Love this, and I don’t even have kids!

My friend Heather creates these adorable kids organic cotton t-shirts. She is a good friend, a cool lady, and a great mum on the Sunshine Coast. Proud to see her start this business. Now check out the link because I told you to!


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Taking trash: an older editorial of mine from Coast Reporter

MAY 20, 2011

There has been a lot of trash talk around the office this past week. Not the kind where slurs are made behind people’s backs, of course, but rather talk about the kind of trash people leave when they don’t clean up after themselves.

Last week I wrote a story on illegal dumping in our woods and the new mapping system implemented by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD). I thought it would be interesting to do some exploring to see what kind of garbage I could find. Using the SCRD’s system, I drove out to a few different areas to photograph various items sadly left to rot outside.

Mattresses, tires and food wrappers were strewn in various places. My heart sunk when I drove to what seemed like a pristine area and found a few cans of Lucky lager sitting on a tree stump, as if those who left the cans were proud to display them there.

I was pleased to read my boss’ editorial last week, particularly when he said it’s shocking to see that some people are so disrespectful of our environment. But what really got me wondering is where the disrespectful behaviour comes from.

I was taught to clean up after myself. Even before recycling became a daily and integral part of life, littering was a no-no. Road trips, picnics, even a walk to the corner store to get a treat — we always bundled up our litter and put it in a garbage bin. If a bin wasn’t handy, we held on to our garbage until we found one.

I will never forget being yelled at by my grandmother for dropping an ice cream wrapper as a kid. “Pick up after yourself. You want the birds to eat that? Don’t be lazy,” she bellowed at me, as I stood mortified in front of my friends at the playground. “You’re not the only one in the world here, young lady!’’

I picked up the sticky wrapper and walked, head held in shame, to the nearby garbage bin, having learned a lesson that has forever stuck with me. Upon my return, my grandmother informed me I was lucky she didn’t use her wooden spoon anymore.

Fast forward to just last week, and there I stood, staring at those two empty beer cans on the tree stump, wondering if the people who left them were just lazy. Looking at the other forms of garbage, though, such as the mattresses and tires, proved my wonder to be unsubstantiated. Those items were carted there purposely. People may be too lazy (or cheap) to go to the dump, but they take no issue with trekking to the woods to dispose of their rubbish.

We’re all guilty of dropping a piece of litter here or there or maybe not sorting our recycling as well as we should, but leaving a tire to rot in the woods is another matter. That kind of behaviour is something I am unable to comprehend. I can’t even understand why it’s a challenge for people to take their empty cans with them. Those cans look much better in a recycling bin than on a tree stump.

Is it a sense of entitlement? Maybe people just don’t know better. It’s hard to say. What is common sense to one person is rubbish to another (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

I urge everyone to think twice before littering or dumping any kind of garbage in the woods. Big or small, it hurts us all, including the birds my grandmother cared so greatly for.

If she were still here and saw someone throw a tire in the woods, I do not doubt she would make good on her threat to use the dreaded wooden spoon.

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An article I wrote on invasive plants. I’m obsessed. They’re everywhere!

Invasive plant species have crept up the Sunshine Coast, making themselves at home and leaving local plants in peril.

At the June 20 Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) special planning and development committee meeting, concerned citizens packed the gallery to hear numerous experts discuss with directors and other local government representatives how to handle invasive plant species.

Melissa Noel, co-ordinator for the non-profit Coastal Invasive Plant Committee (CIPC), was a key presenter at the meeting.

Producing a slide show of images of various invasive plant species, Noel explained how detrimental the plants can be to humans and the environment.

Local examples include Scotch broom, gorse, butterfly bush, giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed.

Attendees recognized many of the images, especially Scotch broom, a highly aggressive invasive plant currently dotting the sides of Highway 101 and numerous hillsides. Noel said the species is not only hard to get rid of, but its seeds are viable for up to 70 years.

As Noel showed images of other plants, many people in the audience, including directors, said they had these plants growing in their gardens and backyards, expressing remorse over not knowing they were invasive.

Education, Noel said, is the best tool to assist those in finding out what should and should not be growing in the area. She also emphasized prevention.

“This, coupled with early detection, equals a cost-effective formula in the fight of invasive plant species,” she said.

In addition to education and prevention, the subject of plant removal was discussed. While plants like Scotch broom can be manually removed, other species may require the use of herbicides. Japanese knotweed, a bamboo-like invasive plant, is rapidly spreading on the Coast. It too is highly aggressive and is dangerously making an appearance in riparian areas, Noel said.

