building new castles every day

Posts Tagged ‘community’

I have a dream

In Doings, Feelings on January 12, 2014 at 9:05 AM

with title and CC and Fircom

I have a dream.

To launch the Canadian equivalent of StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit who provides people of all backgrounds and beliefs the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of their lives.

StoryCorps impacted me years ago. I was living alone in a bachelor suite at the top of a house in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver. Working several jobs out of university. Recently ended long-term relationship. Parents and sisters a day’s travel away. Grandparents a $600+ flight away.

It was a lonely time.

But when a Facebook friend recommended the animated short of Danny & Annie, a seed of possibility was planted. (Watch it yourself, and you’ll feel love, too.)

I should also mention The Hole. It was gaining prominence in my life. I didn’t feel it as a child. But as an adult — away from family, no roots in a community, no elder keeping me in check — I felt it deeply.

That animated short filled The Hole. Just a bit, but enough to inspire me. To connect with my family through story.

I began committing to visits in Alberta and Ontario, to my grandparents and pseudo grandparents. I brought along questions and a voice recorder. I asked to look at photographs and recipes. We sat together in silence sometimes. But it was a fulfilling silence. No fear of rejection or miles of country between us, just generations of experience and thoughts and love.

These stories cost me money and time. But filling The Hole was worth every cent and second.

Jump ahead a few years, and I’m using my passion project, Community Catalysts, as a vehicle to begin my dream. But I’m not the only one wanting a connection through auditory experience. My pals at Fircom have committed to hosting up to 50 people for a weekend, February 14-16, so we can all record, share and preserve the songs, sounds and stories of our lives.

Just like StoryCorps. Except, in lieu of a mobile ‘tin can’ recording studio, we’ll have 120 acres of coastal forest and a 90-year restored community hall. Plus healthy meals, modern shared accommodation, and three days of fun.

If you’ve got a Hole of your own, and you’re inspired to fill it with stories or sounds or songs, and you’d like to do it with equally curious and committed folk, please consider registering for the retreat. Find out more here:

And thanks for listening.

The Joy of Feeding…and eating!

In Doings on June 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Have you set foot somewhere and knew without a doubt that you were meant to be there, and nowhere else?

I had that sense in May 2011 when I walked onto the UBC Farm with my sister for the inaugural Joy of Feeding.

For me, it was a natural affair: food + outdoors + families + music + stories = complete satiation.

The event happens again tomorrow, Sunday, June 10. Tickets are $50, which may seem steep but when you consider that all funds go directly into our local urban farm and you get to eat as much as you want from 16 different cooks plus you’ll hear live music (including the acoustic Dan Mangan) and meet like-minded neighbours…you’ll realize that $50 gets you pretty far in life.

So, friends, will I see you tomorrow afternoon, 1pm?

Wish she could be with me again this year.

Waiting for the vines to grow (at UBC Farm).

oh hey, neighbour, savour these biscuits

In Doings, Learnings, Makings on October 4, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Volunteering can be a bit daunting. Especially volunteering solo. Not knowing anyone upon arrival at a new site or a new event, though interesting as it is to you, sure can be an obstacle in following through on your commitment.

In fact, this makes any solo venture daunting.

But sometimes the best experiences come from putting ourselves out there, alone.

Last year’s solo act: a trans-Canada train trip.

Today’s solo act: a last-minute volunteer gig at a community potluck.

And what success! Though the event wasn’t exactly what I expected (it had more families and less pulling of homemade beer than I built it up in my mind), I still managed to have some great conversations with the volunteer coordinator, Jason, and his partner, Laurel, who in fact are my neighbours! In exchange for sharing my experiences of SFU’s Sustainable Community Development certificate program, I was informed of a schwack of possibilities for the future of Main Street’s Village Vancouver. I walked away an hour later from the potluck with opportunities dangling within my arm’s reach, new ideas to be researched, and people to email for coffee!

Oh, but you wanted to know about the biscuits. Yeah, those were my potluck contribution. Want to try?

Leek-Jalapeno Buttermilk Biscuits

The easiest, peasiest drop biscuits ever. I basically take the following recipe and add/substitute whatever I have on hand. Today’s handy ingredients included leek, jalapeno pepper, mozzarella cheese and buttermilk. (That litre of buttermilk I picked up last week for cinnamon buns is sure getting some mileage!)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter (room temperature or slightly melted by Mr. Convenient, the microwave)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk

  1. Mix together the flour, powder and butter.
  2. Mix in your finely chopped leek, jalapeno and cheese.
  3. Next, pour in the buttermilk and get in there with your hands because a wooden spoon just won’t do [well, it will, it’s just far more fun to get messy].
  4. It’s totally ok if your batter is sticky; just mold into somewhat of a ball and plop it on a baking tray (grease if it’s not a non-stick).
  5. Bake for 15 or so minutes at 450*F, or until they get beautifully golden.
  6. Serve and consume to get the best out of their buttery goodness!


In Sightings, Thinkings on June 28, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Growing up, there was an overt presence of clear-cut landscapes. They’re such dramatic, violent things that you really can’t get around feeling angry about them. I kind of wanted to challenge my preconceived ideas.

In Sawdust Mountain, Eirik Johnson has captured the rainy yet vibrant coastal communities and industries of his home, the Pacific Northwest. Nicole Pasulka interviewed Johnson for The Morning News.

I highly recommend checking out their slideshow of some of his photographs. They really capture the rainy-hazy, lush contrasts of the Pacific Northwest.

What I like about this project is Johnson’s honest desire to show how complex the connection is between our natural industries and the communities which have developed because of them. We can yell and protest about all the environmental degradation that is happening because of irresponsible logging and salmon farming, but these employ real people and sustain real lives — and I mean sustain as in meeting needs; not making profits.

When so many Canadian communities are built on natural industries, works like Sawdust Mountain really make one think about the tricky transitions local governments must navigate with their constituents. Nothing is straightforward, is it?