The power of one – saying no to salmon farms

The nations of the Dzawada’enuxw

The nations of the Dzawada’enuxw have been uniting and travelling down the coast of Vancouver Island locking arms with other nations in their quest to remove salmon farms from their traditional waters, sometimes called the Broughton Archipelago.

They have said “No” for almost 30 years to the salmon farms using their territories. But somehow, Canada, BC and the Norwegian/Japanese salmon farmers decided to ignore them. So today, one third of the BC salmon farming industry has made themselves at home in Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory.

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More at VIFF

From Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s documentary Human. Photo courtesy of Showing October 10 (VIFF at the Centre) and October 12 (Vancouver Playhouse).

mesmerizing and unconventional

by Robert Alstead

• Koneline: Our Land Beautiful, by local filmmaker Nettie Wild, takes a fresh, even-handed approach to a heated subject: resource development in BC’s Northwest wilderness. The hereditary land of the Tahltan First Nation has been dubbed the “Serengeti of the North.” Now, the land is being opened up to mining companies for its rich gold and copper resources. Wild’s approach allows many individuals to share their different knowledge and experience of the area – whether it be the geologist’s expertise on rock formations or the aboriginal student sharing his disappearing dialect – and builds a mosaic of impressions.

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Subvert junk food marketing

Eat real food

by Dr. Mercola

photo © Shelagh Duffett
photo © Shelagh Duffett

• Food marketing expenditures are quite telling. In 2009, a whopping $1.7 billion was spent on unhealthy food marketing to kids, compared to a mere $280 million spent on healthy food ads.

Kids aren’t even safe from predatory marketing at school.

In 2009, companies spent $149 million marketing soda and other sugary drinks in schools and, on average, these drinks contained 16 or more grams of sugar per serving – an amount that meets or exceeds the maximum daily recommended sugar intake for most kids.

A large number of studies have also confirmed that sugary beverages in particular are strongly associated with obesity and this is not limited to soda.

Fruit juices will, in many instances, contain nearly identical amounts of sugar as soda, yet many parents are still under the illusion that fruit juice is “healthy,” and fail to consider these beverages when looking for dietary culprits for their child’s weight gain.

To prevent obesity and chronic disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests limiting your sugar consumption to a maximum of 5 percent of your daily calories, which equates to about 25 grams/6 teaspoons of sugar per day for most adults.

The limit for children is around 3 to 4 teaspoons a day or 12 to 16 grams. So just one sugary beverage can easily put a child over the limit of what their body can safely handle without adverse health effects.

Other junk foods also feature heavily in schools. According to the video, The Weight of the Nation: Children in Crisis, “20 percent of the rise in the BMI of teens is associated with the increased availability of junk food in schools.” The film also addresses the issue of school lunches, discussing the impact inferior school nutrition has on the childhood obesity epidemic.

Parents are fooled by food advertisements too

Parents are also deceived by the food industry’s PR machine. Junk food ads cleverly manipulate parents into making unhealthy choices for their kids while believing they’re doing the right thing. As noted by CNN:

“It is a dual-pronged approach where food manufacturers are targeting kids to pester (their parents) for these products and then manufacturers are marketing to parents to get them to think these products are healthy and not to feel guilty about buying them …”

[P]arent-directed ads emphasized health benefits and nutritional information for the products… However, a recent report… found that many of the products that are advertised to children, such as sugar-sweetened juice beverages and cereals, do not meet federal standards for healthy snacks. And… the ads that parents are seeing are for these same products.”

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to avoid falling into this trap is to realize that if there’s a commercial for it, you and your kids probably shouldn’t be eating it!

Why? Because only processed foods are heavily marketed and if you’re concerned about your child’s health and weight, then processed foods of all kinds, no matter what the ads promise, are the enemy. Your fridge and pantry needs to be stocked with REAL food, meaning foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

We must return to a diet of real food

Researchers have firmly debunked the myth that all calories are identical, and that to lose weight all you need to do is expend more calories than you consume.

Research shows that what you eat can actually make a big difference in how much you eat. In a nutshell, research shows that calories gleaned from bread, refined sugars and processed foods promote overeating, whereas calories from whole vegetables, protein and fibre decrease hunger.

While it’s true that most kids exercise too little, it’s important to realize your child cannot exercise his or her way out of a poor and metabolically “toxic” diet. Over the past 60 years or so, a confluence of dramatically altered foods combined with reduced physical exertion and increased exposure to toxic chemicals have created what amounts to a perfect storm.

