Category Archives: Economy

Questions and Coracles

Next Wednesday, May 17 we are co-hosting a knowledge sharing circle and socially engaged workshop on ocean change/climate change at the Surrey City Centre Library. The title of the community eco art event is “Rising Tides + Skin Boats.” We would love your input!

How would you answer these questions?

  1. What do you know about the ocean?
  2. What do we know about how the ocean is changing?”
  3. What do we need in our boats going into a changing future?

We are looking for a series of short succinct statements that can be read out by the participants of a workshop. The statements can be factual or poetic, personal, historic, narrative or experiential, in any language, from any methodology whether it is science based, historic, poetic, mythic or spiritual.

You can submit your answers via the form below or via email to info@villagesurrey.ca.

The process will go something like this:

Each statement will be read out loud by the workshop participants. A ball of red yarn will be tossed to each person as they read (kind of a variation on a talking stick) creating a visual trace of the conversation. The statements will set the stage and get some basic information out there regarding how the ocean is changing. Eventually the participants share their own knowledge in the same way. Then participants process the knowledge sharing in a variety of ways, one of which will be to weave all these responses into a coracle. The focus is on cultivating curiosity about ocean change and its implications.

We would be very grateful if you would consider helping us out by sending a series of short statements, and by forwarding this request to anyone in your circles that might be interested.

If you are in the area on May 17th and would be willing to come and share in this knowledge exchange, we would be thrilled.  We will have a sound booth set up to record responses, and would love to capture your knowledge and voices.

Motion Sickness

Some people have no problem hopping onto a roller coaster to enjoy the thrill of the speed and movement. If I try that, motion sickness or kinetosis occurs very quickly.

Many parts of the body are involved with movement, including the eyes, ears and brain. Sudden shifts in movement, like those on a rollercoaster, can leave some people feeling dizzy and nauseous. Some experts say that any speed over which a human can achieve naturally (eg. running or swimming) and therefore adjust to naturally will lead to motion sickness in some people. That even includes sitting still and playing video games, which involves virtual motion.

We know that too much speed is not a good thing. It’s far easier to crash a car when going quickly, leaving less reaction time and stopping space. In nature when things go fast, like avalanches or abrupt climate change, usually there is a path of destruction left behind from all that energy being released at once.

The human mind is quite delicate and often responds slowly to changes in thinking, perception, and values. While sociological theories have been useful for understanding social change on a global scale, it does not address how we cope as individuals in a rapidly changing world. Social change can be described as “the transformation over time of the institutions and culture of a society.”[i] Humans have sped up their response time to changes – it’s estimated that it now takes us only 10-15 years to get used to the sort of technological changes that we used to absorb in a couple of generations (known as cultural lag). However, governments, companies and individuals are all still struggling to keep up.

During Thomas Friedman’s keynote address at a 2016 United Nations convention, he discusses how the confluence of rapidly improving technology, globalism, and climate change are altering the shape of our world faster and in so many different ways that the political, social, and economic systems can’t adjust fast enough to keep up.

Friedman argues that our capacity to adapt is being outpaced by a “supernova” built from three ever-faster elements: technology, the market and climate change. He points out that if Moore’s law [that the power of microchips would double about every two years] had applied to the capabilities of cars, not computer chips, then the modern descendant of the 1971 Volkswagen Beetle would travel at 300,000 miles per hour, cost 4 cents and use one tank of gasoline in a lifetime.

The very fact that this is not the case proves the point: little has actually changed with the overall design of the automobile in over 100 years. Even a flying car, or driverless car, is still just a car.  Fancier trimmings, but still just a car. If you drill down below our love of new gadgets you find an inescapable, inconvenient truth: it’s all about energy. Without it, nothing else matters. Friedman made a comment during his speech which sounded liked he was interchanging technology with energy. They are definitely not the same thing. Technology requires energy; it doesn’t produce it.

