Young Ideas: A Fresh Initiative for the West End

By Hal Shin, GNH Community Journalist/Blogger

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In the West End, the demographic of individuals age 20 to 39 represents by far the largest portion of the community, sitting at a staggering 48% of the population*.

You would expect, with a dominant age group of that range the West End would see a well-connected and engaged young adult community.

That does not seem to be the case, according to its inhabitants.

The Vancouver Foundation’s 2012 Survey** found that “one-third of the people we surveyed say it is difficult to make new friends here. And one in four say they are alone more often than they would like to be. In both cases, people who experience this also report poorer health, lower trust and a hardening of attitudes toward other community members.”

The problem, for Vancouver, is cost. Rob Parry, a member of Young Ideas, has found that “the ability to access opportunities to meet peers socially requires having a lot of money … or having an established social network to build from.” With prices in Vancouver as high as it is, denizens of the West End find social activities deterred by costs and a lack of social culture.

It is this problem that Young Ideas seeks to remedy. Since its inception in 2014, Young Ideas has targeted the 20-39 age demographic; by putting emphasis on affordability and accessibility, Young Ideas hopes to cement a sense of social belonging and health, a motif to which they remain faithful to this day.

“We’re trying to fight that feeling of social isolation and [to] create the opportunity for people to be part of a community,” says Brendan Bailey, another member of Young Ideas.

“Young Ideas is a mechanism for young adults that work, volunteer or live in the West End to lead low-cost activities and initiatives aimed at facilitating connection,” says Paul Taylor, the Executive Director at Gordon Neighbourhood House.

The activities, events, and workshops hosted by Young Ideas range greatly. From Game On, a monthly free games night to Cooking With a monthly cooking class ($2), Young

Ideas is also known for its larger events, from their annual pride party, to the infamous Brews and Chews (a part of the West End Food Festival).

Upcoming Young Ideas Events:

YOGA – Pay what you can – EVERY TUESDAY

Cooking with (Meat Edition) Monday February 22nd 7pm – 9pm (call 604-683-2554 to register) $2

Cooking with (Vegan Edition) Wednesday February 24th 7pm – 9pm (call 604-683-2554 to register) $2

Game On Thursday 25th 7pm-9pm Facebook event here:


Lets Grow Gardening Workshop (FREE) March 6th 11-12:30pm

One Mo’ Time (an improvised mo town mock wedding) March 19th 7-10pm tickets are $10 include a drink, bubbly and food. Tickets here:

Cooking with (Meat) March 21st 7-9pm $2

Cooking with (Vegan) March 30th 7-9pm $2

Game on + Cooking with (Vegan) April 21st 7-9pm $2 for Cooking with, Free for Game On

Check out the upcoming or past events here:

While attending an event is great, volunteers at Young Ideas are constantly experimenting with different, novel ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. To them, it is a learning process, the fruits of which are the current events available to the public. If you’re interested in getting involved, please call 604-683-2554, or email

For more information on Young Ideas, please visit:

*Statistics from 2011 census, page 20 of Community Profile 2012, by the City of Vancouver. Link: ** Link:

Free From Fear: Gender-Neutral Restrooms and Inclusivity in Design

By David Cordell

This article original appeared on Ideas + Buildings, the blog of architecture and design firm Perkins+Will. The post is authored by David Cordell. In addition to leading the sustainability efforts of Perkins+Will’s Washington DC office, David has served as a project designer and technical coordinator for Perkins+Will for over nine years. His projects have received multiple awards and have been published in Contract magazine, American Builders Quarterly, and Building Design + Construction.”

In 1951, an American named George William Jorgensen traveled to Copenhagen and underwent sex reassignment surgery. Returning to the States as Christine Jorgensen, she became the first widely known American transgender woman. She worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer, using her celebrity to advocate for transgender people. Sixty-four years later, nearly four million people tuned in to watch the series premiere of “I Am Cait.” The documentary series chronicles the story of Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, after her gender transition. It was the most-watched reality show launch of the year.

