An Interesting Place in History

I’ve been thinking about this blog, which I’ve left in limbo, over the past few days. Should I close it, start again, or pick up where I left off. This blog began as an assignment for a course at UBC, but grew into much more. However, the pressure of researching and writing a grad paper, combined with chasing down my son’s diagnosis, stepped in the way and I dropped off for awhile. I’ve been debating how to pick up again.

And then there was this, http://therealaboriginalcanadianfoodguide.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/dear-anothony-sowan/, written by a fellow wordpress blogger whom I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting, but her words are well written, and spoke volumes to me about how we, Canadians, are here right now.

We’re in an interesting place in history.

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Pumpkin Cookies

This is my son’s fave cookie.  A variation on the standard cake method makes this particular cookie moist and tender.

Ingredients:

125 ml butter   (1/2 c)                          500 ml flour   (2cups)

125 ml sugar    (1/2 c)                          5 ml b. soda  (1tsp)

125 ml brown sugar    (1/2c)               7 ml cinnamon  (1 1/2 tsp)

60 ml molasses   (1/4 c)                       2 ml nutmeg  (1/2 tsp)

1 egg                                                   125 ml milk  (1/2 c)

250 ml pumpkin puree (1cup)

 

Method:

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 F. 

In a large bowl

1. Cream: butter, sugar, brown sugar

2. Beat: molasses and egg

3. Stir in: pumpkin puree

In a smaller bowl

4. Sift together: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg

5. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to pumpkin mixture beginning and ending with dry (1/3 dry, 1/2 milk, 1/3 dry, 1/2 milk/ 1/3 dry)

6. Drop cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet

7. Bake @ 375 F. for 10-12 mins

8. Allow to cool on racks for 2 minutes

 

Cleaning tip: once cookies are out of the oven, immediately remove from cookies sheets to a cooking rack.  If you quickly rinse the cookie sheets, they will wash up (by hand) easily.

 

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Apple Crumble

Ingredients:

Fruit: (Apple)                                 Crumble:

3 apples                                            75 ml flour

5 ml water                                        150 ml rolled oats

5 ml lemon juice                              f.g. salt

25 ml sugar                                      75 ml brown sugar

3ml cinnamon                                 3 ml cinnamon

1 ml cloves                                      60 ml melted butter

 

Method:

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 F.

Grease casserole dish

Fruit:

1.) Peel, core & cut apples into thin slices.  Place  in baking dish.

2.) Mix together water & lemon juice.  Sprinkle over apples.

3.) Mix together sugar, cinnamon & cloves.  Sprinkle over apples.  Cover with lid & microwave 2 minutes on high power.

Crumble:

1.) Microwave butter in liquid measure for 1 – 1.5 minutes at medium power.

2.) Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Add melted butter a little at a time, mixing with a fork to make a crumbly mixture.

3.) Sprinkle topping over fruit and spread evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes or until apples are tender.  Serve warm.

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Place – Belonging Space

It’s my favourite school…

I picked this school…

I have a spider friend…

One of my new friends pushed me,

(Did you teacher say anything?)

No, it was fun,

We fell down and laughed.

I tried to ride the scooter, but I’m too small…

I’m little…

I’m a big boy…

We made smoothies today in school…

I want to go to school…

 

After a long spring break of trying to find a new place for Kidlet, we came to the door of our neighbourhood Montessori school.  The week before spring break, my child was asked to leave his place in daycare.  Why?  Because he was acting out in a way that the daycare staff could not manage.  Why was he acting out?  Because one day in February, Kidlet left for ear surgery; he had been in pain for the weeks leading up to the procedure and only one teacher was the consistent go-to person who could cuddle and comfort when Momma and Da weren’t there.  Kidlet had a successful surgery, was given a new teddy bear and stickers by the hospital staff and looked forward to sharing his stories with his teacher.

Monday came, and his teacher did not show at school.  As you know from earlier blog posting, she died the day before.  Kidlet never got a chance to say goodbye to the teacher who gave him so much.  Yes, we went to the funeral, at Kidlet’s insistence, but he never saw her again.  So what does a little one do?  They grieve, and as they grieve, they act out.  And being an atypical child, Kidlet acts out more than most.  Teacher recognized this; Teacher appreciated Kidlet and his uniqueness.

