Archive for the ‘Community Interest’ Category

Pacific Spirit Park Society

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Krista Voth, Pacific Spirit Park, Dunbar Life

Champion of Dunbar Village.

Dunbar is privileged to have magnificent Pacific Spirit Regional Park backing onto the neighbourhood. Twice the size of Stanley Park, it boasts 78 kilometres of forested trails frequented by walkers, runners, bicyclists and horse riders.

Established in 1989, Pacific Spirit Regional Park was originally part of the University Endowment Lands. It was created as a natural forest preserve and is part of Metro Vancouver’s park system. Covering 763 hectares, the park consists of foreshore (including Wreck Beach), forest and Camosun Bog and is home to a variety of birds, small and large mammals and amphibians.

A number of rare native plants and some of the few remaining old-growth trees in the Lower Mainland can be found in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. The biodiversity of this rich ecosystem is threatened by the spread of invasive plants, especially English holly and ivy. However, all is not lost. The community is fortunate to have the dedicated Pacific Spirit Park Society (PSPS) led by program coordinator Krista Voth along with a committed board of directors and an army of volunteers (totalling 275) who act as public stewards of the park.

Krista is a former Waldorf and Montessori teacher. She is studying geography at UBC and has a keen interest in the way urban parks are used and cared for by the public. Beyond her course work in the Environment and Sustainability program, her research focuses on citizen science data collection and social inclusion in public parks. She is always looking for new ways to educate people and her enthusiasm is contagious.

PSPS provides opportunities for volunteers to engage in stewardship projects and citizen science data collection, as well as offering a variety of volunteer run education programs.

Krista mentions that approximately 80 per cent of the volunteers in the stewardship and data collection programs are youth and young adults between 14 to 25 years of age. There are a number of ways volunteers contribute to Pacific Spirit Park Society.

Eco Team volunteers meet on Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. to remove invasive plants and help plant native species. Between 30 to 50 people come out each week to lend a hand and keep the Himalayan blackberry, holly and ivy at bay. Volunteers also assist in mapping illegal trails created by walkers and cyclists; they close off the trails by replanting and fencing them.

The Eco Watch program provides opportunities for volunteers to map and monitor the spread of invasive plants and to test the water quality in two of the Park’s streams that support salmon populations. Volunteers gain experience in the environmental science field and develop GPS mapping skills – the intention is to evaluate the effectiveness of the invasive plant removal programming and monitor the health of wildlife habitat.

Krista is excited to report that PSPS has recently received a TD Friends of the Environment grant to help fund their newest program: Eco Kits. The interactive educational kits include activities and lessons that are perfect for teachers and students visiting the park. Currently, bog and forest kits are being piloted and this fall the selection will expand to include streams and ponds.

Another popular program is Eco Walks, a partnership between PSPS and UBC’s Tapestry independent retirement community located near the park. PSPS offers a monthly nature walk and talk to a maximum of 15 people – Krista says there is always a waiting list.

Volunteer recruitment happens naturally. Like the spreading ivy, volunteers spread the word about their positive experiences and bring new helpers into the fold.

Krista says, “There is no minimum commitment of time, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Some volunteers come once, while others return week after week. People come from as far as Burnaby, Richmond and Surrey to offer their services. Some are students who are looking to fulfill volunteer hours required by their schools, others are retirees or people who don’t have yards.”

“Volunteering with PSPS helps people get out in nature who might not otherwise get a chance.” Krista Voth

The society partners with many local schools including Immaculate Conception School, Lord Byng Secondary, Queen Elizabeth Elementary, St. George’s School and University Hill Secondary. It has also formed a network with Eastside schools.

As well, PSPS partners with South Vancouver settlement agencies, new immigrants and international students. These groups are eager to participate in order to learn more about nature and Canada.

Krista mentions, “It is very satisfying for volunteers to see the results of their work.” She would like people to know that PSPS always welcomes new volunteers.

What does Krista find most rewarding about her work? “Definitely working with the volunteers. My favourite day is Saturday. I come home saying, ‘I have the best job in the world.’ People come out in all weathers – it’s a real highlight.” she says.