Despite countless triumphs in the civil rights movement in the United States over the last six decades, and the recent spotlight on transgender Americans, most still face extreme prejudice and a lack of understanding from the general public.  A 2011 report from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and he National Center for Transgender Equality stated that 63% of transgender people suffer serious acts of discrimination, including loss of employment and eviction due to bias, bullying from peers, teachers and police, physical assault and denial of medical services.  The rate of harassment increases dramatically in youth, with 78% reporting physical assault and sexual violence at school or home.

Chilling statistics like these illustrate society’s unwillingness to truly accept transgender people and our underlying discomfort with individuals who do not conform to stereotypical male and female categorization. One of the places this is most obvious is restroom facilities in public spaces. Historically, we have segregated restrooms by gender to address concerns over women’s safety. The common public belief is that unisex restrooms leave women more vulnerable to harassment or attack then gender-segregated facilities. However, there is no evidence that gender-segregated restrooms are safer for women than unisex facilities, and we have laws in place in the US protecting occupants from criminal activity on restrooms.  Despite this, gender-segregated facilities continues to be the predominantly accepted method for designing restrooms in public spaces, largely because of how plumbing codes calculate required fixture counts.

Gender-segregated restrooms can create problems for transgender individuals. Images (c) Sam Howzit via Flickr

Why is this important to transgender rights and acceptance? According to the same report, transgender people suffer dramatically high harassment rates in restrooms, with 53% of transgender people reporting being harassed or disrespected in public facilities. The act of choosing a gender when using the restroom, male or female, singles many transgender people out, making them easy targets for harassment. Because of this, many transgender people attempt to avoid using public restrooms altogether, delaying going to the restroom until they are home or limiting the consumption of liquids. Both strategies can result in long term health problems from bladder infection or dehydration.

Legally, transgender people have the right to use the restroom that corresponds with his or her gender identity. In 1993, Minnesota became the first state to ban employment discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Since then, there have been a number of rulings related to restroom access for transgender people on federal, state and local levels. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that discrimination based on transgender status was a form of unlawful discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers sex discrimination, in the landmark case, Macy V. Holden.  More recently, in April of 2015, the EEOC again ruled in favor of transgender rights, determining that the Department of the Army was guilty of discrimination against a transgender employee by barring access to the restroom facilities. The ruling stated that, by denying the defendant, Tamara Lusardi, a transgender woman and employee, access to the women’s restroom and reprimanding her publicly when she did so, the Army had deprived her of “equal status, respect and dignity in the workplace” and was in violation of the law.

Understanding that the traditional approach to restroom design, providing an additional auxillary gender-neutral, unisex room, seems like a reasonable solution to addressing harassment. The problem is that segregating transgender people from the rest of the population by providing a single occupant unisex restroom in addition to multi-person gender-segregated facilities still potentially singles transgender people out, increasing the likelihood of harassment. For this reason, in 2015OSHA published guidelines for restroom access for transgender workers. This guideline states that the best options for designing restroom facilities sensitive to the transgender population are ones that provide one of two scenarios. Option one, facilities with only single-occupancy gender-neutral (unisex) facilities. Option two, multiple-occupant, gender neutral restroom facilities with lockable single occupant stalls.

Opponents will say that both options present some challenges. Multi-person unisex facilities is still a hard sell for many people with current societal norms, although this solution is becoming increasingly popular in restaurant and bar settings. Designing all single-occupant restrooms potentially increases the square footage required for a building core to provide the code compliant number of fixtures, which building owners argue costs them profit by decreasing the rentable area of their buildings. People used a similar argument about the Americans with Disabilities guideline when it was first published.  Ultimately, the courts upheld the decision that all people are to be granted equal access to facilities and employers and business owners are obligated to provide accessible facilities. Now, as then, our industry must evolve our codes and methodology to designing restroom to include all sections of the population.