The extensive use of refined sugar – primarily in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which is added to virtually all processed foods – is at the heart of it all.

The recommended goal is to limit added sugar to a maximum of 10 percent of daily calories. While reading labels can help, the easiest way to do this is to eat REAL food. Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and heart attacks are all diseases associated with a processed food diet.

The following short list of just three super-simple, easy-to-remember guidelines will not only improve your family’s nutrition, it will also help you avoid chemical exposures that can affect weight:

Eat real food: Buy whole, ideally organic, foods and cook from scratch. First of all, this will automatically reduce your added sugar consumption, which is the root cause of insulin resistance and weight gain. If you buy organic produce, you’ll also cut your exposure to pesticides and genetically engineered ingredients, and in ditching processed foods, you’ll automatically avoid artificial sweeteners and harmful processed fats.

Opt for organic grass-finished meats to avoid genetically engineered ingredients, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other growth promoting drugs.
Opt for glass packaging and storage containers to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals.

© Dr. Mercola

Obesity a marker for many life-shortening diseases

Obesity is closely tied to a number of chronic diseases. In the US, eight obesity-related diseases account for 75 percent of all healthcare costs. This includes type-2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and dementia. About one-third of all cancers are also directly related to obesity. When you consider that two hallmarks of obesity are insulin/leptin resistance and chronic inflammation, you can begin to recognize that excess weight is fertile ground for a wide array of other ailments – many of which can cut your life significantly short. Obese children significantly increase their risk of suffering obesity-related illnesses and complications far earlier in life than others. Case in point: research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 revealed obese children as young as eight now display signs of heart disease.

Science and intuition

by Doreen Virtue and Robert Reeves


• At one time, intuition was considered an old wives’ tale. Today, researchers have solid scientific foundations for the process of intuition. Dozens of studies support the value of intuition in decision making and finding creative solutions to problems.

A recent study stated that medical doctors can achieve better outcomes in their patients’ care by calling upon their intuition when making decisions. The researchers concluded, “Intuitive and analytical decision processes may have complementary effects in achieving the desired outcomes of patient decision support” (de Vries et al. 2013). A related study found that farmers use intuition more than analytics.

Many studies have focused on our physical reactions to various situations, measuring blood pressure, brain waves, perspiration and heart rate in response to stimuli, such as looking at emotionally charged photos or video clips. In some intriguing experiments, the participants’ heart and other systems were shown to react to a photo or video even before the people being studied were shown the stimulus. Most of these experiments are “double-blind,” which means that neither the participants, nor the researchers, know beforehand which type of image the person being studied will see. The studies show that our bodies “know” when something emotionally charged is coming our way.

Perhaps you’ve had this experience yourself when you woke up feeling excited or happy for no known reason. Or, similarly, you felt a sense of dread on a day when something unforeseen and unpleasant later occurred.

Research has demonstrated that our palms begin to sweat when we’re around something harsh or dangerous several minutes before our conscious minds can register the threat. This makes sense, as the hands have a high number of sensory neuronal connections to the nervous system. Scientists believe that if we could learn to pay attention to our palms’ subtle signals, including perspiration, it would enable us to be consciously aware of – and avoid – danger.

Similar studies find that our heart rate and blood pressure increases when people are directing negative thoughts our way and that these functions relax and decrease when others are thinking positive thoughts about us. It turns out that “sending love” is a measurable energy!

Intuition works with the body’s systems

Our ancient ancestors relied on their intuition to ensure their physical safety. Imagine the vulnerable feeling of walking outside to forage for food where you depend on your wits to stay alive. This is the same built-in system wild animals use for survival. While we now shop in grocery stores for food and live in houses, this doesn’t mean that our ancestors’ instincts have “evolved away.”

Researchers have pinpointed the brain’s right hemisphere, which is associated with emotions and the arts, as the centre of our intuition. Additionally, the autonomic nervous system, also called our “ancient brain,” appears to be hardwired to instinctively react to potential danger in a way that could be called “intuitive.” The brain’s limbic system – our feeling centre – can sense danger detected by the autonomic nervous system before it’s physically apparent. In this way, our intuition (if we listen to it) keeps us safe.

In the face of stress, our nervous and endocrine systems work closely together to bring about harmony and balance. These two systems are linked by the hypothalamus, a structure in the brain’s limbic system. While the endocrine system is made up of many glands, the most important to know in regard to stress and intuition are the pituitary and adrenal glands. Let’s look at how all these systems work together.

