So October 1st has come and gone. That Tuesday afternoon I pulled out my hiking boots and started the first of my action proposals – I walked to school. I prepared for the rain that was coming down that morning, but by the time I was on the road, the sun was coming out and I actually ended up taking off a sweater and putting it in my pack. I walked 8.9 kilometers to school that day. Motivated by the ways I would benefit; health/fitness, alertness at class, sense of achievement, integrity, grades etc… I am also motivated by a desire to think outwardly, to recognize the impact of climate change on so many people in our world and then recognize my contribution to systems that rely on burning fossil fuels and the releasing carbon into the atmosphere thus inflating the greenhouse effect. If I didn’t have enough motivation before starting this project, September 30th I lost my October bus pass and cap card. My hope is that this ends up helping me achieve my goal of walking to school at least once a week. The temptation will be to drive more often, which will negate part of the value of walking. I had hoped to walk to school today but was having some breathing issues from having a cold so I opted with driving (I was running too late to bus). I have got three more days of class this week to come through on my commitment. From a time perspective biking is the most efficient use of my time. While I get tired out, it takes between 30 and 45 minutes depending on conditions and how hard I push. The difference between walking and bussing is the most surprising. Bussing takes me about an hour to an hour 15 if I miss a connection. Walking takes about 1 hour and 35 to 1 hour and 50 minutes.
I tend to get a little nostalgic about particular aspects of times gone by. I appreciate that many peoples and cultures throughout history have used walking as their primary means of transportation. My wife’s grandfather, who recently passed away, is one of my inspirations. He was a man of the mountains. At his funeral there were many legendary stories of the life of this man known as “Cougar Dan”. When I walk towards the mountains from my house just off Commercial drive in East Van, I feel somewhat like Cougar Dan, walking off into the mountains. I wouldn’t call them “my mountains” as he would, but I hope that one day I might know them somewhat better. By moving slower between destinations and by physically engaging your body in transportation, there is so much more opportunity to become curious and even fascinated by your surroundings. Along the way there are many great views of the mountains that really define this geographic area. Great historical and place markers, I realize that I couldn’t recognize or name most of the mountains that surround the land that I have lived in my whole life. The view from the bridge is a particularly good one, but unfortunately as beautiful as it is up there it is hard to breath because of all the pollution from the big trucks on the bridge (could be just catching ones breath after climbing as well…)
October 1st I stuck around at school to hear a panel of speakers talk about local food movements. To my surprise my friend Brent Mansfield was one of the panelists. The speakers were interesting and a couple of them also had quite entertaining personalities. Two discussions stuck with me. The consideration of what “local” food means and why it is important to ask this. It made me think about a comedic sign in our school cafeteria: “some of our produce is from Canadian farms, support local!” – advertising that begs a lot of questions and details. I was also really intrigued by the idea of integrating and using the dynamics of food to teach all kinds of curriculum at all levels of education. I am in favour of this because I think that food should be central to our lives. For so many generations before us it was an incredible focus of the lives of individuals, families, villages etc… A result of an industrialized food system, we aren’t focused on food and instead are not dependent on our community but on great big companies that have more interest in profit and markets than in individuals. We can also become enslaved to these companies allowing them to determine what we eat. Furthermore, I like this approach because in my experience learning by making concepts applicable to everyday life has always helped me learn in the past, and food is applicable to everyone’s lives. I was inspired to continue to take up growing my own food and eating responsibly – that is being aware of where my food comes from and trying to eat healthy food and support local produce in order to contribute to the economy of my region, personally interact with those that support me and my diet as well as cut down on food transportation and the need for chemical preservative contamination. I was glad Brent was speaking that night because he gave me a ride home which meant I didn’t have to walk home in the dark. The next couple of days I was actually somewhat sore from walking with such big hiking boots on my feet. Those things must be like ten times as heavy as the super light running shoes that they sell now.
This weekend I called the Vancouver compost hotline in order to sign up for another worm composting seminar. The deal that the city offers is pretty great. A composter, ½ a pound of red wiggler worms, a book/manual and a class on how to reap the benefits of vermicomposting – all for 25 dollars. Unfortunately it turns out that the next course won’t be until next spring. I found a couple good designs for building a worm composter and found a good deal on craigslist for red wiggler worms. I signed up anyway but I might have to adapt my action proposal. This weekend my wife and I also did some prep in our garden for fall. We took out a bunch of plants that were done for the season (peppers, some beans, some broccoli that went to seed, basil, tomatoes, sweet peas etc….) We harvested some carrots, cabbage, squash and got a bit more basil and a ton of green tomatoes. I had wanted to get the worm compost going because our garden compost was in mid cycle and we weren’t ready to spread it out on the garden, but it turns out not to be an urgent issue because our garden compost is now ready to be spread and started up again.
I might still do the worm compost but I might include our fall gardening as part of my action project. We have a bunch of planter boxes and two of them have green houses on them. We are going to spread the compost and then spread grow some cover crops on most of the beds but plan on planting some more greens/lettuces in the smaller greenhouse. We have a little starter box with a grow light in it that I made a couple of years ago (made of windows, the box is on wheels and has multiple trays and seed blocks inside). We might use it to start our greens. We have many other garden/food projects to do this month. The list is long but we will do our best. We love apple sauce and so are planning to find time to do our annual apple sauce making and canning session sometime this month. We also have a ton of beets to harvest. We are planning on making beet burgers (rice, beets, carrots, cheese, onions etc…) and then freezing them. In the garden I have to finish building another trellis for our fall peas that are searching hard for something to grow up. I also received a horseradish plant from a friend this week and I need to put it into a big pot (it spreads like crazy). This weekend I borrowed a fermenting crock pot from a friend who is a farmer in the neighbourhood and at UBC farms. I am going to use the cabbage that we harvested along with some carrots to make some sauerkraut. Finally I recently treated my honeybees with formic acid (to kill varroa mites) and unfortunately the queen died. I had a check in the hive this weekend and excitedly found two newly emerging queens and a couple other queen cells. Near the end of the month I am going to need to check on the bees to make sure that a queen has taken charge, been fertilized and is laying eggs so that numbers can be fortified going into the winter. I also need to figure out why for the last two mornings there have been 20 dead bees on my parents front porch in the suite below (could be that they left the L.E.D. Light on and the bees took exception to it and attacked all night).
As for my third action project of organizing a men’s clothing swap, things are coming along. I have been talking to friends and telling them to set aside October 26th (the Saturday). I have temporarily reserved a big room at my church for setting up the swap. I still plan on making a community announcement at the church as well as putting something in the weekly bulletin for the next couple of weeks. Next I have to go through my clothes and start pulling out stuff that I don’t wear that could benefit someone else. Reduce Reuse Recycle. Maybe that will be the name of the swap. I also need to find an organization to bring the clothes to that nobody wants to take home.