Category Archives: Social

Transition Transition

In the summer of 2012, I made the decision to dedicate the next five years of my life to being fully present to two things: the perils that threaten our global climate and ecosystems, and the potential of regular people to find local solutions.

I quickly encountered the global Transition Town Movement and was drawn to it as one of the most accessible and transformative models that is unfolding on a global scale today. I met like-minded people like you in my community, and together we nurtured the growth of the Village Surrey Transition Initiative.

As those five year draw to a close this summer, I have decided that it is the right time for me to gently and respectfully step back from this work.

I acknowledge that I am just a strand in this network that we have built together, and that our decisions affect one another. You are a strand in this network too, and it is important to me that your work is honoured and that you are supported in whatever way might be needed.

I am open to this “Transition transition” taking whatever form feels right. I am open to supporting new ideas and new leadership if any of you would like to deepen your involvement and support the ongoing presence of a Transition network in our Surrey community.

I am also fine just quietly closing the doors, honouring the good work that has been done, and celebrating whatever projects continue.

I believe that Transition is serious stuff, and I believe that the Transition model offers something unique that few other paradigms do. Transition is about creating the conditions for the cultural and psychological change needed for our species to survive the wicked problems of climate change, ecosystem collapse and economic turbulence that confront us.

If we think of technology such as efficient light bulbs and electric cars as “hard technology,” the tools of Transition can be thought of as “soft technology.” Transition is a giant, global social experiment to change the ways in which we think and act in relation to our place on this rare and precious planet Earth.

Many people, myself included, believe that we are not lacking in the “hard technologies” needed to address our planetary crisis. The heartbreaking reality is that many of these promising solutions remain unused because we lack the collective psychological and social ability to change.

I believe that now, more than ever, communities need functioning and empowered Transition awareness and networks. I believe that every small contribution helps, but I’m also going to be candid: Transition requires a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

As I  step back from the work that I have been doing with Village Surrey for the past five years, I am hopeful that you will see a place for you to step forward individually or collectively.

Here are some of my hopes for what that might look like:

I hope that you will find a way to meet regularly. Meeting regularly will allow you to not only manage and share the logistical tasks of coordinating a Transition initiative, but will also help you to support each other socially and emotionally.

I hope that you use the resources available to you. An understanding of the “7 Ingredients of Transition” will raise your work above our community’s current understandings of “sustainability” and “social justice” work.

I hope that you acknowledge the importance of relationships and group process. An effective group, like any successful relationship, doesn’t “just happen.” It needs to be constantly nurtured and re-created. The “Healthy Groups” resource list is a good place to start.

I hope that you will reflect on your work. It is easy to get caught up in the energy of doing projects and hosting events, but unless you take time to reflect on the big picture you will just be spinning your wheels. The “Transition Health Check” is a great resource to guide you in this process.

I hope that you will make sacrifices. Dedicating yourself to Transition work is at least a part time job, and it is unlikely that the system you are trying to change will pay you for your efforts. No matter how many people come together, or how collaboratively you work, anticipate that you will likely need to make changes to your career and financial situation. This is part of the process.

I hope that you commit a minimum of three years of dedicated involvement. Three years is enough to get through the honeymoon stage and begin to see what the real challenges are. It is also when you start to see result of your efforts. Five years is good, more is better.

I hope that you will meet Surrey where it is at. Surrey is a complex and difficult environment to be doing Transition work. Things move glacially slow, and there are many egos and institutions that knowingly or unknowingly resist change. Most importantly, a huge proportion of our community is living in survival mode has neither the time nor resources to participate. I hope that you will be gentle, accepting and tenacious.

I hope that your work will be generative, not extractive. Extractive community work is what happens when one project or group simply extracts resources and capacity from another group. It is a shell game. Generative community work, on the other hand, is about working in ways that generate more energy, interest and engagement. You will encounter extractive processes in Surrey, and I hope that your Transition work can model a more generative approach.

