Bury Bach Choir, U.K. Photo © Tim Regan, via creative commons & flickr

Festival season has begun. We’ve seen spot prawns served multiple ways, we drank tea in Oak Bay, we entertained our guests at the Sooke River Bluegrass and Vancouver Island Cultural festivals, the Aboriginal Cultural Festival wraps today, and the Foodie Film Fest has just started making us drool. And, for the next week, Victoria’s International Jazz Festival will be bringing jazz lovers together.

So many of the big events during the summer here and elsewhere include music—as the events’ focus, part of the line-up, or a contrapuntal offering. These events are community occasions. They bring people from across the region together to share an experience.

Music stitches together our social fabric in many ways. Those who enjoy bluegrass or ska or funk or even the Grateful Dead share a common language within their genre. Fans of certain bands form their own insular groups, sometimes following the musicians’ performances, travels and lives online or in person in a way that borders on stalking. And, yes, whenever strangers gather to listen to the same music, they bop their heads to the beat, tap their fingers, and swing their feet to the rhythm, in time, together.

And it turns out, when music plays, we share the experience of melody, harmony and rhythm at a much more basic, personal level….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Amhersham A Cappella Choir, amershamacapella.com. Photo © Margaret (Lady P.P.), via creative commons and flickr

Through an aquarium at Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, Sidney, B.C. Photo © Herb Neufeld, via flickr & creative commons

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, Sidney, B.C. Photo © Herb Neufeld, via flickr & creative commons

Picture a community hall on a weekday evening. About 40 people sit in rows. Official-looking sorts look back over the audience.

The people have gathered at this fictitious meeting to discuss the fate of a nearby fictitious historic site/nature centre/community museum/natural or cultural heritage site. Like so many real sites in the region—Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse, the Centre of the Universe, Undersea Gardens, Crystal Gardens, BC Experience, the Soviet Submarine, or Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, to name a few—is no longer open to the public.

For two hours, those gathered have spoken in support of the site. Government Gus has presented how the government, which owns the site, is looking for a new operator—even if it means repurposing the site.

Education Eli has spoken of the site’s value to the community, especially to its youngsters. “It’s the kind of vital enrichment that connects classroom learning to the community,” she says.

Others have spoken, too, suggesting new activities, new uses, new revenue sources. Everyone agrees the site is an important resource. It helps define and focus the community. It creates common identity and builds community spirit….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Undersea Gardens no longer operates in Victoria, B.C.'s Inner Harbour. Photo © Brian Chow, via flickr & creative commons

Undersea Gardens no longer operates in Victoria, B.C.’s Inner Harbour. Photo © Brian Chow, via flickr & creative commons

Quadra village street way—designed to slow traffic and encourage community. ©2014.

One of the buzzwords in urban planning these days seems to be “people-friendly streetscapes.”

The intent is to transform the car-centric corridors that crisscross our region into people-oriented spaces.

For example, Victoria’s new official community plan, unveiled last week, calls for transportation systems that prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and people using public transit.

You could consider Quadra Village as an example. As soon as you cross Hillside Road going south, the driving lane narrows, more vehicles are parked at the kerb, more street plantings, arty, low-hanging street lamps and banners change the feel of the street. They immediately shift roadway priorities away from traffic towards the people who live, work, walk, cycle, shop, and make the village viable.

Saanich’s draft plans for Shelbourne Street also call for improved focus on people. In the past, transportation planning along the corridor focused on vehicles, as many as 25,000 of which travel the corridor daily, en route from somewhere else to points beyond. Walking and biking routes are piecemeal. The plans recognize that communities along Shelbourne Street now need to be retrofitted to serve people and these multiple uses.

Brentwood Bay’s slower speed limits, and the Gorge–Tillicum area’s roundabouts also help refocus community throughways on people.

They manifest a paradox known as psychological traffic calming, or playing with drivers’ minds to slow them down….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….






 William Kurtz Still life of fruit, from www.photoseed.com/blog/2011/08/17/new-fruit-in-color-black-white-and-shades-in-between

’Tis the season. Those who are dear to us gather near to us to feast, share and converse. We assemble around the groaning board, and retire from it, groaning, “I couldn’t eat another thing.”

But when they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie, we gather our resources, loosen our belts one more notch and manage one more bite.

The sharing of food and drink, and the celebration of plenty, are integral to our social and cultural life. At this time of the year, in this part of the world, turkey and some mistletoe truly bind us together.

Read more….


Sources include:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article 1article 2; article 3