When your nervous system recognizes a stressor, it sends a message to the hypothalamus, which then releases hormones to deliver the message to the pituitary gland. Next, the pituitary sends out hormones influencing the adrenal glands. In turn, this causes your adrenals to release a hormone to reduce the effects of the stress. This pattern continues until your body is satisfied that you have enough stress-relieving hormones available. Your body then relaxes and the nervous system calms.

However, if stress continues for extended periods of time, the biological exchange of neuro-messages and hormones may become unbalanced. If the hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal glands become depleted, it creates a strain along the cascade. This causes a change in your stress response, energy levels and hormones.

By supporting your endocrine and nervous systems nutritionally, you will help keep your intuition clear and sharp. And, conversely, listening to your intuition is a big factor in reducing your stress levels, as it will guide you to avoid stress-producing situations in the first place. Your intuition may also lead you to a stress-management program that’s custom-tailored to your interests, schedule and budget.

Excerpted from Nutrition for Intuition (Hay House, Inc., January 2016) © Doreen Virtue and Robert Reeves.

Docs at the Vancouver International Film Festival

by Robert Alstead

Titan Missile from Command and Control, Courtesy of American Experience Films
Titan Missile from Command and Control, Courtesy of American Experience Films

• If the events of Cold War documentary Command and Control hadn’t actually happened, you might think it was made up. On September 18, 1980, a PTS (Propellant Transfer System) team working on a nuclear missile in Damascus, Arkansas, accidentally dropped a metal socket in the silo. It punctured the fuel tank and set off a potentially catastrophic chain of events: the 9Mt thermonuclear warhead on the Titan II missile was capable of annihilating 10 million people.

Robert Kenner, who previously directed Food, Inc., uses artful reconstructions, together with candid interviews with those involved, from up and down the chain of command, to create a riveting and scary-as-hell account of the incident. Chillingly, the film also illustrates how this “broken arrow” – to borrow Air Force lingo – is just the tip of a pile of hundreds of nuclear weapon accidents that have occurred out of sight and mind.

In Freightened: The Real Price of Shipping, director Denis Delestrac posits that society suffers collective “seablindness” to practices in the global shipping industry. From the jacket in a shop made from materials that have travelled 48,000km for the price of a transit ticket, to the oil spills, shipwrecks and huge carbon footprint, the industry is flying under the radar. We cannot fathom the volume of illicit goods – potentially dirty bombs – circulating in container traffic.

Delestrac seems most riled by the coterie of secretive shipping magnates, who cut corners and costs by sailing their fleets under a “flag of convenience.” Under this topsy-turvy system, Mongolia and Bolivia, which have no coastline, have some of the world’s biggest fleets, while Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands are top funders for the UN agency responsible for shipping regulation.

In spite of a tendency to press its point too forcefully, this is a welcome look at the social and ecological impact of shipping; it is especially relevant in Vancouver and BC, given the huge increases in oil, LNG and coal shipping being planned.

Carl-A. Fechner’s Power to Change: The Energy Rebellion also calls shipping offside for its carbon footprint (equivalent to Germany’s), but its main focus is on solutions. Stars of the show are the engineers and entrepreneurs of the Energiewende(Germany’s “energy transition”), who are trailblazing renewables development with teutonic zeal and determination. Not afraid to get technical, it covers a variety of projects from straw pellets to replace fossil fuels, to giant battery power plants that are being created from de-commissioned nuclear power plants, to show how the big obstacle to climate action is not lack of technical know-how but political will.

Strangers on the Earth is another documentary that follows an ensemble of characters, this time walking the medieval pilgrim trail across the North of Spain. I met my wife on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela so I’m always curious to see filmmakers’ treatment of it. Accomplished cellist Dane Johansen, following in the footsteps of Canadian violinist Oliver Schroer, sets off with cello on back to record Bach’s Cello Suites along the way. While his uplifting, mellifluous soundtrack combines well with evocative imagery of pilgrims doing the time-honoured trail during its summer peak, the film struggles to connect at a deeper level. Some editing decisions distract and Johansen’s own self-revelations are lost in the mix of pilgrim voices, from the poetic to banal.

When Two Worlds Collide will resonate with British Columbia audiences. The documentary looks at a bloody period of conflict between indigenous Amazonians and government over land rights and resource exploitation in the Peruvian Amazon. The doc closely follows charismatic native leader Alberto Pizango, who conveys a sadly familiar story of ecological loss and government duplicity. It provides good coverage of the government side through excellent use of archival footage and recent interviews to show how a tense standoff quickly escalated.

