Dyslexie

A new typeface is making life easier for people everywhere who live with dyslexia.

Christian Boer, 33, is a Dutch graphic designer who created the font that makes reading easier for people, like himself, who have dyslexia, according to his website. Now, he’s offering it to people for free.

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The typeface is called “Dyslexie,” and Boer first developed it as a final thesis project when he was a student at the Utrecht Art Academy in the Netherlands. The font makes reading easier for people with dyslexia by varying the letter shapes more, making it harder to confuse similarly shaped letters like “b” and “d,” for example.

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Dyslexia is a language-based processing disorder resulting in a learning disability often characterized by difficulties with accurate word recognition, decoding and spelling, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Research suggests that about 17 percent of the population has dyslexia, according to PBS.

Watch the video below to hear more about how “Dyslexie” works:

Boer hopes the font will create more awareness around the problem of dyslexia, according to a press release.

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Traditional fonts are designed solely from an aesthetic point of view, which means they often have characteristics that make characters difficult to recognize for people with dyslexia,” his website reads. “Oftentimes, the letters of a word are confused, turned around or jumbled up because they look too similar.”

The font has been proven to get positive results, including a reduction in flipping and mirroring of letters and increased ease in reading for dylsexics. Independent studies at the University of Twente and Amsterdam found that nearly three-quarters of the students surveryed reported making fewer reading mistakes when taking a test written in the font, according to “Dyslexie’s” 2012 research.

To download “Dyslexie,” or for more information, visit this site.

h/t Reddit Uplifting News

Tracy Johns. Teacher.

This is a moving, intelligent concise post from the battles lines to preserve educational values in BC. Thank you, Tracy Johns.

 

Teaching in 2014.   September 3rd, 2014.

I am a teacher in B.C. and I have been quiet (for the most part) about the ongoing conflict and subsequent job action. Quiet even when reading comments online and in the papers attacking me as being selfish, lazy and greedy. Quiet even when the guy in the white SUV drove past me on the picket line yesterday screaming at me to “get back to work #$%^ing lazy…” There are a lot of statistics and ‘facts’ being put forth by the government but these are my facts, my reality.

1. I taught Grade 4 last year with 29 students. 6 students were on an Individual Education Plan and at least 10 more required a lot of support. More than I could give.

2. I had an amazing Education Assistant that worked tirelessly to help as many students as possible but was often required to follow and keep safe, the one student that had such high learning needs and anxiety that he would run from the class, building and even the school grounds.

3. I had students that would hit, punch, kick, swear, yell, cry, throw chairs etc. Students that were in and out of foster care, students that came to school hungry. With all these needs I often did not get to those who were not acting out. Consequently I found out months after it happened that one of my student’s parents had gotten divorced. She certainly could have used some extra attention and support.

4. You would think that this was a very unusual case and that most classes are not like this wouldn’t you? Unfortunately this is becoming the norm.

5. Despite the challenges, I LOVE my job. I genuinely care about all of my students and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

6. B.C. has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country, B.C.kids are funded $1000 each per year less than the national average while B.C.is one of the wealthiest provinces. $1000 less? How is that OK? (This makes me furious as a parent and as a teacher)

I have run the full gamut of emotions about this over the summer. Panic about how to feed my family (despite the stats being put forth- at 7 years of teaching without yet getting a continuing contract I make less as a teacher than I did at Starbucks), fear about the future for all our children, and finally anger. I have had enough. If you still think this is about a pay raise or better benefits then you really need to educate yourself. We will never, not ever, get back the money that we lost since this job action started.

Teachers, and everyone that works in a caring profession, go out of their way to make sure those in their care get what they need. After more than a decade of cuts,we can no longer stretch to cover what is not being funded. I can’t continue to buy supplies for students and the classroom that should be covered, parents should not have to hold bake sales, poinsettia sales, chocolate fundraisers etc., to cover what should be funded by our tax dollars. (Yes, teachers pay those taxes too). Children deserve classrooms that are not overcrowded, with enough support and textbooks- ones that you didn’t use yourself when you were in school.

At this point we need to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in. Are we so afraid of not being able to afford the latest gadgets and fancy cars/clothes/houses that we buy into the fear that the government is putting forth about affordability? I want to live in a society where children are well educated and taught to think critically, have empathy and learn to care about each other and our environment. I don’t want to see B.C. sold off to the highest bidder at the expense of our environment and our children. School is not a business to produce mindless masses ready for the workforce. Everyone should be standing up together and saying that this is not right. This is not just the teachers’ fight, this is a fight for everyone who values an educated society.

Inaction is no longer an option. If you aren’t standing up for what is right in this world you are just as guilty as those in power who are making the wrong decisions. Instead of clucking your tongue at the madness or burying your head in the sand hoping it will all sort itself out (or worse blaming the teachers) I challenge you to look at what is really going on and take a stand. I am fighting for your children and mine. If you aren’t standing up and doing the same, why aren’t you?

Farewell Concrete

Here are some great ideas for getting free of our reliance on concrete-an industrial process which creates a great deal of CO2 pollution. Fly ash from gassification is one of these ideas.

Would you live in a house made of sand and bacteria? It’s a surprisingly good idea

<strong>Had enough of concrete blocks?</strong> The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Had enough of concrete blocks? The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. <strong><a href='http://petertrimble.co.uk/microbial-manufacture' target='_blank'>Dupe</a></strong> is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble's system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders...

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. Dupe is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble’s system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders…

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower -- the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles' tallest building -- <a href='http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140217005645/en/Headwaters-Fly-Ash-Record-Setting-Los-Angeles#.UyhZevl_uDl' target='_blank'>substituted a quarter of the cement </a>with
Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower — the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles’ tallest building — substituted a quarter of the cement with “Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Japanese firm TIS & Partners have created a new building material called “CO2 Structure,” dreamed-up in the aftermath of the March 2011 Japanese Tsunami as an emergency rebuilding material than can be put in place quicker than slow-drying concrete. By injecting carbon dioxide into a silica (sand and quartz), they managed to developed a carbon-negative building material with twice the tensile strength of brick.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while <strong><a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/hempcrete-hemp-house_n_1506662.html' target='_blank'>Hempcrete</a></strong> (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while Hempcrete (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

<strong><a href='http://www.ecovativedesign.com/' target='_blank'>Ecovative</a></strong><strong> </strong>already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom

