Spring Gillard

White Light

whitepartyI ran into a White Party last night on my ride home from work. Or that’s what I thought it was until I did a little more research. There was a cluster of bright whites gathering around my Solar Bike Tree. Other white-clad folks carrying picnic baskets and coolers spread throughout the park around Science World, setting up portable tables, draping them in white cloths. Although the participants were all dressed in white, this was not technically a White Party. The White Party has its origins in the LGBTQ community and was originally conceived by Frank Wager as a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS research in 1985; the “circuit party” takes place all over the world. A few years later, the Dîner en blanc was born in Paris thanks to François Pasquier and a few friends. These dinners are meant to be chic al fresco picnics, with the secret and very public locations released to ticket holders at the last minute. It was a beautiful surprise to stumble upon this elegant sea of white diners whatever the intention.

Fruit & Veggie Deal

peppersStarting in Sept, you can subscribe to a monthly low cost fruit and veggie box. There are two sizes – the small box is $14-$17 and the large $20-23 – based on a sliding scale. You can pick up your fresh produce box from Steeves Manor, Linden Tree Place or UBC.

This program is run solely by volunteers who order, sort and pack the boxes for the third Thursday of each month. The Fruit & Veggie Deal is also supported by a number of community organizations and sponsors including the Westside Food Collaborative.

For more information call: 778-371-4664 or email:

A Different Kind of Mediation


I came across this beautiful essay by Zenobia Barlow from the Center for Ecoliteracy. It is her address to graduates of their sustainability leadership academy in 2009/10, the year of the Transocean/BP Oil spill on the Gulf Coast. In the address, she refers to the Okanagan Four Societies Model or En’owkin. The model is a collaborative, community building, whole-systems process. I wondered how quickly the current BC teachers’ strike would be over if both government and the union leadership adopted this approach, or brought in a mediator adept in this model. Barlow provides a good sense of how the model is practiced in the excerpt below, but you can read more about En’owkin, which is in Jeanette Armstrong’s essay, Let Us Begin With Courage, also found on Ecoliteracy’s excellent and resource-full website.

It’s true that leadership calls for clarity of vision, but vision needs to be accompanied by a healthy respect for conserving traditions from the past, the capacity to nurture networks of relationships in a community, and a willingness to champion practical strategies that are manifested in concrete action.

The Okanagan Four Societies model presumes that all four perspectives must be present for a community to genuinely practice sustainability. Although leaders may not be able to embody every dimension in their own leadership, they do need to be aware of cultivating these multiple perspectives in their communities.

Just as there are multiple learning styles in a classroom, there are multiple points of view in organizations. We need our leaders to affirm the validity of diverse perspectives. In the Okanagan tradition, the challenge is to request that the person with the point of view furthest from one’s own be encouraged to share that perspective as forcefully as possible. The second challenge is to ask, how can I change myself to accommodate the other? This is the opposite of our tendency to manipulate or force others to adopt our point of view. Communities who live on a scarce resource base for long periods of time learn that their resilience demands consciously eliciting and honoring the minority point of view as well as nurturing a spirit of cooperation that extends beyond necessity to encompass caretaking for one another and other life forms.

As I reflect on the disaster on the Gulf Coast, I really doubt that the decision makers at conference tables in their wood-paneled boardrooms making plans for offshore deep-drilling operations challenged one another to state the points of view most opposite from their prevailing assumptions. Nor did they care to take into consideration implications beyond extractive efficiencies. Can you imagine what might have happened if their technical and financial considerations had been tempered by a deep ecological understanding of the interconnectedness of ocean ecosystems and Gulf Coast communities?                     – Zenobia Barlow

Cooking with Three Sisters

mayagdnLooks like a fabulous workshop this weekend at UBC Farm with the Mayan gardeners. A Three Sisters garden contains squash and beans and corn. You will be working with those garden fresh ingredients in the kitchen. Here’s the info.

Traditional Maya Cooking Workshop

Members of the Maya-in-Exile Garden at the UBC Farm invite you to a traditional cooking workshop. Help prepare (and eat!) four dishes:

Tamalitos de flor de calabaza con salsa de miltomate (tamales filled with squash flowers served with tomatillo salsa) ; Ensalada tradicional (traditional salad); ejotes en sopa (green beans in soup); dulce de calabaza (Squash dessert), and cafe traditional (Mayan coffee).

Date: Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Time: 2:00-4:00PM

Place: UBC Farm, 3461 Ross Drive, Vancouver

Cost: $30 (All proceeds to benefit the Maya-in-Exile Garden)

What to bring: Curiosity and your hungry belly

To register: Please e-mail:

Event link:

Recycle All Your Plastics


Westsiders can drop off all the plastics that don’t go in the recycling bins at a convenient depot in Kitsilano. If you miss the Thursday, you can also drop off at Lord Byng School on the third Saturday of every month. It’s on August 16th this month. Here’s what you can bring.

