MP Don Davies goes to bat for the animals

In the fall session of Parliament, Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies will file a petition on behalf of the ADAV (Animal Defense & Anti-Vivisection Society of BC), calling for an end to the two most invasive categories of experimentation, which can include severe pain to unanaesthetized, conscious animals.

Please sign the petition below and share it widely so we can show the government how strongly the public feels about this issue. More than 3.7 million animals suffer unendurable pain at the hands of Canadian researchers every year – and this is just in taxpayer-funded work; private labs have no obligation to report their numbers.


13-year-old invents a Tesla-inspired free energy device

by Terence Newton

Inspired by geniuses Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein, teenager Max Loughan loves to invent things. In fact, he says he has known his entire short life that his purpose was to change the world with his inventions. And he may just do it.

“As cheesy as this sounds, from day one on this planet I knew I was put here for a reason,” says Max. “And that reason is to invent, to bring the future.”

Wearing a lab coat while speaking in a televised interview with KTVN Channel 2 in Reno and Tahoe, Nevada, Max explained the free energy device he made in his parents’ boiler room turned laboratory.

His invention looks somewhat reminiscent of Tesla coil and operates on some of the same principles described by the electric visionary. The device is rather simple, harvesting electromagnetic energy from the atmosphere, then converting it to direct current, which can be used to power electrical devices.

What’s even more incredible is that Max built his free energy device out of materials he purchased for less than $15. That’s right; for the price of an average lunch, it appears that anyone can have access to free energy. He created an electro magnetic harvester out of a coffee can, some wire, two coils and a spoon.

In a demonstration with KTVN, Max used current created by the machine to power a strip of LED lights he had wrapped around his twin brother, astonishing both his own family and the visiting news crew.

Max’s achievement is impressive, to say the least, and the fact that works of Nikola Tesla are now inspiring the next generation of inventors is quite inspiring, although one has to wonder why Tesla’s ideas have taken some 75 years to reach the mainstream.

This article (This 13-Year-Old Invented a Tesla-Inspired Free Energy Device for $14) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Terence Newton and

Organic agriculture combats the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Choosing organic is the best choice consumers can make to combat antibiotic resistance and protect themselves from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a review paper from The Organic Center concludes.

Overuse of antibiotics in conventional livestock production has been implicated as an important contributor to antibiotic resistance. Research demonstrates that livestock produced without the use of antibiotics – as in organic agriculture – is an important part of the solution.

Of particular concern in conventional agriculture is the routine use of antibiotics, not only to treat infections but to increase the growth and feed efficiency of animals and as a prophylactic agent. Organic livestock, in contrast to conventional, are raised without the use of antibiotics, which are prohibited by federal organic regulations unless medically necessary. Animal health is one of the tenets of organic. If necessary, a sick animal on an organic farm must be treated, but then removed from the herd, and its products – such as meat or milk – may not be sold as organic.

In conventional agriculture, livestock manure disposal is one of the biggest ways antibiotic residues and resistant bacteria enter the environment.

“Organic livestock production, which prohibits the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or prophylactic purposes, provides a compelling example of successful, profitable operations and demonstrates the ability of livestock farms to operate without substantial antibiotic use. Organic provides a model for how agriculture can contribute to a solution,” says Dr. Jessica Shade, director of Science Programs for The Organic Center, who is a co-author of the review with her colleague Dr. Tracy Misiewicz.

The paper looks closely at the role of antibiotic use in conventional agricultural livestock production. It covers the mechanisms by which resistance develops in bacteria, the role that modern-day agricultural practices play in exacerbating the problem, and how organic agriculture provides a simple and effective means to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and to protect the health of consumers.

“Because organic production methods are available to all farmers, they can be incorporated into any livestock operation to combat resistant bacteria,” Dr. Shade says.

The full report is available for download at

Source: Organic Trade Association,

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.

Common Ground writers join the conversation

Common Ground Magazine first cover
Common Ground Issue #1


Common Ground magazine and I have been friends for 34 years! I was present at its 1982 birth and launch party in a Vancouver back yard. I like long-term friendships and this has been a good one. The articles throughout the magazine are lively and thought provoking. Common Ground has long been a leader regarding environmental concerns and health and human rights issues. I have appreciated the opportunity to write on a vast range of topics related to plant-based nutrition and have welcomed the tremendous interest in this topic on the part of readers.