Ecovative is already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom “mycelium” — and their next project is building materials. Founder Eben Bayer describes mycelium as “essentially the ‘roots’ of mushrooms” and says it is very good at binding together organic materials, which could one day make building blocks.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America's
Straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America’s “Nebraska Method” homes, straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Traditional building materials such as mud and <strong><a href='http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513154/Farmer-builds-house-just-150-using-materials-skips--current-tenant-pays-rent-MILK.html' target='_blank'>cob</a></strong> -- a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth -- have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One <a href='http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenerliving/10478442/Michael-Bucks-cob-house-Does-the-answer-to-the-housing-crisis-lie-within-a-150-cottage.html' target='_blank'>man from Oxford</a>, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Traditional building materials such as mud and cob — a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth — have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One man from Oxford, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks. <strong><a href='http://www.aggregate.com/products-and-services/blocks/enviroblock/' target='_blank'>Enviroblocks</a></strong> are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while <strong><a href='http://www.durisol.net/pdfs/Durisol%20Flyer.pdf' target='_blank'>Durisol</a></strong> units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks.Enviroblocks are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while Durisol units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Clay blocks with

Clay blocks with “honeycomb” structured cross-sections — often known asZiegel Blocks — have been common in some parts of Europe for decades, but are now spreading far beyond. Manufacturing blocks from clay rather than concrete means less CO2 emissions from production, while the blocks insulating characteristics can cut a building’s energy costs.

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled <strong><a href='http://www.gizmag.com/infiniski-shipping-container-architecture/22365/' target='_blank'>shipping containers</a></strong> has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled shipping containers has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

— Peter Trimble found his formula through trial and error. A design student at the University of Edinburgh, he was aiming to produce an artistic exhibition for a module on sustainability, when he stumbled on “Dupe,” a living alternative to concrete.

A lab technician introduced Trimble to Sporosarcina pasteurii, a bacterium with binding qualities, sometimes used to solidify soil to hold road signs in place. The student tested it with one of the world’s most abundant resources – sand. Pumping bacterial solution into a sand-filled mould, he added nutrients, urea derived from urine as fertilizer and calcium. After a year, and hundreds of failed experiments, this process manufactured a stool around 70% the compression strength of concrete.

The process requires less than one-sixth of the energy used in concrete production, and is completely biodegradable. Crucially, Trimble believes his mechanism has the added benefit that it could be employed by anyone, anywhere.

“Once you have the basic framework it should be transferable. Imagine a Tsunami-hit farm in Indonesia that is not getting supplies. You could use sand and bacteria on site, practically free, and have shelter housing that is far more permanent.”

Trimble is working with NGOs to apply Dupe to Aboriginal settlements and insecure regions of Morocco. But while the applications are new and experimental, the concept of growing the material for our built environment is increasingly regarded as not merely interesting, but essential.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the construction industry accounts for 40% of the world’s C02 emissions, 40% of U.S. landfill and has been uniquely resistant to change. Concrete, bricks and cement have remained the dominant materials since the industrial revolution in the early 19th century, and as pressure mounts on resources and climate, scientists and architects are looking to the natural world for solutions.

Buildingbacteria

Bacteria have been at the center of alternative methods. North Carolina start-upBiomason is growing bricks on an industrial scale, cultivated from sand by microorganisms. The company has won major prizes and funding for the bricks, which will be used in a structure for the first time this year in a pedestrian walkway, ahead of building projects across the world.

Similar processes are being developed to build in the most challenging environments. British architects see an opportunity to cultivate new life in deserts, while NASA believe bacteria could allow the construction of bases on other planets without the headache of ferrying the material there.

While bacterial processes save heavily on carbon, there are concerns that by-products could be poisonous. But another living brick — made from mushrooms — has no such problems.

Functional fungus

New York firm Ecovative are producing materials that combine agricultural waste products such as corn stock with mushroom mycelium — the roots of the vegetable. Over five days the mycelium binds the waste to create a block with a stronger compressive strength than concrete, with none of the heat or energy required by regular bricks.

The product is in commercial use for packaging, producing thousands of units a month, and the company is expanding into construction. Ecovative believe that in addition to being renewable and decomposable, natural properties give them a performance advantage.

“It has great insulation properties”, says Sam Harrington, Ecovative Director of Sustainability. “A key benefit is flame resistance — without adding any chemicals we were able to achieve a Class A fire rating”.

There is scope for development. Mycelium effectively dies once its growth is complete, but Harrington is looking ahead to material that does not. “We are exploring ideas of living materials, perhaps that are self-healing or respond to leaks with indicators.”

Ecovative are in dialogue with major construction companies, and the material will soon be tested on a historic scale. A collaboration with architects The Living won the prestigious MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) PS-1 competition, and their creation will be installed in the museum courtyard this summer.

Growing for gold

“Hy-Fi” will be the largest ever grown structure, and first large building to claim zero carbon emissions. It will be formed of three 40-foot spiral towers constructed from the mushroom material, with varying properties of brick to maximise light and ventilation.

The material’s versatility offers unique design opportunities, says David Benjamin, lead architect of the project.

“You can dial in almost any performance you want. You can mix and match a variety of properties such as water resistance or UV resistance, lightness or durability. You can grow the bricks in almost any shape”

Benjamin says the bio-bricks could be made to last as long as traditional materials, but believes architecture must embrace temporary structures.

“It’s essential to recognize that not all materials should last for centuries. A lot of the steel in our buildings will last longer than we need. Our idea is a building that be made locally and quickly, and then have a plan for when the life of the building is over.”

Future applications would include pop-up stores, festival “tents” and emergency shelters, says Benjamin, but there are greater hopes for the material within the industry.

Stronger than concrete

“I could imagine every structure you would built out of bricks”, says Dirk Hebel, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Construction at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore. “No high-rises, but smaller scale structures and houses. The material is stronger than concrete, with better insulation capacities”.

The challenge will come in commercializing the products, Hebel feels. “There is huge demand for alternative materials. The question is how easy it is to penetrate the existing market. This needs time and a couple of buildings to show the possibilities”.

Stealing from nature

Another, more radical approach takes the material from nature but also allows it to build the structure. Michael Pawlyn, director of Exploration Architecture, is a leading figure in biomimicry, having previously applied natural processes to create man-made forests in England and the Sahara Desert. His latest project to grow a “small venue for spoken word performances” from undersea biorock was recently unveiled at the Architecture Foundation in London.

“In biology, complex structures achieve resource efficiency by putting things in exactly the right place, which is very difficult with made materials”, says Pawlyn. “Our ways should deliver significant resource savings.”

Drawing on the natural accumulation of coral reefs, his team would install a steel frame in the deep ocean and leave it to attract material. Growth would be focused on specific areas of need using an electrical current.

“We’re interested in looking at its structural growth patterns. We have stress gauges on the structure to measure force in particular areas. If one is highly stressed, we can input more current so the rate of deposition matches the force.”

Pawlyn believes the structure could be built within two years, for consideration at scale. As with Ecovative, a key challenge ahead is to integrate still-living material to allow intelligent biosensors that respond to the building occupants.

Innovators in this space acknowledge the ongoing barriers presented in an industry that has resisted modernization. But from rock to fungus, sand to space dust, the use of materials and processes designed by nature herself offer both a solution to the sustainability crisis, and a glimpse of our new built environment: clean, efficient, and alive.

Dahlias–Wintering Over

http://www.turning-earth.co.uk/dahlia_llandaff.htm

 

HOW TO OVER WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS

With milder winters becoming ever more common, there are now two schools of thought when it comes to over-wintering Dahlia tubers. The traditional method is to lift them and then store in a cool dry, frost free position, while the second and slightly more risky way is to leave them where they are but with the addition of extra insulation.

LIFTING AND STORING DAHLIA TUBERS

The practice of removing Dahlia tubers from the ground for over-wintering goes back to at least a couple of hundred years so you know that it is definitely going to work. The time to do this is always going to be dependent on theweather so come the autumn you will need to keep a close eye on your plants.

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As soon as the first good frost hits, the leaves on the Dahlia will blacken and the plant will naturally begin to move into its dormancy stage. However you will want to leave it a week or so before furtherpreparation commences so that the plant can adjust to the seasonal change and absorb nutrients and carbohydrates from the stems back into the tubers.
Cut the stems to about 6 inches from the ground and then using a fork carefully lift the dahlia so that when removed from the soil the tubers remains intact. You will probably need to circle the root system with the fork first to help loosen the soil before lifting. About 1ft from the stem should be suffice.
Once lifted, gently place the tuber clump onto the ground, then carefully remove as much soil as you can without breaking or cracking the ‘necks’ of the individual tubers. Unfortunately, a tuber with a cracked or broken neck will tend to rot and will not produce new growth next season.
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Remove any diseased or damaged tubers and trim off any fibrous roots to reduce the incidence of fungal infections, then wash the rest of the soil off with water and allow to dry – upside down – for a couple of days in a cool, frost-free environment.
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Prepare a container such as a seed tray or shallow box with a covering of horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite at the bottom. Now place the tubers into the containers and cover them with slightly moistened horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite. The container can now be placed into storage in a frost-free position such as a garage or basement or anywhere that has an even winter temperature of around that 4 – 7 Degrees Celsius.
During this storage time you should be examining the tubers at least once a month, throwing away any which are showing signs of rotting. If the tubers appear to be drying out, then sprinkle the covering medium with a small amount of water. If they to be appear too wet then remove them from their container and allow to dry off on some old newspaper for a couple of days before placing back into storage.
Come the following spring – and just before the growing season – divide the tuberous roots into sections using a sharp blade making sure that each section has at least one prominent bud. Dust each cut section with a fungicidal powder and allow them to dry for a couple of days. That way the cut surfaces have a chance to callous over before planting.
These new root sections can be potted on in John Innes No.1 but unlike most other plants it is important NOT towater them in. Label them and place them back into a frost-free area moving them into a bright position. Do not move into direct sunlight until the foliage has a chance to harden off.

OVER-WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS IN THE GROUND

Recent trials have shown that it isn’t always necessary to lift and store Dahlia tubers so long as the ground is suitably prepared before planting. However, wet and freezing winters may still kill Dahlia tubers when they left in the ground, so it can still be worth lifting a few plants for storage – just to be on the safe side.

The key to successfully over-winter Dahlia tubers in the ground is to make sure that they were planted into a free draining soil in the first place as this will reduce the tubers becoming waterlogged during this risky part of the year. Also, it is advisable to plant them deeper in the soil than would normally be the practice – about 8 inches or so deep is fine.
The tubers will require additional protection to avoid them from being damaged by hard ground frosts. This can be achieved by employing by simple mulch such as straw, peat or even more soil. However using a traditional ‘Clamp’ will be the most effective.
HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL CLAMP
I know that these are not Dahlia tubers but it is a traditional clamp

Take some straw and cover over where the Dahlia tubers are under ground. Now position more straw – in a vertical fashion – so that it forms a raised mound above the tubers. When looking at it, the lengths of straw should now be sloping away from the top of the mound to the bottom of it so that it draws any water away from the centre of the mound.

Next the straw mound is ‘earthed –up’ which is a bit like making a sand castleon the beach. You dig a moat around the outside and you throw the excavated soil on top of the straw mound. When you get to the top of the mound you will need to leave a little straw chimney. This allows the mound to ‘breath’ which helps to stop fungal rots from progressing inside. The lastthing to do is to smooth over the soil sides so that if it does rain the waterwill run off down the sides rather than enter into the mound itself.
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The ‘clamp’ can be removed once the threat of frost is over.
A WORD OF WARNING
Slugs are very partial to the taste of fresh Dahlia growth and so it is important to remember to put down something to keep them well away. If you forget, all of your hard work would have been wasted and all you will have to show is a healthy batch of new slugs ready to damage other susceptible plants as they grow through.

Go, Eden…

How Gateway stokes a simmering fury among B.C. natives

Eden Robinson

Contributed to The Globe and Mail   http://wp.me/p2d9OT-uY

Last updated Monday, Jun. 23 2014, 10:17 AM EDT

Author Eden Robinson. (Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail)

Eden Robinson is the award-winning author of the novel Monkey Beach.

Where I come from, people will spit at you if they think you support Enbridge. That’s because we not only get the pipeline risk, but also the tanker risk, and the inevitable splashes that come with loading diluted bitumen into the tankers, which would mean constant micro-spills. Despite being bombarded with a lot of pretty ads reassuring us that our fears about tanker accidents are unjustified, the world-class tanker-safety system in the Douglas Channel, so far, amounts to one orange plastic triangle nailed to a tree.