I hope that you will bring your whole selves to this work. If you have read this far, you are probably a pretty amazing person and undoubtedly have much to offer to your community and the world at large. Your skills and talents are need and will be appreciated.

I hope that you have fun! If you can’t find a way to have fun with this, don’t do it.

 

I am grateful to each of you for your inspiration and courage. I intend to remain active, although not nearly as visibly, and I look forward to supporting whatever ideas and offerings emerge to maintain a Transition presence in our community.

I would be happy to hear from you via email, phone, or over a cup of tea.

Over and out,

David Dalley

A Driver’s Guide to Understanding Atmospheric CO2 Levels

Fuel up your car, print out the map below and head out to the intersection of 120th Street and 68th Avenue in Surrey, BC.

Face east. Imagine yourself at a time in history over three ices ages ago. Off in the distance, King George Boulevard represents today, and the distance between where you are now and King George Boulevard represents 400 thousand years.

Face south. Imagine that atmospheric CO2 levels around you are at approximately 300 parts per million (ppm). Off in the distance, 64th Avenue represents 180ppm. Over the next 400 thousand years, the natural cycle of atmospheric CO2 will remain between the 300ppm and 180ppm.

OK, now follow the map and start driving.

As you proceed, you will see stickers on various surfaces marked “Level of atmospheric CO2, May 2017: 406.31ppm.” You can follow them.

Oh, I should have mentioned this earlier. If, at the time you’re doing this, NASA has updated the reading of current atmospheric CO2 levels on their website “Vital Signs of the Planet,” maybe you could print off some new labels and stick them up as you go. This will make it easier for the next person. Thanks.

You will notice that it is impossible to stay on paved roads for the entire route. This means that you will have to drive through back alleys, across parks, and even over a few backyards. But who gives a shit, you’re in a car.

By the time you’ve gone two blocks east to 122 Street, you will be at 64th Avenue. Two blocks is equivalent to about 50,000 years. That means that it took about 50,000 years for the atmospheric CO2 levels to drop from the near highest levels of 300ppm to near lowest levels of 180ppm.

50,000 years. That’s quite a long time, hey?

Now crank the wheel, punch it, and head back up 122 Street. I left some rubber on the road here that you might still be able to see if you look closely enough.

From here, you’ll careen back and forth between 68 and 64 Avenue following the CO2 levels of the last three glacial cycles.

I won’t bore you with the details, other than to say that the guy at 66 Avenue and 124A Street is probably still pissed off about what I did to his lawn, and driving through a lacrosse game at Tamamawis Park is more difficult than you might think. You might want to make a few small detours.

At some point, you will lurch out of a housing complex back on to 64 Avenue less than a block west of King George Boulevard. You are about to complete the final leg of your journey. There is a gas station right at King George Boulevard if you need to gas up. I totally recommend having a full tank for this last bit.

Start heading north again. Slowly at first, as the housing complex that you’re going through has lots of kids. Nothing will slow your progress down more than getting small children caught up in your axles.

Around 65 Avenue, you should start to speed up, as you’ll have to go through some sensitive environmental areas. It is boggy, but with enough speed you’ll be fine.

When you cross 67 Avenue, step on the gas. On your 400 thousand year journey, this is about when the Industrial Revolution started and we began our collective fossil fuel frenzy. You’ll be heading pretty much due north from here.

As you hurtle into the intersection at 68th Avenue and King George Boulevard, here are few things to think about. Don’t slow down, you can read and drive at the same time.

Stay on the far left side of the sidewalk. Yes, you’ll be heading into pedestrians and oncoming traffic, but it is really important that you stay on the sidewalk for the message of this next bit to get through your thick skull.

This spot is equivalent to the year 1950, and atmospheric CO2 levels are already at their historic high of 300ppm. Now hit the gas.

At this point, local law enforcement may have been tipped off about your little escapade, so let’s just get this over with.