Vesanto Melina, registered dietitian and author of CG’s Nutrispeak column. and

Congratulations on the 300th edition! People often say to me, “The pharma world you write about is so important so why do you write for Common Ground?” And my answer is always the same: “Because I can say things here that are too uncomfortable for other media outlets.” Common Ground for me is richer turf; it’s an alternative voice to the droning prattle of the mainstream media that often supports and celebrates some of the worst aspects of medicine. I use my column to dredge up some important, but unreported, nuggets about the pharmaceutical-industrial complex – a topic that I think touches us all. To me, this is a milestone worth celebrating – Common Ground’s 300th edition – and a timely reminder that the public conversations on a whole range of topics that deeply affect our lives are richer – and more diverse – because of this fine magazine. Keep up the good work, Joseph!

Alan Cassels, author of CG’s Drug Bust column and a drug policy researcher in Victoria. His new book is called The Cochrane Collaboration: Medicine’s Best Kept Secret.

I grew up in the same neighbourhood as Joseph Roberts – suburban Harbour Chines in Coquitlam. Later, we lived next to each other across from Kits Beach, sharing news from our back porches about small victories, mine in media, his atCommon Ground. I, too, had attended SFU in the early, heady days, naively thinking that humanity would make real progress in fits and starts, if more people lived and worked for peace and justice. “Things will get better, they have to,” I thought. They haven’t and very well may not. Humanity is at a crossroads. Like you, I hope and work for a better world than we have right here, right now. Contributing to Common Ground is my way of trying to be of some use. Blessings on your unfinished business.

Bruce Mason, CG features writer and columnist (ReadIt!, Music Rising) and author of Our Clinic.

‘Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.’ For the past 300 issues, Common Ground magazine has served as a potent fertilizer to feed those seeds to become flowers. When I arrived on Vancouver Island, my eyes were opened by publications such as Common Ground so it was a pleasure to return this service to others as a contributing writer many years later. Thank you for enlightenment on so many timely issues and subjects that enhance our well being, as we grope our way to a more sustainable future in all aspects of our lives.

Carolyn Herriot, former CG columnist (On the Garden Path).

Probably the biggest reason I write for Common Ground is that from cover to cover, in every article, in every issue, the direction is towards the betterment and upliftment of mankind. There’s no smut or filth, no racism and no misogynistic or gender bias. Publisher Joseph Roberts has worked and toiled tirelessly. He has never faltered or wavered in his steps to bring the truth and shed light on every concern that has come to his awareness regarding the treatment of our Mother Earth and her inhabitants. Joseph, his staff and contributors should be lauded and awarded for their herculean effort to make our planet a peaceful and wholesome environment.

Mac McLaughlin, author of CG’s Star Wise column.

Vancouver has an amazing city culture, which, for the most part, is thoughtful, kind, considerate, sensitive and intelligent. A culture like this does not arise out of thin air. For the past 33 years, the soil of Vancouver’s culture has been enriched by the writers and artists who have shared their thoughts, visions and inspirations in Common Ground magazine, supported by the magazine’s editors. I was proud to be one such writer. Vancouver needs more Common Ground if we are to win the rapidly developing global struggle between neo-liberal plutocracy and social democracy, and between those who see nature as a resource to exploit and those who see it as a being to respect. May your pages continue to inspire us for many years to come! Best wishes.

Guy Dauncey, former CG Earthfuture columnist and author of Journey to the Future: A Better World is Possible.

To me, Common Ground magazine is about intelligence, integrity, truth, humanism and humanitarianism. My mission is to support and encourage evolving consciousness. It is an honour to be a part of this publication and connect with readers who share that desire to grow in consciousness. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Joseph Roberts for starting this magazine and keeping it going through good times and bad. He is a true visionary who has created a space for enlightened ideas that have impacted the lives of so many readers over decades. I congratulate Joseph, his staff and all of you who have picked up a copy of Common Ground and then became faithful readers. It is you who inspire all of us to keep doing what we do.

Gwen Randall Young, registered psychologist and author of CG’s Universe Within column.

