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As an activist, sustainability educator, and random person sometimes I find it difficult not to try and mesh all three of these elements into the way that I communicate thoughts about life. Recent discussions around dumpster diving and educating the “masses” about the legalities of such acts has raised alarm bells for me. Let me start by defining these actions..

Dumpster Diving: The act of going into commercial dumpsters (or non-commercial to) and pull out items of use or food that is being waste for reuse or consumption.

Gleaning: The act of going into farmers fields (note: still legal in Europe although not as heavily acted upon as the old days) and taking the produce left on the farm fields after the harvest.

In the true form Gleaning is an act that is still legal in Europe as a means of collecting left over food. The concept of Dumpster Diving has been a response to the over production of food rather than a means to the end.

In its outright Dumpster Diving is not a sustainable action, but something that most people do in response to the over consumption that our existing world takes part in. Correction: Our existing world meaning “Western” world because travelling to places like Ecuador you find people eating the food that we tend to throw away – brown bananas anyone?

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AdbustI’m staying in Sydney for the time being to save some cash-o-la. The other day I tragically had to visit a mall (not for work trust me) to run some errands that couldn’t be done anywhere else. After being on the road for a while and not being near a mall I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed in the Bondi Junction mall. Who designs a place to be a an unfriendly, cold, trap, and maze of a place for people to be in? And no it’s not that I’m a guy and hate shopping..I actually like shopping if the place is rad enough.

No the other day I just about started to cry while I was in the mall. You see there are some good reasons for this I suppose.

  • Malls make it harder for smaller business to survive because big businesses get in their and can lower their prices.Def. how I felt!
  • There is sooooo much new stuff available in malls which makes me really upset considering all the available furniture, clothing, and other articles / materials available at Opt shops (read: thrift stores) and outside of peoples homes on counsel pickup days (here in Sydney people leave stuff outside of their house they don’t want — big items — and anyone can take them before garbage dudes do).
  • Do we know where all that uneaten food that has been prepared at the shops for you to eat is going afterwards folks? Probably a lot of it in the garbage I figure. Ahh it made me so sad. Give me access to this food at least geez.
  • Why are you so unhappy? Take a look at the people in malls. No one is smiling and everyone looks like they are trapped in a dungeon. Malls are made to be nice places with light, sun, atmosphere, buskers, little shops, cafe’s, etc. Oh wait I lied. The people who are smiling are those going out the door.
  • Do you really need all those bags? I mean is this more of a status symbol then a use? What about that bag around your shoulders couldn’t the stuff go in there.

It just made me realize a few things.

  • I need to continue to support small shops as much as I can. It encourages community aspects, supports families trying to survive, and keeps the little guy going.
  • To continue to buy used clothing or at least stuff that is fair trade.
  • To refuse plastic bags
  • To ask more stores if I can have the food they waste and give it to someone who needs it. Can’t really do this while on the road but maybe when I settle somewhere. There is this rad little cafe at UTS in Sydney that puts all the food that it has left over from the day out on the counter for people to take home before they close! What a rad idea! And I’ve heard of bakeries that do that here as well.

It was refreshing to hear that my Aunt is also greatly in favour of small shops and isn’t that impressed with the Bondi mall instillation. This doesn’t surprise me I suppose because using small shops is a way of life for Australian and New Zealanders. The idea of malls is only a new one that most people are not that impressed with, and I hope for their sake they keep fighting it. And I hope for Canadians sake we just start supporting smaller shops again! PLEASE!To deal with the sadness I felt I rode the entire way home on my new (read: found on the side of the road, repaired, and rescued) trick bike home in the rain. Man that felt good to splash through the rain and get absolutely soaked.

– Shane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pfft as if!

Ahh Rimu

So today marked the last day of the Heaphy Track for me. It’s pretty hard to describe the entire experience in one post but regardless I think that I can slam in a few highlights for peeps to read.