Globalization, Friedman argues, is no longer about manufacturing and the trade of durable goods, that somehow we’ve raced past all that into a virtual world. John Michael Greer calls manufacturing the ‘secondary economy’, when we make objects from natural resources and thus add value. Nowadays, globalization is more about the electronic transmission of information, training, financial transactions, education, and the movement of chatter and social media. Greer refers to this as the ‘tertiary economy’,  not rooted in reality as it does not acknowledge the underlying need for those secondary and primary resources in the first place. ‘Cloud’ computing sounds neat, but it still relies on giant server farms and enormous amounts of energy. And talk about speed: servers are considered obsolete within 7-9 years. There are no clean clouds.

 

People start acting in a reactionary way when they don’t understand what’s happening. And as change accelerates, we become less resilient and more sea-sick.

The full title of Friedman’s new book is Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving In the Age of Accelerations. While optimism versus pessimism will usually get people to listen, being realistic is more important. Friedman argues that developing countries have to move past digging up resources and move into the ‘cloud’ where there are ‘flows’ to encourage and exploit. But none of that is possible without the primary economy: computers, chips, servers, they all use raw materials and vast amounts of energy to keep them going. Not acknowledging this reality means thinking that the secondary and tertiary economies are separate from the primary economy, a mistake that blinds humanity’s actions. Likewise, not acknowledging climate change does not change reality; it just means that physical reality speeds towards human priorities: the city of Surrey is one of the fastest-growing in Canada, at the same time as it faces a rising sea level.

Currently on display at Surrey Central Library.

Friedman makes an interesting point about individualism: in our interconnected world, where one person can spark a conversation across dozens of countries, many people are connected but nobody is in charge. The question of values and what a person believes therefore becomes very important. Who decides what we do and do not persue? The ‘market’?  Politicians? How do we slow down the rush of bad decisions we’re making as a species when nobody is really at the helm?

The answer, as always, lies in localization. Friedman argues that our values come from strong families and healthy communities. So he ends his book on an optimistic note: it is healthy communities which will lead us forward. We can restrain our worst excesses, work together, support each other, plan on a local level for resilience, and create a new cultural narrative. Those who give and help can be admired more than those who hoard money and build walls around themselves. We can aspire to be thrifty and celebrate the creativity that involves. We can build practical skills which become more valued than trying to create a job in the tertiary economy (many teenagers plan to create YouTube channels, or become game developers…far fewer think about practical life skills).

And we can slow down. There are still things we can do to slow down climate change, such as carbon sequestration in soil and trees, and using less energy on a daily basis. We can slow down our adoption of every technological idea that comes along, first assessing its impact on the planet as a whole and whether there is a positive or negative return on investment. We can slow down our lives, not responding to every electronic device within five minutes. We can walk more and use cars less. We can play a family game together instead of all being on screens in different rooms. We can put on community events, have communal dinners, plant gardens and talk to each other.

So check out the Village Surrey website for upcoming events where you can connect with others in the community. As fast as Surrey is changing, there are plenty of people working towards slow, sustained connections and that’s a good thing.

People at the PLOT in Newton

Institute for Sustainable Food Systems

On April 19 Dr. Kent Mullinix presented on the work of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS).

ISFS is an applied research and extension unit at Kwantlen Polytechnic University that investigates and supports regional food systems as key elements of sustainable communities. The project focuses predominantly on British Columbia but also extends to other regions.

See here for more information on the project, and scroll through the presentation slides below. (It may take a few moments for the slide show to load!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Unedited and Uncensored

cemetery-1688304_1920.jpgWhat do you say to a mother whose son has committed suicide?

There are no words, just regrets, angst, pain, fear and even anger for a society who pushes so much disconnection that kids have no clue where they stand, no anchor to count on, no future to dream about.

Yesterday, the son of an acquaintance took his life. He was the same age of my son, who is also in despair about the world.

What do you say to an entire species who is committing suicide? Worse: what do you say to them if in their suicidal path they are happily taking other species’ lives?

