Village Vancouver Newsletter December 2014

Welcome to the

Village Vancouver Newsletter 

December 2014

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The Year in Review:  2014

December marks the end of another vibrant, dynamic, and very full year for Village Vancouver.  As metropolitan Vancouver’s Transition Hub and one of the largest and most active Transition Town Initiatives in the world, 2014 once again saw us engaging in over 300 activities, events, projects, and workshops, and collaborating with dozens of other community groups, as well as local government.

The recent climate talks in Lima, Peru serve as a reminder of how much still remains to be done in response to climate disruption, and how slow governments can be to react in tangible ways. Transition Towns are solution-oriented grassroots initiatives which seek to build community resilience in the face of climate change, peaking resources, and economic insecurity.  VV’s Mission is to coordinate, organize and facilitate individuals, neighbourhoods and organizations to collaborate in taking actions which build sustainable and resilient communities, cities and bioregions.  We envision Vancouver as a vibrant city at the leading edge of sustainability, where residents know their neighbours and participate in collective actions to minimize their ecological footprint.

In short, we like to connect neighbours and help communities be more sustainable and self-sufficient, and have fun and celebrate while we’re doing it.  We do this mostly through people power, operating on a very small budget (though we’re certainly not adverse to accepting donations). One nice outcome of helping neighbours meet is that we also help reduce social isolation.

We’ve continued to focus on three key areas:  Projects, Villages, and Education, with an emphasis on building our internal capacity to support these activities, and a goal of engaging more members and neighbours -- i.e. all of you! It’s really amazing how a few folks can make a big difference.

Some of this year’s highlights follow below. More information and details can be found in our Annual Report 2014.

2015 promises to be another exciting and impactful year for Village Vancouver as we continue to build capacity, engage more members and enter into new group collaborations, cultivate and expand our neighbourhood  villages, and scale up current projects and launch new projects.  More details will follow in the January Newsletter.

Ross Moster, Executive Director, Village Vancouver

We held our 5th Neighbour Savour at Heritage Hall in October. Nearly 200 people attended this zero- waste community potluck celebration which featured live music, community tables, children’s activities, and more. Village was a Community Sponsor for the 6th Parks Board organized Sustenance Festival. This years theme was Making Connections, Building Relationships and we offered over a dozen events.

We gathered together earlier this month for our 6th Slow Food, Slow Everything Day in celebration of International Terra Madre Day. Harvesting a variety of root vegetables, greens and more from the Kits Village Collaborative Garden, we made fritatas and tacos, and enjoyed all sorts of good food and conversation throughout the day and evening.

We joined Co-Development Canada and Amnesty International in organizing and sponsoring the 13th Just Film Festival (formerly the World Community Film Festival), the largest environmental and social justice film festival in B.C., at Langara College in late February.

Parks Board Aberthau artist-in-residence LocoMotoArt graciously gave us access to the McBride Park Field House, where we engaged in over 20 arts-related and other activities.

Partnering with concerned individuals, the Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Program, Residents and Business Improvement Associations, Emergency Social Services (City of Vancouver), and Neighbourhood Emergency Assistance Teams (Vancouver Fire Department),  VV is  developing a framework for community-based planning and preparation.

An ongoing VV and Vancouver Food Policy Council project (with cooperation from the Museum of Vancouver), our Food Energy Descent Action Plan (FED-AP) sets out to articulate a vision for, and practical steps toward, a “powered-down, resilient, re-localized future”.  Two reports were produced in 2014: Key Urban Agricultural Trends in 2040 (in collaboration with UBC GEO 419) and Self-Reliance and the Challenge of Climate Change (in collaboration with UBC ENVR 400).

Focusing on cultivating community food resilience and sustainable food systems, demonstrating possibilities for local food cycles, and supporting the development of Neighbourhood Food Networks, this has been our most extensive area of engagement.

Neighbourhood Villages engaged in many activities relating to food, functioning as Neighbourhood Food Networks. Village is one of 13 members (including Marpole Neighbourhood Food Network, which we sponsor) of the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks, and has helped start several networks. NFN’s concentrate on issues like food justice, sustainable food systems, and community food resilience.

