities (Vancouver, Surrey and North Vancouver), combined with key messaging provided by the David Suzuki Foundation, to showcase some leading best practices in green infrastructure.

  • In Vancouver, the project aims to raise awareness of the city’s position along the Pacific Flyway and the importance of a recent “Bird Friendly Strategy.”
  • The project features North Vancouver’s “Green Necklace” initiative, the realization of a 100-year-old vision for building a greenway around the entire city.
  • In Surrey, the focus is on the city’s leading Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. While these initiatives are being lead by the cities, they depend on the buy-in of diverse local community members.

This project aims at fostering this support through educating the public about the value of these connected green spaces, as well as inspiring similar initiatives in other municipalities. Read more.

Home Grown National Park

A great project from the Suzuki Foundation to green the urban fabric. All the information in their press release below and the little video above.

Canada’s newest “national park” is a vibrant patchwork of green space meandering through dynamic downtown neighbourhoods in one of Canada’s densest metropolises, along the former path of a creek buried more than 100 years. It’s a welcoming space for birds and bees that’s nurturing a new generation of city-builders. And it may spread to your city. Let me explain.

Authors Douglas Tallamy and Richard Louv originally proposed the Homegrown National Park idea. They advocated stitching together a diverse tapestry of green spaces to create a living corridor for butterflies, birds and bees. Ultimately, this connected pollinator pathway would become a natural space to rival traditional national parks.

The David Suzuki Foundation launched the Toronto Homegrown National Park Project in 2013, starting with the former path of Garrison Creek in the downtown west end. Two-dozen local residents were recruited as Homegrown Park Rangers, trained in community organizing and connected with local environmental and city-building organizations.

 The rangers discussed common desires to make their neighbourhoods and the city more green and livable. They were also given evidence that, as Harvard School of Public Health says, “even small amounts of daily contact with nature can help us think more clearly, reduce our stress, and improve our physical health.” Then they returned to their home turfs with a simple mission: to make awesome things happen where they live, work and play, with the ultimate goal of co-creating a green corridor through the heart of the city.

 These newly minted community leaders connected with local groups and agencies, participated in community events, made new partnerships and created opportunities for plantings in parks, yards, schools and laneways.

 Over the past two years, the Park Rangers have added thousands of wildflowers and native plants, often in surprising nooks and crannies and in unexpected ways — a network of flower-filled canoes in schoolyards and parks, and patches of pavement transformed into butterfly gardens.

 Together, through more than 30 initiatives, they’ve begun to bring more nature to the city and create the foundation for even more striking transformations. The project has cultivated a reputation for bringing residents out to celebrate the wonder of nature nearby, with fun events combining art, music, food and drink with the project’s ambitious ecological goals.

 What’s most exciting is the potential for communities across the country to adopt this place-based activism.

Canada’s cities are facing increasing challenges, from rapidly growing populations and aging infrastructure to economic downturns and uncertainty. They also represent remarkable landscapes of opportunity for green interventions — from rooftops and schoolyards to trails and laneways.

 Vancouver’s Country Laneway project and Montreal’s Green Laneways demonstrate the rich transformative possibilities lying dormant in the hundreds of residential and commercial laneways found in most cities. Colossal crisscrossing hydro and railway corridors can be reimagined as recreational and naturalized spaces, such as Toronto’s proposed Green Line and ambitious 80-kilometre Pan Am Path. Projects like the U.K.-based River of Flowers and Seattle’s Pollinator Pathway have shown the power of making space for birds and bees in a city.

You need look no further than a Google Map to see vast seas of rooftops awaiting urban greening. While green-roof technology is just beginning in Canada, innovative companies like Montreal’s Lufa Farms are demonstrating that roofs can not only be greened, but can also provide healthy, local food.

A key strategy in connecting green spaces is utilizing the areas in between. Neglected bits of streetscape and “meanwhile” spaces sitting empty, waiting for the next highrise or commercial development, can become temporary pollinator patches, community gardens providing local food, or space for quiet sanctuary, movie screenings and community dinners. They bring neighbours together. In short, they make communities more livable.

 Will Canada’s network of Homegrown National Parks ever rival our actual national parks? Not likely. But we must harness and amplify this homegrown local creativity to enhance urban ecologies and make our communities more livable and resilient. Smart urban innovations should be scaled up, shared and continuously adapted, supported by smart public policy and investment. Here’s to the many local organizers, innovators and park rangers who are making our cities greener. Please keep bringing nature home, one fun, green intervention at a time!

Enterprising Women Artists

Banner8I plan to do some Christmas shopping at Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA), an initiative of Atira Women’s Resource Society on the downtown eastside. The women’s collective hand-makes knitwear and jewellery, greeting cards, accessories and other beautiful crafts. They are open 11 to 6 daily at 56 East Hastings (til 7 on Fridays). In addition to supporting women entrepreneurs, Atira provides housing, education and advocacy.