The reception area at the Whitman Walker Health facility in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Eric Laignel
The Whitman-Walker Health, 1525 Health Center in Washington, D.C. focuses on providing healthcare to the LGBT community, and challenged the design team to create a facility that supported that mission. The team redesigned the standard core restrooms on seven floors to provide all single-occupant restrooms. Providing the required fixture counts in the same footprint was a challenge, but ultimately one that was achievable. Post occupancy feedback from patients regarding the restrooms in the new facility has been overwhelmingly positive, with one transgender patient stating that, for the first time, they had a place to receive healthcare where they did not have to fear harassment or judgment.

Inside Whitman Walker Health. Photographer: Eric Laignel

As design professionals, we are legally obligated to create buildings that comply with health and safety codes. We also have a moral obligation to design spaces that positively impact society. Thoughtfully designing restroom facilities to be non-gendered and thereby helping to challenge social norms and reducing harassment and violence directed at transgender people is simply the right course of action. By engaging owners and tenants in a dialog on the subject, and education them about the facts, we can begin to transform the industry. As professionals we should accept nothing less than designs that offer absolute inclusion and acceptance for all people.



It is Membership season at Gordon Neighbourhood House

Are you a member of Gordon Neighbourhood House? perhaps you didn’t know that we are a membership based organization. You can Join today for only $5. It is an easy way to support the work that we do, and it gives you access to all of our programs as well as gives you access to the monthly 50% off sale at the Attic Thrift Store, currently only at the Davie location, but April 1st the sale will only be available to members at both locations.

Meet Jarret Mckee He is 31 and has lived in Vancouver’s West End for two years now. Jarett is not only a member, but also serves on Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Community Advisory Board. Jarett joined the board in September 2015 at the most recent Annual General Meeting (AGM).

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Jarret’s first experience at Gordon Neighbourhood house was through getting involved with the Young Ideas initiative. Young Ideas members are volunteers that organize events, activities and initiatives. Young Ideas was created as a means of facilitating connection and opportunities for relationship building, with a particular focus on 20 to 39 year olds who live, work or volunteer in Vancouver’s West End. Many aren’t aware that 20 to 39 year olds make up 48% of the West End’s population.

Young Ideas was created as a response to the Vancouver Foundation’s 2012 Connection and Engagement survey that found:

41% of young adults in Metro Vancouver find it difficult to make friends and that  33% say they feel more alone than they would like to be

When asked why everyone should have a membership Jarret’s response was; “Gordon Neighbourhood House is a very unique organization that is invested in all of its community members, it makes a priority of fostering those connections. Being a part of an organization like this is the best way for you to feel connected and significant in your community”

Jarret spoke to the effort of Gordon Neighbourhood House’s staff and  executive director saying ” Their ability to connect with the individuals they serve is what makes Gordon Neighbourhood House special”

If you could offer advice to someone visiting GNH for the first time, what would it be?

Don’t be shy, ask questions because you will get the best possible answer, check out the Attic thrift store and COME BACK!

Come sign up for a membership today!




Reblogged from: Food Secure Canada (

The fall of the Canadian dollar below the 70-cents-US mark is expected to leave Canadians with higher grocery bills. This situation is particularly critical considering that the vast majority of fruits and vegetables eaten by Canadians are imported and that the rate of inflation on food products hit 4.1% today. This puts Canadians in an unparalleled position among industrialised countries.



The goal of zero hunger in Canada

Increased food prices will impact all Canadians, but it is the most vulnerable who will be hit hardest. Food Secure Canada maintains that it is unthinkable that anyone should suffer from food insecurity in a country as rich as Canada.

The International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, ratified by Canada, gives all Canadians the right to food. Nonetheless, 4 millions Canadians, including 1.15 million children, have trouble putting food on the table.



Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada, highlighted in media reports that rising food prices will be particularly burdensome for the lower and middle classes, many of whom “can’t find a job that will pay them enough to ensure that they can afford a healthy diet for their families. It’s students. It’s senior citizens. It’s the working poor. It’s new immigrants.”

Indigenous peoples and visible minorities are disproportionately impacted by rising food costs. In Canada’s north, communities face a food security crisis that affects health and wellbeing.

