Philippine typhoon relief - help needed now · 14 November 2013 by colin newell
Typhoon Haiyan – locally known as Yolanda –is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2013 and arguably the most destructive storm to hit the region in anyone’s memory. The storm has caused widespread damage, including landslides and flooding. Tragically, among the people affected are those who were left homeless by an earthquake in mid-October.
So, I ask you… I beg of my readers:
Donate to the Typhoon Haiyan Fund
The Philippine Red Cross has been on the highest alert since the typhoon was sighted, pre-positioning supplies, helping with evacuation plans and warning communities. Today, they are working to meet the needs of individuals affected by the storm. It is a tough job – and how can we help? With money.
Canadians wishing to help individuals affected by this storm are encouraged to make a financial donation online, at their local Red Cross office or by calling 1-800-418-1111. Please earmark donations “Typhoon Haiyan”. Funds will be used to support Red Cross efforts in all countries affected by the storm.
Our American readers can pop over here to donate.
International readers click over here for the International office of the Red Cross.
Fall harvest cooking - Slow cooker Chicken Stew with Dumplings · 6 November 2013 by colin newell
It is that time of year when it is cold and damp when we arrive at work and dark and wet when we leave work. And what is better than coming home to a steaming hot pot of slow cooked stew!
Only thing you need to do when you get home is whip up the dumplings.
This is a heart warming dish that is perfect for this time of the year – it pairs well with any full bodied Red Wine – like a Cab S.B. – We had a California Sonoma Cab SB that was perfect with this dish. Enjoy and welcome to the Fall home cooking season!
2 kg skinned boneless Chicken thighs
2 cups chopped / diced carrots
2 cups chopped / diced celery
1 chopped onion
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup (low salt)
1 cup water
Cut chicken into large – medium pieces.
Brown (in oil + pork fat if you have it!) chicken in dutch oven or pot seasoning with salt, pepper and thyme
Remove chicken to crock pot
Saute onions carrots celery in Crock pot (that you used for browning chicken)
Place onions, carrots and celery on top of chicken in the Crock pot.
Put all the sliced mushrooms on top of the veg and chicken mixture.
Stir soup, water, thyme and black pepper in a bowl.
Pour soup mixture over the chicken / veg mixture in the crock pot.
Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hours.
2 cups of flour – 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (opt) – 4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt – 2 tablespoons butter – 3/4 cup 2% milk (approx.)
In bowl whisk together flour, parsley, baking powder and salt.
Using pastry blender OR two knives cut in butter into coarse crumbs.
Using fork, stir in enough milk to make sticky spoon-able dough.
Leaving space around each, drop by tablespoon full (dough) onto simmering stew.
Cover and cook (without lifting lid) for 15 minutes or until dumplings are not longer doughy underneath.
Starbucks on the recruitment drive · 30 October 2013 by colin newell
Starbucks is dedicated to hiring 10,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years.
Organized in part by Starbucks board member and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Seattle coffee giant said it hopes to “enlist” the unique communication, leadership and problem-solving skills most veterans and their families already have.
Quoting a recent L.A. Times article, “The hiring effort, which would affect Starbucks’ U.S. stores, is also a reaction to the “exorbitantly high unemployment rate that military families and veterans face,” Starbucks Executive Community development officer Blair Taylor explained.
Starbucks will set up recruiting processes “specifically targeted at veterans,” he said. The chain is “just starting to track military hires,” he said.
Other major U.S. businesses, like Walmart, have recently made efforts to pull employees from the nation’s defense forces.
Starbucks will open five community stores at U.S. military bases over the next five years… much like Tim’s does in some of its Canadian bases abroad.
Fascinating stuff in light of the some of the many challenges veterans and their families face as they return to civilian life. Hats off to Starbucks.
Food, Fashion, and Islamic Finance in Indonesia. · 16 September 2013 by Madeline H.
My name is Madeline Holden. In June 2009, I left Canada, for 15 months, on a solo world tour. My objective was to learn about foreign cultures, strange customs, and subsistence economies through immersion. I was in the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and understanding and attempted to achieve these by living in remote villages, studying difficult languages while observing people’s daily economic activities.
Photo above: My home away from home! Click on any of the photos for a larger view
It was when I was in Dubai that I first heard about Islamic banking and finance and it was when I was in Indonesia that I first saw it in action. I have a passion for business and I have always been very curious about religion and spirituality. In September 2012, I began my Master of Arts at the University of Victoria. Never, in my wildest dreams, could I ever have imagined doing a Master’s thesis on such a cutting edge, exciting, and controversial topic as Islamic microfinance in Indonesia.