As we considered daycare after daycare many were either willing to take up the challenge, but were unsuitable in space or ages.  Others backed away, not saying “no” but clear that they would not say “Yes, you have a place here”.  Then we met Teacher’s friend.  We did not know she was Teacher’s friend, but as we shared Kidlet’s story we didn’t have to ask if he would have a Place with her.  She made a Place for him, “we will grieve together”.

When I started this blog, I put forward the question: What is “Place”?  Place is geographical because we all need to take up space, but more importantly, “Place” is belonging.  “Place” is knowing that you fit in, you have a role, you are part of the puzzle and the bigger picture would be incomplete without you.  Teacher had a Place in Kidlet’s life; she also had a Place in her friend’s life.  Teacher’s Friend and Kidlet have found each other, and they are working to fill the Place/Space left by Teacher.

Place connects us to location, but more importantly, it connects us to each other.

 

 

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CRUW

Community Service Learning (CSL):

 

Indigenous Initiatives at the UBC Farm has been creating a program to connect with aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth in the foster care system.  Taking advantage of the Institute for Aboriginal Health Kitchen and Garden as a connecting Place and the involvement of local First Nations community members, the goals of this program are to promote culturally relevant wellness to urban based youth.

 

Purpose:

  • To promote cultural competence, emotional competence, and positive mental health
  • Provide access to culturally relevant land-based practices as a pathway to holistic and sustainable wellness in an urban setting
  • Through the inclusion of aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth the program seeks to address the diversity of Vancouver
  • Conflict resolution and anti-drug abuse

 

Partners:

  • Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS)
  • Institute for Aboriginal Health (IAH) Kitchen and Garden Coordinator
  • Province of BC’s Community Action Initiative (CAI)
  • Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4) Columbia University (Earth Institute)

 

The Story

 

The Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness Project is in its first year.  CRUW is a 32 week program that will involve 16 sessions as the participants and program facilitators meet every other week.  Program staff and Elder council selected activities for each of the 16 sessions that would promote the programs wellness goals while complimenting the seasons as they occur.  The designed schedule plans to lean on the strengths of flexibility as it meets the on-going needs of the youth participants, while scheduling other sessions to provide structure for teaching and learning opportunities; creating balance that will allow Guidance and Growth to work in harmony.

 

Activities

 

Planned activities include, but are not limited to, forest/ethno botanical walks guided by Elders, connecting with life cycles via tending garden plants from seedlings/sprouts to harvest, learning about the properties of edible and medicinal plants – as well as using food as medicine, and emotional and cultural competence workshops through the use of wellness circles and journaling activities.

 

Engaging in a Community Service Learning Project

 

  •  What I’ve learnt most: perception vs. practice of teaching and my assumptions/conditioning regarding what “must” be done.  I’m heavily conditioned to my role of “teacher” and in this role I’m expected to plan lessons, evaluate both student learning and my teaching.  Professional development is also part of the job as well as countless other activities that don’t appear to be related to teaching.  This CSL experience has challenged my firmly held beliefs about teaching.  While I am the type of teacher I need to be for my position in the Home Economic Dept of my secondary school, I saw more of what teaching can be in other places.

 

  •  “Terrifying Spaces” is a term I’ve borrowed from a cohort member – it’s a phrase that I think applies to those situations in which you’re out of your comfort zone but you have to take the leap just the same.  In multiple ways this CSL activity has been a terrifying space.

 

  •  My experience with CSL has been a balancing act between the anxiety over timelines, how it will work and the practice of letting go – my role is to contribute what I know and walk away, something I’m unfamiliar with.

 

  •  My contributions were in the form of learning outcomes, some lesson plans, nutrition info and recipes; the latter was specifically requested.  Also for my own peace of mind I’ve assembled the lesson plan sheets I worked on into a booklet.  Why? Because I have a need to document what I’ve done even if it’s not used.  It’s too far of a stretch for me to walk away from a project not knowing if it’s designed in such a way that it can continue.  While I don’t doubt that they’ve done this, my distance from this project means that I’ve not seen it.  So, my security blanket this will be.