Thank you to these Champions of Dunbar Village who contribute countless hours for the betterment of the community. Like the name of the park, your boundless team ‘spirit’ is recognized and appreciated.

www.pacificspiritparksociety.org

Pacific Spirit Park Dunbar

East Summer Colour with Flowering Bulbs

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Higher Ground Gardens plantsLooking to add summer flowering plants to your existing shrubs and perennials? Try summer flowering bulbs for a display that can bloom from early summer through to mid-fall. There are many gorgeous bulbs you can plant in spring for great summer colour, and cut-flowers. Dahlias are commonly planted tender bulbs. Mostly tropical in origin, summer flowering bulbs bring a hint of the exotic to our garden beds and borders. Sold in mesh bags at your local garden centre, you will have many options to choose from. Gladiolus, Dahlia, Begonia, Asian Lilies as well as Canna Lilies and Calla Lilies can all be grown from bulbs.

Celebrate Canada in Red and White Style
This year, Canadian bulb producers have introduced showy red and white bulbs to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. Look out for ‘Canadian Celebration’ dahlias with a white flower that has a delicate red stripe on the petals. ‘True North’ Lilies, Gladiolus and Dahlias are all vibrant variations of red and white blossoms for a patriotic garden display.

Easy Care Tips for Success with Summer Bulbs
Most summer bulbs love warm soil and the heat of summer. In Vancouver, you can plant in spring for blooms by summer. Dahlias, Canna Lilies and Gladiolus like a spot in full sun with moist but well drained soil. Calla Lilies can be planted in part shade or full sun. Stake taller plants as they grow. In early autumn, remember to dig out the bulbs after all the foliage has receded. Store them in a cool, dry place away from car fumes. Let them lay dormant all winter and repeat next spring!

Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist. She is Co-Owner of Higher Ground Gardens with Christian Kessner, a Certified Landscape Technician

www.highergroundgardens.com

Spring Gardening After a Hard Winter

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Pruning
Pruning small trees and shrubs in February, during the dormant period, is a safe time to make cuts. Avoid pruning shrubs that are about to flower, as you will lose the buds. Use your handsaw and secateurs to improve access, shape, or remove branches broken by snow loads. Cut back any of last year’s perennials that were left for winter interest such as coneflowers or ornamental grasses. Cut to within an inch of the crown of the plant.

Damage and Debris Removal
In winter or early spring remove fallen leaves, branches, breakage from snow, and dead portions of Chafer grub damaged lawns. Rake up debris from the lawn and garden beds and dispose of as much possible in the green bin. Note that homeowners can call 311 and request the largest green bin available or order a second bin. Piles of debris left on the lawn will kill the emerging spring grass beneath it and becomes a nesting site for slugs and insect pests.

Add Composted Mulch
With spring on its way, a layer of composted mulch installed on the planting bed will help to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and moderate soil temperature. If your soil is light brown or yellowish in colour, this is a telltale sign that you need to use bark mulch as a top-dressing to add vital nutrients to your garden.

2017 is the year of ‘Soundscaping.’ Plant trees or shrubs that have dense lower branches in order to buffer your garden space from urban noise. Leaves, trunks and branches serve to disperse sound waves. It’s no surprise that trees are once again in the spotlight for their health benefits.

Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist. She is Co-Owner of Higher Ground Gardens with Christian Kessner, a Certified Landscape Technician

Dunbar Little League

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Champion of Dunbar Village.

You can almost hear the aluminum bat ping, smell the burgers on the grill and feel the teams’ collective energy as David Berrington enthusiastically describes his involvement with Dunbar Little League (DLL).

David-Berrington-DLL-Dunbar-LifeDavid is president of DLL’s board and he’s a huge fan of the organization. This season DLL celebrates its sixtieth season, making it Vancouver’s second oldest Little League. Although the season is short, three months in total from April to June, in addition to tournament season (mid-June to the end of July), DLL is a true community anchor.

Volunteers are fully responsible for running DLL and there is no problem getting people out to lend a hand. David says, “This is not drop and go, this is drop and participate.”

“We have the strongest volunteer base of any league we interact with. We measure our success by our community spirit.” David Berrington

An example of community spirit is the pre-season field preparation workday; approximately 150 people turn out every year without fail. They come equipped with hoes, shovels and rakes to weed, put up fences, and spread “red gold” which is what David jokingly says they call the expensive dirt.

