DreamBank Update

August 4th, 2008 @ 10:18pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Photo credit:
Darren Barefoot on Flickr

With Blogathon 2008 behind us and next year’s effort ahead of us (for which we’ve already got some better pledging technologies in the works) it’s time to revisit a slightly more selfish cause.

I currently have a DreamBank profile setup to help me get to Blog World in Las Vegas this September. My goal is to take my hyper-local blogging on the road to the world’s largest conference of its kind. I’m using DreamBank since it harnesses the power of social media and combines it with contributing to excellent established non-profits.

If you choose to sponsor my Blog World dream your funds will also help support Save The Children. I know some folks who are using it as a wedding registry, some who are simply saving up for big ticket items they cannot afford themselves, or others who are using it simply as a wish list. You can sign up for your own “dream”, by entering your wish item or cause on DreamBank.

I am currently at 33% of my goal, thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.

Metro Vancouver Park Series: Lynn Valley Headwaters

August 4th, 2008 @ 1:18pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

John and I have pretty much been having a staycation this long weekend. We have friends over on the Island celebrating BC150, we took a day trip to Seattle, and yesterday we spent all of $2.50 in bus fare to experience the most amazing trails Metro Vancouver has to offer. As such, here is another installment of the Park Series featuring Lynn Headwaters.

Metrics: 4,685 hectares with many “easy” to “expert” trails.

How to get there: North of Lynn Canyon Park, the Headwaters open up into vast mountain hiking terrain. Take Lynn Valley Road to its terminus and you’ll hit the parking lot. You can also take the 210 Upper Lynn Valley bus from downtown or 228 from Lonsdale that both let you off in the vicinity.

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

There is a basic “loop” trail, and several kilometers of flat creek-side strolling. You will have to check in near the parking lot (and check out when you leave) and be sure to chose your route wisely as even on the easy trails there are several steep portions on the mountain (naturally).

You can choose a relatively gentle, half-day creekside walk along the Headwaters Trail (9.5 miles/15.5 km return) to Norvan Creek, or a full-day trip to either Lynn Lake (15 miles/24 km return) or the top of Grouse Mountain on the rigorous Hanes Valley Loop route (9 miles/15 km one way) via Crown Pass.

Although Lynn Headwaters Regional Park is characterized by a rugged landscape, there’s no need to feel that every hike has to be in the thigh-burning category. Far from it. Two gentle trails, Lynn Loop Trail (1 mile/1.7 km) and Cedar Mill Trail (1.3 miles/2.1 km) follow the creek for much of the way towards Norvan Falls. Pick the length and degree of difficulty that best suit you. [BCParks]

Features: Red cedars that are hundreds of years old and what we dubbed the “interesting boulders” the size of houses that are perched above the Lynn Loop trail. There are outhouses near the parking lot, some trails have muddy patches, there are loose roots and rocks so you definitely need to be careful. There is some great interactive information plus trail photos available on VancouverTrails.com.

History: This was the home of North Vancouver’s water supply from 1883 to 1981. “In 1981, when storms damaged the intakes, Lynn watershed was abandoned as the source of North Vancouver’s water supply; in 1985, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park came into being. This extensive wilderness area, logged in the 1800s, is now accessible to hikers.” [Trails.com] Considered “logged out” by the late 1900’s, this area was also mined for zinc and copper.

Lynn Headwaters MapThe next time I’m in the area I’m going to stop at the Lynn Valley Ecology Centre for a free lesson about the natural history of the park.

Notes: Remember to bring bug spray because when you stop at the top of that 1km incline for some rest, the flies and mosquitoes landing on your legs, feet, back and chest might drive you batty. Dogs are allows on leashes. Be bear aware.

Dozens of people have had to be rescued from the park over the last few years so make sure if you anticipate going up on the trails that you are fully prepared, give yourself lots of time before dusk, check the weather reports and always let someone know where you are going.

Although this is mountain hiking territory, trails like Lynn Loop, Cedars Mill and the lower Headwater route provide nice afternoon walks (40 mins – 2 hours).

The Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field

August 3rd, 2008 @ 11:31am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Today I took in my first Seattle Mariners game and even though the M’s walked away with a loss, it was one really great evening at the ballpark.

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Being born and raised in the Vancouver area if the sport I’m watching doesn’t involve a puck or stick I usually don’t get that too excited. However when I moved to Boston I couldn’t help but fall in love with the Red Sox. Years later, having married a Cubs fan, baseball has become a summer afternoon tradition in our family. Heading to the ballpark (to watch the C’s play over at the Nat) or catching a game on WGN, allows for a slow, simple enjoyment of this pass time – even moreso if hotdogs are involved.

Venturing into Safeco I wasn’t sure what to expect and I had only previously been in that area to see DC United take on Real Madrid at Qwest Field a few years ago.

