Indigenous Land Stewardship

If you’re an Indigenous student looking for post-secondary education in saving the planet, consider this: the Indigenous Land Stewardship certificate program at Native Education College starts September 2019.

What will you learn in the one-year program? A lot. Courses include: Introduction to Land Stewardship; Indigenous Environmental Knowledge; Ecosystems; Indigenous Governance, Law and the Environment; Program Management and Leadership, Contemporary Indigenous Mapping, Climate Change Adaptation and more.

An ILS certificate can be used for career advancement in jobs protecting and improving the earth, and/or as a gateway to further post-secondary education through block transfer agreements with local universities.

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ILS (2)

David TraceyIndigenous Land Stewardship
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Q (pause) and A

Image result for vancouver public library rooftop

After today’s grand opening of the rooftop garden on the Central Branch of Vancouver Public Library I finally got the chance to ask a question that had puzzled me for 23 years.

I was about to walk out when I saw that the person leaving just ahead of me was Moshe Safdie, the very man whose name had crowded my brain at countless uncomfortable moments in the building ever since it opened in 1995.

Vancouver’s Central Library is one of the crowning achievements of Safdie’s career. The “starchitect” is known for modernist spectacles the world over, including Habitat 67 in Montreal. Opinions were divided in Vancouver when his library opened. Some admired the bold circular shape, others called it a wanna-be Coliseum and wondered what that said about the city. I recall a design professor railing about how the outside public spaces have proved to be anything but.

I’ve thought of that attack when hunkering down through the barren north entrance to get to the front door, but I knew it was countered by the southern entrance amphitheatre steps. They make a pleasant if concrete seat on a sunny day for anyone who wants to soak up some warmth tinged with nicotine from the besieged smokers lurking against stately columns nearby.

I still admire what Safdie did with the visual display. I think it has held up. It still works as respite from the gaudy green glass towers sprouting up like corporate fungi all over the city. But there was something about the library I’ve never been able to understand, until today.

“Moshe Safdie!” I called in bright voice to stop him from passing through the book detector electronic gates and out. He turned.

“Just wanted to say thanks for all your work here,” I said, offering a palm. That was more slathering than I would use as a journalist, but I was talking as a civilian and anyway it never hurts to soften up an interviewee. As we shook hands I added, “I also wanted to ask you a question.”

He nodded with a neutral expression.

“I hope you don’t take this the wrong way,” I added. His face didn’t change.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve been in this library when I have to go — I mean use the facilities — and I’ve found myself on one side of the building walking aaaall the way across the floor.” I pointed to an unseen wall in the distance beyond stacks of books.

“You mean to there,” he said, gesturing to the opposite wall with a single men’s toilet.

“Right. And when I get there, at last, it’s occupied. Naturally. For a space this big. So I make the trek up to the next floor. But that one’s filled too. So I try another floor, and on it goes. And every time this happens, I say the same thing: ‘Moshe Safdie.’ I also say to myself, ‘If I ever got the chance, I would ask him: what were you thinking?‘”

He nodded. Got the point, wasn’t upset, knew exactly what I was talking about.

“Wasn’t me,” he said.

My eyebrows went up. He sighed a little.

“It was the way we were told to do it,” he explained. “Toilets in public places have been an issue for a long time.”

“True,” I offered. “The new one in the park near me was a beautiful thing, might have cost a million. They shut it down for a while this summer and put in a Portapotty because people were using it hang out and party.”

He sighed again, and we talked more about the “big necessity.” He said he’s had to fight for more public facilities in some of this buildings. I got the impression he didn’t always win.

So what to do? He mentioned attendants and how he’d seen it work in places like Singapore. I thought of developing countries where I’ve seen the same, and wondered if it might work here as part of a strategy tackling homelessness or unemployment.

Solutions that would have to wait for another day. He passed through the gates, no stolen-book beeps, and out through the curving atrium crowds.











David TraceyQ (pause) and A
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No-Sense Float


Contemplatives have known for centuries about the need for quiet. To understand the innate wisdom of one’s own mind, one needs to go to the forest, or the desert, or somewhere, probably in nature, to escape the frenetic sensory inputs of the crowd.

So what to do when you live in a place and age where every sense is awash in a digital tsunami of noise and information and advertisements and more?

I tried one urban solution last week at Float Sense.

I found it in a typical strip mall in Burnaby off Kingsway. The lobby looked like something a dentist with New Age tendencies might set up. Clean, pastel art, comfortable chairs, an ambience that makes you lower the volume of your voice without knowing why.

After a brief introduction I was shown to my room with its private float tank. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this, a plastic pod about the size of a smart car. It looked clean, though, and if not exactly inviting, also not scary. Although the friendly attendant did mention that some people feel some anxiety at first as their mind adjusts to this new environment without physical sensations.

I took a shower, put in the optional earplugs to keep the water out, and slipped naked into the tank. I reached up to lower the lid, heavier than I’d expected. Once it was shut I was in the dark. I slid back into the water, warmed to exactly 93.5 degrees to match my body. Because it held 800 pounds of epsom salt, according to the brochure, I was perfectly buoyant. I may have felt my right knee gently touch the wall, followed a moment later by my left leg brushing a wall, but that ended any sense of contact.

I lay back and tried to enjoy the experience, but it wasn’t completely comforting. I thought about claustrophobia and how it’s just another trick of an unruly mind, but I also wondered if I could trust the attendant’s reassurance that vents would bring in plenty of fresh air. It seemed a little too warm.

