“They have names, faces, dreams“. So reads one of the banners at the University of Guanajuato.
Today, as has been my routine for almost a month, I arrive at the University of Guanajauto, books in hand, ready for my classes in Spanish. But today, two students huddled at the doorway in the dark and cold inform me that the University is in “paro”. A student strike in support of the students missing in Iguala, in the State of Guerrero, will last 48 hours.
Today, my lessons take me to the street.
The next University entrance is blocked by a large placard bearing the photos of the missing, all so young. Candles flicker in votives in the dark. Further along the street is the main entrance to the impressive, neoclassical building that houses the main campus of the University. Here more students are gathered, signs are everywhere. As time goes on, onlookers gather, quiet, watchful. The students start to chant…. “Guerrero aguanta, Guanajauto levanta… [roughly translated: Guerrero is bearing the pain, Guanajauto take action]
The students are demanding freedom of expression without fear of reprisal. They are demanding justice for the missing and their families. They want the University of Guanajauto and other universities, to be leaders in the fight for freedom and human rights. They want an end to the fear and corruption in Mexico. They want an end to the cult of impunity that allows government leaders, police, and others in power to escape justice for their wrongdoing. They want basic human rights.
One placard reads: “These are not the only ones.”
Mexico has a repressive history when it comes to human rights. The Iguala students were killed just days before the 45 year commemoration of a night known as the Tlatelolco Massacre, when the Mexican army surrounded the Plaza of Las Tres Culturas where students had gathered in peaceful protest. Tanks and a helicopter opened fire on them. Over 300 people were believed to be killed but the exact number was never known as the Mexican authorities hid the bodies. According to “Reporters without Borders“, Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for reporters as in the last decade, more than 80 have been killed and 17 have disappeared. A 2011 UN Report deliniates numerous issues regarding freedom of expression, including the high concentration of ownership of the press in the hands of a few. A Telecom law passed this July allows Mexican authorities to, among other things, block access to internet sites that it does not consider appropriate.
I ask some of the students if they think these protests will result in any change. While some of them say they are hopeful, generally they don’t believe that anything will change. They don’t believe the government is doing enough to save the students and sadly none of them believe the students are alive.
There is a sense of desperation with the conditions here. A submission even, because the problem is so great. Mexico is emerging as a potent economic power but its record of human rights is truly third world.
I attach some photos, as well as the words of some of the placards because they are very powerful.
Victoria Clements and her group of passionately caring “Divas of Barrio Blanco” are holding a fundraiser this Saturday, June 8th (at the Knights of Columbus Chambers directly underneath the Star of the Sea Hall, 15262 Pacific Ave, White Rock from 6:30pm -9pm). The purpose is to raise funds to build additional homes in the slums of the Barrio Blanco, Dominican Republic. Victoria advises that Gordon Hogg has volunteered his services as their LIVE auctioneer and Sue Hammel will also be attending.
The event will be a Caribbean-themed “Dinner with the Divas of Barrio Blanco”. Dress is casual as though you were going to dinner somewhere tropical. That night, the “Divas” (as Victoria says they are affectionately known) will share their passion and unique experiences as women and mothers when, for the first time, they all visited the Barrio Blanco slums of Cabarete, Dominican Republic earlier this year to meet the family they sponsored in their new home, “the Diva House”. The Divas will also share what each plans to do next, both for the family and the Barrio as a whole to support shelter, food, education and medical initiatives.
Here are links to recent news stories: “Divas” Aim to Build Homes in the Heart of Dominican Barrio, Surrey Now by Tom Zillich and “Building Opportunities from the ground up” Peace Arch News by Sarah Massah. You can also find more information about the event on the Divas of the Barrio Facebook Page.
She adds, “We have never been involved in a project like this before and it put a lot of things in perspective for us at a time in our lives when we needed just that.”
The Game’s Afoot has more macabre twists and turns than the recent BC election and won’t disappoint you no matter what the outcome.