I have to make a note about the food selections at Safeco as there are so many varieties that was fairly reasonably priced based on location and portion size. You could have garlic fries, fried clams, grilled chicken burger, a taco salad, Thai food, sushi (with the keenly branded “Ichiroll”), and hot dogs. Caramel and candy apples seemed to be a favourite in our section and I had to cave and get soft serve in a tiny helmet (to match my Boston collection). There was even a woman walking around with a skewer of marshmallows and chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Safeco still seems like a fairly new building (just about 10 years old) but the folks in the stands (young and old) are all seasoned Mariners fans. The organization knows how to get the them going and they don’t need much prompting even when their team is not victorious.

Despite the lack of replay footage on the big screen and the three hour border line up to get down there, it was a lovely night out with friends and my man – the guy who always says, “root, root, root for the Cubbies,” during the 7th inning stretch… no matter what park we’re in (which I don’t really mind at all).

Vancouver Blogger Profile: Craig David Long

August 1st, 2008 @ 7:15pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

A while back I profiled Terri Potratz who is currently in the running to be the Vancouver blogger for FASHION Magazine. As it happens, there is a second Vancouverite in contention for this stylish role and it’s none other than Craig David Long of The Commodified.

Who are you? I am a very recent university graduate, so, you could say I’m in that transition period between lofty ideals and hard facts. I did my undergrad in Communications at SFU and am now trying to forge a career in Marketing or Public Relations. I’ve always been interested in style, but I think my educational background is responsible for my new sensitivity towards it’s social dimensions; the way we use style as a means of personal expression. I consider myself a keen observer of this tendency.

Where do you blog? My blog is called The Commodified. Some people consider it a street style blog, but I’m giving it some time to rest, so I can veer away from that category. For my blog, I’m not particularly interested in photographing people who are well dressed. Instead, I’m just looking for people whose attire makes me consider how it may represent their identity. When someone catches my eye and holds it, and I’m given sense of intrigue… that’s who I will photograph.

Are you originally from Vancouver? Yes. I’ve always lived in the Vancouver area. I was raised in the suburbs, but I grew up in the city.

Why do you blog? I blog because I am passionate about my subject matter. I’ve always kept my eye on the street, and now I’m capturing what I see. I think the people who appreciate my blog, share this passion and appreciate the spontaneity of it.

I don’t really think that my blog is about fashion, because fashion is what is au courant. I’m not looking for the next trend, instead, I’m just looking for people’s individual style, which may or may not be fashionable. That being said, I think fashion is often inspired by the street and that the most provocative designs are usually informed by something real.

What is the BEST part of blogging?The best part about blogging is the freedom of expression it affords people. I would never have been able to show people Vancouver, the way I see it, if it weren’t for my blog. It is incredible to think of the reach blogs have. The response I’ve received from people in Vancouver and around the world is positively overwhelming, and their support is what propels me forward.

Sample Street Fashion Photos from The Commodified’s Best of 2007

Do you write for yourself, your readers, for Google, for a living? My blog is a hobby I keep up mostly for the enjoyment of my friends and loved ones. I think keeping it this way gives the blog a personal touch. It is easy to get caught up in the expectations of the many readers, but I find it best to keep the blog as intimate as possible.

PC, Mac or Speak n’ Spell? I currently use a PC, but would prefer a Mac. On the technology side, I’ve considered uploading photos straight from my cellphone so I don’t have to carry my camera with me everywhere and so that there is less of a delay between posts, but I’ve decided that the quality of the photographs is more important to me.

Blogs you read or would recommend? For street style, my favourite blogs are Hel-Looks, The Sartorialist, and The Street Walker. I also like the Vancouver music blog, From Blown Speakers. It helps me keep informed of upcoming shows.

Why FASHION Magazine online? I decided to participate in the FASHION Magazine reporter search upon recommendation from a few acquaintances of mine. The contest seemed like a great opportunity, because FASHION Magazine and The Commodified are both about inspiring people. I am excited about the possibility of reaching a new segment of people with photos that are fashion conscious, while simultaneously taking The Commodified in a new direction.

You can visit FASHION Magazine online to get more info about the finalists and vote as many times you like (although only once per day) until the cut off August 11th.

Metamorphoses at the Pacific Theatre

August 1st, 2008 @ 12:20am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Michelle Kim in MetamorphosesEarlier this week I conducted an official interview with Michelle Kim regarding the premiere of Metamorphoses in Vancouver.

Written by Mary Zimmerman, Metamorphoses includes 10 stories, which are based on The Ovid. It is directed by Christine Willes, who is known for her TV roles on The CW’s Reaper and Showtime’s Dead Like Me. She is now the Artistic Director at The William Davis Centre at VanArts and makes legends appear on stage with Metamorphoses. She orchestrates an ensemble cast through scenes of raw emotion, sin, greed, and lust in what Michelle Kim refers to it as, “a classic assembly of myths infused with modernity.” [Rebecca Bollwitt – E! Online]

As mentioned in my E! post, this production embraced social media by encouraging me to invite bloggers to opening night. As a result, I had a great time (finally) meeting Karen, and hanging out with Raul. I also got to chat briefly with Erin Ashenhurst, with whom I attended high school and who happened to design the posters for the play.

