Mindfulness

by Darlene

stock photos free
 of water macro photography of drop of water on top of green plant nature

Here’s a little information about mindfulness meditation to make it more accessible. Meditation and that wandering monkey mind! Well, minds think, that’s what they do. Rather than emptying the mind of thought altogether, meditation provides us with an opportunity to ‘steer the mind’ using concentration practice. Mindfulness is the ability to know or name what we are noticing or experiencing. Concentration practice is the ability to hold our focus where we choose.

Here is a mindfulness meditation practice to explore. While our attention may come and go, our body and breath are always with us. When we notice our mind has wandered, we can use the opportunity to steer the mind, to concentrate instead where we prefer or intend. Steer your mind to notice the next out breath when it occurs. And then the next one in the ongoing in-and-out cycle of breathing. And then the one after that too. To help you with your concentration practice you might observe a physical sensation that helps you know, ‘oh, this is an out breath.’ Perhaps the downward settling of your chest or belly or maybe the air moving through your nostrils. Keep noticing that next out breath as it occurs. Gently, allow yourself to notice how your body is breathing just as it breathes, there is no need to make your body breathe in any particular way. Perhaps you are taking small sips of air or maybe your breath is moving in your chest or possibly down in your belly.

The point of meditation is not necessarily to empty the mind of all thought, rather to steer the mind to where we intend and bring it back to our chosen point of focus. With this concept in mind we can be gentler with ourselves each time we steer the mind back toward the focus of our concentration practice.


Social DistanSING

Christopher Clarke Hyndman of the Quixotic Neurotics

In celebration of Neighbourhood House Week 2020 we collaborated with community members to host a unique rooftop concert (dubbed #socialdistanSING) for West End apartment dwellers to cheer from their balconies and celebrate the strength of community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 5th after the daily 7pm cheer for front line workers we surprised neighbours with a Beatles inspired West End rooftop concert from the corner of Gilford Street and Comox Street to celebrate the power of togetherness and social inclusion.

Happy Neighbourhood House Week! #socialdistanSING #2020goodneighbours

Posted by Gordon Neighbourhood House on Saturday, May 9, 2020

Connections and relationships are at the heart of our organization,”said Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski,”we have operated in this neighbourhood for over 75 years and are proud to have worked alongside thousands of amazing neighbours like musician Christopher Clarke Hyndman to improve our community. While COVID-19 has drastically affected the programs we used to offer, our values remain as strong as ever.”

At a time when most people are staying at home, many apartment renters have been asked by landlords to keep noise to a minimum,and be considerate of neighbours. Organizers of the rooftop concert tried to find the right balance between creating a fun experience,and avoid bothering some neighbours.

“It sounds counter intuitive,”explained local musician Christopher Clarke Hyndman of the Quixotic Neurotics, “I had to convince everyone that more speakers are actually less disruptive than fewer speakers. When you use lots of speakers you can position them in all directions with a lower volume so that everyone can hear the music. That way some neighbours don’t just get thumping bass and echoes, it creates a great experience for everyone.”

This first week in May has historically been declared Neighbourhood House Week by the Mayor of Vancouver, and events are planned all across the city to celebrate the contributions of Neighbourhood Houses. This year organizers had to get creative in devising ways to celebrate the occasion together. The West End is known for its canyons of tall apartments and condo building, and ‘vertical communities’ so a rooftop concert was a perfect fit. It is not uncommon for some buildings to be over 20 stories with hundreds of residents stacked above each other. Unlike must outdoor concerts however, only residents in these buildings were able to watch the show. To make everything possible,organizers had to carefully hoist each piece of sound gear up a fire escape ladder to the roof of the three-storey walk-up apartment building where the event will be held.

“I hope our neighbours enjoy it,”remarked Jim Balakshin, the Director of Community Development, “I can’t think of a better time to host a rooftop concert to cheer people up,and bring everyone together for a common cause.”

The Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC has been leading community development in Metro Vancouver for over 120 years, and currently operates 16 neighbourhood houses, and an outdoor camp. These facilities have become second homes for many residents, and are a place to makes connections and build long-lasting relationships with neighbours from diverse backgrounds.

Gordon Neighbourhood House has served as a community hub in Vancouver’s West End since 1942. We have a history of working alongside our friends and neighbours to facilitate connection, engagement and collaboration, while seizing opportunities for community development. In the context of COVID-19 our programming may have changed, but our values remain.