 

  •  I’ve become very aware of place and distance.  I think my physical distance from this CSL has been a challenge for my CSL partner, my group and me.  Have I learnt from this project? Yes, most definitely yes, in the ways that I’ve learnt about other ways of planning/doing.  Would this project have been less stressful yet still beneficial if I’d been able to establish a placement closer to home – within my community? Yes.  I would have loved the opportunity to establish a long term relationship with a CSL partner.

 

  •  How will this impact my volunteer work in the future and how is CSL different from volunteering?  A group member commented that volunteer work is a one-off activity.  I couldn’t disagree more.  I’ve been very involved in a few different community projects, as well as school projects.  I would have liked to have seen one project I was involved with: Connecting 4 Kids (connecting the communities of Pitt Meadows and Katzie into more of a neighbourhood feeling relationships) continue; however, funding was short and it was difficult to keep the adult community members engaged.  Had Connecting 4 Kids continued past that ever so difficult first year period of time, I think I would have had a lot to share between CRUW and Connecting 4 Kids as their goals were similar.

 

  •  CSL/Volunteer activities in the future?  I would like to start up a Neighbourhood Community program for the neighbourhood in which I live: Hammond.  We’ve an interesting history, as well as parks, community centers and a pool.  Our community neighbours are Pitt Meadows and the Katzie as well as the Maple Ridge industrial park and the Interfor cedar mill.  I believe that partnerships could be formed between Hammond and its neighbours for the benefit of all.

 

 

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Student Led Discussion Week 8

Indigenous Approaches to Place-Based Learning

Student Led Discussion for EDCP 585C Week #8 by Tsubasa & Lara

Here is the hand out developed from our Prezi (link to Prezi is below)                        

Goodbye Snauq

 

  • Lee Maracle:
    • A poet, novelist, performance storyteller, scriptwriter, actor and keeper/mythmaker among the Stó:lō people.  (Granddaughter to Chief Dan George of the Squamish Nation)
    • “Goodbye, Snauq” is about coming to terms with the past in order to participate in the future.
    • The conflict between the loss of Snauq and the awarding of $92 million in a settlement which can be used to further development.

 

  • Comparison of historic Snauq (1889) to modern day False Creek
    • As Kitsilano (named for Squamish Chief August Jack Khatsahlano), it has become a highly populated area of multicultural identity.
    • The indigenous peoples were removed from Snauq so that settler populations could expand into the area, first setting up industry, later changing the area over to multi-use property: industry, recreation, residential.  Snauq homes were burnt, all traces removed.

 

  • According to a current (2012) report by the BC Dieticians Association, 7.7% of British Columbians are food insecure.  According to the 2009 food report for the province (Kendall), those populations most likely to be food insecure are aboriginal peoples.
    • The Snauq was important, well used land; compared by Maracle to a grocery store, it was a rich food source, shared by many

 

  • The ideals of European ownership do not resonate with populations who believed that land cannot be owned.  However, aboriginal populations have quickly learnt the nature of land claims and the importance of title.
    • In Oka, Quebec, a similar land dispute played out in 1990.  The land was taken by the Roman Catholic Church and “held in trust” only to be later sold for development.  Land claim after land claim failed.  The issue became labelled a ‘crisis’ by media only after a militant stand-off between aboriginal peoples and settler populations (the town of Oka, municipal and provincial police, and finally the military)

 

  • Canada/Canadians are very concerned about social justice and rights when viewed from the position of a foreign outsider, but has a blind spot when it comes to recognising and dealing with these issues at home
    • Snauq and Oka are only two examples of many conflicts, some resolved better than others – but through what means?
    • From Goodbye, Snauq “…the guests have been partaking over five hundred years; but still there it is, the chair empty and hoping I will feel inclined to sit in it.

 

Indigenous voices using narratives (story/image) to comment on histories not often mentioned in history/text; giving voice to history by engaging an audience through emotion.