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My mother is Heiltsuk and my father is Haisla, both small coastal First Nations on the west coast of British Columbia. I live in Kitamaat Village, the main Haisla reserve 11 km from the city of Kitimat, which is the proposed terminus of the pipeline. Kitimat is widely regarded as a blue-collar, pro-industry town. When a recent plebiscite was held to decide whether or not the municipality should support the Enbridge bid, many pundits expected Kitimat would deliver a ‘yes,’ but instead came back with a resounding ‘meh.’ Initial excitement over the announcement that Enbridge was building a pipeline to Kitimat dampened considerably when people discovered that the number of permanent jobs for locals, in the end, would amount to some dock workers. Add to that the persistent coffee-house rumours that the Chinese partners were negotiating to bring in their own ‘experts’ under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to help build the pipeline, and the plebiscite’s rejection of Gateway is less mysterious.

My reserve was not allowed to vote in the plebiscite because we’re not residents of the city of Kitimat. We’re also one of the First Nations bringing Enbridge to court. Our position is complicated by the fact that we’re partners in the current liquefied natural gas (LNG) rush. We’ve leased our reserve on Bish Creek, or Beese, as our traditionals call it, for LNG site development. We’re one of the native groups that would stand to gain the most by supporting Enbridge, and there is low-key support here for the project by food-on-the-table conservatives. But their backing is muted because the opposition to it is overwhelming and vitriolic.

Proponents have argued that you already have tankers plying the Douglas Channel delivering petro product and nothing has happened. But these are baby tankers compared to the monsters that are coming. And if the current tankers have an accident, our first responders will most likely be local volunteer Coast Guards who had to fundraise to get a new speedboat.

My mother’s home, the island community of Bella Bella, the main reserve of the Heiltsuk Nation, is 400 km south of us. The Heiltsuk have absolutely nothing to gain from this project, and everything that they hold near and dear to their hearts to lose. Opponents can mock our love of our home as sentimental, but it won’t change what we feel. The land and the ocean are living, breathing entities that supported us, clothed us, fed us, and nurtured our culture from time immemorial. Our ancestors walked here. We want our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren and their great-grandchildren to walk here.

The Haisla are pragmatists. The Heiltsuk have only engaged in peaceful protests. We are quiet moderates in comparison to other First Nations that oppose the pipeline.

If Enbridge has poked the hornet’s nest of aboriginal unrest, then the federal Conservatives, Stephen Harper’s government, has spent the last few years whacking it like a pinata. Their Omnibus budget bills gutted everything from our education to our sovereignty and (yes, you are reading this correctly) our right to clean drinking water. Their casual disregard of the staggering levels of violence against Native women in Canada continues to be infuriating. As is their expectation that, if lectured sternly and thoroughly at every opportunity about the economic benefits of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the First Nations of British Columbia would obediently lie back and think of Canada.

We’ve had a bulls-eye on our backs since the Harper Conservatives got their majority and the mood in our base is simmering fury. Every Native politician knows if they co-operate with the Conservatives, they risk being branded as Stephen Harper’s Uncle Tom. Supporting Gateway would be political suicide.

The Harper Conservatives (and to a lesser extent, the B.C. Liberals) have punted their responsibility to address unextinguished aboriginal title and concerns to the First Nations residing along the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline route and the coast of British Columbia. The government has done so by distancing itself from the political backlash following the June 17 conditional approval of the project and the resulting flurry of court cases.

If the Northern Gateway Pipeline fails to be built, history will say it was partly because Enbridge failed to lobby the First Nations of British Columbia early or intensely enough. But the Harper government’s role in this debacle will not be forgotten, and, whatever the outcome, its legacy will be an entrenched native antipathy to any Conservative agenda.

Three Political Paths to Stop Northern Gateway

Federal approval handed huge power to British Columbians. Our job is to get organized.

By Kai Nagata, Today, TheTyee.ca

nagata.jpg

 

Several friends told me this week the Northern Gateway pipeline “finally feels real.” Even people who were cavalier about the inevitability of federal approval described feeling unexpectedly emotional. A few I didn’t even realize had the issue on their radar are suddenly speaking eloquently and passionately — not so much about the details of the proposal, but about the way Ottawa’s decision was carried out.

Enbridge CEO Al Monaco says it will be at least “12 to 15 months” before they’ll be ready to build. With that window in mind, the common question for those who want to stop it is: “How?”

Some are well-positioned to challenge this decision in the courts — First Nations governments best of all. The Crown committed a costly legal error when it left Enbridge to its own devices for so many years, attempting “consultation” deep in unceded territories. Those court cases could last for years and many of us who are not First Nations or trained lawyers will certainly donate to see them succeed.

Some pipeline opponents also promise to physically interfere with construction, should it ever proceed. More blockades like the Unist’ot’en camp may well spring up in the north. Environmental groups are already fundraising to hold workshops on civil disobedience.

Other critics are thinking big-picture about the demand for oil and how to undermine the business case for raw bitumen exports. Whether clean-tech entrepreneurs or climate policy advocates, these groups aim to shift the market conditions that make projects like Northern Gateway profitable in the first place.

Put it this way: there are many ways to stop the pipeline. Some combination of the above would probably stifle Northern Gateway eventually. But British Columbians can’t afford to spend another five years fighting a single project that never should have been proposed in the first place. There’s so much else we need to work on.

I believe the swiftest, most decisive way to stop Enbridge is political — and the most powerful tool most of us have is our vote. That’s why I chose to join Dogwood Initiative. We’re political organizers without partisan baggage. We believe decisions should be made by the people who have to live with them. And we know if First Nations and B.C. voters had a democratic say over this project, Enbridge would be packed up and gone tomorrow.

Three political paths

Tyee columnist Bill Tieleman is right when he writes that a Conservative election loss in 2015 would likely end Enbridge’s pipe dream for good. Opposition leaders Tom Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May have each promised to cancel the project should their party form government. Supporting their candidates federally is certainly one political path to stopping Northern Gateway. What do we do until then?

Bear in mind our provincial government also has jurisdiction and retains the right to say no. That was made clear in the federal announcement on Tuesday: “The proponent will need to seek various regulatory approvals from the federal government and the governments of British Columbia and Alberta … The Province of British Columbia would be responsible for issuing approximately 60 permits and authorizations.”

Recognize that number? “British Columbia has the power to grant or withhold 60 permits,” Premier Christy Clark told a university audience in Calgary back in 2012. Later that day she told reporters: “If British Columbia doesn’t give its consent to this, there is no way the federal government or anyone else in the country is going to be able to force it through. It just won’t happen.”