What exactly is Islamic microfinance and how does it work? I am currently in Indonesia to find out. I am living in central Java in a busy, smoggy city called Solo (also known as Surakarta). I live in the suburbs, in a small municipality or district surrounded by rice fields. My neighborhood is bordered on one side by a fruit tree farm and on one side by a busy, two-lane road.
photo above – with some of my lady friends
The other two sides of the neighborhood continuously morph into other neighborhoods until they are interrupted by rice fields or the river. Small, single-lane roads, measuring 8 feet across, form of a north-south-east-west grid and make up the little “streets” of the neighborhood. The houses vary in size, style, and color. Some appear run down, decrepit and abandoned with chickens running through the dirt yard; seemingly the only living thing around. Other houses are fenced in with ten foot high walls protecting the lush gardens and rich, extensive interiors from the harmless buskers and food peddlers. I live in a one-story, three bedroom, unassuming, ground level house with a local, middle-class, university educated, Indonesian family.
This neighborhood is unlike any that I have ever seen in Canada. Most houses seem to have a sign above the door advertising a home-based business. For example, every couple of blocks someone is offering laundry services. For Rp. 2,500 per kilo (approximately $0.25) you can get your clothes washed, ironed, folded and ready in four days. If you are willing to pay double the price you can have next day service. Other houses have the front entrance set up to sell candy, food and toiletries. Local university students can rent a single room, known as a kost, which is built alongside up to nine other rooms, all in a row, in someone’s backyard. The enclosed veranda of one house is set up as an internet cafe where the local children pay Rp. 3,000 per hour (approximately $0.30) to play video games every afternoon (instead of surfing the net to learn about the world. I digress). If you forget to go to the gas station on the way home you need not worry. Some of the neighbors sell gasoline by the liter which is kept in clear, glass, bottles in a locked box or set up on shelves on the street.
Photo of gas vendor above – petrol by the bottle!
My host family’s adult daughter offers English and Arabic lessons for children. The business possibilities are endless.
The streets of Indonesia never sleep and the streets of this neighborhood are no exception. Peddlers drive or walk around the neighborhood dogging chickens, dogs and playing children from five in the morning until long after the sun has set. The peddlers sell everything from toys, balloons and brooms to fresh guava juice, meat-ball soup and spicy fried-rice. The food sellers have their “kitchens” set up on the back of their motorcycles, bicycles or in a cart with wheels and honk their horn or tap a spoon against a bowl to let everyone know they are in the neighborhood. There are more permanent food establishments set up along the main road bordering the neighborhood. There is a variety of food available including fried whole fish, tofu, peanut-sauced chicken, spicy vegetable salad, noodles, and rice. Fancy restaurants serving local delicacies such as cat fish or foreign foods such as steak or sushi can be found closer to the centre of town and in the popular shopping malls. About 2 miles down the main road there is a large traditional market where, in addition to live and freshly killed chicken, fish, vegetables and fruit, one can also find almost any household item imaginable including motorcycle accessories, shoes, and pots and pans. However, it is unnecessary to walk more than a half a kilometer along the main road to find many of these items as small pharmacies, stationary shops, copy shops, clothing stores, ATM’s and, of course, Islamic microfinance cooperatives are in abundance.
The Islamic microfinance cooperative where I will be spending the next three months is a 20 minute leisurely walk down this busy two-lane road from my house. The building, set back from the road, is a two story structure designed to house up to 10 businesses on the main level with the option for living accommodations or more business space above.
Photo – Food, food everywhere – from carts and motorcycles – the variety!
The microfinance cooperative is the third store along the row, painted bright yellow and green, with ample employee and customer parking in front. The cooperative is sandwiched between two mini-marts which are housed in the same building. A couple of mobile snack stands are set up just in front where the cooperative employees often go for their morning coffee break. Across the street there is a restaurant, a mobile phone store, an internet cafe, a few bicycle and motorcycle repair shops and another Islamic microfinance cooperative.
Female employees and managers of Islamic banking and finance, including Islamic microfinance, are required to wear the hijab (face is NOT covered; only the head is covered). I have agreed to do the same. Although I am not required to wear the hijab outside of the Islamic microfinance cooperative, I have discovered that doing so affords many benefits. Status is extremely important in Indonesian society and wearing the hijab generates instantaneous respect both personally and professionally. It baffles people when they see a pasty, white foreigner wearing the hijab and renders them speechless which turns to awe and delight when they discover that I am not even Muslim. Additionally, the hijab silences the daily whistling, hollering, and marriage proposals I receive when I do not wear it; it is 100% more effective than wearing a fake wedding band. Furthermore, I have found that when I wear the hijab I do not need to wear sunscreen, a hat or mosquito repellent and that I never have to worry about having a bad hair day!
All humor aside, the growing popularity in Indonesia among the young women in their 20’s and 30’s in choosing to wear the hijab of their own accord has been explored here:
In this really great film which effectively gives evidence to this growing fashion industry. Indonesians are extremely fashion conscious purchasing the latest and greatest coming out of Korea, North America and Europe. Regardless of their financial situation, fashion takes precedence. Though fashion has never really interested me I find myself mesmerized by the colors, accessories and infinite number of styles and ways of wearing the hijab. I am embracing my new found fascination and am having quite a bit of fun with mixing, matching and accessorizing while learning about Islamic microfinance in Indonesia.
Madeline Holden has a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) from Memorial University of Newfoundland and has worked in accounting, finance and policy analysis. She is a fellow in residence at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria in Victoria Canada. You can contact Ms. Holden via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grande opening of the Victoria Public Market - why you need to be there. · 11 September 2013 by colin newell
Victoria has a colorful and wildly uneven history of farmers and public markets – In fact, there is a pretty comprehensive journal from local historian and journalist Ross Crockford over here. It is a great read and I will borrow a bit from that article here – and the bulk of the sentiment.
Some thoughts in point form. Which I will expand upon…
- Victoria’s downtown needs a year round farmers market
- Why hasn’t there been a year round market all along?
- Even in the 21st Century we need to think about food security
- Buying from the chains is not always cheaper or better for the community
- By all means continue to support satellite, weekend markets and local businesses.
Why a market? So Victoria has the Moss Street market – one of the most notable and recognizable markets in the Victoria area – and it is well traveled – their website is over here – and for a small neighborhood market, it has stood the test of time. The MSM has been open 14 years or so now – and that (to date) is somewhat more stable than initial iterations of the first Victoria Public Market (which according to Ross Crockford) only lasted a few months.
…the owners blamed its failure on public indifference, and competition from Chinese farmers who peddled vegetables door-to-door. In 1878, white farmers successfully petitioned the city to build another indoor market, but the construction was so shoddy that the farmers stayed away.
At the time, Victoria was still something of a wild west and by some of the descriptions from historical references, much of the bureaucracy around the city administering a market was very much like it is today for most business people – difficult.
Even in the late 1800’s many farmers and producers sold their wares directly to retailers, negating the need for a public gathering place for food, services and entertainment.
Moving forward to the 20th Century, Victoria’s market struggled with progress but was re-energized by the
advent of World War (both of them) with issues of food security and patriotism being bandied about.
In the 50’s the final nails in the coffin of the Victoria Public Market was the arrival of chain stores, indifference to what was considered a quaint method of food gathering and a general neglect of the infrastructure.
As Ross Crockford points out in his historic observations, the downtown cores layout of real estate was coveted and public markets seemed contrary to progress – particularly with the advent of the automobile and decline of the street car as the predominant mode of transportation.
Why now? So why haven’t we (as Victoria residents) seen a surviving market through the years? Many European and American cities have had farmers markets that are upwards of a hundred (or in the case of Europe) hundreds and hundreds of years old.
Simple. Victoria never had a downtown population. Until more recently. I can remember scooting around Victoria in the mid seventies (as a young teen) noting that there were no Apartments in the downtown core – and many of the upper “flats” that used to exist in historic buildings on Government, Yates, Pandora and Fisgard avenues (for example) were boarded up or left fallow because of fire regulations.
In 2013, there are condos sprouting up in every corner of the city AND there are no downtown grocery stores (apart from the somewhat distant Yates Market at Quadra and Yates [which serves the area well thank you very much…]).
In the late 50’s and and until the mid sixties, downtown Victoria had an Eaton’s food floor and a Safeway (near the corner of Fort and Douglas) serving the needs of James Bay and Fairfield residents. I can remember as a young child in the 60’s popping into the Eaton’s Food Fair for some groceries (it was a real deal full service grocery then – much like the Woodward’s Food experience at Town and Country) and then hitting the soda fountain nearby for a Coke float. Additionally, the downtown had numerous general stores, like David Spencer Limited (commonly known as Spencer’s) who operated a department store chain – with a location in Victoria that lasted up until demolition to make way for the Eaton Center in the mid-eighties.
Anyway – staying on topic!
