May 25, 2004


Welcome to Vancouver

A nuclear weapons free zone.

What kind of a welcome is this?!

This is what you see when you come off the #1 at Grandview Highway (outside the Roots Factory Outlet). It's a tiny little sign - white text on brown. But it's there. Welcoming all visitors.

I know I feel much better knowing that this sign is there, deterring visitors from bringing their nuclear weapons into our weapons free city...wouldn't you?!

What crazy signage have you seen in your city or other cities you visit?

Posted by penny at 10:56 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 05, 2004

Know Your Rights

Have you ever thought about the information about you that is "out there"? Names. Birthdate. Home address. SIN. PHN. Mother's maiden name. Bank accounts.

More importantly, have you ever thought about why someone might need to collect this information? And what they might use this information for? It might surprise you to know that many companies, including your own employer, collect information that they have absolutely no use for and often do not have consent to collect in the first place.

Effective, January 1, 2004, the new Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) applies to every organization doing business in British Columbia – no matter how big or small. That also means anyone with a web site who collects any information for any reason whatsoever whether using a submit form, e-mail, or receiving information by mail, fax or telephone must implement and publicly display a Privacy Policy.

The purpose of this Act is to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by organizations in a manner that recognizes both the right of individuals to protect their personal information and the need of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.

I attended a privacy law seminar today that got me thinking from both a personal and a business perspective. The Act is in place to protect personal information and everyone should know their rights and/or obligations to comply. Had I not been required to attend for my employer, I may not have found out about my rights as an individual.

For more information, visit Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Posted by penny at 11:28 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

Save a Napkin, Save a Tree

Now that I'm back at work, I can't seem to make time for myself to eat breakfast. This morning I was starving by the time I got to work. So I did what millions of people do every morning and many millions more do througout the day...I hit the local coffee shop. Seattle's Best has a wicked Hot Chocolate Trio (white, dark and milk) that just hits the spot!

I couldn't resist laughing to myself as I grabbed a napkin...they have a label posted in front of the bin that says something like "TAKE ONLY ONE NAPKIN...SAVE A TREE". I laughed because I thought it odd that adults in a coffee shop have to be told not to be wasteful. Then, as I turn to walk away, I see a women with a drink in one hand and a fistfull of napkins in the other.

I laughed again because I realized that if every one of the bizillions of coffee drinkers took one less napkin, we could probably save a whole forest!

Posted by penny at 06:25 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

Fund Free Mammograms


No matter who you are, what you do or where you're can help.

It's not a matter of money or a question of time.

If you've clicked your way can help with just two more clicks.

At the Breast Cancer Site, your click on the "Fund Free Mammograms" button helps fund free mammograms, paid for by site sponsors whose ads appear after you click and provided to women in need through the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation to low-income, inner-city and minority women, whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited.

In 2003, visitors' clicks at The Breast Cancer Site funded mammograms for 1,933 women in need.

Clickity-click-click-click! Keep on clicking!

Posted by penny at 06:47 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 29, 2004

The Corporation

Today I went for dinner at my mom's house, and I watched about an hour of the Academy Awards. I quickly realized that I had seen only one of the movies that had been nominated for an award: Lord of the Rings. Even more shocking, go-Daddy-O had seen only two of the movies. This is a man who subscribes to Entertainment Weekly and usually makes it a point to see one or two matinees a week. Of course, that was before the baby came along.

So what was the last movie I saw? A documentary by the co-director of Manufacturing Consent titled The Corporation. I highly recommend that you see this film while it's still playing in theatres.

From the press kit:

In law, the corporation is a “person”.
But what kind of person is it?

Considering the odd legal fiction that deems a corporation a “person” in the eyes of the law, the feature documentary employs a checklist, based on actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and DSM IV, the standard tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. What emerges is a disturbing diagnosis.

Check out the trailer to get a feel for what the movie's about.

Posted by tomi at 10:17 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2004

Breast of Canada 2004


In December I found an email in my inbox that I thought was SPAM, and then later realized that a friend of mine knows the person who sent me the following.

From Sue Richards:

I publish the Breast of Canada Calendar. B of C is a fine art photography calendar with an aim to increase awareness about BREAST HEALTH. The 2004 edition is my third effort.

2004 features four great shots that would likely speak volumes to you and your group ...a young mother to be belly dancing, a first time mom to be who is a breast cancer survivor with a reconstructed breast, a two day old nestled between her mothers breasts and twin boys feeding.

My web site is Calendars are $19.95 plus tax and shipping. Accompanying editorial content is health and cancer cause and prevention related.

I just received one of these calendars as a gift. It's full of useful information and inspiring images! And not only does the calendar promote women's health, but it also raises money for a good cause. The net proceeds are donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Network.

Posted by tomi at 11:11 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 20, 2003

Buy Nothing Christmas

From the article "A 'Buy Nothing Christmas'" in the Vancouver Sun:

To the tune of "Rudoph the Red-Nose Reindeer":

Uh oh we're in the red, dear
On our credit card it shows
Christmas is almost over
But the debit line still grows
Shopping like Santa's zombies
Sent our budget down in flames
But all our Christmas spirit
Helped the giant retail chains

Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites. The founder, Aiden Enns, used to be the managing editor at Adbusters, a Vancouver magazine that initiated Buy Nothing Day, an anti-consumerist campaign that takes place the day after American Thanksgiving.

Here's an excerpt from "Shop Til You Stop" on

"...there's this extremist view that you have to change everything, and that's so daunting that you end up content with changing nothing. So we say No, it doesn't have to be a systemic change. It can be a minor change. It can be as simple as choosing one store you don't go to. As changing the brand of toilet paper you use. Minor change has major impact."

