Category Archives: Envision


Down the road from the Centre of the Universe…..

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Morning Walk

Where I am this week.


Photographs from the Wacky Woods (Fanny Bay, BC)

On our recent vacation, we stopped at the Wacky Woods on our way out of Fanny Bay, BC. It was a quick jaunt into the forest to show our friends the outdoor installations of the late George Sawchuk – but the sheer volume of work there never fails to impress. Humorous, provocative, penitent and sometimes melancholy – the passions and social critiques of Sawchuk are writ large on these woods – his legacy being a real community treasure. Though I have not got the rest of our trip photos online, I did put up a gallery from the Wacky Woods last week. Interested in more about Sawchuk? See this post that Brian penned after we visited the artist’s studio in 2008 when he was still very much alive.

Bees and lupins.

My attempt to capture a bee photo in the Garibaldi school garden on my phone…. what was so remarkable about this was 1) how many bees there were in the lupin patch and 2) that you could see their full pollen sacs (that orange blob) so easily. I love this patch of beauty right around the corner from my home!

Our Vancouver Eastside in springtime….

“The loves we share with a city are often secret loves.” ~ Albert Camus


Neighbourhood ghosts


At the corner of Victoria and William, this ghost image was uncovered a few months ago during the renovation of this storefront (which looks as though it will become a pizza place? Or perhaps it was just made to look that way for a film set). In any case, it’s good to see the loving preservation as the building undergoes more renos. And it’s nice to see an older building being reno-ed rather than just torn down for new.

Alleyway plastic


Bookshed: Seeing Trees

Seeing Trees
By Nancy Ross Hugo and Robert Llewellyn
Timber Press, 2011

As you might judge from the video above, this is no ordinary botanical book – but a work of real beauty – a hyper-glimpse into the world of the plants which surround us. Created by two “tree-watchers”, Seeing Trees offers the reader new insights into the tree lifecycle and growth stages – using an innovative form of photography developed by Robert Llewellyn.

First on the photography – Llewellyn has created a rig that allows him to take macro photography of ever square inch of plant or plant-part which he then merges together using software. The result is a series of high-definition of photographs that seem to hang in 3-D on the page. This book is rich on the full-colour visuals, inviting both meditation and exploration on the pieces which make up these living giants in our yards and forests. Everything is included here: leaf varieties, tree buds and scars, bark patterns, seed pods, tree fruit and pollen grains. The photography is a reminder of what the naked eye just doesn’t pick up on, or in some cases can’t really see. The section of the book which goes in depth into ten different tree species is titled “Intimate Views” – which sums up perfectly the level of closeness with which you can *see* the tree parts in these photos.

Alongside this evocative photography, Nancy Ross-Hugo pairs her descriptive text of each species, inviting the reader to explore further what is going on behind the visual. She shares notes from her tree-watching journal, anecdotes from other tree-lovers she has known, as well as pointers on what to look for at each stage of the annual cycle. While Llewellyn gives us the incredibly detailed picture, Ross-Hugo tells us what exactly it is we are looking at – with a trained and loving eye.

The only unfortunate thing (to me) is that the focus of the book is on eastern varieties, for that is where this work was conceived and created. While Ross-Hugo notes this, she also explains their attempt to choose species that hide a wide range in North America – so we do get a Red Cedar, though it’s the Eastern Red Cedar. Pine and Oak trees are also found here, but different varieties than our western Canada natives. I would love to see a book like this focused on the Pacific Northwest – and more than trees too! But whether that happens or not, Seeing Trees definitely achieves the objective of giving the reader a new way of looking at and understanding the natural world. This book is inspiring and beautifully presented, making a good gift or just a treasure for the nature-lover’s own bookshelf.

Neighbourhood notes.

Walking by the corner of Salsbury and Charles these days frustrates me – as does walking by my old house on Kitchener Street just one block away. Seems like all the affordable housing is leaving East Vancouver, and although they might try to save the heritage facades (in this instance), there is no escaping the fact that a once-vibrant low rent apartment complex (which operated somewhat like a co-op) is torn to pieces. Replacement? Townhouse and condo units that cost a minimum of $700,000 to buy into. Same goes for my old duplex around the corner which is being turned into a fourplex as we speak.

I’m all for densifying our neighbourhoods so we can continue to grow up and not out – but not unless we consider the affordability of such options. In the guise of being “green”, the Vision city council is steamrolling over the very communities it assures us are integral. So where is the new housing for working class people, those with marginal incomes and no option to buy? Haven’t seen the city approving many of those developments lately…. And why would developers be interested in developing below-market housing when there are such big profits to be made in the bubble?

Lets’ just hope that it bursts soon – flooding the gulf growing between those who can afford the city and those who cannot. The fissures are there, in the form of $600,000 basement suites – it’s just a question of when this its all going to crack apart.