On my list to see is the latest from BC’s Nettie Wild, KONELINE: our land beautiful, a poetic take on the conflict between resource development and the traditional way of life of the Tahltan Nation in Northern BC. It won Best Documentary Feature at Hot Docs so it’s bound to be popular.

Vancouver International Film Festival ( runs September 29-October 14.

Robert Alstead made the climate justice documentary Running On Climate,

Playing for Change

One world, one voice, one day

MUSIC RISING by Bruce Mason


Playing for Change Day


• Without fail, the Playing For Change website makes me feel good. Most often it gives me goose bumps, but it’s always (in all ways) a joyful, uplifting experience. There’s no better time to feel this yourself than on September 24 when a global community gathers and unites – through the power of music to affect positive change – on stages, street corners, in schools, yoga studios, cafes and living rooms. More than 300 events in 50 countries are listed at

I’m not alone in praising Playing for Change (PFC). After taping a segment of his Words of Wonder, combined with Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up, Keith Richards said, “That’s the way music was meant to be.” Jackson Browne produced a PFC arrangement of Guantanamera, featuring more than 75 Cuban musicians in Havana, Barcelona and Tokyo, describing it as “one of the most rewarding and inspiring musical experiences of my life.” And Sara Bareilles reports that singing with the PFC Band “elevates the world with music and inspires me to be a better human.”

Warning! The videos at can be addictive. It’s some of the best feel-good music ever with unprecedented collaborations between previously anonymous street musicians, the classically trained and big names such as Bono, Keb’ Mo’, Jimmy Buffett, David Crosby, members of Los Lobos and the Grateful Dead and even John Lennon on tape, with Yoko Ono’s blessing, launching a Power to the People campaign. Music IS the power.

Mark Johnson is the creator of the global PFC phenomena and the driving force behind what is now a worldwide, multimedia, online music project and foundation. He says, “It is easy to connect to the world through music. Religion, politics, a lot of those things, they seem to divide everybody.” When Bill Moyers asked if he was being naïve, Johnson responded, “To me, naive is thinking that there’s any other choice. The only choice we have is to come together. And to inspire each other because that’s the way we’ll create a better world now and for kids tomorrow.”

His own inspiration for a big idea – to connect the world through unfiltered music – was birthed on a New York subway platform when the Grammy-winning producer/engineer/filmmaker watched two monks singing in a language he didn’t understand. “There were about 200 people who didn’t get on the train… people with tears in their eyes and jaws dropping, people who would normally run by each other.”

Some time later, on his way to work at a Santa Monica studio, an “epiphany” inspired Johnson to record street blues musician Roger Ridley singing Stand by Me. He played the result through headphones for Grandpa Elliott, who has “been putting love out there for 60 years” from the streets of New Orleans. Subsequently, utilizing innovative mobile technology and travelling the world, Johnson videotaped more than 100 musicians – mostly outdoors in parks, plazas, promenades, in doorways, on cobblestone streets and hillside pueblos. Each captured performance of the same song created a new mix in which the artists performed together – although hundreds or thousands of miles apart – in a seamless, mesmerizing collaboration and viral global jam.

Johnson has since produced two award-winning documentaries, A Cinematic Discovery of Street Musicians (2004) and Peace Through Music (2008), and much more music. He notes that PFC videos now have more than 300 million views from 195 countries.

Among myriad locations, Johnson shares that the South African township of Gugeletu was “the saddest place, with so much despair, until women and children joined in singing Celebration.” It was, he says, “one of the most powerful things I had ever seen, from sad to happy, when all that had changed was music.” That barren backyard became the site for a first PFC school. A Playing for Change band was formed to tour the world and help raise funds for what is now 12 school programs – in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, Mali, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand, and growing exponentially.

Each project also helps meet essential needs, including food, clean water, medicine, clothes, books, school supplies, solar energy, computers, and other technology. Johnson says, “It’s never ending, more songs to record, more musicians to connect, always more schools to build.”

As you explore the videos on the PFC site, you may notice two with a regional connection. Music Is My Ammunition opens on a Vancouver beach with three musicians – two from the Congo, one from Italy – before moving on to Jamaica, Hollywood, Cuba, Tokyo and Italy. Don’t Worry was recorded live at the Commodore Ballroom.

Playing for Change Day is held on the Saturday closest to International Peace Day. Everything you need to know to stage an event is also on the PFC website. Email with any plans and projects. And tune into Common Ground. Happy Playing for Change Day!

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola Island-based banjo player, gardener, writer and author of Our Clinic.