Thousands of books, articles, papers and blog-posts have been written; documentaries been made, marches and petitions been called.

Yet, today Mr President approved the XL and Dakota pipelines; just yesterday, he passed a policy where it makes impossible for NGO’s to get funding for anything related to planned parenthood (I’m not pro-abortion, but without proper planning and education, instead of reducing, this actually increases the number of girls recurring to abortion that would be dangerous and unsupervised)

They say it is not environmentally a big deal, because we certainly have thousands of pipelines around the world. “It is just another pipeline”, right?

Imagine if for each child abused or killed we say “it is just another child”, imagine if for each species going extinct we say “it is just another species, we have many still left” , imagine if for every suicide we say “is just another kid gone, we are overpopulated anyway”…

In the meantime, what I see is divisiveness: are we being black enough, native-American enough, LGTBQ enough, Asian enough, or Muslin enough? What if the last march was whiter than it should, what if Madonna shouldn’t have spoken about revolution because of her wealth, what if the hats were imported, what if permaculture follows Bill, David or Geoff?

I posted in my Facebook wall:

“Please, stop the hurt. Let it stop with you. Stop blaming, shaming, gossiping, judging, hating, name calling, destroying, polluting, trolling, oppressing, abusing, neglecting, not caring, ignoring, hurting yourself and others…can’t you see that all that just perpetuates the hurt? STOP!!!”

No amount of yoga, meditation, prayers, veganism or whatever is our chosen way of escapism will bring that kid back, my sister away from her mental illness abyss or the ecosystems already destroyed or threatened by those pipelines.

At the end of the day, if you were black, yellow or pink won’t affect the outcome.

The only thing that will at least redeem those who have already fallen victims of this madness we call civilization/society is our proactive, intentional CHANGE and ACTION, one individual at a time, one species, ecosystem, struggle at a time.

Starting by how we think, feel and our attitudes, following by what we do every day, what we eat, wear and use for moving from place to place, to the places we inhabit and how we approach others, to the level of our engagement in things that will feel increasingly uncomfortable and even dangerous. And a deep, honest and caring engaging with the Earth and its elements and beings. Not a fake one, not one that choses some and not others, not a “nice and clean” approach but a truly courageous engagement with all…

Otherwise, these are my words, posted today in my wall:

“Then just go home and watch the next TV show, bury yourself in your cellphone forever, drink as many beers as you want or buy the next thing that will bring you temporary “joy”. Do nothing. Take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. Carry on. Because, after all, we already have filled the oceans with plastic, the landscape with garbage, the communities with homeless and addicts, the streets with crime, the peoples of the world with hunger, our workplaces with anxiety and boredom, our homes with dysfunction, our pockets with debt…we have already killed so many species, and sent people to suicide, wars, psychosis and panic attacks…”

I wonder how many may “un-friend” me or just take me as a nut case. I wonder how many would understand that I can be both very compassionate and outraged at the same time.

I wonder, I’m praying (and I’m not religious), WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?! Both in my individual life, my work, my family, my community and the world at large…

What is the next uncensored, unedited next step for each one of us?

Virtual March for Peace, Unity and Compassion

The Virtual March is over, but you can see media coverage and pictures here!

Tune in on January 20 to watch a virtual march take place across Surrey!

A colourful procession of Lego mini-figures will march across Surrey from City Hall to Peace Arch Park delivering messages of peace, unity and compassion to the US border on the day of the presidential inauguration. The messages are real, but the “march” itself will take place online only!

The messages have been submitted by people from around Surrey, and reflect the values, attitudes and priorities that participants hope to see both locally and globally.

We invite you to follow, share and re-tweet the photos and messages throughout the day from the Village Surrey Facebook and Twitter accounts.

You can also follow the march on #ThisIsSurrey.

Examples of Social Capital Building Projects in Surrey

The following informal inventory of projects that build social capital in Surrey is organized according to the matrices found in the “Social Capital Building Toolkit

social-capital-rubric

See here to find out more about the related micro-analysis project, and see here to participate in the online survey.