Clark is still saying no, for now. Meanwhile, Enbridge’s Al Monaco says “we’re not looking at these conditions as something we’re opposing. These conditions will help us make a better project. It’s up to B.C. to decide whether the conditions are met and it’s up to us to try and close the gap.” Pushing the Clark government toward a final rejection of those permits is the second political path to stopping Enbridge.

That brings us to the third and perhaps least understood course of action. Under a law unique to British Columbia, the people themselves have the right to draft a bill on a matter of provincial jurisdiction. With support from 10 per cent of fellow voters around the province, that bill can be handed over to MLAs to pass into law. For example, a law denying provincial permits to a pipeline that would carry diluted bitumen over hundreds of streams and rivers.

The first major challenge lies in the difficulty of the petition process. Not only must you gather signatures on paper, you have to round up support from 10 per cent of registered voters in every riding in the province. At the bare minimum that’s 320,000 people across all 85 electoral districts — within a three-month deadline.

Assuming canvassing teams pass this Herculean challenge, further pitfalls await. Mr. Tieleman was the strategist behind the Fight HST campaign and probably knows the legislation better than anyone in the province. As he points out, “The government can indeed chose to hold an initiative referendum, but the results are not binding. Or it can simply introduce the bill proposed by the petition into the B.C. legislature, but not even debate it, let alone pass it.”

Tieleman calls the law toothless, fundamentally flawed and designed to fail. Yet he marshalled thousands of volunteers to try it anyway. It begs the question: why bother?

Process versus political reality

The truth is that the initiative to end the harmonized sales tax wasn’t just about the merits of HST versus PST.

As campaign spokesman Bill Vander Zalm wrote in March 2010, “The campaign to defeat the HST has ballooned into something much bigger and even more significant than protesting an unjust, illegal and unethical tax. As profound as those arguments are, there is something deeper and even more powerful afoot. People are rising up to take back their democracy.”

Gordon Campbell didn’t just impose an unpopular tax; he misled the people of British Columbia. He broke a major election promise. Worse, it was later discovered his party planned it that way all along. At that point it doesn’t matter how many loopholes are built into the Recall and Initiative Act, none are big enough to jump through when hundreds of thousands of voters want your hide.

Mr. Tieleman says “Our victory depended on Campbell’s multiple miscalculations, including his decision to hold a binding referendum in 2011.” Tieleman is being modest. Fight HST was designed from the start to put Campbell in checkmate. It ended the premier’s elected career.

The underlying purpose of launching a citizens’ initiative, whether on sales tax or oil tankers, is not only to change legislation. The mechanism itself forces you to build massive, organized political power — the kind no elected official can afford to ignore.

It’s a high mountain to climb. The question is what lies at the top. What motivates people to commit to the journey?

Put it this way: what is the legacy of the HST victory? We switched back to paying PST last year. His Excellency Gordon Campbell is now Canada’s high commissioner in London. And four years after the election that started the whole scandal, Campbell’s successor Christy Clark stormed back to win a stronger majority government.

Where are the boxes and boxes of petition signatures? Presumably safe in a vault at Elections BC. Those people can never be emailed or called, invited to a workshop or asked to donate to a new campaign. Even if they could speak to each other, the threat of the HST has passed. Their affiliation was momentous, but short-lived.

Building beforehand

Here’s where Dogwood’s strategy differs. As of today we have not approached Elections BC to launch a citizens’ initiative. Instead we’re building ahead. We call it a democratic insurance policy in case Premier Clark pulls her own version of the HST flip-flop and gives a green light to Enbridge. The longer that day is delayed, the closer to ready our organizers will be.

So far Clark is standing up to Ottawa, which puts her in line with First Nations and a democratic majority of B.C. voters. That’s good, but we imagine she’s going to come under a lot of pressure to keep the door open for Enbridge. As the company pulls out its chequebook and starts knocking off the NEB’s conditions, we’ll be watching closely to see if Clark’s position shifts. As her own government told the joint review panel at the Enbridge hearings, “‘trust us’ isn’t good enough”.

Here’s where we’re at. In the 48 hours following the federal announcement on Northern Gateway, 48,000 new supporters signed our pledge at LetBCvote.ca. Total signatures now surpass 200,000 — collected in person, online and through cell phones.

We have the benefit of technology that campaigners could only dream of back when the Recall and Initiative Act was introduced in 1995. The other night we signed up our first community hall full of supporters via text message (try it out if you like: text “vote” to 604-265-4967). We’re investing in mapping software to make our teams on the ground more efficient. And social media has extended our reach like never before.

But those bells-and-whistles should not obscure the off-line, social core of the project.

The simple fact is every door we knock on prompts a face-to-face conversation between two neighbours. That in itself is positive. From there, every new signature represents another voter who shares our values — or someone we can help get registered to vote. Every canvassing shift teaches you more about your community. And every few blocks you meet someone who loves the idea so much they want a clipboard too.

The most exciting number to me so far is 7,000. That’s the number of British Columbians who’ve taken the brave step of offering to leave their house so they can talk about democracy with strangers. New volunteers get a phone call from their closest team leader and an invitation to the next local training workshop. (Apologies if it takes us a few days to get to you right now — we’re thrilled by the response but our systems are a little stretched.)

Before the federal announcement, we had teams in 33 ridings. Now powerful allies are stepping forward to say they want to work together to defeat Northern Gateway democratically. We’re in discussions with Unifor, Coastal First Nations and a raft of smaller groups — many of which are already established in their home communities.

Whether they take a formal hand in the initiative preparations or work on parallel projects in complementary ridings, our goal is to form a network of allied organizers across all 85 B.C. ridings.

The citizens’ initiative should be thought of as a last-ditch scenario. A final democratic line of defence if our provincial politicians let us down. But if they hold fast to their rejection of the Enbridge proposal, our training and preparation will not be in vain. As Bill Tieleman points out, there’s a federal election next year. Only one party supports Northern Gateway.  [Tyee]

Kai Nagata is the energy and democracy director of the Dogwood Initiative.

Doors Recycled–Reused–Rescued

 

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downtoearthstyle.blogspot.com
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downtoearthstyle.blogspot.com
Door / window repurpose in the garden

Repurposed Doors In The Garden

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houzz.com

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justimagine-ddoc.com

Old Paned Window planters

Old Paned Window planters

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justimagine-ddoc.com

heatherbullard.typepad.com

old wrought iron garden gate

old wrought iron garden gate

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heatherbullard.typepad.com

realcutflowergarden.blogspot.com

decorated garden gate

decorated garden gate

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realcutflowergarden.blogspot.com
Old doors.