Speed north all the way past 72nd Avenue. That represents a rise in atmospheric CO2 levels of over 100ppm. If you’ve been following instructions properly, you’re also still on the sidewalk. That’s because this rise of 100ppm took place in just over 50 years. OK, you can take your foot off the gas now.

Stop at the KFC just north of 72nd Avenue. It is June, 2017 and the level of atmospheric CO2 is over 406ppm.

KFC has some hearty menu options that will fill you up and help you forget how you got here. Dig in.

 

“Rising Tides + Skin Boats” Summary

A huge thank you to artists Erica Grimm, Tracie Stewart and Sheinagh Anderson for facilitating the “Rising Tides + Skin Boats” community eco art gathering! This event arose out of the work of the “Inspiring Sea Change” project.

Thank you to Surrey Libraries and the “Community Shift Coalition” for the venue space, and to the City of Surrey for funding. This event was also part of the City of Surrey’s “Environmental Extravaganza.”

Thank you to folks from the City of Surrey Climate Adaptation Strategy, Surrey Urban Farmers Market, and Burns Bog Society for bringing information tables about the important work that you are doing!

Aaron Schulze with BCIT Magazine produced this excellent introduction to the project and event. Thank you Aaron!

The gathering began with an exploration of these three 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?

As responses to the questions were shared, we tossed a ball of red yarn back and forth across a large six foot coracle, creating a beautiful visual, cultivating curiosity about ocean change and its implications, and setting the stage for deeper conversation.

Sheinagh then led the group in a soundscape experience, skillfully orchestrating us to create the sound of an ocean.

The evening finished with free time for participants to process what was learned through a variety of artistic mediums. Some people made small coracles out of dust masks of surgical masks. Others worked together to make larger coracles out of twigs and branches.

The artwork is on display at City Centre Library until mid-June. Stop by and check it out!

“Human Library” offers Opportunity to Understand Surrey’s Millennials

A huge congratulations to Leejoo Hwang and the Local Development Club at Fraser Heights for pulling together a great Human Library event! The theme of the event was: “Understanding Surrey’s Millennials.”

Leejoo offers the following summary and a few of the participant bios:

The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered. Think of it as the word made flesh: readers become listeners, engaging with real-life stories shared by fellow human beings.

It was an awesome first time experience organizing the Human Library. Though surprisingly quite stressful, we’re happy to say it was successful and FUN!  The goal of creating understanding was made and we couldn’t have done it alone. We’d like to thank the Youth Transition Planning Committee, Simon Fraser University (Rachel), our books and volunteers for lending us a hand and pushing us forward. Don’t miss us too long because we’ll be back during the summer!

Grace Nguyen

As I continue to grow in Surrey, I suddenly realize I’ve always been narrow minded on a one way path, the stereotypical “Get straight A’s, do things to get it on your applications and resumes, get a well paid job like a Doctor, or a dentist. DON’T WASTE TIME.” I never wanted to stray from this path I created for myself, a road I set up before I even understood the roles and expectations outside of school and work. By looking at the environment around me, I open my eyes a little more from this linear mindset. I want to try and step into a new path, and test the temperatures in different waters. What I’m now beginning to realize is that I CAN waste time, and what I mean by that is to utilize the time I have to look for new doors and hopefully grow outside of my “Safe” Comfort zone.

Sahab Ansary

Sahab is just a regular student that has faced many major life changes which have shaped the person he is today. Going from being the elementary school bully to a community worker life had a lot of bumpy roads for Sahab. With issues keeping friends and family constantly changing around him he discovers a new meaning to life. Expressing his feelings thought spoken word poetry and theater he finds his true calling. Dreaming big to one day become a professional gamer, Sahab never gives up with his pursuit to become the best

Corina Staniloiu

Corina is a second-year university student, studying Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Although she grew up in Richmond, and now resides in Burnaby, her exposure to Surrey has drastically increased over the last two years, due to her attending classes and connecting with members of the Surrey community. She realizes that Surrey’s motto “The Future Lives Here” is true to its’ community, where residents come together to build the city they envision. Corina has been very inspired by the level of engagement from members of all walks of life in the city, and believes that Surrey is more than its negative stereotypes. She aspires to keep connecting with the diverse Surrey communities, and build on the positive aspects of a growing, and lively city, and hopes others will join in and do the same.