Playing for Change Day in Vancouver

September 24:
Project Blue Hands Society & Friends ( invites you to celebrate Playing For Change Day in Vancouver. Music, art & outreach for the people, Victory Square Park, 200 W. Hastings St., 11AM-4PM. To get involved, email or call (778) 233-5874.

Core beliefs about a plant-based diet

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina


portrait of Vesanto Melina•  I recently took out – from our wonderful public library system – a set of CDs entitled This I Believe. They are based on a popular NPR (National Public Radio) series that invited people to write a 500-word essay on a core belief that guided their daily life and to then read their essay on the air. (See website at the end of the article). After listening to a selection and wondering, “What is a core belief for me?” I recognized that mine centres on a shift towards a plant-based diet.

Pythagoras and his community adopted a vegetarian diet 2,500-years-ago. He derived the idea from Asians, who had adopted these practices as part of their Hindu or Buddhist faith. In North America, in the early and mid 1800s, a gradual interest in diets of whole plant foods included a reaction against food adulteration: chalk and plaster in milk and flour and dirt, sand and leaves in coffee and spices. Subsequently, dietary reformer Sylvester Graham’s emphasis on whole grains led to the current graham cracker and John Harvey Kellogg inspired a popular line of cereals. By 1850, vegetarian associations had formed in England and North America and vegetarian restaurants became popular.

Scientific backing was gained in the mid 1950s when Harvard-based research clearly established that adults could get all their necessary protein and amino acids solely from plant foods. However, we were not certain about deriving every one of the essential nutrients until after the last remaining vitamin, B12, was isolated in 1949. The origin of B12 is neither animal nor plant, but bacterial. This vitamin is present in animal products, originating from bacteria that are present, but it is not in clean plant foods.

By 1987, questions about the suitability of plant-based diets were addressed when the maternal care records and birth outcomes of 775 vegans showed that the mothers’ vegan diets did not affect birth weight. In fact, health advantages were noted. In 1989, the growth of vegan children was assessed by the Centers for Disease Control and found to be within the normal range. The families involved ate a plant-based diet centred on vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, peas, lentils, fortified soyfoods), grains, seeds, nuts and vitamin B12 supplements. From conception to old age, they were thriving.

The National Academy of Sciences, 2016, says that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 27% if we followed global dietary guidelines – eat more fruits and vegetables; eat less meat, sugar and calories – ?and by ?70% if we ate a vegan diet. A global shift to a plant-based diet is strongly urged?. Forward-thinking China is already encouraging its citizens to eat 50 percent less meat – for environmental and health reasons.

Over the course of my life, I have been at most of the places along the spectrum, from meat eating to vegan, though for the last half, at the plant-based end. We can be healthy at many places on this spectrum. You, too, may have experienced a gradual shift towards a more plant-based diet for any number of very sound reasons.

To return to our original theme, what is a core belief of yours?

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian and author. To read essays from the This I Believe series, see

Living with equanimity

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
•  Equanimity (Latin: æquanimitas having an even mind; aequus even animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. – Wikipedia

When I read this definition, I chuckled. It says equanimity is remaining undisturbed in situations that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. This means becoming unbalanced. However, what made me laugh was when I interpreted “lose the balance” to mean losing the rest of their mind.

I think both interpretations are correct. When ego reacts, we certainly have an unbalanced view of things and we lose access to that part of our mind that holds our higher self, our wisdom.

In Hinduism, the idea of equanimity refers to being in pure awareness. When there is no distraction or attachment to thoughts, there is equanimity. It is only when the sense of discrete identity is dissolved that we transcend the apparent duality and see oneself in union with all and everything.

Equanimity is a fundamental tenet in Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and many other spiritual traditions. It allows for a clear mind, wisdom, freedom, compassion and love. It brings gentleness, contentment and charity.

When we free ourselves from inordinate reactions to people and situations, we can experience equanimity. Therein lies the challenge. Ego mistakes its perceptions for reality and projects intentions onto others and then judges them.

Take the example of a driver being cut off by another. Ego thinks he did it on purpose and must think he owns the road. Equanimity says, “I have inadvertently cut off others myself; it’s okay.” As Wayne Dyer used to say, “Bless him and move on.”

Sometimes people will spend years nursing old hurts and blaming others for their unhappiness. It is like they are trapped in a cocoon in darkness, unable to fly free.

I had a client who talked about a woman at work who was “mean” to her and a co-worker. She could not give examples of truly mean behaviour, but said it was mostly “her tone.” She and her co-worker spent a lot of time commenting on every one of her behaviours.

