FIVE COMMON DECORATING FAUX PAS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM YOUR FINANCIAL SURVIVAL THROUGH FIRST YEAR UNIVERSITY/COLLEGE
LATE SUMMER 2017
PROTECTING OLD-GROWTH FORESTS
LATE SUMMER 2017
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PUBLISHERS NOTES Community
ANCIENT GIANTS: Protecting old-growth forests
5-3-1 5 questions, 3 not-for-profits in this 1 great community
CARVING A LEGACY
FIVE COMMON DECORATING FAUX PAS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
Ken Guenter & Cam Russell Retire
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SENIOR AND THINKING OF DOWNSIZING? DON’T WAIT
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28 www.oakbayoptometry.com firstname.lastname@example.org 250-595-8500 2075 Cadboro Bay Road Victoria, BC V8R 5G4
PLITVICE Maybe Heaven Does Exist
YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 3
YOUR PUBLISHER’S NOTES
With the sun still shining, and the weather remains warm it is hard to believe that summer is just about over! I hope that you have all had a wonderful break full of family fun, community activities and hopefully some down time with friends. As many of you know I am passionate about the Victoria community and feel truly blessed to be part of it. In the early summer, I was extremely fortunate to take a fabulous family vacation; not to Europe or Hawaii like so many others this summer, but to some roads less traveled; Southern Africa and UAE. During my time away, on one of the glorious sunny mornings we had the most magical elephant encounter while on safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana. The expression “Elephants never forget” is very true; while they have phenomenal memories that would make many people envious they also have, in my opinion, the most beautiful understanding and dedication to family and community. On this particularly special morning our guide, a Botswanan native, took us to a secluded but very popular natural watering hole. It was family bath time; elephants from only a few months old all the way to grandparents were splashing and spraying each other in the water then rolling in the dirt. One of the youngest took a tumble in the water and for the briefest of moments both my parents and I were slightly worried asking if the young elephant was going to be ok; before I could even finish the sentence two young adults came over to check on him. They were not believed to be the youngsters parents but simply part of the community, and therefor had a genuine interest and concern in the livelihood of this little guy. If this was not enough to make a lasting memory as the herd was preparing to head home for the evening, an unnerving sound came from the nearby bushes. In an elephant community, the very young and the very old can sometimes, sadly, become pray for lions, cheetahs and leopards (all of whom call Chobe home). As if part of a rehearsed dance the entire herd created a tight cluster; the smallest in the very center, with the younger adults making up the next layer, and the strongest elephants formed a secure outer perimeter. Instantly it made me think of the beauty of a strong, understanding community willing to pitch in where they can to support the health and safety of those around them. Community connection is key; one needs to have a sense of who is around them and what support they might need to thrive. The elephant community is a great model for us to aspire to; their very survival depends on the commitment, dedication and support for those around them.
My challenge to readers, as we all head back to ‘normal’ routines of school and work is to ask yourself how can you better serve the community you call home.
My challenge to readers, as we all head back to ‘normal’ routines of school and work is to ask yourself how can you better serve the community you call home. Does the young person down the block need a little encouragement about their hockey or soccer skills or does the older couple across the road need someone to chat with? Like the elephants we can protect and support our community just by taking the time to observe our surroundings and connect with those within it.
4 YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017
BRYN TAYLOR - D.I.D.
Growing up in Victoria, Interior Designer Bryn Taylor gathered inspiration from her natural surroundings. She completed formal training at Pacific Design Academy and is working as a designer and partner at local design firm, Ivyhouse. Bryn is actively involved in the design community as an intern member of the local IDIBC branch (Interior Designer Institute of British Columbia).
Bob Worth retired as Executive Director of Financial Services at UVic and has continued serving on numerous pension and endowment boards and investment committees. Bob is a keen golfer and enjoys travel and kayaking with his wife Laurel.
Christopher Kelsall is the founder of Athletics Illustrated, cofounder of Victoria Sports News, race director of the Victoria Run Series and run coach. Married for 25 years, with two kids, and a passion for sports.
Devon is a Victoria-based writer who also dabbles as a social media & marketing coordinator for a local business. Devon attended UVic for her BA and went on to pursue a post graduate certificate in journalism from Langara College. After working as a reporter for a handful of years, she hung up her reporter hat and decided to embark on a new adventure as a freelancer.