Common Ground is celebrating its 300th edition. Impressive! That a relatively small, independent monthly can still be kicking while everywhere print media is shrinking is a testament to the tenacity of its publisher and small, committed team. After initially doing editing work for Common Ground and building the magazine’s former website, I was fortunate enough to write a monthly movie column. I ended up doing it for over a decade. The column evolved over the years, but I really enjoyed having the freedom to explore a range of documentaries and films that shed new light on the world around us, often challenging accepted norms – whether it be about ecology, the arts or justice. Common Ground has covered so many issues over the years that it was an easy place to find a home for such a column.

Robert Alstead, former CG Films Worth Watching columnist and producer and director of the documentaries, Running on Climate and You Never Bike Alone.

Renowned Cor Meibion Colwyn visits Canada

by Alan Sanderson


male Welsh choir outdoor performance
Côr Meibion Colwyn pictured at a concert at Conwy Castle on the north coast of Wales.

• Over the Labour Day weekend (September 1-4) the multi-award-winning male choir, Côr Meibion Colwyn from North Wales, will be the featured choir at the North American Festival of Wales, held in Calgary this year.

Music director Tudur Eames conducts Colwyn in the Saturday Concert and also the Cymanfa Ganu (congregational hymn singing). Both events will have audiences of around 700. Eames will also take the much smaller Ysgol Gân (singing school).

The choir has consistently placed first, second, or third in many international competitions and has toured extensively in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. They are four-time winners at the Welsh National Eisteddfod, and in 2015 won third place in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, one of the largest festivals in the world. It attracts competitors from 70-100 different countries every year. They have also raised over £150,000 for different charities.

Last October, Orpheus had the privilege of performing with Colwyn in Llandudno as part of their seven-concert tour of Wales. Naturally, they are delighted to be able to return the favour.

If you are in Vancouver or Salmon Arm at the end of August, be sure to take in the concert there. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Hear the choir in Vancouver, Salmon Arm and Calgary

Vancouver – Ryerson United Church
Sunday, Aug. 28, 7pm: the choir performs a joint concert with Vancouver Orpheus Male Choir.

Salmon Arm – First United Church
Monday August 29, 7:30pm: The choir performs on their way to Calgary. This concert is organized by Arwyn Gittens and Lawrence Williams, the Shuswap Welsh Club and a number of other local charities and business organizations. Colwyn completed a new CD in June 2016, which they will be selling on their tour in Canada.

September 1-4: The choir performs in at the North American Festival of Wales.

Concert details & tickets
Vancouver 604-515-5686

Salmon Arm
250-832-4415 or 250-832-8547

Behind the Smile and You’re an Idiot

A Tale of Two Books
READ IT by Bruce Mason

Judi Tyabji’s Christy Clark: Behind the Smile and James Hoggan’s, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean It Up

• I just finished reading a couple of current, timely, best-selling BC books back to back – make that back and forth – that speak volumes about our worrisome future. They also cry out for comparison. The first book focuses on the life and times of our premier, the second, on the result of a five-year global mission to answer a question from David Suzuki, “Why aren’t people demanding action on environmental issues like climate change, despite the overwhelming evidence?”

They are respectively: Judi Tyabji’s Christy Clark: Behind the Smile and James Hoggan’s, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean It Up.

“Political insider” Tyabji’s “unauthorized, arms-length” biography is complete with dozens of pages of Clark family photos. It promises “an astute political portrait and a biting critique of the brutal partisan dialogue that often distorts our views of our leaders and their accomplishments.” Proves you can’t judge a book by its cover; the reviews have been, well, biting and brutal. One critic best sums it up in one word: “sad.”

The author, a friend of Clark since “1984 or 1985,” first noticed “her laugh, her curviness and her hair. She reminded me of a sexy version of Peppermint Patty from the Charlie Brown cartoons because she was at home with the boys, had a husky voice and a wry sense of humour.” Make that, Peanuts cartoons.

The interviews – and Tyabji claims to have conducted 30 or 40 – include Clark’s best friend from elementary school, who informs us that Christy had a Holly Hobbie lunch kit, a fierce competitive streak and “bubbly personality.” In “grade three, or four,” the future premier was “Leader of the Pack,” in a dance routine of the Shangri-Las’ hit record. The book reads like the Sister Sledge hit We are Family.