 

2017 Surrey Earth Walk Gratitude

A huge thank you to everyone that contributed to today’s 2017 Surrey Earth Walk, especially the folks that joined us for the first time!

We invite you to follow some of the links below and get to know some of the individuals and groups that are making Surrey a more sustainable community.

A special thank you to Ellen from the Surrey Blue Dot Group for all the work planning and organizing, and to Suzanne and her crew from Amazing Tutors Foundation for the support along the way and for providing gifts of appreciation to the venue hosts along the way.

Thank you to Teresa,  Cora, Elder Amy and the whole crew at the PLOT Sharing Garden for the beautiful blessing and opening ceremony. Oh, and for having the tent up when the hail started to come down!

Thank you to Councilor Vera Lefranc and the Surrey Urban Farmers Market for your help and contributions to the opening ceremony.

Thank you to Ev and Gemma at Zaklan Heritage Farm for being our first rest stop, and for the tour and the fresh hazelnuts.

Thanks you to Henry and Linda from Roots Ecovillage Cooperative for hosting and providing the lunch stop at Henry’s Permaculture garden.

Thank you to Chris from the Green Timbers Heritage Society for providing a guided tour through Green Timbers Urban Forest.

Thank you to Chris from the Surrey Nature Centre for providing a tour of the grounds.

Thank you to Kate and Ron from the Gro Cart Project for introducing us to the amazing Gro Carts.

Thank you to the City of Surrey’s Environmental Extravaganza program for the support.

And thanks to Steve W for being awesome.

If you like what these groups and people are doing in our community, we encourage you to connect with them, support them and tell them how much you appreciate them!

If you participated in the Surrey Earth Walk and have feedback on how to improve it for next year, please let us know.

24-hour vigil draws attention to the cost of throwaway culture

The follow article by James Smith appeared in the North Delta Reporter on April 20, 2017. The original article can be viewed on page 5 here. See here to learn more about the work that Rob is doing in North Delta. Photo credit: James Smith.

24-hour vigil draws attention to the cost of throwaway culture

As North Deltans lined their streets with detritus in anticipation of this year’s Spring Clean-up, one resident took it as a sort of call to arms.

Inspired by the waste he saw around him, Rob Copeman-Haynes decided to hold a 24 plus hour vigil at the North Delta Social Heart Plaza to raise awareness of the cost we’ve all paid for our disposable culture.

“It’s always bugged me… but what sparked it was on Tuesday evening I saw the truck coming around our cul-de-sac again and putting in all kinds of stuff that shouldn’t have been going to the garbage. It should have been recycled in some way, at least,” he said.

Copeman-Haynes was further motivated by the comments on a post about Spring Clean-up on the North Delta Community Corner Facebook page. He said around eighty per cent of the 300 or so comments were supportive of the event, but 10 per cent denigrated the people who go around and collect stuff they can reuse.

“Nowhere in that conversation could 1 hear, ‘Why do we have so much stuff, and why is the only thing we can do with it is throw it out?’” he said. We can make connections from there to why do we have disaffected youth, why do we have fewer jobs in Canada, why are the jobs making that stuff somewhere else, who’s making the money from those jobs being somewhere else, why is it that stuff is so cheap and breakable and irreparable, and why are there no repair jobs here?”

Copeman-Haynes held up a pair of boots he found at the side of the road during Spring Clean-up four or five years ago as an example of what’s been lost to our modern throwaway culture.

He took them to now-defunct Antonio Lorenzo Shoe Service at 84th Avenue and 112th Street and had the proprietor fix them up. Copeman-Haynes recalled Lorenzo bemoaning how he couldn’t find someone young to take over the business. These days, what Lorenzo did for a living is rapidly becoming a lost art.