Caroline is a graphic designer, photographer and artist who secretly wishes she could spend her whole life traveling the world with nothing but a backpack and a laptop. Being nomadic has it’s disadvantages, however, so instead, Caroline lives close to her family in Victoria, and dreams of exotic places. She tries to go abroad at least once a year.
Daniel is a writer and communications professional based in Victoria, B.C. His work has appeared in Monday Magazine, Metro News and The Province among other publications. Born and raised in Newfoundland, Daniel has a deep attachment to oceanside living. He attended the University of Victoria and has a postgraduate certificate in journalism from Langara College.
Raised in Victoria and a long time resident of Oak Bay, Jordy is a licensed REALTOR® with Newport Realty, and Christie’s International Real Estate. He is a Multiple MLS award winner and is just one of a handful of Realtors currently designated as SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist). Jordy knows Victoria inside and out and has a proven track record for results and first class customer service.
Growing up Maryam was always told, “people who live in Victoria were chosen to live here,” and after travelling the world she knows this to be true. Maryam is a visual storyteller who uses photography to capture not only the love and relationship but the very essence of the families and people she photographs.
YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 5
YOUR ABOUT US Cover Back
The Concept Behind YOUR Magazine In the Capital Region there are close to 1,000 registered notfor-profit organizations, and one of their largest challenges after finances, is getting their stories told. Media coverage for them is oversubscribed. Because of this, there are a multitude of great causes but not nearly enough opportunities for these organizations to reach a wide audience to share stories of the valuable work they do on a daily basis, work that enhances the community and the lives of the people who call it home. Some of these not-for-profits started from the ideas of a visionary, such as the Victoria Foundation, others by a collection of like-minded people, and some by a grant from the public or private sector. Not a single one has the same story. Victoria needs to be more aware of all the great people and unique organizations that help to make this city remarkable. YOUR Magazine believes that right now we can help raise the awareness of such organizations, and shine a light on the philanthropic opportunities within organizations in this community. YOUR community. The story of each not-for-profit is engaging and distinctive and these stories are all around us. YOUR magazine will encourage the reader to share with us what is or isn’t happening in your community, what the issues are on your mind and how can we help to share information and connect you better to your community. In order to get these stories heard, not-for-profits need to find a way to connect with those who are willing to help them grow. They need people to support them through volunteering any of their 3 T’s.
Support and Sustainability In this issue, YOUR is pleased tell a story about the wonderful environment we live in and the phenomenal organization, Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) that is dedicated to protecting the ancient giants. YOUR’s goal is that as the magazine grows so will the opportunities to give more back to this community, not only to our featured not-for-profit but also to the greater community. A win-win; a meaningful commitment to the community paired with a collection of great stories from around Victoria shared 5 times a year.
The Three T’s Everybody has a cause close to their heart; one in which they would be willing to be a more active participant. What’s yours? Victoria is an incredibly fortunate community; filled with vibrant and active youth, a giving work force, and an incredible group of retired and semi-retired skilled individuals who have chosen Greater Victoria as home and a vast group of entrepreneurs of all ages. Each issue of YOUR will help raise awareness of a selected organization, connect people to their neighbours, share event information, and hopefully inspire members of the community to give one or two of their 3 T’s: 1) TIME – Although everyone has a hectic schedule the gift of your time to an organization can be incredibly rewarding whether it is an hour a month or a day a week. This time is invaluable to an organization, as people power is often the largest cost for a not-for-profit and time is in the highest demand. Volunteering can give seniors an opportunity to be back in their community filling a meaningful role, while many students can often obtain credits in both high school and university for their time. Bottom line, your time is a gift to any not-for-profit, and you will most likely benefit just as much! 2) TREASURE – There has been much written about the financial benefits of giving treasure to a registered charity. The monetary benefit is a tax receipt while the personal benefit can range from the great satisfaction of gifting funds anonymously and to seeing your dollars at work in your community and having ‘your name up in lights’. Without private financial donations few organizations in your community would survive.
E GLASS TH CAN BE HALF EMPTY
GRAPHIC DESIGN Caroline Mitic
If you have a great story idea for YOUR or would like to contribute content please contact us at email@example.com.