 

Today Your Host is Speaking Out

 

  • Edgar Heap of Birds:
    • Born in Kansas, is of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
    • As a visiting professor at various universities, teaches Native American Studies and Fine Arts.
    • Artistically, he is best known for his public art installations

 

  • Heap of Birds designs collection of signs
    • “British Columbia” appears backwards commenting on the treatment of indigenous peoples.
    • The signs are placed in public view, similar to location markers, as a statement and a reminder, of the indigenous presence that previously, and currently, connects with this place: British Columbia.
    • The official appearance of the signs borrows the accepted voice of authority to introduce the questions around what is ownership vs. belonging

 

  • Musqueam Declaration: Neither we nor our ancestors have ever given up, extinguished or diminished our aboriginal rights and title by treaty or agreement with any foreign government or power.
    • There is much overlap between historic land usages by aboriginal peoples.  Hunting, gathering and trade meant that land was not owned or occupied in the European sense.  People from various nations/locations would use the same areas of land
    • ‘Native Hosts’ disrupts these beliefs through its subversion of the ideologically determined guest/host assumptions regarding land.
    • In land disputes, the authoritative voice of government only wants to deal with one owner per claim.  It does not want to acknowledge the multi-use nature of land/place.

 

  • Heap of Birds uses the same language that settlers legitimizes their ownership of the land, which is similar to the idea that Martin Luther King uses the words from the Constitutions for supporting equal rights of African Americans. This is very provocative to make people aware of the gap between the ideal and reality, and the dominant and excluded.


Multiculturalism ~ History (culture) = aPolitical & not land-based

Native people ~ History (culture) = Political & intertwined with the land and nature

 

Interpreting Nature…

 

  • Settlers’ Idea: Universal Nature
    • Pristine and Primordial
      • Pure nature, no human contact/context or identity
      • Nature to go – overly simplified
      • No culture, nature is scientific and void of interpretation
  • Apolitical, ahistorical, asocial
  • Timeless
    • Static and unchanging – fitting with western ideals of natural history
  • Dominative discourse

¨       Bowali Visitor Centre Blog:

Another must to see in Kakadu. We spent a good 50 minutes here just wandering around. There are many displays though we won’t show you photo’s of these- again we want you to see live.  Bowali is based more on the flora and fauna and geological aspect of Kakadu from what we could see. There was still a strong influence of Aboriginal culture though in case you don’t find time to visit Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Center. We noticed a counter with 3 ladies sitting there and walked up. They were there as information guides and were very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.

(Source: http://www.kakadunationalparkaustralia.com/Bowali_Visitors_Center.htm)

 

  • Aboriginal Idea: Culture of Nature
    • Domestic Space
      • Nature to live
      • Nature to use – use does not necessarily equate capital gain
  • Socialized local nature
    • Within a historic and inhabited landscape
  • History of society
    • Inseparable between nature and culture
  • Poetic, and may have a narrative device/storytelling

¨       Warradjan Cultural Centre Blog:

We visited the Warradjan Centre at 9am sharp on a Friday in September 2007. It was only 1km from Cooinda Resort in the South of Kakadu National Park where we stayed the night before and only 1.5km from Yellow Waters Boat Cruise boardwalk/jetty. Being the only folks there it had an eerie feeling but very overwhelming feeling as walked slowly thru the internal path system.  It was a mix of how the Aboriginals lived and used the land and also how they care for the land. Then we learnt much more about the animals from various other sections. We thought 5 mins and we would be out of there. 45 minutes we walked out very quietly and looked at each other and just said one word ‘Impressive’. Photos were not allowed inside so you will have to experience it in person folks.

(Source:http://www.kakadunationalparkaustralia.com/Warradjan_Aboriginal_Cultural_Center.htm)

 

The settler voice has the “authority” over the indigenous voice.  The aboriginal people of Kakadu push forward with their own voice while the settler voice attempts to minimize the aboriginal voice by seemingly reducing it to art.  Yet art, and storytelling, can be an effective tool in communication.

 

Check Your Understanding:

  1. “We could not gain citizenship or manage our own affairs unless we relinquished who we were: Squamish, Tsleil Watuth, Musqueam, Cree, or whatever nation we came from.  Some of us did disenfranchise.  But most of us stayed, stubbornly clinging to our original identity, fighting to participate in the new social order as Squamish.” How does who we are, as individuals or within a group, help us to define “place”?
  2. “Historically, the Western tradition has been reluctant to accept modern First Nations experiences as ‘authentic’, as part of the desire to keep the aesthetic or cultural separate from the political.”  What makes an experience ‘authentic’, and should the audience have a role in that decision?
  3. “The Aboriginal quotes provided the ‘insider’ grounded knowledge of the country while the non-Aboriginal rangers provided ‘outsider’ scientific objective knowledge.  It was decided by the project team to display the Aboriginal quotes ‘like poems’.” How can balance be achieved between indigenous and non-indigenous voices?

