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The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

July 24th, 2008 @ 6:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Earlier this week I had a poll on my site about the potential smoking ban on Vancouver beaches. Contrary to past articles I have written that have had heated discussions about smokers and non-smokers alike, I was (pleasantly) surprised to see the conversation shift to a matter of litter, as opposed to one about air pollution.

Discarded cigarettes not only litter the sand on beaches, they also cause environmental damage; whatever can be swept up on the beach will also be dragged out to sea with the tide and more than likely gobbled up by a creature after that.


Photo credit: Keira on Flickr

For 15 years the Vancouver Aquarium has been organizing the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Over the span of a week (September 20-28, 2008) volunteers can gather on local beaches and on the edges of lakes for one massive effort to remove litter and help restore the natural environment.

The program allows and enables participants from all walks of life to be an environmental steward for a day. By choosing a shoreline, participants can register to cleanup and record all the litter found at that shoreline. All data is returned to the Vancouver Aquarium for tallying. All tallied data is forwarded to the International Coastal Cleanup to contribute to worldwide results. In 2006, Canada was the 2nd largest cleanup in the world! [Cleanup – FAQ]

Anyone can sign up on the Shoreline website and initiate or join a cleanup in their area. Looking at the current map, Vancouver, West Vancouver and North Vancouver seem to be pretty well covered already but we have much more shoreline around that could use our help ie. Surrey including an available (not yet initiated) cleanup site at Semiahmoo Bay.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is, naturally, a nation-wide initiative even though it is formed by the Vancouver Aquarium. You can search by city on their website and follow event information and details on their blog if you would like to get involved this year.

Fusion Festival: Where the Folk are the Audience

July 23rd, 2008 @ 11:47am (PT) by Guest Author

The following is a guest post by DaveO – you can catch a multitude of links to hise various projects on his website and more video on his Blip channel.

All my hipster/greenie/crunchy/urbane pals were all bound for the luminary, venerable Vancouver Folk Fest this past weekend. I turned down extra tickets, rumoured media passes, friendly pleadings and erstwhile invitations cause i already had my weekend fest plans in mind – the Surrey Fusion Fest (see also: Greetings from Fusion Fest – video).

the festival grounds
The festival grounds
Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

Sure you might think that i missed out on the awesome line-up and beautiful people on idyllic Jericho Beach but i spent scant ducats, saw great bands, ate well, and immersed myself in the ethnic re-mix that is the lower mainland’s super-diverse (and much maligned) municipality. Missed nothing methinks

I made the lengthy transit trek (3 zones for the price of 2 on weekends) from my North Van sanctuary and spent Saturday afternoon/evening at the new Holland Park with my comrade Dan Funboy, and made the following observations:

  • No LuluLemon pants in the whole place, none
  • No whiny West-enders rolling their eyes about “the bridge and tunnel crowd”
  • No small dogs, nor matching small purses to match
  • Plenty of police but no incidents i saw (except for two cops rolling over curbs and gardens in quads, WTF?)
  • whalley little leaguers
    Whalley Little League
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr
  • Surrey heritage signs celebrating Whalley Little League, early settlers on Old Yale Road etc. were cool bits of edu-tainment
  • Few trees in the expansive park – A nice fountain but not enough trees
  • Accessible viewing areas for wheelchair rollers to see the bands on the mainstage
  • Some real characters dancing and roaming the grounds but everyone was allowed to let their freak flag fly without hassle (Dancing to the Peruvian Pan Pipes – video)
  • Surrey is really making an effort to do something to provide a sense of belonging and community
  • inteprid reporters
    Reportage for the People!
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    I am very keen on festivals in general and tend to hang out with the proletariat rather than fancy folks, but i also don’t make it back anywhere near Whalley Exchange these days – cause well, i’ve been there, done that.

    But in spite of all the yuppie grumblings from the urban core (many of whom speak of tolerance and diversity while ignoring where it actually happens), this is really where many new Canadians live – and this is where the low-income families can come have fun, where neighbours learn about each other, and where you can enjoy a variety of music you’d otherwise never get to hear. At a thrifty (free) price.

