Archive for the ‘good news’ Category

Bike to Work Week

May 31- June 6th is known as Bike to Work Week, and Bike to School Week as well.

Metro Vancouver is quickly gaining an international reputation as being bike friendly. With bike coalitions and events that run year round.  The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition leads the way in getting the word out. The website is a plethora of information, activism and inspiration. Hosting dozens of outreach events, safe biking courses and workshops cyclist have a presence on our streets today more then ever.

Municipalities around Vancouver have been developing the Central Valley Greenway, a 25- Kilometre pathway that links to multiple destinations, communities and workplaces.  It is accessible by foot, bike, Rollerblades or wheelchair.

Map od the Central Valley Greenway

Map of the Central Valley Greenway

Commuters are finding innovative  ways to get to work, and relying more on self propulsion, non- polluting healthy alternatives are a step in the right direction.  With a rapidly growing population the streets are still packed with cars,  but bike lanes have become more common.  For millions of people around the world their bicycle is their main form of transportation, leading many nations to have healthier lives in general.

Why not leave the car at home and get on your bike, for this week, for the summer or for good. For your own health and that of the planet, this one change you can make that truly makes a difference.

on top of the world

As the tallest point on the planet, Mount Everest belongs to everybody. We all have a responsibiiity to it.- Apa Sherpa

As the tallest point on the planet, Mount Everest belongs to everybody. We all have a responsibiiity to it.- Apa Sherpa

Inspirational! That is really the only way to describe the news I read today.

World record holder Apa Sherpa has just summited Mount Everest for the 20th time. His website details the story of his life, working as a Sherpa; a guide to travelers.  Beginning at the age of  12 , after the untimely death of his father he worked as an expadition porter, to help makes ends meet. He had to carry packs more then his own body weight, and sometimes work in treacherous and dangerous situations. Apa Sherpa describes how this was not his intended vocation, but  opportunities were very limited  growing up in Thame, Nepal.  His team that reached the summit this Saturday included American teenager, 13 year old  Jordan Romero.

This climb to the peak of the tallest mountain in the world set many new world records. Not only was Romero the youngest climber to reach the peak on Mount Everest, his guide Apa Sherpa holds the world record for most assents in history. Apa Sherpa has climbed a number of times to raise awareness about Climate Change and environmental issues related to the mountain, and to strengthen commitments to improve the lives of the people of Nepal.

Apa Sherpa and Carin Raiha reveal the banners that they will carry to the top of Mount Everest in May as part of the World Wildlife Fund's Climate 4 Life campaign.

Apa Sherpa and Carin Raiha reveal the banners that they carried to the top of Mount Everest in May 2009, as part of the World Wildlife Fund's Climate 4 Life campaign.

“The Campaign has brought the issue of Climate Change to the forefront of people’s consciousness in Nepal and communicated on the global stage the seriousness, rapidity and scale of climate change impacts on the Himalayas, its people, communities and biodiversity. It is a vivid example of WWF working in partnership with the entire spectrum of Nepalese society including students, business people, concerned citizens, whole communities and political leaders.”
Jim Leape-Director General, WWF International

Romero, a teenager from Big Bear California has reached his goal of climbing the tallest mountain in the world today. He  previously climbed six other of the worlds tallest mountains, including Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, as well as mountains in Australia, Europe, North and South America, and Oceana.  In addition to Apa Sherpa there is no doubt the support of  Romero’s family, community and even corporate sponsors played a role in making this day a reality.

Jordan Romero’s story evokes feelings that  he is no ordinary teenager. He is a young man who is an awesome example of what can happen when you believe in your dreams and work hard. This feat commands every person to stop and take note.  We are all capable of amazing triumphs.

We were all 13 year old kids once, and whether our goal was to  climb a mountain, gain a new level on a video game, pass a math test, or just catch a pop fly in left field, we can take pride in knowing that people are capable of acheiveing great things and dreams really do come true.

CSA : community supported agriculture

earth dance 2009 photo credit: Katia Somerville

earth dance 2009 photo credit: Katia Somerville

Community Supported Agriculture is not a new concept. what began in North America in the 1960′s is now  flourishing 50 years later. It is one of the fastest growing forms of agriculture in North America!  Community members buy shares from a local farm, in some cases tending crops,  and collecting a weekly box of produce.  It is a popular way for people to get back to the earth and be a part of the food chain at a basic level.

CSAs help farmers by guaranteeing a market for their produce and supplying funds upfront which can be used to plant and establish a harvest. Community supported farms encourage local agriculture; in an ever growing population, where food security is questioned,  this alternative is very appealing and gaining momentum.

Across North America hundreds of local farming initiatives are taking root. The benefits of local, organic, seasonal fresh food can not be praised enough. Our landscape of food has changed dramatically in our lifetime. Positive steps are being made by farmers and consumers alike to create a food culture that is sustainable and accessible.

rooftop farm eagle street website

In New York City, an old warehouse roof top now contains  200 000 ponds of soil and 30 varieties of crops. It  has been transported into an urban oasis!  A working 6000 square foot roof top farm! Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is relatively new at only two years old. There is a farmer’s market each week, free workshops and potluck meals shared together.

