Cooking With UBC Students

During March we teamed up with ‘UBC Reading Week‘ which is an opportunity for students to learn from and share their skills with community organizations.

Three students were placed at Gordon Neighbourhood House where they planned and hosted a vegetarian cook-a-long for our community members. All ingredients were purchased for participants ahead of time and the group prepared tofu ramen with salad rolls. Recipes below!

Ramen with Tofu

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • Extra firm tofu packet
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 packages of instant ramen
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 4 green onions
  • (optional – for extra flavour!) 2 packets of Miso soup packets

Steps:

1. Drain the tofu and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.

2. Add the water, vegetable broth, and soup base of the instant ramen packets to a small sauce pot. (optional: can add miso soup packets here too!). Whisk until the soup bases (and miso) have been dissolved.

3. Add the cubed tofu to the pot, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat.

4. Once boiling, add the instant ramen noodles. Boil for one to two minutes, or just until the noodles begin to soften and pull loose from each other.

5. Add four handfuls of fresh spinach and stir it into the hot broth until wilted. The noodles will finish cooking as the spinach wilts.

6. Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top of the ramen just before serving.

Veggie Salad Rolls

Ingredients (for 8 rolls):

  • Warm water
  • 8 rice paper wrappers
  • 1 cup white mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots
  • ½ english cucumber
  • 1 cup red cabbage
  • ½ yellow bell pepper

Steps:

1. Slice mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, and bell peppers.

2. Fill a medium shallow bowl with warm water and set near your work station.

3. Dip a rice paper wrapper in the warm water for a few seconds, submerging completely. Remove and lay flat on a smooth, clean surface, such as a plate.

4. Add a combination of sliced mushrooms, sliced carrots, sliced cucumber, sliced cabbage, and sliced bell pepper to the middle of the wrapper. Be careful not to overfill, or rolling it will become difficult!

5. Fold both sides of the rice paper over the vegetables to secure.

6. Lift the bottom edge of the rice paper and carefully fold it over the top of the vegetables, tucking it under on the other side, then gently roll until the vegetables are completely covered and the top edge of the wrapper adheres to the spring roll.

7. Set the spring roll aside and cover with a damp paper towel to keep fresh while you repeat with the remaining ingredients. Once you’ve finished making the spring rolls, chill in the fridge.

OPTIONAL SAUCES BELOW: You can also make sauces for dipping the salad rolls to further enjoy with the food!

Peanut sauce:

  • ¼ cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon ginger, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or another liquid sweetener 
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Whisk until combined.

Fish sauce:

Add water, sugar, lemon juice, and fish sauce. Whisk until combined. Can top with garlic cloves too! It’s 2-2-6(?). 2 tablespoons of fish sauce with 2 tablespoons of sugar, then roughly 6 tablespoons of water but you adjust here if the taste is too strong = add more… Then a squeeze of lemon/lime and walah. I hope that helps! 


How would you improve our community with $500?

Participants enjoy a resident-led, virtual Reiki workshop funded by a Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grant.

Do you have a small project idea that could make a positive impact in our community? Online applications are now open for Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants and Greenest City Neighbourhood Small Grants!

The Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program is a grassroots initiative that helps residents of any age, experience, or background take part in building community. We provide grants up to $500 to neighbours who have small but powerful ideas that will make our community better.

For over a decade Gordon Neighbourhood House has coordinated the program for all residents living on the Downtown Peninsula. In that time, we have supported hundreds of neighbours who have taken steps to improve our neighbourhood—people just like you.

‘The People in Your Neighbourhood’ mural coordinated by local artist Deanna Flinn and funded with a Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grant.

Grants are awarded to projects that: connect and engage residents, share residents’ skills and knowledge within the community, build a sense of ownership and pride, and respect and celebrate diversity.

Changes in the Neighbourhood Small Grants Program due to COVID-19
COVID-19 has disrupted most aspects of community life, especially how we interact with one another. Many projects that we previously funded (condo/apartment building social parties, craft workshops, block parties, etc.) are temporarily not possible due to Provincial Health Orders.

For that reason, we are offering two grant options in 2021.

1. Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants
A new grant stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants (R-NSG) has been developed to forge connections and mitigate social isolation during the pandemic. This funding is intended for: safe, virtual, outdoor, and physically-distanced projects. Online R-NSG applications are now open and close when funding runs out.

2. Greenest City Neighbourhood Small Grants
We are also offering Greenest City Neighbourhood Small Grants for projects that contribute in some way to the City’s Greenest City Action Plan goals. These goals include reducing our carbon footprint, creating zero waste, improving access to nature, clean air and water, growing local food, to name a few. However, your project cannot involve greening a business.

This Neighbourhood Small Grant program is for everyone. We’ve funded projects led by residents as young as ten, in addition to neighbours well into their nineties. Some project Leaders have lived in our community for 30+ years, whereas others have moved here less than a year ago. We believe neighbours are the experts on their community, and we all have ideas on how we can make our community better and more resilient.

Please contact our Coordinator if you have a specific question, need support completing the application form, require translation assistance, would like something clarified, or simply want to learn more. This is a great opportunity to get involved in your community.