Chemical treatment was noted as one of the best methods to control the plant, but this raised red flags for some meeting attendees.

Roberts Creek director Donna Shugar said she was concerned about herbicide use in riparian areas.

According to Noel, chemical treatment of a plant like Japanese knotweed would involve an injection method where the stem of the plant is given a shot of herbicide rather than the whole area being sprayed.

One matter all parties agreed on was the need for collaboration to fight what was referred to as the “war out there.”

“Park staff are trying to spend more time addressing these issues,” said SCRD parks planner Sheane Reid. “They’re doing what they can with the available resources. It is important to know the specifics before moving forward. What we need is good partnering.”

Directors passed a resolution to join the CIPC in partnership, and obtain a free membership with the organization. Directors also voted in favour of extending that invitation to the Town of Gibsons and the District of Sechelt.

Gibsons Mayor Barry Janyk also asked SCRD staff to research examples of other municipality and regional district bylaws surrounding invasive plants in order for directors to be prepared to deal further with the matter during 2012 budget discussions.

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A moving story about hope, honour, and courage

Davis Bay resident Colleen Adair is taking all the right steps in her effort to raise awareness about women’s cancers.

Last weekend, Adair walked 60 km in the eighth annual Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers in memory of her spouse Rita Bruneski who died from ovarian cancer in April 2010.

Adair and Bruneski walked together in the 2004 event to honour Bruneski’s mother, who passed away from bladder cancer. Adair’s brother is now battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a good friend of hers has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, giving Adair even more inspiration to participate in this year’s walk.

Adair said Bruneski had no symptoms of the disease, but when a reading was picked up on her annual exam, Adair did her best to support Bruneski through her illness.

“When Rita was first diagnosed, I said, “Why you? I mean Rita was an athlete. She was on the national Canadian team for women’s field hockey. She did all the right things,” said Adair.

Diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer, Bruneski engaged in regular treatment, but chose to include traditional and holistic medicine.

“Life just changes on a dime,” said Adair. “Rita was an absolute trooper. She didn’t like the word fight or aggressive wording like that. She worked hard and made lots of changes. If our GP hadn’t picked it up, I doubt that we would have had those three years.

“Rita was very, very hopeful, probably until the last two months, that she was going to be able to manage this as a long-term illness. The doctors were really clear from the get-go that there was no cure in her case, but she remained hopeful.”

Adair said she finds ovarian cancer “a scary cancer.”

“And I don’t like to use those words because I don’t like to give away the power on it but it just sneaks up on women,” she said. “Cancer is an epidemic, one that needs to be further examined. The research piece and funding research is key and it’s a big piece, but I think it’s only part of the piece. We need to get to the root of the cause of what’s going on and why there seems to be so much cancer.”

Adair raised $2,500, adding it was a great event for both her and her participating friends.

“The weather was perfect for walking and we all had a lot of fun as we chatted about life, cancer, surviving, what Rita gave to us, and how much we each enjoyed spending time with each other as we walked, talked, were silent, and developed some camaraderie with other walkers. It was a memorable weekend in many ways, and Rita was with us often, if not all, on the walk,” she said.


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My monthly column from Coast Reporter news

Flip of the Coin

Part of the job of being a reporter is attending meetings. My beat often requires me to attend so many meetings, I joke about seeing local politicians more than my own family. The issues I cover vary, of course, and while they all have merit, I would be lying if I said every one of them makes a specific impact on me.

There’s no denying I feel affected by matters regarding hot button topics such as B.C. Ferries, economic development and transportation, to name a few, but not every bylaw passed, wall painted or cross walk installed weighs heavily on my mind.

But last week something shifted in me, and I was unable to completely punch out from work.

Over the past month, I have been covering a proposed development on Shaw Road in Gibsons. The proposal has been discussed at regular council meetings, and two public hearings were also held, enabling people to have their say on the multi-unit project. The matter snowballed into a highly contentious issue, so much so, in fact, I have never seen the gallery so packed at Gibsons council.

At the hearings, both sides had terrific arguments, and I say that not only as a reporter, but also as a Sunshine Coast resident. Although I was there to do a job, I enjoyed hearing people’s reasoning, even if emotions ran high.

Neighbourhood development is a delicate issue, to say the least, and emotions can sometimes get the best of many. And that’s what public hearings are for — to hear what the public has to say. It’s a beautiful exercise in democracy.