This is not an exhaustive list, and we know that there are many other projects and experiences that could be added! Please let us know about any projects or experiences that you think should be included.

  1. Individual (Food/Celebration)

Take a friend out for lunch
Kudoz

2. Individual (Joint activity around common hobby)

Walking with a friend

3. Individual (Do a favour)

Carpooling
Borrowing a tool from a neighbor

4. Individual (Discussion of a community issue)

Conversation on the street

5. Individual (Undertaking joint goal)

Mentoring/tutoring

6. Individual (Relationship building 1:1)

MVA Approach to capacity building

7. Small Group (Food/Celebration)

Going out with group of friends.
Picnics

8. Small Group (Joint activity around common hobby)

Community-led interest groups, book clubs
Cedar Bark Poets Group
Room to Draw

9. Small Group (Do a favour)

Revolving credit association
Barter or informal skill sharing
Little Free Libraries

10. Small Group (Discussion of a community issue)

Neighbourhood Associations
Friends of the Grove

11. Small Group (Undertaking joint goal)

Study Circles
Community Sweat Lodges
Surrey/White Rock Climate Action Group

12. Small Group (Relationship building 1:1)

Individual in a group pair up and share their extended stories
Surrey Interfaith Contemplative Gatherings
Interfaith Dinners

13. Large Group (Food/Celebration)

Block Party (Hyland Park Block Party)
Neighbourhood festivals

14. Large Group (Joint activity around common hobby)

Voluntary Association
Surrey Earth Walk
Surrey Interfaith Pilgrimage

15. Large Group (Do a favour)

Surrey Skill Share Fair

16. Large Group (Discussion of a community issue)

Town forum
“Community Shift” Gatherings
Dr. Ambedkar Awards Night
ACORN

17. Large Group (Undertaking joint goal)

Environmental clean-up project
Community Gardens
Community Art Projects
Food Action Coalition
Seeds of Change

18. Large Group (Relationship building 1:1)

Deeper Introductions as part of a larger meeting
World Café events
Community Leaders Igniting Change

A Season for Social Enterprise

One of the ways that my family prepares for the consumer frenzy of December is to think and talk about how we might engage with the impending season in ways that reflect our values of fairness and sustainability. It takes time, so we start early.

This year, some of our gifts will be coming from Studio 73 in Newton. Studio 73 is one of the only examples of social enterprise in Surrey, so I think it is worth holding up, celebrating and supporting this holiday season.

A social enterprise, for those unaware of the term, is “…an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being.” You can read more of this definition here, and learn how it relates to the Transition Movement here.

The Newton BIA recently published the following spotlight piece about Studio 73. The original posting can be viewed here.

Do you have a favourite charity or social enterprise that you support during this season? Let us know and let’s shine the light on them!

Here is the article by the Newton BIA :


In true artistic fashion, Studio 73 was spawned by mistake with no concrete intention of building a business. The studio originally worked on multiple fronts with woodworking and pottery, however it was the accidental discovery of creating glass from a ceramic kiln that is responsible for the type of business it is today. This was new as they had formerly used the kiln only for pottery. They saw great possibilities with the glass and decided that they should make a go of it as a small business and to focus on the glass alone. This is not a common practice for most other art galleries or artists, adding to the uniqueness of this business. The pieces are created out of fusible glass which is handcrafted and they are best described as functional art; they can be put on display or used.

In stumbling into this craft Jodi, the current day coordinator, realized the great potential in it and Studio 73 proved just that. She had attended many craft fairs but realized that they needed to find new ways to get the products out there throughout the year. A networking opportunity with her father’s business got her contacts and as Jodi says “it just sort of snowballed from there”. The studio is now busy selling products and it was simply from connecting with other people and broadening their network. In this day and age, it seems to be word-of-mouth that is propelling this business.

