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Five Big Apple ideas for our Royal City

  

Manhattan’s Chinatown, as seen from our hotel window

 I spent last week in Manhattan. Although it is a very different place than New Westminster, I couldn’t help but notice a few things that our little burgh could borrow and make our own. With blistered feet and starry eyes, I’ve put together a wish list of five ideas I wish the Royal City would borrow from the Big Apple. Maybe not all of these are doable here, but a girl can dream!

 

Supporting cycling through protected lanes and bike share programs improve traffic flow, and increase safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.

 5. A City bike-share program – Prices are reasonable, you don’t have to worry about your bike being stolen, and since you can drop it off anywhere, you don’t have to commit to making a return trip. I saw blue bike share bikes everywhere, used by both tourists and locals. Notably, for a city notorious for its gridlock, there are protected bike lanes throughout the city. The effect of these bike lanes on traffic? On some streets travel times are actually faster because cars turning left now have pockets to wait in without holding up traffic, pedestrian injuries have dropped an average of 22% on streets with bike lanes, cyclist injuries are down (by 65% on one particular avenue!), and local business has seen a boost in retail sales, new jobs and more tourists.

 

Sailing remote control toy boats in Central Park. You can see a cafe on the other side of the lagoon where you can get a surprisingly tasy burger and enjoy a glass of wine or cold beer overlooking the lagoon.

 4. Mixing business with pleasure – Throughout public parks there are spaces for small businesses to offer refreshment and fun. In even the smallest park there are buskers and food carts, and in larger areas like Central Park, there are a variety of relevant businesses that enhance the park experience: boat rentals, carriage rides, gift shops with relevant books and souvenirs, cafes and activities. There are also many adjacent businesses, museums and attractions. On our walks Central Park we also stopped for a glass of wine at a cafe overlooking one of the lagoons, rented a remote control sailboat, visited two large museums and bought snacks. We have small concessions in Queens Park and Pier Park, but currently New West parks tend to be removed from our commercial areas. It would be interesting to plan to create more relevant opportunities for small business that can add to the park experience. 
 

We stopped to listen to these fellows play some excellent bluegrass. Their brand-new band is called The Sidemen. Talented folks!

 3. Street performers and public art – Crooners playing guitar on the subway. B-boys breakdancing in public squares. Cellists busking in Chelsea Market. Part of what makes the city come alive is the random discovery of talent as you move through the city. Parks are full of statues and wonderful art installations that make your walk through each area more memorable. New West could fill our streets with music in the summer with a call for performers, and support more murals and art installations in parks and commercial districts. We should do more to support emerging talent and strengthen our own base of local artists. 

 

High Line Park, in New York’s Meatpacking district.

 2. Neighbourhood parklets – There isn’t a lot of space for large parks, so NYC has found space in some unusual places. All around town, the City has reclaimed road space to create public places to sit and eat lunch or people-watch. People bring their brown-bag lunches or food cart finds and enjoy a bit of sun while they rest their feet. There are also many small public squares, playgrounds and teeny parklets where people can find a patch of green in the city. The most unusual one I have seen is Highline Park, which transformed an elevated train track into a narrow walkway above the city, lined with greenery and public art.

 

In some areas, like SoHo and Little Italy, there are so many pedestrians that they spill over into the streets. Cars are a decidedly second-tier way of getting around the city.

 
1. A walkable city – New York is the ultimate walkable city. Cars are a decidedly second-tier way of getting around unless you have a really good reason to use one. Pedestrians rule at crosswalks, and the city has done a fantastic job of supporting this through the creation of many public seating areas (to rest your tired feet), supporting distinctive neighbourhoods that can only truly be enjoyed on foot, and maintaining a fast and efficient subway system that makes it easy to zip across town when you need to go somewhere fast. In New West, we already enjoy a culture of walking but we could do more to make it more pleasant. I would like to see more cafe tables (public and private), more treed boulevards (especially in lower apartment blocks where green space and shade is lacking), and a pedestrians-first traffic policy. 

Posted in New Westminster.


New West – represent!

Baby wearing New West t-shirt.

Brick and Mortar Living is just one of the loval boutiques selling products that put your New West pride on display. Shirt available in both baby and adult sizes ($26-35 at Brick & Mortar Living). Photo: Rachel Janzen (@nikonrachel)

There have always been people who are proud to live in New West, but there have rarely been so many ways to show it. Boutiques around town are stocking up on buttons, t-shirts, totes and even coasters to show off your New West pride. 

At Banana Lab on 12th St, you can find t-shirts silkscreened with maps of the city. The independent mom-owned toy store Schnoo And The Pachooch (located within River Market) has New West Moms Group pins and t-shirts to identify group members walking around town, and River Market has periodically printed its own #NewWest shirts listing the neighbourhoods in the city. 

Probably the best selection of New West merch is at Brick & Mortar Living, where you’ll find leather bracelets marked with the latitude and longitude of New West, buttons, illustrated prints, tote bags with images of local heritage homes and storefronts, coasters printed with maps of the city and (of course) t-shirts. 

And although it isn’t specific to the city of New West, local pride also beams from the many Steel & Oak hoodies and tees that you’ll spot around town, as well as the “Locavore” shirts and artichoke & eggplant tote bagsfrom the Royal City Farmers Market.

Personally, I’m a little obsessed with this sort of stuff. I have at least five New Westminster t-shirts, as well as local map coasters and fridge magnets. And then there’s my husband’s collection. I even bought him a set of New West map cuff links once, custom ordered from Etsy.

What about you? What’s in your collection of Royal City swag?

Posted in New Westminster.


Toilet deserts of New West

The SkyTrain Station at 22nd St in New West is unusual in its isolation from commercial buildings. With no adjacent cafes, restaurants, or stores of any kind, 22nd St is a weird little bubble of activity within a sleepy neighbourhood of single family homes. 

If nature should “call” while you are at 22nd St Station waiting for a train or bus, you are out of luck. The only toilet can only be accessed with the aid of a (typically absent) TransLink station attendant. The nearest business you could ask is a doctor’s office, several blocks up the hill – but even if they might let you use their facility, they are closed evenings and weekends. 

As a fascinating NY Mag article about bathroom culture in North America pointed out, everybody poops, but nobody likes to admit it. One of the side effects is the emergence of public spaces that fail to meet the most basic biological needs of the people who go there. Without an easily accessible public toilet at 22nd St SkyTrain Station, men have taken to using the side of the building as a urinal. Women hold it in better (or perhaps are just sneakier), and parents caught in this toilet desert with a newly toilet trained preschooler are completely out of luck. In other areas, toilet deserts could be created when a bloc of businesses all restrict toilet access to paying customers only, or when the public toilets are closed seasonally or for lengthy periods.

So the big question is, does the City of New Westminster have a duty to ensure reasonable access to public toilets within commercial zones? And if so, how should this be done? Should funding be allocated for creating and maintaining universally accessible public toilets? Should businesses be encouraged (or even required) to allow reasonable access to bathroom facilities upon request? 

Several City committees have been asked by Council to discuss the issue of public access to toilets in New West, including the Access Advisory Committee, the Seniors Advisory Committee and the Committee I sit on, Community and Social Issues. The request reflects concern for seniors with dementia or health problems that require fast access to a toilet, but the issue also affects young children, people who are homeless, and anyone who has ever really had to go RIGHT NOW. 