Old doors.

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images.search.yahoo.com

Image detail for -Primitive Country Decor Stands The Test Time Pictures

Image detail for -Primitive Country Decor Stands The Test Time Pictures

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images.search.yahoo.com

cdn.indulgy.com

old window chair

old window chair

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cdn.indulgy.com

bernideensteatimeblog.blogspot.com

weathered door

weathered door

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bernideensteatimeblog.blogspot.com
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diekleineprinzessin.tumblr.com

use old doors to decorate!

use old doors to decorate!

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interiorstyledesign.tumblr.com

LOVE this Garden Gate~

LOVE this Garden Gate~

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interiorstyledesign.tumblr.com

apartmenttherapy.com

reuse a panel door

reuse a panel door

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apartmenttherapy.com

flickr.com

Great idea!         love!
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canadiangardening.com

good reuse of doors

good reuse of doors

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canadiangardening.com

forums2.gardenweb.com

Screen door trellis

Screen door trellis

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forums2.gardenweb.com

inspirationoooooahhhhh.tumblr.com

Old door turned into clock

Old door turned into clock

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inspirationoooooahhhhh.tumblr.com

huckleberrylanefurniture.blogspot.com

backyard swing <3

backyard swing ♥

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huckleberrylanefurniture.blogspot.com

houzz.com

Recycled garden backdrop    Cool garden installation made from recycled windows, a door frame and wrought iron.

Recycled garden backdrop Cool garden installation made from recycled windows, a door frame and wrought iron.

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Our summer yard art project.  Repurposed old door and window frame with a pallet path :)

Our summer yard art project. Repurposed old door and window frame with a pallet path 🙂

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woodlandslifestylesandhomes.com

A mirror, shutters and a gate painted black — gives the illusion of a door that leads to another side beyond the fence.

A mirror, shutters and a gate painted black — gives the illusion of a door that leads to another side beyond the fence.

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woodlandslifestylesandhomes.com
Potting bench with old sink and door ---> Love the shelves...but maybe a cupboard?

Potting bench with old sink and door —> Love the shelves…but maybe a cupboard?

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hometalk.com

Old doors are easily found on garbage day. This old door must have been from the 70's.  Perfectly shabby making it ideal for a garden (plant) bench

Old doors are easily found on garbage day. This old door must have been from the 70’s. Perfectly shabby making it ideal for a garden (plant) bench

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hometalk.com
A screen door project my husband made for my mom :)  Nice garden addition!!!

A screen door project my husband made for my mom 🙂 Nice garden addition!!!

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yearroundveggiegardener.blogspot.com

Niki Jabbour - The Year Round Veggie Gardener: I'm back.. with wonderful winter garden photos to share!

Niki Jabbour – The Year Round Veggie Gardener: I’m back.. with wonderful winter garden photos to share!

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yearroundveggiegardener.blogspot.com

teencraftconnection.com

DIY Vertical Kitchen garden & seed starting trays. Single repuposed bi-fold shuttered closet door and dollar store container trays. Materials used and the how Mom did it on Teen Craft Connection's page.

DIY Vertical Kitchen garden & seed starting trays. Single repuposed bi-fold shuttered closet door and dollar store container trays. Materials used and the how Mom did it on Teen Craft Connection’s page.

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teencraftconnection.com
Gorgeous & Colorful shed made of ten recycled doors, discovered in yes, you guessed it: Door County, WI

Gorgeous & Colorful shed made of ten recycled doors, discovered in yes, you guessed it: Door County, WI

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indulgy.com

repurposing old doors and windows | greenhouse made from old windows, love the tin siding (old tin ceiling ...

repurposing old doors and windows | greenhouse made from old windows, love the tin siding (old tin ceiling …

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blog.bernideens.com

There's so many ways to use old doors in the garen. This one is very romantic looking.

There’s so many ways to use old doors in the garen. This one is very romantic looking.

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blog.bernideens.com

junkmarketstyle.com

Dressing up the Yard, My attempt at re-purposing an old bi-fold door

Dressing up the Yard, My attempt at re-purposing an old bi-fold door

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junkmarketstyle.com
Often we have problem on what to do with our defective doors, they would take a lot of our storage space! But if you are a crafty person, then you can upcycle them for a different purpose!

Often we have problem on what to do with our defective doors, they would take a lot of our storage space! But if you are a crafty person, then you can upcycle them for a different purpose!

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flickr.com

That door should be saved and not left to     rot.

That door should be saved and not left to rot.

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garden bench made from repurposed door...

garden bench made from repurposed door…

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fairenotions.blogspot.com

Repurposed Door garden shed.  But of course!  Why didn't I think of this?  Okay girls... looks like GG is a hunting at her ReStore.

Repurposed Door garden shed. But of course! Why didn’t I think of this? Okay girls… looks like GG is a hunting at her ReStore.

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fairenotions.blogspot.com

flickr.com

reusing glass doors from a for funky decor in garden - maybe one day when we have a bigger place

reusing glass doors from a for funky decor in garden – maybe one day when we have a bigger place

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repinly.at-my-style.com

garden decor: Re-purposed old French doors used for pseudo-wall/screen in the patio setting...love!  Idea to note: would start trailing vines to drape over

garden decor: Re-purposed old French doors used for pseudo-wall/screen in the patio setting…love! Idea to note: would start trailing vines to drape over

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myrepurposedlife.net

Door turned into a shelf; could easily be made into bench with storage underneath.  Picture the window panes with b/w photos in each.  Sweet!

Door turned into a shelf; could easily be made into bench with storage underneath. Picture the window panes with b/w photos in each. Sweet!

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myrepurposedlife.net

hometalk.com

Garden Salvage  I took an old door and coated the glass with mirror paint, then I mounted it on my fence. I added some porch poles and bunk bed slats as a frame around the door; decorating it with paint and flower pot finials. I added a decorative piece of steel as a topper and put some stepping stones in front of it. This is my

Garden Salvage I took an old door and coated the glass with mirror paint, then I mounted it on my fence. I added some porch poles and bunk bed slats as a frame around the door; decorating it with paint and flower pot finials. I added a decorative piece of steel as a topper and put some stepping stones in front of it. This is my “secret” door to nowhere.

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hometalk.com

landliebe-cottage-garden.blogspot.com.au

Re-purposed shutters as a garden screen. This is a great idea.  We used our front door's -  Old wrought iron doors for the back yard.....the ivy has started climbing.

