Friday, June 22, 2007

Swarm on Sainte-Catherine

I was sitting at my desk yesterday ('s more of a table) and heard something that sounded like a swarm of locusts. Well, i can only assume it sounded like a locust invasion, as i have never experienced one but have watched enough movies to have a vague idea (as if the filmmakers knew anyway). Wondering (and somewhat eager) whether the divine-being (whoever the fuck it is) was finally obliterating the human race, i poked my head out of the office and saw a swarm of skateboarders and a sprinkling of cyclists speed down Sainte-Catherine. I ran down to the corner as the tail end passed, and there were a couple cop cars with their sirens on dodging traffic to chase the group. Does anyone know what that was?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Garden (again)

As if Blork and i are competing in a garden post-athon, here are some more photos of my garden. Whereas Blork's have an artistic quality to them, mine are simply amateur photos trying to capture the very short life of the blooms after my impatient pacing (for weeks, really). Perhaps this is a friendly challenge, but i see this as a learning experience. I really do need to learn how to use my digital camera (i have had it for several years now).

oh, and i have another excuse: my roommate Jasmine is out west for the summer, and this is a way of relaying the images to her.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Underground Parks

Montreal's sister city Shanghai has announced the development of an underground park that will be part of the city's large underground network. A fibre-optic network would 'wire' light underground, solving the issue of it being underground.

I am not familiar with the way the underground city in Shanghai is organised, but in Montreal the underground city (except for certain passageways) are private spaces. It would be very interesting to see the insertion of a lavish public space in an area that is normally the domain of private development.

It is no secret that Montreal's downtown is seriously lacking some public space. Save for Dorchester Square and the adjacent Place du Canada, the downtown has no public parks. An underground park, if considered by the city, would not only help create a much needed park but help balance the private-space dominance of Montreal's underground and allow some warmth-deprived Montrealers some greenery in the dead of winter.

Write to your local representatives!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sustainable Option #1: Grapeseed Oil

Sustainability has become a sort of buzz word, companies and organisations (and even governments) throw the word around in hopes of capturing consumers' attention. People are attempting to seek a more sustainable lifestyle even if they are a little unsure of what it means. In what i hope will become many more posts, i will recommend several alternatives to everyday consumer items. They won't necessarily make much difference, but it will make you feel a hell of a lot better about consuming.

The first 'sustainable option' is grapeseed oil as an alternative to olive oil. Because the olives used in olive oil are grown uniquely for the oil, the footprint in olive oil production is quite large. According to
this document [pdf] commissioned by the European Union, most olive oil is now produced using intensified production methods that require a lot of energy input in terms of chemical fertilisers. As well, there are problems of soil erosion and water shortages as a result of these plantations. Even the low-input, more traditional olive groves have been increasingly reliant of these fertilisers.

Though i am sure that grape production has a considerable footprint, they are grown for wine
, oil and leaves. This efficiency makes the impact of grapeseed oil considerably less than that of olive oil which is grown uniquely for oil. Grapeseed oil also has a lighter taste and a higher smoking point, which makes it better for cooking.

Of course one needs to consider transportation in making a choice. Why would we want olive or grapeseed oil if we can have canola oil grown right here in Canada? Well... that's your call i guess. Fields and fields of canola (aka rapeseed) are grown in Western Canada for oil production, and about 80% of all canola seed is genetically modified. Unless you buy your canola oil organic (which is expensive), there is no way to know if it is GM or not.

The best option, i believe, is to have a bottle of grapeseed oil and organic canola oil on hand. So, ditch the inefficient olive tree for the versatile grape, and use organic canola oil whenever you really feel you need it (and you won't be wasting precious money).

Grapeseed oil can be found in many grocery stores. It can be found at Segal's on Saint-Laurent.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Fourth Citizen Summit of Montreal

Today is the start of the Fourth Citizen Summit of Montreal, the theme being 'Planning the City, economic development and participatory democracy: The Right to the City'. The Urban Ecology Centre is hosting the 40 or so workshops that will be simultaneously translated in English and French. Most of the programming is in French, but they have 12 roundtables and workshops that will be in English. One that sounds particularly interesting is titled 'the role of citizens' actions and economic development: Milton-Parc, Benny Farm, Point St-Charles,' starting tomorrow at 10:30. Check out the programme for all the details.