Food Security Anyone that says that we needn’t worry about our Island food supply has an agenda that it is not in the best interests of our local communities and neighborhoods. It was an issue in the 20th Century and it is an issue now. Why sell off our farm land for development while at the same time increasing our demand on an imported food supply? We are only one Earthquake or calamity away from pinching off a staggering dependency on food that is trucked and flown in on a scale that should give us pause.
According to food journalist, Don Genova, we produce around 6% of the food stuffs that we consume on Vancouver Island. And when you consider how arable this region is and how much we can actually grow if we put our minds (and shovels) to it… well, it’s shocking.
Chef, farmer and educator, Bill Jones of Deerholme Farm is one of our Island food professionals leading and raising awareness of Island food trends and the need to be cognizant of our fragile food supply – His educational curriculum and food learning program is a great example of how one person (and friends) can educate a lot of people about regional and local food production… and the fun of foraging!
One of my favorite rants on subject (of Island grown food management) was the practice of a very large Island grown food chain that was shipping Island grown produce to Vancouver for sorting… before it shipped it back to the Island… the excuse being “Our Island storage facilities are not big enough…” Give me a break. And people wonder why locally produced fruits and vegetables cost so much at the chains. To their credit, I think they have built a warehouse on Vancouver Island for sorting and storage of Island produce.
Want to contrast food pricing with the Chains? Try this exercise: Head out to one of the small satellite markets or farm vendors like the Root Cellar on McKenzie and Blenkinsop – and tell me their prices are not refreshingly cheaper than Thrifty Foods or Safeway.
Why support local? Why buy local? Creates jobs. Creates an incentive to produce locally. Instills a sense of community. Brings people together. And I am not just talking about farmers – but bakers, brewers, crafts people of all kinds. In a city the size of Victoria, you would think we would have dozens of great bakeries – we don’t but that could change if we stop buying unhealthy factory produced breads from afar.
I should stress that if you live in a neighborhood (or within a km or two of a neighborhood) that features cafes, bakers, brewers or meat markets – by all means support those ahead of your regional or local market! The idea is not to take away business – but to get people to walk to their markets or local businesses and artisans – to mingle and learn and be part of the community.
Historically, markets were built to serve an urban population – As stated, Victoria has not had an urban population (with the necessary density to support a full time public market) until the 21st Century. The time is now.
So we seem to be on the right track. In the last ten years I have seen the arrival of better choices locally, a raised awareness of the importance of a stable local food supply and a passion for “getting it done locally” that simple did not exist in the latter part of the 20th Century. We have come a ways – but we have further to go.
Let’s keep doing what we are doing Victoria has markets, day markets, summer markets, street markets and night markets. We are in the right track. By all means, keep supporting these initiatives – seek them out. Support them.
And by all means come out to the grande opening of the new Victoria Public Market this Saturday and Sunday!
I will be there – and so should you! Here is the link for finding your way to the Victoria Public Market opening on Saturday –
Mike Russell and Cops for Cancer - Vancouver Island · 16 August 2013 by colin newell
My name is Mike Russell and I became a cop in 2005 with the Edmonton Police Service. My sole goal since joining as an officer was to make a difference in my community.
Since moving with my family (now consisting of my lovely wife and three kiddo’s) to Victoria in 2008 I’ve been completely overwhelmed at how this community bands together to overcome obstacles.
This in part inspired me to ride the Canadian Cancer Societies Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock this year. I’ve not been affected by Cancer personally, but the strength I’ve witnessed from children and their families who have battled this terrible disease is truly inspiring.
I want to do everything in my power to ensure a cancer free future for all kids, parents, families and communities. We can do it, but I’ll need your help.
You can help in a number of ways:
1. Come on out to one of our great events!
We’ve got an upcoming Mayfair Mall Drive in and Carnival on Wednesday, August 21st where we are showing Grease. You can win lots of prizes, eat cotton candy and even win a chance to see the movie in our historic Car 40 (cop not included).
On Thursday, August 22nd, we’re at Glo Resturant and Lounge. The awesome folks at Glo are putting on an amazing show this year with a fantastic dinner (and drink) included in the ticket prices. There will be some amazing prizes, live band, DJ and Live and silent auctions…and of course, lots of cool people.
2. You can also donate directly to the Tour de Rock through a few means.
You can text to donate at 20222 and enter code TOUR 19 for an immediate $10 donation.
Hope to see many of you at our events. Thanks as always for the support.
Mike Russell, 2013 Tour de Rock Team ride and VicPD Media Spokesperson and Social Media Officer.