Spring Gillard

Green Blobs

11088405_1025483087469475_7128751094914308579_nAnother great Facebook post from Green Renaissance. These South American Llareta plants grow ever so slowly – about a centimetre and a half a year, but these dense blobs live to the ripe old age of 3,000. The llareta is a flowering plant in the Apiaceae family. According to Wikipedia, it grows in the Puna grasslands of the Andes in Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile, and western Argentina at altitudes between 3,200 and 4,500 metres. Photographer Rachel Sussman captures The Oldest Living Things in the World before they disappear.


Skaha Lake bluffs

Skaha Lake bluffs

Canada Day. At home. On Native land.

Trashing the Waves

trashwaveThanks to Green Renaissance for this haunting shot of Indonesian surf champion Dede Suryana riding a wave off Untung Jawa Island, Indonesia. He wasn’t surfing alone. There was a whole lot of trash along for the ride. American surf photographer Zak Noyle captured these alarming images. Let’s hope they send shock waves throughout the world.

Packed to Go

closetcupboardIn my student years, I once created a dresser out of cardboard boxes with a bedspread thrown over it. I thought I was quite clever making pull out drawers. But this creation is smart, attractive and a great way to reuse old suitcases. Plus, if there was an earthquake, you could just grab and go. Thanks to Green Renaissance for this Facebook post.

Peas Please

peasMy peas aren’t quite making it home from the garden.

Timely Wisdom

respectedpeopleIn addition to being summer solstice, today is National Aboriginal Day. I spent Friday morning at the Musqueam celebration. They had a day of festivities planned. In the opening remarks, the very funny MC, Gordon Grant, said we were to tell what we saw and heard. So this is my effort.

I browsed through a number of interesting displays including their Aquatic Habitat Restoration Project and other sustainability initiatives that the Musqueam Nation is undertaking in collaboration with UBC. I was happy to see a compost bin tucked beside one of the buildings.

I did some good shopping too, there were fabulous art and jewellery vendors, a farmers market, and an amazing bakery stall with mouth-watering scones. I had to leave before the salmon BBQ lunch, but managed to get a little air in my tires at the Bike Co-op before heading back along beautiful Crown Street. The Musqueam partnered with the City on this now mature streetscape and fish habitat enhancement project.

I also spent some time at the impressive cəsnaʔəm, the City before the City exhibit at the Musqueam Cultural Centre. Inside the door there was a very special message for me from the elders shown above. Timely.

Detox Divide

detoxThanks to gentrification on the downtown eastside, even detox has gotten a face lift.



Detecting Radon



Did you know that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers? This post is from Lisa Gue, Senior researcher and analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. Radon wasn’t even on my radar.

Radon has been called “the unfamiliar killer”. Most Canadians have never heard of radon, even though it kills more people each year than traffic accidents and is responsible for up to 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths in Canada. That’s more than 3,000 preventable deaths in Canada last year alone!

Radon is formed through the natural decay of uranium in rocks and soils. It can seep into homes and accumulate, reaching high levels indoors and exposing our families to harm we can’t see.

Our new report shows that we need to strengthen Canada’s guideline for radon to match leading international standards and World Health Organization recommendations.

Testing is the only way to know whether you have a radon problem in your home. The good news? It’s not hard to test your home for radon.

Radon detectors are available for $30 to $60 from some hardware stores, businesses specializing in radon detection and mitigation, the Radiation Safety Institute and Lung Associations across Canada.

If tests results show your home has elevated radon levels, consult a certified radon professional for advice on mitigation options.

Beautiful Women, Beautiful Game

soccerI went to two Women’s World Cup soccer games on Friday night with some friends who were in from Olympia, Washington. It was my first soccer game ever! The first match was between Switzerland and Ecuador. As one of my neighbours in the stands said, “Only Switzerland showed up.” The score was 10 to 1. I still enjoyed every minute. The second match was between Japan and Cameroon. The same neighbour nearly cried in the opening few minutes, “They can play!” He meant Cameroon. While the final score was 2 to 1 for Japan, it was a nail biter all the way through. There were 31,000 people there, the majority of which were fans of Team Japan if the many national flags were any indication. Team Cameroon’s cheering section was much smaller, but equally awesome and much more colourful. The sportsmanship on display during the games was also very moving. If a player got knocked down, an opposing team member would help her up and make sure she was okay. The women behaved so beautifully, that I never once thought about the bad behaviour of the old boys in the FIFA fiefdom.

Living Architecture

MEC_Ext-222Spotted this in Sharp & Diamond’s newsletter. They were the landscape architects on Mountain Equipment Co-op’s new head office in Vancouver. The write-up is from their website. More photos there too.

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has officially opened its head office in Vancouver. The four-story building is designed to meet LEED® Platinum standards with a target to be 70% more energy efficient than conventional Canadian office buildings. Sharp & Diamond (SD) worked closely with MEC and Proscenium Architecture + Planning to integrate the company values of environmental responsibility, workplace culture, accountability and giving back to its members with the site landscape design.

Sustainability at MEC HO is visible through living architecture, including the celebration of rainwater in a vertical ‘waterfall’, rain gardens featuring estuary plants, fruit trees and agricultural planters on the rooftop and in the landscape. Natural daylight controls, high performance low carbon comfort systems, water conservation, and green roofs are among the other notable sustainable site features.

The fourth floor green roof is accessible to employees and features a high level of amenity for MEC staff and visitors. The timber tables and round rock bases reflect the historical shoreline context and provide a comfortable space for relaxation and collaboration.   Sedums and grass carpets create a ‘meadow in the sky’ effect, while urban agricultural planters support apple trees, blueberries, strawberries, with room for staff to grow vegetables.

Working with KWL (Civil) and Pageau Morel (Mechanical), 90% of the mean annual rainfall that used to flow off the former impermeable brownfield site is now mitigated on site. Parking and hard surface runoff flow through a series of waterfalls, channels, and rain gardens with riparian plants and wet meadow grasses that biologically treat the water. This serves the dual function of purifying the water and providing aesthetic, native plantings.

MEC HQ won a 2015 Wood Works! Award for Excellence in Commercial Wood Design.