We engaged in many ongoing Gardening, Urban Agriculture, and Permaculture projects, including the Kits Village Collaborative Garden at the Billy Bishop Legion Hall, Woodlawn Community Garden (sponsored by VV), permaculture activities at Cottonwood Community Garden, McBride Fieldhouse, and two front lawns in Kits, two Green Spaces, and helped start the new collaborative garden at Kits Community Centre. We offered many food and growing-related workshops, and our Placemaking course contained many growing and permaculture elements.

Committed to promoting Seed Saving and getting seeds for growing food and stimulating pollination  into the hands of as many people as possible, we tabled our Seed Libraries about 50 times in 2014 at street festivals, workshops and elsewhere. We built several new seed libraries, and our partnership with the Emily Carr ecoTank design studio in the Fall resulted in an additional seven (quite creatively designed) seed libraries being built for us, with an eye towards placing them at several new locations, including libraries, community centres, and Neighbourhood Houses. Our Seed Bank project helps protect and maintain seed diversity, and we helped support the FarmFolkCityFolk’s BC Seeds Gathering again in November.

We held dozens of Community Meals, including Drop-in Spaghetti Nights, Dinner Groups, monthly Community Potlucks, Neighbour Savour, and Slow Food, Slow Everything Day. Several Drop-in Spaghetti Nights connected neighbours who live within two or three blocks of one another, but who may not have known one another, while demonstrating how we can produce, consume and recycle food ‘waste’ within our local neighbourhoods. Half of the vegetables used at our 2014 spaghetti nights were grown at Village Vancouver gardens (primarily the Kits Village Collaborative Garden).
Other Food activities included helping organize and sponsor the Gordon Neighbourhood House-led West End Food Festival in September, our large, online Beekeeping and Backyard Chicken groups, workshops, and activities related to the Sustenance and Just Film Festivals, FED-AP, Emergency Prep, Placemaking and elsewhere.

We ran over 50 Workshops in 10 or so neighbourhoods around the city. Most had to do with food skills (gardening, canning, sprouting, fermenting, seed saving, etc.), including Native Edible workshops in 7 different neighbourhoods. We co-hosted a 100 in 1 Day project design workshop, and  hosted the  Ontario-based Transition Emerging Study 2-day Central and Western Canada Transition Regional Workshop at Langara College.

Over 45 community leaders participated in the 9-month 2014 Vancouver Placemaking Course, a new initiative organized by VV, City Commons, and Living the New Economy Vancouver, anchored and guided by Portland’s placemaking guru, Mark Lakeman, together with local teachers and facilitators.

We organized several Lectures, including talks by Richard Heinberg on fracking and Mark Lakeman on placemaking.  VV ED Ross Moster made several presentations, including one at the SustainABLE Cities Conference, to attendees at the INSPIRE 2014 International Neighbourhood House and Settlement Conference, the Caring for All Creation Series, the BC Seeds Gathering, the Vancouver Urban Farming Forum, and UBC, Emily Carr, Capilano University, and Groundswell classes, on various topics such as Transition Towns, cultivating healthy communities and neighbourhoods, moving from extractivism to a sharing economy, urban resilience, food systems and food justice, seed libraries, food workshops, and how design can contribute to resilient communities.

Students from various classes at UBC, Emily Carr, and Groundswell collaborated with us on multiple reports and projects.

Other Learning  Opportunites included our 7th Annual Transition School and our 3rd Earthwalks series (both lower key affairs than usual due to longtime partners being unable to participate this year), and Caring for All Creation: Land, Water, and Caring for Our Communities, a six-part series co-sponsored by Village.


We held activities in 16 Vancouver Neighbourhoods. Examples of Neighbourhood Village activities included monthly Grandview Woodland Village potlucks and workshops (in collaboration with Permaculture Vancouver), and Kits Transition Village organizing 2 dinner groups,  2 permaculture yards, the Kits Village Collaborative Garden at the Billy Bishop Legion Hall, monthly potlucks, a monthly recycling depot, 3 seed Libraries, the Kits Village Thanksgiving Dinner, several activities at McBride Park Fieldhouse, including Swap Till You Drop, and several Drop-in Spaghetti Nights. Main St. Village held monthly workshops and potlucks, maintained a seed library, engaged in neighbbourhood asset mapping, and collaborated with/helped guide the new Little Mountain-Riley Park Food Network.
Emerging neighbourhood villages include False Creek South Village (in collaboration with Re*Plan, a working group of the False Creek South Neighbourhood Association) and Inner City Village.

