The Bowen Island Community Foundation: Helping to Build a Stronger and More Enriching Community

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    It was back in 2004 that the Bowen Island Community Foundation first began its work and our mission today remains consistent with those initial hopes. We aim to create a capacity for improving the lives of Bowen Islanders by encouraging donations and endowments that will serve this purpose.
    In 2016 we are now fortunate to be able to administer a total of more than $1.2 million in assets; these funds are invested on Bowen Island and with the Vancouver Foundation. And we’re now able to give back about $50,000 each year to help improve the community that we all call home. We want there to be a continuing vitality in our work, as we engage with donors to support strategic initiatives that have been identified as important to our island.
    With donations received from the community… what have we done lately? Here are 10 highlights that might interest, surprise or please you.
    1. We’ve helped to fund the Garden Gateway initiative, a project that will take shape in the coming months, beautifying the entrance to our island with a dazzling array of sustainable plantings, and a raised garden rockery with seating.
    2. We provided some initial start-up funding to the Knick Knack Nook and have recently been working with the Knick Knack Re-Use it Store Society to help them with their Small Grants Program, which in 2016 will distribute $15,000 in grants to Bowen islanders, focussed on environmental and social sustainability.
    3. We recently hosted a workshop on Bowen to assist all of the Island’s non-profit organizations with the important task of statutory compliance (not the most exciting of initiatives, perhaps, but a critical part of what we all do).
    4. We’ve funded the purchase of a push-trike that will be stored next to the Library, and will make the trails of Crippen Park and elsewhere accessible for all, enabling an important connection to the nature that we have at our doorstep.
    5. We continue to act as stewards for Bowen Islanders who have provided us with generous grants of land — grants that will, in time, significantly increase both our total asset base and our ability to provide funding to a number of worthy community projects.
    6. In early March of this year we hosted the Governor General of Canada at the Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver, along with the other Sea to Sky Community Foundations: West Vancouver, North Shore, Whistler, Sunshine Coast and Squamish.
    7. We’ve started a youth council, through the generous grant of a donor, empowering Bowen youth decision-making, and providing simultaneous learning of the values of stewardship, community service, and philanthropy.
    8. We are an entirely volunteer board, holding monthly meetings, and representing a wide range of Bowen Islanders: men and women, young and old, working and retired, relatively recent arrivals and remarkably long-term residents.
    9. We provide a range of bursaries and scholarship to Bowen Islanders every year: the Aaron Sluggett Memorial Scholarship, the Bowen Island Golf Association Junior Scholarship, the Knick Knack Nook Bursaries for Environmental Sustainability, the Maggie Cumming Legacy Fund Scholarship, and the recently announced Margaret Witty Bursary Fund.
    10. We have 13 ambassadors, a mix of outstanding Bowen Islanders who help us in building awareness and understanding of the work of the Foundation, encouraging support from within our community: Shelagh MacKinnon, Noah Pryce-Jones, Louise McIntosh, Brian Biddlecombe, Darryl Deegan, Mary Letson, Katherine Gish, Paulo Arreaga, Ted Spear, Kevin Manning, Donna Scorer, Erwen Smith — and still very much with us in spirit — the late Piers Hayes.

The Bowen Island Community Foundation
invites you to our
2016 Annual General Meeting

The Bowen Island Community Foundation’s AGM is an opportunity for us to thank our donors and supporters and showcase how philanthropy builds community. We will announce successful grant recipients, introduce the Foundations’s new Board members, and share stories of the successes you have helped us achieve over the past year.
Please join us in celebration of community!
Thursday April 21, 2016: 7 to 9 p.m.
Cates Hill Chapel
661 Carter Road, Bowen Island
Please RSVP by April 15, 2016.