Creating Calm

by Grace

Worry serves a useful purpose—it warns us of danger and it motivates us to find solutions. Worrying, however, that goes on for longer periods of time without cease, can lead to anxiety and a host of health problems. This 12-minute webinar Creating Calm: Simple Activities for Stressful Times” offers 5 practical activities for anyone looking to reduce worry and create calm for themselves, and also for those that they are supporting. This webinar comes with downloadable handouts that can be laminated and cleaned for safe reuse so they can be freely shared with others. It lasts for 12 minutes, and can be found here.

This webinar was created by Kristine Theurer, PhD who volunteers with Grace who is a senior support worker at Gordon House and the Jewish Seniors Alliance.

Dr. Kristine Theurer is a researcher who pioneered the use of standardized peer support and peer mentoring programs to address loneliness and social isolation in senior living. She is a published author of a number of research articles, the most recent of which Reducing Loneliness and Depression: The Power of Peer Mentoring in Long-Term Care in JAMDA and The Need for a Social Revolution in Residential Care, the most downloaded article in the Journal of Aging Studies. Dr. Theurer leads training workshops for staff working in health care in Canada and the US and presents regularly at international conferences. She has received numerous research awards including grants from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She serves on the planning committee for the national conference on culture change in Canada, hosted by the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging.


Naan Lavaash Recipe

by Nahid

Serves 8 pieces of Bread
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Combine half the water (1/4 cup), yeast, salt and oil into a medium bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup of flour and mix with spoon.
  3. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water.
  4. Use your hands to mix until it forms a ball of dough. Leave in a warm place covered for 1 hour.
  5. Form the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal pieces.
  6. Roll each piece into a ball. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Flatten the dough using a rolling pin or empty glass bottle.
  8. Cook each piece on a hot dry pan on medium heat, about one minute per side (depending on temperature). Flip when you see pockets of air forming (see video).

Enjoy!


Asian Heritage Month

cherry blossoms at GNH

May in Canada is Asian Heritage Month. We are proud of the Asian heritage in our community and want to share some of the ways that we can all use this month to celebrate Asian culture and learn important history.

Firstly we would like to highlight the low number of coronavirus cases in the City of Richmond, and the fantastic work being done by the Chinatown community during this quarantine to take care of Chinese seniors with culturally appropriate groceries. A great article on stories and experiences of Chinatown seniors during this pandemic can be found here.

Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society have created virtual explorASIAN 2020 to celebrate Asian culture online with podcasts, virtual museum tours, virtual art exhibitions, virtual concerts, virtual yoga/meditation, and much more. Check out their Facebook page.

Vancouver Public Library have created a list of recommended e-books and audio books.

The 360 Riot Walk Tour gives participants the opportunity to learn about the history of the 1907 Vancouver Anti-Asian riots by engaging in a guided virtual walking tour that you can access free online here.

Vancouver Asian Film Festival has launched Elimin8hate which is a campaign against the recent rise in racist attacks against Asian-Canadians.

Sounds Japanese Canadian to Me is a podcast by the Nikkei National Museum.

Many Japanese-Canadians have served in the Canadian military and in fact the Stanley Park Cenotaph turns 100 this year.

The beautiful Vancouver cherry blossoms originated as a gift from Japan in honor of the Japanese-Canadians who served in WW1. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival has all of the information on best spots for admiring these trees, both IRL and virtually, as well as running an International Haiku competition.

📷 : Jeff Chant

Statement regarding the closure of the West End Food Hub

For the past five years, Gordon Neighbourhood House has worked alongside the Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) to run the West End Food Hub. Delivered each Friday, our Hub was one of the largest neighbourhood-based emergency food programs in Greater Vancouver. We served over 500 people each week (in turn representing over 1500 people in our community), providing food access, hot meals, cooking education, produce markets, free counselling, clothing and household goods, family resource programming, referrals, advocacy and much more.

Greater Vancouver Food Bank recently announced that it would be closing all neighbourhood-based food distribution (including the West End Food Hub) and opening two locations at Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Mount Pleasant Community Centre. More information about the new locations is available here: https://foodbank.bc.ca/find-food/locations/

Gordon Neighbourhood House does not agree with the decision to close the West End Food Hub. We had committed to continue providing the Food Hub during COVID-19 as local food access is more important now than ever before.

Our members have voiced considerable anxiety about their food security amid the combined impacts of a public health crisis, economic crisis and the closure of supportive programs like the Food Hub. We hear you, and we have been working around the clock to find safe, healthy and dignified options for emergency food support. If you are in a tough spot and need support, please email welcome@gordonhouse.org.