Re-purposed shutters as a garden screen. This is a great idea. We used our front door’s – Old wrought iron doors for the back yard…..the ivy has started climbing.

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landliebe-cottage-garden.blogspot.com.au

dishfunctionaldesigns.blogspot.com

New Takes On Old Doors: Salvaged Doors Repurposed potting bench for gardeners DIY. I had one of these from the red barn in Modesto. had to sell it when we moved. I guess I will make my next one.

New Takes On Old Doors: Salvaged Doors Repurposed potting bench for gardeners DIY. I had one of these from the red barn in Modesto. had to sell it when we moved. I guess I will make my next one.

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dishfunctionaldesigns.blogspot.com
No instructions, but it looks pretty self-explanatory.

No instructions, but it looks pretty self-explanatory.

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Red, antique door used as a garden gate.  What a great idea!  garden ideas.  vintage doors.  repurposed doors.  gardening.  garden gate.

Red, antique door used as a garden gate. What a great idea! garden ideas. vintage doors. repurposed doors. gardening. garden gate.

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STEVES. The Dean of the ALR

harold steves

Harold Steves’ unwavering passion for the land

Rod Mickleburgh

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Forty-five years after Harold Steves’s first election to Richmond council, the legendary, perennial politician still relishes the whiff of the barn, the lure of the land.

Along with his wife, Kathy, he continues to farm what’s left of his family’s historic Steveston property, growing heirloom vegetables for the seeds and raising a dozen purebred Belted Galloway beef cattle.

Mr. Steves cleans out the barn every morning, and lately, for the first time in half a century or so, he’s been milking, too, forced to “empty” one of the cows that suddenly began producing too much milk.

“It’s fine,” he says, of his new daily chore, “as long as you’re agile enough to avoid the kicks, and you don’t get stuff on your shoes. We’ve come to enjoy having raw milk again for breakfast. I grew up on it.”

It’s all in a day’s work for the remarkable Mr. Steves. A fixture on council since 1968, broken only by a brief win-loss foray into provincial politics, he says he’s as busy now, at the age of 76, as he was back in his heady, activist days of the 1960s.

That’s when his greatest legacy took root. Without Harold Steves and a surreptitious municipal decision to zone his father’s dairy farm for housing, British Columbia might not have its cherished Agricultural Land Reserve, which has protected provincial farmland from development for the past 40 years.

It’s a story Mr. Steves never tires of telling. The residential rezoning meant his father could not get a permit to build the modernized barn he needed, and that was the end of the dairy farm. “It seems like yesterday. I’d just milked the cows and come in for breakfast. That’s when dad gave us the news.”

The calamity galvanized the young Steves. With houses already rising on rich farmland throughout the region, he began pressing his party, the NDP, to endorse the then radical idea of an agricultural land bank. It took three conventions. When the NDP took office in 1972, the basic thrust of Mr. Steves’s farmland preservation policy was implemented.

“I don’t think it would have happened without me getting angry when my dad was turned down for his barn,” he says.

All these years later, Mr. Steves’s passion for the land, for farming, and the environment is undiminished.

“I’m like Rip Van Winkle. I was an activist in the early days. Then, I had a very nice long nap. Now, I’ve woken up. I’ve become a re-activist.”

Mr. Steves keeps on chugging.

Besides his regular council duties, he is organizing an anti-Monsanto protest in October, he is in the forefront of the drive to restrict coal shipments along the Fraser River, he remains involved with the first university-based urban farm school in North America, centred in Richmond, and, for the past six years, he has spearheaded a regional food security strategy as chair of Metro Vancouver’s agricultural committee. “There’s still so much to do,” Mr. Steves says.

He is also forging new paths on the home front.

The Steves’s seed business began when they decided to recreate vegetables grown on their land 100 years earlier. Over time, however, many heritage seeds have disappeared. “Suddenly, what we’ve been doing for 30 years is in demand,” Mr. Steves says.

Their prize is a rare variety of tomato called Alpha. “We’ve got the only seed I know of on the entire planet.”

As for beef, the Steves have been raising grass-fed animals on their own patch of land and their son’s spread near Cache Creek for some time. They sell it directly from their home in Steveston. Orders are booked up until December, 2014. Their success is changing the marketing of produce in B.C., exults Mr. Steves.

His council tenure, meanwhile, is so lengthy, he’s one of the few municipal politicians to be bestowed not one, but two long service awards, as his career goes on and on. When Mr. Steves received his second notation, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie marvelled that Mr. Steves’s electoral victories have now touched six separate decades.

Will he run for another three-year term? “Oh yeah,” Mr. Steves replies, in a flash. “If I just sat at home on the couch, I’d probably start to deteriorate.”

Time to Remake your Soil

Current soil tests are designed by fertilizer sales groups who want you to buy more potash. We need real tests that demonstrate how good (or not) your soil is. Especially if we’re going to add sewer sludge to farms.

Microbes Will Feed the World, or Why Real Farmers Grow Soil, Not Crops

By Brian Barth on April 22, 2014

Out on the horizon of agriculture’s future, an army 40,000 strong is marching towards a shimmering goal. They see the potential for a global food system where pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are but relics of a faded age.

They are not farmers, but they are working in the name of farmers everywhere. Under their white lab coats their hearts beat with a mission to unlock the secrets of the soil — making the work of farmers a little lighter, increasing the productivity of every field and reducing the costly inputs that stretch farmers’ profits as thin as a wire.

The American Society of Microbiologists (ASM) recently released a treasure trove of their latest research and is eager to get it into the hands of farmers. Acknowledging that farmers will need to produce 70 to 100 percent more food to feed the projected 9 billion humans that will inhabit the earth by 2050, they remain refreshingly optimistic in their work. The introduction to their latest report states:

“Producing more food with fewer resources may seem too good to be true, but the world’s farmers have trillions of potential partners that can help achieve that ambitious goal. Those partners are microbes.”

Mingling with Microbes

Linda Kinkel of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Plant Pathology was one of the delegates at ASM’s colloquium in December 2012, where innovators from science, agribusiness and the USDA spent two days sharing their research and discussing solutions to the most pressing problems in agriculture.

“We understand only a fraction of what microbes do to aid in plant growth,” she says. “But the technical capacity to categorize the vast unknown community [of microorganisms] has improved rapidly in the last couple of years.”

