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HappyFrog.ca merges with 3rdWhale! November 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in environment, EPIC 08, link love, local business, social change, social media, sustainability.
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I recently learned about the recent merger of HappyFrog.ca with 3rdWhale from my good friend DaveO, but I hadn’t had a chance to write about it, as I’d been really overwhelmed with work. HappyFrog.ca was founded by Ron Williams as an all-encompassing directory-social networking resource for green businesses in British Columbia. The platform in and of itself is fun, and handy.

I have been a proud member of the FrogSquadders (I covered EPIC 2008 for them along with a great line up of local bloggers). I frequently guest-post in HappyFrog’s FrogBlog and they have given me great exposure in their newsletter as well. Funny how everything is connected in this world, I do know of the work of Boyd Cohen, the force behind 3rdWhale (although, surprisingly, I’ve never met him in person despite the fact that we both live within the Metro Vancouver area!)

I look forward to learning more about what 3rdWhale and HappyFrog.ca merged can do combined! One improvement that 3rdWhale’s page desperately needs is an “About Us” page. I am pretty sure that everyone wants to know more about how they came about and what they’re up to!

3rdWhale recently organized a PodMob (which I also promoted on Twitter), although truth be told, at some points I was overwhelmed with so much writing and talking about the podmob. The success of the podmob at Sushi Bento on Robson Street is in no small part due to the enthusiasm and positive energy of the people behind 3rdWhale, and I believe primarily it was Emily Jubenvill, who is “The Greenest Person in Canada”.

It’s great to learn about these new developments! Congratulations to HappyFrog.ca and 3rdWhale!

Guest-hosted on Lip Gloss and Laptops Episode # 124! November 23, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere.
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You may remember that I have written about Lip Gloss and Laptops a few times before. L&L is one of the podcasts I do follow, not because I actually have a stake in the cosmetics industry, but simply because I enjoy listening to the conversations of my friends Airdrie and Kerry Anne. We became friends through the Vancouver tech scene, and I’m quite glad I met them as they’ve managed to bring a lot of positive energy to my life. And, as I mentioned before, L&L is one of the best podcasts out there.

Lip Gloss and Laptops is recorded in the home studio of the Millers, and for those of you podcasting/music geeks out there, YES, I have podcasted from the Inside Home Recording studio. Derek K. Miller, musician, podcaster, and friend of mine, is one of the co-hosts of IHR, so I could barely contain my excitement when I came by to record the show. And kudos to Derek for figuring out how to set up for the guest-host (normally, L&L and IHR have only two hosts, so the set up changes when you involve a third microphone and set of earphones). Geekiness, FTW! πŸ™‚

Airdrie and Kerry Anne made my experience as a guest host a really pleasant one. I had had a rough weekend, so I wasn’t really as prepared as I would have loved to be. But I think the show went ok and apparently, from what Airdrie told me at the Vancouver Bloggers Meetup, the audience liked it. It was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. I’m not an expert in cosmetics, although I do know a lot about colognes. But having had experience with cosmetics when I did theatre and also, while going shopping with my mother, has taught me a lot. And it’s always fun to podcast with friends. This is my second time podcasting, as my very first one was during EPIC 2008 when I interviewed Adria Vasil for HappyFrog.

And if you want to find out more about what I talked about with Kerry Anne and Airdrie, go and listen to the podcast. RIGHT NOW. Ok, good. Now, let me know what you think πŸ™‚ Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Help save the Great Bear rainforest November 13, 2008

Posted by Raul in environment, environmental NGOs, EPIC 08, public policy issues, Web 2.0.
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Dru!

Credit: Dru!

Many people have asked me throughout the years if I have ever considered a career in conservation. While my PhD degree is in environmental studies, and you could argue that my work in pollution control would pretty much amount to some form of conservation, I hadn’t been much of a fan. And since forestry isn’t really my area, for a while there I neglected discussing or researching anything that was forest conservation-related. Until I heard of Simon Jackson. I met Simon in person and did a really quick interview for HappyFrog when he was a keynote speaker at EPIC 2008. And then Darren informed me that they (Capulet) were helping Greenpeace, Forest Ethics and Sierra Club BC with their campaign to make the Provincial Government “Keep The Promise”

You might ask why did I bring Simon Jackson into the discussion. Well, here is the thing: the work that Simon has done to protect the Spirit Bear is pretty much in line with the work that the coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations (GP, FE and SCBC) are doing: conserving the forest helps conserve the spirit bear’s habitat.

Art Catcher

Credit: Art Catcher

In my research, I’ve written about how ENGOs use various types of strategies to galvanize public opinion (often, through mobilizations). This time, the work that these organizations are doing goes beyond protests and engages in a Web 2.0 kind of mobilizations: writing electronic letters to the Provincial Government.

You, too, can help this worthy cause by sending an email to the Provincial Government (the site is really well designed so all you really have to do is fill out the data form and voila! off you go).

As you can see, environmentalism is not dead, is well alive and kicking! Please contribute with this worthy cause. You can also participate in a photo contest (check links here) and follow their Twitter account (yeah, kinda cute that the Spirit Bear has a Twitter account, hehe – he better follow me back!). Furthermore, you can join the Facebook group (no thanks, I don’t do Facebook, but you can!). EDIT – And you can join the photo contest on Flickr!

In total Web 2.0 fashion, if you need more to be convinced, I invite you to watch this video:

Events this weekend (Oct 24-25, 2008) October 25, 2008

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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I am like, five-times-booked this weekend, but I’m going to have to say no to everything. While I am sorry to miss the company of many good friends (and a chance to see important and relevant stuff), I *have* to finish something (I’m on a deadline). So instead of feeling socially guilt-ridden, I’m going to take a shot at saying no. And I know that my friends will understand.

So here is a really quick roundup of the things that are happening this weekend:

– The Vancouver Health and Wellness Show at Canada Place. My loved friends at HappyFrog are doing a lot of media coverage for the show. Tris Hussey already has a post up, and there’ll be more coverage I am sure (DaveO is podcasting live).

Gus kindly invited me to Sustainability 2008 (which is totally up my alley) but unfortunately, I’ve been ultra busy so I can’t make it either. But they have a totally wicked geo-thermal exchange exhibit today.

The Parade of Lost Souls. Takes place in Grandview Park, procession starts at 7pm. I think that Lorraine (Raincoaster) and Heather (Hez) will be there, my understanding is that Lorraine will be liveblogging, most likely in the FearlessCity website and Hez will be interviewing participants/covering the event. It’s a wonderful event, check it out. And don’t forget about the Digital Shrine project.

– And of course, today is Media Democracy Day. I know that Ianiv and Arieanna are going, Tris will also attend so check his blog for a post on the topic. If you’re going and are covering the event, ping me and I’ll link you.

On the topic of Media Democracy Day, here is some info on the panel on new media [Info is from the Media Democracy Day website]

3:15 to 4:30 (Alice MacKay)
Panel 3: The Battle for New Media and Open Communication

We stand at a crossroads in the history of communications technology, a moment when traditional media are in disarray, and a new form of communications and organizing — more grassroots and decentralized — is on the rise. The Internet is upsetting conventional wisdom about “mass media” and changing media power in ways never before imagined. But change also raises new threats. Will an open Internet succumb to the same companies that control traditional media? The new challenge for us is to organize around and develop new sets of policies, projects, and tools that will finally give us an advantage in the decades-long struggle against the gatekeepers.
Panelists will discuss the fight for an open Internet, prospects for online/social media, and future challenges.
Panel Chair: Kate Milberry – Media and Technology Commentator
Panelists:
-Leslie Regan Shade – Associate Professor Concordia University, editor of “For Sale to the Highest Bidder: Telecom Policy in Canada.”
-Jeff Davis – Vancouver Open Network Initiative Cooperative (VONIC)
-Mike Tippet – Co-founder of NowPublic
-Robert Scales – CEO of Raincity Studios

UPDATE – Interesting Vancouver happened last night. You can read Rebecca’s liveblog here. Presenters included Tom Williams, Darren Barefoot, James Sherrett, Irwin from FearlessCity. Darren is staying over the weekend as he is also presenting at the Surrey International Writers Festival.

So… sorry for missing all these great events, but if there’s a time when I need to buckle down, this would be it.

Digital media and sustainability: Friends or foes? – NDMD ’08 September 25, 2008

Posted by Raul in National Digital Media Day 2008, NDMD08.
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Lilacs

This is my inaugural National Digital Media Day ’08 post, and by the time you read it, Rebecca and I have already finished breakfast in Surrey. As I wanted to write all my blog entries with the theme of “mixing digital media and sustainability”, I think the first post should ask the question – just how miscible are these two?

Given my recent (2008) increase in readership and rise in the Technorati rankings, for a while there, I gave serious thought to the possibility of getting a job in the social media and sustainability realm. I know that Dave Olson‘s hard work with HappyFrog has been very fruitful. I understand that both Rob Cottingham and Alexandra Samuel do some work with firms in the sustainability realm. I have heard of the work of Communicopia, and of some work that Darren Barefoot has done with DeSmogBlog and IKEA Canada. Joe Solomon works on some of these projects (social change and Web 2.0)

But the thing is, I have found that job market kind of hard to crack. I told this to Rebecca, Tanya and Monica. Truth is, geeky as I’ve become, I’m not a full-fledged developer/programmer, so I am not sure I can get a job there. However, I am very much now an analyst of the way in which environmental organizations and government agencies are working to reach to the communities (and in some cases, not very impressed with the results!)

For example, the Take the Tap Water Pledge. This would be a wonderful tool to reach to communities, if Metro Vancouver knew how to use Web 2.0. Given my research background on water, I would be (I think) in a good position to help design this type of campaign. I think sustainability and digital media can be friends, it’s just a matter of finding the right person for the job. Someone who can speak both languages fluently (either knowledge translator or inter-mediator).

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This post was written as a free contribution to National Digital Media Day ’08.
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Car washing and sustainability August 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in environment, sustainability, wastewater, water.
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While covering EPIC 2008 as a FrogSquadder for HappyFrog (you can read all my content on HappyFrog here), I came across an eco-friendly carwash in North Vancouver, Easywash . Rebecca helped me set up an interview with Geoff Baker, the CEO of Easywash, around mid-July but unfortunately, I couldn’t interview him as I’ve been in Mexico (and under a lot of stress).