It Takes an Island


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about our responsibilities as a member of a community. What is our obligation to make the place we live in better with us than it would be without us? – I suppose some would say, “is that an obligation at all?” I think it is, but I also think it’s the kind of obligation that is actually a gift. When you give yourself, in whatever role you can, to your community you create a space that will give back to you when you need it. From the 30/30 initiative, to the effort to help Sadie Rose in her recuperation, to the incredible outflowing of support for the Hayeses after Piers’ sudden passing, this community’s ability to come together and give back when needed is amazing.
We can all see and feel the effects of this kind of involvement in a small community like Bowen, but what about the larger, global community? Are there things that I can change in my day to day life that will positively impact the environment? Given where we live what is our obligation to the planet? This is what I’ve been struggling with lately. It’s probably worth saying that my whole family already recycles, composts, limits our water, heat, and electricity use, and buys local (and ethical) whenever possible. But these things have really become the default in our society – something that you need to justify not doing rather than doing. Since Bowen is such an awesome community filled with people willing to share their ideas, expertise, and experience (Yay Bowen Forum and various Facebook groups!) – I know that there are lots of others trying to find solutions to this same problem. Kelly Schwenning is spearheading a group looking into the bulk purchase of solar panels and Elizabeth Burdock is blogging about her goal of feeding her family locally and sustainably – and that’s not even going into all of the fantastic things that BAA has going on!
One small thing that I can do is to grow more of my own food and start wildcrafting. For some of you that may not seem like a big deal at all, but full disclosure – I am a terrible gardener. I can kill just about anything, so this is going to be an uphill battle for me! Luckily, I live on acreage that gets plenty of sun and have access to tons (literally) of awesome compost. You won’t see me selling at the Farmers’ Markets any time soon, but if I’m able to significantly reduce the amount of packaged produce that my family currently buys – I’ll consider it a win. How successful my efforts are is yet to be determined, but so far I’m optimistic!

I have sat down to write this numerous times over the last couple of weeks, but every time I do what were beautifully formed phrases in my head refuse to flow out onto the keyboard. It’s like they get stuck somewhere in the joints of my hands, hovering above expression, not quite ready to be made public. So, I’m trying again and please forgive me if this isn’t as elegant as all of the other beautiful remembrances of Piers that have been published and printed and shared over the last little while.
I remember when the Hayeses first came to Bowen with the news of their arrival spreading like a brush fire,
“Have you met the new family?”
“They sailed from half way across the globe to come here.”
“You’ll love them, they’re the nicest people.”
And they are the nicest people and we do love them. With their dedication, hard work, love, and community-mindedness the Hayeses have turned The Snug into the manifestation of the Heart of this community. Piers was a person who greeted you like an old friend, was always ready to share a joke or story, and would offer you a lift home if you needed it. He was all of the qualities and characteristics that make Bowen great. And the space that is left with his passing is equally great.

– Margaret Miller

The Balance of Nature

Artist Michael Grab www.gravityglue.com

First Published March 2, 2016, written by Denis Lynn

There is a popular belief in “the Balance of Nature.” This has likely been our belief for thousands of years. It arises possibly from the observation that the world around us is generally the same from year-to-year, decade-to-decade, and even generation-to-generation. The trees grow but do not change dramatically in numbers; the numbers of other plants and of animals generally do not dramatically change. That is, things tend to “stay the same” or there appears to be a “Balance of Nature”. In fact, it is the exceptions that prove the rule: plagues of locusts, floods, and droughts.

How to explain these exceptions? If we take the explanations in the Greek writings about the workings of nature as indications, it was likely that our ancestors explained these exceptions as the workings of the mysterious forces of the Universe – eventually conceived of as gods. Egerton describes this as “providential ecology.” Providential ecology was still the primary view as the JudeoChristian worldview flourished. If the exceptions brought hardship on us, then we looked to our actions as having displeased the gods – sacrifices and prayers were needed to “re-balance” the ecology.