For personal history, there’s Clark’s older brother Bruce. Tyabji’s husband, Gordon Wilson, fills in some blanks. Glossed over is the fact the couple was facing foreclosure until Clark gave Gordon a fat contract as an “LNG-Buy BC” advocate. On Christy’s obsessive, fracked methane gas fantasies, there is, of course, LNG mouthpiece, Jas Johal. The all-important environmental file is virtually unopened. Ongoing scandals? Sssh.

Just as the reader begins to think this “in-depth biography” strays no further than numbers on the author’s cell, one discovers a bizarre, nine-page diatribe entitled Barbie Goes to Victoria in the chapter The XX Factor. The writer, one Pamela Cramond-Malkinon, describes the piece as a “largely academic analysis of why women in politics, particularly attractive ones, often get terribly and viciously excoriated by men and women alike.” Post-publication, she has taken to categorizing devastating criticism as the work of “trolls demented with anger against anything that is not their political belief system.”

Tyabji has reacted to all the thumbs-down with, “If me coming out with a book… if that makes me a target, that’s not about me. That’s about the people targeting me.” However, she does provide one insight in her 370 pages of fluff in a chapter entitled Young Liberals and True Believers. Christy is, above all, a “true, true believer.” In what? “Targeted government spending… tax policy that encourages economic growth or business investment, scientific work tied to economic development… and fiscal responsibility, including balanced budgets.” In short, neo-liberalism, now universally regarded as the main source of humanity’s do-or-die crises.

As for “balanced budgets” – for which Clark is applauded by one-handed right wingers – former CKNW talk show host and elected official, Rafe Mair, recently observed and proved, “The fact is we are in terrible financial shape and the government is lying through its teeth.” He points out the province’s financial obligations increased $72 billion in the past six years, more than the provincial debt in BC’s first 135.

James Hoggan is, among other things, chair of the David Suzuki Foundation and co-founder of the influential, ground and truth breaking website DeSmogBlog. He is also the author of Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming and Do the Right Thing. In addition, he led the Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Community Relations and First Nations Partnerships.

Common Ground asked him about our most divisive, polarizing premier and her oft-quoted phrases, such as “Forces of No,” “problematic,” and “a bit troubling and disturbing.”

Hoggan, who chooses his words carefully, replied, “I’m perplexed and frustrated by the spin doctoring swirling around the global warming issue, making it easy for people to refute the reality of what’s going on and ignore this critical collective problem. But I’ve became even more concerned and alarmed by the crazy state of debate today in general – the toxic rhetoric that permeates virtually all important issues we face, whether it’s vaccinations, refugee immigration, gun control or environmental degradation.

“I decided to take a deep look at our resistance to change, the human relations and ingrained psychology causing it and the gridlock, inaction and despair that result. Sometimes, it’s intentional, sometimes it’s inadvertent, but the troublesome fact is this toxic mix is coming from all sides and stifling discussion and critical debate.

“I began to explore how these tendencies arise, what spurs us to become close-minded, aggressively vitriolic and most importantly, what we can do about it. I also began to analyze how we can become highly effective communicators, deflect over-the-top advocacy and make our arguments more convincing.”

He describes his research and writing the book as a “fascinating journey,” especially the discovery of keenness for this discussion, which enabled him to share collective wisdom. In 60+ interviews with everyone from a NASA scientist to a deep-sea oceanographer, from cognitive researchers to authorities on systems thinking, he sat down with an expert in the House of Lords lunchroom, spent a week with Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, and travelled to the Himalayas to speak with the Dalai Lama. Insights from political pundits, philosophers, moral psychologists, brain scientists, scholars, media gurus and corporate analysts are all included.

I urge you to read this book and study the 10-page Epilogue: Lessons Learned. The phrase that echoes throughout is Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Speak the truth, but not to punish.”

I asked Hoggan if he found any hope. He said, “Some people think I’m saying activists should do less. On the contrary, I believe we have a responsibility to do more. People can face reality, change, and there is hope in the fact that we can, and are, getting better at it.”

Common Ground has sent a copy of I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean It Up to the premier’s office.

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

It’s the Year of Pulses

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina MS, RD

portrait of Vesanto Melina

• The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has named 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Pulses are edible seeds that grow in pods – peas, beans, lentils. They are also known as legumes.

Pulses are packed with nutrients, especially B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc). Their high iron content is especially beneficial for women and children who might be at risk of anemia. They are a fantastic source of protein without the accompanying fat of animal products.