In the long-term, Gordon Neighbourhood House remains committed to ensuring dignified emergency food supports are available in the West End. If you are a local organization or businesses wanting to support us in providing emergency food access to the community, we need your help. Email welcome@gordonhouse.org to get involved.


Reading Resources

Did you know that before Gordon House moved into 1019 Broughton Street it was the original location of the West End public library?

We have continued with this tradition by providing a free community lending library in our lobby. Although we are currently closed to the public, there are many other free lending libraries in our neighbourhood: on Cardero (at Nelson near Cardero Bottega), in Mole Hill, and on Pacific (at Thurlow).

Vancouver Public Library provides free access to e-books, audio books, academic resources, and their Facebook group does a story time for children. If you don’t yet have a library card, you can sign up online.

Storybooks Canada and Indigenous Storybooks offer free educational resources to promote literacy and language learning.

The International Children’s Digital Library provides access to children’s books from cultures around the world, and Story Time Online has videos of celebrities reading children’s books. 

The World Health Organisation has released a storybook to help children and young people cope with COVID-19. This can be downloaded for free and is available in 6 languages currently, with another 30 languages coming soon.

For those looking to support local retailers Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium at 1238 Davie remains open for business Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


West End COVID Resource List

This blog post contains information on West End resources for seniors, homeless services, food access, public toilets, and community news & connections. Words highlighted in green are links that you can click on to access further information.

Seniors

The Better at Home Program helps seniors with day-to-day support from grocery shopping, friendly visits, and transportation to light housekeeping and minor home repairs.  For West End and Coal Harbour residents, the program is being facilitated through the West End Seniors Network, please contact their Community Services Coordinator at betterathome@wesn.ca or call (604) 669-5051.

BetterMeals is a seniors service which offers a wide variety of dishes to choose from that are healthy, delicious, and satisfy a wide variety of specific dietary needs. For more information visit their website or contact sam@bettermeals.ca (604) 299-1877. 

ElderDogCanada  provides assistance to seniors and their canine companions including support obtaining food, animal hygiene, minor grooming, and transportation to and from the vet. For more information contact Jacqueline Henley at elderdogvancouverldr@gmail.com

Emergency Resources

If you are an isolated person looking for assistance to get essential goods then please contact BC211. The website homepage also provides information on a variety of emergency resources.

There is a regularly updated emergency food & shelter resource map here and a print friendly version of emergency food & shelter resources here.

Coast Outreach Team can be reached at 604-669-2447. The Coast Resource Centre is closed but support and information is still available at   T 604-683-3787 or M 604-603-9151.

For emergency harm reduction supplies you can contact Spikes on Bikes West End: 8am – 2pm Monday to Saturday  / 604-317-1315 call for service. 

Food

Information on the location and operating hours of the Food Bank are available here.

The food handling guidelines by the BC Centre for Disease Control outlines food issues that may arise at both the grocery stores and at home. It can be found here.

Our friends at Christchurch Cathedral 960 Burrard St are reopening their Wednesday cafe to do takeout meals from 11:30am-12:30pm with physical distancing measures in place.

Vancouver Farmers Markets will be starting back this month, with the West End market due to begin May 23rd.

West End Public Access Toilets

Bute at Davie (NE corner of intersection) – Automated Public Toilet 24hrs

English Bay Beach Park 1700 Beach Avenue – (Bathhouse) Public Toilet in Park 10am-dusk

Bute at Davie (Mid Block Between Davie St and See-Em_la Lane) -Automated Public Toilet 24hrs

Nelson Park (West side of park) – Automated Public Toilet 24hrs

Sunset Beach Park 1204 Beach Avenue – Public Toilet in Park dawn to dusk

News & Connections

The West End Journal is a great source for news and information of special relevance to the West End such as stores and pharmacies opening hours and options for supporting local restaurants.

Keep connected with your friends and neighbours in the West End with these two popular Facebook Groups : Vancouver West Enders (nightly 7pm cheers & other news from the community) and Photographing in the West End (photos & videos from residents in the West End).

I Lost My Gig is a Facebook group providing support and networking opportunities to artists and other vulnerable freelance or gig workers whose jobs have been affected by current restrictions.


Vegetable Stock Recipe

by Joey

Cook Time: 1.5 hours

Traditionally, making vegetable stock at home involves using whole onions, carrots, celery and herbs that you buy and sift into the compost bin once their flavor has infused into the broth.