    I spent my entire $11 on food tickets (plus someone gave Dan 3 more gratis) and, with Dan surveying the menu guide, we foraged the international booths for the following tasty snacks:

  • Peruvian empanada (like a Cornish pasty with meat and olives)
  • Polish apple cake
  • First Nations salmon (somehow i don’t think the dill sauce and rice pilaf was traditional but sure tasty)
  • El Salvador tacos al pastor and papusa
  • Masala tea from India
  • winner of tasty prize
    Winner of a tasty prize
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    Even a veteran linguist would be challenged to name all the languages overheard and foodies could sample some creative tasty bits and also check out cultural exhibits from each cultural region (not political jurisdiction as Persia, Palestine, and Taiwan were included).

    The musical line-up boasted a variety of ethnic and distinctly regular acts from a rock band you might see at a Bridgeview roadhouse (Rocking out while waiting for Salmon – video) to a bass player from the MicMac nation (via New Brunswick) who’s exclaimed that she’s “been in the business for 43 years”.

    surrey - a gleaming metropolis
    Gleaming metropolis
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    The Chieftains were the headliners on Saturday night which had a Celtic bent to it with the Connors before them (Introducing The Chieftians – video). The Dublin-based band were joined by some young Canadians who were dancing and fiddling and mugging for the camera with mucho aplomb.

    The main Chieftain didn’t care for the cameras on the stage projecting the show onto video screens. The drummer got to sing one and managed not to incite a riot when encouraging people to drink a long with his whiskey song.

    nathan - oh nathan
    Nathan the band
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    The fave for me were Nettwerk recording artists, Nathan. A four piece with a country lilt and multi-instrument creativity. Switching between banjo, accordion and Theremin, acoustic and electric guitars, they sang tales of romance and deceit in a firm tender way, and even played a waltz. I am sucker for a quaver in a voice and i’ve listened to their plaintive, evocative songs on repeat today.

    I planned to attend another day at the fest, but a lazy Sunday of watching the first Alpine stage of the Tour de France and unpacking at my new house (in North Van) won out.

    Final observation (with my apologies to the do-gooders) while waiting for a bus at the Newton Exchange, listening to Angus (with a his can of Colt 45) ask a guy if the security guard uniform he was wearing was a Coast Guard uniform, i spotted a young woman wearing a shirt with iron-on glitter letters saying, “I was incredible in bed last night and all i got was this lousy t-shirt”

    PS I coulda sworn i saw John Chow, the F*ck Art, Make Stats guy leaving as i arrived. Was that you?

    Blogathon Vancouver 2008: Pledge Form Now Live

    July 23rd, 2008 @ 9:21am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Quick update: In order to help all of us track pledges I have added a form to my Blogathon page. I know that some of the other bloggers have solved this issue but for those of us who are not tracking the donations live (only getting totals at the end) we hope that those who would like to pledge our cause and keep us going will use this form.

    More Promo for the Blogathon This WeekendParticipants so far: Tania Morrison (Ottawa), Raul, Shane Gibson, Karen Hamilton, Ayeza Garcia, Isabella Mori, Danny Dang, Mehnaz Thawer, Jenn Lowther/Nadia Nascimento, Barbara Doduk, Chris Richardson, Colleen Vince

    Blogathon Vancouver takes place this weekend (as seen this morning in the 24 Hours and last night on my Urban Rush segment) with participants starting at various times, check out any of the following blogs to lend your support simply by viewing, commenting, pledging or donating. Thank you to everyone in advance!

    Tuesday Morning Link Fest: Butting Out Poll

    July 22nd, 2008 @ 9:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    I decided to toss in a link fest this week to lighten the mood, get some more topics out there, and cover some ground before I take off.

    – The last year has been a big one for smokers in BC; first there was the patio smoking ban, then the updates in March that made it an offense to smoke within 6 meters of entrance ways (among other stipulations). Recently two landmarks in Vancouver have also tossed around the idea of going smoke-free.