 

Discuss & Discover:

What is the best way to connect past, present and place?  If one voice is the dominate voice, is it the correct voice?  Should how place is represented be a combination of many voices, and what would this look/sound like?

 

To view Prezi, visit:  

http://prezi.com/3tgtmtepdilp/edcp-585c-maracle-falls-palmer/?auth_key=3d6775131ede74e646ae050c9932c2f4e06da547

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Naked Genocide

Question: Is There an Appropriate Place?

Hold onto your hats.  This one has me particularly upset and this post is going to be a long one.  But, in my opinion, it’s an important one.  It has to do with voice, authority, discrimination and above all the responsibility to think critically.

The UBC Brand (http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/ubcbrand/)

UBC is an inspiring place,
where open thought and open speech
can open doors
to thinking
that can change the world.

GAP:

Genocide Awareness Project claims that 1/3 of all pregnancies in America end in an abortion.  According to GAP (http://abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html) methods of aborting a pregnancy include (but are not limited to) oral contraceptives (ie: the pill), norplant, depo-provera (ie: “depo-shot”) which are all used as methods of birth control (ie: to prevent a pregnancy) as well as Methotrexate & Misoprostol, two drugs developed to fight cancer.  According to the GAP website, the rate of 1/3rd is an estimate based on their definition of what might be a pregnancy and their definition of pregnancy.  The GAP belief is that any egg that is fertilized – regardless of whether or not implantation has occurred – is a pregnancy; therefore, anything that prevents implantation (via contraceptive methods or medication for other reasons, such as cancer treatment) is a willing and intentional abortion of a baby.

For the Record:

I typically do not assign myself one side or the other in the pro-choice/pro-life debate.  I find that my opinions do not fall neatly into either camp.  At a baseline level, I am not in favour of abortion and as an adoptee who suffered 5 miscarriages in my attempts to have a successful pregnancy; I cannot imagine ever electing to have an abortion.  However, I firmly and whole heartedly believe that no one’s personal beliefs come before the physical, emotional or mental well-being of another.  It is not my place to judge or condemn others.  I will not use my point of view to hurt someone else.

UBC: A Place of Mind

              “See where an open mind can take you” (03-25-2012 retrieved from:  http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/).  This is the caption as you enter the University of British Columbia (UBC) public affairs website.  According to the Public Affairs website, these are the values held by UBC:

  • Academic Freedom
    The University is independent and cherishes and defends free inquiry and scholarly responsibility.
  • Advancing and Sharing Knowledge
    The University supports scholarly pursuits that contribute to knowledge and understanding within and across disciplines, and seeks every opportunity to share them broadly.
  • Excellence
    The University, through its students, faculty, staff, and alumni, strives for excellence and educates students to the highest standards.
  • Integrity
    The University acts with integrity, fulfilling promises and ensuring open, respectful relationships.
  • Mutual Respect and Equity
    The University values and respects all members of its communities, each of whom individually and collaboratively makes a contribution to create, strengthen, and enrich our learning environment.
  • Public Interest
    The University embodies the highest standards of service and stewardship of resources and works within the wider community to enhance societal good.

Justine Davidson

“My body is where I exercise and appreciate my freedom on a daily basis, and I reject outright the assertion that by supporting the right to free, safe abortions, I am turning it into a tool of mass murder… So I took off all my clothes and sat in front of the display until it was taken down (not because I was sitting there, I assume, but because it was the end of their day).” (http://nakedubc.blogspot.ca/2012/03/why-hell-did-that-woman-take-her.html)

Justine Davidson took her clothes off in an unspoken protest that spoke volumes.  And the UBC initial response was to consider disciplinary action.  Ultimately, they decided against it; I would assume this decision was due to the support Justine gained from students, faculty and alumni.  My understanding, because I’ve read her own words on the matter, is that when UBC security told her to put her clothing back on, she put on her underwear.  While this is not much, I would like to point out two things.  First, is female toplessness a crime in Vancouver?  My understanding is no, it is not.  Second, isn’t there a nude beach just a stone’s throw from Justine’s stand for women?