“The truth is, there just isn’t enough work anymore,” he said, “He used to be able to do leather ballet slippers, leather hockey gloves, all that stuff that was repairable just 20 or 30 years ago. And now that’s all made of plastic, it all comes from China and it can’t be repaired, so it just gets chucked.

“This was the very last job that Lorenzo did before he closed up his shop. They used to be beautiful ski boots. You can see inside that they’re made in Canada, Eaton’s Canada, probably hand-made — on a machine anyway… And now repurposed as my street theatre shoes.

“And for me, they just represent everything that’s wrong with the way were doing our stuff now.”

Copeman-Haynes hopes his vigil will start a conversation and get people thinking about the impact our choices as consumers have on our local economies and our natural environment.

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

Social Permaculture Activation Day

A huge thank you to Delvin Solkinson, Kym Chi and Bruno Vernier from Gaiacraft for offering today’s free workshop on social permaculture! Thank you also to Alexandra Neighbourhood House for providing the perfect venue, the City of Surrey for the support through the Environmental Extravaganza program, and to Linda Prai for coordinating the day.

Curious about what social permaculture is all about? You’ll find a good summary here, and you can read a blog by local poet Heidi Greco here. Scroll down to learn more about the facilitators below.

The best option, of course, is to join us for the next social permaculture gathering!

Here is a bit more about today’s facilitators:

Delvin Solkinson is a graduate student of permaculture education who continues to study with many masters and maestras of the movement while creating a series of free, open source learning and teaching tools.

Kym Chi is a dedicated advocate of earth stewardship, people care and regenerative action for future resiliency. She teaches Permaculture and works for One Straw Society, a non-profit focusing on food sovereignty.

Bruno Vernier has taught in self-paced Learning Centers and been involved in the Open Source movement, his focus on Community Currencies has connected him with several world leaders in this field.

 

‘Stacking functions’ with gardening

Spring is finally here! Several Surrey high school clubs are  getting busy outdoors which is great to see. Gardening (and related activities)  is something that Permaculture refers to as ‘stacking functions’. It provides solutions and benefits on many levels, here are just a few:

  • Many hands make light work. To mix mulch and spread it in my yard, alone, takes a few hours. To do it with a school garden takes minutes. And that communal activity feels good!

Local Development Club members at Fraser Heights Secondary, preparing mulch

  • Social enterprise ideas, from building planters to sell, to possibly growing microgreens or salad greens to sell locally and in school cafeterias.
  • Building soil increases the carbon it can hold, thus is a low-tech form of ‘carbon sequestration’ that kids and teens can be directly involved in and feel good about.
  • The food produced can be used in many ways: as ingredients for cooking (and therefore learning another skill), or drying herbs to sell as a fundraiser (same with seeds for easy-to-harvest plants like cilantro and spinach). Or maybe the focus is allowing people to come and freely pick what they need, particularly in low-income neighbhourhoods.
  • On a personal level it keeps us more physically active. That was apparent last week while I watched students from Fraser Heights secondary hauling tarps and wheelbarrows full of soil up a steep, slippery slope to where 12 raised beds were waiting to be filled.
  • Becoming more responsible in a very direct way: learning to grow a bit of what we eat. After all, eating is an activity everyone does but only 1-2% of the population does it on a commercial scale. That’s not very resilient!
  • Experience first-hand the time and labour it takes to produce food. Planting carrots in the spring but not harvesting until fall gives students in the classroom a real sense of time scale. You cannot plant something when you are hungry – planning way in advance is required! Even salad greens take 6 weeks to reach a size worth eating.

       Johnston Heights Secondary club members checking out
the school garden in August

  • Practice food security by learning to save seeds and grow produce that can be stored (such as some squashes, carrots, potatoes, dried tomatoes, pickled vegetables).
  • Learn about new foods you may not have tried before. That includes wild foods and things we call ‘invasives’ such as blackberries, dandelion and plantain.

