Archive for May, 2008

Botanical highway barrier

Imagine driving down the 401, or any major highway in North America, and instead of graffiti covered concrete or wooden sound barriers, you see lush four-metre-high rows of willow shrubs. This “green” technology has been used in Germany for 20 years — the livingwall —and it is now in Canada.

Entrepreneur Tony Biglieri has been developing the technology and has received great review and support in Ontario and Quebec. They say the botanical barriers are easier to maintain and absorb sound, rather than bouncing it back like conventional walls. Each kilometre of willows, planted in two rows half a metre apart with a mound of soil in between, sequesters nearly seven tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Biglieri has been quoted as saying. “You need a tank to knock this thing down,” and “It never gets dirty. You can’t write on it. As it gets older, it just gets better.”

Car Free

June is quickly becoming known around these parts as “Bike Month” and in the spirit of this event the residents of Vancouver will be hosting some big Car Free street parties on Car Free day, Sunday June 15! On that day, FOUR communities will present their own Car-Free Festivals: Kitsilano, West End, Main Street, and Commercial Drive. Each Festival is envisioned and organized by the local core organizers, and each has a unique flavour.

I will be volunteering that day, most likely in the west end, my hood, and blocking the streets from cars! This event is to be 100% volunteer driven. As well as being 100% car free ourselves my family is very excited to learn that the focus of our neighbouhood car free event will be dancing in the streets!

Come out and support this awesome event! See you there!

Kids weekly update part 2:Enviroment

Hello everyone this is my second post on URBN green. My five steps to bgreen:1:kayaking is much better than motor boating, you are active, you can fish or boat or even just relax! Number two:you think bottled water is better than tap? Well you are right and wrong, plastic can off gas chemicals into the water and tap water already may have chemicals so for the best water get a water purifier. How will you carry it? That is #3 which is stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic and sigg water bottles has really cool water bottle designs and we will soon sell klean kanteen which is purely stainless steel. What about FOOD?? that is #4 which is stainless steel luch boxes that we also will sell and they are great for carrying food to school, work or anywhere! and finally number 5 and that is how to get around? Bike, skateboard or walk! we all are starting to get lazy in our 4×4 hummer SUV to go to school 2 blocks away! get a bike! fun, fast and exercise for you!

-oh we are out of time but next week:7 steps to a greener life! see ya soon, Justin.

Spring is here!

Spring has sprung in Vancouver! Lot’s of wildlife is out in Stanley Park.  Last week we saw eight baby geese!

Oprah Goes Vegan

I was pleasantly surprised to read last week that Oprah Winfrey has “gone Vegan” for a trial period of 21 days. She has been writing about it in her blog. She has been talking a lot about Eckhart Tolle’s new book called A New Earth, and as part of her quest for spiritual enlightenment she has deiced to incorporate a vegan diet into her life. I for one applaud her and I hope she inspires others to follow this example.

The idea that vegetarianism is connected to spirituality has been around a very long time. Buddhist are known for this being part of their beliefs. As I interpret it, animals that are bred for food experience a life that is filled with suffering and by eating the flesh of these animals you are also ingesting all the experience, pain, fear, and misery that animal lived.

Only someone who does not eat animal products can tell you for sure if by not eating flesh they feel somehow more peaceful. I know personally that I do feel better knowing I do not eat mammals and am very conscious about any animal products that I do use. I believe, like first nations people, that everything has a spirit and I honer the life of any animals that have passed on in order to make my life better.

I will be interested to read how this experiment will affect Oprah. She is already a beacon of light and inspiration for millions. Food has been a huge issue for her, as she has publicly acknowledged. I hope she is able to make the connections she is hoping for and this will raise her spiritual awareness even more.

If you are interested in finding more information about a plant based diet check out this site. Earth Save was started by John Robbins, son of Baskin Robbins founder.

The Other NFL

When I first heard of NFL I automatically thought of football. After all being raised in a semi sports literate household I knew there were two major football leagues, the National Football League and the Canadian version the CFL. Much to my surprise i learned about another NFL that had nothing to do with football! NFL is also the acronym for Natural Family Living.

I learned there was a name for this way of living through a magazine I found at the library shortly after the birth of my first child. I picked up a magazine with a breastfeeding mother and baby pair on the cover. The magazine was called Mothering, and this was my introduction into the extensive world of natural family living.

Like many first time parents, I knew the basics when it came to having a baby, I was blessed with a sister who had already given birth naturally and choose to breastfeed her son, and these were things I also thought I would do. Although my pregnancy was uneventful I did end up with a typical hospital birth when my first child arrived. I tried to manage a natural birth but did end up using an epidural. Breastfeeding came along after a few tough weeks and I continued to nurse my son until he was more than two years old. I knew that it was the best thing for him, as many studies would back up now. I didn’t know at the time that there were communities of people, families, that took breastfeeding to a whole new level. It was not the only “natural” decision when it came to parenting choices, although it is the basis, in my opinion in helping to form a great attachment with a new baby, and to get much needed sleep with the baby in the bed it was easy.

I had not heard anything about “attachment parenting” before I found mothering magazine. I knew I would follow my instincts, and when It came time to vaccinating my son I started to learn what the standard protocol was. After much research and soul searching I choose to selectively vaccinate my son and not to circumcise him, we had already been co-sleeping since his birth as this felt right and was much easier to nurse him during the night. It turns out that all these choices were considered to be Natural Family Living.