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3) TALENT – Everyone has skills or knowledge to offer the community whether they realize it or not. Your gift of talent could range from driving seniors to appointments, serving food at one of our community shelters or food banks, writing reports, helping with strategic planning, guiding financial decisions, helping clean a local beach or park, swinging a hammer at a community housing project, or taking a seat on a board. Any one of these or other ways of donating your skills could benefit the organization and the community, while making you feel good as a contributing member; plus you never know what may happen or who you might meet.
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FULL OR HALASF THER E’S
PUBLISHER Dianne McKerrell firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTORS Jordy Harris Christopher Kelsal Devon MacKenzie Caroline Mitic Daniel Palmer Bryn Taylor Bob Worth
MAGAZINE COMMUNITY & LIFESTYLE
@yourMagazineYYJ YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 7
“This was a major undertaking for a small organization like ours, but for many of those involved, it has become a labour of love,”
PHOTOS BY TJ WATT/ ANCIENT FOREST ALLIANCE
Ancient giants: PROTECTING OLD-GROWTH FORESTS
rowing up in British Columbia, one could be forgiven for driving through places like Cathedral Grove and Stanley Park without noticing all the giant cedars, Douglas firs and spruces towering above. It’s not until you travel somewhere else – somewhere away from the West Coast – that you start to notice the trees seem a little less majestic, and a lot smaller. “A lot of people in BC take it for granted, but there are very few jurisdictions on the planet where we have trees as wide as living rooms that still stand with such grandeur,” said Ken Wu, Executive Director of the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA). For Wu preserving the endangered old-growth forests of BC – some more than 1,000 years old – has been a lifelong calling. With his camera and some good hiking boots, TJ Watt, the AFA’s co-founder, has been locating and photographing the tallest trees on Vancouver Island for several years. Some of these trees, such as the stunning “Big Lonely Doug”, a giant Douglas-fir in a clearcut near Port Renfrew, are among the largest of their species in the world.
8 YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017
The vast majority of forested lands in southern BC are now secondgrowth, meaning the old-growth giants that stood in their stead were stumped and many were sent to offshore mills decades ago. More than 90% of valley-bottom ancient forests – where the biggest trees grow best – are now gone, and a whopping 75% of all productive ancient forest in the south coast of BC has been felled. “We’ve been able to capitalize on T.J.’s skills in the age of social media, to get images of little people standing next to big trees, and to show the beauty of ancient forests to the world,” Wu said. “The case for protection is compelling once you see it.” In 2010, Wu had had enough of logging companies pushing into the last patches of BC’s old-growth, and decided to take action by launching a non-profit organization dedicated solely to protecting ancient trees.
“If we don’t talk about how people can make a living when forests are protected, then we start to lose people. And it actually gives greater strength to logging corporations by driving people away from the environmental movement,” Wu said. “The key is to make sustainable economies central.” An essential part of the AFA’s agenda is focused on building alliances with non-traditional allies like forestry unions, chambers of commerce, faith communities, and even recreation and multicultural groups. “We’re going to be ramping up our Chinese-language ancient forest walking tours soon,” Wu said.
“There were other organizations working on protecting old-growth forests, but no one was exclusively focused on it on a provincial scale,” Wu said.
A star example of AFA’s bridge-building can be seen today in Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Once a logging town, Port Renfrew is rebranding itself as the “Tall Trees Capital of Canada,” thanks in part to AFA’s completion of a kilometre-long boardwalk in Avatar Grove just outside the town.
The AFA adopted a positive message: to protect BC’s last of the oldgrowth forests while promoting value-added, sustainable forestry jobs and building eco-tourism. And it seems to be working.
