All things environmental

Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

David Suzuki at Occupy Vancouver

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David Suzuki salutes the crowd

Occupy Vancouver, at the art gallery, is entering week two and David Suzuki was scheduled to address the crowd at one.  Just like last week, despite the gloomy weather, the atmosphere is festive and the crowd is happy.  The police presence is, if anything, more subdued than last week.

I took my bike on the Dunsmuir bikeway (thanks again councillor Geoff Meggs!) and marveled at the traffic jam caused by the Canucks game also starting at one.  I got to VAG in plenty of time – at Georgia and Hornby, there were still many stalls available to lock the bike.  By the time I left, they were full, there were people looking for something – anything – to lock their bikes to.  Bike amenities are so much better than a few years ago, but there’s still work to do.  But the law of expanding gases that applies to cars (new highways generate traffic jams) also applies to bikes: if you build it (bike separated paths, parking stalls, whatever amenities), bikes will come.

The free food table - vegan and delicious

I was hungry and got some free food – an excellent, nutritious veggie and quinoa stew.  With food of this quality I’m less worried about the staying power of the campers.  I gave a donation to the volunteers, who thanked me and mentioned that donations in kind are also appreciated (the coffee table had just run out of milk – could someone go get some?).  It’s an easy way to express support – and the more support, even little bits like mine, help the movement grow.  You don’t have to be a full time activist to feel you can contribute.

"we shall overcome"

A happy surprise: Bill, from work, is a member of a group that I’ve dubbed the Red Singers.  He handed me a leaflet with words to “We Shall Overcome” and all the great union battle hymns.  At gatherings like these, you always meet people unexpectedly, and that strengthens the sense of community.  Bill is a guy who supports this movement (I could have guessed, but didn’t know), and that’s dear to my heart – and I like to think he feels the same way about seeing me.  I also ran into Caitlin, a student in my program.  She couldn’t stay – she was carrying frozen fish that she gets from a fisher family, the fish equivalent of a community supported agriculture.  I bought shares in a CSA this year, but didn’t even know about CSF.  I always learn from my students.  She had a big smile on, was pleased to see me, was pleased to see the crowd.  That too is a contribution.

Suzuki didn’t have anything particularly new to say, but he knows how to stir up a crowd.  The old lion’s still got it, and he’s probably the best politician Canadians never had.  He linked, of course, economy and ecology, gave too many examples of how money talks – but said that now may well be a historic moment, even if we won’t know for a long time if the seeds of change planted now will bear fruit (ok, he didn’t use that cliche – I summarize).  CBC had a nice coverage.

Suzuki getting approval with raised hands, in the midst of applause.

Suzuki got lots of applause from the crowd, as well as a lot of hands up with agitated fingers.  I learned about crowds signs while I was there: approval, with your fingers reaching for the sky; blocks (cross arms on chest); requests for clarification (a big C from thumb and fingers); and, my favourite, one that I’d like to use in meetings at work: if it looks like you’re about to throw an imaginary lasso above your head, it means you want the speaker to wrap it up.  Fast.  Don’t mess with the patience of crowds, it’s powerful!

Tent city with glass and concrete all around


I left feeling pretty buoyant.  On my way back Commercial Drive was blocked by police cruisers, and there were a large number of evidence cones all over the street.  A machete wielding woman had just been subdued by police, after repeated tasering.  Sad.  All’s not well with the world, and never will be.  But every bit that gets better is a reason for hope.


Written by enviropaul

October 23, 2011 at 9:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. It was great to see you there too Paul! More info on the CSF can be found on the family’s website I’ve been getting great fish at an amazing price for the last two years. It was too bad I couldn’t see “the old lion” in action! I’ll be having a Pink fillet tonight to toast our local fare.

    Caitlin Penberthy

    October 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm

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