Vancouver Island farmer could go to jail for farming? WTF?

Treehugger.com has posted a story of a local Vancouver Island farmer that converted a destroyed residential lot into a organic farm. For many, this would be considered a success story. But the regional district in Lantzville, BC is up in arms because a neighbour complained about the farm being unsightly, and is attempting to enforce a bylaw to shut down the organic farm and remove the material.

Here is a part of the article from Treehugger.com.

Last week Colleen brought us the story of a woman in Michigan who is facing jail time for planting a garden. Sadly, this type of heavy-handed by-the-letter enforcement of bylaws exists at the same time as people embrace urban agriculture as a viable source of high quality nutrition. A man in Lanztville, British Columbia is facing a similar battle with the local government after converting his 2.5 acre “residential” lot from a gravel pit into a thriving organic farm. His refusal to “cease all agricultural activity” could land him six months in jail.

Acting on a single complaint from a disgruntled neighbor the regional district sent a letter to Dirk Becker giving him 14 days to “remove the piles of soil and manure from the property.” The quoted bylaw states that property owners will ensure their property doesn’t become or remain “unsightly”.

via British Columbia Man Faces Six Months in Jail for Growing Food : TreeHugger.

I should get this off my chest now. This is bullshit! There. I said it.

Maybe the regional district is getting kickbacks from Monsanto… ūüėČ

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What do you know about Earthquakes? Are you prepared?

Bull's eye graphic for use with earthquake loc...
Image via Wikipedia

Today a massive earthquake hit Japan. It is horrible to see the videos, pictures and suffering that nature can inflict on us. If there is one shining light that comes from a tragedy like this, it is that all the ‘experts’ are heard. Continue reading “What do you know about Earthquakes? Are you prepared?”

Culture is Irreplaceable. We must protect it.

Cowichan River estuary
Image by ciboulette via Flickr

Tonight I attended an extended family meeting to arrange a celebration of life for my father-in-law. I felt my role there was to help keep my baby occupied and let my fianc√©e, her mom and siblings work on details. I tend to shy away from offering my opinions where other people’s memorials are involved. I respect other people’s beliefs and don’t want mine to have any sway in such an important time in their lives. Sometimes being an atheist during a time where loved ones are looking for meaning can be a bit tough…

So, I kind of awkwardly went in and out of the room and listened to the plans. My mother-in-law invited a man named Dan to help organize a special ceremony to be done during the service. He is from the Cree First Nation.  He was telling of how people of his culture deal with grief, and some of the symbolism in the circle of life. I thought he was quite fascinating, though I missed quite a bit of what he had to teach.

Here is one thing that he talked about that I wanted to share. He said that when someone is grieving, to not offer them a tissue. He used the analogy of taking a fist full of sand and pouring it in the river. When you first pour it in, the water is cloudy, murky, not clear. But the flowing water moves the sand and the water becomes clear again. If you pass someone a tissue while they are crying and grieving, people tend to try and stop crying, essentially it stops the flow of water, and the pain and grieving can’t come to an end.

This story resonated with me. He had more stories about spirits coming and going, how they enter the body of a baby, and how they leave during this ceremony they are going to have on Saturday.

The main thing I took from all this, was that culture is precious. It has no monetary value, but must be protected. Aboriginal culture in Canada has been attacked for generations. Even where I’m from, school boards are still trying to close schools with high percentages of aboriginal youth, and integrate them into other local schools where cultural programs don’t exist.

As a society, we can learn so much about the way people have lived and in this case coped with loss, by sharing our cultures, not integrating them.¬† My grandparents came here from Poland, and didn’t speak a word of English. By the time two generations had passed, our family had lost it’s native language, and with it, most of its culture.

So the next time you hear that someone shouldn’t be allowed in your country because they don’t speak English, tell them to shut up. We should put more focus on learning about other people, and what lessons we can take from their culture.

Dan, thank you for your stories, and teachings. They meant a lot.

Experience Cycling and the History of my Bike

I don’t mean for this to sound like an ad. It’s not. For most of the people that follow my blog, you notice I don’t talk about mountain biking very often. I spend most of my time on here talking about more global and virtual events. My personal experiences online, with a computer, a web app, an operating system, or a review of something far away from single track and mud. Well today I want to talk about people closer to home. People that I deal with on a regular basis, that make my number one passion outside my family a reality.

The old cliche is that a picture is worth a thousand words. The above picture is of my beloved mountain bike. I really love it. In an unhealthy, creepy way, to be honest. I have had my 2007 Brodie Loki for a few years now and it has been the best bike I have ever had. So, when I send it into the bike store for a repair or for a more extensive upgrade, I count the hours until I can get it back.

Most of my friends and family know about my passion for cycling. A couple of days ago it was my 40th birthday, and they all got me very generous gift certificates to my favourite bike store, Experience Cycling! So, in I take it for some upgrades! This is where the story really begins. From the moment you walk into Experience Cycling, you feel important. It is this care and attention to the customer that has brought some well deserved accolades as the top rated bike store in Canada!

The entire staff has the same passion for cycling as I do. So, yesterday when I wandered in after my birthday ride looking to upgrade my front fork, Jim took care that I would have my bike back as soon as possible.¬†Understandably¬†the winter months are slower, but he even offered to get it done same day if I needed it! From the picture, you can see it is snowing out. I won’t be doing any riding in the next week or so(damn you Winter…), but that doesn’t matter. They know I love to ride.

The entire staff think this way. From Matt who talked to me for half an hour on the phone about the brand of fork he felt would fit with the type of riding I do(and giving me 3 different choices), to Jim, that greets me every time with a smile and a hand shake, to Dale that made sure he got the bike ready for me before his day off. Not to mention the young guy that helped me out to the car with the bike and even put it on my bike rack because I had my baby with me. This care and attention to detail is why I come back, over and over again, for the last 25 years.

How does a small store in a small town like Duncan get it so right? The answer? Will Arnold. The owner. I have talked with Will on numerous occasions and he is a man that loves what he does, and you see it when you go into the store. Jim, his brother, shows the same passion. I am still kicking myself that 15 years ago I didn’t take that mechanics job Will offered me dangling like a carrot…

So why write about my bike store? It’s just that I don’t know of any other store I’ve been to that treats their customers so well. With the advent of big box stores, online merchants, Walmarts and Costcos EVERYWHERE, and mom and pop shops going out of business, how do little companies stay in business? From word of mouth. So though I glow about my little bike store to everyone that is looking for a bike, I wanted to do my part in spreading the word in the virtual world…

Experience Cycling is getting an online presence. Here is their site. http://www.experiencecycling.ca/

Check out their Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Experience-Cycling/140829112611352 Here you will find repair tips, bios on the staff, and updates of¬†sponsored¬†riders, and Will’s trips to various bike events.

If you like bikes, or like me, you love bikes, and you are on Vancouver Island, you need to do yourself a favour, and head to Duncan to Experience Cycling! Tell them Jamie sent you…

If you listen to my advice, you will look like this on your next ride…Happy…