Do not be tricked by the quiet atmosphere of the studio, the pieces are individually hand crafted by their employees inside the actual studio. Studio 73 believes in promoting full opportunity for the artisan’s creativity in each of the pieces. The nature of the products and how they are created means that even within a bulk order, no two pieces will be the exact same. Truly every individual piece is unique.

Running Studio 73 has been a very fulfilling occupation for Jodi, so much so that she travels from Chilliwack everyday to get to and from the studio. She genuinely enjoys the work and emphasizes how important to her it is that her employees are able to express themselves creatively. There is no hard and fast rule of how to go about creating a piece. They often do specialty orders where the art pieces are created through collaboration between the studio and the employing business.

Formerly part of a day program, Studio 73 was further established by the Community Living Society (CLS), and is now in their second year of operation in Newton. CLS is a non-profit organization that works to provide support for adults with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries. One way they do this is by helping to create employment opportunities, such as through Studio 73. This business is very proudly an equal opportunity employer that believes in letting an artist create and use the full extent of their imaginations. The artisans are paid not only to create each individual piece but are also paid when they are sold.

Studio 73 is very involved in the local community, such as taking part in the community walk initiative by the Newton BIA that occurs on a monthly basis. Having already connected with a lot of businesses in the area and their founded success, Studio 73 hopes that this established base will allow them to grow from here.  Jodi also hopes to offer classes in glass making for the local community in the future.

a-season-to-support-social-enterprise

From “You Should” to “We Can!”

The upcoming Sustainability Charter Implementation Fund is a great opportunity to switch our thinking from “you should” to “we can!”

It is easy to point at an issue and declare a “you should” solution. “You should” do this; “you should” do that. “You should” solutions usually involve someone, somewhere doing something. “You should” solutions are easy to come up with, but they don’t usually work for very long.

“We can” solutions can be more difficult. They require us to make individual and collective commitments and to be accountable for them. They require us to take risks, make mistakes, and experience failure. There require us to work together and make compromises.

But when “we can” solutions start to catch on, that is when communities begin to transform.

Last night we co-hosted a community dialogue on the upcoming “Implementation Fund” that is being put in place to support the City of Surrey’s “Sustainability Charter.”

The Implementation Fund will offer all of us concrete options and support for coming up with “we can” solutions.

Put yourself in a “we can” frame of mind and read over the following eight themes of the Sustainability Charter.

Inclusion: A caring community that encourages a sense of belonging and access to opportunity for all Surrey residents to realize their full potential.

Built environment and neighbourhoods: A beautiful, accessible and well-connected city of distinct and complete neighbourhoods that are walkable, engaging and resilient.

Public Safety: A city in which all people live, work and play in a safe and engaging environment.

Economic Prosperity and Livelihoods: Continued prosperity and thriving livelihoods and a strong, equitable and diverse economy.

Ecosystems: Healthy, protected and well-maintained ecosystems and biodiversity.

Education and Culture: Access to diverse, high quality learning opportunities, and vibrant arts, heritage and cultural experiences for all Surrey residents.

Health and Wellness: A community in which all residents are healthy, active and connected.

Infrastructure: Effective infrastructure and services that meet the current and future needs of the city, while protecting the natural environment and supporting urban growth.

What themes excite you? Where do you think your gifts of time, energy and creativity would make the most difference? What project or event ideas come to mind that could begin to make some of these theme a reality in your neighbourhood?

A huge thank you to the “Implementation Fund Team” for designing and facilitating this event: Kim Heron, Paul Steele, Dean Scovill and Forouzan Rezazadeh. Thank you also to City of Surrey Sustainability Manager Anna Mathewson and City of Surrey Sustainability Planner Maggie Baynham.

Sustainability Practitioner Interview

The following “Sustainability Practitioner Interview” with Village Surrey member Linda Prai was completed in April 2016 by SFU student Hidde Vos as part of a course on “Sustainability Community Development Theory.” The interview questions can be found at the bottom of the transcript.

