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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!


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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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:

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?

EPIC-08-Day 2- Apr 20 2008
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 🙂 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.

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 🙂 Just kidding!

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.

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!.

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.

This post is also cross-posted with the FrogBlog

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.

EPIC-08-Day 2- Apr 20 2008
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.

EPIC-08-Day 2- Apr 20 2008
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.

EPIC ’08 – Adria Vasil speaking about her bestseller book “Ecoholic…” April 20, 2008

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

I had been waiting with baited breath to hear Adria Vasil, a renowned journalist and best-selling book author, speak at the Vancouver Sun EPIC ’08 Sustainable Living Expo. However, I had not predicted that my weekend was going to be as busy as it is now. I’ve been running from one social engagement to another and yet to another after my tour of EPIC ’08, but I could simply not miss Adria’s talk.

I was running around Vancouver (using, of course, public transit – the 98 B-Line from Granville and Broadway to the Waterfront Skytrain station). Upon my arrival, I tried to arrange and see if I could interview Adria. My plan, originally, had been to only talk to her and make notes on her responses, but then DaveO suggested that maybe I should podcast it.

Dave’s suggestion really scared me as I feel still too much in the early stages of Geekification, but he explained to me how the digital recorder and microphone worked and made things so simple that I could simply not resist. And Rebecca kindly offered to take photos and video of the interview with Adria. Thus, I grabbed my notebook and went on to listen to Adria speak.

Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

After her book signing, I grabbed the podcasting equipment and asked Rebecca to join me, and off I went to interview Adria. My first impression of her is that she is a very grounded individual, and as a journalist, she is quite understanding of how challenging it can be to conduct a first interview. She was very gracious, spoke at great length about the issues I asked her about and was very candid in her responses.

Her speech was really good in many ways. First, she basically outlined how she became an eco-holic, a term that she coined circa 2004, when she started dedicating a substantial portion of her time to writing environmentally-related stuff, in a question/answer kind of format. I took many things from her talk, but one of the key concepts she delivered that really struck a chord with me was the notion of citizen engagement. Your Average Joe and Average Jane can and SHOULD be engaged in undertaking steps (however small these may be) to try and influence the government into designing and implementing better environmental policies.

Adria also touched upon an issue that I have also discussed previously on my blog, which is the fact that climate change is NOT the only environmental problem we have, and that if you are an environmental journalist, you must find a niche or carve your own niche so that you can fully plunge into the environmental journalism field. The way Adria put it, you can’t have 20,000 climate change journalists.

You will hear much more stuff in the podcast (my VERY FIRST EVER podcast) as soon as it is uploaded on to the HappyFrog FrogBlog. Hat tips and many thanks to Rebecca for photographs (and last minute recommendations on how to conduct the interview). Very sweet of you. This PondCast was brought to you by HappyFrog.ca’s FrogBlog.

I would just like to close this short comment (I have many more notes about Vasil’s talk that I could share, but I would prefer it if you listened to the podcast first) indicating that Adria Vasil was unbelievably down to Earth. Rebecca and I have this series of photographs that we have started taking (self-portraits including the both of us), and Adria very graciously agreed to join us in a group photo. Many of these are posted on Flickr and will be added to the HappyFrog Flickr Group (soon as I can sort through all of them).

In summary, I would seriously recommend that you listen to the podcast, because Adria summarizes very neatly and very nicely the main messages in her book “Eco-holic”. She fielded some tough questions from the audience, questions that are of course obvious since she writes about life-style changes.

The toughest question I think she faced was along the lines of whether she ALWAYS eat sustainably, and she made a point that she made as many organic and sustainable choices as she possibly could, which I find extremely refreshing. During the podcast interview, she also mentioned that as a journalist, you have to be upfront, honest and accountable. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing her and attending her lecture. I hope she also enjoyed the interview! (fingers crossed). And if you ever read this, Adria – you’ve really made me appreciate the work of environmental journalists. I am privileged with having a few of those, and now I see how important it is to bring the environmental message to the broader audiences. Congratulations on a job well done (and get on with the blog!).