He mentions that season openers draw as many as 500 kids and 1,000 family members. He adds, “No other Dunbar events have a turn out like this.” Closing day also draws huge crowds. An annual parade kicks off the day, beginning at West King Edward Avenue and processes, complete with police escorts, along Dunbar Street to Memorial Park. With as many as 700 kids, coaches and parents joining in, by the time they reach the park the numbers double in size with the awaiting crowd.

Community celebrations are at the heart of DLL. Perhaps it is because, as David acknowledges, “Baseball has a rich tradition of history and ceremony” that they place value on commemorating special occasions. On Mother’s Day the concession stand is off limits – no mothers are allowed to volunteer. Instead, mothers and grandmothers are showered with adoration in the form of a cooked breakfast made by the dads.

Another notable occasion is the annual coaches game. This one night tournament is an opportunity for everyone to come out and watch the coaches play. A volunteer who happens to be a restaurateur, came up with the idea of offering a special menu of meatball sandwiches and crab rolls at the concession stand, which met with great approval. As many as 300 people have come out to cheer on the coaches; kids act as umpires and get an opportunity to make announcements. Pancake day for the Majors players is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the senior players prior to the playoffs. They hold fun competitions and players receive a commemorative pin in appreciation of their time spent with DLL.

Players and their families are guaranteed to be neighbours due to set boundaries within the Dunbar area.

Only accepting registrations from Dunbar kids creates instant connections with one another at Memorial Park and Balaclava Park, which are the home parks to the 500 DLL players who range in age from 4 to 12.

Beginning at age 4 children can sign up for T-ball where they will get their first taste of being a Little Leaguer. At age 7 they progress to Minor B division (the only level that plays at Balaclava Park), at age 9 they advance to Minor A and finally at age 11 through 12 they reach Majors division at Memorial Park’s big diamond.

All teams are co-ed and it’s never too late to learn to play baseball. David notes that while registration has already taken place for the older divisions, T-ball registration is underway during the month of February.

“The concession turns a small profit every year. It’s not about making a profit, it’s about the community feeling.” David Berrington

The concession is open to everyone; residents will often stroll by and make a purchase. For $5 you can purchase a burger and drink. Popcorn, hot dogs, Caesar salad wraps and slushies are all very popular but the top seller by far is the candy bags priced at a mere 50 cents. Over the course of a season DLL sells over 6,000 bags. Groups of volunteers meet twice a season to bag the candy.

With 50 DLL teams in total there are plenty of opportunities for local businesses to get involved as sponsors. David mentions there is a waiting list to sponsor the Majors level. Businesses benefit from exposure to local residents but it is also a philanthropic investment in the neighbourhood that drives many to get involved.

How did David get involved? Although he did not play baseball as a child he made a point of introducing his two sons to a variety of sports. They became hooked and have worked their way up through DLL. His oldest son has now moved on to Bantam Triple A with Vancouver Community Baseball. His youngest son is completing his final year in DLL’s Majors division.

DLL logo sqDavid admits that as a human resources consultant his strength is managing and leading people. He has thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for DLL. With one final year as president he admits, “I’ll miss it terribly. The involvement I have is special.” He will remain for an additional year as past president, but will always be involved in some capacity. “I don’t own the league. I have been a caretaker for a few years. You always hope to leave an organization in a better place when you move on,” he says.

Regarding the sixtieth anniversary season DLL plans to host an alumni game and hold a party in June which all former coaches and players are invited to attend. Information and details will be forthcoming on DLL’s website at www.dunbarbaseball.ca

Puppies and Toddlers

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Puppies-Dunbar-LifeMany Dunbar families have dogs, which means most of those have had the Puppy Experience. Our now four month old puppy reminds me daily of how remarkably similar the experience of having a puppy is to the Toddler Experience. Sorry kids.

Both toddlers and puppies involve a general disruption of routine and constantly require surveillance and intervention. When puppy finally exhausts herself and konks out on the floor, we scurry about, having showers or putting things away while puppy sleeps. Try bringing in groceries or sweeping the floor or emptying the dishwasher with a puppy or a toddler ‘helping you.’ The ordinary can become a personal challenge: the other day I got crazy and decided to sneak the door mats back to their usual positions at the front and back doors. After 24 hours of their remaining in place I thought I had clinched a victory, until I entered the room to see our puppy whipping the mat in circles above her head like a cowboy swinging a lasso. The mats were collected once again.