This weekend, I went to wash Mom’s car, and I used the same carwash she’s been using for years. I was reading some books on water while I was waiting for the car to be washed but I didn’t see a lot of environmentally-friendly features.

However, the funny thing is that I saw a sign that said “At this carwash, we don’t waste water, we recycle it”. But I couldn’t see where they recycled it, nor any type of water treatment. I didn’t ask, but I’ll be back to investigate.

In the meantime, I just thought I’d include a couple of photos and some video of the process (sorry if the music is too loud, but I was bored inside the car).

I also plan to interview Geoff Baker upon my return, once I get all my other interviews out of the way (I still haven’t interviewed Al Pasternak about Bokashi composting, and we’ve been trying to talk about this for months!).

Happy Birthday Dave Thorvald Olson! August 16, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts.
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Better known as Uncleweed or DaveO, Dave Thorvald Olson is one gem of a human being. Thanks to Rebecca (who wrote one of the sweetest happy birthday posts I’ve read in a long time), I met Dave, first through our blogs and then in person at EPIC 2008.

Dave invited me to be a guest blogger on HappyFrog, a FrogSquadder. Dave has provided me with much needed sage advice and comfort words when I’ve been down and wanted to quit blogging. And it has been Dave who has always encouraged me to branch out, become a podcaster as well, etc. He has connected me to many social media for social change folks. One of his most inspiring roles as a moderator really had me at “f!ck stats, make art!”“.

Below you can find one of Dave’s appearances at The Lab with Leo Laporte.

As very appropriately indicated by Rebecca, DaveO is an inspiration, a friend, a brother and a champion to many of us. To you, my friend, I raise a glass of tequila. Happy birthday Dave.

Events in Vancouver roundup – Week of June 23 July 4, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Vancouver.
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One of the reasons why I get so tired (physically and mentally) is because I try to do a lot. Beth Snow said it perfectly, indicating that I do 17 things a day. So I decided that to keep my sanity, I’m just going to do ONE roundup post for what I got up to this past week.

STEAKCAMP (Monday)

Great turn-out, more than I expected. Thanks everyone who showed up. My restaurant review of The Brave Bull is here, Karen’s review is here, Buzz’s review on the 24 Hrs is here and link-love on his review of BabyEats is here and the Unofficial The Brave Bull page is here… Thanks everyone for coming! πŸ˜€


VANCOUVER BLOGGERS MEETUP (Tuesday)

VBM/OurFaves

Nancy, Carol, David, Monica and I got together for a mockup (dry run) just to get a feel of the place. You can read the comments on the Vancouver Bloggers Meetup site. I like the Blackwater Cafe and am a big supporter of locally-owned, organic businesses. I vote that we stay there for at least the summer/early autumn.

VBM/OurFaves

OUR FAVES GATHERING (Tuesday)

I had the pleasure of attending, at the invitation of Candice Spektor from Our Faves Toronto, a nice small gathering of friends at SoMa (the former coffee shop now transformed into upscale, hip restaurant/bar). I had a great time, and had the pleasure of meeting lots of fun people, including Ryan (who right now is technically a friend of mine, given that he is friends with Ianiv and Jarrett) and of course, brief appearances by Karen and Lisa (both of whom Candace also invited to the event). Thanks to Candice for inviting me and for a wonderful time. I’ll be getting involved with OurFaves for sure!

REDWERKS ROOFTOP PARTY (Wednesday)

Too many friends from the social media world for me to list here, I made an appearance even though by Wednesday I was physically exhausted. Great work by Colleen Coplick, Lisa Thomas-Tench, Tris Hussey in the organization (Colleen, it was a blast! – thank you). Great conversation about all-around bloggery AND Japan with Heather (aka Hez). Good times all around with the usual crowd (Rebecca, Monica, Boris, John, Ianiv, Arieanna, Jenn, Nadia, Dave O, Jordan, all my usual peeps) though we missed some of you who didn’t come (you know who you are!)

WEST END BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION SUSTAINABILITY EXPO (Thursday)

Invited by Christy and Dave O from HappyFrog.ca to guest-blog for them, I admit that I arrived late to the WEBIA Sustainability Expo, but managed to still speak with the Executive Director of WEBIA and the organizers. Having already some connections with the people in the sustainability field, I know that I can give you all some insight into what was going on there (posts to come throughout the week).

MODERNE BURGER OPENING NIGHT

I didn’t go even though I wanted to, but Andrew Morrison from Urban Diner did and he offers a quick recap. Since I’m all about the link love, go visit his recap and then come back! I did go to Moderne Burger this week, but restaurant review is still forthcoming.

As for my weekend? For the first time in a long while here at Random Thoughts of a Student of the Environment, I am NOT going to recap my weekend. I am going to take a good break, which I think I do deserve. We’ll be chatting more soon.

[UPDATE – Rebecca will be liveblogging on Monday and Tuesday at the Vancouver Young Professionals Meetup AND NetTuesday – check her blog for updates on both events!]

Green Thursday, Raul time Friday and easy weekend June 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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Since I’m writing a lot of posts for the West End Business Improvement Association Sustainability Expo (an event to which I was invited as a guest FrogBlogger for HappyFrog) I am going to have to keep this really, really, really short (for my standards, anyways). Here’s the plan in short form.

1 – I’m taking Friday off. Fear not. I am going to leave time-stamped posts for your reading pleasure (or lack thereof? ooops).
2 – I got a non-blogging busy weekend. Again, item 1 applies. Time-stamped posts, FTW!
3 – I will probably be unreachable via Twitter over the weekend. I plan to stay away from the computer as much as I can. Nevertheless, should you want to contact me, throw me an “@” or a DM and I’ll check it when I can. Failing that, send me an email.
4 – I NEED A JOB! The WEBIA Sustainability Expo reminded me of this. Preferably in the environmental field πŸ˜€ I’ll be talking about this more in later posts.

Ok, that was that. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. What are your plans? Do tell…

Live-blogging Third Tuesday with Joe Solomon June 17, 2008

Posted by Raul in social change, Third Tuesday.
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We are at The Network Hub. Rebecca is live-blogging and I can’t move by fear of having my laptop die on me. Tod Maffin is doing the introductions for Joe Solomon. After 3 times that you participate, the person who is part of the dialogue with good stuff, gets this book (“Ultimate Blogs”). Barack Obama’s Facebook page is a few hundred people away from one million.

Social media is a group of like-minded people that talk through online tools. Colleen Coplick is describing her survey and explaining how much reach she has now thanks to Web 2.0 tools (e.g. Twitter). You can’t reach some people unless you have online tools.

Joe is describing about his role as a social media consultant for non-profits. When Greenpeace sets up a company in YouTube, it explodes (whereas other companies, for-profits, don’t have the same success). People want to connect to causes (which makes Joe’s job very easy).

[SIDE NOTE – My TwitterFox @hummingbird604 seems down, so if you’re Tweeting me, I can’t see it right now]

An application – climate change application – won 1 Karma point πŸ˜‰ hehehe. Imagine raising over $ 25 million dollars. If you use the application, and you work hard at it, good things happen.

Social media is really about engaging. A lot of non-profits (the non-Web 2.0 non-profits – knowledge is power – I couldn’t even find their ‘Donate Button’ – pretty hidden).

Using social media with popular social networks. Not talking about NothingButNets, HappyFrog, ChangeEverything. He is going to talk about meeting users on Facebook, Twitter and SecondLife.

FACEBOOK

Genocide intervention – 2005 – The constituents were calling the senator’s donors (so they had a bill passed). OpenSecrets.org.

– Based in the UK – Facebook group – linked on the wiki. The Coca-Cola campaign – created a group. A blogger wanted to get Coca-Cola to get their user distribution channels to spread dehydration salts (help protect 1/9 children die of de-hydration). If they could get these in the Coca-Cola crates and they could distribute them. He couldn’t do this WITHOUT FACEBOOK.

Colleen asks if donations are working and do they actually go to where they should?

YOUTUBE

– Over 20% of Barack Obama’s videos went to this particular one. This is NOT viral because there is not transformations.

– Really viral video-campaigns.

– YouTube collaboration on climate change – putting a message from one side of the screen to the other side. Handing off this bottle – showing how the US changes the position. It’s viral if you actually move the message and spread it and everyone transforms it.

– Video – tag – instant karma – pass this vid for humanity – make a video of how you want to save the environment and pass this message.

Colleen actually WON the book (congrats Colleen!)

My question – how do you reach out to those like me who are NOT on Facebook.
Joe’s answer – go multi-platform.

Tod Maffin – exception to the norm. What do companies do?
If something is at stake – Joe will latch on there.

How can our client come off like they’re really interested in saving the world?
Well, if it’s not authentic, then it doesn’t work.

Rephrasing his questions – what lessons can be drawn?

TWITTER –

Using the hashtags for people who are depressed. IF we use Twitter and put a hashtag on how the people are feeling (on a scale from 1-10) – but it allows you to engage the groups.

StuckInBed.Org

What is the degree of success?
Many do, but it’s particularly measured in terms of the community.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FROZEN PEA FUND

Frozen Pea Fund – initiated in support of Susan Reynolds. Through the power of Twitter and re-tweeting. It’s a wonderful program in support of women who have faced breast cancer.

[SIDE NOTE – Joe would benefit from speaking more slowly. This is a really cool talk but he’s speaking about WAY too much and delivering way too much information too fast. But it appears he’s going to talk about KnowMore.org soon, so his basic messages are four – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and KnowMore]

Are we seeing the style of marketing – maybe we turn internal people and make them in the commercial – do we find individuals who happen to work and celebrate them?

Article in Wired by Clive Thompson – about transparency – The See-Through CEO.

BLOGGING

Widgets

ILoveMountains.org – Stop mountain-top removal. In this widget, you can recruit people and it will show you in real-time, and shows how many people you recruit.

Raising awareness (YAY – and now what?, asks Colleen). It’s slowly seducing the new constituents, and potentially there are donations that could go on. For Joe, it’s about getting people involved, in small steps. Change themselves in mountain tops.

You can sign a petition for human rights that every country should have and you can read it and sign it FROM the widget. We are moving into enabling the bloggers to do really cool stuff on their sidebars.