After four years of hard work, the Avatar Grove boardwalk integrates platforms, stairs, steps, and walkways to highlight one of the most spectacular and easily accessible stands of monumental old-growth trees
in BC. The grove has also become one of the province’s most popular old-growth forest tourism destinations, featured in several national and international publications. The project was completed in August 2017 and built by AFA volunteers, led by Watt. “This was a major undertaking for a small organization like ours, but for many of those involved, it has become a labour of love,” Watt said. “We are grateful to the Pacheedaht First Nation, who donated the first batch of wood, followed by the support of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, hundreds of volunteers and donors, and many generous sponsors.” Port Renfrew’s Chamber of Commerce and the Metchosin council, passed resolutions to protect old-growth that have led to similar resolutions being supported by their provincial counterparts: the BC Chamber of Commerce and Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), respectively. “We’re also working with unions and workers – the Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) – who represent thousands of BC forestry workers and are calling for an end to old-growth logging on Vancouver Island,” Wu said. YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 9
The work is far from done, but with a new provincial NDP government, supported by the BC Green Party, Wu is hopeful the province will act soon to modernize the forestry industry, protect old-growth in perpetuity and promote value-added jobs using second-growth forests in BC instead of exporting raw logs to foreign mills. “This is also about recognizing that First Nations need jobs and business opportunities, too. These ancient forests are on unceded First Nations territories,” Wu said. “If First Nations are going to transition away from the logging agreements and revenue-sharing agreements they have with major logging companies, they need alternatives and funding for those alternatives.”
Wu points to conservation financing projects in the Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii and Clayoquot Sound, which have enabled Indigenous peoples in those areas to move towards tourism and sustainable economies, and towards ending logging of the last oldgrowth in their territories. “Everywhere First Nations have had opportunities to pursue sustainable economies and keep old growth standing, they’ve chosen to do so,” Wu said. While the AFA’s overwhelmingly grassroots individual donorbase is heavily concentrated in southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, Wu points out the AFA receives a smattering of national and international donations from individuals as well to meet its $400,000 annual operating budget. “So many people understand what’s at stake, what we have to protect in BC, “Wu said. “For the sake of endangered species, the climate, clean water, wild salmon, First Nations – whose cultures evolved in ancient forests – and for the tourism economy, we need to leave the endangered old growth alone and log second-growth forest and do that sustainably. We don’t have to go to the very end of unprotected old growth before we realize what we have.” The AFA hosts walking tours and other events year-round. To donate or learn more, visit ancientforestalliance.org, call 250-896-4007, email email@example.com or mail: Ancient Forest Alliance, Victoria Main PO, PO Box 8459, Victoria, BC, V8W 3S1.
Q&A with Dr. Mark Paquette Q&A with Your School-age Dr. Child’s Eyes Mark Q. I am getting Paquette headaches, but I don’t know if it’s related to
A good education for your child includes good schools, good my or to headaches, something but Q. I vision am getting teachers and good vision. Yourelse child’s eyeson? are constantly in use in going I don’t know if it’s related to the classroom and at play. Whenmy hisvision or heror vision is not functioning tosome something A. It’s true that headaches properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will else going on? can be related to eye function. suffer. An eyetrue exam performed by A. It’s that some headaches
The following are the basic vision skills at school: an optometrist is eye great for can be used related to function. •
investigative An eye exam purposes, performedand by many
Near vision: The ability to see clearly and comfortably at 10-13 Family Doctors will recommend an optometrist is great for inches. this step. Headaches are best dealt
investigative purposes, and many Q. How young is too byclearly a detailed history. Areatyou Family Doctors will recommend young for a child’s first • Distance vision: The abilitywith to see and comfortably Are you are stressed? this step. Headaches best dealt eyeHow exam? Q. young toobeyond. dehydrated? arm’s reachisand Is your Are you with by neck/back a detailed tight? history. Are you young for a child’s first A. InBinocular Canada the •eye coordination: The abilityany to use both eyes together. having trouble with your dehydrated? Are you stressed? exam? recommendation for vision? are many Is your There neck/back tight? potential Are you •A. movement The ability to aim the eyes accurately, routine optometric exams InEye Canada the skills: reasons to consider. having any trouble with your is asmove early them as 6 months, smoothly across a page and shift them quickly and recommendation for vision? There are many potential Q. is the difference and accurately yearly thereafter until routine optometric exams from one objectreasons to What another. to consider. between a sight test and an adulthood. After 