The overwhelming cause of food insecurity is poverty. Strong political will is necessary to eradicate poverty and provide all Canadians with the ability to feed themselves adequate diets.

Sixty-eight percent of households whose main source of income comes from social assistance live in food insecurity. However, the majority of food insecure households (61.1 percent) rely on wages or salaries from employment.

During the Eat Think Vote election campaign, Food Secure Canada, in partnership with Community Food Centres Canada, recommended that the Government of Canada undertake a feasibility study on the implementation of a basic income in order to ensure all Canadians access to sufficient, safe, healthy, culturally appropriate food. Such a measure would guarantee all Canadians the ability to put food on the table by providing an income floor beneath which none could fall.

The price of a healthy diet climbs with the loonie


The price of fruits and vegetables will be especially impacted by the low dollar. Worryingly, these foods are essential for combating diabetes and hypertension, diseases that affect a growing number of Canadians.

Six in ten adults and one-third of children in Canada are overweight or obese, largely due to unhealthy diets. Instilling healthy food behaviours is necessary to reduce hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, certain cancers, and other food-related health problems.

Canadians find themselves in a paradoxical situation in which healthy foods that ought to be accessible to all, such as fruits and vegetables, are out of economic reach for many, while those that are damaging to their health are cheap. Inaction in the face of this issue will only exacerbate the current health crisis and lead to higher healthcare costs.

A national food policy as a shield against food insecurity

To give all Canadians access to healthy, affordable and sustainable food, the federal government must develop a comprehensive national food policy.

The election of the new Liberal government has opened up new possibilities around food policy. Prime Minister Trudeau has tasked Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay with developing “a food policy that promotes healthy living and safe food by putting more healthy, high-quality food, produced by Canadian ranchers and farmers, on the tables of families across the country.”


“It’s not something that the minister of agriculture can fix by itself,” says Bronson. “We need all the different departments and all the different stakeholders: industry and NGO’s. And people who are living in food insecurity need to be at the table where the decisions are made.”

The new government must recognize that food policy is intimately related to the fight against climate change, better health, sustainable fisheries, fair trade, the rights of Indigenous and northern people and poverty elimination, among many other important issues.

Food Secure Canada has been working for this commitment since the publication of Resetting the Table in 2011. Five years later, there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future of our food system and a Canadian food policy. However, there remains much to do to ensure that this new food policy guides us toward food sovereignty, zero hunger and a healthy and sustainable food system.

There’s also a renewed sense of collaboration, and the new federal government seems more willing than the previous one to work with a variety of food system stakeholders.

We need to ensure that our key values – zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and sustainable food systems – are the bedrock of the new policy. We need to ensure that food sovereignty, healthy kids, support for sustainable farms and ending the epidemic of hunger in Northern and remote communities are national priorities.

Some Ways you can get involved:

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Young Ideas launches Cooking With

By David Cutting

Malaysian Curry Chicken, Barley Risotto, Root Vegetable Slaw, Blueberry Buckle Cake. Yes it was as delicious as it sounds. On Monday January 18th Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Chef Peter Nguyen lead a group of 9 at Cooking with, a monthly community kitchen that supports young adults in growing their culinary ability.

Food prep

Out of the nine in attendance, four were new to Gordon Neighbourhood House. One of the participants was quick to share that the experience of participating in Cooking With has equipped him with new skills and confidence in the kitchen.

Since this program launched in October it has seen over 30 participants, all  incredibly eager to learn new cooking skills and meet new people. The program costs a mere $2 a person.

This month the recipes came from Goodness: Recipes and Stories, a book that celebrates Canada’s food fighters and features Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Executive Director Paul M. Taylor and Chef Peter. You can purchase a copy of Goodness at Gordon Neighbourhood House for $30, a portion of the proceeds support the work of Gordon Neighbourhood House

Malaysian Curry Chicken, Barley Risotto, Root Vegetable Slaw.