The Nature Conservancy – They started a plant and donate trees – donate a dollar to buy a tree.
– 324,000 trees installed

Facebook has 80 million users. FIREFOX HAS 174 MILLION USERS!!! Can you imagine!

Knowmore.org is a Firefox extension that wiki-profiles companies and the criticisms that these corporations are dogged by. So Joe called them and implement the extension for when you go to Wal-Mart, Nike, etc. You’ll see the ratings from Wal-Mart. You can turn Google into a StumbleUpon that actually will screen each company you search for.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT THE DATA IS CORRECT?
You source it to the experts.

Bruce Byfield suggests – careful with having this hijacked.

Rebecca Bollwitt – Web Annotation – rate the web. She asks a question on this – allowing anyone to leave comments on the web. Maybe you could rate the comments. Good ones up and bad ones lower in the ranking. Failed miserably, apparently.

Question – Do you know of any examples where non-profits have received money from corporate entities as a result of these campaigns?

Tanya – Microsoft got involved in Kiva, as a result of the companies.

The Bill Gates Foundation does a lot of work like that.

JOE – I am available for hire. Social media consultant.

RAUL – I make the point that it is really hard in social science to find out the actual mechanism of influence (HECK I’VE DONE RESEARCH ON THIS!) and the person who asks is – are there examples of grassroots campaigns’ successes of influencing corporations? Joe understands the question but doesn’t have an answer. (I like that about Joe, he’s VERY honest and forthright).

7.50pm – LIVEBLOG FINISHED. I hope you guys liked it!

Media accreditation and the Projecting Change Film Festival May 6, 2008

Posted by Raul in climate change, environment, movies, Projecting Change Film Festival, sustainability, upcoming events, Vancouver, water.
2 comments

This year has been a year of first-ever’s. It was the first time ever I guest-live-blogged (for Miss604.com, the Michael Geist lecture at SJC). The first time ever I podcasted (as a guest blogger for HappyFrog FrogBlog, covering EPIC ’08). The first time ever I received free admission to sustainability events (the Sustainable Living Show). And now, it’s the first time ever I’ve received a media pass for a film festival, and I’m SUPER EXCITED! I just heard from the Projecting Change Film Festival organizers, and they’ve arranged to have a media pass for me. WOWZA!

In addition to having reviewed lots of “less than awesome” movies on my blog, I’ve also taken the time to write detailed movie reviews for films that have been part of locally-run film festivals. For example, I reviewed “Mount Pleasant”, the 2006 Ross Weber film that depicts my neighborhood as the land of ‘women of the trade’, drug-addicts and derelict streets. This movie premiered in the 2006 Vancouver International Film Festival. I have also reviewed “Super-Amigos” and “The Portrait of Dorian Gray“, two movies that showed unexplored aspects of queer life. Both movies premiered in the 2007 Vancouver Queer Film Festival. In the case of Super-Amigos, a superhero-themed Canada-Mexico co-production, the movie examines the day-to-day life of five real-life masked wrestlers/superheroes, one of which is Super-Gay, a gay man who fights for the rights of the queer community in Mexico City. Of course, there is an environmental superhero, Ecologista Universal.

So, as you can read, I’m also a movie fiend. You may ask yourselves… what movies am I excited about and wanting to see in the upcoming days? Well, if you are a close friend of mine, or have read about my day-job and my research, this is the film that I’m waiting with baited breath (I’m also excited about others, but this one is just… SO appropriate for me): Flow: For Love of Water

Flow: For Love of Water is Irena Salina’s cautionary documentary that is determined to stir things up. Water, the quintessence of life, sustains every creature on Earth. The time has come when we can no longer take this precious resource for granted. Unless we effect global change, impoverished nations could be wiped from the planet.[Projecting Change website preview of the movie]

Lighthouse Park
Water, water everywhere… Photo credit: Raul on Flickr (originally taken by JT)

For those of you who don’t know, I am very interested in water issues and I’ve done extensive research in the field. I have a feeling that the movie will be VERY interesting. For the trailer, click here.

Since I’m hyper busy all week, I guess I won’t be able to make the opening night but I’ll be at the 10am showing on Sunday morning. I also will do my best to check other films. If you notice, in the schedule you can find that theme days (e.g. food and agriculture, sustainability, focus on the family, etc.) … strongly recommended.

If you want to check all my coverage of the Projecting Change Film Festival, my posts will be tagged with the category “Projecting Change Film Festival”.

Restaurant review: Salsa and Agave Mexican Grill (Yaletown) May 2, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out, friends, Vancouver, Yaletown.
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The last time I went to a Mexican restaurant, I left really positively impressed. I’m talking about Tequila Kitchen, which I reviewed before here on my blog. After a rather disappointing series of experiences eating out Mexican food, I was almost ready to give up, but my lunch at Tequila Kitchen was great and thus I figured I’d try another Mexican restaurant in Vancouver.

Menu
The menu at Salsa and Agave. Photo credit: Miss604 on Flickr.

Funny how things go, I was working downtown and while chatting with Rebecca (aka Miss604), she commented she hadn’t had lunch. Neither had I, so we did a repeat of “lunch of the 604’s” (hehehe I just coined this term right now). She suggested to try Salsa and Agave, which is also in Yaletown (in the 1200 block of Pacific Boulevard). So off I went, walked from the Gastown area to meet Rebecca and we headed to this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant.