If you are working or volunteering in some aspect of sustainability we would love to interview you! Please let us know and we will set up a time to come and meet with you and learn about what you do.


I am Linda Prai, and I am a sustainability practitioner active through the Village Surrey Transition Initiative. I have an Associates Degree in History from Simon Fraser University, where I was an award-winning scholar. After SFU, I went to the Royal Conservatorium of Music for 2 years and enjoyed an extra year of study in Piano Pedagogy at the London College of Music in London, United Kingdom. I have 25 years of teaching experience in music, history and I aspire to be teaching in permaculture in the near future as well. Apart from teaching, I have also written three books, but the thing I am most proud and passionate about is being an active community volunteer, pursuing improvements in community building, education, and food security.

I’ve always been a person that reads a lot, and I studied history when I was at SFU years ago. The more I was reading on certain subjects, the more I was connecting the dots between the issues that we’re having – books on subjects like oil, water, food and I remember thinking this could potentially be really bad. Then I went down the path of following how money works, capitalism, and the more knowledge I got, the more anxious I became to make a change. Knowing I couldn’t and didn’t want to make a change by myself, I was looking for groups to join in Surrey, the city that I lived. I came across Village Surrey Transition Initiative, researched what transition was, and how to get involved with the group.

The concept of transition made a lot of sense to me – I understand the idea of “village-meaning”, the concept of living in a village, and taking concepts like taking community activism, environmental issues, and peak oil, and how we can make a difference within these concepts as individuals. Waiting for the government to make a change isn’t going to work, doing everything on your own is exhausting, you need a medium-sized network of people. So I met Dave Dalley, the founder of Village Surrey, and my initial contact was about a local currency, in an effort to localize economic activity to benefit everyone rather than the money coming into your business and going back out again. Localizing economic activity could help keep the money stay in the community. We started out with that and worked on lots of projects since then.

Throughout my activity within the field, I’ve come to think of sustainability as an overused word. To sustain essentially means to maintain, but in my opinion, we can’t sustain what we are doing right now. That’s why I tend not to talk about sustainability, but rather use words as regenerative, resilient, or closing the loop, using a closed-loop systems. In order to be resilient in the future, I think we have to try to leverage the resources we have now so we can think of resilient solutions in the future. I also think that there is too much of a focus on a thing I call “green washing” through high-tech solutions. We think around the edges of things rather than making really genuine change. Right now, we are doing some innovative things that can only be done on a larger scale – there are larger systems in place like how we get our water, how we get our energy, that are good on the bigger scale – but on the whole, I think we think too big about making things sustainable when in actual fact what we’re really doing is making things more complex. The more energy that there is in a system, which will always grow because we’re using more energy every year, the more complex it get and the harder it is to solve something like energy descend. So sustainability to me tends to be high tech, green answers that aren’t going to benefit everybody on a daily level. It’s a ‘flow-through’ system, not a closed-loop system. Sustainability should be about thinking how to close that loop, on every level. A continuous cycle of improvement, while not just succumbing to the ‘sexiness’ of beautiful high-tech state of the art facilities that are in actuality, a bit of limited use to the average person.

Village Surrey is a grassroots, non-profit, relatively small organization that I see as an umbrella, under which we associate with lots of different groups that are doing a lot of different things. Within Village Surrey, I am mostly involved with providing workshops, and projects that are on the ground, like edible garden projects, things like that. While I’m aware of all projects of Village Surrey, I am not involved in all of them. Primarily, we try to keep things to a localization point at Village Surrey where we could walk or bike to specific events, and try to stay within the hubs that we are trying to develop, but if needed we commute to get to other events. Last year we started making connections with a small group, and started talking to some city officials about the concept of ecovillage; living, working and hopefully doing some sort of land use all in one hub.

I like to think that of all my efforts, educating people on permaculture and community resilience is where I excel and add the most value to society. I love working with youth and with teenagers, talking about green-friendly practices with them excites me. I give classes on permaculture to adults, but I would like to find a way to make it accessible for turning-into-adulthood, grade 12 kids. That way I can give them a set of tools to think about the world, which they don’t get in school at all.

