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Consumer Culture – Now With Extended Hours!

December 12, 2011

‘Tis truly the season to shop.  As the holidays approach our stress over gift buying increases (mine does especially come Dec. 23rd when my entire list is still needing to be checked off.).  But fear not consumer, our retail outlets have you covered.

In case you haven’t noticed all of our ‘big bog’ retail areas are amping up their hours to meet the needs of the consumer.  The malls are now open late, the big box centres have extended hours, and in case you get the itch to shop at 2am, WalMart is now open 24 hours at most locations.

I at least partially ‘feel’ for these retailers.  They employee local people, and I am sure must beef up their staff for the holiday season.  And now they are forced to compete with the online retailers, where you can literally buy anything, at any time, and without even putting on your undies (is that a selling point? I wonder if the big boxes would do better if they offered naked shopping…).

Now imagine how this must feel for local retailers.  Most have small staffing budgets that don’t allow for more staff even during the busy holiday season. How can our local retailers compete with the big guys who can afford to keep their doors open longer, accommodating the schedule of the consumer and not the other way around.  I can only imagine how frustrating this must be.

This is our fault.  We the consumer have demanded that retailers fit our busy schedules.  It seems to me that we are working more, looking to make that extra buck so we can go out an buy the latest consumer goods (now I admit, I often lust over new electronics, I am in no way immune to this).

Honestly I long for the days when businesses were closed on Sundays.  Where we could have one day not to focus on purchasing items.  Where our visits with friends weren’t focused around a trip to the mall, but around cozy conversation at home on the couch.

But again this is up to us.  We need to curb our consumerism.  We must stop demanding that retail outlets be open at all hours of the day, and choose to shop less, and shop local.  So long as we buy at the mall, or the big box we are sending a message to our local business to compete, stay open longer, later and more often.

I want to challenge this.  And I challenge you to take one day a week away from our consumer culture.  Take Sundays off, visit with friends and family, go for a walk, or sleep all day!  If you must shop on a Sunday do so at your local business, your dollars will mean more when spent at a local retailer, and maybe we can start changing retail behavior.


Transition in Burnaby

December 9, 2011

Something I heard often in the last municipal election campaign was people were looking for real ways to connect with their city.  They wanted to do something non-partisan that would make a positive change in their neighbourhood, and the community at large.

I have thought about this lots of late.  I have been involved recently with Village Vancouver – a Transition Initiative in Vancouver BC.  This group has done wonderful things by organizing on a neighbourhood level in the city.  They have worked on so many initiatives around skill sharing, food production, building local economies and much more.

I think that Transition is the right thing for our city at this time.  I would love to see our residents interacting with one another and making positive change in the city.

We have scheduled an initial meeting for Wednesday December 14th, 2011 at the Bonsor Recreation Centre from 7pm – 9pm.  We will be in Multipurpose Room 2, on the second floor of the rec. centre, please ask the front desk if you can’t find us!  The meeting will be a potluck (love organizing around good food), so please bring a small snack to share!  We will be discussing some initial projects, doing some visioning, and hearing from Ross Moster, the creator and  organizer of Village Vancouver!

This is a great opportunity to get to know your community, and we would love to have you out.  Anyone is welcome to come on in, so please tell your friends and join in!

See you next Wednesday!

Its time for the rule-sy post

December 6, 2011

The days are truly flying by.  It has been 6 days since my official experiment has started, one year buying only from locally owned businesses.  To this point it has been a breeze, I have bought almost nothing (its easy when the pocketbook is limited!), so far a couple of grocery items from my place of work NOWBC – an online farmers market that is cooperatively owned! I have also ventured down to the East End Food Coop, another cooperatively owned business, really great stuff!

But I feel like I need to further define this venture, as it won’t be much fun if I don’t have at least some set of rules to follow.  I have also chosen to rule-ify the blog, so I make sure to keep on top of it, and hopefully make it somewhat enjoyable to read.

I will try to come back and update these rules as they need updating, but for now, here are the basic rules:

Read more…

Oops, its Dec. 1st

December 2, 2011

So I had ambitious plans to write the rules to my buy local challenge… Seeing as it is Dec. 1st (already, how did this happen), and there are no rules up you can see that I am a little behind… I will post up some rules, some of the struggles of the first few days (groceries are going to be the big one! though I got some yummy Bread Affair! bread today from NOWBC – very exciting.)