Dandelions are not native to BC, but now an important
source of pollen for bees

  • Over the seasons, learning to watch and observe the natural world. When pollinators are in the garden, what plants are happiest side by side, what happens when you neglect to water and what plants survive, Reading a book or watching videos about gardening and cooking can be interesting and provide a foundation, but then you have to do the activities and learn, often, from making mistakes.
  • Thinking in whole systems, a very useful life skill: soil, water, wind, seeds, sunlight hours, warmth, pollinators, companion planting, composting…the cycle of life!
  • Learn about different plants and how to harvest, store, prepare and eat them. Also, how to ensure plants are part of the larger ecosystem, not just human needs. Pollinators help with at least 35% of the food we eat.

Quinoa, grown locally. Easy to store, keeping some
to sow the following year.

So when you are hot and sweaty in the garden,  frustrated by seeds that did not germinate, or realize that you planted nowhere near enough of something your community needs….just remember it’s a life-long set of skills that are being built, and a fundamental part of what makes us human.

Given that 99% of what we eat is not from native plants, we have to carefully plan how we use the land, what we grow, how to replenish the soil, and learn what plants work well together. The goal is not to provide the majority of our calories from gardening, but to build skills and realize the potential of urban land, suburban yards, community gardens, and “normalizing nature’ in our lives. It puts us back in touch with our daily needs and how we choose to fulfill them.

Check out ‘the Plot’ in Newton sometime!

Oh, and gardening sure makes you appreciate buying fruits and vegetables from the store once you understand just how much work went into that food production. Thank you, farmers!

 

 

Community Listening Circle

Earlier this month we hosted a “Community Listening Circle” as part of our “Community Shift Series.” It was one of the most transformative events we have hosted for a while.

The power of community circles has long been recognized by First Nations cultures, and recently by author Parker Palmer in his work with “Circles of Trust”:

“If we are willing to embrace the challenge of becoming whole, we cannot embrace it alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a ‘circle of trust.’”

Whatever the format or motivation, listening circles give people a chance to say what they are thinking and feeling and can help engender mutual understanding and support among people in stressful times.

Our gathering was facilitated by Sukhvinder Vinning and Rev. Samaya Oakley.

Sukhvinder Vinning is a past president of the World Sikh Organization. She is actively involved in a number of social justice issues, including work with Reconciliation Canada.

The Rev. Samaya Oakley currently serves as the Minister for the South Fraser Unitarian Congregation. She is also a co-chair of a task force of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guide, a task force that is creating reflection guides for Canadian Unitarian congregations around issues of the Indian Residential School system and its impact.

Both Sukhvinder and Samaya have years of experience in creating safe and sacred listening circles in diverse communities.

Rev. Oakley explains her commitment to supporting community listening circles

“When it comes down to a basic level, as human beings we all have the same worries, joys, and cares about what kind of state we are leaving the planet in for our children, and how we need a healthy, thriving community in which to live. I’m passionate about creating opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to come together to listen respectfully about what’s on our hearts and minds.”

A number of participants expressed an interest in participating in future community listening circles. What do you think? Is this something we could do more often in Surrey? What role would you like to play to make it happen?

Let us know what you think, and let’s make it happen!

“Thanks so much for organizing the Listening Circle. I wish all neighbourhoods held these circles regularly.

In participating it was strangely comforting to hear others’ concerns: shared worries could mean also shared goals & solutions. We all seem to care deeply about the planet and its inhabitants. If everyone had a habit of meeting like this, we could likely resolve some basic concerns within our own communities.

What struck me most was that, despite the complexity of some of the problems discussed, there are still simple everyday actions we can take in our communities: smile and greet strangers and neighbours in the street. “ – Kate Elliot

“A wonderful forum to share concerns and fears about the humanity which leads to better understanding and respect for each other.” – Musa Ismail

“I think the more we can talk and communicate about what we can do to make the world a better place the better. I think it is healing when people in fear or pain can find others who have same feelings.” – Niovi Patsicakis