When we got there, we had to wait a bit for a table, but in the meantime, I could appreciate how authentic the food is (the staff is almost 100% Mexican, I think, so it was good). They have Mexican pop (Jarritos, Sidral Mundet, Sidral Aga, and the juices made by Jumex) which was another brownie point for Salsa and Agave.

The food is reasonably priced, normally I wouldn’t go for a lunch in the range of $12-15 because I either cook at home or eat something that is smaller. But truth be told, I was NOT disappointed at all. I ordered chicken enchiladas verdes and Rebecca ordered enchiladas rojas (e.g. the salsa in mine was green and hers was red). The rice and beans side portions were generous and the enchiladas were outstanding. I would even venture that maybe better than Tequila Kitchen.

Enchiladas
Lunch with Rebecca at Salsa and Agave (enchiladas verdes y rojas). Photo credit: Miss604 on Flickr.

I would say both restaurants are good, and both are authentic, but I’m definitely leaning on the side of Salsa and Agave, for two reasons: (a) portion size and (b) price. I would have had a full dinner for less than $ 20 at S&A, which would have NOT happened at TK. It’s all a matter of degrees, really. But I’ll definitely have to come back to S&A for lunch, as their special ($8.00 for pop+burrito) is seriously almost unbeatable. And very authentic. The washroom – yeah, that part sucks because you *have* to get out of the restaurant, but other than that, I had very few qualms with S&A.

Overall, I would say again that while the food was excellent, the highlight was hanging out with Rebecca. Even though the past few weeks we’ve had a lot of exposure to each other (we live-blogged some of the same events, we’ve guest-blogged for HappyFrog, and attended Tweetups and Third Tuesdays and Net Tuesdays), you’d be surprised at how little chance we actually have to chat with each other. But doing lunch on Fridays (which seems to be poised to become a ritual) is great, as we tend to be both downtown Vancouver at a reasonable hour for lunch.

So, in short… Salsa and Agave Mexican Grill comes highly recommended. And even Martini Boys recommend it too! Feel free to drop me a comment if you want.
Salsa & Agave Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

EPIC ’08 – Simon Jackson: The evolution of a sustainability leader April 30, 2008

Posted by Raul in environment, EPIC 08, epic08, epic2008, sustainability, Vancouver.
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In addition to the wonderful Pondcast by DaveO and the excellent preview from Jonathon Narvey, I just wanted to add my two cents. I had a chance to meet with Simon Jackson at EPIC and, although I am sure he would have not minded to give me an interview, I saw a lot of people surrounding him and trying to get some face time and thus I didn’t want to bother him. But of course, I asked him to take a photograph with me. Who wouldn’t want to have his photo taken with a conservation leader?

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Simon Jackson speaking at Epic ’08. Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

I had a chance to ask him just one question and to observe his behavior towards other people. I was very positively impressed that he was so down-to-earth. A number of friends of him came by to say hi, and he was actually very cordial and not even the slightest snobby. He was actually talking to them about when they’d meet, or whether they’d do lunch.

Considering how famous he is now, it’s kind of refreshing to see that he is still so down-to-Earth. That’s also one of the top qualities for any sustainability leader: Being able to just be the same person you always were, regardless of how much success you have achieved. Simon Jackson is actually that kind of person. When I asked him if he really stuttered, he was very charming and upfront: “yes I did!”. WOW.

Simon – if you ever read this, I am glad that you have managed to stay grounded and be down-to-Earth. Potential future sustainability leaders can now look to you for advice and guidance. Well done! (and by the way, if you want the photo I took of us, send me an e-mail πŸ™‚ I didn’t post it on to Flickr!)

EPIC ’08 Drinking sustainably and responsibly: Vodka 360. April 29, 2008

Posted by Raul in drinks, environment, EPIC 08, epic08, epic2008, Vancouver.
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BC Liquor Stores go green. Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

While recently shopping for a bottle of wine in one of Vancouver’s BC Liquor stores, I found out that they are implementing greening measures. They gave me a free bag with my purchase (which I’ll include in a further post, for sure), and the bag actually is designed in such a way that your bottles can be safely carried away. The bag is of course, recycled and can be reused many a time. Good for BC Liquor Stores. And while we are on the topic…

I still have LOTS of material from my stint with the HappyFrog FrogSquad and thus I want to put it out there while the echoes from EPIC 2008, The Vancouver Sun Sustainable Living Expo are still rippling. I had previously blogged about eco-vodka, which is not available yet in Canada. However, a booth at EPIC ’08 was offering samples of this eco-vodka.

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Vodka 360, an eco-friendly liquor … at last! Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

The makers of Vodka 360 indicate that:

360 Vodka is crafted from eco-awareness and corporate responsibility. This ideology is then manifested throughout our greener processes and greener products.[360 Vodka]

It is, undoubtedly, a bit surprising (but not VERY surprising) that even the liquor industry is joining the organic wine industry in working towards sustainability. However, I have to praise the makers of Vodka 360, because I for one do enjoy a vodka tonic every so often, and now I can feel a little less guilty knowing that there are eco-friendly vodkas out there. It will take some time for it to come to Canada, but in the mean time, if any of you readers happen to come across one of those bottles… maybe you could get one for me, hehe πŸ™‚ Just kidding!