    Vancouver Beaches:

    … staff have been talking with their colleagues at the park board about extending current smoking bans in Vancouver at restaurants and entranceways to beaches, playgrounds, and playing fields in public parks. It is unlikely any ban would be put in place this summer, though. [CBC]

    Grouse Mountain:

    Grouse Mountain says tobacco just doesn’t fit with the healthy lifestyle it’s trying to promote… …Grouse Mountain has decided to go smoke-free by winter, and this has become a hot topic on the street. [News1130]

    You can submit your thoughts using the poll below and feel free to follow up with a comment.

    – In other news, there’s a heron carcass up in a tree in Stanley Park that is causing some problems due to its odor. [News1130]

    – Burnaby’s own Michael J Fox will be appearing in the next season of Rescue Me (one of our favourite shows) [GlobeAndMail]

    – And the Sea Wall is finally getting some much-needed repairs on sections that have been waiting for almost two years to get fixed. [News1130]

    Would you like to see Vancouver beaches go "smoke free" ?

    View Results

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    Blogathon Vancouver 2008: Fundraising Starting Now

    July 22nd, 2008 @ 2:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Due to unforeseen circumstances my Blogathon Vancouver campaign will now be taking on a later shift instead of my original 5:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday. My “1 post every 30 minutes for 24 hours” will begin upon my return so I’ll pick up the Blogathon on the fly and go until Sunday.

    My cause of choice is the Union Gospel Mission in the downtown Eastside. They have been so accommodating in terms of getting their online donation page setup for Blogathon so I’m starting my fundraising early (as of right now).

    Union Gospel Mission is a non-profit urban relief organization serving the Lower Mainland, providing hope for the hungry, hurting and homeless since 1940. [UGM]

    Here is a sample from a post on their blog (The Street) that is eye-opening and inspiring.

    As we make our way through the park, Arnie stops the van and turns all the lights on. He opens the doors and yells, “Are you hungry? Come out! Union Gospel Mission, we have food!” In that moment it hits me. We are in the middle of a park, just steps away from the downtown core of one of the world’s most opulent cities. There are people here that are lost and sleeping in the woods.

    A few seconds later, a gentleman stumbles out of the forest. He tells us he has been lost. He thanks us for lighting his path but refuses any help we offer.

    From the middle of the park we wind over to the water. Our searchlight combs the beach looking for hungry people sleeping on logs. We find someone. Arnie hops out and goes to wake him up. “Wake up man, I have some food for you,” he says as he gently wakes him. A cart beside him holds all his worldly possessions. He is filled with gratitude when our volunteer offers him a new, clean pair of socks.

    It is a very warm evening and the beach is full of people. Some people criticize us. Some people praise us. But everyone notices us. Everyone we help is full of thanks. [TheStreet – UGM Blog]

    There are currently FOUR ways you can support my Blogathon campaign:

    If you are ready to donate immediately before the Blogathon starts this weekend, you can head directly to the UGM’s online donation page. When you’re there please choose “Miss604 Blogathon” from the appropriate dropdown.

    If you would like to pledge a Blogathon campaign, please fill out this form. At the end of Blogathon you will be sent an email to remind you to follow through on the pledge and donate.

    If you are a business you can donate $50 for a sponsored blog post or time slot to promote your company. Please contact me if you would like to donate for ad space.

    If you are a blogger, you could write about the campaign – there is also a list of all other participating bloggers on my Blogathon Page.

    This week will be rough for many but I am still very proud to be a part of something that will do so much good for so many non-profits and charities out there. If you have enjoyed my content over the years or even if you are a new reader, it would be great if you could help support this cause or the causes of the other bloggers. Thanks so much to everyone in advance.

    Moment of Silence

    July 21st, 2008 @ 12:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Update: If you would like to help out the family you can contribute to a trust fund that has been put in place: remembering.randy [at] gmail.com via PayPal.

    Sometimes life throws some real curveballs leaving things unsaid, unexplained, and all those affected in awe of its randomness.

    Last Saturday I learned that my dear friend’s brother was killed in a motor vehicle accident. He was a husband, father, son and brother who was loved by all and could make you laugh and giggle with the flash of his genuine and kind-natured smile.

    I first met him in the fall of 1997 when we hung out on the bleachers at Kwantlen Park while he charmed my best friend and I with his smooth talking and impressive skateboarding abilities. We were West Whalley girls and although he was from LA Matheson, that just made him even more enchanting to our impressionable teenage selves. But little did I know at the time how special a person he actually was.

    The following year I started dating his brother (which lead to a five year relationship) and another year after that I met his sister, whom I still hang out with regularly to this day. During my relationship with his brother, naturally he was a part of my family and I even flew back from Boston when I was living there in order to attend his wedding.

    He was a truly authentic and caring person who always saw the best in people and no one was more important to him than family.

    Despite having the roughest of childhoods, losing a parent to cancer, and having countless odds stacked up in a row against him – he persevered. He married his sweetheart, bought a house, had two adorable sons and provided for his family in such an upstanding fashion. He was a touchstone for the rest of the family and his friends, always being the one to give a shoulder to cry on and to tell a joke when spirits needed lifting. He put all he had to making a life for his wife and children.

    To be taken away at such a young age, with two little lives left without a father is a cruel turn of fate, leaving so many with questions. Illness, disease, tragedy and sorrow strike us at unexpected times taking the breath right from our lungs and the beats from our aching hearts.

    I will not be posting (anywhere) for the rest of the day to provide some silence in my digital realm in an effort to best convey my sorrow and condolences for the family.

    BarCamp Vancouver 2008 Save The Date

    July 21st, 2008 @ 10:27am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The social media landscape in Vancouver sure has evolved since I first attended BarCamp in 2006 and as such the event is back and bigger than ever for 2008.

    BarCamp is an ad-hoc un-conference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. All attendees are encouraged to give a demo, a session, a presentation, or help with one. All attendees are expected to be participants. All presentations are scheduled the day they happen. Prepare in advance, but come early to get a slot on the wall. [BarCampVancouver]

    John and I walked into the Bryght offices on a warm August night, picked up our stylish brown unconference t-shirts and put many faces to names we had heard about town (like Roland Tanglao, Megan Cole and Kris Krug). That night was also my first live blog over at Matt’s house and the next day I continued the live blogging at BarCamp, which has only led to dozens more.

    The best part about BarCamp is the people – here are some of my favourite people shots over the years:


    Travis Smith, Duane Storey, Me, and Jacob Stewart in the background
    Photo credit: Phillip Jeffrey on Flickr
    Barcamp 07 -night before
    Me with DaveO and Boris

    Linda and Phillip – Photo credit: Phillip Jeffrey

    A trust exercise – I swear – Photo credit: Lee Lefever on Flickr

    Kate Milberry and Airdrie Miller – Photo credit: Derek Miller on Flickr

    The 2006 Wall O’ Love – Photo credit: Kris Krug on Flickr

    There’s a great group of organizers this year (not like they weren’t last year) and I’m proud to be among the ranks. My involvement will be to run WordCamp during BarCamp, alongside PhotoCamp with my pal Duane.

    Running in tandem with BarCamp these will simply be more specified tracks ranging from beginner WordPress to more advanced. For an example of PhotoCamp check out my live blog from Northern Voice.

    This will be taking place on Saturday September 27th, right after National Digital Media Day hence not being in August this year. You can sign up on the EventBrite page and there will be more places to find information (Upcoming, Facebook etc.) in the coming weeks.

    Surrey Fusion Festival: Day Three

    July 20th, 2008 @ 9:36am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    We’ll be heading out to Surrey again for some of this evening’s performances at Fusion Festival which will run from 11:00am until 8:00pm in Holland Park.

    All photos by John Bollwitt, check out his entire Fusion Festival collection on Flickr

    Leave the car at home as this is easily accessible from Surrey Central or King George Skytrain stations. Once again admission is free, and you may want to consider bringing a folding chair and some portable shade as it gets pretty toasty in the afternoon sun.