On the first day of the hike I was going up some pretty steep rock pathways and managed to mangle my leg. (read: it really hurts to bend my knee). Now this wasn’t discovered until I rocked into the first hut called Perry Saddle Hut. At the time I had thought that my injury wasn’t as bad as it later appeared to be. I ended up hiking the remainder of the trek (hiking = tramping here in NZ) which was approximately 60 KM through some crazy terrain with my leg. The last day although an amazing experience was probably the hardest for me.
Saxon Hut to myself

Regardless, the amazing scenery was something of a treat for me to take in. All the vegetation, environment, animals and air seemed to change so many times I could hardly keep track. On the second night I spent it sleeping completely on my own in the Saxon hut. I was surrounded by mountains on both sides of me, a kitchen overlooking the mountains, and a relaxing vibe (pic on the left). I woke up at about 5:30 AM in the morning cause I had to use the facilities and upon looking around all the landscape was covered lightly in a beautiful fog, the full moon was bright and in the horizon the sun was rising. I stood there for a little while and took it all in and then headed back to bed for a bit more rest before jetting off.

The day that I hiked to the Heaphy Hut (9 hour hike) was the most special to me. At the end I came across Remu trees (picture above) that were the widest tree I’ve ever seen in my life. I spent a bit of time (until the sandflies tried to carry me off to their layer for an early dinner) standing near one just being in it’s presents thinking about how long it had been there, how many peeps had passed it, and what cool stories it would have to tell if it could talk (no I wasn’t on anything). Read the rest of this entry »

“One of the biggest killers on this planet is apathy. I read a thing in an internet cafe calendar in Galway, Ireland, yesterday that read ‘why are the people who have all the answers to world problems taxi drivers and hair dressers?’ This was a very good skit on human behaviour in general where people have all the answers and don’t act on their ideas. Why not?” — Venus Kamura from On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement.

Yes everyone knows I read a lot of different things and although this book is a little patchy there are some areas of it that I find quite interesting and to the point.

I’ve now received a few messages from friends saying that they’ve felt as though they want to make some changes in their lives, and have been disheartened by it all in the past. Now they are committing to something new and want to integrate changes in their lives to make change in their own world! YAAH to you guys! WOOT WOOT

Well it’s not that hard to imagine it to be difficult really.

I think whether you are an activist or not you know that change needs to happen in our world so that it’s a place that the children of the future can enjoy. No one wants to leave a huge mess for them to cleanup as we have been left from past generations. It’s our responsibility to be role models, elders, and guardians for Mumma E (read: mother earth).

I think that all this boils down to a few things for me at least.

Firstly, be careful how many things you take on in your life. Keeping things really simple, breath easy, and focus your attention on a few actions that you can handle to start. Branch when you are comfortable. No one likes peanut that is thinly spread on many slices of bread so why would you spread your skills thinly across different type of issues. It’ll only weaken your ability. Plus you don’t want to walk away feeling jaded or tired or burnt out at the end of the day.

Secondly, and probably most importantly is my general philosophy since Otesha. I have them thank for this philosophy. When trying to adopt change in your life start by adopting something small, once you get comfortable, adopt something else that is new and will influence change. This is how we encourage youth on our bike tour to make changes in their lives. If you take baby steps life is more manageable and you won’t feeling like giving it all up because it appears to “be to much to handle.” This is the only way that our world will change in one big revolution. Apathy is an easy out especially when you think of all the huge things we need to take on a society to change it. But I never look at it like that. I’m thankful for the decisions I make each day to try and reduce my imprint and talk to people about issues that I see around me.

Lastly, the Dalai Lama knew it best when he said “Be the change you want to see in the world today.” It’s just that easy. Well sorta. Take a deep breath, be proud of where you are at, and remember that growth is about knowledge, learning, and change. At no point do we ever stop changing or growing and all those actions we take are causing other actions and movements to happen. Children watch us as the elders of the future.