Innovative podcasting interviews – CBC Radio’s interview with Derek K. Miller April 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, friends, personal life, podcasting, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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Thanks to Darren, I stumbled upon (literally, so I didn’t actually use StumpleUpon) a recent interview with Derek K. Miller by CBC Radio Spark’s host Nora Young. Of course, it goes without saying that I did enjoy listening to Derek‘s thoughts on the concept of a digital legacy. However, instead of focusing on the idea of a digital legacy (I have a somewhat-related blog post saved which I’d probably post next week), I would like to comment on the technicalities of the podcast.

I loved the way their voices sound in the podcast. Nora Young’s voice is outstanding. Her pronunciation is impeccable, and her questions were insightful. When I listened to the podcast, it kind of dawned on me that, of course, Derek is a great podcaster amongst other reasons, because he also has a great voice. His voice is quite clear and strong and articulate. So one of the things that made the interview great was that both voices were very crisp and clear. As I recently did my very first podcast interview with Adria Vasil at EPIC ’08, I was a bit worried about my pronunciation (not so much about the questioning style).

Even for a non-native English speaker, this interview is very accessible. The style of questioning and the candor of Derek’s responses they both used made the podcast like a great, in-house, Nora-having-a-coffee-with-Derek type of conversation, almost like a fireside chat.

I also loved the fact that the full, unedited interview was posted online *before* the edited version (which airs April 30th and May 3rd on CBC Radio). And of course, as a non-techie, I loved the fact that they embedded the podcast on the CBC Radio Spark website – which allowed me to post a comment on the site without losing the podcast. Great interview, you should really check it out.

Upcoming events – Earth Day @ Jericho Beach April 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in environment, EPIC 08, epic08, epic2008, sustainability, upcoming events, Vancouver.
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Lighthouse Park West Vancouver
Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

The celebrations for Earth Day are underway at Jericho Beach, and you can rest assured that the HappyFrog FrogSquadders will most certainly be there (I’ll be making an appearance but will probably not stay for long). You can check the HappyFrog site or you can also check the event listing on Evergreen.ca

Music and dancing always lure me to events, so even if I wasn’t an environmentalist (which is not the case, because I am one) I would totally attend. All performances look very exciting but there are a few that I’d like to highlight, including Timothy Wisdom who will be DJ’ing, and Tambura Rasa who will perform a unique and eclectic mix of flamenco, African percussions and Middle-Eastern sounds.

Despite the fact that I really don’t drink Starbucks (with the mere exception of the cold capuccino in a bottle), I am very appreciative of the fact that they provided free drip-coffee on Earth Day and will do so again today, Saturday at Jericho Beach from 11am to 5pm, but YOU HAVE TO BRING YOUR OWN REUSABLE MUG.

Make sure to also check the 30 Days of Sustainability website (this month-long event was launched this past Earth Day, April 22nd) for more information. I will also be posting a couple of post-EPIC 2008 summaries both here and on the HappyFrog FrogBlog.

April 22nd 2008 – Earth Day April 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in climate change, environment, EPIC 08, epic08, epic2008, sustainability, upcoming events, urbanization, Vancouver, water.
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Lynn Canyon Park (North Vancouver)
Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

Earth Day is celebrated in many countries on April 22nd. Many people offer varied stories, but the most widely accepted is that April 22nd is the anniversary of the modern American environmental movement (although some people would argue that it was the worldwide environmentalism that was born that year). Other milestones, such as the 1972 United Nations Summit on the Human Environment (Stockholm 1972) are so close to the year 1970 mark it as the birth year of environmentalism.

Earth Day Links offers a slight variation of the story with Senator Gaylord Nelson touted as the organizer of Earth Day. I’m not going to debate or dispute this, I just want to point out that environmental awareness increased between the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Although my specialization is environmental issues, and I do celebrate Earth Day, there have been some sombre developments in the lives of very close friends that really prevent me from being overly excited about Earth Day. So, instead I offer some link love for you. Have a good Earth Day!

Lynn Canyon Park (North Vancouver)
Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

– Earth Day Canada offers 10 small steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment. Check their suggestions here.

– Evergreen’s Earth Day Vancouver celebration will take place on Saturday April 26th at Jericho Beach from 11 am to 5 pm. Most likely, I’ll be there. More info can be found here.

– To celebrate Earth Day, make sure to check the recently completed Vancouver Sun Sustainable Living EPIC Expo 2008, and look for the HappyFrog FrogBlog coverage (I got a few posts there too!).

– If you are located elsewhere on the Lower Mainland you can look here for various listings of events. It does include some Vancouver-based events!.

Music for your ears and eyes – Some light content and a dash of link love April 21, 2008

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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Well, well, well… First of all, I *was* supposed to be gone home like, about 45 minutes ago but bumped into people and had to book meetings so I couldn’t leave the office. Fine, though. I get to Twitter a few more minutes and send emails, and post some link love – just because I can.

* I have had a very intense social week with the social media folks, and still feeling lots of warm fuzzies so big shout out to all of you folks (I am sorry I’m not linking you right now but really, I am exhausted).

