Tag Archives: Vancouver

Climate Cafes: Green Sex Cafe

Green what? I’ve written about Green Sex before, but this is different – now you can be part of the conversation about what it means to have green sex.

The Climate Cafes have invited two of Vancouver’s greatest sexperts, Carolyn Stewart (Associate Director of Health Promotion at SFU) and Jessica Peart (Co-Manager of Executive Services of Options for Sexual Health) to

discuss sex in a variety of ways; from the academic to the erotic. Whether it’s global sexual health, environmentally friendly lubes and toys, or sexy green tips to try with your partner, this Climate Café will make you think, smile, and maybe even blush.”

Join the Climate Cafés team for a can’t miss informative and sexy romp!

Where: Pane Vero Café & Bakery – 952 Commercial Drive

When: Wednesday, March 18 from 6-7:30pm

Find the event on Facebook

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Vancouver Food Policy Council Spring Update

I was so excited to see all the amazing workshops that were posted in the Food Policy Spring Update! You can see the full list here, but I wanted to highlight the following because they look especially cool:

If you haven’t visited the Food Policy website, it’s worth checking out. There are a few job opportunities posted, as well as a list of volunteer positions. So many ways to get involved!

Check out the Greater Vancouver Community Gardens site. It’s a social network for all of us out there involved in community gardens or looking to start new ones. It’s updated regularily, and I think it will make a grea hub for information on Vancouver’s gardens!

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Filed under Urban Agriculture

It’s Offical! Vancouver Allows City Chickens

I’m sitting at the first Vancouver Green Tech Forum. Mayor Gregor Robertson opened the event, and in his address he confirmed that the amendment to the Animal Control By-law has passed! This means Vancouverites can now legally keep chickens in their backyard. I don’t have all the details, but I believe that there is a limit to 2 hens (I could be wrong about this!).

Photo credit: The Green Life

Photo credit: The Green Life

There are lots of North American cities that allow city chickens, and there are many benefits. So you’ve got a backyard, and want some urban hens of your own? I just collected a few resources that I thought I would share with you.

A friend of mine also just started a Facebook Group that you may want to check out. Chickens in Vancouver will become a place for dialogue on keeping hens in urban Vancouver.

Gregor also mentioned the fact that City Hall lawn will be ripped up the Spring to make way for a new community garden! How exciting! This is just the sort of leadership and initiative I’ve wanted to see come out of City Hall.  The new garden will be built in partnership with Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) – a long standing organization in Vancouver that has done amazing work to make our city greener.

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Filed under Politics, Urban Agriculture

PodMob for Sustainable Sushi all Rolled-Up

We can change business as usual.

We buy things everyday.  Businesses will do anything for money. Businesses will do anything for our money… so why don’t we use that power?  To use our purchasing power requires organization, and until the Carrotmob came around, groups hadn’t seen ‘our money’ organized on a grassroots level successfully. We took the concept to Vancouver, and we’ve called it the PodMob*.

Chalk drawings on Robson Street

Chalk drawings on Robson Street

*Pod – group of Vancouverites. Mob – the act of organizing our purchasing at one place and time.

The concept: A big group gets together and agrees to buy things at one place and time.  Now, we have pooled our money into a large sum we can use to negotiate with. Negotiate what?

How about sustainable sushi?

Vancouver is full of sushi – the West End alone has over 20 sushi spots. I can’t convince a sushi restaurant to drop farmed salmon from their menu or start composting scraps by threatening not to purchase a $10 sushi combo.  But a group of 100, 200, or 300 people that stop in for sushi on a particular day does have enough combined money to persuade a sushi restaurant to step up to our challenge to green their restaurant.

Urchin!

The challenge:

  1. Green your operations (i.e. energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, and purchasing/supply chain).
  2. Label your menu so we know what items are sustainable (based on the Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide).
  3. Offer at least one “Best Choice” item from the Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide.

What does ‘greening your operations’ really mean? The Green Table Network heard about the PodMob and stepped in to offer a one-year membership to the business we PodMobbed. They are experts in greening the hospitality industry, and their membership provides tools, guides, and a great network.

The Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide bases it’s ranking of ‘sustainable fish’ on the state of natural stocks, fish farming practices, harvesting methods, and health concerns (i.e. PCBs and mercury).

The Flores Brothers from Sushi Bento Express

The Flores Brothers from Sushi Bento Express

The bidding:
It all started on a rainy November day. I walked into almost every sushi restaurant in the West End, and told them I would bring them a mob of paying customers if they committed the highest percentage of one day’s revenue to ‘greening’ their restaurant.  Considering the state of the fish stocks across the globe, we also asked the restaurant if they would spruce up their menu with some sustainable sushi options.

Shad DJs ROCK!

Shad DJ's ROCK!hi options.

A handful of restaurants stepped up to the challenge and wanted to dig their teeth in and learn more.

The top bid came from Sushi Bento Express at 31% of revenue from November 20th.

The PodMob

I met a girl while I was canvasing the sushi restaurants that thought her boyfriend, Simon, would totally be into lending a hand. So I met up with Simon, who works at Change, about a week before the PodMob. He also introduced me to Lorien, from Limelight Events. Between the two of them we handled a whole bunch of last minute things that I hadn’t had time to think about and designed some awesome posters! We pulled together a great night that harnessed West Enders’ purchasing power to create change in a local business.The PodMob was a success!