19 the is as early as 6 months, •and Focusing skills:isThe ability to both eyes accurately focused eye exam? Q.keep What is the difference recommendation every yearly thereafter until at the proper distance to see clearly and to change focus between a sight test and an 2 years until age 65 when adulthood. After 19 the A. A sight test determines only quickly.yearly is eye exam? it becomes again. recommendation every the spectacle prescription. An That being it is clear eye untilsaid ageif65 when tests theofspectacle A exam sight test determines •2 years Peripheral awareness: TheA. ability to be aware thingsonly located tobecomes a parent yearly that something it again. prescription but also does aAn the spectacle prescription. to the side while looking straight ahead seems wrong with That being said if itais clear comprehensive eyespectacle health eye exam tests the newborn’s a Eye/hand parenteyes, that something The •to coordination: ability to use eyes and examination ofthe structure and prescription but also does ahands theytogether. should seems wrongcontact with a function and a test how the comprehensive eyeof health their optometrist. newborn’s eyes, eyes work together. Only and an examination of structure Disruption to contact any one of the above skills will cause your child’s eyes to they should optometrist theoftraining function andhas a test how the Q. Why are regular eye work This can lead to headaches, fatigue and other eyestrain their harder. optometrist. to perform this. eyes work together. Only an check ups important? related problems. optometrist hascataracts the training Q. Why are regular eye Q. I heard that are A. The eyes truly are a perform this. Symptoms include: losing their to place whileinreading, avoiding close check ups common the aging population window to important? one’s own work, holding reading materials closer than normal, tending to run and there are things we can do Q. I heard that cataracts are heath. It is the only A. The eyes truly areplace a their eyes often, complaining of headaches, turning or tilting head to prevent their progression…is common in the aging population in the body that a doctor window to one’s own this true? and to useplace one eye only, frequent transpositions andmaking there are things we can do of can appearing assess a “naked” nerve heath. It is the only to prevent their progression…is letter or words when reading and writing, omitting small words (The in theoptic bodynerve) that aand doctor A. Very true! Cataracts are partwhen true? reading, consistently preforming below the level of their peer “naked” blood vessels. can assess a “naked” nerve this of the normal aging process,group. so Everywhere else in the
(The optic nerve) and everyone willCataracts get them are eventually. A. Very true! part Since vision changes can occur without anyone noticing, children body, weblood see blood vessels The “naked” vessels. best thing someone can do of the normal aging process, so to should visit the Optometrist at least every two years. More frequent at least through skin. Everywhere else the in the prevent cataracts from eventually. happening everyone will get factors them visits may be necessary if specific problems or risk exist. The It is possible detect body, we seeto blood vessels prematurely is someone ultravioletcan (UV)do to The best thing doctor can prescribe treatment if needed. diabetes, high blood at least through the skin. protection for the from eyes.happening So wear prevent cataracts
pressure, stroke, It is possible to detect and a hat! Poor prematurely is ultraviolet (UV) Remember, a school screening isyour not asunglasses, substitute for a thorough eye high cholesterol, and diabetes, high blood diet choicesfor and are protection thesmoking eyes. So wear examination. some forms of cancer… pressure, stroke, other factors thatand canacontribute your sunglasses, hat! Poor all bycholesterol, looking intoand high to early cataract diet choices and development. smoking are someone’s some formseyes. of cancer… other factors that can contribute all by looking into to early cataract development. someone’s eyes. 2075 Cadboro Bay Road 250 595 8500 2075 Cadboro Bay Road 10 YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017
250 595 8500 YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 11
OAK BAY VOLUNTEER SERVICES
Beyond continued financial contributions, OBVS is always looking for talented, dedicated individuals to join our volunteer team. We offer a variety of engaging opportunities with a fit for all skills and interests. Hours are flexible and work around an individual’s availability. The gifts of time and effort make a lasting impact on our client’s lives and create an enriching experience for all of our volunteers.
When was your not for profit founded, what is your mission statement?
Describe your contribution to the community and what outcome the organization has within the community.
Oak Bay Volunteer Services (OBVS) is celebrating its 40th year providing one-to-one direct services to the residents of Oak Bay. Serving the young to the young at heart, we provide a variety of free services to help maintain our client’s connection to community and assist with a variety of everyday activities to help maintain an individual’s independence. All services are delivered by our team of dedicated and passionate volunteers.
OBVS’s services contribute to the health and wellness of Oak Bay residents, and in turn, contribute to the sustainability of the Oak Bay community. Over our 40 years, we have provided free direct services to over 20,000 residents and we continue to grow our service delivery and impact each year.
Briefly describe your program or organization? OBVS assists anyone in need within the boundaries of Oak Bay, and works to support the emotional, social, financial and general well-being of residents. Our services incorporate elements of companionship, home maintenance, income tax assistance, and transportation assistance. From driving to gardening, our trusted volunteers provide services while offering a listening ear and a friendly smile. All of our activities rely on the generosity of our gifted volunteers. We recruit, train, place and support our volunteers in providing the highest quality direct services to our clients. Our volunteers are teenagers, seniors and everything in between. Their commitment is unwavering and for some volunteers, their commitment has lasted decades!
What are your organization’s long and short term needs?
We believe in the importance of community and participate in locally hosted events where we have a chance to connect with potential clients and volunteers, including the Oak Bay Summer Night Market and the Oak Bay Tea Party. We also value the importance of partnerships with the Municipality of Oak Bay and other non-profit and community organizations, and we look to opportunities to collaborate and grow the impact of our organizations for the greater good of the community.
What is the best way to get involved and where can I get more information about your organization? We welcome individuals to join our team of passionate volunteers at any time. We are in urgent need of office helpline volunteers and driving volunteers, but intake for all volunteer opportunities is on-going. To learn more about volunteering, becoming a client or making a donation, check out our website www.oakbayvolunteers.bc.ca or visit us at our office located at Oak Bay Municipal Hall.
Like all nonprofit organizations, OBVS relies on the generous financial support of our donors to provide the much needed services to the residents of Oak Bay. We have been blessed with donations from volunteers, clients, as well as bequests from past volunteers and clients. The people of Oak Bay have been generous and appreciative of the service we provide to the community.
YOUR will ask 5 questions to 3 organizations in this 1 great community with the goal to give our readers a snapshot of some smaller and lesser known not-for-profits, societies and organizations making a difference within the Greater Victoria community. 12 YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017
We have a small staff of three who have devoted themselves to ensuring our volunteers are confidently trained, clients are assessed for their needs and the two are connected with the hopes of creating long lasting bonds. As our senior population continues to grow in Oak Bay, and the influx of young families to the region has begun, we are in need of ongoing funding for our operations so we can continue to serve and grow our programming. For the short and long term, donations will continue to be an important revenue source for our organization.
YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 13
ANGEL FLIGHT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
What are your organization’s long and short term needs?
What are your organization’s long and short term needs?
We rely on donations for our operating costs, so donations are always welcome and being a registered charity we do give Tax Receipts. Our office is my home so there are very limited overheads and we have no paid staff. We cover our pilots fuel costs only plus supply charts, headsets, lifejackets etc. to ensure a safe operation. We also look for methods of getting our message out so YOUR magazine is an excellent vehicle for this, thank you.
By providing over 745,000 meals and over 14,000 hot showers last year, Our Place is always in need of financial donations to keep serving three meals per day, seven days per week. With winter coming, we plan to extend our hours until 9pm. every day in order to bridge that gap between when Our Place closes and the night shelters open. We are also always in need of clothing, especially socks and underwear (we hand out over 100 pairs of socks daily during the winter months), and we’re always short on men’s clothing such as jeans, T-shirts, rain gear, shoes and boots, plus blankets, sleeping bags and tents.
When was your not for profit founded, what is your mission statement?
Describe your contribution to the community and what outcome the organization has within the community.
When was your not for profit founded, what is your mission statement?
Angel Flight of British Columbia launched in April 2002. Our mission is “To provide free aerial transport for people travelling to and from Cancer Treatment Centres for treatment and consultations. We also carry children with other non communicable medical conditions.”
Since launching in 2002 we have carried 1,679 clients, a not insignificant contribution to the community. For the time the client spends with us they are not a “cancer patient”, they are someone enjoying a flight, perhaps seeing the Island from the air for the first time, going home for a weekend during long treatment regimes and cutting the journey time from say Victoria to Port Hardy from seven plus hours to two hours in an aircraft, after treatment.
Our Place actually began 50 years ago when the Upper Room opened as a coffee house with the intention of providing space for anyone needing shelter from the rain. In 1986, the Open Door was founded as the living room for those struggling with poverty. Deciding they could be stronger together, the two societies - the kitchen and the living room - joined together in 2005 to form Our Place. And two years later, the purposebuilt Our Place facility was opened at 919 Pandora Avenue. Our Mission Statement is: Our Place offers Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens a place to call their own, where we live, share and grow together.
Our area operations covers Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and parts of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
Briefly describe your program or organization? When an individual is required to travel for cancer treatment they can access our website, www.angelflight.ca, and download the required paperwork to apply for a flight. They must be fully ambulatory and be able to climb into and out of a small, single engined aircraft. A flight will then be arranged and in Vancouver and Victoria we liaise with volunteer driver organizations to provide transport from the airport and to and from the Cancer Centre. There are no charges to the client and an escort or companion can accompany the client.
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What is the best way to get involved and where can I get more information about your organization? Being an non profit we are always looking for long term sponsorship. We currently have 26 volunteer pilots, who either own or rent aircraft, but we are always interested in talking to potential new pilots. We don’t use nurses or medical staff so don’t have a requiremnent in that field. For more information visit our website at www.angelflight.ca.
Briefly describe your program or organization? Our Place is a unique inner-city community centre serving Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable: working poor, impoverished elderly, mentally and physically challenged, addicted and the homeless. Individuals and businesses provide the majority of financial support for its programs and services. Our Place provides over 1,600 meals per day, hot showers, education, job skills, free clothing, counseling and outreach services, plus 45 transitional housing units. Most importantly, it provides a sense of hope and belonging to our neighbours in need.
Describe your contribution to the community and what outcome the organization has within the community. Our Place offers hope, belonging and dignity to those who see so little of it during their daily lives. We meet people where they are at, but we also offer the hope of a brighter future. With free meals, clothing, hygiene, shelter, housing, counselling, outreach, overdose prevention, and so much more, we make the community a safer place for everyone, while offering a sanctuary to the displaced and vulnerable.
What is the best way to get involved and where can I get more information about your organization? People can find everything about Our Place, along with stories of our family members -- at Our Place, we refer to everyone as family -- videos, contact information, lists and schedules of our programs, etc., on our website at http:// ourplacesociety.com
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YOUR ARTS & CLUTURE
Ken Guenter and Cam Russell are retiring after 30 years of teaching the Fine Furniture and Joinery program at Camosun College
CARVING A LEGACY DEVON MACKENZIE
ince 1987, Cam Russell and Ken Guenter have guided around 500 students from all walks of life through the art of fine woodworking. But, as of the end of June, the two wellloved instructors from Camosun College’s renowned Fine Furniture and Joinery Program are pursuing something new – retired life.
After filling in for vacation and leave coverage in the program throughout the years, Ken officially joined the college in 2000 and the two have split the teaching duties for the 10-month program since then – that is, up until their last-ever graduates finished the program at the end of June.
“It’s been incredible to watch some of the amazing things our students have accomplished over the years,” remarked Ken, reminiscing about his teaching career.
“One of the most fulfilling parts of running this program for as long as we have is that we now have old graduates of the program hiring new graduates of the program, which is amazing,” said Ken.
“Some of the students who leave the program are better than we are,” he added, laughing.
Martin Byers, a graduate of the program who now has his own fine furniture business (thanku.ca) said the program was the best year of his life.
Ken completed his apprenticeship in Benchwork-Joinery in 1980, his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1993 and his Master of Art Education degree in 2006. Cam holds a Benchwork-Joinery Trades Qualification, a Bachelor of Education degree in Industrial Education and both have years of teaching and practicing the trade under their belts. Cam was the first to join Camosun, after the private college he and Ken were teaching the program at closed in 1987. Ken pursued other ventures and Cam was asked if he would finish the year so the students could see their certificate through to completion.
“I know, it sounds cheesy,” he laughed. “But it really was the best year of my life. First off, it’s a program that doesn’t require two teachers, but having both Cam and Ken teaching me was a huge bonus. They balanced it out very well by sharing the load and you could tell they always enjoyed teaching. And for the students, we got to see things from two different perspectives, and two different people who not only teach but work in the industry. It was incredibly informative learning from the two of them,” Martin explained.