Yeah it’s not really something that relates to my travels but I feel now strongly about this as I travel around New Zealand and yet to find activists. Perhaps they are hiding or just underground who knows. But at least I can be my own activist right?

WORD TO YAH MOTHA

Shane

PS – You have to remember that if you make one action today…think about if everyone took that action. Think about what happens when someone sees you taking that action and then questions you about it. Oh yes then the revolution starts!

My Name TagFor those of you who don’t know I’m a dumpster diving geek. This means that I jump into dumpsters near grocery stores or other shops and search for things to eat or use. I tend to get a lot of questions about why I do this and the purpose behind it when I talk to people about the issues. I figured since a recent article that came out in Calgary’s Avenue Magazine about Dumpstering Diving featuring me I would include the article and also provide further information. I would encourage you to read the article and provide comments if you want.

Food Quality / Other Issues

One of the biggest questions and concerns that I get is that the food quality that I am recovering is quite bad and could potentially cause me harm or that there are other issues associated with these practices. I’ve tried to break down the common questions that I get from people to answer all the questions (and would encourage more from people).

  • Isn’t the food completely gross and sketchy (read: super gross and moldy) Nope. Seriously. Take a look at that picture below and the quality of that food that we recovered. Did you know that stores will throw out veggies because they don’t look like you expect them to look? Yep veggie discrimination. It kinda make sense though cause we live in a demand created culture and thus we expect high quality food.
  • What do you do with the food after you recover it? I take it home and eat it. Well that’s not entirely true. Some of the things I donate to Food Not Bombs and most things I take home, clean with bio-degradable soap, dry, and eat later. Pre-packaged things just get checked (bad parts removed) and then stored for later consumption.
  • Aren’t you taking food away from homeless people? I think this is a fair question really and I’ve had a few people ask me about this. The question I like to rebutle is the following – “Why would a homeless person deserve or want to eat food out of a dumpster? Why wouldn’t they want to head to a shelter and get some fresh warm cooked food there?” I think it’s an assumption that the food is there and that somehow I’m stealing it from someone else that needs it. But you have to realize that everyone sees this food as waste and not as food. Also, there is so much of it that I end up not taking all of it home with me anyway.

Umm what have you found

This question I get a lot and most people figure that the things that I found are far and few between. I can guarantee that most times if I head out on a dumpstering mission I’ll find a load of food whether it be a bunch of bread, fruit/veggies, or things I can use. It is a bit of a hit and miss mission because sometimes you’ll find nothing like any expedition.

  • Last nights score – Last night we hit up this fruit and vegetable shop in Newtown. They had an entire bin filled with tomatoes, avocados (still ripe), peppers, carrots, mangos (huge HUGE mangos), and plenty more. All of this goodness went into a stew to be used on cereal for many mornings to come.
  • Skates/Rollerblades/Helmets – One night I was in a dumpster near my parents place and came across a bin filled with old skates, rollerblades, and other things being thrown out. Don’t ask me why the shop nearby threw that out but I was pretty appalled. I mean we live in a society where some people don’t even have access to these things and we are throwing it out. Not to mention the resources needed to make all of this stuff. I packed all the gear up in a hockey bag (how convenient it was also in the dumpster) and carted it down to a local school in the inner city the next day. Perhaps I’m bragging perhaps not. The women working there told me that some of the parents and students had never skated on ice cause they don’t have money to buy skates. So now they had skates to wear, helmets, and all the other gear! YESS!
  • Box of Vegan Sausages (Organic) – There was like 20 packages (each worth $5 – $6) inside the box and were going to expire within the next day. We split them up and used them at a local Iron Chef put on by Food Not Bombs.
  • Unused Sleeping Bag – While in a outdoor store I scored a sweet light weight sleeping bag (unsuitable for Canada weather but perfect for OZ) that was thrown out. I also managed to snag some inflatable mattresses they had cut (to make them not self inflate) that I gave to some homeless guys sleeping on the ground that night.
  • And more …

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[This is an original letter I sent to The Whiskey — today, and will keep it updated with their response. I want people to know what happened there so they know what happens there and make their own decisions as to whether to go or not.]

Dear Toby Bird, Management at The Whiskey Nightclub,

On Friday, October 13, 2006 a situation happened at your bar that raises my question about the way that patrons at your bar are being treated on a regular basis. I arrived around 10:30 PM with three of my close friends from work (all women — useful for later). We spent the night dancing and hanging around together, and generally having a great time. At one point he had lost one of our friends so two of my friends left me at the bottom of a flight of stairs to go find their friend. During this time I was leaning against a wall waiting for them to reappear. After 3 minutes I gave up (I checked my watch) and headed up the stairs to find them at the top. We exchanged hugs and upon me stepping back after the hug I was grabbed. My arm was placed behind my back and another arm was placed on my shoulder. I turned slightly and was told by the bouncer in question that I was getting kicked out of the bar. He started to lead me down the stairs towards the back door. I never resisted his movements and along with myself my friends (two girls) were also lead out the back door. At the back door we were told by bouncer that he had reports that I had groped 4 women and he had been looking for me for the last 15 minutes. My friend Erin then asked how he could prove that in-fact I was the individual they were looking for and his response was, “The individual reported was wearing the same shirt, same hairstyle, and …… the same ring (as he pointed at my lip ring).”

I then indicated to the bouncer that we required our jackets to which he agreed to meet us at the other side of the building. After walking around the building we each gave him our tickets and I asked him for his name. Upon hearing me question the security another officer manning the front mumbled something to his friend. I asked him what he said to his friend and he told me that “he should just not bother with our jackets and send us on our ways.” Upon the return of our jackets and getting ready to go the security spoke with the police officers that were waiting nearby. As I was leaving they approached me and asked for my information. Now I was being questioned by them and my information was being taken in case one of the women in question wanted to file a complaint later. I was totally embarrassed and surprised with this method of procedure given it was completely hearsay.

Frankly, now I’m left with wondering as to whether I possibly gave someone a look that made them feel uncomfortable. I’m not the type of guy to go around groping women as I have a lot more respect for them than that. It also makes me wonder if I was being targeted because I don’t fit your “typical” clientele. Regardless I have a few questions and pieces of feedback that I would appreciate your comments on. I think the important part here is that I’m not trying to prove my innocence, because it’s my word against yours but I am questioning the procedures that took place that night.

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Okay after returning to Calgary most of you know that I started working at Good Earth cafe to sell fair trade coffee and drinks to willing coffee needing customers. It’s a weird dynamic being in the service industry again after working a 9-5 job at SMART using a completely different set of skills. It has given me an interesting perspective on being the employee in the service industry, and some of the things I’ve seen have made me realize a few things.

It should be law that everyone has to work in the service industry. I shit you not. I think it’s to easy for people to avoid this part of life and never learn that there’s a human being on the other side of that counter. Don’t get me wrong there’s a lot of kind people out there who tip beautifully, are beautiful, and generally want more than their coffee (as in friendship and chats) but I think being on the other side gives you a different sense of appreciation. And props goes out to all those beautiful people that have worked service industry before. You know who you are. It makes me cry because it’s not like being in school is the cheapest life expenditure you’ll ever undertake. So the biggest hugs go out to you…oh and the ubber friendly people too. I love the chats!

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So yesterday I headed out to the “One Dead Indian” screening for the Calgary International Film festival. I was lucky enough to get a free pass to any movie I wanted to see there from a guy who ordered a coffee at Good Earth cafe where I work. It’s a pretty sweet tip considering the tickets are worth $15+. The movie is based on a book about a peaceful protest that some aboriginal people took part in Ipperwash Provincial Park near Sarnia, Ontario by the Stony Point Natives. It was old land that the Canadian government had taken from the natives in order to build a military base during war times. They were told that once the war had ended they would be able to return to the land and live there again. Tragically, it had been turned into a provincial park and the original natives land owners were told it was no longer there land. The story is about a peaceful protest that turns completely wrong as one Stony Point Native is shot and killed during a police invasion.