Village Vancouver is the ‘parent organization’ of Village Surrey. VS activities included the monthly ‘Community Shift’ series (which expanded to include a workshop and movie screening),  2 two weekly contemplative groups, a  community poetry group, a Skill Share Fair in September, a  Park(ing) Day event, an Edible and Medicinal Plant walk, and The Friends of the Grove placemaking project.
Despite an early torrential downpour which threatened the day’s activities, our 5th annual Demo Sustainable Neighbourhood Transition Village (now there’s a mouthful) at Main St. Car Free Day was, by all accounts, a big success.  Besides Village, participants filling the 30 tents and open space at and surrounding 13th and Main included Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks, MODO, SPUD, The HUB, SPEC, Cottonwood Community Garden, Homesteader’s Emporium, a backyard chicken or two, and many others, along with approximately 70 volunteers who helped make it all happen.

Lots of VV members – at least 25 that we know and undoubtedly more – successfully applied for Neighbourhood Small Grants, which were very helpful in carrying out their neighbourhood projects.

We continue to embody the principles and actions of a dynamic, cooperative, creative sharing economy within a celebratory culture of connecting and collaborating. All of our activities contributed to creating more vibrant sharing communities. More details can be found in Life in Village Culture on our website.

In August, we hosted the 1st BC Transition Regional Gathering. Folks from 10 Transition Initiatives attended, and we’ve volunteered to organize the next gathering.

Our monthly Kits Village Plastic Recycling Depot collected plastics the City doesn’t take. 

Since June 2012, over 50 tonnes of food scraps for composting have been collected from thousands of residents in the West End at Food Scraps Drop Spots organized three times a week by West End Neighbourhood Food Network, Recycling Alternative, and Village Vancouver at Gordon Neighbourhood House (2x/week) and the West End Community Centre.  Vancouver Farmers Market Society was also a key participant most of the year.

We organized, sponsored, or partnered on a variety of other activities, including Salon d’Elan Vital, Just Say Hello, Collaborative Consumption and the Sharing Economy, 100 in 1 Day, and the Feast Worldwide (Vancouver).

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a healthy, just, and resilient 2015.

Village Vancouver Newsletter - Team Members Needed
Our Newsletter is back and we're seeking 3 more Newsletter Team members! We are developing a team of four with rotating tasks each month. That will give us variety and allow each team member to learn all skills needed so if someone's unavailable one month, we can cover for each other! Interested? Email


Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale. 
What we are convinced of is this:
    •    if we wait for the governments, it'll be too little, too late
    •    if we act as individuals, it'll be too little
    •    but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.

Less is More   December's theme is 'Less is More'. In the newsletter we find out about the new Support Framework, we want to hear your starting out stories and your thoughts on Transition Culture. We offer several reflections on stuff and what happens when we don't have so much of it. Click here to read more.

Dec 27 - West End Food Scrap Drop Spots
Tuesdays and Saturdays Gordon Neighbourhood House & Saturdays West End Community Centre

Jan 3 - 31 - West End Food Scrap Drop Spots
Tuesdays and Saturdays Gordon Neighbourhood House & Saturdays West End Community Centre

Jan 6 - Main Street Village Potluck and Workshop
Little Mountain Neighbourhood House

Jan 15 - Sauerkraut - Commercial Drive Village Vancouver
Rising Star Co-op

Jan 17 - The Work That Reconnects
Surrey Nature Centre

Jan 17 - Kits Village Drop-in Spaghetti Night 
Near 7th & Balsam

Jan 18 - Listen! Laugh! Enjoy! New Beginnings. Stories for you!
St. Mark's

Jan 24 - Deadline for February Newsletter

Jan 25 - West End Neighbourhood Food Network January Community Potluck
West End Community Centre

Jan 29 - Growing Your Own Sprouts and Grass Workshop
Strathcona Community Centre

Stay Updated on Upcoming Events

Click here for the most up-to-date calendar of upcoming events!

Your December newsletter team,
Bonita Jo Magee and Ross Moster, 
with thanks to Jordan Bober and Rhiannon Johnson