Variously described as “Murderously Funny!” by Broadway World and “a wild and funny ride” by Cleveland Fine Arts Examiner, The Game’s Afoot won the 2012 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Awards as Best Play.
South Surrey’s Peninsula Productions presents the Canadian Premiere of The Game’s Afoot, written by noted American playwright Ken Ludwig. Ken Ludwig also wrote Lend Me a Tenor which played in Vancouver recently to enthusiastic theatre audiences.
Directed by Wendy Bollard, this hilariously funny play takes place on Christmas Eve, 1936, in the extravagantly-appointed Connecticut manor house of real-life Broadway star William Gillette. The play offers surprise and mystery at every turn, building on the best traditions of ‘whodunits’ by Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and includes the rapier-like wit and repartee of an English drawing-room.
There are several characters brimming with thespian ego and drama, including the eccentric Gillette, a vituperous critic, an ingenue, a dotty mother, and a couple who have been married too long and know each other too well.
In real life, American actor William Gillette, who was good friends with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, gained his fame and fortune by first writing ‘Sherlock Holmes’ for the stage and then playing the lead role for the next 30 years before American and English audiences. It is from Gillette’s reprise of this character, that we gain our image of Holmes with the deerstalker hat and the meerschaum pipe.
In Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot, the re-imagined William Gillette, who lived as Sherlock Holmes on-stage, becomes his own ‘a la Sherlock Holmes’ detective, as he tries to solve his own near-murder. If you can solve this one, there may be a job waiting for you in Victoria.
The title draws on the lines from King Henry V Act III Scene 1:
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’
On this gleeful and scary ride through Holmesian farce, audiences will be shocked and horrified in one moment and doubled over with laughter the next.
Peninsula Productions presents The Game’s Afoot July 10-28 at the Coast Capital Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd, White Rock. Tickets ($18-23) are available at 604-536-7536 at the Playhouse Box Office, Tuesdays to Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. and online at www.whiterockplayers.ca.
Please come back to visit.
Maris MacDonald and Antonella Pivetta are two South Surrey entrepreneurial women who have linked their extensive backgrounds in marketing, publishing, advertising, sales and admin in a new business venture. And in the process they will raise money for the Alzheimer Society of BC and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, BC by donating all the admission fees from their Deja Vu Vintage Market. Both charities have thrown their support behind the Deja Vu Vintage Market in yet another example of how charities benefit from the generosity of businesses big and small.
The Deja Vu Market is a one-day extravaganza of vintage vendors, to be held on Saturday, July 6, 2013 at the beautiful Wellbrook Winery in Delta, BC, a 55-acre heritage farm which features a lovingly restored farmhouse, grainery, and barn. Some of the features of the farmhouse include century-old beams and floors as well as antique furnishings and fixtures and its owner won the Delta Heritage Award of Merit for the preservation of the Seymour Huff Residence & Barn. Among the site’s claims to fame is that Sarah Mclachlan’s video of the song “It’s Just an Ordinary Miracle” for the children’s film Charlotte’s Web was filmed in the acoustically acclaimed barn.
So what can you expect when you get to the market? Whatever it is, it will be rescued, refurbished, restyled, repurposed, recycled or otherwise re-engineered to be a new treasure for your home. “Shabby chic, salvage-style, gothic, heirloom, vintage, cottage and upcycled” are some of the terms used to describe the products which range from the smallest of items to pieces of refurbished furniture and, I am told, some very tasty baked goods. Fans of vintage markets will already know what to expect, the rest of you need to come for the experience. In this time of mass-market consumption and cookie-cutter home decor, Deja Vu gives value to unique items created by inventive and talented artisans.
The passion of the two business partners for vintage comes from their own artistic passion and the realization that there is a need for more places for vendors to sell these products. Maris specializes in re-working furniture pieces and Antonella uses an ancient Spanish technique called repujado to emboss metal, and from this creates tea boxes, cutlery boxes, frames and other items. Now however their time is devoted to the Deja Vu event, to make it a rousing success and to build toward future events in the Lower Mainland.