I highly recommend this movie/book.

I think that our treatment of North American natives is disgusting and something that I’m ashamed to admit that I’m Canadian because of this fact. I think that all to often we find it easier to to things that would compromise their rights then try and negotiate a resolution that would be adequate and fair to these people. They lived here longer than us so to the politicians I say “remove thy head from thy ass”.

Yesterday was the first time I think I felt a little alone. I spent the entire movie crying and really needed some comfort afterwards. Lindsay (who I went with) and I went out for dinner afterwards which was really rad! But I still felt like it was oen of those nights I would have loved to just cuddle with someone. Yah I was a little upset.

Enviro FootprintApparently, McDonald’s and General Motors cut a new deal that would allow McDonald’s to provide new toy Hummer with every happy meal! I still don’t understand why someone would want to drive such a huge beast. I mean seriously it’s a military vehicle the size of a bus…I’ll take my bike to go please. Sure not feasible for everyone to ride a bike and I agree with that fact. But is it all that feasible for everyone to drive hummers around the planet? The Auto Asthma Index states that “The 2006 Hummer H2 emits 28x more harmful volatile organic compounds that threaten the health of asthma sufferers than the cleanest SUVs on the road.” [Sign the petition to get them to stop distributing these in Crappy Meals! ]

I read this interesting analysis in The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can’t be jammed by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter [Note: I didn’t actually like most of this book, but I think they had a point about consumer purchasing habits.] Essentially, they were stating the fact that people in specific class structures (referring to middle class people) will always try and deviate themselves from others by purchasing something extravagant or different that sets them apart. Ironically, I witnessed this in McKenzie Towne which is a middle-class community located in suburbia-land SE of Calgary. I lived there for quite a few years and it’s community that can only be afforded by middle to middle-upper class individuals. People tended to differentiate themselves in that community by owning a hummer. It was like a pride statement that not only could they afford the house, but they could also afford a big tank of a machine. It’s tragic that as a society we are so driven by differentiating ourselves based on materialistic things that at the end of the day don’t mean much.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mal & Me Chillin out in a parkIn our current day and age it’s still possible to find people who judge others by things that are more external like piercings, tattoos, sexual preferences, and race. While at the Youth Action Gathering (YAG) I heard a lot of stories about youth that were living a life of critisizim for all kinds of things (mainly sexual preference and appearance). Then travelling around I still heard people making comments about various people that would be considered racist and not necessarily politically correct. Like some kids in Toronto who said that Little-India and the people living there smelt really bad and that they wouldn’t dare get off the bus to hang around with those guys.

Honestly, sometimes I kinda wish I wasn’t caucasian and middle-class because I know it affords me some privileges that most of us take for granted. I try everyday not to take advantage of the situation that I’m in but I have to admit that I’m sure there is something that I could be avoiding.

It’s really humbling. No it’s extremely humbling. Perhaps people feel that it makes them feel more significant or “better” than the other guy by putting them down. I just think they look plain stupid. Since I got my lip ring before I came back to Calgary I have had a few people give me odd looks. It’s something that I can accept but really wish that we were in a better day and age where people looked at what was inside of me (or took the time to find out rather than judging before they even took the time). I can only imagine how worse it would be to be someone who was gay, lesbian, trans-gendered, or of a specific ethnic race.

Any way, I’m happy to say that my friends really look past who I am externally and challenge me all the time to do the same. One of those friends sent a timely e-mail today about a rad article he found that according to him depicted me if I were a hockey player. It was pretty flattering as this guy has some great things to say (Shout out to Dunc I needed that today).

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