Trying to make a change can be challenging sometimes. It saddens me to realize the lack of support there is from the ‘outside world’. People sometimes really think you are crazy, because often they just don’t realize the severity of the issues we’re facing in the near future. People in the community tend to resist change, and be very intolerant towards diversity. People are uncomfortable to change – facing reality can be too harsh, or we are just prone to being individualistic, it’s all about the individual needs and wants. We want people to realize the reality, we want people to be aware of what is coming, but their unbelieves tend to make this impossible sometimes, no matter how actively we outreach. Making a change and being involved isn’t something you should be forced to do, so I do not feel it is my place to push you towards getting involved. I also firmly believe that things will only happen if you really want them to happen, and without your own ‘consent’, a positive difference will not be made.

However we’ll spin it, we will have to make a change to make this planet livable for our future generations. We can’t make changes on a global level out of the blue; I firmly believe that by making positive changes within communities, all the individual community efforts will accumulate to positive changes on a global level. However, I am a bit skeptical – I am afraid that the majority of the people resist change so much, that it will be hard to make a positive impact on a global scale. In 10 years from now, I think we will have reached a tipping point where vegetables have reached doubled the price from now, and droughts in other areas are extreme – the world is in a worse place than it is now, I am afraid. However, I hope that Village Surrey will be better off, because of all the people who will have realized by that time the severity of our issues, and they will have created the skills needed to be able to be resilient within the communities. Village Surrey will be able to be in a position to help, where needed, to make the world a place where all future generations will be able to have a good life. We have to approach the issues where we can, from our respective maximum leverage points. We have to keep reaching out to people, talk to people, change the way they think. I want to keep educating both adults and teens on permaculture subjects, so in all times, people will be able to have some sort of food security. Lastly, we have to keep making efforts to localize, and realize that we have a finite planet – create more hubs, more transition towns, in order to be able resilient for the generations to come.

Appendix I: List of Interview Questions

  1. Could you tell a little bit about yourself?
  2. What does sustainability mean to you?
  3. So sustainability isn’t always something that is as positive as it supposed to imply?
  4. Would that process take a longer time?
  5. How would you describe what Village Surrey is and does?
  6. Is Village Surrey the only initiative in Surrey?
  7. Within Village Surrey, what are you mostly active with?
  8. Are you involved in all projects of Village Surrey?
  9. What convinced you into start making a change / difference / being involved in sustainability?
  10. Are they any projects you are exceptionally proud of? Feel like made a huge difference?
  11. Has there been a time when you were challenged to stay committed to a project?
  12. How do you see the different elements of sustainability fitting together?
  13. Do people need to be more diverse in their knowledge?
  14. From a global perspective, what are in your opinion the most critical things we have to change?
  15. You think that community approaches and practices, keeping things local, could eventually make a big difference on a global level?
  16. How should we approach these issues as a collective, in your opinion?
  17. So when giving workshops, communicating with people, what are some of the barriers you have come across in terms of making a change or better yet convincing a community into making a change (apart from the economical aspect)?
  18. Do you think people are very intolerant to diversity?
  19. You think society now kind of makes it seem how individualistic goals are superior, the ‘thing’ to follow?
  20. Do you believe that having faith in a positive outcome is critical to willingness in making a change?
  21. What part of sustainability you feel like you add the most value to?
  22. Sustainability’s importance is underrated. Where do you see the world in 10 years? What about Village Surrey?
  23. Do you feel like there is a lot of support for Village Surrey from the community right now?

 

Make the Best of a Bad Situation

Most of the time issues around green space development are complicated. There are often competing interests and finding a solution that pleases everyone is often not possible.

One thing that each of us can do is to broaden the conversation about what might be possible.

Residents in the neighbourhoods near 140 street and 100 Avenue are responding to the news that the large sections of what was previously  thought to be part of Green Timbers Urban Forest are now up for development.