Or was that water? I understood I was floating, meaning I was partly in the water, but I couldn’t tell how much of me. I didn’t know whether my toes were above or below the surface. Everything felt neutral.

I looked around to test the lighting, realizing I was now in a place so dark it made no difference whether I opened or closed my eyes. But maybe I touched my face in the process, because I also got salt in my eyes which stung enough to be annoying for a few minutes.

The sound was almost down to zero but I could still hear something. It may have been a far-off washing machine or the distant hum of an air conditioner. Maybe it was the low level frequency of the universe in motion. Somehow I wished it would all disappear into utter silence.

Or maybe that was my mind I was hoping to re-set with a complete reboot. I spent the rest of the 90-minute session this way, sometimes adrift, quite pleasantly, sometimes thinking too much about the experience. At the end, which came sooner than I had expected, I heard the soft music pumped into the pod telling me my time was up.

I took a post-float shower and went to the upstairs lounge to sit and reflect. Yes, it was a worthwhile experience, especially worthwhile in my case since I’d answered a Craigslist post from the owners offering a free trial. Yes, a second or third visit would probably have more impact since I was now past the awkward newcomer stage, and could simply settle in.

Would I become a regular and use it often as a paying customer?

Maybe. My first choice for respite or insight will always be nature. But the chance to wipe the senses clean is a prized thing in the big city, especially when it’s this convenient. I now understand why some people use float tanks as a regular escape from our sensory overload.

Anyway the search goes on.

David TraceyNo-Sense Float
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Trees Rule in the Bookstores

Trees make the city greener and people happier. Or the readers among them at least.

The two top bestsellers for BC in 2016 were both about trees. Vancouver Tree Book come in second with only another book on the same topic beating it to the finish line.

I suppose now would be a good place to apologize to all my tree friends for the paper. Sorry buds. If it was wrong to write a tree-friendly book made out of trees, I stand guilty. The only thing I’ll say by way of explanation is that the paper I chose was Forest Stewardship Council certified. That means it came from trees grown like crops rather than old growth venerables. So we’re good here, right?

David TraceyTrees Rule in the Bookstores
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38 Weeks a Bestseller

Vancouver Tree Book is still on the BC Bestselling Books list.
After debuting at #1 on May 1 it’s still on the list (now in 13th place) in mid-December. Good to see trees have legs, in show-biz terms. And to know that people are using their legs to get out and see trees even in winter. Which, by the way, is a great time to be a tree geek who also has an interest in design and architecture. Without the leaves you get to see how nature’s premier builders construct those fantastic wooden structures.screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-10-04-01-am

David Tracey38 Weeks a Bestseller
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#1 Bestseller for 6 Weeks

Vancouver Tree Book continues its winning streak. Hits the charts at #1 for sixth week in a row. While my astonishment and gratitude grow in equal measure.

bc bestsellers june 11 2016

David Tracey#1 Bestseller for 6 Weeks
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More hotcakes anyone?

Much as it goes against my humble nature, I feel obliged to point out that Vancouver Tree Book is the #1 Bestselling Book in BC again this week. If my math is correct that makes four weeks in a row.

And it would confirm what I’ve heard from retailers, three of whom actually used the term “selling like hotcakes.” We must be short on phrases to depict items enjoying robust sales because all three went straight to the hotcakes. And each time I had to think, who buys pancakes anymore?

Anyway thanks to all the tree aficionados out there who have made the book popular.

Big shout out to those who have been kind enough to not only buy but then comment on the book in emails, texts and personal conversations. Writing can be a long and grim haul with very little to show for it, in my experience, so your generosity means a lot. It’s particularly gratifying to hear stories of people discovering trees and the urban forest we happen to live in with the book in hand. Keep looking up!


BC Bestseller List 28May2016

David TraceyMore hotcakes anyone?
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And the hits just keep on coming for Vancouver Tree Book

Still pinching myself and expecting to wake up from a dream, but for now I’m happy to report Vancouver Tree Book has landed atop the bestseller list from the Association of Book Publishers of BC for the third week in a row.

As reported in this weekend’s Vancouver Sun.

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David TraceyAnd the hits just keep on coming for Vancouver Tree Book
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Vancouver Tree Book hits #1 on BC Bestsellers List!

Apparently there are more tree geeks out there than even I had hoped.

Vancouver Tree Book has hit #1 on the Association of Book Publishers of BC Bestsellers list.

Bestselling Books of BC List from Association of Book Publishers of BC

Bestselling Books of BC List from Association of Book Publishers of BC

David TraceyVancouver Tree Book hits #1 on BC Bestsellers List!
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Vancouver Sun Review of Vancouver Tree Book

Van Sun Review 13Apr2016

Steve Whysall from the Vancouver Sun took the time to sit down for a chat about my new book. I thought we had a really positive chat. We talked like any two plant people do when they get to geek out a bit on their favourite topic, but also went into the bigger ideas behind the book involving getting people to look and learn about the trees in their urban environment as the first step towards saving them. But you never know until the print hits the pavement how you came across. Fortunately, I think Steve was spot on in taking a wide angle look at not just the book but the motivation that led to it. Throughout the whole writing/shooting/production slog of getting this book done I tried to counsel myself with the notion that even thought it would never make economic sense, it might lead at least one person to see trees and the city differently. Thanks to the Vancouver Sun, read by many more people than will ever see the book, the idea is now out there and anyone who has an inclination to shift their gaze upwards to the canopy now knows where to go.

David TraceyVancouver Sun Review of Vancouver Tree Book
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