My client was angry and wanted to “stand up” to her because she didn’t think she should “take it” anymore. I loved the aha moment when I pointed out she was projecting her childhood feelings towards her big sister on to this woman. I also reminded her she too had a “tone” that was often annoying to others. She laughingly agreed.

I reminded her it is never about the other person, but always about how we interpret and react. An inordinate response to things is the opposite of equanimity.

She really understood. It truly was a moment of insight and transformation. The icing on the cake was at the end of the session when she checked her phone. The “mean” woman had noticed she had left work early and texted plaintively “You left me!” thus indicating she liked my client and missed her.

My client had been blind to this because she projected her own story onto the other. What have we possibly been blind to? Can we learn to see with equanimity?

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit, and ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook.

STAR WISE: September 2016

by Mac McLaughlin

portrait of Mac McLaughlin

We’ll be riding out a couple of eclipses this month. In olden times, an eclipse would strike fear into the hearts of those for whom the eclipse was visible. I don’t think we have much to fear, though. The September eclipses are not visible in our region. What is of importance is that the Sun and Moon are in hard aspect with Mars and Saturn at the time of the solar eclipse on September 1. Saturn has a tendency to slow things down and bind things up while Mars stirs things up. Interpreted, it indicates a possible slow-down with the economy and business in general. As we head into the Labour Day weekend, we may experience all kinds of traffic snarls along with accidents and incidents. The remedy: keep your cool and don’t get sucked into hot-headed, knee-jerk reactions, as they could prove costly. Patience and more patience – minus alcohol and drugs – will help the situation.

On the bright side, the best thing to do is relax and ride out the planetary storms, so to speak. We’re getting ready for the fall season and everyone is jockeying for position. Start early, leave early and take your time. Things will heat up and intensify at the time of the lunar eclipse on September 16. Again, fiery Mars has his finger in the pie and when he’s around tempers seem to flare and egos become bloated. All in all, September promises to be hot and possibly heavy as the war of words and nerves continues on with the US presidential elections looming on the horizon. “The Donald” will no doubt create more controversy as he lets fly with a barrage of maligned comments that will send people into a frenzy. No doubt, the haters and warmongers will be carrying on with their distorted agenda of hate for all things and people not of their liking. Nothing new here.

Something we can do, though, is to give more love, more consideration and more help to those around us. It’s what we really need and will always need. Love is the only commodity that increases when given out; all other forms of fgiving lead to depletion. The September skies invoke the spirit of Virgo, which is the sign of service, healing and caring. The September 16 full Moon is the harvest Moon, in which we gather in the crops, put them up and prepare for the colder days of fall and winter. It’s time to plan and organize.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years. Email or call 604-731-1109.


Aries ZodiacARIES Mar 21 – Apr 19

The two benefic planets, Venus and Jupiter, will be casting fine energy into your sign throughout September. They bring the promise of good times, love and lucky breaks your way. Even the two heavies, Mars and Saturn, cast good energy into Aries helping to steady and stabilize many aspects of your life. Get moving.

Taurus ZodiacTAURUS Apr 20 – May 21

Money and health will be on your mind. It seems we can’t do much without either of them. Joint monies, shared and inherited monies and legalities may dominate the scene. Your instinct is to put it all together – and you should. Work on your health, namely, for without it money won’t matter much.

Gemini ZodiacGEMINI May 22 – Jun 20

September may prove intense in all kinds of ways. The eclipse cycles, along with Mars and Saturn, will be a handful to handle. Kindness, compassion and patience are the remedies for September’s maladies. There are plenty of opportunities to use this energy to clear the air and get things straightened out. Use your time wisely.

CancerCANCER Jun 21 – Jul 22

Health, family, home, land and real estate dominate the scene for Cancer this month. It’s a whirlwind time and you won’t have much time for daydreaming or lazing around. Hubba hubba. Take advantage of this opportunity to get a whole lot done. Scholastics, sales, applications and publications are at the forefront. You can do this.

Leo ZodiacLEO Jul 23 – Aug 22

The planetary energy in September goes like this. You can admire a brand new car or you can get in it and drive it away. All you have to do is turn the key. Interpreted, it means you can be successful, but you must make a dynamic effort in order to make it all happen.

Virgo ZodiacVIRGO Aug 23 – Sep 22

It’s your time to shine. September is not so much about results, but very much about what it is you would truly like to accomplish. Two eclipses in Virgo this month indicate a most powerful time has arrived, in which your life may shift or change significantly. Diligence and hard work are required.

