Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fresh Produce Wednesdays at the Curbside Market

Tell your friends & neighbours: there's a new market in the 'hood!

A Fresh initiative in Mount Pleasant is starting. Working for some time to increase access to affordable fresh produce, the Foodbank is hitting the streets with a Curbside Fresh Market to bridge the gap for those with limited food access.

Starting last week, a curbside market at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House (on the corner of Prince Albert and Broadway) will sell 24 fresh produce items weekly. These will include locally-sourced and in-season fruits and veggies such as tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cabbages and carrots as well as occasional market staples based on requests from market goers.

Available for all, so get on down on Wednesdays 2-6 to get Curbside Fresh.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

I'm Afraid for the Future of BC

I haven't written any blog posts abhttp://mlaplaydate.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/rally-for-public-education-at-fassbenders-office/out the current situation with public education in BC yet for a few reasons. A lot of other people have produced compelling pieces on the state of education right now, which you may have noticed me sharing almost obsessively on social media. (I Will Hold The Line for BC's Public Education SystemBC Today: Labour Conflict or School Reform?, BC Teachers Strike is Christy Clark's Strike, Why the BCTF and the Liberals are in a current stalemate in their negotiations)These pieces were produced by my teacher friends, fellow parents, writers, people I don't even know personally who believe in public education--so many people. Some of the best of these blog posts, Facebook status updates, news articles, & even tweets were written by my aunt, Cecelia Griffiths, for her blog, Especially About Students. (Go read it. Now.)

Cecelia is someone we should all be listening to in this fight--make no mistake, this is a battle, & we need to win or we're all screwed--because she is in all of the above categories. Cecelia is uniquely qualified in this debate over class size & composition, & what that all means in classrooms now & for BC's future citizens. She is a parent & a grandparent, a Special Education Teacher with a Master's Degree, plus decades of experience in the classroom, & a damn good writer. She knows first hand what underfunding education does to the most vulnerable of our children--the ones with autism, with learning disabilities, with behavioural challenges, with post-traumatic stress disorder--because she was there in the classroom, in the halls, in the hospital, with those kids, dealing with the disasters that result from not getting the help they need until everything explodes.

So in the face of all these eloquently written articles by my aunt & many others, I haven't written anything myself. But I need to say something. I need to write about this, because I'm scared. I understand now what the Liberal government is trying to do to education in this province, & frankly, it scares the shit out of me.

This strike has nothing to do with teacher salaries or benefits. Christy Clark & her party are intent on dismantling what's left of our public education system. I say what's left of it, because they've been underfunding education for twelve years now. Increasing numbers of people who can afford it have picked up their kids & fled to the user pay system of private schools. But I can't afford to do that. Can you?

Thankfully, the teachers have decided that enough is enough. Teachers like my aunt Cecelia, like my friends Dan, Lisa, Gina, Bryn, Chloe, Genny, are all saying NO. No more cuts to special education funding. No more jacking up class sizes. No more ignoring Supreme Court decisions that uphold our children's Charter rights to education. The teachers have put their livelihoods on the line here, with no pay for months now, to fight for our kids. Now we need to get off our asses & stand with them.

I support this strike because I have a stake in the future of public education--obviously, I have two little kids. But even if I didn't, supporting the teachers would still be in my interests. Everyone in BC has an interest in maintaining a decent public education system, because without it, we produce fewer trained, competent workers, fewer university educated people like doctors, judges, engineers, teachers, librarians, social workers. What we'll have more of, is criminals, addicts, traumatized & broken people. (If you think I'm being alarmist, you read The Terrible Trajectory of the Undesignated Child & then think about it again. Don't worry, I'll wait.) Besides the compassion we need to have for others to prevent their lives from becoming shit, let's speak in language the Liberal government can understand: it's outside the affordability zone. Those addicts, criminals, & illiterate people that we will produce by shafting them from age five right till they drop out of high school will cost our system millions in extra policing, hospital funding, prisons, property damage...

Without a decent public education system, the majority of people who will end up at university will be kids whose parents could afford a good education for them. The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer. Notice I didn't mention a middle class there--because there won't be one. You shouldn't be angry just because your kindergartener's going to miss their first day of school this week, or even because your grade twelve kid is going to have difficulty catching up after missing what might be weeks of school. You should be furious because this fight is about the future of public education in this province. It's not about me, it's not about you, it's not about your kid(s). It's about all of us.

If we don't stand up, stand together with the teachers, & fight Christy Clark on this, we're all screwed. & by stand up, I mean literally stand up. Together. Just like our great grandmothers did to get the vote. Liking, sharing, +1ing & tweeting is not enough. We need bodies. So if you can, bring your kids & go to your MLA's office on Tuesday at 10am. Or at 5pm at Fassbender's office in Surrey--details on MLAplaydate. Go stand beside your teachers on the picket lines at your local schools, if only for twenty minutes on the way to work. Come to the BC Federation of Labour rally at Canada Place on Friday, September 5, 5pm. I'll see you there!