EPIC ’08 – OceanWise and sustainable seafood choices April 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out, EPIC 08, epic08, epic2008, sustainability, Vancouver.
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This post is also cross-posted with the FrogBlog

I remember when I used to think that eating seafood was intrinsically better than eating meat simply because it seemed logical that since fish were ocean-bound, they were somehow ‘organic‘ and it was “ok” to eat this “organic” food group (I was very young at the time). Year later, I decided to engage in more serious studies on environmental issues, and one of the topics I have studied is the notion of eco-labelling.

Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

What is an eco-label, you ask? And what exactly does it mean to have a product eco-certified? Instead of engaging you in a long-winded academic conversation, I will use a hyper-local, Vancouver-based and run eco-certification program: Ocean Wise.

So… what is OceanWise? Well…

Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. Ocean Wise works directly with restaurants and markets, ensuring that they have the most current scientific information regarding seafood and helping them make ocean-friendly buying decisions. The options are highlighted on their menus and display cases with the Ocean Wise symbol, making it easier for consumers to make environmentally friendly seafood choices. The Ocean Wise logo next to a menu item is a guarantee that the item is a good choice for keeping ocean life healthy and abundant for generations to come.[Vancouver Aquarium’s OceanWise website]

So say you want to go out for dinner and you are a non-meat eater. You simply go to the OceanWise restaurant listing or look for the OceanWise symbol right beside the specific dish. OceanWise can be considered an eco-label (that is, it has a specific label that certifies that the product is considered sustainable) that allows consumers to make informed choices about the specific seafood products whose consumption is under consideration.

I strongly recommend that you visit the OceanWise booth at the Vancouver Sun EPIC Sustainable Living Expo. Still running on Sunday April 20th, 2008 from 10am to 5pm. If you need any help, feel free to look for any of your friendly FrogSquad bloggers at the HappyFrog.ca booth right outside the main entrance.

EPIC ’08 – Sustainable foodservice: The Green Table Network April 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out, EPIC 08, epic08, epic2008, sustainability, Vancouver.

This post is also cross-posted with the FrogBlog

When you think about sustainable food, what do you think about? Do the words ‘organic’, ‘free-range’, ‘100 mile diet’ come to you? Well, if so then you are definitely on the pathway to educating yourself on how the choices you make about your diet affect ecosystems and leave an ecological footprint. This is the first step in the steady and continuous process of reducing the environmental impacts that are due to our food choices.

Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

Well, one thing is to be able to make these decisions at home, and another is to force a restaurant to be more sustainable. When I eat out, I can’t really force the restaurant owner to NOT offer me a certain type of food because it is not as sustainable as others“. Yeah, have heard this one before too. Not to worry. From now on, YOU don’t have to do the legwork and research which restaurants are more sustainable than others, which food service providers are better suited to source environmentally-friendly food products, and where you can dine out and still be environmentally-conscious and responsible. The Green Table Network is an invaluable resource, and you can visit their booth at the Vancouver Sun EPIC Expo ’08.

I have previously discussed about The Green Table Network on my personal blog, particularly when I saw that there were some people who weren’t really buying into the notion of sustainable restaurants. The way they put it, all they wanted to do was to eat their steak without having to worry whether the meat was organic, or whether the produce they were eating in their salad was locally sourced. The truth is, the concept of sustainable restaurants is really more than a gimmick.

I am really excited to see The Green Table Network (GTN) here at EPIC Expo, as I know that they missed the Green Living Show. I find that their role is key in educating the general public that there are numerous local, excellent restaurants who work hard at reducing their ecological footprint, engage in best practices for energy and water management within the food industry and still maintain a high quality level in their food.

Source: Raul on Flickr. Photo crossposted with Flickr’s HappyFrog Photo Group

Founded by Andre LaRiviere, who was a former CBC radio executive, trained in the culinary arts and worked as a chef for many years, Green Table is a network of sustainable, green businesses and organizations in the food industry. For more information on Green Table, you can click here. And make sure to check their booth at the Vancouver Sun EPIC Sustainable Living Expo. It still runs on Sunday, April 20th, from 10am to 5pm.