Jim Balakshin, Downtown Peninsula Program Coordinator
Neighbourhood Small Grants Program
jim@gordonhouse.org
(604) 683-2554


Planter Box Encourages Neighbours to Rethink Edible Native Plants

Over the winter months you may have noticed a new planter box with perennial plants and signage in front of Gordon Neighbourhood House. The project was created by West End neighbour Jesse Orr. Jesse is a multidisciplinary artist, farmer, gardener, and is engaged in community activism and social justice. Jesse volunteers with Gordon Neighbourhood House through our Young Ideas group.

The planter originated in the summer of 2020 as ‘Invite The Bees’, an installation of summer flowering native plants for the Vines Art Festival. After the success of the flowering plants installation, Jesse was keen to extend the project into the winter months, this time connecting native plants and landscaping to local food systems.

For thousands of years Indigenous people have thrived on locally-sourced ingredients, yet wider discussions around food security and local food systems tend to focus on Western European-centric diets. This narrow approach excludes Indigenous societies and ignores the ecological benefits of growing and eating native plants, which tend to use fewer resources and are more beneficial overall for other organisms.

Jesse’s aim is to combine art with the natural world in an interactive way that encourages neighbours to rethink native plants species in relation to their diet and gardens. She hopes that neighbours will taste the berries, learn the plant names, identify characteristics of these native species, and ultimately inspire others to consider introducing these plants into their gardens and planter boxes.

I’m interested in local food for greater food security and for a lower carbon footprint in agriculture, but that conversation often focuses only on a Western diet. I’m learning that what shouldn’t be forgotten is the fact that the pre-colonial ecology of this area was in itself a sustainable foodscape, shaped by local people, and that is a very different way of eating than mainstream agriculture provides. The work of Dawn Morrison and the Indigenous Food Systems Network over decades has done a lot to bring attention to this colonial frame which tends to dominate the food systems topic.” – Jesse Orr

Further Resources:

The Environmental Youth Alliance is doing a lot of cool work around appreciating local plants (many which are commonly called weeds) and ecology. Follow the link to find out more about this project – Re-wilding Vancouver.

Fraser Valley Conservancy has created a major resource that provides a step by step guide to creating your own backyard eco-system.

Check out this news article about gardening with local food-bearing plants.

Dawn Morrison of the Indigenous Food Systems Network, along with a panel of experts, partnered with UBC to host a webinar titled ‘Decolonizing the Land and Food Systems’ available to view here.

First We Eat is a documentary about a family living in Dawson City, Yukon on the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. This family embarks on a year long goal of eating only locally sourced food, and share what they learned in the process such as tips on foraging, recipes, and other interesting information.

Taste the berries!

All neighbours are invited to come by and check out this installation. Please be mindful of physical distancing, mask wearing, and Honourable Harvest Teachings, as the plants are for the whole community to enjoy and learn from.

Please reach out if you are interested in obtaining one of these plants for your own garden, local vendors include Art’s Nursery and Figaro’s Garden.

Bunchberry (edible berries)

Licorice Fern (edible & medicinal)

Oval-Leaved Blueberry (edible berries)

Salal (edible berries)


Reiki Fosters Virtual Community During Pandemic

Participants Enjoy a Virtual Reiki Session

Shehbaz Ahmad lives in the West End, and as trained Reiki Master wanted to share his skills and passion with the community. Last year Ahmad received $500 in funding from a Neighbourhood Small Grant to host his resident-led Reiki sessions at Gordon Neighbourhood House.

The classes were very popular, however when COVID-19 first emerged it seemed unlikely that his initiative could continue. That is, until one participant encouraged him to host the sessions online. He was skeptical at first, however the success of the online sessions surprised even the Reiki Master himself.

Reiki is a form of alternative energy healing that originated in Japan. Practitioners frequently use a technique called palm healing through which a “universal energy” is said to be transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to encourage wellness. Many Reiki participants experience benefits similar to meditation including: reduced stress, increasing self-awareness, refocusing on the present, and relaxation.

Shehbaz first started hosting his classes in 2020. As the demand for the free Reiki sessions grew, Ahmad decided to offer weekly sessions.

“Our sessions continued every week at Gordon Neighbourhood House until the pandemic,” recalled Shehbaz, “then one of the participants called me and said is there a chance we could continue our Reiki sessions online. I decided to give it a go and everyone was so happy to stay connected during the pandemic.”

Since hosting the sessions online, the group has flourished and now has close to 50 participants, many more than could be accommodated at his in-person sessions.

“We now call it our Joyful Reiki family,” said Ahmad, “What started with seed money of $500 from a Neighbourhood Small Grant, has now become a strong tree. I remember the first day when I was wondering if even one person show up. Now we have a regular virtual group in the West End, and people joining us from as far away as Germany.”

The group has been extremely beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I found many friends and have heard many heart-warming experiences from our community on how Reiki has helped them deal with stress and anxiety during these challenging times. Participants have reported sleeping better, having clarity of mind, emotional resilience, more confidence, and improved decision-making,” said Ahmad.