Microbiologists have thoroughly documented instances where bacteriafungi, nematodes — even viruses — have formed mutually beneficial associations with food plants, improving their ability to absorb nutrients and resist drought, disease and pests. Microbes can enable plants to better tolerate extreme temperature fluctuations, saline soils and other challenges of a changing climate. There is even evidence that microbes contribute to the finely-tuned flavors of top-quality produce, a phenomenon observed in strawberries in particular.

“But we’re only at the tip of the iceberg,” says Kinkel.

In the Field

Statements such as, “There are 10 to the 6th fungal organisms in a gram of soil!” and, “This bacterial biofilm has tremendous communication properties!” are breakroom banter among microbiologists, but what does it all mean for farmers? The answers reach back into the millennial past of agriculture, back to the dawn of life on earth.

Whenever a seed germinates in the wild or a crop is planted by a farmer, the microbial community that helps that species to grow and thrive is mobilized. Chemical signals enter the soil via the exudates of the plant and a symphony of underground activity commences. Genetic information is exchanged; the various microbial players assume their positions on the tissues of the plant; often, one microbe colonizes another, providing a service that helps the first microbe to assist the plant whose roots it is embedded in.

Though this elaborate dance takes place without any input from humans, we have been tinkering with it for a long time.

For example, the process of nitrogen fixation in plants of the legume family (which includes beans, peas, peanuts and many other crop plants) is one of the little bacterial miracles that makes our planet habitable. Anyone who has ever observed the roots of a legume knows that they are covered in strange white or pinkish growths, about the size of ants, which appear to be an infection of some sort. Undoubtedly, ancient farmers had an intuitive understanding that these warty protuberances had something to do with the noticeable ability of legumes to improve the soil, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the mystery began to unfold.

While Louis Pasteur was discovering how to preserve milk and becoming famous as the father of microbiology, a relatively unknown colleague of his with a penchant for plants was making another discovery, of perhaps even greater historical importance. In 1888, Martinus Beijerinck, discovered that tiny bacteria called Rhizobia infect the roots of legumes, causing the swollen nodules. Rather than an infection that weakens the plant, the nodules are the fertilizer factories of the plant kingdom, disassembling atmospheric nitrogen — which plants are unable to use — and refashioning it in a soluble, plant-friendly form.

Rhizobia are key ingredients of the earth’s verdancy and harnessing the bacteria to improve soil fertility has long been one of the cornerstones of sustainable agriculture. Yet, modern day microbiologists are now aware of scores of other equally profound plant-microbe interactions, discoveries they believe will have a big impact as human populations continue to soar on a planet of finite resources.

Making the Translation

In her lab at the university, Kinkel experiments with antibiotic bacteria that suppress plant pathogens and tests various soil management strategies to see their effects on microbial communities. In Colombia, microbiologists have learned to propagate a fungus that colonizes cassava plants and increases yields up to 20 percent. Its hyphae — the tiny tentacles of fungi — extend far beyond the roots of the cassava to unlock phosphorus, nitrogen and sulfur in the soil and siphon it back to their host, like an IV of liquid fertilizer.

Though microbiologists can coerce soil to produce extraordinary plant growth in their labs and test plots, transferring the results to everyday agricultural practices is not a straightforward process.

“Connections to farmers are a weak link,” Kinkel laments, alluding to a “snake oil effect” where farmers have become leery of salesmen hawking microbial growth enhancers that don’t pan out in the field. “The challenge of [these] inoculants,” she says, “is they may not translate in all environments.”

Though researchers continue to develop promising new microbial cocktails, there is an increased focus on guiding farmers to better steward the populations that already exist in their soil. Kinkel is working on an approach she believes will help farmers sustain optimal microbial communities by ensuring they have the food they need — carbon — at all times. She calls it ‘slow release carbon’, but it’s not something farmers will see in supply catalogs anytime soon. Kinkel says she has access to resources for her academic research, but lacks a “deliberate pipeline for product development.”

It Takes a Global Village

The 26 experts from around the world convened at the ASM colloquium concluded their discussions with a bold goal for the future of agriculture: They’ve challenged themselves to bring about a 20 percent increase in global food production and a 20 percent decrease in fertilizer and pesticide use over the next 20 years.

With an indomitable belief that science will do its part to make this dream a reality, the scientists are looking to their corporate and regulatory counterparts to build a pipeline of information to farmers. They’re hoping that top-down investments in research and technology will meet directly with grassroots changes in the culture of farming — without all the snake oil-vending agribusiness interests in the middle. Ultimately, they envision a future where farmers again trust in the unseen forces of the soil — instead of the fertilizer shed — for answers to their challenges.

RelatedPlants and AnimalsmicrobesSoil

 

 

Juan de Fuca Scale

FIRST DRAFT

This measuring system has a lot of unknowns, but it covers some of the main factors in evaluating a town’s process for dealing with waste. Nature has no waste and many ways of turning one entity’s waste into another’s food.

Willis-porkers

As a society, the industrial world has been characterized by an extraordinary human plunder of stored “assets” and a parallel destruction of the possiblity of growth or even survival for other forms of life.

Juan de Fuca, who is certainly not an invented character, was one of the first European visitor to the Salish Sea. He was Greek, however, from a displaced family of earlier upheavals and the Spanish never rewarded him for his explorations.

The goal of this scale is to show what an ideal, truly sustainable system for “waste” would accomplish. There are models all along the scale, but many systems (old, new and planned) fail utterly when using this scale.

1. CAPITAL COST:

Norm. $1,500 per capita. 10 points. Lose points down to $3,000 which is zero.

2. OPERATING COST.

Norm. 5% of capital costs per year.

5 points if less than 5% of capital costs.

Lose 1 point for each 1% increase above that.

3. WATER DISCHARGE QUALITY.

Norm: Better than average the population now drinks.

35 points for norm.

Some scale that takes it down down to zero for water than can only be used for irrigation.

Irrigation needs to be defined. Irrigation for human food crops? Or for pasture for cows that produce milk?

4. HEAT CAPTURE.

Norm: capture some percetage of potential available heat.

10 points for capture and reuse of at least 70% of potential available heat.

Zero if all heat wasted.

5. METHANE CAPTURE.

Same as above.

20 points for capture and reuse of at least 70% of potential available methane.

Zero if no methane captured. Although this may. Up to negative ten points if methane created and flared or allowed into atmopsphere.
6. BIOSOLIDS.

Norm: everything back into the natural world.

20 points for recyling of all biosolids in a fashion that does no damage to health or the environment.

Down to zero for landfill that generates leachate.