Archive for May, 2010

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.

Ethical Consumerism?

Your garbage for one year

Your garbage for one year

DSCN0986 I am volunteering again this year at EPIC the sustainable living expo that runs every year at the Vancouver Convention Centre. I have written about it each year I have been there (this is year four of the event and my involvement).

What is EPIC ? – the acronym stands for Ethical Progressive Intelligent Consumer. This is a trade fare after all, we are all still buying things, we need to eat and sleep,  and buy coffee , chocolate, clothing and transport ourselves around.

EPIC is a showcase for all consumables that are fairly traded, ethically produced, local and sustainable; for companies that plan events and sell solar panels, for fashion designers and chefs. There are speakers and representatives from all over Canada and the U.S. who believe, like I do; that our choices matter and we can talk with our dollars.

The fact is that we are all consumers of this earth, and we don’t just take, in return we create mountains of garbage like the one above.

Can we sustain this way of life? No, we need to enter a new paradigm where each purchase is considered in it’s entirety. Where was the product made / grown? What will happen to that packaging it comes in? Do I really need another (fill in the blank) ?

The fact is that we will not stop consuming, we have needs, but what they are and how much is enough is another question.

If you are looking for a way to spend a rainy afternoon, check out EPIC; you may just find out that you too are EPIC and you can make choices that help the earth.

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)

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delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at