Once again…

UBC is an inspiring place,
where open thought and open speech
can open doors
to thinking
that can change the world.

Justine engaged “open thought” which led to “open speech” to led us to thinking about how we want to change the world.  Congratulations, Justine, in taking a stand for what you believe in, in a way that was non-threatening, non-violent and thought provoking.  You’ve inspired much thought and speech and it is a shame that the university initially did not stand by its own words (above).

Again, to read all of Justine’s Blog on this “event”, please visit:

 http://nakedubc.blogspot.ca/2012/03/why-hell-did-that-woman-take-her.html

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Savoury Muffins

I’ve a theory -

If you involve children/youth in the preparation of food, they are much more likely to eat it.  Therefore, if you’d like to introduce a new food to them, this method should work.

Kidlet is 4 years old and has the muffin method memorized:

  1. Sift together dry ingredients
  2. Mix together wet ingredient
  3. Make a well
  4. Pour wet into dry and stir only until moist

We use this to make muffins, pancakes and waffles.  But he has a hard time straying from his staple go-to foods.  Kidlet loves apples and bananas, carrots and peas, yogurt and cottage cheese, whole wheat and healthy grains… all in all, not much to complain about with this kid’s diet.  But he’s not fond of meat.  The only meat he’ll eat is “pig” (pork, ham, bacon, bacon and bacon).  Yesterday, he gobbled down a pound of bacon before I realized how much he’d been sneaking into the kitchen.

So, taking advantage of his love of cooking, as well as his love of cheese and bacon, I decided to try out this recipe: http://family.go.com/food/recipe-ew-630982-savory-breakfast-muffins-t/

They came out yummy, filling and healthy enough to be a lunch:

Savoury Muffin with Earl Grey Tea

But Kidlet is a-typical and has declared his muffins “yucky”.  No reason, other than he wants pancakes today.  But Kidlet is the stubborn sort (hmmm… where’d he get that from? um…) and we’ve not been able to convince him to try, taste, just lick a muffin.

So I’m trying to figure out, where is my kid coming from with this?  What is his point of view that make a muffin, with ingredients that he likes, “yucky”?  Am I too much of an idealist?  Did I assume too much about the tastes of a preschooler?  Is he just too taken with the idea of a waffle from a box (eww) to consider home-made, bacon-cheesy goodness?

Back to the drawing board with this one…

 

 

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Final Exam

Last night I passed my final exam…

Okay, you’re probably thinking of a written test, something my instructor dreamt up.  Nope.  An exam far more cruel.  Hey, don’t go there – this final exam had nothing to do with my instructor what so ever, so you just bark back down that tree you got all uppity on.  This final exam was unexpected, I should have known better, but I stepped out of class and there it was.

It rained.  In Vancouver.  Yeh, yeh, yeh, I know, it rains in Vancouver all the time.  But I normally don’t have to drive in it – at night.  In. The. Dark.

I set off with all the confidence of a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs; which is to say, none at all.  If you’ve been following my blog, you’re aware that Vancouver is not my sort of place.  If you know me, you know that I’m not crazy about driving.  If you know me really well, you know that the thought of driving to Vancouver in the rain has reduced me to tears – pulled over on the side of the road, nursing a panic attack: tears.  But not last night :)

Here’s how it went…

First, I had to navigate my way out of UBC.  For some reason everyone and their dog was on bicycles last night.  Little flashing lights attached to handle bars or seats, reflectors on bike tires, they were everywhere.  Just as I thought the road was clear my headlights would pick up another.  Finally! Made it through the traffic circle by the grocery store.  Usually it’s free of traffic, but everyone and their kitchen sink decided to go for a drive last night – well, everyone who wasn’t already cycling with their dog.