Young Ideas is an awesome initiative that is having incredible success in building community for the vast number of young adults (20-39 years old) that call the West End home. According to the 2011 Census 48% of West Enders are between the ages of 20 and 39. I personally met 5 new people while participating in Cooking With and I am excited to go to other events organized by Young Ideas.


If you would like to reserve your spot for the next Cooking With (Date: February TBA) call us at 604-683-2554, or email us at

If you would like to stay informed about upcoming events and programs hosted by Young Ideas, sign up for event notifications on Facebook HERE

Upcoming Young Ideas Events:

Get Smart: Intro to Coding

January 21st at 7pm Cost: FREE

Ever wondered what all those hackers and web designers are up to when they’re tapping away on their computer? While this class may not make you the next Mark Zuckerberg, you’ll definitely leave feeling like those ones and zeros make a little more sense.

Facebook Event: HERE

Game On:

January 28th at 7pm Cost: FREE

Who doesn’t love board games? Here at Young Ideas we love them so much that we are hosting a monthly games night at Gordon Neighbourhood House. Here you can go from making millions in Monopoly to building a vast empire in Risk.
All you need to do is bring yourself (and friends if you’d like, but I’m sure they’ll have some here for you too), something comfy, and prepare yourself for a ton of fun!

Facebook Event: HERE


Vancouver City Council approves Capital Grant for Gordon Neighbourhood House

GNH exterior

On Tuesday December 15th, after some careful deliberation and several amendments being proposed, Vancouver’s city council voted with only one opposing vote in favor of a $1.1 million capital grant for Gordon Neighbourhood House.

Gordon Neighbourhood House’s current location is 30 years old, and as such is at the end of its current life cycle. Management has been focused on securing funds from the City of Vancouver, the Federal Government, The Home Depot Foundation, The Alexandra Foundation and the Central City Foundation in order to update and maintain the current site. The bulk of the fund raised will address the building envelope restoration, but will also include new windows throughout and the introduction of gender-neutral bathrooms.

On December 9th, Paul M. Taylor (Executive Director of Gordon Neighbourhood House) and Dan Watson (member of the steering committee for the Young Ideas Initiative) spoke to city council in support of the grant, while other GNH staff were on hand for moral support. This was after a flurry of letters of support from a variety of individuals and community flooded Council just days before the special meeting.

Thank you to all of the donors and volunteers, especially our friends at Perkins + Will who will continue to work with GNH on this existing next phase of GNH’s rejuvenation.

2016 will certainly be an exciting year for GNH, not only will phase 2 of the restoration begin, but there is also the planned opening of an additional Attic Thrift Store on Davie Street.


new Attic Site
Site of the New Attic Thrift Store on Davie

Continue reading…

Annual West End Toy Drive Return

Toy Drive

For the past 20 years the West End Neighbourhood of Vancouver has passionately supported a holiday toy drive. The campaign supports West End families  who struggle to secure gifts for their children during the holidays. This year the Attic Thrift Store at Gordon Neighbourhood House is coordinating the initiative in a unique way. Rather than assigning gifts to families based on gender or age, the toys are made available at a very low-cost in the Attic Thrift Store on Broughton Street. This promotes a more dignified experience, where parents leave knowing that they not only selected and paid for an item for their child, but also they’ve become a donor to Gordon Neighbourhood House. 100% of the proceeds from sales at the Attic Thrift Store support the programs, initiatives and activities of Gordon Neighbourhood House. 

“As a child in a low income family I can still recall sifting though a bag marked ‘6 boy’ that was full of an odd assortment of toys and clothing. It certainly didn’t feel like the experience I saw people having on television and more often than not the clothes didn’t fit and I never really developed an affinity for Hot Wheels toy cars. At Gordon Neighbourhood House we focus on creating dignified experiences for parents to select and purchase the items that they think their kids would enjoy for $1-$5/item.” recalls Gordon Neighbourhood House’s executive director Paul Taylor.

 “The toy drive is a highly anticipated event amongst our team – it is great to see our neighbours select an appropriate toy for their child, and feel empowered doing so,” remarked thrift store volunteer Mojgan Abolhassani.