When I became pregnant with my second child I decided I did not want to repeat the medically managed birth of my son. I found a midwife and planned a home birth. On a warm day in May my daughter was born into the hands of her daddy with her brother and our two midwives, one doula and my brother-in-law at home.

I continued to find great resources that supported a more natural life at home. Many years previously I had made the choice to become Vegan and followed a very strict diet for five years. I had always felt that animals were more than pets or dinner and decided to not use them for any purpose that I could find an alternative for. My diet has fluctuated over the years, with my subsequent pregnancy I decided to return to a somewhat tradition diet, selectively adding some animal products back into my diet, organic free range eggs, wild salmon and most recently raw honey. Our family still identifies strongly with Vegan morals and we don’t use animal by products, buy things that are tested on animals or are made of animal skins. We do use wool and own some silk play toys, like with many things in life, it is about finding a balance.

Beach days

With my second child I was even more “natural” and choose to use a combination of cloth diapers, elimination communication and recycled paper diapers. I nursed her for three years, co-slept, didn’t vax at all, and carried her as much as possible. I have learned a lot from both my children, I have also learned to rely on my instincts.

There are no rules to living naturally, there is a spectrum. Our family definitely falls on the high end of this, but no one has come along and given me the “mother earth” award yet, and that is okay with me. For our family natural living did not start or stop with the pregnancy and birth of our children. We don’t own a vehicle, we walk, bike and take public transit. I stay at home with the kids and homeschool them. We use only natural cleaning products in our home, we recycle and compost. We believe in gentle discipline and child led learning. We are far from perfect parents or people, but we do believe the choices we are making are helping to sustain a healthy and positive life for all of us.

If there is one piece of advise I would give to anyone transitioning to a more natural way of living it is this; read, listen to and explore all the ideas that interest you, try different things and find what works for you and trust yourself. It has been my experience that many of the more natural choices can save you money, time and help the environment. We are all on our own personal evolution. There is always more than one way to do something, there is no right or wrong, only choices. What works for one family may not work for others, but we can all learn from each other’s experiences. Live your life, play as much as possible and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, what could be more natural?

Places to see around Vancouver

Walking along the Stanley Park seawall is really beautiful

There are many lovely parks around the lower mainland

There are so many great places to walk in Vancouver, this great site  lists many of them!

Just about an hour East of the city of Vancouver is a fabulous native interpretation centre called Xa:ytem in Mission. Lots of hands on activites.

You could take the Albion ferrie (a free 10 minute ride) accross the river to Fort Langley
which was a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post. The village of Fort Langley is a great place to have lunch and there are some lovely antique and craft shops.

Grouse Mountain also has a beautiful gondola ride (expensive but worth it) The view of the city is spectacular from there on a clear day.

Lynn Canyon suspension bridge and nature centre. This is a free activity and there are some lovely hiking trails across the bridge.

Reifel Bird Sanctuary is another lovely place to walk and quite different from the mountainous spots

Lynn Headwaters Park has some great hiking trails. Be sure to check the site and read the advisories about the wildlife (black bears spotted last week!)

On a rainy day You might want to check out Science World

Depending on how you feel about wildlife in captivity there is the Vancouver Aquarium which has belugas, otters, dolphins.

You might consider a whale-watching tour to see some of these animals in there natural habitat.This site has some excellent resources for Vancouver Island.

Weekly kids update part1: RPG’s


Hello fellow bloggers!This is my first post on the and my name is Justin I live in Vancouver b.c. and I am ten years old! My hobbies include reading,playing Lego and going on AE(artix entertainment) games dragonfable and adventurequest these are games that include you as your own personalized character.  Each is upgradable by paying a small fee of 20(for one char.) or 30 dollars(for all six and recommended)and you will get access to special quests,items and more stuff.  With a max of 6 characters that can have 20 or more items and finally you can customize your characters color of armor, hairstyle and skin color.  You can be a warrior (uses swords,one,two and three attacks.grows quickly in skill.),rogue(uses daggers regularaley attacks twice and four times, hard to train but the rewards are high by ending battles faster), and mage(very well rounded character but skills come mucho fast and uses all elements.) That is just dragofable!(super top secret note:i will be giving away a dragon amulet character in a contest one day soon).the blog will be updated weekly and next week will be adventurequest details,dragoncoins and glitches hopefully you like AE!

I also will talk about things that you can do to save energy around your house, because our site is of course URBNgreen, and there are some things we do to help the environmnet.

bye for now, Justin

Where to start…an introduction

The environment is on everyone’s mind these days and it seems everyone is “going green” We have been taking on the challenge of creating a greener life and through trial and error we have found many things that work for us. We want to share our experiences and learn more.

Our site offers information and different perspectives . Our focus is natural family living, finding ways to connect with nature and treading lightly on the earth. We strongly believe in the sacredness of animals and places, and we offer our experiences and insights into the world the way we see it.

We are not a typical family in many ways. We homeschool our children, we strive to eat an organic, plant based diet, We don’t own a car, we live in the densely populated West End of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. We are two blocks from the beach and steps away from a bustling urban center. It is our experiences living here that inspire us. We know our choices have an impact on the earth.

I will be adding categories to make it easier to find out what we are doing, what other people are doing, and what we dream of doing to create a sustainable lifestyle.

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