Now what is up with 16th? How much road work can be done, needs to be done?  I took my first course on the UBC campus last July and it was going.  Here we are 9 months later and they’re still at it.  Seriously, are they gestating?  Should I expect a birth announcement in the coming weeks: “It’s a Lane!”?

Road lines near impossible to see, and then there is the Vancouverite, wearing what I believe is the mandatory dress code of the city: Black.  Head to toe… black… at night… in the dark… in the rain… invisible.  Ever listen to a Vancouver radio station?  I swear, every single day some pedestrian is hit by a car.  I used to blame the drivers.  Now I understand, it’s a sport or something: dodge the Dodge, something like that.

Way down the road, 16th (at least I think it’s 16th) becomes something else, and a turning lane that appears from out of nowhere (another Vancouver sport: spot the missing signage) takes you to two blocks to 12th.  Vancouver also had a game of bending the road a little bit and naming it something different: 12th becomes 10th in one direction and Granview in the other.  Lord knows why… Hmmm… Lord might be the answer… perhaps a buddy of good ol’ Stanley?  Gah!

Once I get to the hospital, things become a bit more familiar.  A bit over a decade ago (sadly I don’t really remember what year) my adoptive father died from cancer – it was in that hospital that I visited him a handful of times.  And then, after what seems like forever but before I know it, I’ve reached Mt (don’t let the name fool you) Pleasant.  Familiar because it was where my husband was living when we first met.  Back when I first developed the mantra “I hate [driving in] Vancouver [traffic]“, but years before the PTSD.

Oh.  Did I forget to mention that?  PTSD: post traumatic stress disorder.  Mine is triggered by travel.  Any sort of travel out of my immediate community is stressful, but all travel in traffic is horrific.  I can hit the highway and wide open spaces, put myself in the driving zone and do well enough.  But travelling in traffic, well, that’s what makes this a final exam, now isn’t it.

There’s Nanimo… I now feel comfortable changing to the right hand lane as I no longer run the risk of parked cars and having to switch back to the left – which is slightly worse than just staying in the left lane.  I’m hungry.  I haven’t had dinner.  There’s a Wendy’s ahead, but it’s a trap… the trick question.  I pulled into that Wendy’s once, and it took me 20 mins to get out of the lot back onto the road.  Yes, it was rush hour traffic, but I believe that particular burger temptation is designed to keep people in Vancouver.  Boundary is right there.  Just cross Boundary and you’re almost free.

Free to the freeway, that comes with its own set of challenges since massive “road improvements” started when hell froze over.  For those of you who’ve not been to the Lower Mainland in a while, we’re finally getting more lanes on the #1.  I know, I never thought I’d live to see the day.  Down the freeway to my exit and my escape over the Maryhill and back into the safety of my bedroom community.  Sleepy Meadow-Ridge.  And, man, am I exhausted.

So I pull into the Wendy’s near my place.  That burger: so not worth it.  I don’t know why I tried.  Shoulda just gone straight home to a bowl of Cheerios.

But I passed.  No panic attack.  No tears.  No fingernails… I didn’t really need them.  I passed my final exam.  If I have to do a re-do in 2 weeks (my last class), I think I’ll come undone.

 

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Bringing Good Food to Others

What does “organic” mean?  Yes, many of us know what “organic” means in terms of marketing; a few of us know what it means in regards to how items are grown, but what does “organic” mean to populations and peoples in general?

“Organic farming promotes the sustainable health and productivity of the ecosystem – soil, plants, animals and people. Organic foods are farmed in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible way, focusing on soil regeneration, water conservation and animal welfare.” (http://www.certifiedorganic.bc.ca/aboutorganic/whatis.php)

 Personally, I’m not on the organic bandwagon.  It’s not that I disagree with the above ideals, but I disagree with how it’s marketed.  Why is “organic” so expensive?  Why is “organic” so heavily governed?  Why is “organic” so elite?  If I grow something in my own backyard, where I have the most control over the growing environment, it’s not “organic”, which implies by organic marketing that it’s not as good for me as “organic”.  Pah.