In the open letter below, resident Antoine-Aaron Vick expresses his concern, and at the same time outlines constructive and positive ideas for the changes that he would like to see in his neighbourhood.

Are there areas in your neighbourhood where you are concerned about development? As you read Aaron’s letter, do you see any ideas or approaches that might be helpful in conversations that you are having or would like to start in your neighbourhood?


Attention City Counsellors, Parks and Transportation.

Thank you city councilors for your hard work making Surrey Better!

I am writing an open letter to the city to voice my support for saving Green Timbers Forest, the park and the forest and green spaces adjacent to the park, regardless of current zoning or land tittle.

I understand that some trees must come down in order to make Fraser Highway wider on a transportation corridor zoned land adjacent to park land. I understand the the City Councillors voted on May 9th, 2016 to approve a building development on city owned land adjacent to park land, but on land that is currently a combination of forest and green space. I also understand that the transportation department of the city owns a right of way of forest for 92 Avenue, that is not zoned park but is zoned transportation corridor. I understand that in recent years trees have been removed from various lots of land adjacent to the park, which are owned by various government departments and government organizations.

My request is this:

1) Please reconsider this development at 140th Street and Green Timbers Way, instead my first choice is that this become park land. Please save as much of the forest land and green spaces as possible.

2) My second choice is this, if the city must absolutely go ahead with this building development at 140th and Green Timbers Way and build yet another building on land that the neighbours would like saved as green space, then I would suggest at the minimum, please reduce the impact on park space of this building by putting the parking underground, building the building as narrow as possible to put a small impact on green space AND invest in the parks in this neighbourhood to make up for the damage done to the property values of this neighbourhood losing more city owned green space to development. For example:

  • Build a wheelchair accessible perimeter trail for Green timbers Forest, so that it is clear where the park boundary is for the residents.
  • Make a plan to save the remainder of Green Timbers and to integrate Green Timbers Park land with the neighbouring properties.
  • Build more cross-walks to connect the trails of the park with the neighbourhood and within the various sections of the park
  • Build more trails in the west and south sections of the park.
    maintain the bridges of the park.
  • Remove litter
  • Remove all the barb wire fences along 140th street and 100 Avenue and replace with better beautiful low fencing.
  • Develop new and improved park trail signs that are 3 times larger and vandalism resistant
  • Conduct a survey of the neighbours to see what their desire is for the Green Timbers Urban forest Park… for example: Dog park.
  • Invest in neighbouring parks as well: Hawthorne, Hjorth Road Park, Bear Creek Park. Build more trails and bicycling areas for children in neighbouring parks.
  • Ask residents where to locate a dog park, multiuse paved paths and a Rollerblading loop.
  • Connect all the neighbourhood parks with Green Ways, bike ways and multi use paths.
  • Reduce speed limits on roads adjacent to Green Timbers Park to 30 or 40 km per hour.
  • Build a wheel chair accessible multi-use new nature trail from the Surrey Nature Center along Quibble creek to the corner of 100 Avenue and 140th Street, so that more neighbours are easily able to walk, jog and roll to the nature center without driving. This trail could then use the light to cross to the powerline / Quibble Creek trail, that crosses 100 Avenue near by.
  • Expand and network the Quibble Creek Green way between Fraser highway and the hospital, the hospital and the bridge of the green-way, the bridge of the green-way to King George.
  • Have a Green Timbers Urban Park Open House meeting to consult with the public about the facilities that they want and advertise the meeting well in the newspaper and with fliers for local neighbours of the park.
  • Consult with residents about the other parks in the area.
  • Regular police presence in the park on foot and bicycles
  • Consult with police and public for ideas to improve safety.
  • Build a playground for children on the city owned land, that is slated for development, because of the many apartments near by and the many families who live in those appartements without back yards
  • Build a place for children to ride tricycles and bicycles safely.

THANK YOU.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this e-mail.
Sincerely, Antoine-Aaron Vick