Birdeen Seltzer lives in the neighbourhood, and had a similar experience.

“Joyful Reiki Sundays have been an excellent way to stay connected with the West End Community during this challenging time,” explained Seltzer, “To share in the spiritual nature of Reiki with like-minded people has been integral in navigating the pandemic.”

The ‘tree’ that Shehbaz started, is establishing its roots as well. Several participants have decided to learn Reiki, and have become Reiki Masters themselves. Two members of the group now regularly volunteer and lead sessions when he is unavailable.

“I thoroughly enjoy volunteering…,” stated Ahmad, “I found that experience very fulfilling, enriching and enlightening. I feel delighted to see participants grow, and start their own wellness journey. The feeling of being part of a Reiki family is priceless.”

If you are interested in joining the Joyful Reiki group, the classes take place every Sunday at 11:00am for 1.5 hours. The sessions feature deep Reiki relaxation and guided mediation. Email hello@dervesh.ca for more information.

The Neighbourhood Small Grants program supports resident-led projects with up to $500 in funding. Gordon Neighbourhood House coordinates the program for all neighbours on the downtown peninsula (West End, Yaletown, Coal Harbour, Downtown South, Central Business District). Applications are now open for a new grant stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants which supports safe, distanced, and virtual projects. For more information, visit the NSG website, or email jim@gordonhouse.org.


We’re Hiring! Community Program Worker (Cooking)

Do you enjoy cooking? Are you eager to make an impact in your community? Are you looking to join a team of fun, dedicated, and passionate people? If your answer is yes, Gordon Neighbourhood House is looking for you!

POSTED: April 1st, 2021
START DATE: As soon as possible
DEADLINE: Until position filled

OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE:
Two                              
1 Permanent part-time position (21 hours per week)
1 Temporary part-time position (14 hours per week until fall 2021)

COMPENSATION
Permanent part-time: $17.12/hour + benefits;
Temporary part-time: $17.12/hour + 4% in lieu of benefits.

SUMMARY OF POSITION
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a public health emergency, Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) in collaboration with our partners started an emergency frozen meal delivery program.

This program is one of several initiatives GNH has launched to improve food access in the community during the pandemic, and seek permanent solutions to the persistent and systemic causes of food insecurity in our neighbourhood.

Every week, we prepare and freeze 250 made-from-scratch meals, which are then delivered directly to participants via Shift bicycle couriers. Since the program started, our food team has prepared over 9,000 delicious and nutrient-rich meals that feature diverse menu options, while accommodating participant dietary restrictions.

We are looking for two part-time team members who will be responsible for preparing, cooking, and portioning 250-300 meals every week. This is a hands-on kitchen role. Examples of meals could include: vegetarian curries, spaghetti, stews, macaroni & cheese, stir fries, peanut stews, casseroles, chili, tofu bowls, etc.

KEY DUTIES
– Prepare food for emergency frozen meal delivery program

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES
–  Follow FoodSafe health and safety procedures at all times
–  Cook meals using recipes from our monthly menu
–  Prepare ingredients and cook delicious and healthy food
–  Heat and cool meals to required temperatures
–  Portion and plate meals
–  Clean and sanitize kitchen, equipment, and utensils
–  Ensure meals are prepared on time and within our budget

TASKS
–  Maintain kitchen tidiness and ensure supplies and equipment are clean and organized
–  Set-up, clean, and sanitize work stations
–  Clean, wash, and sanitize equipment, dishes, and utensils
–  Complete program-related records and documentation
–  Estimate expected ingredient requirements and coordinate preparation
–  Prepare ingredients for cooking: washing, peeling, chopping, seasoning, etc.
–  Safely operate oven, grill, dishwasher, appliances, hand tools, and utensils
–  Ensure prepared food reaches required heating and cooling temperatures
–  Portion meals into individual containers


SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS

–  Food Safe Certificate
–  One year related experience or an equivalent combination of education and training
–  Ability to multi-task, prioritize duties, and manage time efficiently
–  Ability to work in a team environment or independently
–  Self-motivated and directed
–  Physical endurance to stand and move during the length of the entire shift
–  Ability to stand, sit, kneel, bend, move, complete repetitive motions, and lift up to 25 pounds

LOCATION: Gordon Neighbourhood House (1019 Broughton Street, Vancouver)
Gordon Neighbourhood House is open to staff Monday to Friday between 9:00am-5:00pm during the pandemic. Shifts will take place during regular operating hours. The hours of this position are dependent on funding and may increase if additional funding is secured, or if new programs are introduced.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­TO APPLY
Please e-mail your resume, and a brief description detailing why you would be a great fit for this position to welcome@gordonhouse.org with ‘Community Program Worker’ in the subject line (no phone calls please).

This is an internal and external posting. We thank all interested applicants; however only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Gordon Neighbourhood House is a proud member of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC (ANHBC), which is an equal opportunity employer. We place a high value on diversity and encourage qualified individuals from all backgrounds and identities to consider applying for the position. Our total compensation and benefits package reflects our commitment to our staff and their family. For more information about Gordon Neighbourhood House, visit www.gordonhouse.org.