For people trying to control their weight, they can be a great way to keep blood sugar level while boosting protein intake. They have a low glycemic index due to excellent fibre content. Pulses are gluten-free and contain phytochemicals that are protective against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. One dietary feature of the longest-lived population groups in the world – Okinawa Japan, Sardinia, Italy and the Seventh-day Adventist vegetarians in Loma Linda California – is their regular consumption of pulses.

Pulses are important agriculturally as they are closely associated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and thus play a key role in crop rotation and soil enhancement. In Canada, they are a very important crop as we are the largest exporter of lentils in the world.

Cooked lentils, beans and peas can easily be pureed and stirred into soups, stews and even sauces. It’s fine to use canned ones; nutrient content is retained. They not only add depth and flavour, but they also help thicken soups and stews to make them heartier and more nutrient-rich. If you are unaccustomed to eating pulses, start with smaller ones such as lentils – red, green, grey, French – in small amounts. Here are some very quick ways to boost your protein for the day:

Heat up a bowl of green peas (fresh or frozen).
Snack on fresh peas in the pod.
Add a pea-based protein powder to your smoothie.
Spread toast with peanut butter (peanuts are pulses).
Grab a handful of peanuts.
Serve tacos (see recipe).
Check out recipes at, and get gold medallist Ron Pickarski’s The Classical Vegetarian Cookbook,

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian.,, 778-379-5377.

Timesaving tacos

Makes 10 tacos; serves 3 to 5 people

This nutritious meal is almost instant. Just warm the shells and beans, chop the veggies and set out the colourful fillings in pretty bowls. If you prefer burritos, replace taco shells with soft tortillas. For mixed dietary choices, a meal of tacos is welcome as you can include non-vegan options such as grated cheddar. (Recipe from Becoming Vegetarian and from Cooking Vegetarian, Harper Collins)

10 taco shells
1 can vegetarian
refried beans
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup chopped tomato
1 carrot, grated
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 cup salsa
1 cup grated non-dairy cheese (such as Daiya pepperjack)

Put the refried beans in a small pan and warm through (or heat in bowl in microwave). If the beans are too thick, mix in a tablespoon of water. Warm taco shells in a 250o F oven for 1-2 minutes, or in a microwave. Put the shells and beans, along with lettuce, tomato, carrot, avocado, salsa and cheese in serving bowls. Leftover fillings can be refrigerated in covered dishes and used at another meal.

The unaffordable subway

Metro Vancouver scheme has the hallmarks of a pro-development and deeply flawed transit strategy

by Elizabeth Murphy


For the price of this
Proposed 12km extension of the SkyTrain Millenium line to UBC
We can have this

Possible revitalized heritage streetcar route

Equivalent electric streetcar network deliverable for same cost of proposed Broadway Corridor subway (Prof. Patrick Condon, et al, 2008, “The case for the tram; learning from Portland, Sustainability by Design: An examination of alternatives to an underground extension of the Millennium Line to UBC.” Foundational Research Bulletin, No. 6.)

Using electric trolley buses or a mix with streetcars would even allow much broader coverage across the region for the same funds as one subway on Broadway.

Providing an expanded and improved transit system is vital to Metro Vancouver and the provincial economy. However, the subway is a poor choice for the Broadway east-west thoroughfare. The current plans and funding models are promoted for corporate interests, but they are not in the public interest.

Last year, the public voted down, by a large margin, the plebiscite for a sales tax increase to cover the Metro Vancouver transportation plan. This plan is actually a real estate and tower development scheme led by a subway. Now the same plan is being put forward again – this time with much more problematic funding options that would put the public in unnecessary massive debt, without any pretence of public support.

The provincial government is failing to provide adequate funding for much needed transit while, at the same time, looking to benefit financially from development along an unaffordable Broadway corridor subway. So the civic level that receives only seven percent of the tax base is being required to take on this provincial funding responsibility (referred to as downloading) without the resources to fulfill it.

The province refuses to consider using the obvious and appropriate funding source: the carbon tax. Funding options being considered are property taxes and development that would be downloading onto cities. Transit fare increases add to the cost of living for those who can least afford it and further discourage transit use.

Property taxes are the main source of funding for civic governments that have correctly resisted provincial moves to try to take them for provincial purposes to fund transit. That resistance is now softening.

