“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 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.

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:

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.

 

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!)

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