Much more to come soon, promise – I need to get into the blogging habit!

Planting Seeds to Grow a Local Economy

December 2, 2011

Food has an amazing ability to bring people together.  Indeed it is good food that has built strong families, great communities and resilient local economies for centuries.  It is a sad fact that we have become so disconnected with our food systems at present.  A majority of our food dollars are spent in a large grocery store, our money disappearing from our communities – gone to some other nameless place, sucked from our local economy.  Our communities have become a leaky bucket, our money seeping out from under us without much thought to the contrary.

Read more…

Cooperation – a lost art?

November 29, 2011

Last night I attended a workshop on the New City Market (NCM) – planning to open in 2013 the NCM  plans to have a year round indoor/outdoor market space, storage for farmers and food producers, aggregation services, and more.  This is a very ambitious project, and I will blog on it on a later date, but I wanted to speak about my experience at the meeting.

Truthfully I was a little discouraged.  We had a room full of amazing urban farmers (all of whom are at a much higher level of farming than myself), but who seemed not to cooperate at any level.  A comment from one of the farmers really made me think.  The participant alluded to the fact that there is little cooperation among the Urban Farming community, and a lot of it has to do with personality differences in the community.

Read more…

Let the Buy Local Challenge Begin (Dec 1st!)

November 24, 2011

Well Burnaby, after much thought (literally years of thought), I am going to dive head first into a Buy Local challenge.  Starting December 1st, and hopefully continuing for at least a year I will buying strictly from locally owned businesses.  I have mulled this over a tonne, and with holiday shopping season just around the corner (I’m a guy, so shopping is typically left until the 22nd if I am early!), it is so important to support local businesses.  But I want to make this an ongoing challenge – with any luck I can make it at least 365 days! Read more…

So Inspired – Thanks Burnaby!

November 20, 2011

Well the grind of the election is over.  Although I am disappointed I didn’t finish with more votes, I am inspired by the way we built a strong following in the city.

I never imagined myself in politics, but now I am addicted.  While I am slightly disheartened with the fact(?) that you need to spend a bunch of money to become elected, I am very much more excited and inspired to try and change the way things are done.

But I have to say thanks to our city.  Words cannot express the feeling when I heard ‘I like your ideas – you have my vote’.  Knowing that someone shares your ideas, and would like to see you working for them is incredible! More than enough to drive me to work hard for next election.

And so the work starts here.  I want to ask again to please follow my blog, please send me your ideas, and please share your thoughts on mine.  This momentum will only carry forward if there are people willing to work hard to implement great ideas.

Burnaby, I can’t say thank you enough for all you have done for me over the past few months, this is a turning point in my life, from here on in I live for this community!

Burnaby – Lets not lose momentum pt. 2

November 19, 2011

Yesterdays post was about not losing momentum on the political side of things.  Today’s post is all about moving forward with positive change in the city – outside of the influence of politics.  This is really important to me, and I hope that some of the readers who have been looking at this blog will join me in making some real positive change in this city.

There are three things that I would really like to see happen in this city – things that have really brought positive change to other cities I have lived in.  What I would love is for a group of residents to come together in any way possible to talk about how to make our city better, share ideas, and then work towards some common goals.  Please let me know if this interests you! So here are my ideas, in no particular order: Read more…

Burnaby – Lets not lose momentum – pt.1

November 18, 2011

It is less than 48 hours before the polls close for the municipal elections.  I am panicked, anxious, but also somewhat satisfied.  I may be naive in feeling this way, but I think we have shifted some of the debate in the city.  I feel like the Burnaby Greens are gaining a core of strong, vocal supporters.  This is amazing! I never imagined how good it would feel to hear someone say ‘you have my vote’, its truly unreal.

However, I won’t fool myself before Nov. 19th.  We have a council that has all 8 seats, has had them for many years, and has lots of money / NDP supporters in their corner.  It is an uphill battle for us in 2011, but I am very optimistic as we move forward.

Read more…