What do you think? Are toilet deserts an issue in the city? Are there specific places where you see more public urination because of a lack of public access to toilets? What do you think should be done to fix these problems?

Posted in Development, Health, Issues, New Westminster, Parenting, Politics, West End.

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The New West Moms Group: Finding info, support and friendship on Facebook

Chalk art illustrating the love of the NWMG (New West Moms Group) on Facebook. At almost a thousand members, the women-only group is a dynamic source of information, support and friendship in New West.

Chalk art illustrating the love of the NWMG (New West Moms Group) on Facebook. At almost a thousand members, the women-only group is a dynamic source of information, support and friendship in New West.

When my first child was born, I was the first of my friends and family to have a baby. After he was born, I found myself lost in a sea of questions about what to do, when to do it, and if I was doing it “right.” I tried the local Baby Talk program (run by Fraser Health) but I had a hard time connecting with the mothers there. I took my baby on long walks and out to playdates, but I just couldn’t seem to click with any of the mamas I met.

I found comfort in blogs like Ask Moxie. Reading the comments to Moxie’s posts about baby sleep (and lack thereof) reassured me that what I was experiencing was challenging, but totally normal, but I couldn’t seem to find anyone in New West who would admit to having any of the challenges I was struggling with. It took me over a year to find local mommy friends who I could relate to.

The latest wave of New West mamas has an advantage I didn’t have: The New West Moms Group on Facebook. The NWMG is now almost 1000-strong, and includes ladies from New West as well as those who just like to spend time here. Participants discuss everything from decoding weird baby rashes, to family vacation recommendations, to sleep training, to finding nursing-friendly clothing that doesn’t suck. Sometimes the discussion gets rowdy, as when sharing hot photos of a mostly naked Channing Tatum, asking for opinions on sleep training, or questioning why it is so hard to befriend other moms at Motoring Munchkins. But even when the conversation turns controversial, the tone remains friendly and supportive. I am sure this is in good part due to the steady hand of the group’s moderators, who have established and (importantly) enforced clear rules of conduct.

The NWMG has such a strong sense of identity that they have created buttons for members to wear in order to recognize each other around town. And group member and local crafter Allison Baird of Ribbons and Threads has produced and sold custom T-shirts for NWMG members. The buttons and shirts are often available at fellow NWMG member Alicia Mahoney’s business Shnoo And the Pachooch (a boutique toy store at River Market).

I asked some of the mamas to share what they like about the group, and here are some of their answers:

“I love the community that the NWMG provides. Laughs, support, provisions, information, you need it, it’s here. As a first-time mom at 30, I was more than a bit nervous. But all through my pregnancy, I had resources, supplies, support and advice right at my fingertips.” – Jen ‘Jazz’ Phillips

“What I like about NWMG is everyone has a way of making me feel normal…. Whether I’m losing my mind over my kids, husband, or family in general, I find I’m not alone in feeling that way. Someone else is always going thru it too, or has in the past.” – Shannon Holt

“This group reminds me that I am normal. And also gives me an outlet that I can get opinions on the not so normal and not have to worry about being overly judged. I also appreciate the bold honesty that comes from some. It may not be what I WANT to hear, but it is what I NEED to hear!” – Stacey Sweet

“Being new to NW, this group helped me become part of the community. I feel I belong here now :-) – Julia Klymenko

“This group is the opposite of mommy wars. It’s amazing how supportive everyone is of each other even when we don’t necessarily agree on the best way to raise our littles. One of the most frequent comments I see is, ‘You know your child best.’ Awesome!” – Jocelyn Smith

“I love being a mother to my two boys, but it can be isolating at times, especially since the bulk of our friends and family are out East. As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ NWMG, I think, has become ‘the village’ for many of its members. I don’t know what I would do without that village!” – Diane Duflot

 

For me, I have found so many rich opportunities through the group. Questions get answered, complaints find sympathy, cries of despair win gentle words of support, and – my favourite part – new doors open. For me, I have already found a few moms who share my interest in community activism and politics, a few more to sing with, a few to write with, and a whole bunch to swap recipes with in the spinoff group I created, New West Cooks.

The NWMG is probably just one of many interesting semi-private groups on Facebook. Do you know of any others?

Posted in Children, Parenting.

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Let’s wake up this Sleeping Beauty

After more than a year away, I have finally decided to wake up this sleeping beauty of a blog. Two years ago, life got interesting and  also hard, and the mission that had sustained the posts on Tenth to the Fraser through previous times of interestingness and difficulty lost its pull. For the past year I have been debating whether to formally pull the plug on this blog, but I never was able to steel myself to do it.

Tenth to the Fraser was born out of frustration with the sorry lack of an online community for New Westminster seven years ago. In 2008, a diligent search of the blogosphere found only a handful of people who admitted to being located here, and most rarely wrote about their community. On Twitter, the same. Almost no one set “New Westminster” as their location (most used “Vancouver”), and there was no substantial public conversation about the community on Twitter, only passing references to things seen or experienced here.

In 2015, things couldn’t be more different. Twitter is now an essential backchannel for political conversation, there are a number of thriving interest-specific groups on Facebook and there are many locals who use their blogs to spark conversations about community issues. Most of the major cultural organizations, businesses and nonprofits also have reasonably well-organized and regularly updated websites where people can easily find what they need.

So with the original problem that this blog was addressing essentially solved, I have been questioning whether there is a need for a site like this anymore. After all, why invest the time, attention and heart into blogging if your audience doesn’t care? But in recent weeks I have been realizing there is still a void that a site like this can and should fill.

No other resource exists solely to showcase the people, places and organizations that make New Westminster a better place to live, and show citizens how they can be more involved. While there are many places to go for conversation, and many sources of information, this site is still needed to be an on-ramp for newcomers to New West as well as those of us who live in the community without feeling a part of it. It is needed to celebrate and shine the spotlight on the people and organizations who are working hard to make this place better for all of us, and perhaps also to identify specific ways we are falling short and proposing solutions on how we can do better.

If you are interested in writing, volunteering technical or design skills, offering a financial contribution to offset the costs of running the site, or have other ideas on how you can help, please drop me a line in the comments or via Twitter (@10thtothefraser). 

If you have ideas on what you would like to see in the next incarnation of Tenth to the Fraser, please leave a comment or send me a tweet/email/Facebook message to let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to read about and how you’d like to see Tenth to the Fraser evolve.

Posted in New Westminster, Tenth To The Fraser.


City advisory committees accepting applications until Nov. 22

The City of New Westminster has issued a call for volunteers to apply for civic advisory committees for 2014. If you are interested in getting an in-depth look at some of the issues our city is dealing with, I strongly recommend putting in your application to join a City committee.

For a long time, I had no idea what these advisory committees were about, what they would ask of me, or whether I was the type of person that should apply. While some information is provided on the City’s website, I didn’t feel like I had a good picture of what I would be applying for. But this time last year, I put in my application anyhow.

Each committee has a specific focus, outlined in its terms of reference. Some are more narrowly defined than others. For example, the Childcare Grant Committee reviews grant applications and provides recommendations to Council regarding who should receive what funds. The Community and Social Issues Committee, on the other hand, has a broad mandate and considers a wide variety of topics, including homelessness, social inclusion, mental health, family-friendly communities and overall community health.

For the past year I have served on the Community and Social Issues Committee, and I have already put in my application to continue next year. I found the committee meetings very interesting. City staff often present reports in progress to gather feedback. Sometimes this leads to a recommendation to council and sometimes we are more of a sounding board to gather input before finalizing documents. Guest speakers come to share their insight into social issues affecting our community as well. In the last year, the CSI committee didn’t offer very many recommendations to council, but I’m told other committees like ACTIBIPED (Advisory Committee for Transit, Bicycles and Pedestrians) apparently do. Each committee is chaired by a councillor and includes staff advisors, and their interests and leadership style influence how each committee is run.

Before applying to my first committee I was nervous about the time commitment and unsure what I was really signing up for. I would still say I’m a committee newbie – we met less than once a month (time off over summer), so we had only a few meetings over the year – but I can say that the time commitment was very manageable, and the work was enjoyable. I missed only one meeting, which happened to be held only days after my third child was born! My enjoyment of the meetings grew as I got a better sense of what the committee was about, and I’m very excited by the topics to be discussed in the coming year (the City is working on a family-friendly housing policy, which the CSI committee will help advise & review, and mental health issues are also on the agenda for January). Re-appointment to committees isn’t guaranteed, but I hope I’ll get picked for the team again in 2014!

The term length of each committee differs, with some serving one year, others longer. The committees that are currently accepting applications are listed on the City’s website. While some committees include spots reserved for applicants with subject matter expertise or who belong to specific groups (teens, seniors, business owners, artists), many positions are open to all community members.

Posted in New Westminster.


New West is a Healthy Community – My Health My Community Survey

Neighbours600x600When most people think about being healthy, they think of eating better, exercising more and not smoking.  Sure, of course all those individual behaviours have a huge impact on health, but you’ve probably also realized that our environment plays as important a role too.

Fraser Health, as has the Ministry of Health with its “healthier communities” focus, recognizes that where we work, live and play largely determines whether or not we are healthy.  However, the lion’s share of Fraser Health business, is about providing health care services – what to do when people get sick.  A very small percentage is devoted to prevention and promotion.  Yes, FH does immunizations and such at the Public Health Unit, but over the past few years FH has quietly taken a new approach – Healthier Community Partnerships.  The idea – that by working with the City of New Westminster, SD 40 and other community stakeholders – policies and initiatives outside of the traditional public health bag of tricks can be implemented to help improve the health of the citizens of New West.  Hence health is playing a more active role when it comes to issues like transportation, or community planning, just two examples where health is severely impacted by decisions being made.

A Healthier Community Partnership committee has been up and running for over a year, chaired by the City Social Planner and with representation from a Councillor, SD Trustee, City/School District/FH staff, Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice, members of the public and others.  More and more you will be hearing what this committee has been up to.

One of the initiatives currently happening is the My Health My Community Survey.  Open to all residents 18 yrs and older in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health areas, it seeks to gather information about issues that influence our health, such as transportation, community services, green spaces, and sense of community.

This information will be used to inform policy and programs to help make New Westminster a healthier community.  In order to plan for a healthier city, we need to know where we’re at and get a sense of where else we need to go.

Confidentiality is a priority – survey answers and identifying information will be kept on separate computer systems complete with data encryption.  We are encouraging everyone to take the survey, as the more responses we have, the better we can assess and plan for a healthier New Westminster.

If you are 18 yrs or older, please take the survey at:  www.myhealthmycommunity.org.  And yes, there are prizes to be won for participating, including iPads and gift certificates.

 

 

 

Posted in Health, New Westminster.

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Uptown Unplugged

You may have caught a piece in The Record or may have seen Councillor Jonathan Cote’s tweet regarding a “parklet” going in in front of Westminster Centre. A parklet is essentially a small, temporarily installed urban park. And by small, I mean teeny. Westminster Centre, in collaboration with the very busy folks at Hyack Festival Association, are working to liven up Uptown. This, together with their recent launching of www.MyUptown.ca, an investment into street banners, as well as the second (very successful) run of Uptown Live, is really doing its part to make the Uptown neighbourhood particularly liveable, lively, and inviting.

The parklet is but one part of Uptown Unplugged, a weekly summer series of music and street performers that launched July 13th and is ongoing on both Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 until August 25th. With an eclectic, varied, and interesting mix of performers, there is something for everyone. I mean, check out the line up for this weekend – it is pretty amazing.  You can check out the Facebook Page for details, but I guarantee, you should pop on buy, grab a beverage from one of the local shops, and enjoy the free entertainment.

(Disclaimer: the company I own with BrianaHyack Interactive, was hired to help develop a portion of content on www.MyUptown.ca, and the work, while mostly complete, is ongoing as new listings are added. I’d write this article no matter what though – parklets and free entertainment that make a community more liveable are my kind of thing.)

Amanda Marino belting it out

Amanda Marino belting it out

Gorgeous day for hanging out and listening to music

Gorgeous day for hanging out and listening to music

 

Ladybird

Ladybird

Posted in Arts & Culture, Headline, New Westminster, Uptown.

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Food Truck Festival – Let’s Go Eat

The good news is the first ever Food Truck Festival is coming to New West, and it is already shaping up to be amazing. The bad news, for me, anyway, is I can’t make it! But you should be putting August 10 on your calendar and head to Columbia Street and make sure you go hungry.

Kaboom BoxThe first ever Food Truck Fest here in our city, dubbed Columbia StrEAT, will feature beer gardens (woohoo #brewwest!)  live entertainment, and 15-20 food trucks on a closed Columbia Street between 4th Street and 6th Street from 3 pm to 9 pm. Food trucks confirmed include Guanaco Truck, Casalinga Carts, Beljam’s Waffles, Aussie Pie Guy, Holy Perogy (who some of you might remember from Summerfest a few years ago – oh my!) and Kaboom Box.

With New West quickly becoming a bit of a food hot spot, a Food Truck Festival – long considered to be some of the best portable restaurant incubators -makes perfect sense.

Aussie Pie Guy

We all know that Robert Fung, of the Salient Group and developers of the anticipated Trapp +Holbrook, has committed to New West. He’s the lead sponsor for this Saturday’s Pecha Kucha Volume 3 (and seriously, you should be coming to that if you aren’t already – it’s free and open to all!) is signed up as a sponsor. “Downtown New West continues to catch people’s attention as a great urban neighbourhood and dynamic place to live. There’s a strong sense of community here that is filled with the energy that comes from people sharing the knowledge that they are part of something special,” says Fung.

JJ's Trucketeria“The Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest is an amazing testimony to how progressive this town is, and how ready it is to blow the culinary and entrepreneurial doors off! Salient is really excited to be a part of this event and, with Trapp+Holbrook, to be part of the Columbia Street evolution. If you don’t already live here, get used to coming to Downtown New West for great food and a great sense of belonging. This event is a wonderful example of the atmosphere and excitement people can expect in Downtown New West.”

Check out the BIA’s Facebook page for more info.

Posted in Downtown, Events, Featured, New Westminster.

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Digital Story Telling Unconference – July 13

My job is storytelling – peoples’ stories, corporate histories, stories of big needs and big challenges, personal moments, things learned and passed on. I’ve done a story that shares the lore of a lakeside cabin, one about an adult child’s devotion to mom’s cooking, and a salute to a family’s golden retriever that was part kid, part nanny and part saint.

Nearly three years ago, I started up a conversation with with Denim and Steel’s Todd Sieling and Tylor Sherman, and product designer Kaishin Chu about the possibilities for digital storytelling. We didn’t have an unconference in mind, but it surfaced pretty quickly. The four of us got seriously excited. It seemed like the natural extension of Todd and Tylor’s concept for a forum where people with tech and non-tech creative skills could come together. No insistence on outcomes, just a keen interest in what this kind of enriched chemistry might produce.

So, an unconference? I didn’t have the vaguest idea what that entailed. I had worked on conventional conferences before, and the stress those events produce didn’t carry much appeal. To get me started, the concept was outlined and I was given links to explore. I did my reading but remained pretty skeptical. I could appreciate the immediacy and power of the self-organizing, creative ideal, but figured it could just as easily devolve into a free-for-all, unfocused mess. But, my three comrades were eloquent and compelling, so I braved it out.

July 10, 2012, the day of the first Digital Storytelling Unconference. Fifty-plus people arriving at the New Westminster Network Hub (At the River Market on Westminster Quay – the view alone is worth the visit). Lots of friendly milling. People moving together and then apart and then together again, many times. On cue we collect in the Network Hub’s main meeting space. After a quick welcome, and quicker explanation of a few ground rules, we launch.

Thirty-second pitch slam not what I expect at all. It stokes the group energy. My turn. I stand up, speed through my session pitch (all about what I call life mapping, in just under 30 seconds, I reckon) and I sit down. Then the self-selection part that I am the most curious, and the most skeptical, about. We swarm the bulletin board to mull the pitch options written on Post-it Notes. Only a couple of moments of seeming confusion while choices are recorded, then a return to seats. The day is set. I’ve never seen a menu of possibilities so quickly parsed into a working schedule.

I decide to surrender my cynicism to the day. I’m excited now. A pause to review and clarify then we head to first sessions. Lots of talk in hallways and quick, impromptu meetings out in the Market concourse in front of the Network Hub.

From a year’s distance the energy resonance is clear, a good hum that I can still conjure – ideas still percolating. Most details are blurring now. But I remember the guy, Todd Smith of Motion Design, who sparked my interest with an idea he had about an interviewing technique he called “Breadcrumbing.” And there was the woman, seeking help for her community organization to get the success stories of kids at risk out to a wider audience.

I haven’t had a day like DSU in a very long time, where I found myself so juiced. I was surrounded by strangers who shared some of my questions about how community can be made stronger through digital storytelling. DSU Vancouver 2013 can only be better.

 John Wellwood is the Creative Director at Echo Memoirs, an attendee and sponsor for this year’s Digital Storytelling Unconference, held at The Network Hub this coming Saturday, July 13 from 9:30am to 5:30pm. Your $25 (+ fees) ticket registers you for the event, plus gets you lunch and refreshments for the day. You can find them on Twitter @DSUVancouver or check out their website at www.digitalstorytellingunconference.org for more info. 

Posted in Arts & Culture, Events, New Westminster, Quayside.


Uncovering Creeks in Hume Park

Photo Courtesy City of New Westminster

Photo Courtesy City of New Westminster

Hume Park is one of my favourite parks in New Westminster. Since moving to the east side of New West a few years ago, this park has become my go-to place for recreation. Side by side with tiny Hume Park Elementary (whose fate I ruminated on a few years ago), the  much-loved spray park and playground, dog off-leash park, playing fields, outdoor pool, and wide, sweeping, flexible lawn space, Hume Park has woven its way into my family’s life more than Moody Park ever did when we lived on the west side of town.

Recently, we’ve gotten into geocaching as a free, fun, family activity and Hume Park offers a few of those too that are kid-friendly and beginner level caches. We frequently walk the trails in Lower Hume Park with our leashed dog since she’s not really dog park material (side note: that link is another Tenth article I wrote some time ago about our city’s animal control bylaws – I’m pleased to see that they have since overhauled the animal control bylaws and have repealed BSL!). I’ve also found myself keeping my eyes on the ever-changing shores of the Brunette River that runs through Hume Park, and checking out the herons and other birds that hang out there. So, when a recent media release from the New Westminster Parks, Culture and Recreation department made its way into my inbox that mentioned “my” park, I was keen to see what they were up to.

And it’s pretty cool: New Westminster Parks, Culture, and Recreation department has partnered with Evergreen to launch a two year Parks Stewardship Program called “Uncover Your Creeks: Citizen Science” in Lower Hume Park. This is a free, all-ages program, and it kicks off this Sunday, June 16th. During the program, participants will learn about local ecology, help manage invasive plants, plant native plants, and monitor water quality in the Brunette River. The release states:

The Brunette River watershed is shared between the municipalities of Burnaby, Vancouver, Coquitlam, New Westminster and Port Moody. The watershed is 80% urbanized and is home to 175,000 people. In much of the 20% of the watershed that is made of up of green space, invasive plants are a threat to the urban ecology and biodiversity that support native plant and animal species. Through “Uncover Your Creeks: Citizen Science”, the urban ecosystem will be rehabilitated by removing invasive plant species such as Blackberry, Ivy and Lamium and planting native species such as Salmonberry and Red-Osier Dogwood.

The program runs for the next two years, occuring monthly on the third Sunday of the month. Citizen science training and activities will be offered from 10am to 12pm at each session. Sessions are drop-in but registration would be appreciated so the enough tools and gloves can be prepared. For info, or to register, contact Sharon Johal at sjohal@evergreen.ca or 604.689.0766 ext. 226. The group will meet at the Lower Hume Park picnic shelter (enter off E Columbia, just east of Holmes Street).

 

Posted in Environment, Events, Featured, New Westminster, Parks.


Parks, Culture, and Recreation Summer Movie Series Returns!

After the success of last year’s four outdoor movies at Queens Park, the City of New Westminster, G&F Financial and local realtor Derrick Thornhill have decided to expand to eight movies throughout the summer for a free community viewing series. Beginning July 12th, the community is invited to bring their blankets and/or chairs every Friday night to Queens Park Stadium to watch one of the eight all age friendly movies that were selected by a voting process. In total, 244 unique (one entry per ip address) votes were made to narrow the twenty six possible movies down to the eight that are being shown. Voting was fierce, but the clear runaway favourite was Back the Future. The summer movie series will kick off July 12th with that very movie, starring BC’s own Michael J Fox as the time travelling high schooler with a sweet ride and a kooky professor sidekick.

There isn’t a concession, but everyone is welcome to bring your own snacks (just remember to pack out your trash or place it in the trash can!). Movies start at about 8:30pm, but the stadium will be open at 7pm so feel free to bring a picnic and boardgames and enjoy a warm summer evening before the movie starts.

In the weather isn’t cooperating, call the Parks Hotline 604-527-4634 on the Friday morning to see if the movie is still on. Queens Park Stadium has lots of parking and is accessible via transit.

Download the poster here. The complete schedule is:

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CharacterLeaning_SummerMovies

Posted in Events, Featured, Growing up in NW, Queen's Park.


Time To Get Curious

It’s no secret that we’re proud of our rich history here in the Royal City.  Our streets are laden with lovely heritage homes and we have some of the best antique stores in the Lower Mainland.

When Jenny Cashin of Mid Century Modern Home moved her shop into the River Market, it just made sense that the River Market then became home to a new type of flea market.  A type that had never been seen in New Westminster before.

And so the Curious Flea was born.

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The Curious Flea is a flea market for the modern age.  It’s a social flea.  An event where people are invited to shop, hang out, engage and explore.  Traditional flea markets are a hodge podge of items ranging from the unwanted to the unloved to the hidden gem and everything in between.  They’re often in stuffy halls packed to the gills with bargain hunters of every size.  Get in, get out. Kinda gloomy and depressing.

Not so, the Curious Flea!  This flea has everything going for it.  Select vendors displaying their vintage, up-cycled and retro wares.  Incredible food from the River Market tenants, spectacular view and venue, buskers to encourage you to get up and party, facepainting for the kids (and the adults, lets be honest…I’ll be doing it) from 11:30-4 by The Stage New Westminster and dance parties both days from 1 pm – 2 pm hosted by Music Box.  And lets not forget the Battle of the Curious.

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We all own something strange.  It could be a family heirloom…it could be a horrid gift from an ex…it could that thing you just found in your closet.  Bring it  to the flea on Saturday and take it upstairs to the Curious judging booth.  The Curious Flea ringmasters will take its picture (so you don’t have to part with your treasure) and your contact information and then a team of crack experts will choose the winner by end of flea on Saturday.The winner of the most curious curio, most vintage oddity or just most plain weird will win $100 to spend at the Flea on Sunday.  Hooray!  The item will then be imortalized forever in the Curious Hall of Fame for all to gaze on in awe.

The most important thing about the flea however, is that it is a community flea.  The River Market is an anchor point in New Westminster’s blossoming downtown community, and the Curious Flea is celebrating that fact.  Many of the vendors, including Belle Encore, Brick and Mortar Living, Flying Fox Art and Design, LoCalo Living, PAVA Creations and Robyn’s Vintage Nest  are New West locals.  There are even got some original Quayside residents bringing their collectibles from home. And because of the proximity and inspiration of Front St, there will be a special table featuring wares Front St merchants. Fleaers are encouraged to come to the Flea and then take a walk down Front St to complete their day….and their collecting.

We have built this flea to be a celebration of our community.  A celebration of New Westminster and its diverse residents, fantastic shops and incredible passion.  A celebration of why we, as a city, are awesome…and just a bit curious.

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The Curious Flea will be taking place on June 1st and 2nd from 10 am to 5 pm at the River Market at 810 Quayside Dr.  General Admission is free, but there is an $10 early bird rate for 9 am entrance. We’re going to hold the flea on a quarterly basis, so lets make this first one a great one!  And if you have any suggestions…be sure to find me and let me know.  We want the flea to keep getting better and better.

For more information, check out the River Market website and the Curious Flea Facebook page.  And come on…get curious with me!

 

Posted in Arts & Culture, Downtown, Events, New Westminster.

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Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine: Keeping a Medicinal Garden at Westminster Pier Park

File this under “who knew?”: Western Canada’s only accredited naturopathic school is right here in New Westminster.

The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, located at 435 Columbia Street is a graduate-level naturopathic medical college. Students applying require a university bachelor’s degree from a recognized post-secondary institution, or the equivalent and once accepted are entered into a rigorous four-year, full-time doctor of naturopathic medicine program.

The school is also home to the Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic. Much like the student massage clinic at West Coast College of Massage Therapy a few doors away, this teaching clinic offers high quality, affordable health-care to the public, while equipping our senior clinic interns with essential hands-on experience.

They are also the tenders of a public garden initiative at the Westminster Pier Park. Bill Reynolds, the Store Manager for the Boucher Institute told us about his recent day of gardening at their plot in the Park:

The day dawned bright with promise as we gathered at the Boucher Botanical Garden in Westminster Pier Park on April 28th, the last weekend in April.  Armed with shovels, rakes, hoes, brooms, watering pales and other requisite gardening tools; members of the Botanical Garden Committee met and proceeded with the task of the day which was the planting of our Garden.

Everything went well.  The garden plot provided by the New Westminster Park Dept. was fresh and had no weeds so, with many hands, the work simply flew and well before noon we had planted every herb available, raked the ground smooth, swept the adjacent sidewalks and then stood for a few minutes, finishing the last bits of our coffee and admiring our work.

The Boucher Botanical has been a dream of the students for quite some time and so it is especially gratifying to see it become a reality.  To date we have planted: Lemon balm, St. John’s Wort, Thyme, Sage, Lavender, Motherwort, Raspberry, Celandine, Marshmallow Comfrey, and Skull cap.  We expect to add a few more plants in the next month or so but now the job is to keep everything watered and weeded.  We want to invite all to come and visit our garden.  Westminster Pier Park borders the Fraser River just east of New Westminster Quay.  We hope you all enjoy and we will post pictures to show the progress of our plants over the spring and summer.

Boucher

Posted in Downtown, Health, Parks.

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New free art program starting May 26: ArtStarts at River Market

ArtStarts-RiverMarket-May2013-LogoArtStarts at River Market, an ongoing free arts-based workshop series for kids, kicks off on May 26. This is a new monthly event series in New Westminster for kids and families who want to get creative and have some fun. Donald’s Market ONE members will recognize this name as one of the recent winners for the ONE prize.

ArtStarts in Schools is a not-for-profit organization that promotes art and creativity among BC’s young people.  At the ArtStarts Gallery in downtown Vancouver, Canada’s first devoted exclusively to young people’s art, they currently host a kids workshop series called ArtStarts on Saturdays. And now, New Westminster is the second community to host this program!

The folks at ArtStarts are really excited about expanding the program into New West, as they strive to provide quality arts experiences to young people in all areas of the province, and winning a ONE prize has given them the opportunity to find a home in New Westminster at River Market. (For those of you who don’t know about the ONE prize, funds accrue based on purchases by members at Donald’s Market, and organizations and individuals can apply to receive grant funding. ONE members vote on who gets the rewards, and this year four different applications were awarded prize money. Membership to the ONE program is free, and there are perks to being a member. Check out the website for more on the ONE program.)

Taking place at River Market at Westminster Quay on the last Sunday of each month, ArtStarts at River Market will offer free arts-based workshops for kids. Presented twice, at 11am and 1pm, these 45-minute workshops feature a broad range of performing and visual artists, representing diverse cultures and disciplines.

artstarts-sheldon-casavantThe kick off on May 26 features a performance and workshop by magician Sheldon Casavant. His magic show is light-hearted and highly interactive;  objects will appear, disappear, and even float in the air. Magic is traditionally passed on from magician to magician, so Sheldon may even teach the secrets of some magic tricks to budding magicians in the audience.

At future workshops, look forward to cartoonist Julian Lawrence on Sunday, June 30, who will guide kids to create an original 8–page mini-comic describing themselves, their family and their culture. On Sunday, July 28, enjoy the antics of ventriloquist Kellie Haines and her puppet friends. She’ll also teach kids how to make their own puppets. (Bring a sock!)

Find out more about ArtStarts at River Market on http://artstarts.com/free-weekend-workshops

Posted in Arts & Culture, Children, Featured.

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May 25 Uptown Live 2013: Music In New Westminster Streets Again!

Photo supplied by Hyack Festival Association

Photo supplied by Hyack Festival Association

Once again, music will fill the streets of New Westminster with a line-up of lower mainland indie bands of various stylistic stripes courtesy of Uptown Live. The event will also feature food carts, and family events for everyone’s enjoyment.

Starting at 1:00 on Saturday May 25th after the Key West Ford Hyack International Parade, a cross-section of local musical talent from all over the Lower Mainland is set to entertain crowds, touching on a rich spectrum of musical delights. The event is a part of the celebrated 42nd Hyack Festival, and presented by Royal City Centre and Westminster Centre. Continued…

Posted in Arts & Culture.


Queen’s Park Garage Sale is about more than bargains

A child's sign advertising lemonade sales for Canuck Place at the Queen's Park Garage Sale.

A child’s sign advertising lemonade sales for Canuck Place at the Queen’s Park Garage Sale.

It’s a bargain-hunters’ Shangri-La, and I will attend every year for the rest of my life—but not for the bargains.

Every May the Queen’s Park neighbourhood hosts a community garage sale and it’s one of the events that I really look forward to, but it’s probably not for the reasons you’d think.

Yes, you can get some absolutely fabulous bargains and it’s no secret that I love to get a deal. It’s also an event that builds community because it’s a good excuse to chew the cud with your neighbours, and we all end up buying some sort of junk from each other. I’ve picked up lots of things for our Arts & Crafts bungalow including vintage framed prints, a craftsman-style front porch lamp, and even a wooden door for my art studio. In fact, it was during this annual sale that I bought one of my most prized possessions–my fireplace surround. I love that I know which house it came from and the connection it gives me to the heritage of my city. So yes, great deals, neighbourliness, the treasure exchange, and the proverbial “hunt” for a great deal are all reasons to shop at the Queen’s Park Garage Sale.

But even if I was never to buy another thing, I will always attend. This sale will always be close to my heart because each year it is held in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Back in 1995, Frank Wright, a local realtor, decided to sponsor the Queen’s Park Garage Sale in support of the then-under construction and first free-standing children’s hospice in North America. The doors opened that year in November. And only two days after their opening, my husband and I and our two daughters walked through the shining new front doors for our first stay there. In 1994 our oldest daughter, Brenna, was diagnosed with Batten Disease, a rare, degenerative neurological disease. During the next few years after our inaugural visit we received respite at the hospice and, later, palliative and bereavement care there.

Despite what you might think, the hospice is a place full of life–children in wheelchairs zooming around, siblings playing video games with the occasional visiting hockey player and families enjoying time and relaxation together. But children do die there: Brenna passed away at our “home away from home” on the last day of summer, September 21, 1997. The funds raised by the Queen’s Park Garage Sale from 1995 to 1998 directly supported our family while we used Canuck Place.

Another New Westminster family, who live just a few blocks from us in Glenbrook North, needed Canuck Place too when their younger daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Says her mom, “Madison passed away in January 2004 at Canuck Place. And we are forever grateful for the care she received.”

The Queen’s Park Garage Sales continued and the funds raised during that time directly helped and supported their family. Then a few years ago, we found out that another young boy living in the Queen’s Park area also received palliative care and subsequently passed away at Canuck Place. Once again, this family was helped in their time of need by the community through the dollars donated during the Queen’s Park Garage Sale. Families receive all the services provided (accommodation, respite, cooked meals, psychological & emotional support, etc.) at no charge, a blessing at such a vulnerable time in a family’s life.

Now the tradition continues. On the Saturday of the Mother’s Day weekend, May 11, people from all over the Lower Mainland will crowd the streets of Queen’s Park for the 18th annual sale. It starts at 9:00am and continues until 4:00pm.

Some are there for the deals; others come to get a glimpse and walk around one of the area’s favourite heritage neighbourhoods. New Westminster—“The Royal City”–and once our provincial capital, is a great place to view Victorian and Arts & Crafts era heritage homes and bungalows.

The families who host the sales do so for many reasons. One woman told me it’s a way to clear out her house each year and she knows the funds she donates will be going to a good cause. Another told me she does it because she never wants to take her children’s health for granted.

But it’s the children who touch my heart the most–the kids with the cookie or lemonade stands and a big sign that says “All funds go to Canuck Place” or “In support of Canukc [sic] Place.” Over the years parents have told me they encourage their children to participate because it teaches them about civic responsibility and how giving back to their community and to a facility like Canuck Place is important. It’s children helping children.

One final reason why I will never miss the neighbourhood garage sale? It’s my opportunity to thank garage sale participants. Sometimes it’s awkward because people don’t know what to say when I tell them who I am and why I’m thankful for their support. But that human connection is always worth the effort because it is a concrete way to express the great appreciation and esteem held in my family’s hearts for what the people of Queen’s Park have done for us and others in our time of profound distress and need.

Now through this post, I have the opportunity to say thank you more publicly. I also want to thank Frank Wright for the years he sponsored the event and now Dave Vallee and his team who have taken up the cause. If you are a participant in the sale, thank you from my heart to yours, for cleaning out your house and supporting the families who use Canuck Place. If you live in the Lower Mainland and have purchased or intend to purchase items at the sale, thank you too.

On that note, for those who plan to attend this year–please spend, spend, spend! How often do you get to do something so entertaining and fun and be certain that the funds donated really do make a difference in people’s lives?

Canuck Place has made it possible for many families like mine to go through the loss of a child and come out the other side mentally and emotionally healthy. For the many families who have benefited from your support through the Queen’s Park Garage Sale, that old adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” has never been more true or carried such deep meaning.

Posted in Events, New Westminster, Queen's Park.

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Get to know New West in a hurry!

On May 11th, New Westminster will go high speed. 

QuestNewWest_logoThat’s because Quest New West, a car-free, team-based race across the city kicks off for its inaugural event. Participants will complete a series of challenges and follow clues around the city for their chance to win a $500 cash prize in the event.

The event is being brought to the city by NEXT New West in partnership with Tourism New Westminster and Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area and is being organized by a small group of volunteers, made up on local residents and business owners (like me!).
“We’re excited to bring this amazing race to New Westminster,” says Tej Kainth, founder of NEXT New West and Executive Director of Tourism New Westminster. “It’s going to be a fun-filled day for the whole community.”
The morning will feature a short and easy race from 9:00 a.m. to noon for families with young children. Though the family race participants are not eligible for the $500 prize, there will be giveaways for all participants and the registration fee is just $25 per family. Using clues with trivia, math, and activities that feature endurance, strength, and smarts, this is a perfect way to work together as a family and get out and enjoy our city. Plus, we know families come in all sizes and shapes – so if you define yourself as a family, you’re in! 
From 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., teams of 2-4 adults will race across the city in a faster, more challenging event that will put them to the test physically and mentally for their chance to win a $500 cash prize. The cost for the adult event is $25 a person. “Quest New West is a great chance to highlight many of our city’s businesses and organizations,” says Kendra Johnston, Executive Director at Downtown New Westminster BIA. “We’re looking forward to exposing residents and visitors to some of the great things happening across New Westminster.”
Like so many other great community events, this one is happening because many local businesses are stepping up to be a part of this fun day. While we are keeping the specific activities a secret, businesses like Hawkes Martial Arts, The Stage New Westminster, New West Cycle, New West Artists, and graphic designer Johanna Bartels (who donated our logo design) are a small sample of the businesses supporting the race in various ways – without businesses like them we couldn’t put this great event on – so please make sure you support them and thank them for their efforts.
The day will conclude with a wrap-up party at Wild Rice, and regular readers will know how much we here at Tenth love that place. 
To register or fore more info, check out the details on the eventbrite page: questnewwest2013.eventbrite.ca.

Posted in Events.

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Flowers and tomatoes offered at annual Kiwanis hanging basket sale May 11

In New West, hanging baskets are a traditional Mother’s Day present. After all, why buy a bouquet when you can give flowers that will last all season long? Once again, the Kiwanis Club of New Westminster will be holding their annual hanging basket sale on the day before Mother’s Day (Saturday, May 11) from 10am – 3pm in the parking lot of the Terminal Pub. This year, there will also be cherry tomatoes for sale – and a contest to see who can get the best yield from their cherry tomato plant.

Hanging baskets will be sold for $25 each, with all profits supporting New Westminster charitable causes, including the Lord Kelvin Breakfast Program, St. Barnabas Lunch Program, Monarch House, New Westminster Ambassador Program, Purpose Society, and the New Westminster Secondary School Bursary. Cherry tomato plants will cost $10.

Participants in the cherry tomato growing contest will compare the number of cherry tomatoes on their plants at harvest time. The person with the most cherry tomatoes on their plant on September 8 will win a prize. Any surplus tomatoes will be donated to Plant a Row / Grow A Row.

For more information, phone 604-521-8567. 

 

Posted in Events, Garden Nerd Series.

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B.C. Election in bloom

Vote!

Voting time is coming near again! The B.C. provincial election will be held on May 14, 2013. 

Amid rainshowers and spring flowers, I’m starting to see orange election signs sprouting in my neighbourhood, with shades of red, blue, green (and more) soon to follow I’m sure. Yes, it’s election time again in B.C. and New Westminster candidates will soon be stepping up their door-knocking, robocalling and energetic presence at local events.

On Tenth to the Fraser, we always try to do our part to help New West folk get to know the candidates and issues around election time, and while we probably have to scale back our efforts this year due to personal scheduling conflicts involving a certain sure-to-be demanding newborn, there will be some voter goodness coming your way.

Specifically, we are collaborating with New Westminster Environmental Partners and NEXT New West to organize a unique event: an  All-Candidates Jane’s Walk starting at 5:30pm on May 4. Our groups have joined forces before, organizing both traditional and non-traditional local all-candidates events, and we’re always thinking about new ways to make voting and political engagement less intimidating and more fun. Here’s the description of the event:

All New Westminster residents are invited to gather at SappertonPark (at the corner of East Columbia Street and Sherbrooke Street) at 5:30 on Saturday evening. The four candidates will be introduced, and the group will walk along Columbia Street and the Central Valley Greenway to Downtown New Westminster and the River Market (a distance of about 3.5 km, so about an hour walking at a leisurely pace).

Along the way, each of the candidates will be given an opportunity for their 5 minutes “on the soapbox” to address the crowd, but the emphasis will be on face-to-face and small group conversations during the walk. Participants will be encouraged to chat with the candidates and ask their own questions. There will also be a few surprises along the way to encourage a meaningful dialogue!

At the end of the walk, participants and candidates will be encouraged, as is the NEXT New West tradition, to gather at a local pub and continue the conversation.

Pat Johnstone will emcee (if you don’t already read his blog, you should!), and all previously declared candidates have agreed to participate:

James Crosty has only just announced he’s running as an independent candidate, but hopefully he will also be able to find time in his campaign schedule to join us on the walk. 

Jane’s Walks are a global event celebrating the legacy of celebrated urban thinker and pedestrian advocate Jane Jacobs, held on the first weekend in May to coincide with Jane’s birthday. The walks are free tours, guided by knowledgeable locals to highlight interesting places and neighbourhoods. This is the first year that New Westminster has participated in the event, but there are already ten walks organized for that weekend, and possibly even more to come!

Posted in Events, Politics.

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Bracing for impact …

One week from now, I am expecting to welcome my third little baby into this world. It could happen sooner, of course, or later, but either way, this is the home stretch. After having had two already, I’m fully aware that my life is about to change (again) in ways I can’t predict. I’m writing this note so you’re not left wondering if I go quiet for a while.

The fact is, I don’t really know what will happen on the blog over the next few months after the baby is born. With my older son and daughter, the postpartum period was a surprisingly rich one for me, not only as a mother but as a person and citizen.  After my first baby, I spent a lot more time in the community, rather than in an office tower in Vancouver or Burnaby. My experience of trying (and mostly failing) to make connections with other parents and explore my city was the seed of the idea for Tenth to the Fraser. After my second was born, I helped to organize Summerfest In Grimston Park, an annual community-building event in the West End. So I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen in the coming months – all that time breastfeeding and rocking babies in the night provides a lot of room for thinking and planning.

On the other hand, I also remember how hard it was to find time for doing. It was worse with my first than with my second: I was not only unskilled at domestic labour (I never liked keeping house or cooking) but also unprepared for just how much time a baby can need, and how brief the periods of rest can be between feeding, rocking, changing and comforting an infant. Oddly, it was easier with two. I was more accustomed to the domestic labour that begins after the baby is born. I didn’t expect to have much time for anything, and so I was much more efficient in using the time I had. Time also passes more quickly when you have older children to keep you busy. I held my daughter and played with my son, and we all were happy together. But three children and the demands of school and activity schedules are a whole other ball game. Time for ‘doing’ will be dear.

I don’t know what this will mean for Tenth to the Fraser. Regular readers will know that the frequency of posts has dropped, as I have been preoccupied with running my business and caring for my family, but it is hard to say how things will change over the coming months and years. I may find I have more to say, or less. There may be more people who step forward with guest posts, or less. I may get better at juggling the various demands on my time, or I may need to scale back for a time to keep my sanity! Hopefully those of you who look forward to posts on this blog will be patient while I find my new ‘normal’ after the baby.

One thing I can be sure of: I am very happy to be raising my little brood in this community over any other.

Posted in Children, Tenth To The Fraser.


Health & wellness highlighted at ‘Spring Cleaning’ event this Saturday

This Saturday, April 13, River Market is hosting “Spring Cleaning for the Mind, Body & Soul,” a health & wellness fair featuring New Westminster businesses and organizations. The event is the brainchild of Zhoosh Fitness‘s Robyn Murrell, who recruited several friends from New Westminster’s B2B NOW (Business To Business Network of Women) group to help organize.

Highlights of the event will include:

  • Try acupuncture, reiki, Shiatsu and even pole fitness – all exhibitors were required to include an interactive component to keep things interesting
  • Demonstrations of various activities, including Hula Hoop Fitness, Zumba and Bollywood dancing
  • Children’s activities at The Music Box in River Market while parents roam the displays
  • ‘Get Active’ photobooth
  • Gift bags for the first 100 people attending the event
  • Charitable fundraising: raffle and sale of daffodil pins benefiting the Canadian Cancer Society (BC & Yukon chapter), plus a “Spring Shave”

For more information on the Spring Cleaning event, email springcleaningnewwest@gmail.com and/or goto the event Facebook page. For more on B2B NOW, email b2bnewwest@gmail.com. 

 

Posted in Events, Lifestyle.


Learning to Sew in New Westminster

At some point last fall I got the itch to start sewing.

I began dreaming about crafting my own clothes, mending existing garments and having the overall knowledge to begin a sewing project. Without any previous sewing experience, I got anxious and worried who to ask to teach me or to lend me their machine to practice on. I was prepared to self-teach and hope for the best.

But then, thanks to Google, I discovered Sew Good, a home-based business in Sapperton that offers a range of sewing classes for beginners like me. After the pre-requisite search for online reviews (all positive and encouraging), I signed up for an Intro Beginners class in February and committed to four three-hour evening sessions. My first project was a 6-panel, elastic waist skirt. Fancy.

The owner-operator, Carley Struve, is a friendly and extremely patient instructor who put me at ease instantly.  Her basement is retro-fitted into a sewing studio with four newer Janome electronic sewing machines, cutting tables, ironing boards and irons, and an assortment of other sewing paraphernalia. The small class sizes enables a lot of one-on-one time with Carley and the opportunity to converse with the other students while making sense of patterns, fabric choice, threading machines, etc.

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I loved learning how to sew in a supportive and fun environment. I enjoyed the camaraderie and shared experiences with the gals I was sewing with, but best of all was that I was doing it so close to home and not stuck in my car traveling across the Lower Mainland. However, some people don’t mind driving; I was the only student in all three of the classes I have taken in the past three months who has lived in New Westminster. I was really surprised to hear that people were traveling from other cities in the Greater Vancouver area to attend these classes. I think that says a lot for the quality of sewing classes offered at SewGood.

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I would consider myself a confident beginner sewer now and I am tackling projects at home on my new sewing machine (a mid-range Husqvarna, if you must know!), but I am still enrolled in classes at SewGood because:

  1. I like learning with other people; contributing ideas and questions within a group reinforces the information
  2. The projects all involve new technical aspects that I likely would have not taught myself
  3. It’s a night out once a week that I look forward to (and it’s a quick 5 minute drive)

I think Sew Good is a great place to learn to sew and to continue your sewing education. The SewGood Facebook page is kept current and includes inspiring photos of students projects and class updates.

Here’s hoping you begin or continue your sewing journey with as much pleasure as I have had.

 

Note: Andra was not asked to write this article, nor did SewGood compensate her in any way. 

Posted in Businesses, New Westminster, Reviews, Sapperton.

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Network with local entrepreneurs at LAUNCH! New West

New West has a thriving culture of entrepreneurship, but I haven’t seen it celebrated and encouraged as much as I’d like.  Hopefully that’s about to change.

Small business is critical to New Westminster’s economy and culture. Of the 2864 business licenses issued to residents, 2452 have gone to small businesses, which means that approximately 85% of New West based businesses are small businesses. At both the municipal and provincial level, government is trying to do more to support local entrepreneurs launch, grow and thrive.

On Tuesday, March 26, Jen and I are hosting LAUNCH! New Westminster, a free, informal mixer for local business owners and ‘someday’ entrepreneurs to network with each other, learn more about City and Provincial initiatives to support small businesses, and share their thoughts and ideas on the subject.  The event is from 6-8pm in River Market‘s Food Hall. Light refreshments will be provided, and beer & wine will be available for purchase at a cash bar. While the event is free, registration is required as space is limited. Participants can register online using Eventbrite at http://businessinnewwest.eventbrite.ca.

The focus of the evening will be conversational, with lots of time for networking and dialogue. We’ll kick off with a brief Q&A with BC Minister of State for Small Business Naomi Yamamoto, as well as Acting Mayor Jaimie McEvoy, City of New Westminster Economic Development Manager Blair Fryer, and Councillor Bill Harper, who chairs the City’s Economic Development Committee. Jen and I will moderate the discussion (let us know in the comments or via Twitter if you’ve got any questions you want us to ask!). After that, it’s a party – go chat with friends, meet some new folks, or talk one-on-one with the Minister, Mayor or Councillor.

While the timing of the event is close to provincial election time, our goal isn’t to promote any particular candidate or party, but rather to open a dialogue that will hopefully continue well past the election. We’ll hear from the officials on what they are doing, but there will also be opportunities to ask questions and share ideas in open Q&A, and an ideas wall where people can write down their thoughts, suggestions and comments on small business issues.

From my perspective as an entrepreneur with a small business based in New West, I believe that attracting entrepreneurs and helping them to thrive and grow will benefit our community, culture and economy. It should be a cornerstone of the City’s economic development strategy. Hopefully this event will be a small step in the right direction. I hope to see you there!

Posted in Economic Development, Events.

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New West Needs Great Service Businesses Too! Limina Spa

When my husband and I first moved to New Westminster, in September 2011, all the talk was about how New Westminster needed some new business that weren’t Dollar Stores, Car Repair shops and Bridal Boutiques. Since then, a lot of great new businesses have come to New West- bringing more quality products and services.

Often the talk about the quality of the businesses revolves around restaurants and retail establishments. But New Westminster needs more then great restaurants. Susan, owner of Limina Spa, believes it’s time for New Westminster residents to have access to high quality spa services without having to travel into Vancouver. Susan is eager to get the word out about her spa and the quality services and experience it provides. Recently, she invited Jen Arbo and myself to come and experience her spa first hand.

When talking with Susan it is clear that she loves the community here in New West and is passionate about her business. Since she opened in about a year and half a go at the Shops at New West Station, she has seen a fair amount of construction outside her door- something she worries may be impacting potential customers from discovering her Spa. But she believes strongly she has something unique to offer New Westminster.

I was excited to try out Limina Spa—it has been a while since I had gone for a massage. For me, going to a spa is about the whole experience- not just the service itself. I love the calming music, sense of peace, smell of subtle natural essential oils. I like to go somewhere that has a great atmosphere and has clearly thought about the details.

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Limina Spa did not disappoint. The hot stone massage I had was amazing- one of the best massages I have had—and I have visited top spa’s in both Vancouver and Calgary.  Susan explained to me that many places just place the hot stones to warm up the skin and increase circulation- they do it a bit differently- they actually use the stones in the massage itself.

Jen said “The facial I had at Limina Spa was seriously the best facial I have ever had, and I am a spa junkie and have had a lot of facials. It was relaxing, all encompassing, and I felt completely taken care of during the facial. It was customized to me personally, and I walked out of there positively glowing.”

I noticed while I was in the spa that they had been named by the New West News Leader as a finalist of one of the best places to get a facial in New Westminster in 2012- so obviously Jen is one among many who feel that way. Their pedicure lounge is lovely and would be great to book for a pedicure party for a bridal shower, birthday party or other celebration.

The prices Limina Spa charges are higher then other places to get similar services in New West, but are very much in line with prices elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. To offset it they offer an Elite Membership ($29/yr) which gets you about 10-15% off the regular price of spa services. Each month, members are also offered a special at a further discounted rate— March’s special combines a full body exfoliation with a massage for maximum pampering.

Overall, Limina Spa is the type of business I want to support: local, run by a dedicated small business owner and offering quality to New Westminster.

Limina Spa

263-800 Carnarvon Street
The Plaza at New West Station

Hours:
Monday 10am-6pm
Tuesday 10am-6pm
Wednesday 11am-7pm
Thursday 10am-6pm
Friday 10am-6pm
Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday By Appointments

(604) 525-0805
info@liminaspa.com
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Disclosure: Jen and I received spa services at no charge as a part of Limina’s invitation (facial, hot stone massage, pedicures, and underarm waxing). We were not asked to write this article. All opinions expressed are our own. 

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