So, spend part of Saturday, July 6, 2013, 11am-5pm, checking out the wares at Deja Vu and take in the beautiful Wellbrook Winery at 4626 88th St., Delta, BC. By doing so you will be supporting our local entrepreneurs as well as
the Alzheimer Society of BC and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, BC and you might just find a few things you can’t live without! Check out their Facebook page: Deja Vu Vintage Market and some of their uber-artistic vendors: Red Door Farm, And Then Again and ReStory. Hope to see you there!
Please come back to visit.
Here are a couple of great ways to spend an hour or two this weekend!
First, is a vintage and handmade fair this Saturday, May 4, Elgin Hall, 14250 Crescent Road in South Surrey. Between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. you can find one-of-a-kind treasures and treats for all. Put on by Deja Vu Vintage Market which is backed by a pair of energetic South Surrey women, this group will also be having a grand exposition of vintage and handmade goods at the Wellbrook Winery on July 6th, with a portion of the proceeds to go to charity. More to come on this in a subsequent blog post.
This Sunday, May 5 between 11 and 5 pm, the Langley Gogos are hosting a plant and handmade accessories fundraiser at 18562 55th Avenue in Surrey. Included in the sale is the beautiful Kazuri jewellery, hand-made in Nairobi, Kenya in a fair trade workshop which employs over 300 marginalized African women. You can see the jewellery here and I guarantee you will want some! All proceeds go to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, Stephen Lewis Foundation, that works with grandmothers in Africa who are raising children orphaned by Aids.
Then for those of you who have been following my posts about food and community gardens recently, here is an update from Semiahmoo Food Network. The Semiahmoo Food Network together with BC Healthy Communities and others are re-establishing the Food Action Coalition in White Rock and Surrey. There is a meeting on May 15th at 2:30 pm at Women’s Place in South Surrey 15318-20th Ave and all interested people are invited to attend. The purpose of the first meeting is to explore what worked in the past, what changes people would like to see and how they can begin anew with their vision of moving food policy forward. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please come back to visit.
It seems you can’t pick up a newspaper these days (I still do that, being somewhat attached to the ‘older’ way of doing things) without running into yet another article about food. Why? The American Public Health Association (APHA) has a whole list of reasons why we should be concerned. On its website, the APHA states:
“APHA defines a sustainable food system as one that provides healthy food to meet current food needs while maintaining healthy ecosystems that can also provide food for generations to come with minimal negative impact to the environment. A sustainable food system also encourages local production and distribution infrastructures and makes nutritious food available, accessible, and affordable to all. Further, it is humane and just, protecting farmers and other workers, consumers, and communities.” The APHA goes on to state “The four pillars of food security are availability, stability of supply, access and utilization…. The United States has eroded the pillars of food security.”
In this lengthy critique of the American (which of course is also the Canadian) food system, the APHA identified a multitude of problems with the food supply, including:
- the control that larger producers and retailers have over prices, public policy, information, and determining the choices and risks available to us;
- chronic obesity and diet-related disease;
- contamination of the environment and serious human health problems from the extensive use of fertilizers, pesticides, animal waste, and over-use of antibiotics;
- the contribution of worldwide agriculture and land-use change (estimated to cause about 1/3 of global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions);
- food safety concerns including genetically modified plants and decreasing biodiversity of plants and animals; and
- the disproportionately high negative consequences on low-income and minority communities.
In response, communities and individuals are increasingly looking towards healthier, sustainable food practices. The Slow Food, 100 Mile Diet, SPIN (Small Plot INtensive commercial urban farming), organic foods, rooftop gardens, community gardens, shared backyard gardens, city bee-keepers, the fight again GMOs (genetically modified organisms), protection of heritage seeds, and ethical eating are just some of the ways people are gaining back control of their food.