What does all of this mean to those of us caught in a consumer culture? Start small. If you do give gifts at Christmas, stop shopping at multi-national retailers, and start shopping at "sweat-shop free" stores. Buy fair-trade coffee. Bake cookies. Give a donation to a charitable organization. Start celebrating the holidays instead of supporting commercialism!

Posted by tomi at 11:52 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2003

Kids in the 'Hood

Penny is busy today preparing for tomorrow's big move to the East side--so busy that she doesn't have time to post anything tonight, so here I sit. Thinking, thinking. It's after midnight, and my mind is a complete blank. So I decide to surf around a bit and find some information about the new neighbourhood she is moving into, and I come across this site: The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. No surprise here, since you're bound to run across sites on addiction, immigration, prostitution, and homelessness when you do a keyword search on "east vancouver demographics."

However, I was surprised by what I read on the site: November 16-22 is National Drug and Addiction Awareness Week. Who knew? Not many people here, I suppose, since no activities have been planned this year in BC. Zero. Zilch. The same goes for last year. This seems very strange to me, since BC is known for many things, including its high rate of illicit drug use, and BC citizens often pride themselves on being socially and environmentally active.

From a 2001 report on BC street youth:

Between June and December, 2000 the McCreery Centre Society of B.C. conducted a survey of street youth, and in 2001 reported on their findings in a profile of B.C. street youth. A convenience sample of 523 youth under age 19 (145 from Vancouver; 94 from Victoria; 28% of the total self-identified as Aboriginal) identified through community services were interviewed about their needs, behaviours and circumstances within that survey.

The key findings of the McCreery Report include the following:

· Nearly two-thirds of street youth in Vancouver and a third of street youth in Victoria come from other provinces in Canada

· About half of street youth see themselves as having an addiction problem

· Of those stating they have an addiction problem, 60% say they have another diagnosis

· Street youth have very high rates of risky behaviour, including drug, alcohol and tobacco use and unprotected sex. Risky behaviours often began at a very early age

· Over a quarter of the B.C. street youth interviewed attempted suicide in the past year

· Most street youth have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse (50% of males and 65% of females)

· Many are involved in the sex trade

· Over half of street youth have been charged with or convicted of a crime, and nearly half have spent time in a custody center

· 13% said they have a child or children of their own

· 29% reported that they first used marijuana before age 11

· 72% of males and 62% of females have used marijuana 100 or more times

· 48% of Vancouver street youth and 65% of Victoria street youth reported using marijuana 40 or more times in the past month

· 27% were less than 9 years old when they first used alcohol

· 9% drank alcohol on 20 or more days in the last month

· 19% of street youth surveyed in Vancouver had been binge drinking 10 or more days in the previous month

· In Vancouver and Victoria, respectively, 72% and 73% had ever used cocaine; 50% and 43% had ever used heroin; and, 30% and 28% had ever injected an illegal drug

· In Vancouver and Victoria, respectively, 45% and 41% had used cocaine ten or more times; 28% and 24% had used heroin 10 or more times; and, 22% and 24% had injected an illegal drug 10 or more times

· 31% of street youth – 46% of girls and 18% of boys – reported that they have been forced to have sex

· Overall, 15% of youth said they had been refused alcohol and drug treatment services at some time (23% in Vancouver).


Note: Penny's new digs are approximately 15 minutes away from the downtown eastside, which is where most of Vancouver's street kids can be found. Nevertheless, in this town, East is East and West is West. So it's so long Penny, Ken, and Ollie. I guess we'll be seeing you soon on the "other" side!

Posted by tomi at 11:48 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 09, 2003

Forests for Future Generations

From the David Suzuki Foundation

BC Forests Need Your Help!

On October 6, the BC Legislature opened for the fall session. The government plans to pass its Working Forest legislation, which means that timber companies will be given unprecedented access to our forests with almost no government oversight of logging practices.

All publicly owned forests outside of existing parks and protected areas will become part of the working forest if this legislation is approved. The working forest will encompass 45 million hectares — an area larger than the state of California.

Now is the time to write before British Columbia’s publicly owned forests are turned over to private companies. Remind the minister that 97 percent of the public that participated in the government consultation process opposed the working forest legislation.

Because of public pressure, the government cancelled its plans to privatize the Coquihalla highway. With your help, we believe we can force Premier Campbell and Minister Hagen to withdraw this regressive legislation.

Tell Minister Hagan that British Columbia’s forests belong to all of us - not just private timber companies.
Your action could help ensure that future generations can enjoy and benefit from publicly owned and managed forests.

Thank You!

Click here to sign a petition.

See Cubicle Dweller for links to both the pro-business and independent media perspectives.

Posted by tomi at 11:33 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 06, 2003

The Young and the Breastless

Thanks to those of you who sponsored Ella, go-Daddy-O, and I for the Run for the Cure. We raised $250!

Over 12,000 men, women, children, and dogs participated in the run. We walked the 5 km with our friend Gabi, who is a member of a support group called The Young and the Breastless. Some members of this group were interviewed for an article in the West Ender.

Most of the women in our group are young mothers," says Ruth Kwok, also a member of the Y&B. "And for them, it's not just sexuality but mortality: to be in your 30s and not know if you're going to see your kids go to kindergarten.

Needless to say, as well as raising some money for breast cancer research on Sunday, we shed a few calories and a few tears. We'll be back next year.

Posted by tomi at 07:21 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack