Spring Gillard

Holding My Breath

I first became aware of asbestos when I was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba back in the 1980s. An investigative reporter wrote a series of articles based on research done by Dr. Francis Konopasek, a physics professor at the University of Manitoba who discovered that asbestos had made its way into the drinking water via the […]

Razzle Dazzle

There’s been a lot of buzz over a new building proposal at Beach and Howe streets in Vancouver. Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) are proposing a 49-storey high rise; the Shangri-La still has it beat at 61 storeys. The 150 metre tower will be mixed use, containing market residences and some commercial space (the […]

To Robin, Love Spring

I don’t think I ever met her in person. But we corresponded by email. She was a kindred spirit, cobbling together a living from various offerings. Author, speaker, gardening and permaculture workshops, a small nursery. While she was gifted in so many areas, she often struggled to make ends meet. The downside of not being […]

Cross-Country Tim-ing

A friend unexpectedly invited me to go cross-country skiing with her today. In the blink of an eye (and after a stop at Tim’s so my friend could get a dollar latte), I was transported from a somewhat dull Vancouver day to bright snowlight, perfect conditions and an awesome, invigorating aerobic workout. The parking lot […]


A notice for a fellowship devoted to promoting volunteerism landed in my inbox this week. Some lucky duck will take a year off from their regular work and get paid $60,000 to reflect, research and perhaps publish on the significance of voluntary action. Notice that they will not be volunteering to do this reflection. In […]

A Harvest in Every Home

Not having a balcony is no longer an excuse for not growing some of your own food. There’s a very cool little company in Vancouver called Home Harvest Farms. They design and manufacture a variety of indoor garden planters made from stainless steel and aluminum. I’ve seen the set up at farmers markets and other […]

Keep Right Except to Pass

When I was in India, one of the things I noticed is how there are no rules of the road. Cars do not necessarily keep right except to pass. Sometimes they even pass on the inside right. And they often head straight out into traffic, playing chicken with oncoming speeding cars. There are no rules […]

Global Food Crisis

When I was writing the chapter on international aid for my latest book, I relied heavily on two reports out of the Oakland Institute and also interviewed Anuradha Mittal, the executive director. The Oakland Institute is a think tank based in, where else, Oakland, California. They focus on social, economic and environmental policy issues and […]

Graveyard Gardens

Theft at community gardens has always been a problem. I tend to grow things that people are less likely to swipe, either because they have no idea what it is and how to cook it, or it can’t be swiftly picked. Crops like kale, chard, loose lettuce mixes rather than heads of lettuce are less […]