Lisa Johnson from CBC covered the story on the 6 o’clock news, and the CBC wrote an article on sustainable sushi. I also got

the chance to speak with Mike McDermid from the Ocean Wise program on BC Almanac with Mark Forsythe. Jackie Wong wrote an article in the  WestEnder that featured our story on November 20th. Sushi Bento Express put together a sustainable sushi combo menu just for the day. Shah DJs pumped out awesome tunes. Boyd, our sponsor from 3rdwhale.com, asked trivia questions and gave out bamboo t-shirts.  Tiny Bites popped in to review the sustainable sushi scene. An intrepid trio from Bowen Island even made the trip across the drink to munch on guilt-free sushi. Of course, there was also a mob of West Enders that kept the Flores brothers busy all night. We’ve got pictures to prove it!

What impact did we have?? Drum roll please…..

85% increase in revenue!

Over 100 Podmobbers on the scene.

Sushi Bento Express upped their contribution to ‘going green’ to 33% – they rock!

The Flores brothers were amazed by how many people showed up for the PodMob, and they’ve decided to keep the sustainable sushi combos on the menu full time. They’ve also committed to labeling their menu with green, yellow, and red dots so you can make informed choices, and exploring Ocean Wise Certification.

Where did the PodMobbers come from? Some saw our youtube videos, got an email, saw a poster, facebook, or heard about it from a friend.

Eat sushi. Save the ocean.

Line up out the door

Line up out the door

With an introductory meeting with the Green Table Network under their belt, the next step is an audit. A Green Table representative will spend half a day at the restaurant observing how things run, and then they will be able to compile a list of suggestions. This is where energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste management will improve.

Eat sushi. Save the climate.

We’re going to keep tabs on the changes that happen at Sushi Bento Express, and report back what the impact. How many kilowatt-hours, liters of water, and kilograms of waste are diverted? Stay tuned!

Eat sushi. Save the planet.

Congratulations to everyone that came out and participated in the PodMob! You rock!

3rdwhale Bamboo T-shirt Winner

A 3rdwhale Bamboo T-shirt Winner

Originally posted at 3rdWhale.com

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Filed under Climate Change, People Power

Gardening in the Sky

Photo by YWCA

Photo by YWCA

Yesterday I got the chance to get a tour of the YWCA’s 5th floor Rooftop Garden in Vancouver, BC. It’s an amazing spot right in the heart of downtown that produces fruits and vegetables a community centre’s hot meals program on the Downtown Eastside.

The garden started as an under utilized ornamental garden until an intrepid Facilities Manager, Ted, convinced the YWCA to give vegetable gardening a try. They sold the existing ornamental plants to buy tools, and volunteer gardeners began their magic work. In the first year their small plot produced about 150Kg of food. Now in their third year, they’ve expanded to 650sq ft, and are producing over 400Kg of food. The ultimate goal: 1 tonne.

Photo courtesy of YWCA

Photo by YWCA

I have some experience in rooftop gardening, so I was most curious about the soil, which is often a hurdle in rooftop gardening. Existing plant boxes often have very sandy soil (as was the case at the YWCA), it’s hard to get good soil/compost to top of a building, and of course there is the issue of only have 3-4 inches of soil depth to work with. The gardener’s here have done a fantastic job of building up the organic content in the soil by tilling under weeds, composting everything possible, and planting cover crops. Some students from UBC will be doing nutrient testing in the soil later this year – I’ll be interested to know the results of that test.

My favorite part…. The bicycle and trailer that was donated to the garden by PEDAL so they can deliver the produce weekly to the Downtown Eastside. The organic scraps at the kitchen are picked up when the produce is dropped off, and they are brought back to the roof to compost. The fresh veggies and fruit that they produce are amazing, but it’s obviously not enough to supply the hot meal program with all the produce thy need (they serve about 1700 meals per week). Ted refers to the Garden’s contribution as a supplement – they try to grow veggies and fruit that may usually be too expensive for the shelter to purchase on a regular basis or that are simply better when they’re fresh – raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, summer squash, salad greens, Asian greens, bok choy, beans, peas, cucumber, and more.

Originally posted at 3rdwhale.com

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Filed under Urban Agriculture

City Chickens

Photo from Planet Save

Photo from Planet Save

The idea of urban homesteading and green living is obviously becoming more and more appealing to people living in cities around the world. The first step in self sufficiency is usually a vegetable garden. The hot trend now is the addition of a chicken coop. Chickens are totally the new pug. I’ve hung out with my fair share of chickens (my mom works on a small farm), and the concept of a few laying hens in the backyard is appealing. Two of three hens would provide lots of fresh eggs, fertilizer, and insect control for the garden. My favorite urban chicken coop design is the swiss army knife of coops.

Photo by The Open Piehole
Photo by The Open Piehole

There are issues of legality in some cities – some choose to ignore or change these rules. Planet Save has noted that,

“Illegal or not, city chicken flocks are more popular than ever.

“It’s no longer something kinky or interesting,” said Jac Smit, president of the Urban Agriculture Network. “The ‘chicken underground’ has really spread so widely and has so much support.”

Though some worry that backyard chickens might carry and transmit avian flu, advocates of urban chicken farming claim that farming poultry on a small scale presents less of a risk of disease than large-scale production.

Some cities, however, are less concerned about disease, than they are about noise, and nuisance, and have put limits of the number of roosters one household can keep in their yard.

Making backyard chickens legal is a good move for cities interested in reducing their ecological footprint.  Urban chickens provide a local source of eggs, meat and manure.”

Photo by Philip Ferrato on Flickr

Photo by Philip Ferrato on Flickr

Since the potential risks are so low and the benefits are so high, it only makes sense that people are flocking to build coops and gather the hens!

I’d love my own, but with no backyard I think that apartment-chickens would be stretching it a bit far and not particularily fair for the chickens themselves. Not to mention, by roommate would probably freak at the idea! Although, I should note that there ARE people out there raising chickens in their apartments.

Martin, over at Rocks & Water, has been keeping tabs on Vancouver’s city chickens laws.

Originally posted at 3rdwhale.com

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Filed under Urban Agriculture