* Tomorrow (Apr 22) is my two year blogiversary. I have an announcement to make to celebrate. I even might throw in a prize (if I manage to find a sponsor). Having provided so much link love through the HappyFrog FrogBlog, I *should* be able to score a prize from one of the companies I’ve visited during EPIC!

* I don’t think I want to do a proper music review but if you like deep house music, Ricardo Torres and Dylan Drazen are two of the best DJ mixers out there.

* All HTML links for this post were coded by hand. I know you probably are tired of reading this, but honestly I feel like I’ve moved one step forward. πŸ˜€

Ok, I am again drained of all energy. Twitter has been acting up all day. I’m feeling exhausted and not sure if I’ll make it to the actual bus stop (probably will but cloudy/cold weather really weighs me down). So, I might make an appearance on Twitter tonight or just simply take the evening off and disconnect from the internet.

Thanks for tuning in. I’m out of here πŸ™‚ Have a great beginning of the week all!

EPIC ’08 – Living a carbon-neutral life: Offsetters.ca April 21, 2008

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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This post is also cross-posted with the FrogBlog
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In this globalized world, I would like to know who doesn’t have to fly. Funny how things go, in our collective efforts to be more sustainable, we perhaps have ended up harming the environment even more by racking up air-miles traveling the world from Paris to Tokyo to Geneva to Nairobi. In the end, air travel ends up contributing more carbon to the atmosphere than what we would have emitted had we tele-commuted our way into these international environmental meetings.

However, what can we do if we ABSOLUTELY have to drive or fly? Enter carbon offsets. With carbon offsets, you’re not “buying your way into sustainability heaven“. You are trying to offset (hence the term carbon offsets!) whatever carbon you are unavoidably emitting instead of simply flying recklessly.

Offsetters is a Vancouver-based non-for-profit organization founded by Dr. Hadi Dowlatabadi and Dr. James Tansey. How can we make sure that carbon offsets are actually working? In their website, they answer your questions (the emphases are mine)

Offsetters’ carbon offsets are investments in projects that prevent greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere. All of our projects are verified by qualified third parties as being:
1. Real. Verifiers confirm that our projects take place as promised.
2. β€œAdditional.” Offsetters investments lead to real reductions in total greenhouse gas emissions by enabling projects that would otherwise not take place.
3. Permanent. We avoid reforestation and other projects that only temporarily store carbon.
4. Socially beneficial. Offsetters projects bring social and local environmental benefits as well as climate gains
[From Offsetters’ Learn More webpage]

Of course, like any climate-change related measure, carbon offsets have their critics and people who make fun of them. There’s for example the spoof CheatNeutral. However, if you really want to learn more about how you can offset your carbon emissions, check Offsetters’ website. They also have another really cool program, the Cool Air Pass program (to offset your car emissions). Check their website for more information!

If you didn’t get a chance to come to EPIC, simply log on to HappyFrog.ca and look for the FrogBlog or its green businesses directory.

EPIC ’08 – Bringing recycled castoffs back to life as fashionable clothing: Dahlia Drive April 21, 2008

Posted by Raul in EPIC 08, epic08, epic2008, sustainability, Vancouver.
3 comments

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This post is also cross-posted with the FrogBlog
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As a former model and current enviro-geek (who is currently training to be a full-fledged social media geek), I am always searching for great clothes that will be (a) comfortable, (b) reflect my values and lifestyle and (c) affordable. Although (c) is not always very easy to reach, I have found some stores where at least (a) and (b) and sometimes (c) are all in the cards.

Welcome Dahlia Drive! As I was walking through the corridors of EPIC ’08 I was wondering whether someone had thought about recycling clothing (I began wandering around the exhibitor booths on the other side, closer to the green stationery, so it took me a while to reach the clothing section). Sometimes I am afraid of not being able to find a good shirt that I can wear to a night on the town. But upon finding Dahlia Drive’s recycled castoffs, I was absolutely smitten.

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One of Dahlia Drive’s recycled shirts (Photo credit: Raul on Flickr)

Working out of North Vancouver, owner and founder Wendy Van Riesen brings castoffs back to life through innovative and imaginative processes of imprinting, staining, and re-assembling. I had an opportunity to peruse her website, and I was blown away. The design and the amount of work that went into putting that much content is outstanding.

Wendy’s fashion sense really clicked with mine. I particularly loved these long-sleeved shirts with rusting on them (see photos below). It was also very interesting to find that her dresses can be worn by women of all ages. I could very well see my Mom wearing this model that Wendy was wearing, so perhaps this summer I’ll bring Mom to North Vancouver so she can see some of Dahlia Drive’s outstanding designs.

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Wendy Van Riesen from Dahlia Drive at the EPIC ’08 Vancouver Sun Sustainable Living Show (Photo credit: Raul on Flickr)

Dahlia Drive not only designs and creates beautiful things out of recycled castoffs, but also participates in several charitable events, which was another element that made me really appreciate their contribution to EPIC. I would seriously encourage you to peruse the website and check Wendy’s clothing line. She will probably have something of your liking!

If you didn’t get a chance to come to EPIC, simply log on to HappyFrog.ca and look for the FrogBlog or its green businesses directory.