Both puppies and toddlers regularly walk off with car keys and mail and shoes if not secured away. All possessions are at risk. A toddler in our family once hid a turned off pager inside a bread-maker, an extremely clever move given the frequency of that appliance’s use. Our counters and tables are strewn with a bizarre collection of random items retrieved from the puppy. Last month I was driving off almost late for a meeting when, with a sinking feeling, I noticed in my rear view mirror a Fed Ex truck pulling up to our house. Imagining perfectly the Christmas on-line shopping delivery scenario, I looped around and returned home again to find our puppy in the front hall, pleased to have her very own hand-delivered personal chew toy package in her mouth. Rescuing the home delivered “toy” and replacing it with an approved dog toy, pretty much identical to a baby toy, all ensured that I was definitely late for my meeting.

Toddlers and puppies both cause an inordinate amount of energy and conversation to be focussed on bodily functions. Those not involved in this world are surprisingly less enthusiastic about tales of successful potty use or, in the case of dogs, back yard visits. For proud participants in this endeavour, detailed reports provided at work or at dinner parties never quite bring about the thrilled response we are looking for.

Both puppies and toddlers provide constant reminders of the wonders of the world around us. We are amazed by a toddler crouched in that full-squat position young children rest in, staring intently at a beetle on the ground, tapping it gently with a tiny index finger. On a recent walk our puppy caught sight of someone vaping at a bus stop. She pulled over, sat directly in front of him and stared at the vision before her, glancing at me a few times to check whether this situation was alarming or not.

Nobody can deny that both are beyond adorable when asleep. How many times a parent finally has a toddler asleep on their chest, and, rather than carrying the child to bed, lingers there with the delicious weight and warmth of this small person upon them. Or having a puppy literally curled up upon one’s feet and not getting up, though needing to, for the sheer delight of the moment. We linger because the moment is beautiful and because we know all too well that the whirling dervish will soon return.

Gift Giving

Monday, December 5th, 2016

dunbar-life-gift-givingGift giving is a particular kind of art. The gift of “the gift” is a combination of thoughtful-ness, artsiness, sleuth, timing and delivery. The price of a gift does not ensure its meaning, however, if one must receive a meaningless gift, then expensive is nice.

I know people with this talent who are total pros. Gift shopping is a state of being for them, constantly on duty in search of perfect gifts. The women among them could be in labour, en route to the hospital and still zip into a shop to pick up the perfect house-warming gift for their co-worker’s renovated kitchen.

Not possessing this gift, I have been known to approach Christmas shopping like immunization: as painful but necessary. When our kids were little I would book a babysitter for the entire day and be standing outside some immense mall at door opening, in runners and light athletic gear, hydrated, well fed and wearing a backpack. I did not know if the gifts people wanted were in that mall: I just knew that the gifts they were getting from me were in there. Back and forth I’d go to the car all day, like some retail triathlon participant, “getting the job done.” There was not a lot of art or beauty involved. I do miss the easy shopping days of visiting a giant toy store where a lot of primary coloured plastic was purchased, though none emitting terrible sounds or requiring batteries.

Getting someone ‘the perfect gift’ is such a joy. That jumpy, magic moment while you await someone dear unwrapping a gift you know he or she is going to LOVE truly does make it better to give than receive. I hit that home run once, with my whole family and parents all at the same time, having created by some miraculous aligning of the universe, a photo memory book for a special period of time we all shared. The tears streaming down my daughter’s face as she looked through the book was my gift.

Occasionally the setting of the gift delivery becomes the part of the gift itself. Think of the smitten lover who sends a flower bouquet up the elevator to greet his waiting beloved. Or the gift held out at the back porch door of an elderly couple by an unexpected visitor who travelled from afar.

A favourite gift setting for me was our messy kitchen at home early one morning last April. The day prior had been a particularly bad day and also our 25th wedding anniversary. That day was not a Hollywood romance movie but rather a grainy black and white documentary: a normal work day, followed by kids sports, building a crescendo with an evening computer meltdown and loss of a group EMBA project, two teenagers needing to pack for two separate school / team outings and peaking with an all-night emergency visit to Vancouver General Hospital. Discovering the next day, a gold gift bag containing a wooden box with a gorgeous long strand of pearls in our disheveled kitchen, unnoticed amid the chaos of the day before, struck me as the perfectly poetic, fitting way to receive a gift celebrating 25 years of marriage. Pearls among the mess.