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Help Create a Resource for New Parents with Mental Health Challenges

Do you want to help youth understand what becoming a parent while experiencing a mental health challenge means?

Would you like to share your experiences in a way that can make practical differences in the lives of families?

Want to have a snack and share stories with a group of parents who have faced similar challenges?

Want to earn $50 for your time?

The F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kid's Mental Health is embarking on Phase Three of our Transition to Parenthood Legacy Project. We are looking to speak with parents who have lived-experience of mental health challenges in casual focus group sessions in order to inform the creation of a written resource for young soon-to-be and new parents.

We are looking for parents who:
  • are between 22 and 35
  • have had a baby within the last 3 years
  • are available to attend a two;'' hour Focus Group 
  • are willing to review the draft of the written document 
  • have thoughts/suggestions/stories that they would like to share about their experiences of preparing to have a child and the pregnancy phase in relation to their mental health challenge.

The details:Dates: attend a two-hour Focus Group on either September 10th or 19th 2014
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Location: Vancouver Public Library Central Branch
Contact: please email Colleen at forcet2p@gmail.com by September 5th for information and to sign up

Transition to Parenthood (T2P) is a Youth Engagement Legacy Project aimed at increasing the involvement of young people in generating knowledge to address risks and protective factors for the transition to parenthood for first-time parents who have lived experience with a mental health challenge.

Check out the six Videos the T2P Youth-led team created highlighting the questions and concerns that young people may have transitioning into parenthood with lived experience: www.forcesociety.com/transition-parenthood-t2p

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Friday, August 29, 2014

2014 Summer Bucket List: The Score

Some random dinosaur silliness from our summer
Since it's nearly the end of the summer, I thought I'd check in on my bucket list to see how we've done. As you can see, not terribly well:

  1. Swimming at an outdoor pool--New Brighton, Kits, or Third Beach
  2. Picnic at the beach
  3. Hiking at least once--maybe Quarry Rock
  4. Camping--probably tent camping by car, though I'm sure the Yuba could handle all our gear...
  5. Gelato
  6. Biking around Stanley Park
  7. Taking a ferry--maybe Victoria, maybe the Gulf Islands, maybe both?
  8. Get Slurpees--I know they're just sugar water slightly frozen, but they're just so summery!
  9. Having friends over for a barbeque--since we got our deck all redone last summer we need to break it in properly!
  10. Farmers Market shopping--no excuse not to, with two markets within a ten-minute ride of home: Trout Lake market Saturdays & Mount Pleasant market Sundays.
  11. Go to the PNE--we've gone every single year since Linnaeus was born: this will be his FIFTH time!
  12. See at least one outdoor movie--I love the Fresh Air Cinema events! 

If posing next to weird roadside attractions & public art pieces were on the list, we'd have scored much higher. We may be able to squeeze in a few more of the above, but I think hiking, camping, & the outdoor movies aren't going to happen, sadly. Ah well. There's always next year...

Did you make a bucket list this year? How many things have you checked off it?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Have you seen the new, improved Vancouver Aquarium yet?

Don't forget to bring your water bottle to the Aquarium! 
If you haven't been to the Aquarium this summer, you should go check out their new expansion. I got a tour of the facility in July & I can tell you, there's a lot to see.

The new building is more sustainable (built to LEED Silver standards) & now double the size, with a cleaner, more modern feel to it. You'll see it right at the new entrance, in the gift shop, the gorgeous new cafe with a large patio area, & a two-level atrium space featuring a huge globe upstairs & tons of space for events downstairs.

More importantly, several of the animal habitats are improved, including the Bat Cave & the Tropics area.

A glimpse of the new coral exhibit

Inspiring future veterinarians at the new Clownfish Cove
I won't show you too many photos of the new renovations--you should go see it for yourself! Before you go, or if you can't make it, please check out the page all about Chester, the recently rescued baby false killer whale. He's improving--now swimming on his own without the aid of a flotation sling--but he still needs 24-hour care at the Marine Mammal Rescue facility. You can read his story here. Your donations help with this important rescue & rehabilitation work. More information including a link to donate online can be found on the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre webpage.

Another way to support the aquarium is to buy a membership for yourself or your family. They make great gifts for kids (remember, Christmas is only four months away!) because they don't clutter up the playroom with another toy. Probably the best thing about having a membership to a place like this is so you can go for a short visit without having to worry about "getting your money's worth" in one epic day. Go for an hour just to see the frogs & snakes, then go watch the belugas from the Arctic Gallery on your next visit. Your kids can spend the next trip in the new, improved Clownfish Cove, playing marine mammal veterinarian. Membership benefits are many (Skip the line! Member-only events! 20% off at the cafe & gift shops, AquaCamps, Animal Encounters, sleepovers, & birthday parties too!)

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