Throughout history, and certainly by the 1600s and 1700s, there were attempts at understanding the wisdom of the gods by providing naturalistic explanations for the characteristics of species. For example, the Greeks observed how wise it was that prey, such as rabbits, were much more fecund than their predators, like foxes, and so a “balance” was preserved between predator and prey. Carolus Linneaus, the Swedish father of taxonomy and perhaps also of ecology, suggested that intimate and specific relationships between species, created by God, “contribute and lend a helping hand towards preserving every species, and … that the death and destruction of one thing should always be subservient to the restitution of another” (p. 336, Egerton, 1973). One might say “a place for every thing, and every thing in its place.”

However, the notion that a fixed number of species had been created and that these all had a significant role in Creation was challenged by the discovery of fossils: the remains of once living organisms that seemed to be very different from anything alive. Furthermore, some fossil aquatic organisms were discovered near the tops of mountains – so not every thing was in its place, neither in terms of its interactive role in the ecosystem nor in relation to its habitat – what once was apparently underwater is now on top of the world! Scientists could not believe that species were extinct, and John Ray, an Anglican clergyman naturalist, argued in the late 1600s that once Europeans had explored the whole globe, living “fossil” forms would be found. A century later, with much of the world explored, this position was untenable. Certainly by the time Darwin’s travels ended, there was little doubt that many species had become extinct, challenging the notions of “balance” and Special Creation. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French biologist in the 1800s, resolved the problem of extinctions by arguing that species changed through time, originating every moment from the mud, and progressing through a series of transformations from unicells to multicells. This, of course, clearly challenged the notion of a Special Creation, which caused Lamarck problems with his more religious colleagues, but it resolved the problem of fossils: fossils were just older stages of existing species.

What might have caused these extinctions? Up to the 1800s, competition between individuals and between species was considered antithetical to the notions of “harmony” and “balance” in Nature. Charles Lyell, the great geologist of the 1800s, however firmly emphasized competition as a cause of extinctions. Darwin had read Linnaeus, Lyell, and on discovering Malthus, formulated his theory of natural selection premised on the existence of competition between members of a species in their struggle for existence. Yet, Darwin it seems implicitly still believed in some kind of balance as the inspirational last paragaph of “The Origin of Species” suggests: “It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.”

In contrast, Alfred Russel Wallace, the instigation for Darwin to publish “The Origin”, wrote in his 1855 notebook: “Some species exclude all others in particular tracts. Where is the balance? When the locust devastates vast regions and causes the death of animals and man, what is the meaning of saying the balance is preserved?” (p. 339, Egerton, 1973). Wallace’s musings anticipated the views of most contemporary ecologists who consider “the Balance of Nature” an untestable hypothesis. Simberloff (2014) concludes “It is increasingly difficult to imagine what sorts of empirical or observational data could test the notion of a balance.” Yet, if one carefully defines what one means, “balance” can be observed in Nature.

Further Reading: Egerton. 1973. Quart. Rev. Biol. 48:322; Simberloff. 2014. PLOS Biology DOI: 10:1371/journal.pbio.1001093

– Denis Lynn, Professor Emeritus, Integrative Biology, University of Guelph


Peace Needs to be Felt


Originally published September 23, 2016 written by Bawn Campbell

“At the end of the day, we have very simple needs, and on top of the list has always been to feel contentment. Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is a fundamental human need that needs to be felt from within.”

After last year’s September 21 “Peace Day at the Art Gallery at Artisan Square” I felt inspired by the 25 people who showed up to watch the Video “Peacemakers with Jeremy Gilley (Founder of Peace One Day, Ted Talks, filmmaker) and Prem Rawat (Ambassador of Peace for Italy, Brazil, European Parliament and Peru). I volunteered to write this article, god help me. First off I am not an expert I just I know that when I feel at peace everything around me feels good.

Words are just symbols to which some personal meaning is attached. Your meaning and mine are not always the same. How often have you expressed something that is misinterpreted and resulted in conflict?  My hope is that you reflect upon peace within your life.

There is little doubt in most people’s mind that our lives are moving too fast. Choices are being made without enough forethought about the implications of those choices. We seem to be living in a world gone mad for acquiring money, power, possessions and experiences. How can we break this spell?

The constant bombardment by ads convincing us that newest aftershave, perfume, car, TV, IPhone will bring us happiness. If we just own those things our lives will be better; the opiate of possession. It is hard to stop it. It’s hard when all around us are promoting it.

This happiness that we assume comes from “owning” something, where is it located? The feeling of happiness resides within, inside ourselves. Happiness is a feeling, love is a feeling, Joy is a feeling. Contentment is a feeling. Somehow we need to break the “opiate of possessions” hold on us, we need to find a way to feel happy within ourselves. The world cannot sustain this process of acquiring.

There are over seven billion of us on this planet that is hurtling through space around the sun at 107,200 kph and spinning at 1,600 kph (remember that when you are stuck in traffic); Too often I forget what is important in my life. I forget that I am alive. That, right now, this moment will never happen again.

Most of us have heard the quote attributed to Albert Einstein that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. We go to war again and again and again. War has never resulted in real peace only in profit for a few. How can we stop this insanity?

At some point we are going to realize, as an individual, that our time on this planet will end. We do not live here forever.

The UN study of average life expectancy puts the world at 70.7 years or 25,806 days. In Canada the average is 82 years or 29,930 days. We don’t have that many days to waste. Each day is so precious. Too precious to waste in anger, frustration and guilt.

My family sometimes is concerned with my focus on how many days I may have left to live but I do it to remind myself that this day, this moment, is more important to me than tomorrow or yesterday. It is in this moment that I want to experience happiness.

I don’t know about you but I do know that I like feeling good. I like clarity, appreciation, love, contentment and the feeling of being at peace. I don’t like confusion, disregard, hate, anger, guilt and the feelings of restlessness and inadequacy.

Somewhere, somehow I came to the realization people matter to me. That we have value and that we are not just some data point in a database.

So how does Peace enter into this essay? When I feel clarity, appreciation, love, contentment the feeling of being at peace is not far behind.

The Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO declares that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed“.

In order to build those defenses of peace some shift needs to take place in how our lives are lived, we need to see that Peace is as fundamental to us as is water and air, love and joy.

Ultimately it is our own personal experience of peace that we want, not an idea of peace but the experience of peace in our individual hearts. When we have that experience it is easy to see the value of those around you and to know how valuable life is. To see the value of life in your friend and in your foe. Life is the most valuable thing we have. It is the miracle we have waited for.

“Knowing is better than Believing”, know peace.

Practice Peace, change your world.

– Bawn Campbell

Cooking with Lavender


Originally posted July 29, 2015 written by Shelagh MacKinnon

Lavender: what a wonderful addition to our lives here on Bowen. I see it in bouquets at weddings, tucked into people’s linens, in vases over the winter and now, we can cook with it as well.  This year, at the Green Man Festival in May, I made up some Lavender cookies and I thought to share that recipe.  But first a few words of care:
Lavender infuses, think like steeping tea.  Rosie Montgomery , who has fields of lavender at her Montrose Lavender Farm, stresses that the flavour of the lavender in your recipe will intensify over time.  So, if you, say, taste cookie dough and think “Not enough lavender flavour,” stop yourself before you add more!  The day following the baking, more flavour magically arrives.
When you are visiting Farmer’s Markets and find Lavender for sale, do check with the grower about its suitability for cooking. Many people like using English lavender (L. Agnustifolia), others like the Pink Lavender, Melissa.  For a real treat:, Sequim, Washington has a Lavender Festival that I have heard marvellous reports about: this year it was July 17 -19, but you can plan for next year or check out their website (http://www.lavenderfestival.com/)!
Most people on Bowen who cook with lavender seem to choose either shortbread, scones or cookies. If you are using fresh lavender you can use more than if it is dried (say 3 teaspoons fresh to 1 tsp dried.)  Natural partners for lavender seem to be lemon and nuts. It can also be infused into honey for a wonderful flavour combo.

Green Man Festival Lavender Cookies (Makes 100 cookies)
3/4 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla
Cream together above ingredients
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
Combine creamed and dry mixtures
Then add:
1 c Rice Krispies
1 c coconut
1/2 c chopped slivered almonds
1 c oatmeal
Mix well
Add 1 tbsp dry lavender finely chopped
Mix well
Roll into balls and flatten with fork
Bake at 350 F for 10 – 15 minutes.  Really does make 100 so you can share!

If this is too much work you can make lavender sugar but whirling the buds of 2 or 3 flowers in a clean coffee mill with 2 – 3 tablespoons of sugar.  Voila: ready to use; store in airtight container in your freezer for the winter ahead! Just add that to whipping cream or iced tea, lovely. Good luck!

– Shelagh MacKinnon

In the Neighbourhood


Originally posted June 3, 2015 written by Lesley Gaunt

“…and there’s always construction work bothering you in the neighbourhood…“
(Tom Waits).

Disputes between neighbours are nothing new, not in Canada, not anywhere else in the world. The libraries are full with case studies and history is replete with famous examples of warring neighbours.  The massacre of the Donnelly family, in the township of Biddulph (near London, Ontario) by an armed mob may be an extreme example as this immigrant family from Ireland was bludgeoned to death by their neighbours on February 4, 1880.
More commonly and closer to home many of us will have had occasional problems with neighbours involving noise, untidy premises, dogs, fences, trees and hedges, second-hand smoke, water issues, or trespass.
For most of these conflicts there are bylaws in municipalities that deal with these types of problems. Also on Bowen. The extensive catalogue of Bowen Island Municipality’s (B.I.M.) bylaws and policies is an interesting read and contains, amongst others, a noise control bylaw and a noise control bylaw exemption policy, a dog bylaw regulating leashes and poop pick-up, a heron nesting policy and numerous water system bylaws.  There is no shortage of regulation on Bowen Island and in all likelihood typical neighbourhood disputes can be referenced to precedence, an applicable bylaw or policy.
Of course, in most cases, it is advisable to first try talking to the neighbour that causes the problem. After all he or she may not be aware of the effect they’re having on their neighbours and talking to them may solve the problem. However, if speaking with your neighbour is not possible or if speaking has not solved the problem, there are always other options.
Usually I would not have thought about the brewing dispute between Cape on Bowen (C.O.B.) and several property owners and dock proponents at the Cape and B.I.M. as a neighbourhood issue.
I do not agree with C.O.B.’s views and more docks at Cape Roger Curtis (C.R.C.). But I get it. Mr. Ho may have painted himself into a corner.  As President of C.O.B. he is accountable for the shareholder value and to C.R.C. property owners to deliver on the terms and conditions agreed in their purchasing agreements.
On the other hand, our municipality has a mandate to uphold our community values and to protect the public interest.
C.O.B. and C.R.C. owners threaten to sue. In their perception of reality the public interest in an undisturbed shoreline doesn’t measure up to corporate and private interests in maintaining high property values. The bylaw draft is labeled unfair, prejudiced and threatening the annihilation of newcomers. No doubt, strong words, but I get it.
I believe in justice and when it comes to litigation I like to remember Mark Twain: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” So sue if you must. Business as usual.
The matter becomes personal when we are being told that protecting public interests on Bowen Island is not neighbourly.
Mr. David Chen of CNS Law Corporation spoke on behalf of Mr. Shu Lin Dong and Ms. Zhen Wang, the respective owners of lot 17 and Lot 3 at C.R.C. Basically his clients wanted him to address two things: ”…
one is called neighbourliness and the other is simply unfairness of the proposed bylaw…” He continues: ”Throughout the discourse of this dispute, my clients Mr. Dong and Ms. Wang, have only been referred to as property owners at Cape Roger Curtis or tenure applicants. I submit that those words they annihilate a person…” Mr. Chen goes on to remind us: ”They are in fact your neighbours, they are newcomers, and they are moving into the neighbourhood of Cape Roger Curtis.”
Being patronized by one of the legal representatives of CRC property owners on our neighbourhood values is condescending. His statement is designed to shame us all into submission. It is designed to create confusion and clouds the issue at hand by personalizing it. All of a sudden I feel that I am being accused of being unfair, prejudiced and plotting the annihilation of newcomers. And so are you and so are your neighbours.  We are all being patronized and moralized. And painted in a bad light.
In my life I have moved often and lived in many foreign places including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, China and Singapore. Each move made me a newcomer. After a while I picked up some of the do’s and don’ts of that role. “Take some time to absorb the new culture”, usually served me well.
As far as Bowen Island goes, our neighbourhood values are robust. The community is resilient and respectful of the rights of others. We know who we are and we look after each other.
“It seems that often when problems arise our outlook becomes narrow“ (Dalai Lama)
There will always be differences in the neighbourhood. Solutions can be found or forced in different ways. In my experience mutual respect, kindness, honesty and genuine consideration go a long way.

– Lesley Gaunt

Behold the Green Man

Artwork by UK Fantasy artist Lisa Parker

Originally posted May 6, 2015 written by Shelagh MacKinnon

Around noon on Saturday May 16th, Snug Cove will be transformed!  Flowers will decorate even the telephone poles!  Music will be heard, with a medieval sound to it, and a juggler will walk by.  The beautiful Maypole will be erected outside the Library with its wonderful spray of multi-coloured ribbons dancing in the sun.  The squeals of happy children will fill the air.  And the clothing!! Costumes carefully worn with some even being winged!
And then, the Green Man himself will appear….Where is he coming from? He is coming to us from the mists of time, coming from ancient England where he has been a part of their world for many, many hundreds of years.  If you travel to Great Britain you will see his likeness, a man with oak leaves on his face, in Christian cathedrals and in ancient garden walls.  He is older than the Christian story in Britain.  And he comes to reassure the people that winter is over and spring has arrived.  He is so covered with leaves and branches that you will not be able to see his face at all! He is Green! The colour of new life, new growth and the buds of this season.  HIs job is to defeat winter and send it packing….
Who represents winter? Why the Ice Queen, of course.  She is sometimes called the Frost Queen and she is beautiful in her icy outfit.  She wants to hang on to the weather for a while longer and make winter last. She carries a wand complete with icicles! She needs to be defeated so that we can enjoy summer!
There is a huge “battle” in front of us as you can clearly see!  So, we need young people, and other people of all ages to cheer these two on.  There is face painting for the two sides: bugs of green on the Green Man’s supporters; and ice crystals on those cheering on the Frost Queen!  The beautiful May Queen will be crowned at the end of the “battle of words.”
Come on down for the experience of hearing the Towne Crier inviting us to participate.  Plan now to wear a medieval type of costume!  We will see you at 11:30 at the Library and the patch of Union Steamship Land where the Summer market opens later in the summer.  There will be wand making  and singing and wonderful feasting.  We are grateful to our sponsors and supporters, and the musicians and jugglers and the committee of organizers
We would love it if you would pass along the word about this Green Man Festival to your friends!  We are a child centred, gentle (inspite of all our “battle” language) festival bringing an ancient practice to our little island.  By the time the first ferry of the afternoon arrives, we are all done!
What do the pictures of last year’s festival show?  They reveal people delighted to be part of this celebration of Spring handed down to us by ancient ancestors.  We hold this festival in order to share our own pleasure at this ancient festival.  Hope to see you there!

– Shelagh MacKinnon, Organizer

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