This is not unusual at The Attic however; everyday the thrift store provides thousands of high quality items at affordable prices. Over the 20 years that the store has been in operation on the second floor of Gordon Neighbourhood House, the thrift shop has saved West End residents millions of dollars, and has recycled tonnes of donated clothing and household items. 

This year The Attic is partnering with the West End Business Improvement Association , Lumiere Festival, and the Denman Place Mall  for the annual toy drive. The Mall has already pledged $600 dollars worth of toys, and is challenging local businesses to match their contribution.

Gordon Neighbourhood House staff and volunteers are thrilled to help this amazing initiative.

“We see the happiness and joy on the faces of our customers, and are excited to continue this worthwhile tradition for another year,” said  Agata Feetham, the Program Director at Gordon Neighbourhood House.

On Saturday December 12th from 3:00pm to 4:30pm Gordon Neighbourhood House is hosting a lantern-making workshop at the Jim Deva Plaza, followed by a lantern procession to the Denman Place Mall at 5:00pm as part of the Lumiere Festival . Staff and volunteers will be on site to accept donated toys for the toy drive.

If you are interested in participating in the toy drive, please drop off new and unwrapped toy at Gordon Neighbourhood House  or the Denman Place Mall  by December 18th. The Attic thrift store  is open 7 days a week at Gordon Neighbourhood House. You might as we’ll also stop in and see what treasure you find for yourself.

GOODNESS: Recipes & Stories


GOODNESS: Recipes & Stories
by Peter & Chris Neal

Goodness: Recipes & Stories celebrates 37 good food fighters from across Canada—chefs, entrepreneurs, growers, and food activists who believe that good, healthy food should be accessible to all. Each of their stories underlines the simple truth: food has the power to enrich lives and build strong communities. From supporting sustainability to promoting access, outreach, and education, these individuals serve up goodness every day—and here they share some of their favourite recipes too!

  • Top chefs and community food centre champions: Vikram Vij, Carl Heinrich, Todd Perrin, Brad Long, Joshna Maharaj, Lora Kirk, Jamie Kennedy, John Lai, Kim Fox, and Paul Taylor
  • Good food entrepreneurs: Elana Rosenfeld from Kicking Horse Coffee, Mike Fata from Manitoba Hemp Harvest, and Miriam Streiman from Mad Maple Country Inn
  • Good food advocates and activists: Nick Saul from Community Food Centres Canada, Gillian Flies from The New Farm, Sharon Hapton from Soup Sisters/Broth Brothers, and musician Sarah Harmer
  • A highlight from the book, in Vancouver, is the piece by Paul M. Taylor, the executive director of the Gordon Neighbourhood House. Paul is passionate about social justice, community development/activism, and tinkering in the kitchen, and is deeply involved in making Vancouver an engaged, supportive community for all residents.  His story, together with recipes for Roasted Potato Salad and Juicy Chicken Sandwich, courtesy of Chef Peter Nguyen at the Gordon Neighbourhood House, appears on pg. 236.

“We don’t have a playbook on how to conduct our business.  Each and every day we simply try to make decisions that we can feel good about.  During a 2014 national advisory council meeting for the CFCC, members were challenged with raising awareness and funds.  We had a light bulb moment: What if we Neal Brothers could produce a cookbook that shone a light on philanthropy and entrepreneurship to inspire people as well as educate them about CFCC” — From the Introduction by Peter Neal & Chris Neal.

Peter and Chris Neal, of Neal Brothers Foods Inc., are committed to providing consumers with healthier options that contain natural and gluten-free ingredients. They also believe that everyone has the right to have access to good food and to eat well, so much so, that they will be donating 50 percent of the profits from the sale of Goodness to Community Food Centres Canada to help bring people in low-income communities together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for healthy food for all.