There are so many sources of information and inspiration. Here are a few of mostly local ones in no particular order (if you have favourites, please share them by adding a comment to this blog):
- Eat like your Grandma is a food blog by a Surrey woman with tons of tasty recipes and useful information about healthy eating;
- non-GMO Food guide, includes a handy guide to what foods contain GMO;
- Grow Food Not Lawns has 293,000 followers and lots of links and tips;
- Food for Democracy Their mandate is to work together to eliminate hunger and create food security for all residents of British Columbia;
- Farm to School is a group working to bring local, healthy and sustainable foods into British Columbia’s public institutions;
- BC Food Security Gateway is a web resource for food security practitioners and others in BC who want to make “healthy eating the easy choice” and build food-secure communities;
- Village Surrey engages individuals, neighbourhoods & organizations to take actions that build sustainable communities & have fun doing it. Food, transportation, housing, energy, social justice, and the arts to name a few;
- Surrey’s Community Gardens website provides basic information and contact information for the 4 community gardens;
- Alexandra Neighbourhood House has 30 plots for rent, some plots for children and the Food Bank. It also has a Master Gardener who leads workshops and tours for members of the garden;
- White Rock’s Farmer’s Market starts on May 26, 2013 at Miramar Plaza – White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russell Avenue;
- Sharing Backyards If you would like to share your back yard or someone else’s, check out this site. Think of it as a matchmaking site for gardeners. So far there are no offers of garden space or gardeners available in the South Surrey area.
- South Surrey Garden Club I spoke recently to Pat Logi who is a member of this Club. She and some other volunteers are ‘mining’ three backyards in the community to grow food for the South Surrey Food Bank and are looking for more volunteer gardeners and more gardens so they can expand the program. If you would like to get down and dirty for a good cause, contact these folks;
- GE Free Surrey, whose spokesman is Phil Harrison, is working to promote a GMO-free Surrey;
- City Farmer is an excellent Vancouver source about urban gardening and its mission is to teach people how to grow food in the city,
compost their waste and take care of their home landscape in an environmentally responsible way;
- Waking up for Ava is a website run by Bobbi Blair, a Langley realtor who is very active in promoting change, especially relating to GMO food;
- West Coast Seeds, Saltspring Seeds, Heritage Harvest Seeds, and BC Seeds are local sources for organic, heritage, heirloom and non-GMO seeds.
- How to build raised beds These are the Cadillac version.
- God’s Little Acre is a place I absolutely must visit soon. Beginning in 2011, a Surrey hay-field was transformed into a bustling vegetable operation, run by volunteers and managed by a generous and energetic fellow named Jas Singh for the sole purpose of donating vegetables to the Surrey Food Bank. With great success to date, the stated farm goal is to donate 100,000 lbs of vegetables to charity. The farm is now offering a program where you can buy at the farm gate and support others in need when you purchase a membership. You can also find them on Facebook where you will be highly entertained by Jas’ effervescent writing style.
In case you would like to study the subject beforehand, here are a couple of suggestions:
- Michael Pollen (what a great name for a food writer) has written extensively about food including well-known books The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defence of Food.
- Jennifer Cockrall is a journalist and food writer who explores the food movement and how it is changing our cities in her book Food and the City and shares many urban gardening tips at her Facebook page Food and the City.
- Seeds Of Deception written by Geoffrey Smith argues powerfully against GM foods.
- And for something completely different, I just added this book because I heard the author Bill Jones on CBC talking about foraging for mushrooms and then cooking them. The book is The Deerholme Mushroom Book: From Foraging to Feasting and features cooking with many unusual local ingredients including some delicious looking mushrooms.
If you believe in having control of your own food and would like to promote community gardens and yard-sharing in Surrey/ White Rock, please connect with Rick Ketchesin, another passionate advocate for better foods, at the Semiahmoo Food Network. He would love to hear from you. His site also contains links to other information and organizations.
Please come back to visit.