Getting Ready for the Solar Workshop

We are excited about the upcoming workshop “Everything you Wanted to Know About Solar Power (but were afraid to ask!)” Info and registration here.

For those of you that have registered, please review the longer course description below and make note of the things that you will need to bring with you mentioned in the last paragraph!

Everything you Wanted to Know About Solar Power

In this introduction to solar power we move from the basic starting points of how practical solar power works, to energy consumption estimates, and finally solar site assessments.

We will learn how the basic parts of a photovoltaic system fit together into a cohesive system. From panels to charge controllers, batteries and grid-tie microinverters we will understand the anatomy of free-standing off-grid systems. We will also explore the investment possibilities of going grid-tied and selling electricity to BC Hydro. In doing so we will get a sense of the practical strengths and weaknesses of off-grid and grid-tied solar. We will learn how to read and interpret the electrical labels on appliances and calculate how much solar power we need to run them. We might even find some surprises when we compare a toaster to a refrigerator.

Along the way we can take some scenic detours into historical traps of energy efficiency, neighbourhood trends, economic trends, and some lightweight science.

The second half of the workshop is a solar site assessment. We will head outside with our compasses and simple clinometers to gather data about a specific location. We will use this to make a sky chart and model the annual solar potential of our site.

Please bring a notebook, compass, and a clinometer. You can make one with a straw glued onto a protractor and a string with a weight on the end.

Leejoo Hwang Wins Community Leader Award

An energetic student whose gentle leadership style inspires and mobilizes people across Surrey

Leejoo’s ability to influence people first became evident online where he created a Facebook fan page that quickly reached 17,000 ‘likes.’ He later developed with a friend the ‘Silent Voices of Greater Vancouver’ project, an online blog that gives voice to people living on the street.

He founded the Local Development Club at Fraser Heights Secondary School, a club that is active in a number of community projects such as a school garden and building the Little Free Libraries initiative. He is active on the Oak Avenue Resident Advisory Committee, Surrey Leadership Youth Council and the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities youth team. He has volunteered at Science World and currently volunteers with a number of City of Surrey programs along with Reading Buddies program at Guildford Library.

“It’s important for me to give back to my community because it gives me a sense of belonging,” Leejoo says. “In a big world like this, it’s very easy to feel like a drop of water in an ocean but contributing to this ocean gives you a chance to meet new people and explore different corners.”

Leejoo was chosen as one of the top 150 students in Canada to travel to Ottawa and participate in the Canada 150 Youth Forum with former Governor General David Johnston. As a drummer and hip hop dancer, Leejoo also uses music and dance to bring people together. He played in the youth band at his church, hosted a street-dancing workshop at the Surrey Skill Share Fair and performed at the Dr. Ambedkar Chetna Awards Night.

“I could talk about the awards that I’ve won but I am most proud of my growth,” Leejoo says. “Through volunteering I’ve met incredible individuals who have helped me grow and develop. I went from being a quiet, shy student into an engaging, passionate individual and overall a better person.”

Leejoo is currently studying business at Simon Fraser University.

See the full summary of Community Leader Awards in this article in the Now Leader Newspaper.

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.


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

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.

Fantastic Foraging Follow-up

We always open every Urban Foraging workshop with a review of City of Surrey Bylaws, and so we’ll start this blog in the same manner!

Section 15 of City of Surrey Parks Bylaw 13480 states: “No person shall within a park […] remove, cut, break, injure or in any way destroy or damage any animal, tree, shrub, plant, turf, sod, or flower.” You can read the full bylaws here. Surrey Parks are great venues for learning and teaching, but if you want to go harvesting, we encourage you to find a location on private or crown land.

A huge thank you to Mandi Thompson for facilitating this year’s foraging workshops! This year’s workshops in Tynehead and Green Timbers Park were by far our most well attended, and we’ve received numerous request to hold similar workshops with Mandi again.

Below you will find pictures from both events, the list of plants that we found and learned about, as well as Mandi’s suggested reading list.

One of the best resources, however, is Mandi’s “Fantastic Forager” YouTube channel! You can also follow Mandi on Twitter here.

Plant ID Walk

  1. Oregon Grape
  2. Salmonberry
  3. Salal*
  4. Blackberry
  5. Thimbleberry
  6. Dandelion
  7. False Lily of the Valley
  8. Curly Dock, Broadleaf Dock
  9. Clover
  10. Shepherd’s Purse
  11. Plantain- broad leaf and narrow leaf
  12. Horsetail – Only the young shoots (still green), and I do not really recommend it!
  13. Red Osier Dogwood – medicinal
  14. Cattails
  15. Hardhacks – medicinal
  16. Flowering Wild Currant
  17. Thistle- Bull thistle, sow thistle

Toxic/Do Not Eat List:

  1. Buttercup – gastric distress; they taste so bad human fatalities are rare.
  2. Bleeding Heart – vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, slowed breathing
  3. Holly – vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, drowsiness
  4. Skunk Cabbage – they taste really bad so you wouldn’t want to eat them, intestinal upset
  5. Foxglove*- Bell shaped flowers, many colors, grows in ditches. Seriously potent emetic.