Such are gifts in our ordinary lives.

The Dos and Dont’s of Writing the Best University Admissions Essays

Monday, December 5th, 2016

By Bryan Ide, Education Directory KEY Admissions Strategy & Learning Enrichment

Before you submit your US university applications, ask yourself if you are truly happy with your essays. Do they capture the reader’s attention? Do they articulate your compelling and interesting story? And most importantly, do they make you stand out? To help you answer these questions, here are some important dos and don’ts to writing outstanding university admissions essays.

Do be genuine and passionate
The number one rule to writing a great personal statement is to be yourself. Think of the essay as a fun exercise where you get to write about what you are passionate and to show your real self. When you focus on something that is genuinely you, you’re much more likely to write a unique personal essay.

Don’t be opportunistic
Be careful if you write about the sick relative in the hospital or all the hardships you have faced in life in order to gain the sympathy of the reader. That doesn’t work. Also, if you talk about saving the environment you but your application doesn’t show that you even are involved with your school’s environmental club, you will look opportunistic. In other words, don’t write what you think will appeal to the reader. Rather, stay true to yourself.

Do connect with your reader quickly
As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous articles, one exercise that I do with my students I call the two-sentence rule where I read the first two sentences of their essays. If my students haven’t caught my attention, they need to rewrite their essays. Remember that admissions officers are going through your application so quickly that you need to be able to catch their attention as soon as possible. Also, the more effective essays use humour, wit, and self-deprecation to connect with the reader.

Don’t be clichéd
I noted in a previous article that one of the common themes I saw as an interviewer for Cornell University went something like this: the applicant moved to Canada from China a few years ago not knowing any English and not having any friends. Through perseverance and determination he overcame the language barrier and fully integrated himself into Canadian society. If your essays sound very similar, then I can guarantee you that many other applicants will have written the exact same essay. So, it’s important not to be clichéd and write something that many others will also have written.

Do show how you think differently
One effective way to stand out among the crowd is to show how you think differently. Take for example my own essay that I wrote when I applied to Cornell University. My topic was McDonald’s, yes McDonald’s fast food restaurant! For one week I went to McDonald’s every day and sat there watching people. I noticed certain things and particular patterns. For example, the average time it took for someone to enter, eat, and leave was about seven minutes. Also, do you know why the seats at McDonald’s are so hard and uncomfortable? It’s so that McDonald’s can cycle more customers through at a faster rate thereby increasing profits. Writing about my observations at McDonald’s showed how I think differently about something which most people wouldn’t even think or notice.

Don’t write fiction
A couple of years ago, I reviewed the essays from a couple of students from one of Vancouver’s top private schools. To my shock, the students had written fictional stories! I guess they thought that writing fiction was their way of being creative. However, admissions officers aren’t interested in reading about things that never happened. Rather, they want to get to know the real you, so how are they supposed to do that by reading a fictional story?

As you strive to write the best essay you can, remember these helpful hints. And always stay true to yourself. You’ll find that it’ll make writing your essay so much easier and so much more pleasant.

Champion of Dunbar Village

Monday, December 5th, 2016

ann-pacey-katarina-halm-john-halldorsonDunbar Earthquake and Emergency Preparedness (DEEP)

Do you recall the modest earthquake that struck the West Coast on December 29, 2015 and jolted many of us awake from our sleep? How prepared were you for that event? Almost a year later, do you have emergency supplies and a solid action plan in place or have you swept the occurrence under the rug as a one off event?

Since 2011 an active team of Dunbar citizens have been talking about and preparing for ‘the big one,’ a full-scale earthquake. Dunbar Earthquake and Emergency Preparedness (DEEP) is a citizen’s grassroots effort to ensure Dunbar residents are able to take care of themselves after such a disaster.

Ann Pacey is one of DEEP’s energetic founding members. She is a member of various emergency related organizations and boards, including the Village Vancouver Transition Society (VV), which inspires individuals and organizations to take actions that build resilient and sustainable communities. DEEP emerged out of a presentation VV made to the Dunbar Residents’ Association (DRA) in 2011 to encourage neighbours working together.