Then came a few comments that nearly threw my support of free speech and belief in democracy out the window.

One citizen, who lives in the vicinity of the proposed development, shared numerous reasons why he disapproved of the development, turning from valid to ugly. Not only did he oppose the project, but he referred to potential unit renters as “undesirables.” He then likened renters and first-time buyers of “cheap residences” as the kind of people who would not fit into the community.

My heart truly sank when I heard those comments. I tried to get back to the task at hand, recording the rest of the meeting, but could not get the man’s words out of my head.

Driving home after the meeting, I pulled up to my house, which I rent, still thinking of the comments. Granted, the location of the development is in an area dominated by single-family dwellings, but if I were that man’s daughter or granddaughter, would he see me as an undesirable if I rented a unit in the development?

After reminding myself it was only one person’s point of view, I was still surprised such classist notions could exist, particularly in these days of economic uncertainty. Home ownership is a luxury, one that I am unsure I will ever be afforded, even with hard work.

Gibsons council agreed times have changed. I concur, and feel those who judge others based on socio-economic status are behind the times themselves.


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Summer is here, no heels necessary

Davis Bay sunset

The sun has finally decided to grace up with its presence, enabling the Sunshine Coast to live up to its name.

Approaching nearly six month of residence over here, I am finally starting to feel like somewhat of a local. Well, the term local might be pushing it, but after running into a couple of local politicians at Starbucks then having the barista tell me she liked my article on my recent flight experience, I felt like a pretty established Sunshine Coaster.

Although a sense of establishment seems to have washed over me, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t missing the city right now. Seeing all my friends post photos of rooftop BBQ parties, enjoying bike rides on the seawall and tall cans of beer at the beach or park, often makes me want to grab the first ferry back to the city. I miss being able to meet friends for a late night glass of wine at a bar, talking about silly, trivial things that make you laugh no matter how ridiculous they might be.

There are things I don’t miss, though. Traffic, parking, suburbs, constantly being asked for spare change, having to feel fashionable, etc. The last one is a funny one. I was things over here on the Coast I would never dare wear in the city. Considering my only fashion competition here consists of the sandals, socks, gore-tex, and gumboots, I’m not doing too badly. I finally wore my coveted pink Marc Jacobs heels out to the one “hip’ restaurant in town, only to feel like an idiot while traversing the deadly stairs down to the restaurant’s dock side location. Crawling back up the stairs after numerous drinks made me realize why no one cares if my heels are Marc Jacobs – I still looked rather foolish.

As the long weekend draws to a close, it will be back to work tomorrow, back to covering local political issues, back to the grins – albeit the grind over here is one a slightly different pace. But, it’s a pace I’ll definitely take. I may nit have been able t shake my booty in the name of gay pride this weekend in Vancouver, but I spent three days in a bikini, beer in hand, gloriously gardening, reading every inch of the Globe and Mails, and taking it slow and steady, enjoying it while I can.

But if you catch me wearing socks and sands, please put me on the first ferry back to the city.


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Call of the mild wild

Henderson Beach

Making the move from the city to a semi-rural community was not an easy one. It wasn’t too difficult, either, as I don’t exactly live in the bush, but the small community feeling has definitely set in.

From where to where you ask? I was previously in neighbourhood. For those who don’t know, Kits is home to the yoga bunny type. Set on the ocean, it has some of the nicest beaches in city, and for as much as some people may poke fun at the yuppified neighbourhood, I’ve always loved the laid back vibe, left over from the real hippies who actually resided in the area in the 60s and 70s. And it’s simply a beautiful neighbourhood, no doubt about it.

As much as you love a place, sometimes you have to move on. After being offered a job on the Sunshine Coast, I decided to pack up and move on over here. I landed in Roberts Creek, which is somewhat similar to Kits, except Roberts Creek makes up for what Kits lost in eclecticism. Hippies remain, but they drive Subarus and have solar panels in their back yards. Many draft dodgers called Roberts Creek their home, which I feel helped formulate the somewhat independent streak of the community.

Again, while I’m not exactly in the bush, it has been a transition. I came here to work as a reporter, gain some experience, and get out of the city for a bit.

This is my blog of random adventures, encounters, and all other things as I go into the what I like to call “the mild wild.” Life in a small, coastal town.

As for Daydream Nation, well, I’ll let you guess.

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