Category Archives: Sustainability

Two Thumbs Up for The Global Forest

I just finished the delectable and moving collection of essays called The Global Forest: 40 Ways Trees Can Save Us by Diana Beresford-Kroeger.

Written some ten years ago. the book is prophetic, and the last few paragraphs resonate deeply today. A few snippets:

“. . .the children of this generation will want to help the planet and nature in a collective way. . . They will alter their parents’ ways. . . ”

“The media is filled with stories of nature’s abuse. . . There seems to be no end to greed. . .”

“But the children exist. . . the consumerism of their lives bores holes of unbearable solitude. They are already reaching for something else, something elusive, something that is color-blind to race. It is called dignity, the dignity of life, all life.”

A wonderful book for those who love and nurture nature, and who can lose themselves in gorgeous writing. I often found myself rereading paragraphs and even entire essays.

We’re Driving 10% of What We Used To

A thread on FB about less driving these days made me curious about our situation.

I figured out our mileage since the beginning of March at about 6km/day (~3.7 miles).

It would have been even less, but when Yumi’s office in downtown Vancouver was shutting down we had to drive there twice to retrieve a computer, monitor, and key files.

If this average kept up for a year, that would make for a total of ~2,200km/year!

In previous years we’d drive between 15,000 to 22,000 km/year depending on how often we got out of town.

So at this point, we’re driving roughly 10% of what we used to.

Quit Buying Soulless Crap, Support Your Local Economy

I reflexively shared a post about boycotting goods from China on FB. Not due to Covid, but a pile of other reasons such as undercutting local manufacturing, terrible environmental damage, horrid working conditions, etc.

I deleted my share, because the post was overly inflammatory.

Yet, if the average Canadian had a clue about how much of what we buy is shoddily made in China under horrid conditions. . . . Sheesh.

I had a gig stocking at a retail outlet for awhile not too long ago. I would think way over half of the knickknacks came from China. Often as not, as we opened boxes upon boxes stacked on pallets, nauseous chemical smells would waft through receiving.

Anything made from plastic stank. Even supposed wood products stank of preservatives or perhaps fungicides or pesticides.

I shudder to think of the people in the factories producing this shit.

Each shift entailed filling multiple huge garbage bags with packing materials ranging from Styrofoam to plastic to bubble wrap. . . . All to be “recycled,” eh?

No more cheap baubles. They’re like sugar that may give you a short-term lift, but long-term soulless emptiness.

Let’s make better choices. Let’s buy local. Let’s buy handcrafted. Let’s buy art not kitsch. Let’s buy quality that lasts. Let’s not throw things away.

Starting My Victory Garden

Another home project: got 60 liters of soil and a bag of seed potatoes.

We don’t have garden space to speak of aside from our townhouse balcony, but we do have a wood half-barrel that we can move to a sunny spot beside the garage.

The barrel is in pretty sad shape, with the hoops fallen like old socks, but the wood is still pretty solid so I think with some TLC I can revive it.

Haven’t grown potatoes in over 40 years, but this should be fun.

potato barrel
Moving the old barrel into place and fixing it up a bit

Adding soil and seed potatoes

Finished. Plenty of room to add soil as plants grow. . .

Yumi is the green thumb in our little family, but she says I’m on my own for this one .

Total cost was $6.50 for the soil, some of which Yumi will use for potted plants and flowers to help support our balcony mason bee box. Add a buck or two for the seed potatoes, and if my foray into farming is not very successful, it’s not like we’ll be out a big investment!

Excellent Invasive Species Council Meeting

I attended another well-organized, efficiently run board meeting of the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver.  It’s a pleasure to participate with these folks!

These people, many of them staff from municipal governments in the Lower Mainland, and staff from Metro Vancouver, share a wealth of experience and knowledge.

When one sees an agenda laid out to the minute, and the chair and executive director power through with time to spare, that’s a great meeting .

board members invasive species council metro vancouver


We’ve Got Fry in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby!

Yumi and have been doing spot checks for salmonid fry in Byrne Creek in SE #Burnaby where we volunteer as streamkeepers.