Writers’ Rights

When the Diary was published, I registered with Access Copyright. The nonprofit represents thousands of writers, visual artists and publishers across the country. They license the use of copyrighted material to educational institutions, governmental bodies and others. Now I receive a small annual payment to compensate me for both the book and all the newspaper and magazine articles I have written. I was surprised to find that in academia, authors do not retain the copyright to their own work, rather it is owned by the publisher. No shock then that the two viewpoints are clashing. I suppose it is easier to give up your rights when you are getting a regular, healthy paycheque along with rich benefits. Below is the background on the dispute from Access Copyright and you can watch the short video above. Do you think this new deal is fair?

What is educational “fair dealing”?

Over the past 18 months nearly every Canadian university, college and school board outside Quebec has adopted “fair dealing” content use guidelines closely mirroring those distributed by CMEC in the 3rd edition of Copyright Matters!

While some will point to this as proof of emerging consensus on “fair dealing” best practices for education, it is not the type of broad-based consensus that leads to constructive, lasting solutions.

Among those who produce content for educators and students there is grave concern over the effect these policies are already having on the industry and what it will mean for the future availability of Canadian content in our classrooms. There is also disappointment at the coordinated promotion of practices that appear hostile towards domestic publishing for education.

These new policies authorize and encourage copying based on a definition of “fair dealing” that is not supported by the law. Instead, they represent what some of the education sector’s lawyers and administrators would like the law to be. Nothing in the new copyright act or recent Supreme Court decisions suggests that “fair dealing” for education extends to the deliberate, systematic copying of published content for aggregation and delivery to support student instruction.

There is little doubt that the content and copyright landscapes are evolving. Over the past decade educational copying has migrated away from central photocopying hubs towards convenient, digital file sharing. And factors like Open Access resources and library database subscriptions are a significant part of the mix today, though usage continues to extend well beyond these areas.

Despite all the current debate around scope of educational “fair dealing,” any evaluation of fairness will necessarily involve an assessment of usage. That is why developing a fact-based understanding of usage should be a matter of integrity for all concerned. Fairness, after all, can’t be endangered by the facts.

The data we’ve collected shows that educators today share more content with students than ever before, whether it’s by handout, printed coursepack, emailed attachment, upload to learning management system, or other means. With articles from magazines, newspapers and journals; chapters from books and textbooks; sections of published non-fiction, literature, photography, art; and much more; educators create customized reading and viewing that supports curriculum.

The value of flexible content use for educators and students is without question. However continued access to valued Canadian content is unsustainable without a system that fairly rewards creators and publishers. At Access Copyright we believe that copyright should work for everyone and that’s why we’re dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to serve the education community’s content and copyright needs.

Please view our video about the need for balanced “fair dealing” policies in education, share it with your peers, and join the conversation. #AccessCopyright #FairDealingBalance

Gift Rapt

quiltI was showered with surprising gifts this week. First I got some unexpected time off at work. Then I was the only one who showed up for my restorative yoga class and I was given a deeply relaxing private session. But best of all was when my dear friend Megan arrived at my house yesterday with this beautiful quilt that she had made for me. Each square was something I love, she said. French. Swimming. Coffee. Chocolate. Cycling. Gardening. Cheese. Dogs. Saving the planet. Hedgehogs. Ice cream. Whales. Shoes. Water. Beaucoup de café, mais oui. Paris. And in anticipation of completing my MA, a graduation cap. All in my current favourite colour palette of teals and browns.

But the more I look at it, the more I see that every square tells a story of our friendship too, the things we have in common, evoking memories of the wonderful and deliciously silly times we’ve shared over the years. Curled up on the couch tonight, I am wrapped up in the warmth and delight of this longtime friendship.

Twirling Flakes

flkaeTwo colleagues who hail from the U.K. swear that their chocolate is better than our chocolate. One of them brought samples back from a recent trip to Scotland. Flake has ridiculously sensual ads to emphasize the way the chocolate falls apart when you bite into it. Think Aero only with flakes not bubbles. The Twirl, is essentially a Flake, with an extra layer of chocolate binding all the flakes together. Both are made by Cadbury. I tried one of each of course, and my U.K. colleagues are right, the chocolate is creamier, and has more flavour. The stuff you buy off the shelves here (Cadbury or other common brands) is waxy and artificial tasting. Someone else did a rather unscientific taste test of some of the leading bars in the U.K. and the U.S. and agrees there is a big difference. Why? Turns out the difference has a lot to do with the manufacturing process. Googling around, I found a very good explanation here. The author even explains the “throw up taste” common in some chocolate – especially Hershey brand in my opinion. My solution is to not buy the cheap stuff. You may recall my motto: If you’re going to drown, drown in the Ganges.