“We’re all in it together. I was interested in the question of building community resilience when I started.” Ann Pacey

At this meeting enthusiasm ignited and key members from the DRA including Susan Chapman, Jane Ingman Baker and Walter Wells formed a steering committee and joined forces with Pacey to start DEEP. Another key player who Pacey describes as “a tireless volunteer” is Katarina Halm, who dedicated great effort into compiling the wealth of information found in DEEP’s brochure, building their website and coordinating outreach.
After a major disaster occurs people will be on their own for a significant length of time and will need to look within their local resource base, as city and emergency resources will be over extended. DEEP’s original vision was based on the Block Watch model, to build neighbour capacity block-by-block to collectively look out for each other and offer their skills in time of an emergency.

Block captains were invited to participate in the DEEP program adding new and interesting activities to their block parties. Pacey says DEEP’s Block Watch model has been slow to gain wider participation however, perhaps with added awareness this could become a reality.

Pacey points out that people don’t have to share political, religious or cultural views in a time of a crisis. It is a time to rally together; having DEEP in place helps neighbours kick into action and assist one another.

“Now is the time to prepare, not when a disaster happens. If we are prepared we will be able to take better care of ourselves.” Ann Pacey

DEEP looks at actual events in other cities such as Christchurch and San Francisco, to learn from and apply those lessons, when (and based on plate tectonic research it is indeed when, and not if) a similar earthquake occurs on the West Coast.

Pacey stepped down as DEEP’s head when she moved out of Dunbar, but she still plays an active role and John Halldorson has taken over as director. He is a Dunbar Community Centre Association board member and as a retired Chief Warrant Officer in the Canadian Army Reserve for 43 years, had ample experience dealing with emergency response.

Halldorson says, “It is a bit of a struggle getting people involved and then keeping them interested.”

“DEEP does monthly presentations of various preparedness subjects and a couple of table top scenario exercises to run through what happens in an actual event.” John Halldorson

He points to the good work DEEP has done increasing awareness and developing neighbourhood preparedness using the Map your Neighbourhood Program.

Map Your Neighbourhood creates a neighborhood map identifying locations of gas meters, propane tanks, and other hazards, as well as a list of all residents, particularly those likely to need help. It identifies those with key skills such as medical, ham radio, machinery operators or equipment, for example, chain saws, generators, and winches that might help in an emergency. Map Your Neighborhood teaches a team approach to neighbourhood response, including communications and staying safe while helping.

“DEEP has a vision of being a stepping stone and coordinating point in the community during a emergency or disaster,” Halldorson reports. He is pleased to share, “DEEP is one step closer to this as Dunbar Community Centre Association has funded a shipping container which will contain emergency equipment like radios, enhanced first aid, tarps and search and rescue kits. The Vancouver Park Board has authorized this container to be set up at Dunbar Community Centre. This dovetails perfectly with the City’s recently launched Disaster Support Hub (DSH) concept, will hopefully get city support and that may help us, as the only emergency preparedness community group in Vancouver.”

Imagining the prospect of having one’s home and life turned upside down is not pleasant, but thanks to the dedicated DEEP volunteers and their visionary preparedness plan, Dunbar is one step ahead of many communities. To learn more about DEEP visit their website (www.dunbar-deep.ca) and request a talk on a block level. After all, it’s always best to be prepared.

Fun Fall Gardening Tasks

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Cut Back Perennials
Fall is a great time to cut back your herbaceous perennials. Help wildlife by leaving a selection of plants to go to seed. Birds will flock to your garden for the winter treats.

Hedge Trimming Boxwoods, Cedars and Laurels
Hedges and shrubs stop growing at the end of fall. This is a great time to trim, as the shape will last for many months with out any new growth. You get the best value for service at this time of year.

Cut Back Flowering Shrubs
Prune shrubs back once they have finished flowering to create shape and structure.
After blooming is done, shrubs such as Rose of Sharon can be trimmed back to reduce the overall size. Prune up to ¼ of the crown height.

Bark Mulch Installation
Mulching: Keeps the moisture in the soil and reduces weeds in the spring
Covering the garden beds with decomposed mulch is by far the best money you can spend in your garden. Mulch retains moisture for the plants during the summer and keeps the roots warm in the winter. The mulch also breaks down and enriches the soil and looks really tidy.

