Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Reclaiming lands, reclaiming lives

Before the Site C dam project goes any further, we need to consider another option -- one that would protect all those hectares of farmland (equivalent to about eight Stanley Parks), one that would preserve the sacred burial sites, one that would see the land put to better use than as lake bottom in a lake that nobody needs.

A lot of work has already gone into the site, so abandoning the project will be costly. But re-purposing it could make sense. My vision sees it as a prison farm. 

The nearest correctional centre (a facility designated for offenders serving less than two years) is in Prince George, pretty much a five-hour drive away. The rest of BC's prison facilities are on Vancouver Island or in the Lower Mainland and are, for the most part, over capacity. In other words, there is cause for British Columbians to build another such institution.

Although Oakalla Prison in Burnaby had a dark history, it also had a more positive side, as it was the site of a productive farm. Kingston Ontario was also home to such a facility, but thanks to the Harper government, it was closed down. There are still groups who are working to have this policy rescinded. There is even a herd of cows ready to 'go to prison'. 

A small city already exists on the banks of the Peace. Why not stop building a dam that doesn't make sense and build something else? If mistakes have been made, so be it. That isn't a good reason to dig further into the mistake. 

A prison farm would make use of the threatened agricultural land (even BC Hydro's reports predicted the land could feed a million people) and would give meaningful employment -- not only to inmates, but to farmers from the Peace region who could be employed to manage the prison farm. 

Such a plan would also ensure that sacred sites and burial caches (many of them thousands of years old) of Indigenous peoples from the region would not be flooded, but would be protected. And who knows, a tourist industry might well arise; certainly an interpretive centre could provide work for members of local First Nations. This could be yet another step forward in our efforts at Reconciliation. 

And no prison runs without a large staff -- personnel who range from guards to social workers and medical experts. 

It isn't too late for us to find the courage to proceed along another path in this precious waterway, a path that would preserve the land and heritage while still creating jobs -- and maybe even rescuing some who might have become just another batch of lost souls in the world of gangs and crime.

PS For an easy way to get a call into your MLA, click on this link and fill out the form. They'll phone you right back, putting you through to her/his office. 

Friday, November 03, 2017

Icing on the cake?

Last night, past midnight but well before dawn, light crept into the bedroom, waking me. Outside I discovered the reason. No flash on the camera, just reflected light from the glow of the unexpected white stuff, thus the spooky glow.

I admit to not being a big fan of snow (okay, it can look pretty for a few minutes, especially if it's Christmastime). And even though today is a friend's birthday, the icing on the cake I'm talking about isn't exactly the bonus kind.

Last week broke temp records here.

On Tuesday I was still wearing sandals.

This morning I need to find the shovel and figure out something saucey for those little yellow dots still there shivering on the vine.

Or, I suppose I should just think of all this as icing on the tomatoes.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Our neighbourhood has some pretty wild decorations. This is one of the tamer ones, though they seem to have all the bases covered -- witch, skeleton, ghost, spider with webs. But Halloween decorations aren't the scariest things hanging around these days...

Monday, October 23, 2017

Whales and ...

I don't usually write about books on this blog, especially not ones that have my work in them, but this book is somehow different.

Maybe it's just that so many things seem to be on the cusp of change -- politically, decisions are soon to be announced regarding both the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal and plans for Site C. Anyone who knows or follows me understands that I don't support current plans for either of these going forward, and it tuns out I'm not alone in my thoughts about the Burnaby Mountain project. Today the City of Vancouver has put out a court challenge to review the approval process that took place. There are also several organized protests today, highlighting the dangers of the plan. It looks as though we'll have to wait a few more weeks to know any outcomes.

But back to the book, Refugium: it's an amazing collection of works that honour the Pacific Ocean. Edited by Yvonne Blomer, Victoria's Poet Laureate (that's her in the photo on the left), it brings together poems that celebrate, that praise, and that warn.

It seemed significant when I traveled to Victoria to be part of the launch on the island that, on both legs of my journey across the water the ferry's captain announced the presence of humpbacks nearby. On the trip over, though I dashed to a window, all I managed to see was the roiling water left by their deep dive. But when the same announcement was made on the way back, I got see part of a long, long body curling across the surface, and even got a glimpse of the tail, complete with its own distinctive white markings.

