August 25, 2011

Honoured to Speak at Jack Layton Memorial at Burnaby City Hall

I was honoured to be asked to speak from an environmental and sustainability perspective at a memorial for the late leader of Canada's official opposition, the Honourable Jack Layton, at Burnaby City Hall today.  At first I was somewhat taken aback at the request from MP Peter Julian and MLA Raj Chouhan, as I'd never even met Jack, but they insisted they wanted someone from the environmental NGO community to comment on his green initiatives.

Initially daunted, as I sat down to write a quick speech, several images came to mind that I think are representative of Jack's sustainability leadership. Thanks to Raj, Peter and the rest of the organizers for giving me the opportunity to share a few impressions of a man many Canadians are missing deeply, no matter what their political leanings:

One of the enduring images of Jack Layton that sticks in my mind is that of a bicycle helmet.

A bicycle helmet perched atop a grinning face and trademark moustache, followed by the lean frame of a man who kept himself in great shape. That image resonates with me, for I've been asked to say a few words about Jack's dedication to preserving and restoring our natural environment, and his personal commitment to sustainability.

That bicycle helmet symbolized Jack's approach to politics and the environment. Walk the talk, or in his case, ride the talk. Jack was bicycling to work when most of us were barely contemplating the idea, and wondering if it would mess up our suits. Yet he made it work.

Another image I have of Jack is his openness and good humour. Over the last several days I have followed an outpouring of grief on Facebook and Twitter and other social media. I was amazed by how many of my "friends" on Facebook, and those who I follow on Twitter, wrote about Jack. These are mostly folks that have never talked about politics, they were simply feeling bereft at the passing of a great Canadian.

Then I noticed something interesting happening. The grief began turning toward sharing highlights of Jack's media appearances, mostly of a humorous nature. People began finding solace in Jack's good humour and willingness to expose himself to some gentle ribbing.

So another image that's in my mind from the last few days is a YouTube clip of Rick Mercer visiting Jack's energy retrofitted home. It's a hilarious episode, but while we laugh, we are also astounded at Jack's openness, his willingness to share, and again, his environmental dedication. His own home was not only energy neutral, at times it was feeding power back into the grid. Walk the talk, indeed.

That leadership is being recognized. Jack is already being honoured by his alma matter, York University, with a new prize in his memory to be awarded annually to an outstanding environmental studies masters student. Meanwhile, the Learning for a Sustainable Future organization that partners with York, is creating a Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability for students taking innovative approaches to community challenges.

We live in environmentally difficult times. It is easy to read the headlines day after day, and despair at seemingly one crisis after another. Yet somewhere between Chicken Little panic, and turning a blind eye, there is a road forward. Jack would fix that road with his tireless gaze, and lead the charge. It is up to us to maintain his example of unwavering optimism and hope.

Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM

August 23, 2011

Chris Isaak a Blast at Vancouver’s PNE

We caught Chris Isaak at the PNE two years ago (photos here) and loved the show. So we were back for more fun tonight. This year's concert was also great, with excellent music and an appreciative crowd. The band is super tight, the original tunes are great, and we even got some Orbison, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis thrown in tonight.







For the photographers out there, all shots were handheld with a
Nikon D300 with ISO set to 3,200. Most shots with EV -.7 to -1.3
so as not to overexpose the subjects against the dark background.

Posted by Paul at 08:50 PM

August 20, 2011

Vancouver Big Bus Tour, Canada Place

I picked up half-price tickets for the Big Bus hop-on, hop-off, tour bus in Vancouver on Groupon, and today Yumi and I played tourists in our home city - well, next-door city, in that, you know, suburb of Burnaby : - ). It was great fun to just sit back in the "topless" bus in the glorious sunshine.

Here are a few photos taken from the bus, and from a wander about the Canada Place cruise ship terminal.


A flattering shot with wide-angle distortion :- )


Some flying lions



Canada Place sails reflected in the new convention centre


Paul and Yumi reflected in Canada Place


The Zuiderdam leaves the harbour. We thought she looked big.

Until we walked around to the other side of the pier and gaped in wonder
at the Diamond Princess.


The bow area




Looking toward the stern


The, er, starship, feature


Off into the gulf, and the Pacific



Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

Final Summer Bug Count on Byrne Creek Reveals Some Beauties

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers finished a third and final summer weekend of bug sampling this morning, with samples from the last three of nine sites that we've been sampling twice a year for at least ten years.

These bug surveys give an indication of water quality, using a standard methodology in The Streamkeepers Handbook, which can be downloaded from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. Unfortunately, Byrne Creek rarely rises above the "poor" level, as it receives a lot of polluted runoff from its urban environment.

Here are a few of the more rare aquatic bugs (larval stage) that we found in the creek this summer:


Crane fly


Caddis fly



Posted by Paul at 08:10 PM

August 14, 2011

Imelda May Seduces Burnaby Blues + Roots Festival

Heard Imelda May at the Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival yesterday for the first time, and I'm a convert! I'd never even heard of her, aging heavy metal/blues guy that I am : - ) but in my mind she outdid John Mayall and k.d lang (the other 2 of 3 lead acts), even with a broken foot that she suffered the same day. Very charismatic, with a great voice.

Don't get me wrong, Mayall has an amazing history, and k.d. is a consummate performer with complete command over her gorgeous voice. But last night May was just down and dirtier : - ).

May was infectious, Mayall was, well, Mayall, and k.d. started way too slow for her first several songs. After she did a wonderful "Hallelujah" as her 3rd or 4th number Yumi and I looked at each other & said, "OK, we've heard it, let's go home." We may have missed some action, but it just seemed a long time coming for a party crowd at the end of a long day of great music.

Anyway, I downloaded May's Mayhem album off iTunes as soon as we got home, and have been enjoying it.

It's a compelling mashup of blues, rockabilly, New Orleans jazz, all tinged with a great Irish lilt. Even the odd bit of slide country/Hawaiian on a couple of tracks, and a touch of Celtic drums here and there. Eclectic, eh? She's got a great band, too, excellent slap standup bass player, and some nice trumpet styling, too. Did I just hear a bit of surf music in there, too? : - )

Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

August 07, 2011

Burnaby, Hope, Lytton, Lillooet, Duffy Lake Road, Whistler Daytrip

Lovely day for a trip up the valley, up the canyon, back to the coast via the Duffy Lake Road, and home down Howe Sound. I love how you can travel just a couple of hours in BC and come across such distinct biological & geographical zones.


The blue Thompson enters the muddy Fraser at Lytton








Naxwit Picnic area near BC Hydro Seton Lake Recreation Area















Seton Lake




Duffy Lake


Posted by Paul at 07:35 PM

August 06, 2011

Smart Little Bunny

We've caught glimpses of this rabbit several times over the last months in our townhouse complex. I'm assuming it's the same one as it's always around the same area. I find it interesting how it seems to survive right next door to an urban ravine, while outdoor cats disappear left and right.


Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

August 01, 2011

Evening Clouds from Balcony in SE Burnaby

A lovely show this evening as seen from our balcony.








Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM