Talkin' Trash at the Beach

By Melissa Shaw

Amidst news about terrorist attacks abroad and the Pokemon Go craze, our News Friends crew covered a humble local event, a beach cleanup in Vancouver's Crab Park.

Our volunteer news team (Michael, Deanna and I) made a short video using a mix of basic equipment:

The event was organized by the local Surfrider Foundation chapter and about 20 volunteers came out on a cloudy Saturday morning to pick up trash. One of the volunteers, Lindsay Siu, brought her two children, who seem fascinated with the activity.

The day was not just about removing trash, but about citizen science. Volunteers measured and recorded each type of garbage they found. Surfrider Vancouver chair Matthew Unger said they send the data to universities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA) and local government to report on the conditions at our local beaches.

Surfrider Vancouver is working on a campaign called Straws Suck and trying to get Vancouver restaurants, bars, cafes etc. to make their plastic straws available on request or make the switch to paper straws. It's easy to see how straws can harm marine life because there are videos on YouTube of sea turtles having them removed from their nostrils with pliers.

Watch this if you need a visual (but don't watch it if you get squeamish at the sight of blood) :

The other major Surfrider Vancouver project is the Hold on to Your Butt campaign, which encourages the public to recycle their cigarette butts. The City of Vancouver also purchased cigarette butt recycling containers and placed them around the city as part of a pilot project in 2013. The Province reported that an evaluation of that pilot project will guide future recycling efforts.

Unger said cigarette butts are not biodegradable and accumulate toxins, which are ingested by fish, displacing food with a “toxic compound.”

There are signs posted at Vancouver's beaches explaining that smoking is not allowed but we saw a random stranger smoking on the beach during the cleanup. He's in the video if you watch closely. I've seen people having campfires on the beach and drinking alcoholic beverages at any time of day – two other activities that the city put under a "please don't" list.

Rules or no rules, Unger said any cans or bottles left on the beach get picked up because they have value. He would like to see a deposit return program for cigarette butts to encourage people to recycle them.

Beach cleanup volunteer Stephanie Reimer said she tries to limit her consumption of products.

"Realizing how much garbage does end up on the beach..It gives you an awareness in your everyday life about how much plastic you use," she said.

Surfrider Vancouver regularly organizes shoreline cleanups at different beaches in Vancouver and Vancouver Island.



4/20 2016 in pictures

At last minute we decided to cover Godfrey's birthday a little differently this year. 

For those that may not know, the event was split this year, with the main organizers setting up on Vancouver's Sunset beach, while there are those that still choose the Vancouver Art Gallery as a venue.

This year, we went to the beach. With a photo gallery, you probably won't find anywhere else. 

Vancouver Stands With Paris Vigil

By Melissa Shaw

A girl is huddled under an umbrella in the pouring rain on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, holding a poster of a smiling man that reads, 'Guillaume was killed yesterday at the Bataclan'.

The Bataclan is a concert hall in Paris and one of the locations attacked by gunmen on November 13, along with several cafes. Suicide bombs were also detonated close to France's national stadium. Media reported 129 people have died, 352 were injured and 99 were critically injured with the Islamic State reported to have claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

Vigils were held in Vancouver, as well as other major cities across Canada and around the world.

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Mushroom Walk: A Guide to BC's Edible and Inedible Mushrooms

By Melissa Shaw

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia (UBC) hosted a Mushroom Walk, led by Botany Professor Mary Berbee, on Saturday.

Berbee said a lot of people are curious about whether they can eat mushrooms but there is no general rule as to which mushrooms are poisonous or safe for human consumption. 

"You have to get to know the species of mushroom one at a time and become really familiar with them," she said. 

She said one way of identifying mushrooms is by the colour of their spores. To create a spore print, a mushroom cap is placed gill side down for about six hours until the spores are released from the gills.

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Any and all One Directions

By Michael Lylyk

Friday was an interesting time. While we were hunting down a story about skin flaps, there also happened to be a concert going on at the same time. 

One Direction? Have you heard of them? I've been told they're a bit of a big deal. 

Taking inspiration from a recent podcast about Photography contracts during live performances and the ways publications have been getting around them, I felt inspired.

Gaining knowledge of a colleague going into the One Direction concert to have a fun evening, I requested that any pictures she takes to send them my way. Though the quality of the photos may not be the best, I was sure that my artistic ability would be able to spruce them up. 

Here's the outcome:

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A short interview with the man behind the poo

When the poo was first mentioned by Vancouver Is Awesome, is was reported by Anna Dimoff (for the Langara Voice)  to be a little more than a cute little prop to put underneath the $100,000 poodle. 

It turned out to all be part of a Geo-cacheing adventure

Within this short time it's been turned into gold and replaced by a log, but is not back and bigger than ever. After the cut is a short Q&A we had with the creator of the turd (Stu Garret) that was supposed to be used for our original video.  But since it no longer has a home, we decided to share it with our audience, under the cut:

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New play production gets the audience up and moving

By Tony Su

For the first time in Vancouver, a theatrical dance performance is getting the audience involved in the action.

The 605 Collective and Theatre Replacement have teamed up to bring dance and theatre together called The Sensationalists. The two want to bring an immersive experience for the audience. The play will revolve around the audience, said director Maiko Yamamoto.

“It uses the space in a non-traditional way. The Audience [will be] placed inside of the action,” Yamamoto said.

It was 605 Collective’s Josh Martin’s idea to try out a choreographing play. Martin and Yamamoto didn’t know what story of the play was going to be at first, but as the production went on they learned about autonomous sensory meridian response. Which characterized as a tingling sensation that goes up and down the spine, it’s exactly what they wanted for the audience to experience.

“[You can] have the tingle [feeling from] listening to music, you have this moment of free-song, this energy [in your body is the tingling feeling],” Yamamoto said.

When the audience gets up and becomes part of the performance, the performers won’t be expecting any dancing experience from the crowd.

“No one needs to know anything,” Martin said. “We [just] want them to feel something. We want them to get a sense of what it feels like to do the movement and be dancing with a group of people and to feel the music.”

Martin’s said he’s excited about the interaction show. His group routinely perform in front of a crowd, but it’s never engaging. This time around it won’t be show and tell anymore. But he does want people to be natural during the interaction.

“We want them to feel that they’re part of [the play] opposed to [watching],” Martin said. “Be yourself and try to get your own experience out of it.”

The interaction won’t be in the whole show. It will transition back to a traditional theatre seating.

“It’s a very constructed transfer [from part one to part two],” Yamamoto said.

The play will have two different kinds of seating plans, one involves the interaction and the other will not.

The show will start on May 12 at The Cultch’s historic theatre.