At last week's Vancouver launch one of the presenters, Stephen Collis, startled many of us by mentioning that humpback whales (that's the species pictured on the book's cover) have been known to come to the aid of other sea animals. He called them 'peacekeepers' -- that wonderful term that once, not so long ago, was applied to Canada and its military. And then, as if to back up that tidbit, the next morning's paper had a piece on the social awareness of whales.

With the crazed and crazy ways we (and some of our world's leaders) have been behaving, it's hard to be positive about outcomes for the future. So it's good to know that if we blow ourselves up, perhaps the whales, swimming deep in the oceans will remain. And even if those whales and dolphins don't have our opposable thumbs which have enabled us to create buildings and technologies, we'll be leaving the planet in 'good hands', probably better than the ones it's currently in.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Eat well, eat local

Today is the first day of an "Eat Local" challenge. It runs through early November, perfectly in tune with the final harvest of autumn. It's all about eating well, and cooking with locally-produced food.

All the foods in the photo are ones that were locally grown. This particular batch of eggs, a product I usually buy at my local Farmer's Market, were a gift from a friend who raises chickens (and other critters) at her farm. I love the range of their colours, a mix from the different varieties of chickens she keeps.

The rainbow of tomatoes and sprigs of basil (even in a photo, they want to be near each other, just the way they do in a salad or sauce) are the most locally grown of all, as they're among the last survivors in the back yard garden.

Besides having an excellent market every week, I'm lucky enough to be able to choose among several excellent nearby produce shops, where local food is always identified, making it easy to decide what to buy.

More and more people are choosing to pay closer attention to the food they eat -- all part of staying healthier, eating food that tastes better, and also about using the land better. A number of my friends now proclaim themselves to be urban farmers. A great way to start making this goal a reality for next year is to get a copy of Digging the City. No snobbery here; it proclaims itself as a "manifesto for omnivores" -- a group I'm still proudly a member of.

While I doubt that I can make it through to November without wanting an avocado or banana or orange or lemon or... (Oh dear, I am still too reliant on too many foods from 'away'), I have joined the challenge, as I like its awareness factor.

If you'd like to try the challenge too, follow this link and click on the 'join' button. And even if you don't join, here's to good eating!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Winter wonderin'?

No, it isn't snow edging up to the blackberries -- it's just the result of crazy weather -- hail from a thunder-and-lightning storm we had this morning.

When I first moved to the west coast we didn't seem to have thunderstorms. In fact, they were one thing I missed, and I always loved it when I went back east and got to experience one. While they haven't become exactly common here, they do occur now and then, though usually on a hot day in summer, not on a cool October morning.

Oddly (the way my world so often seems to go), I heard a piece this morning that mentioned the passenger pigeon, a bird whose numbers were so great, its flocks numbered possibly as many as five billion (yes, with a b, billion). Yet by 1914, they were extinct.

Something I hadn't realized was the effect these birds had on forests. The weight of their landing in trees would knock off leaves and even branches, in effect, opening the canopy so light could make its way to the forest floor. This meant the forest environment a century ago was much different than today's. I can't help thinking that maybe the passenger pigeons' disappearance could have something to do with the disastrous fire situations our woodlands -- and even neighbourhoods -- are experiencing.

And really, if flocks of them were so massive they could take hours -- sometimes even days -- to pass across the sky, maybe those clouds of birds were large enough to have an effect on the weather.

The white stuff has melted, but still I wonder, if we hadn't killed off all those passenger pigeons, might our weather be less crazy than it is today?

Monday, October 09, 2017

Gorgeous "grassitude"

As the weather starts to change, the winds announce themselves, reminding us that colder temps will soon be here.

But that chill also serves to bring us together, to bask in the warmth of friends and family in this time for giving thanks. One of the things to be grateful for is the fact that our holiday has shifted from the narrow definition its origins bore.

A big meal with plenty of leftovers, along with a walk through the now-changing colours -- when it comes to celebrating, that's plenty for me.

Nonetheless, I'm still left wondering, Who paints these gorgeous leaves when I'm not looking?