Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dear Grandpa, Please Don't Vote Conservative!

Button making at PGPIRG 
With the federal election looming I am hoping to combine my interest in food, policy and politics into an ideal candidate I can be proud of. That is to say, to vote with any party other than the Conservatives (ABC). I called my family to discuss the election, as they are in Ottawa I always feel like they have the inside scoop on things. My Grandfather is a lifelong conservative, plastic water bottle drinking, climate change denialist. Speaking to him about politics is like arguing with an arch nemesis. Our conversations go something like this:

G-pa: It's been really cold here, that's why Mr. Gore and Mr. Suzuki have been so quiet eh?
Me: Well Grandpa, cooling temperatures are also a side effect of climate change, not just warming.
G-pa: You talk about using less oil, how do you think Mr. Suzuki gets around? In a car, and you know what those need? And he flies all over the world for events, do you know what planes use to fly?
Me: He bikes to work! And buys carbon offsets and promotes change! (sigh)

G-pa: Harper has done more for this country then Trudeau or anyone, we are now in the top 5 countries because of him!
Me: Top 5 of what? He said we wouldn't recognise this country after he was done with it and boy was he right!

Me: Dad just voted Liberal, you're used to a prime minister with a full head of hair right?
G-pa: Why, does he want to start smoking the reefer on parliament hill? Bunch of criminals!

With Liz Biggar, Green Party Candidate- PG- Peace River  
Suffice it to say I hang up the phone feeling like my degree in Environmental studies will never mean anything to him. I would consider myself a success as an environmentalist if I could convince him that global warming was a real thing and that Stephen Harper wasn't the hero he was painting him as. So now that I have had time to think about it, take this Grampa! A list of reasons why you shouldn't vote conservative next Monday:
  1. In March 2011 the Harper Administration was found to be in contempt of Canadian parliament, the first time in history of any commonwealth government. (Fact)
  2. Also in 2011 the Harper Conservatives were found guilty of election fraud from 2006. (Fact) How are they still in power!
  3. Let's us eat poison! Harper loosened regulations to allow more chemical residues on your food! Gross! It also allows companies to conduct their own safety inspections...saving us money but letting them get away with who knows what! (Fact)
  4. Shut down international aid. Canada was the 6th largest aid donor to Malawi, now we contribute nothing. (Fact) Also drastically reduced Peacekeeping efforts around the world. (Fact)
  5. Spent $29 billion on fighter jets! We're so in debt already! (Fact) Convenient we only have a surplus the year you seek reelection...
  6. Refused to sign the UN declaration designation clean water as a human right! Is that because we have boil water advisories on 93 first nations reserves in Canada? (Fact)
  7. Killed the long form census. Thinks we don't use any of that data for research! (Fact
  8. Silencing Scientists on climate change. If we don't know about it then its not happening? (Fact)
  9. Used xenophobic tactics- Now other countries are seeing our prime minister as the racist and elitist he is. See Bill C-51, Bill C-24, Barbaric Practises Tip line? 
  10. Opposes Gay Marriage, get with the program, even the US is on board! 
  11. Harper has eliminated or weakened almost every environmental protection or law since coming to power. (Fact
I could keep going but I will let you read further on- 

Let's face it Grampa, it isn't about you any more, its about the people you are leaving the world to. It is selfish to think that you can't do anything to change the world at your age because it is up to you to make those changes for us. The mess your generation made will need to be cleaned up, so if we could start sooner rather than later I'd really appreciate the help in voting anybody but conservatives! (ABC)


Melanie XX

"You cut the brakes on our environment so you could fast-track a pipeline, then forged our signatures so you could sign away our future." Shane Koyczan- The Cut 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A Day in the Life of a Market Manager

Market Twinsies!
One of my jobs, the one I could even say I love the most, is my position as the Market Manager at the University Farmers Market. When I was looking at schools for my undergraduate degree, one of the pulls to the University of Northern British Columbia was access to a farmers market on campus that I had a goal to be involved with in one way or another. In my first year I volunteered every week setting up tables and helping vendors load their goods and became the volunteer coordinator. In year two I was voted in as the chair of the committee and helped with everything from events to wearing a carrot suit when needed. Now in my 3rd and final year I have taken over as the manager and am putting my experience and passion to use every week.

Though the UFM runs Tuesdays from 11-3pm during the school year there are still lots of things happening before market day from organizing special events, to coordinating layouts and finding new vendors. The main event for me is market day. Here is a look at a day in the life of a market manager on a typical market day:
Harvesting in the PGPIRG Garden

7:00- The mad dash begins as I catch the first bus up to the University to begin my day. My first order of business is to get to Campus in time for a quick shot of coffee from Degrees Coffee Co to get me through the busy day ahead.

8:00- As I was also the gardener for the summer, harvest time is still in progress. I arrive at the PGPIRG Garden as early as possible to pick and wash the weeks ripe vegetables to bring to sell at the UFM.

9:00- Set up begins in the NUSC event space that houses our weekly market. I arrive before volunteers and prepare the space for vendors to arrive. Set up may seem similar every week but behind the scenes a complicated game of Tetris is happening with vendors preferred spaces, last minute cancellations and purposeful placement of each type of goods fighting it out with weekly special events for the ideal space.

The Market Before Vendors Arrive
10:00- As volunteers arrives to help we meet vendors at the loading docks and load their goods onto carts. Volunteers then head to the market and I assign them their table for the day.
As I learnt from our first market we need to carefully map out who is using which outlet to make sure we don't lose power, which happens more often then you'd think.

11:00- The Market opens to the public! As eager customers begin to trickle in last minute set up is still going on. There are always a few late arriver's that need a bit of help getting going and I rush around the room to ensure vendors have every thing they need to get through their day, be it small change, an extra chair or even a coffee.

Market Time 
12:00- The rush hour is on and we see a few hundred people through the market during the busy lunch hour. I make sure there is enough change for jams and kale and answer questions to people coming through. As it is my third year at the market there are a lot of familiar faces and I always try to say hello to everyone.

13:00- As the peak traffic time ends a slower paced market atmosphere emerges and more people lounge in the chairs and chat with vendors. I take this opportunity to visit each vendor to collect weekly table fees and do my personal shopping at the same time.

14:00- If it is quiet enough and everything seems to be running smoothly I indulge in a 10 minute back rub from Kathy at Relax-in-chair. A guilty pleasure, which I have never regretted.

15:00- The second the clock strikes three the mad dash for carts to leave begins. Unlike the morning as vendors trickle in over an hour the exit is much more instantaneous. Volunteers struggle to get carts fast enough to meet vendor itching to get back to the farm or pick up their kids.

Crunchette the UFM Mascot
Oh no! We find a cooler with sausages left behind by a vendor and call them straight away to let them know we have them and arranging pick up for the next morning. Sometimes if we are lucky someone leaves a sweet treat for volunteers to thank them for their much needed hard work that day. Other times I buy cookies to show them how much we love having them around!

16:00- Accounting is finished and we deposit revenues for the day at finance before they close at 16:30. Clean up finishes and we make it so it looks like the market had never happened.

17:00- At the end of a busy day I am always thankful the Thirsty Moose Pub is our neighbour (and another job of mine). Once everything is tidied and the last of the tables are taken down I grab a chair at the bar and sip a local brew to finish out the day.

As you can see it is a busy day full of challenges and there is never a dull moment. It is a happy place to work, a place full of good food, homemade crafts and lovely people. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

See you on Tuesday,


"What makes the farmers market such a special place is that you're actually creating community around food." -Bryant Terry