Back here in British Columbia UBC Farm has been operating as a CSA for six growing seasons. UBC is unique in that it is the only university in Canada to have an organic farm running on a large school campus. Honey bee hives and fruit orchards also abound. Farm festivals, and social events gather the community together to celebrate the abundance and create a sustainable and innovative food system.

veggies from royal city farmers market fall 09

veggies from royal city farmers market fall 09

However people choose to grow their own food, one thing is certain; we all must be a part of the food revolution. These are just two examples of real, tangible change that is taking place.


To be of the Earth

Sunset 2005

To be of the Earth is to know
the restlessness of being a seed
the darkness of being planted
the struggle toward the light
the joy of bursting and bearing fruit
the loe of being food for someone
the scattering of your seeds
the decay of the seasons
the mystery of death
and the miracle of birth.

- John Soos, from Earth Prayers

This came through my homeschooling email list last week.


Everything grows and grows

Babies do, animals do, everything grows…. 02-17-09-002That’s how it goes, under the sun

That’s how it goes, under the rain…  Everything grows, everyone knows

that’s how it goes…

So goes the famous song by children’s entertainer Raffi.  If you are a parent of young children there is no doubt you know Raffi, his songs are the theme of childhood for many generations. Baby Beluga, the More We Get Together, One Light One Sun.

Raffi actually played a significant role in my life, one I never expected and I will always be grateful for.

It was the year 2000.  I was a new mother to my first born son. I was offered a job, part time weekends, not bad money, easy work being a product demonstrator in a grocery store.
The product was a Tide roller ball, not knowing very much about Tide I decided I would do a quick search on the Internet and see what I could find out about Tide and what they were doing for the environment.

At first everything looked good, I found the Tide website, the detergent was phosphate free, all looked good. Then I thought maybe I should search anti-Tide to get the other side of the story. That was when I first started to learn about Proctor and Gamble, the parent company of Tide and thousands of other everyday products.

P&G remains one of the biggest companies in the world. They also are one of the biggest exploiters of animals. They regularly practise vivisection (testing products on animals). At the time, I had never even heard the word ‘vivisection’. I was  vegetarian but didn’t really think much about what huge corporations were doing everyday under the nose of the public.

The more I read, the more convinced I was that I would not promote the Tide ball or any product made by P&G.

I found this logo no_animal_testing-100x100which is the industry standard that tells a product is made without animal testing.

I learned that many products, things I would never have thought of,  were still being tested on animals. I decided right then to never buy any product that was tested on animals, had animal by-products in them or where made of animals. I became vegan. I still hold dear the vegan ideals and strive to be conscious of any animal products in my  life.  I joined earthsave and the fur bearers (now fur bearer defenders)

What does this have to do with Raffi? Well at the time I had decided to not take the job, a friend of mine who had offered it to me was perplexed as to why I would turn down such easy money.  It was at the exact same time the children’s entertainer Raffi had publicly withdrawn from a performance he was to be a part of in the Vancouver Children’s Festival. He decided it had become to commercial ( if I recall the festival had decided to have a number of cars on the lot as well as corporate sponsorships galore). Raffi stood up to the big corporations and said he would not be a part of it.

I decided I too would follow my heart and not be blind sided by money or any other tokens, I would listen to my own heart and no one could buy that. I felt like Raffi showed me the way. That if we only have our values then we are richer then many.

I have learned a lot about myself as a mother, a consumer an activist and person since then. I will always remember how Raffi made a difference in my life. His songs are a wonderful ode to childhood, the earth and the love and light that is a part of all of us.

(originally published February 17th 2009)

National Volunteer Week 2010

Today, April 19th, marks the first day of a week long celebration called National Volunteer Week! Many websites has sprung up to encourage volunteering around Canada and the world.  A simple look on Craigslist  reveals dozens of opportunities to get involved. It is estimated that in Canada alone there are close to 12.5 million volunteers.

This week is dedicated to celebrating volunteer-ism and to encourage more people to get involved in volunteering.

There is a great one minute video on the site for National Volunteer Week in Canada, it states volunteers are making change, igniting movements, perusing the cause or just tying to make things better. They are artists, coaches, fire-fighters, community services staff, health care workers, disaster relief workers, activists, cooks, child care workers, and  teachers. They give 2.1 billion hour of work per year, the equivalent of 1.2 million full time jobs! Without them many services would cease to exist.

06 Camp Byng 042

Volunteers fight poverty and  work for a stronger environment, they are at the heart of the democratic process, they are the ones to call when a disaster strikes, they offer arts to people who may not be able to experience them otherwise, they drive social justice and they are your neighbours.

Maybe you think volunteering is for college kids to improve their resume, or the elderly to keep busy, that is true, but it is also for anyone who is interested in people, in any cause, who would like to be involved in something greater then themselves.

This week is a time to say thank you to the millions of people who lead and to the millions of people, like me and you who care to make a difference.

A community is built by one person at a time, with a dream, with hopes, people who want more, for themselves and others. If you have some time visit one of the hundreds of websites online today and find a way to volunteer. You will never be sorry or more amazed at how hard you can work for something that you believe in.

on the path

The secret is that money will never buy what you get by giving.