Although the property tax mill rate per thousand dollars of property value is considered low in Vancouver, actual property taxes are based on sky-high assessments that affect the cost of homeownership and are passed on to renters. Property taxes are already tapped out for civic purposes.

The proposed property tax increase for funding transit is a wedge in the door to future increases. Current budgets for the subway and the plan are likely way out of date and based on a previously stronger Canadian dollar. The estimates will go up significantly during each phase over the projected 10 years.

Using development to fund transit is another problematic proposal. This contribution is generally put towards paying for part of the civic amenities needed to service increased populations, such as parks, recreation, daycare and community centres. If the province uses development fees for transit, there will be large increases in tower development with fewer amenity resources left for the city to service the increased population.

Then there is the issue of the plan itself. There was little public input or demonstrated support for the options proposed. Although upgrades to the current transportation system include a few more buses that are urgently needed, the major projects in the plan are expensive. A large amount of the funding is slated for a short, stubby subway from the Millennium Line at VCC along Broadway to Arbutus rather than to serve the broader city or regional transit needs.

This has been raised by UBC professor Patrick Condon – as shown in the maps here – from his study comparing a subway with streetcars. For a fraction of the cost of a subway on Broadway, we could have streetcars and an expansion of electric trolley buses that would electrify the transit system across the city and region.

When looking at the capital costs, the best options are obvious. The subway is $350 million per km; streetcars are $20 – $40 million per km and electric trolley buses (both rapid lines and local services) are only $1 million per km plus $1 million per articulated double trolley bus. Making the best use of the most affordable options should be the priority to complete a broad and integrated plan servicing the entire city, not just select property developer nodes.

Electric trolley buses could carry the bulk of the network since they are the most affordable. Streetcars could be used in areas where they are most suited, such as the Arbutus right-of-way that has just been purchased by the city from CP Rail, and which could be expanded along the original inter-urban route to the Fraser Valley.

The City of Vancouver is particularly suited to this option since Vancouver was developed before the broad use of the automobile. It was designed around the streetcar system with the main arterials accessible within a five to 10 minute walk from any location, thus Vancouver inherently has a transit oriented land use pattern. All it needs is adequate, improved trolley bus or streetcar transit service throughout the grid.

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN), an umbrella group of 26 resident associations and communities across Vancouver, has made the call for options like this to be considered with a better consultation process to establish the appropriate best value plan to serve the public interest.

Unfortunately, rather than serving the city with affordable, sustainable transit for the people, the city and province are promoting a subway in order to direct and shape land use for the major developers. This would transform the affected communities into a development corridor from 16th Avenue to the waterfront and from Commercial Drive to UBC, including nodal land use patterns with Metrotown-scale tower development at stations.

Using development to fund this plan will give further density bonuses to large developers, which may include Public Private Partnerships (P3s). The transit manufacturers, builders and developers would benefit the most from this scheme. They also contribute to financing election campaigns at all levels of government and then lobby to get a return on their investment.

We need to change direction and:

  • Provide more affordable electric rapid and local transit options using trolley buses and streetcars.
  • Fund the plan with carbon taxes, gas taxes and mileage-based vehicle fees.
  • Use neighbourhood-based planning to ensure development suits the local context for liveability rather than imposing a concrete jungle of towers designed for laundering foreign capital onto established communities.
  • Build more affordable housing for students, staff and faculty at UBC to reduce the need to commute rather than build more high-end condos.
  • Ensure every stage of planning has a transparent, democratic process.

Transit should be about transporting people and serving communities; not used as a tool to impose development that undermines established community planning. It is high time for a democratic, affordable and sustainable transit plan.

Elizabeth Murphy is a private sector project manager and a former Property Development Officer for the City of Vancouver’s Housing & Properties Department and for BC Housing.

Gardening – Plant ’n’ rake without the ache

planting red flower
image © Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

Gardening is a great way to stay active, grow food, and have fun in the sun. But many Canadians sustain injuries that can be easily prevented with a little know-how.

Warm up

Before you begin any physical activity, warming up is a key factor in preventing injury. Take a walk, even on the spot. Ten to 15 minutes should do it. Don’t forget to lift your knees and gently swing your arms.