330 pages * 7.75” x 9.5” paperback with French flaps * full-colour photography throughout
ISBN 978-0-9948015-0-0 * $29.95 * Pub date: Oct. 15, 2015

Available on line and in good retailers across Canada

by Debby de Groot, MDG & Associates


Native Edibles session from West End Food Festival

Three rose hips have as much Vitamin C as an orange, says Lori Snyder.  It’s one example of the powerful nutritional and health characteristics of some plants growing wild around us.  Expert facilitator for the ‘Native Edibles Workshop and Walk’ at the West End Food Festival on Sept 19th, Lori gave participants fascinating examples of plants that are edible or otherwise beneficial to human well-being.  These included Asian dogwood, red cedar, dandelion, blackberry leaves, plantain, gingko and additional species.   Some can be eaten, while others are best as teas.  Some are the basis of tinctures for skin sores, and others can be used in hot water as soothing foot baths.

native edibles rose hips

The session gave participants a glimpse into the world of naturally-occurring foods and medicines that are often dismissed as ‘weeds.’  Lori recently found an anti-depressant medication jutting out of the rocks at False Creek.  But it was not from a pharmacy; it was the plant called St. John’s Wort, which has long been known in native communities and by some scientists to possess anti-depressant properties.  

Lori also shared some of her philosophy of gathering.  When looking for ‘Usnea’ lichen, eg. ‘Old Man’s Beard,’ she waits until after a windstorm when some lichen will have blown off the trees. Then she can collect them from the ground without harming the plant. 

native edibles Lori Snyder

In one way or another we all have our hands in the earth, she said.  Yet many of us are afraid of nature – and are definitely nervous about ‘dirt.’  Lori recalled a recent day at a school garden, where she works teaching young people to grow food.   She pulled up a fresh orange carrot, with a little organic soil still clinging, and asked kids if they wanted a bite.  They recoiled in horror, so Lori ate it herself with a smile. Soil is not necessarily dirty, she says.  Besides, “we are nature.”

If you’d like to attend one of Lori’s workshops, she’ll be presenting at the upcoming fall Sustenance Festival, details of which will be online at, or on the site for Village Vancouver.

By Eleanor Boyle
GNH Community Journalist/Blogger

Eat Think Vote session from 2015 West End Food Festival


Food matters to you and to all of us.  So let’s make sure food matters to our politicians.  That’s the rationale for the campaign entitled Eat Think Vote, outlined on the site of Food Secure Canada, the dynamic national alliance of organizations and people aiming to make our food systems just, healthy, and ecological. 

Gordon Neighbourhood House was the site of an Eat Think Vote event, on the evening of Monday, Sept 21, where federal candidates for Vancouver Centre spoke about food and responded to questions – including the need for a national food policy and the troublesome lack of school programs for children who may not get adequate healthy sustenance at home.  Panelists were the Green Party’s Lisa Barrett, Liberal candidate Hedy Fry, and New Democratic Party candidate Constance Barnes.


Each candidate outlined a few of their personal, and their party’s, positions.  Liberal Hedy Fry talked about the importance of food policy, and said she is particularly concerned about food safety and the lack of adequate attention to that issue from the Conservative government.   Constance Barnes said the NDP believes food is a right, that it has championed school food programs, and that she would like to see a ban on the advertising of food to children.  Lisa Barrett said that our societies need to stop thinking of food as a commodity, and ensure that all are fed.  She said the Green party would develop a Council of Canadian Governments to help levels of government work together on big issues like food.


The session was a useful introduction to the three candidates and their parties.  I spoke afterward with Paul Taylor, executive director of Gordon Neighbourhood House.  He agreed that these kinds of events are useful for audience members – but also that such public discussions affect the politicians themselves by encouraging them to put food higher on their priority lists.


Part of the 2015 West End Food Festival, the Eat Think Vote session was co-organized and sponsored by Gordon Neighbourhood House, the Vancouver Food Policy Council, BC Food Systems Network, Neighbourhood Food Networks, and the Vancouver Urban Farming Society.

By Eleanor Boyle
GNH Community Journalist/Blogger

Photos taken by Matt Schroeter.