Some of the hundreds of places to find volunteer activists are;

Craigstlist,, CADIP, SARVAC, Go Volunteer, Environment Canada, KatimavicCUSO-VSO, Charity Village

You can find  ways to volunteer in anything you are interested in; a local theatre production, a soup kitchen, a community garden, a seniors centre, animal shelter, thrift shop, the list is endless.

To all the volunteers out there; you make the world a better place! You should be a part of that.

Earth Hour 2010

what’s in your cupboard?

Questioning the health and environmental impact of genetically engineered (GE) foods is something that has been on the radar for many people since  Greenpeace launched  it’s first campaign about it two decades ago.  The shift towards organic farming and more natural foods on the shelves in major cities and small towns across North America is undeniable.

That is why I was shocked to read in the back pages of Spring 2010 Health Action magazine that Canada has the dubious distinction of one  of the largest producers of GE crops in the developed world.


Up to 70% of the food on Canadian grocery store shelves may contain genetically modified foods, with the most common crops being corn, soy, canola, and cotton. These four ingredients are used as cooking oils and therefore hidden from many people who think they are buying otherwise natural or healthy foods.

The good news is the popularity of organic foods has increased 20% per year, every year for at least the past five years.  According to Canadian Organic Growers, and the Organic trade Association, more then 1.3 million acres of land in Canada is currently growing organic crops. with another 118,500 acres in transition to certification. 41% of the organic foods sold today are in conventional grocery stores and amounts to $2 billion a year industry, with sings that this number will only increase in the future.

veggies from royal city farmers market fall 09

veggies from royal city farmers market fall 09

According to a recent poll in the Globe and Mail newspaper, the number one  reason  Canadian choose organic food is “family health” with the environment being the second most important reason.

Whatever the reason, more people are choosing organic foods in the grocery store, supporting farmers markets, growing in their own backyards and community gardens,  and paying more for what was once upon a time just a potato.  Now with it’s “organic” certification, it has become more, it is a statement and a way of life, for  the life of the planet.

Maybe one day the organic distinction will disappear and we will all believe there is really only one way to grow sustainable crops. What starts out as novelty will eventually lead to commonality, we are moving in the right direction.

Every day  we choose the future we want to create.

GE image from the Greenpeace website

As you are


One day not too long ago I was walking past the local elementary school and noticed something in the tree. It was a wooden sign nailed on the tree that read “AS YOU ARE”

I looked at the other tree’s around me and noticed something, more signs, they all included messages. Who were they intended for? Who put them there? It turns out that these questions don’t really matter. The only thing that matters was that I saw them, other people saw them and will see them.

These messages are for everyone.

They read; “AS YOU ARE”






What better message to give or receive?







(Originally posted January 13 2009, some things are worth repeating)

War over Water

Will the next world war be fought over water?The concept seems preposterous to me. I think living  Canada, a nation with the most fresh water in the world it is difficult to relate to water shortages.tap water drink itMarch 11th was water bottle free day . Most of the people  know about the dangers of plastic water bottles and the exuberantly high cost  of bottled water, is still lost on some people. In the lower mainland of British Columbia, where I live, the water is abundant and is considered by many to be the finest drinking water in the world!

When I talk about water with my family back east, in Ontario specifically, they do not hear me.  They are all still reeling from a news story from years ago.

Mention the word “Walkerton” to any Ontario resident and images of water contamination and death come to mind. No less then seven people died and hundreds were sickened by water that was contaminated with E coli.

Since that spring in the year 2000, measures have been taken to ensure that a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again. It was determined that human error and carelessness lead to the contamination.

This terrible event also lead to another great travesty. People think that bottled water is safer than tap water! The truth is that many of the bottled water companies bottle tap water! Sure some of the water has been filtered, but many people now filter their tap water at home, like us, we use Wa2. Our water is safe enough to drink from the tap as it is.
We use a filter because the tap water in our city has chlorine and this filter helps reduce the taste.

From their website; The WA-2! System greatly reduces the environmental strain that results from the traditional bottled water delivery process.     The WA-2! system:

  • Successfully decreases our dependence on polycarbonate. Polycarbonate, the main ingredient in your five gallon water jugs, is not biodegradable.
  • Dramatically reduces the number of bottle caps produced. Bottle caps are not reusable, nor are they biodegradable.
  • Significantly reduces air pollutants, roadway congestion, and fuel consumption created by bottled water deliveries.

WA-2! supports the environment by using fuel efficient vehicles and encouraging paperless billing.

drink it

Many municipalities around B.C are taking the issue to the masses by banning bottled water! No more bottles of water at city hall meetings, no more bottled water in schools and community centres, forcing people to question the safety of bottled water and bringing back the water fountain.

Water is a basic necessity for life. When I was growing up the term “acid rain” was thrown around like a Frisbee, today we know that we need to protect our national resource and education is the starting point.

URBNgreen is committed to education and environmental stewardship. Our objective is share information about what people are doing locally and around the world to create a sustainable future.
delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at