Libra ZodiacLIBRA Sep 23 – Oct 22

Venus visits Libra until September 23, casting its lovely energy your way. Venus enhances life, bringing love, creativity, beauty and resources. Her presence certainly brightens the picture. Jupiter visits Libra for one year starting September 9. Travel, expansion and good fortune are his general attributes. It’s your time. Make the best use of it.

Scorpio ZodiacSCORPIO Oct 23 – Nov 21

The past we cannot change and the future will never come, but we can do so much in the present to shape the future. It’s that kind of time now for Scorpio – hard work, burning the midnight oil while others party and play. When success comes your way, everyone marvels and wonders how you did it.

Sagittaurus ZodiacSAGITTARIUS Nov 22 – Dec 21

You’re going to have to bite the bullet, tighten your belt and basically trim off the fat or any type of excessiveness. No, it’s not a pleasant task, but it’s a must-must scenario. Legalities, limitations and frustrations keep you somewhat corralled this month. The clouds part and the bright, warm Sun shines again.

Capricorn ZodiacCAPRICORN Dec 22 – Jan 19

Travel to distant places in indicated. Spirituality figures strongly. One way or the other, you’re in the midst of a huge transformative process. Career opportunities loom on the horizon. Be clean and let your works be seen; it’s the best way to roll. Negotiations come up and it is important you don’t sell short.

Aquarius ZodiacAQUARIUS Jan 20 – Feb 19

Soul plus mind equals man. Soul minus mind equals God. It’s time for you to go deep and break through with an understanding of these deep, spiritual truths. Money, name and fame will not get you through to the light. A time of research and discovery is at hand. A high probability of travel comes up.

Pisces ZodiacPISCES Feb 20 – Mar 20

The solar and lunar eclipses in Virgo this month might have a profound effect on your sign as well. Illumination is indicated. It’s time to take stock of what is real and important and to truly make an effort to make changes in your life. The results of your efforts are peace, love and tranquillity.

Finding Common Ground

A journey of 300 editions

by Bruce Mason

Words and pictures of a shared past, present and future, from founders, friends and fellow travellers

Common Ground Magazine 300 issue

To page through the first few issues of Common Ground magazine (beginning in winter, 1982) is to pry open a time capsule and be astonished and awakened by the contents. And to hold – first in your hands, then in your mind, followed by your heart and soul – proof of not only how far we have come, but also a reminder of how far we still have to go. They are the first few footprints in an ongoing journey of a hopeful, engaged community – our community.

The first impressions from initial glances leap from the sepia-toned black and white copies. And we are awed by how much technological change has taken place, how much graphics have evolved and elbowed into the forefront of our consciousness and daily lives, and how sophisticated we and our tools and toys have become in just over 30 years.

Kolin Lymworth, founder of Banyen Books & Sound, recalls the early days when publisher Joseph Roberts was one of the first people to actually work in his store, in the early 70s – “Then a skinny, blonde long-hair with a compelling gleam in his eye – and considerable chops on the piano, by the way. At that time, many communities were growing resource-listing-connection publications, serving awakening humanity in whatever ways they could, kind of like a local Whole Earth Catalog.”

Many of the problems and solutions are there in the first few editions, along with some of the same people, including therapists, psychologists and counsellors, spiritual practitioners, rape crisis centres, small businesses and services, the Kirpal Ashram School, UBC’s Centre for Continuing Education, Greenpeace, the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, Western Wilderness Committee and the West Coast Environmental Law Association, the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Responsibility. Oxfam, alternative health centres, Coop Radio, Black Swan Records, the Bicycling Association of BC, astrologists, naturopaths, food co-ops, the Canadian Health Food Association and Naam Restaurant.

Arran Stephens, co-founder of Nature’s Path, says, “Common Ground has been my home-grown, BC go-to resource magazine for all things good: preservation of nature and the environment, organic agriculture, social conscience and activism, pro-vegetarian, plant-based articles, questioning of the status quo, natural healing, herbalism, art, defence of endangered species, spirituality, yoga and religion.”

Ask publisher, Joseph Roberts, for his all-time favourite issue and he will answer, “The next publication, the one we’re working on. I’m a very active member of the community we serve and each month is a process that emerges from it, literally, organically. Every four-week period has been a unique, separate adventure in a 33-year journey. The magazine is free, completely independent and 100 percent Canadian, our gift to our community.”