Today we spotted two, the first we’ve seen this year. It’s so exciting and uplifting to know that the salmon that returned to spawn in this battered urban creek were successful in starting a new generation.

The last year was not friendly to salmon. Drought conditions last summer resulted in very low, warm flows. Then we had snow and torrential rains in the winter, so much so that we were afraid that nests of eggs may have been blown out.

We’ll be keeping sharp eyes out for more fry in the days and weeks to come!

salmon fry byrne creek burnaby
A poor photo taken with my pocket cam in low light. Will try to get some better shots soon.

Salmon Dreams – a walk through memory in Riley Park/ Little Mt.

Enjoyed this walk ‘n talk with the False Creek Watershed Society.

Here’s the description:

Salmon Dreams – a walk through memory in Riley Park/ Little Mountain Landscape.

Please join us for our 3rd annual ‘Connecting to Place’ gathering.

Our exploration will nurture a connection with the visible and hidden waterways in the Riley Park/Little Mountain Neighbourhood. The guides are Celia Brauer, co-founder and staff of the False Creek Watershed Society and Amy Kiara Ruth, a somatic movement educator. We will continue afterwards with a gathering filled with community connection, scrumptious snacks and hot beverages!

We acknowledge that we gather and garden on the unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh First Nations.

riley little mt park tour

Salmon Run is Ending on Byrne Creek, Sharing Some Love

As the salmon spawning season draws to a close on urban Byrne Creek in south Burnaby, BC, I have a few thoughts. . .

Thank you to the dog walkers who ask us when the “keep your dogs out of the creek” posters will go up. You’re some of our best eyes on the creek! You’re out there every day.

Thanks to City of Burnaby Parks who approve posting the posters and oversee invasive plant removals, and thanks to City of Burnaby Engineering who follow up when volunteers report issues with water quality.

I also want to thank the increasing numbers of folks who are aware there are salmon in this urban creek, and who stop and chat with streamkeeper volunteers and ask how the run is going.

It’s emotional for me when the spawner run draws to a close. I feel bereft until I start spotting fry in the creek in the spring.

Yes, we do see alevin popping out of the gravel in the spring, and watch as they become fry.  It’s a wonder to behold and cherish.

I’m a prairie boy, Yumi is a northern Japan girl, and we have a common passion in BC salmon that started soon after we moved here some 20 years ago.

A lot of that goes to mentors like Stream of Dreams Murals Society founders Joan Carne and Louise Towell, and ZoAnn Morten of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, and our DFO Community Advisors over the years, Maurice and now Scott. . .

Streamkeepers in British Columbia are an amazing community.

We’ve had some hard years, and we’ve had too many low runs.

Here’s to making things better!

Humans Are Terrible at ‘Managing’ Wildlife

Something I think we need to keep in mind when thinking about issues such as “culling” wolves and seals, or working with species at risk, or habitat loss, or sustainability, or climate change, etc., is that here in British Columbia, our homo sapiens species has gone from a population of about 55,000 in 1851 to some 4,648,000 in 2016.

That’s an 85X increase in only 165 years.

And our population continues to grow at 5.6% a year.

Caribou? Elk? Wolves? Seals? All a drop in the bucket compared to our numbers. . .

Still Some Coho on Byrne Creek

It was a late start to salmon spawning season on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, this year and we have seen very few fish compared to past years. It’s a mystery that’s troubling.

We saw one chum, and several coho today. We also processed — measured and assessed spawning success — a few dead coho we found.

Unfortunately, this coho female did not spawn before dying. That’s sad to see, particularly since we’ve been getting so few salmon back the last few years.

unspawned female coho byrne creek burnaby

We also saw this big coho on its last fins. It was barely moving.

large coho fungus byrne creek burnaby

NOTE: Streamkeepers have training and permission to monitor spawning salmon and collect data when the fish die. It is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon.

The carcasses are cut in half after they are assessed, to ensure we don’t double count, and are returned to the creek to provide nutrients to the ecosystem.