Here is a low-cost and low-waste alternative to making stock using vegetable scraps, peels and stalks. It requires little work, just some simmering time and freezer space:

1)Every time you cook, save your vegetable peels, stalks and tops in a container or bag (I use yogurt containers) and store it in the freezer. I save pretty much everything but pepper and squash seeds, and of course anything that’s spoiled.

2) Once your container is full, put your scraps into a large pot with enough water to just cover the scraps. Optionally, you can add a pinch of salt and 2 bay leaves.

3) Bring up to a boil. Then turn down to low-medium heat and simmer for ~1.5 hours. You can add a lid but keep it ajar.

4) Once done, strain and let cool. Vegetable stock stores really well in the freezer. Refrigerate for up to 7-10 days.

Nutritional info: Vegetable peels and stalks actually contain a lot of the vegetable’s nutrients. If you’re worried about pesticides on peels of conventional vegetables, consult this guide to find out which vegetables to leave out of your stockpile.

Meat eaters only: If you eat meat, save your bones! It will give your stock a wonderful flavor and a dose of minerals (phosphorus, magnesium, potassium), electrolytes and collagen that help with cell repair and function.


West African Peanut Stew Recipe

by Joey

Here’s a delicious meal that is vegan, gluten-free, low-cost, easy and flexible.

It’s a fan favourite in our Community Lunch program, and now you can make it at home!

This dish is a source of protein, fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, Vitamins A, E, C, K, healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids.

All you need to get started is peanut butter, canned tomato, and some veggies. At the end of this recipe you’ll find tips on how to adjust for ingredients you prefer or have on hand. Enjoy!

Makes: 6 servings

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients:

· 1.5 L vegetable stock (if you would like to learn how to make your own low-cost & waste free vegetable stock we have a recipe here)

· 2 tbsp vegetable oil

· 1 onion

· 1 inch piece of ginger

· 3 garlic cloves

· 1 large yam

· 2 small-medium potato

· 1-400 ml canned tomato

· 1 can chickpea

· 1 bell pepper

· 3 leaves kale or 1/3 bunch spinach

Seasoning:

· ¾ cup peanut butter (no added sugar)

· 1/8 tsp chili powder

· 1/8 tsp cayenne

· 1 ½ tsp lemon juice

· Salt & pepper

Extremely optional toppings:

· Sprinkle of chopped peanuts

· Few sprigs of chopped herb (cilantro, parsley, or green onion)

Instructions:

1. Begin warming up 1.5 L vegetable stock or water on the stove or microwave in a small pot or microwave-safe container. Heat until it starts steaming / simmering.

2. Peel onion, garlic, yam. Cut onion, yam, potato and bell pepper into ~2 cm bite sized cubes. Finely chop the ginger and garlic. Roughly chop kale/spinach.

3. In a large soup pot, heat vegetable oil on medium heat. Sautee and stir onion for 5 minutes, until they are translucent.

4. Add garlic, ginger, yam and stir for another minute.

5. Add canned tomato with juices. Simmer on medium-low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Drain and rinse can of chickpeas. Add chickpeas, chili powder and cayenne to the pot. Stir.

7. Grab a large metal bowl or container and scoop in one ladle of vegetable stock. If it’s really hot, let it cool for a couple minutes.

8. Add remaining vegetable stock to the soup pot. Cover pot and turn on high heat. When it bubbles, turn to medium heat and simmer for ~15 min, until yam/potato is fork tender.

9. Take your peanut butter and add ¾ cup to the 1 ladle of vegetable stock. Whisk together until smooth. Mixing the peanut butter with a little stock will be much easier than mixing everything in the large pot.

10. Once yam is almost fork tender, stir peanut butter mixture and bell pepper into soup pot and cook for 3-5 minutes.

11. Turn off heat and stir in spinach/kale and lemon juice.

12. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve and top with herbs and chopped peanuts.

How to adjust this recipe:

· If you don’t have vegetable stock you can use water, but add some extra seasonings (bay leaves, more garlic & onion).

· You can replace any of the veggies (broccoli or green beans would be tasty)

· Replace the chickpeas with any kind of bean, lentil, split pea or grain

· I like using canned diced tomato, but you can use crushed, paste, sauce, whatever you have.

· Replace lemon juice with apple cider vinegar, lime juice or any light acid

· Add leftover rice or shredded chicken to make it heartier.

· The more peanut butter you use, the thicker your stew will be.