I grew up with my “hands in the dirt”… and my feet, knees, elbows… even my face.  I used to play in my parents’ and grandparents’ gardens.  I used to run to fetch cows, ride Nifty into the barn to collect eggs, pull carrots, cooled by the earth, yet warm from the sun, brush off the dirt (nutrient rich from our own backyard compost) and eat while sitting in the garden.  I don’t need to be lectured on “organic”… these marketers don’t understand the meaning of “organic”.  And I’m sure as hell not paying twice as much for “organic”.

Blackberries… once again my mind turns to blackberries.  Why, why, why would anyone choose to pay so much money for a berry that grows like a weed everywhere in our area?  Go for a walk, marketers!  Carry a basket, get of your high “organic” horse and pick a blackberry for free.  Oh, yes, you don’t want us to do that.  Why? Because we’ll realize that “organic” and organic are not the same thing and you’ll be out of a job.

Yes, I’m cynical about “organic”.  Guthman’s “Bringing Good Food to Others” just begins to scratch the surface of why.  I don’t have the money/resources for “organic”.  I’ve a child whom some people think would benefit from “organic” (particularly the marketers), but I’ve a garden and I grow food.  I’m not swayed by “getting my hands in the dirt”, it’s not a romantic notion, it is common sense because I have a limited budget.

I make my own jams, I’ve purchase only one jar of jam in my life (purchased on a whim because I was craving Saskatoons and don’t have these berries available to me).  I can and freeze fruits and vegetables.  We put up our own produce for cooler months and eat these before we run to the store to purchase more.  I walk through the farmers’ markets, which I love, but I don’t purchase anything I can do myself.  Why would I?  Yes, those pies are lovely, but I can do it myself.  That jar of pickles looks beautiful, but I can do it myself.  I love those quilts, but I can do it myself.  Your fondant cakes are pretty, but I can do it myself.  That bread smells amazing… I don’t have the recipe, so I’m going to purchase a loaf and try to figure it out for myself.

In short, for me, the farmers’ markets are inspiration more than anything else.  I’ll grab a cup of coffee to enjoy while I wander (I make terrible coffee), and I’ll purchase those items I cannot produce myself: meats, salmon, fruits; but the farmers’ market is not a yuppie kingdom to court.  Ooo, ouch!  Did I just draw the line between “us” and “them”?  Guthman’s students have great ideas and ideals.  And as people who’ve never had the opportunity to experience a garden, or have only had the romantic flirtations with gardening, I think I can understand the appeal.

But remember the post war era?  Okay, I don’t, I’m too young, and many of us are… let’s try this: remember our parents?  Do/did they get excited over “modern conveniences”?  Did TV dinners and microwaves send tingles of delight down their spines?  Yes, it may sound horrid to you (me too), but I understand the conveniences and the desire to step away from what you had to do.  Have you ever used a washboard regularly?  I have.  Not fun.  I still own one, it’s in the shed collecting cobwebs and making some spider a lovely home, I’m sure.  I now use stronger detergent on socks or just let socks grey.

Some of us had to work harder than others for what we all can now take for granted.  Those people who had, (rather those who had-not) are not necessarily ready for the “back to the good old days” mentality.  And while I agree, many of those ways are healthier, there is going to be mental block style resistance.  So why make it more difficult?  Why make “organic” so expensive?  Marketing monsters?  Big-brother Business?  I don’t know.  I don’t have the answer to that – and I think that’s Guthman’s point.

But this reflection has not changed my resolve.  I plan to grow herbs in my classroom next year.  And I would like to have a larger herb garden at school, (our cafeteria can wipe it out in one meal – it’s just not big enough to meet our needs).  Why?  Because fresh herbs taste wonderful.  Because they smell so good.  Because I want my students to learn how to cook with them (they cook differently than dried ones).  Because I want my students to have the opportunity to see “Field to Fork” in action… even if the “field” is a vertical garden. And because it has the potential to save some money.

 

It’s not about “organic”, or even making assumptions about the cultural context about gardening.  It’s about showing students the science behind their food and the impact this can have so that they can make an informed choice.  If they desire a garden in their future, I’ve done my job, and if they don’t… well, I’ve still done my job.

 

Reflection Article:

Guthman, J. (2008). Bringing good food to others: Investigating the subjects of alternative food practice, cultural geographies, 15: 431-447.

Stable URL:

http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://cgj.sagepub.com/content/15/4/431.full.pdf+html

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