Michelle’s performance tonight was gripping and engaging; her roles ranging from a playful toddler to an incestuously love-struck siren. The cast worked attentively around a pool of water in the middle of the set despite the fact that its edges were consistently soaked. Katherine Coupland was solid yet again (since I saw the student production last year) and new faces in the ensemble brought a modern light to the mythical stories.

Mindful tales of greed and lust were eclipsed by such timeless accounts as those of Eros and Psyche, and the torments of the underworld through the stories of Orpheus or Alcyone.

Pacific Theatre

If you have the chance to take in some local entertainment this summer (especially on rainy nights like tonight) I highly recommend heading to the Pacific Theatre to check out Metamorphoses which runs from tonight until August 16th.

Jamaican Festival 2008 in Surrey

July 31st, 2008 @ 8:13am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Just in time for the sun to return there will be many events heating up Metro Vancouver this weekend. If you’re not downtown for the Pride Parade on Sunday (kicking off at noon and running all along Robson, down Denman, and up Beach over to Sunset Beach) then there is another festival happening at Holland Park in Surrey that should be just as jubilant.

Celebrating 46 years old Jamaican independence, Surrey’s Jamaican Festival on Sunday August 3rd will feature volleyball, soccer, tug-o-war, and various other challenging events alongside reggae music, soca music, foods and games.

Jamaica Tent @ Fusion Festival – Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Sunday’s outdoor event is preceded by a banquet Saturday night at the Portugese Banquet Hall in Surrey (visit the JCCABC site for more details).

Spinning Sexy Survey Stories

July 31st, 2008 @ 12:47am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

For the record according to Miss604.com readers, 58% would like to see beaches go smoke free, 90% would have preferred a free Slurpee over an iPhone on July 7th, 40% care very much about the fate of the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park and 91% agree that the responsibility for vicious dogs lies solely on the owner.

Photo credit: Kris Krug on Flickr

However interesting those numbers may be, the latest buzz on newsstands is that according to Canadian speed dating service, FastLife.ca, Vancouver is the second sexiest city in Canada thanks to our buzzing Yaletown district. But just how accurate are these results… and do we care?

First off, the fact that the appeal of the trendy heritage district (that used to be full of toxic waste) still allowed us to come in behind Winnipeg is slightly puzzling – mind you the last time I was in the ‘Peg I was about 10 years old and all I can remember is ordering a burger from Fuddruckers so I didn’t know much from ‘sexy’ there but I digress.

The survey showed that Vancouver as a whole lost points due to the low and unsexy scores from Chinatown, Commercial Drive, and Kerrisdale, although overall we still narrowly beat out Toronto and Calgary. The nation’s sexiest suburb also just happens to be Richmond, BC.

Now, not to doubt the legitimacy of these regions and their lovely inhabitants but just where did this survey come from exactly?

Vancouver History: Lord Roberts School

July 30th, 2008 @ 7:37am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

During Blogathon I took on the “A-Z” of Metro Vancouver and for some of my entries I shared random history tidbits ie. “Y” for Yasutaro Yamaga and “P” is for Pender.

Strolling around the neighbourhood the other day I noticed there’s history all around the West End of Vancouver, from Pauline’s Monument in Stanley Park, to Roedde House. Using such inspiration from this area I decided to look up the history of Lord Roberts School – an majestic old elementary school on Bidwell Street.

Lord Roberts school was opened in the Spring of 1901 at a time when the city was growing rapidly. The building was a wooden structure containing eight classrooms, located at the centre of the existing playground. Sixty three trees were planted around the school grounds to mark the opening day celebrations and a few of the trees are still standing. The original structure was removed when the new wing was added to the present brick building. [Lord Roberts]

The school was named after Frederick Roberts, a solider in the Victorian era who was affectionately known as “Bobs” by the troops he commanded. Famous former students include…

Yvonne de Carlo, who later graduated from King Edward and onto the silver screen in The Ten Commandments and became known throughout all households as Lily Munster.

… and Charles Kingsford-Smith,the first man to fly across the Pacific Ocean, and the first to fly across both the Pacific and the Atlantic. [Source: VancouverHistory]

In 2004, under the guidance of Richard Tetrault (known for murals around the city at community centres, housing developments, banks, and schools) the students thought up a mural showcasing multiculturalism, reflecting and celebrating their own diversity at the school.

“The Respect Mural” – Photo credit: keepitsurreal on Flickr

“In 1998, Tetrault was artist co-ordinator for the community-based Walls of Change, a six-month project designed to give the community of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver an opportunity to express both its uniqueness and its concerns.” [BCTF]

In 1986 City Farmer helped plant a community garden for the school, which is still growing strong today. The children plant the seeds, tend to the garden and enjoy a healthy harvest when it’s all ready to pick. The video below is pretty precious.

The Lord Roberts Garden

If Lord Roberts school shows me anything (aside from its lovely heritage structure) it’s that children are learning about tolerance, acceptance, and the importance of community while coming together for a common purpose. Watching something span numerous eras in this city is something that helps me hold on to history – if I know where we’ve been and what’s happened along the way, it gives me hope for the future.