Soft plastics (packaging, i.e., cheese wrapping)•Hard plastics (like those soda bottle caps)•Styrofoam (blocks, containers, cups, take-out, peanuts)•Beverage containers (wax lined)•Milk cartons•Foil lined bags (chips, coffee)


@ Pocket Market, 8th & Vine

Thurs. Aug 14, 4-7 pm

Thurs. Sept 18, 4-7 pm

The Enemy Within

201_largeI read this the other morning. Seems like an important message for our times. Working on the violence within ourselves is the best place to start.

One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand men on the battlefield. [Dhammapada, 103]

As long as we attack others under the foolish belief that the enemy is outside, we can never be victorious. The real enemy is within all of us. This is the enemy we have to face with courage and then defeat. Gird yourself up to fight, the Buddha would say; the battle is already joined! Don’t try to run away. The enemy is all that is base in us, all that is greedy, and separate. This is the real enemy, who hides within and deceives us by warning, “Look out! The enemy is waiting for you outside.” – Eknath Easwaran, Essence of the Dhammapada (Nilgiri Press, 2013, p. 93)

Piano Man

pianomanSpotted this lovely scene while walking around the downtown eastside on my lunch hour this week. City Studio has placed ten pianos around town to inspire random acts of music. Beautiful!


DSCN5166I booked a compost workshop at my community garden for tonight – before I knew I was getting a new, full time job. So the question was, do I cart all of my composting supplies with me to work or try to rush home before heading to the garden for 6pm. I decided that carrying a compost aerator on the bus would make me feel like a wingdigger, so I opted to stash it in the garden a couple nights before. I’m doing a workshop for some of our newer community gardeners and we invited our neighbouring gardeners from community gardens along the railway tracks too. This is part of a greenest city neighbourhood small grant we got through Kits House and the Vancouver Foundation to prepare the ground and surrounding landscape for our new compost bins. We got another grant from the City for the new set of three bins.

This working full time is going to take a little getting used to. But it’s good to mix things up – both in life and your compost bin.

Living Out Loud

Shipyards-Night-Market-1024x512On Friday, I joined a friend at the North Van Night Market at the Shipyards. It was abuzz. There’s a market, with food and crafts, live music and a long row of food trucks. It’s a wonderful venue; it was crowded, but there’s lots of space to stretch into with plenty of nautical seating throughout the space. My friend and I grabbed some food from one of the trucks and then headed out to the pier that juts into the water – the further out you go, the more space. And the view! I always enjoy the shift in perspective when looking at the City of Vancouver from the North Shore. It was a blast, a lively mix of music and people. I picked up a bag full of fresh produce, we nibbled on samples, and had a gelato to cool off.

I have been over to Lonsdale Quay many times and have always found it somewhat lifeless. Even though they have a plaza in front of the building that overlooks the water, it’s never really taken off as a gathering place. Yet right next door there is this hot spot, that is apparently jammed every Friday night through the summer. And it’s not only locals who are attracted, the night market has become a destination point.

I came across this website while working on my MA research that explains why one venue succeeds while another doesn’t. It’s called Urban Magnets, which is defined as: “unique urban places that attract and hold activity groups. These groups, through ‘living out loud,’ animate a place and give it vitality, a sense of place and economic success.” The braintrust behind the concept, which includes a team of local planners and architects, has developed an evolving theory around this practice of land use design. Whoever designed the shipyards space, hit exactly the right note. It was a fabulously fun evening and I will be back before summer’s end to live out loud.

If you want to learn more about designing lively and sustainable communities, check out the Certificate in Sustainable Community Development at SFU. In the course I facilitate, called Applications, we tour living models of sustainability in the lower mainland. You can take the courses à la carte or sign up for the entire program which starts in September. Registration closes August 28.

Dress Code

closetI’m supposed to be madly coding data for my research. I’m using this new computer software program, marking the interviews with key “code” words so I can figure out what it all means. Instead, I decided to sort and organize my clothes. Nothing like a deadline to get me in the mood for cleaning.

There is another motivation this time around however. I got a new job! I am the new coordinator for the UBC Learning Exchange English conversation program. The sessions are led by volunteers and available to seniors and new immigrants on the downtown eastside. So that’s also why I needed to do a little wardrobe analysis. Get my work clothes in order, clear some of the closet clutter.

As of next week, I’ll be working full time and trying to finish up the MA before the end of the year. Life’s about to get crazy, but at least I have a spotless house.