Great Time to Add New Plants
Install cheap plants for an instant spring garden
Fall is a great time to purchase discounted perennials from your local nursery for your garden. As the soil is still warm the plants will establish in time for winter and once the spring warms your plants will come up.

Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist. She is Co-Owner of Higher Ground Gardens with Christian Kessner, a Certified Landscape Technician.

www.highergroundgardens.com

higher-ground-nov-dl-ad

Elements Academy of Martial Arts

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Mysha_Dewar-McClelland_Elements_Dunbar_Life

“Champion of Dunbar Village”

Giving back to the community comes effortlessly to Elements Academy of Martial Arts business partners Mysha Dewar-McClelland and Emma Hamilton. They share the common value that Elements is much more than a neighbourhood business.

Dunbar reminds Dewar-McClelland of Lindsay, Ontario, the close-knit rural town where she grew up. She feels fortunate to work in this special neighbourhood; therefore it is part and parcel to invest in the community where Elements’ members live and attend school.

“We encourage our students to not only build community within our studio but to embrace and give back to our larger Dunbar community.”

Mysha Dewar-McClelland

For a number of years Dewar-McClelland volunteered and subsequently was employed at Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW). She attributes the personal satisfaction she derives from volunteering to the time she spent assisting the rape crisis centre. WAVAW is one of many organizations that benefits from the excellent fundraising work Elements regularly undertakes.

Dewar-McClelland had no experience with martial arts until she was 27 years old. That was when she was introduced to Hamilton who persuaded her to attend a class. She trained with Hamilton and has been working as an instructor and the studio’s administrator since Elements opened in 2009.

She wishes she had discovered martial arts when she was a teenager. The girls’ programs have special meaning to her. “I see myself in them. It is inspiring to see young women taking pride in their physical ability,” she says.

Hamilton is the only female owner of an independent martial arts studio in Vancouver.

As role models for girls of all ages, she and Dewar-McClelland like to offer the gift of empowerment through self-defence and kickboxing training whenever possible.

A few years ago Hamilton connected with KidSafe Project Society and volunteered to train Grade 6 and 7 inner city girls. Subsequently, she discovered KidSafe’s GEMS (Girls Exploring Motion and Self) program, which assists girls at Florence Night-ingale Elementary on Vancouver’s eastside.

Elements_Academy_Dunbar_Life_Harvest_FestivalElements held a fundraising Kick-A-Thon at the studio to benefit GEMS. Elements’ members of every age (kids, youth and adults) collected pledges and participated in different categories to demonstrate their ability and technique and to see how many timed kicks they could accomplish. They were ecstatic to raise over ten thousand dollars for GEMS, far surpassing their goal; the extraordinary accomplishment provided the girls’ program with funding for a year.

Other Elements fundraisers have benefited WAVAW and Big Sisters. This year the martial arts academy (in partnership with Vancity Buzz) offered four free self-defence workshops for women, including one held at Musqueam. Over the years Elements has run numerous community programs at the Musqueam Community Centre.

Dunbar Apartments recently invited Dewar-McClelland to talk to residents about self-defence and safety in the community. It was so well received that she plans to return to offer a self-defence workshop.

Elements can also be found participating in Dunbar Village Business Association’s (DVBA) events such as the Harvest Festival and Salmonberry Days. Another way Dewar-McClelland gives back is through volunteer work as a DVBA board member.

After two terms as Dunbar Village Business Association’s secretary to the board, Dewar-McClelland has recently been appointed as vice president.

elements_academy_dunbar_life_exteriorShe says, “Since taking my place on the DVBA board I have become even more integrated into the Dunbar community. It is a source of pride knowing my business neighbours and being able to say hello to many familiar faces when I walk up and down Dunbar. I love it. It’s a stepping stone that connects me to the community.”

McClelland believes the assorted ways Elements contributes to Dunbar nurtures the community. Relationships develop both inside the studio and out and ultimately connect people from all walks of life.

Hats off to Elements Academy of Martial Arts, this champion of Dunbar, for leading by example and showing how a small business can accomplish great things.

Elements Academy of Martial Arts, 4465 Dunbar St, Vancouver BC   Telephone 604-568-3441  www.elementsacademy.com