Stretch before you start

To plant and rake without the ache, do each of these stretches five times. Don’t bounce, jerk or strain. Stretches should be gentle and should not cause pain.

Your wrists

  • Hold one arm out in front of you, palm down.
  • Bend your wrist until the fingers point to the ground.
  • Use your opposite hand to hold this position.
  • Place your hands in “prayer” position and press palms together.
  • Keep your arm straight and place your palm in the “stop” position.
  • Use your opposite hand to hold this position.

Your sides

  • Extend your right arm over your head.
  • Bend to the left from the waist.
  • Hold for 15 seconds; repeat on other side.

Your arms and shoulders

  • Hug yourself snugly.
  • Slowly rotate at the waist as far as is comfortable to the left, then to the right.

Your shoulders

  • Let your arms hang loose.
  • Rotate your shoulders forward. Then rotate back.

Your back

  • In a seated position, bend forward from the hips, keeping your head down.
  • Reach for the ground.

Your thighs

  • Face a wall or tree and support yourself against it with one arm.
  • Bend your right knee and grasp your ankle or pant leg with your left hand.
  • Hold for 15 seconds; repeat on other side.

Your hamstrings

  • Stand and reach your hands to the sky.
  • Then bend at the waist and reach toward your toes.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.

The right moves

Kneel to lighten the load on your back; don’t bend to plant. Use kneepads or a kneeling mat to reduce the strain while you plant and weed. Keep your back straight and take breaks frequently. Change body position often. Alternate between light and heavy chores. Drink lots of water. Most importantly, loosen up before you start out.


Heavy. Light. Heavy. Light. That’s the right way to handle those chores.

Change hands

Take the strain off by changing the position of your hands.

Check your position

And change it often. Kneel, then stand. Or simply sit and relax for a while.

Rake right

Ease the strain on your back by putting one leg in front, the other behind. Switch legs and hands from time to time.

Lift right

Keep your back straight and always bend your knees. To lift something heavy, position yourself close to the object. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, head up, with your feet and body pointing in the same direction. Carry the load close to your body. Do not lift heavy objects above your waist and avoid heavy lifting immediately after prolonged bending or kneeling.


Dig deeper…

Gardening tips by Joseph E. Fasciani

  • Weeds can get on any gardener’s last nerve, but they are easily dealt with. To make your own weed killing spray, combine the following: a gallon of white vinegar, a cup of table salt and a tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Shake until all the ingredients are mixed, pour into a spray bottle and use as needed.
  • Use old coffee grounds and crushed egg shells; not only do they provide nutrients for your plants, but they also help keep unwanted pests away. Slugs, squirrels and rabbits don’t like coffee or crushed eggshells, which means your plants will be able to grow more easily.
  • Bore 1/4” holes into a plastic 2L bottle to create an efficient and cheap way to irrigate your plants. When the bottle is buried so that the holes are in the roots zone, it provides trickle irrigation on demand and you can place the water by hose directly into the bottle. If aiming the hose stream even under low pressure is difficult, use a cheap plastic funnel in the bottle’s neck.
  • When you’re tending to plants in your garden, the last things you want to deal with are mosquitoes and aphids, but preventing them is pretty easy. Take sliced peels of any citrus fruit and scatter them around your garden. In time, they will also become nutrients for the same plants.
  • Use plastic forks to keep unwanted visitors away. To deter rabbits, rats and squirrels from your brand-new blooms, stick plastic forks, fork-side up, into the ground between all of your plants. This will protect your plants and let them grow in peace.
  • Use clear plastic egg cartons as a miniature greenhouse when starting seeds.

Virtual reality and the real thing

Portrait of David Suzuki


• The digital revolution is breaking new ground every day. Technology has a way of doing that. I remember when Hewlett-Packard introduced its first “laptop” computer, which stored a page and a half of writing. It revolutionized my life as a newspaper columnist. I never imagined the steady advances that would lead to today’s powerful laptops, tablets and handheld computers.

Once, while filming in a remote BC forest, I wanted to pan from the roots of a cedar tree along the trunk to the top in a single shot. After spending hours rigging wires and pulleys and struggling to keep the heavy camera from swaying as it rose, our crew gave up in frustration. Recently, we used a light GoPro camera mounted under a drone to get a spectacular high-definition shot in a few minutes!