Slows the heart, causes heart attack

  1. Cherry Laurel/English Laurel* -extreme intestinal upset, cyanide compounds
  2. Lupine* – Slows the heart, numbness in feet and hands, burning in mouth, shock, dehydration, fever, nausea, vomiting, coma, hallucinations

Recommended Reading: (*Available at Surrey Libraries)

  1. *Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt to Plate by John Kallas – an excellent “starter” book that focuses on identification and creative ways to eat weeds! Lots of photographs of the same plant from various angles, good maps, and good recipes.
  2. *Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada by Andrew Mackinnon – a great, easy to understand and interesting reference with clear pictures. Canada-wide focus, but clear maps of where to find each. A definite must read.
  3. * Wild Berries of the Pacific Northwest by J.E. Underhill – a 1974 classic with clear photographs and illustrations, local focus, clear charts and maps, and includes lots of really nice recipes!
  4. *Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms by Nancy Turner – an excellent reference to 300+ toxic plants, North American focus, clear photographs and easy to understand. Kind of the “Anti Mackinnon” and a very important read.
  5. *Edible Wild Plants and Useful Herbs by Jim Meuninck – Small and handy guide – not a good starter since it’s illustrated instead of photography, but lots of information in there!
  6. *Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer – Though the book covers plants of the Midwest, many are also found in the PNW. Some great ideas for cooking!
  7. *Indian Use of Wild Plants for Crafts, Food, Medicine and Charms by F. Densmore – not a reference guide, a Canada-wide focus, and not solely dedicated to foraging, but incredibly interesting and endangered information in here.
  8. * How to Eat in the Woods by Bradford Angier – Only ⅓ of the book is dedicated to foraging (the other ⅔ are dedicated to hunting and survival techniques), a broad North American focus and not quite clear illustrations. This one isn’t a reference guide by any stretch, but it contains some surprising tidbits about food and survival, and is quite entertaining!
  9. Plants of the Western Boreal Forest and Aspen Parkland by Johnson, Kershaw, Mackinnon and Pojar – Though the book is not specific to BC areas, many of the plants inside are. This book is super dense, and it trains your brain to think in “plant families” to learn to more quickly identify new plants. Not essential but a great tool!

There are hundreds of others out there, including The Deerholm Foraging Book, Pacific Northwest Foraging, Backyard Foraging, The Joy of Foraging, etc etc etc. (All available at Surrey Libraries!) The above list is just a good start. I encourage you to go and find your favorites

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.

Earth Day Pilgrimage to Burns Bog

The Earth Day Pilgrimage to Burns Bog took place this year on April 23, 2017.  Scroll down for a summary submitted by speaker and participant Acharya Dwivedi. You can read a summary blog on the Burns Bog website here.

Earth Day Pilgrimage to Burns Bog
By Acharya Dwivedi

The Burns Bog Conservation Society has been working hard to protect and preserve it from the greedy developers and anti-environmentalists. The Society creates awareness by organizing several events. Earth Day Pilgrimage to Burns Bog is an annual event and this year it was held on April 23,2017. The event began at
2.00PM. Pilgrimage helps to remove barriers, brings people together from faith, spiritual and environmental groups, and presents a united front on issues and concerns.

The Burns Bog is treated as the “lungs of the lower mainland”. It is the largest domed peat bog in the world which covers 40 square kilometers of land but small portion of this area is accessible now to public on the eastern side called the Delta Nature Reserve.
The major characteristics of Burns Bog are that it is wet, acidic, peat forming. It regulates water, prevents flooding and releases water in dry conditions. Burns Bog is habitat of more than 300 plant and 175 bird species.

The bog sequesters carbon emissions that cause climate de-stabilization. Moreover, it clears our air, water and plays an important role in our local ecosystem .

The Pilgrimage participants were welcome d by the President of Burns Bog Society followed by Imam Tariq Azeem’s speech. Aline la Flamme and the Daughters of the Drum, South fraser Unitarian Congregation and Susan Summers and the Sacred Web Singers gave musical performances. Closing blessings were given by Acharya S.P.Dwivedi. More than hundred pilgrims of different ages and sections of the society walked together to enjoy and relate with nature.

Members of the South Fraser Unitarian Choir performed along the Pilgrimage route: