Tis the Season – Winter Celebrations at Anvil Centre

It’s being described as a ‘cornucopia of entertainment for everyone.’ And after checking out the event listing I can confirm there is something for everyone. There’s a hip-hop dance party, musical performances, singalongs and art installations, yoga and an Indigenous Circle – Storytelling and Tea.

Winter Celebrations kicks off on December 18th at 1pm at the Anvil Centre with an evening of joyful choir performances followed by Quayside Voices.

And Christmas isn’t complete without a reading of the Dickens classic, ‘A Christmas Carol.’ On December 21st and 22nd New West Performing Arts Collective will perform this staged reading.

There truly is something for everyone. Be sure to check out the website for a full breakdown of events.

Many of the events held on the main level of the Anvil Centre are free however tickets for events held in the theatre range from $10-$20 with some lower prices for students. Ticketsnw has them available for purchase now!

Women on Wednesdays brings new workshop to New West

Women on Wednesdays (WoW), a local group established to create space for women to gather and strengthen their participation in the democratic process, is hosting an exciting workshop in two weeks on Wednesday, December 5th.

See Something, Say Something: Confronting Harm for Women in Leadership is an event being held jointly by New West’s own WoW (Women on Wednesday) and FACEBC (Feminist Association for Collaborative Education).

After a moment where they didn’t know how best to speak up, WoW’s organizers Councillor Nadine Nakagawa and Trudi Goels realized there is a great opportunity to learn. They partnered with FACEBC and both are excited to host this important event in New Westminster.

In this workshop, participants will examine some of the tools that women in leadership roles can use to draw attention to someone’s harmful behavior, or draw the community’s attention to harm. What is a call in? What is a call out? What other ways can we confront harm? When is each method of confronting harm appropriate and what are the risks associated with each? This workshop will explore the ways we can have these difficult discussions in compassionate and community building ways.

This workshop is reserved for women-identified, transgender and non-binary folks.

There are tickets available through the FACBC website https://www.facebc.org/ on a sliding scale and free tickets are available by emailing Amanda@FaceBC.org. Your ticket includes a hearty vegan meal (sorry it is not allergen free).

The event details are:
Wednesday December 5th
7:00 to 9:00 PM
350 Columbia Avenue – New Westminster
The venue is accessible with a ramp at the front door, elevator to get between floors, and the bathrooms will be marked gender neutral for the evening.

For more information:
womenonwednesdays.org
facebc.org

Craft fairs are coming to town

The holiday season and craft fairs go hand-in-hand. And craft fair season is upon us people – get  yourself ready because there are quite a few in New Westminster in the next month.

I spotted a few signs around town this past week and thought that a compiled list of New West – based fairs would be beneficial to everyone. (Note: If you know of one and want me to add it please email hello@tenthtothefraser.ca).

Here they are in chronological order so you can add them your calendar:

Herbert Spencer Craft Fair
605 Second Street
Saturday, November 24th
10am-4pm

Thornbridge Gardens
649 8th Avenue
Saturday, November 24th
10am-5pm

Christmas Crafts in Support of the Deaf-Blind Community of Vancouver
Hosted at the River Market
Saturday, November 24th
10am-4pm

St. Peter’s Church Bazaar
330 Royal Avenue
Saturday, November 24th
9:30am-3:00pm

New West Craft – night market!
Hosted at the River Market and 100 Braid Street Studios
Saturday, December 1st
6pm-9:30pm

Fridays on Front (under the parkade)
Friday, December 14th
4pm-9pm

New West Craft
Hosted at the River Market
Saturday, December 15th
11am-4pm

And while it is technically in Burnaby the craft fair held at St Thomas More Collegiate is along Tenth Avenue:
Knights Christmas Market at St Thomas More Collegiate
November 24 & 25th
10am-4pm

The New West Farmers Market primarily hosts food vendors but also has a small selection of artisans.
Saturday, November 17, December 1st and December 15th
Belmont Street
11am-3pm

Voting with your dollar

It’s a regular occurrence unfortunately. A local business announces that they’re closing up shop for one of a number of reasons: lease terminated, profit margin too slim, irregular flow of business, cost increases, or just fatigue.

A lot of these reasons seem out of our control, so what can a community like New Westminster do? I believe it starts with small, regular steps and active decision making. I believe that every day we vote with our dollar. As such I wanted to share a few actions I take to vote with my dollar. But I also invite you to share what your favourite small businesses are in New West and what you buy from them.

Farmers Market
This year I made a conscious decision to purchase eggs from vendors at the New West Farmers Market instead of buying from the major chain grocery stores. This may have meant spending $1-2 more per dozen eggs but I knew that the money was going directly to the food producers and quite often the eggs were fresher, larger and proven free range or BCSPCA Certified.
During berry season (which was pretty amazing) I bought a large amount of berries from local vendors like Mandair Farms, Maan Farms, Peace Arch Farms and others. Their berries were normally picked and packed in the morning for delivery and sale that afternoon. My freezer is now packed with local produce ready for a smoothie or baked treat and I don’t need to buy imported berries at 3 times the price.

Pet food and products
Most major grocery stores carry a variety of pet products, some better than others. I made a conscious decision to stay out of big box providers and buy from small businesses in New West that offer the food my cat needs.

Spice, baking supplies and all things wonderful
Galloway’s is one of those incredible places that hasn’t changed much over the years. The ticket system sometimes works but the prices remain low and the products are pretty consistent. I remember my grandmother used to go there specifically at Christmas time to buy crystallized ginger claiming it was the best.

Bakery
Did you know that Kozak Ukrainian Bakery in Uptown sells a dark chocolate sourdough loaf? I’m definitely a babka bun fan paired with a warm latte.

Produce
There are plenty of smaller product vendors scattered around New West. Each of them offer their own blend of unique products. While not all of their produce is locally grown, I try and shop there as I know the funds will go to a local business owner. I particularly enjoy shopping at Freshico in Glenbrooke North and try and go there regularly.

So, New West, how do you vote with your dollar? What are you favourite local businesses? Do you know of a gem? Share below and encourage others to keep them in business.

All Candidates Meetings – Democracy in your community

The next General Local Election for our municipal government is on Saturday, October 20th from 8am-8pm BUT there are several opportunities for advance voting including October 10th, 13th and 17th. The City of New West has complete information posted online with dates, times and locations.

There are a number of ways to find out what city council candidates values and priorities are: their websites, print pamphlets, social media accounts, door knocking and of course all candidates meetings.

With full honesty I will admit that this is one of the first years that I have followed local elections relatively closely. Perhaps it’s my circle of friends and acquaintances that have encouraged me to get involved or my role with the New West Farmers Market that has me engaging more regularly with our local government. Either way I’m following along and engaging more as a resident – like playing BINGO!

I have not attended an All Candidates Meeting yet but I do hope to attend one or two this time around. There is no shortage of meetings planned! The City of New West posts All Candidates Meeting information online (they do not solicit information but they do accept submissions and share it).

I also went looking for some useful information on how to organize an All Candidates Meeting and while I couldn’t find anything BC-specific, the Scarborough Civic Action Network published a fairly comprehensive guide. There are different format options, tips about logistics (like providing an accessible space for people with disabilities) and how to publicize your event.

So the call to action for you? Attention one All Candidates Meeting this year and meet some new faces! Find one that has a format that fits your comfort level or reach out to the organizing committee to see what they are planning.

And don’t forget to vote!

Door knocking 101 – hitting the pavement with Gurveen

Like many folks in New West I live in an apartment. This means that knocks on my door are pretty rare (I’m a quiet neighbour). But if you live in a detached home and some townhomes you may find knocks at your door a more regular occurrence. Door knocking or canvassing is going to be picking up soon and for many candidates intending on running in October’s municipal elections, it’s already begun.

Gurveen Dhaliwal, candidate for New Westminster School Board Trustee, invited me out on Tuesday, September 4th to see what door-knocking involves and hear what some residents in New West had to say. We picked a corner and a time to meet up and promptly lay out our course for the evening.

My observations and lessons:

  • Door knocking takes time. We walked the length of a street that spanned about 2 New West blocks and it was took over an hour to do both sides of the street.
  • New West likes to talk. It might take a few probing questions but people have strong opinions and want to be heard.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Always close the gate behind you and never walk across someone’s lawn.
  • People are really happy about getting a new high school.
  • The candidates are not out to openly debate or argue, it’s more about listening to what you have to say.
  • Candidates often try and communicate with other candidates where they will be on certain days to avoid doubling up and door-knocking on the same street.
  • Dogs. There are some awesome dogs that need to be pet. I was happy to oblige.

Door knocking was largely a positive experience. I would recommend that anyone interested in gaining experience or testing the water of your future political career reach out to a candidate and ask them if they need help for an hour or two. You don’t only gain perspective and experience, you get one-on-one time with the candidate. I learned that Gurveen grew up in New Westminster and is the daughter of immigrants from India which has helped shape her desire to increase transparency and engagement in the New Westminster school system, especially for new immigrants and working class families. She recently completed her degree from UBC and we completed very similar undergraduate courses (my major was Women’s Studies at SFU and Gurveen’s was Sociology with a minor in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.

Two final thoughts as an apartment dweller. In the 2011 Census it was reported that approximately 18% of New Westminster residents lived in detached homes while over 70% lived in an apartments (of all types).

Candidates: If door knocking is only targeting detached homes, how are you proactively seeking input, opinion and ideas from residents living in other structures?

And fellow apartment dwellers:

How are you making your voice heard for the next municipal election? Are you speaking directly to candidates? Are you attending any of the all-candidates meetings?  Are you inviting candidates into your building? Your voice and vote count.

Gurveen is friendly with all creatures she meets while door-knocking.