The first time I opened YouTube, I was looking for a video of the astounding phenomenon of mucous secretion by a hagfish, a primitive marine animal. To my surprise, I found several postings and as I chose one, a list of several others that might be of interest popped up. Two hours later, I realized I’d been sucked in by an incredible range of films.

When I first heard about virtual reality, I was invited to put on the goggles and experience it. Crude as those first images were compared to what’s available now, I was immersed in the scenes. It was impressive and exciting, but I suggested that people should be wary of unintended consequences because virtual reality could eventually appear better than reality.

During a recent visit to Montreal, I had the opportunity to watch the latest iteration of the digital revolution: images in 3D, HD and 360-degree-wrap-around. It was mindboggling. I swam with whales and zoomed through a forest, listening to actual sounds, along with music and narration. As I watched a spectacular mountain forest, a train suddenly appeared, splashing across a lake and then coming straight at me. As my body responded to the all too realistic locomotive, it reached me and exploded into a thousand birds that took off in a glorious cloud. Computer graphics melded seamlessly with actual footage that generated scenes far exceeding reality.

I have no doubt virtual reality is going to have a huge impact. We’re just beginning to recognize its potential. But as with all new technology, there will be unintended repercussions, the greatest of which will be further estrangement from nature. Studies show that because people evolved out of nature, we need that connection with the natural world for mental and physical well-being.

Author Richard Louv categorizes a suite of childhood problems – including bullying, attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity – as “nature deficit disorder,” induced or worsened by too little physical exposure to nature. The average Canadian kid today spends more than six hours a day glued to a screen – mobile phones, computers, televisions – and less than eight minutes a day outside!

Some proponents claim virtual reality will stimulate children to spend more time outside. But why bother when the virtual world seems better than the real one? I’m sure innovation and creativity will continue to drive the technology to new frontiers. I’m just as sure there will be enormous unexpected and damaging consequences if we aren’t careful.

Excerpted from the original article. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Learn more at

Personal growth – out of the maze into amazing

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young


Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young•  So many of my clients are keen on personal growth. They want to change old patterns and evolve to a new level. They have read the books and understand the principles. They try to recognize and avoid ego reactions, think positively and visualize what they want. The problem is that some of them have been doing this for a very long time and still struggle with the old ways. They say they have been asking and asking for a sign or some guidance.

What I see are patterns that may have existed throughout their entire lives and perhaps are even held over from past lives. It is often subconscious. It is like they are in a maze; they know there is an outside, but they keep going down the same pathways and hitting dead ends. They often explore writings, attend workshops and hold on to what some leader said is the way, yet change remains elusive.

That is because the answers are not ‘out there.’ There is no ‘out there.’ Only the mind perceives it that way. Quantum physicists tell us we are all connected and that we are mainly energy and we influence the quantum field as it does us. We are like neutrinos in a quantum field, not separate from it.

Unaware of that, we bumble around in our little thought world thinking the old Newtonian way and wonder why things stay the same. It is like having a computer that is not connected to the internet. All we can do is work with what is already on that computer.

When we connect with the larger system, we can do almost anything. However, if we want to install a new and better program on our computer, we have to disable the old one. That means we have to let go of all the negative hurting or hurtful thoughts we have been carrying.

If we keep thinking the old thoughts, viewing the world from a polarized position, being judgmental of others and being influenced by our ego, we cannot expect to draw upon the resources of the larger field. We must connect to it.

We do this by quieting the mind chatter. Even if it is chattering about growth, it is still chattering. When we create inner silence – as when meditating – that is when we connect with the bigger field. It is like plugging into a power source to recharge.

As you do that regularly, carry that stillness with you throughout the day and imagine that all you wish to be is already there. Like changing a costume, you can toss away the old version of you and start running the new one right now. It doesn’t depend on what others do or how they react.

Stop the negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, self-doubt and criticism. This can be the hardest part because that program has been around a long while. When the thoughts come, practise thought-stopping. Replace the negative thought with a positive one. Be gentle and in integrity with those who annoy you. Step out of the power struggle and try to see what they really need.

Do not try to micromanage others. By keeping more silence, you will become more aware of how ego sabotages your best intentions. You have the power to change that.

As you step out of that old familiar maze with its frustrations, dead ends and the tendency to end up back where you started, you will step out of the maze – and into amazing!

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