Back in 1982, Roberts and two others (Alana Mascali and Michael Bertrand) sensed a need for a quarterly, Vancouver-based, healing-arts-body-mind resource listing, based on a similar Common Ground in San Francisco. But Roberts had a vision for this Common Ground, a publication that was more than a clearinghouse of information on the burgeoning alternatives to the status quo. “I felt strongly that we needed to take on tough issues, be someone in left field, making a noise, pointing out to people in the bleachers that something was happening and we needed to get to first base, a place for ideas to get out. And I decided to go it alone.”

Alongside information on health and wellness and personal growth were early articles on uranium mining, nukes, fish-farming, GMOs, pesticides, LNG and pipelines. The first issue featured the Vancouver skyline on the cover. The second, a gardener. And the third, a jaw-dropping shot of some of the 65,000 people congregated at Sunset Beach in support of Peace. It also included articles such as famed liberal journalist I.F. Stone’s eerily prophetic, Send in the Machines, an excerpt from Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth, the seminal description of the consequences of nuclear war, a key document in the disarmament movement, a piece signalling The Information Economy is Here and a letter and eyewitness account by Bruce Cockburn from Central American refugee camps.

There is a wise adage in journalism: “Freedom of the press can only be guaranteed if you buy an ad, once in a while.” And advertiser Chris Shirley has done just that, many times in fact, with a listing for his Pacific Institute of Reflexology in all 300 editions of Common Ground. “I feel good about the magazine and support what it is doing. It’s unique and important, unlike other publications that have a seedy side, that I’m just not comfortable aligning with. Common Ground continues to raise our profile in the community we want to reach, through a local production that is widely distributed and read.”

Advertisers also read each edition. “It’s amazing and relevant, presenting a valid point of view you don’t find at newsstands, or in commercial, mainstream media,” says Michael Pratt, owner of Celtic Traditions.

Vocal coach and teacher Lynn McGown – another long-time supporter – needs no prompting to sing praises of Common Ground. “It’s inclusive, a look at society through a prism of health, politics and justice that includes spirituality and touches much more, rooted in community and melded together in a global vision that raises consciousness and hope for human beings. Joseph is a local boy, actually a local treasure, and I admire him for continuing to tell it like it is.”

Long-time advertiser Lorraine Bennington ( shares her story: “Common Ground has been around for almost as long as I have been in Vancouver, a newly minted Vancouverite fresh from Montreal in 1979. I first met Joseph Roberts long before Common Ground emerged, as he chose one after the other meaningful causes to support. CG became the forum for them all to coalesce into a larger voice, the voice of the alternative thought community.

We didn’t all see the world in the exact same way, but we all shared a “common ground” of wanting organic food and clothes, practising yoga, choosing to respect the earth, and holding a vision of a planet that would endure for our children and their children’s children. We needed a magazine to support a world without corporate greed takeovers of our lifestyle, our medicine and our choices.

I consciously continue to advertise in this magazine, not only because the people who read it share some of my core values, but also because I believe a magazine like this serves a vital part in the keeping and nurturing of sentient community.Common Ground, the Naam, Banyen Books, Amethyst Creations, Lifestream, Folk Fest – and all the original or slightly later arrivals of merchants, yogis, health oriented and creative merchants and other beings ­– birthed and expressed their consciousness on W. 4th Avenue. Then, as real estate prices became more and more unmanageable, some headed east, first to Main and then to the Drive and beyond.

A community needs a voice, and Common Ground has served and continues to serve that significant purpose, and I am glad to be part of that community/family.”

Elizabeth Murphy, a private sector project manager, formerly a property development officer for the Vancouver’s Housing & Properties Department and BC Housing, says, “Common Ground has been the consistent voice of integrity for truth, justice and real democracy. Every month, I have always looked forward to reading it for the issues that matter, with confidence in their open content. And over the last few years, it has been an honour to contribute.”

She adds, “The 300th edition of Joseph Roberts’ Common Ground magazine is a milestone to celebrate. I say thank you for working to make the world a better place and best wishes for another 300 editions.”

Lymworth writes, “Having carried every issue of Common Ground over the decades, we at Banyen are proud to honour and appreciate Joseph and his magazine’s dedication to helping people connect; to fostering healthy ways of living; to highlighting important social and environmental issues. He truly cares about a kinder, gentler, wiser world and continues to offer resources and connections that help that to happen more fully and more enduringly. Long may the good light shine. Congratulations!”

Stephens concludes, “I have great admiration for Joseph, my old friend, who has faithfully churned out 300 (!!!) Common Ground issues over the decades. Bravo! Looking forward to continuing the good so that we can all find Common Ground for peace, unity and love.”

To view sample pages from our early issues from 1982-3, click here.