“Our average student was usually between 20 and 30 but we’ve taught people from all walks of life, and that has made it really interesting,” he said. The program instruction will be taken over by 1997 graduate, Sandra Carr, who, with her partner, has Gelinas Carr Furniture (gelinascarr. com). She has been involved in, and teaching parts of the program for the last handful of years. “We couldn’t ask for a better person to take over the program,” added Ken. The two are currently working with the college to organize a 30-year retrospective show which will run for July, August and September of 2018. Unsurprisingly, both Cam and Ken will continue to pursue their craft post-retirement. Cam will be joining his wife in their Cobble Hillbased business, Coventry Woodworks (coventrywoodworks.ca), which focuses on custom furniture, interiors and automotive woodwork. “It’s a 20-second commute in the morning, 30-seconds if I have a mug of hot coffee because I can’t walk as fast,” he laughed.
A year after graduating, Martin participated in the 2012 Interior Design Show West and was featured by the Globe and Mail as an up and coming furniture designer. He now makes his living designing and building fine furniture for clients from all over North America.
Ken will also be turning his full-time focus back to his business, Of the Woods Studio (kenguenter.ca) where he focuses on exquisite, one-of-kind fine furniture pieces.
“All joking aside,” he added, “much credit goes to Camosun for recognizing the fact there was a desire and a need for the program.”
“No matter what skill level you started with, Cam and Ken got you doing things you’d never done before, and they made sure we always had lots of shop time which is so important,” Martin said.
And as much as the two well-loved and respected instructors will revel in their new retirement schedules, Ken says they will miss the program and the students.
“It was very forward-thinking of the admin to give a program like this a chance back in those days,” he said.
The program takes 18 students a year and never has a problem filling seats, said Cam.
“We love what we do, and we loved teaching this program. And to have been able to get paid to teach our passion to other people for the last few decades – that’s something special.”
“Little did I know then that I’d still be around the college 30 years later,” he laughed.
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Since 1920 Jennings Florists has proudly served the Victoria area. We are a fourth generation, family owned and operated business. 2508 Estevan Ave. 250 477-9538 www.jenningsﬂorists.com
YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 17
FIVE COMMON DECORATING FAUX PAS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
1. Using the wrong size rug One of the most common decorating mistakes is using a rug that is too small. It’s one of the first things I notice in someone’s home because the rug isn’t proportionate to the space. If you have a large living room (lucky!) with furniture grouped in the middle of the room, all four legs of every piece of furniture should be on the rug. If your living room is smaller and your furniture is against the wall, at least the front two legs should be on the rug. For smaller pieces like accent chairs and coffee tables, all four legs should be on the rug. If you have a rug that you love but it’s too small for your space, trick the eye by layering it on top of a larger rug. Mixing textures and pattern will add another beautiful element to your space.
2. Installing drapery too low
PHOTOS BY JODY BECK
ave you been in a space that doesn’t feel quite right but you can’t put your finger on it? Often you can have all the elements of a beautifully designed room, but it still feels off. No matter how perfect your room is, if you have a rug that’s too small or a painting that’s too high, the room is going to feel wrong. Bring your space to it’s full potential by addressing these 5 common decorating faux pas.
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Always hang the curtain rod as high and wide as possible. The length of rod depends more on the size of wall than the size of window. This will give the illusion of a larger window and taller ceiling and who doesn’t want that. Adding extra curtain panels stacked on either side of the window will look elegant and custom. For length, drapes should always be skimming the floor, about ½” above. Gone are the days of short drapes. Short drapes have the same effect that short pants have; they cut off the room and make it look shorter.
3. Hanging art too low (or too high) The rule of thumb for hanging art is “eye height”. Of course, everyone has a different eye height, but 57”-60” on center is comfortable. Once you decide on a midpoint, keep this consistent for art around your home. The exception is with art above a sofa or headboard. The bottom of the piece should be 8”-10” above the furniture piece so it looks visually connected. YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 19
YOUR FOOD & DRINK
Larry’s selection of unique products can now be found online at metroliquor.com. Products can either be picked up at our Metro Liquor Brentwood Bay location, or shipped directly to your door. We offer free shipping on all orders over $200. Keep an eye out for the Featured Wines & Beers on the front page for Larry’s best deals and favourite products.
Michel Loriot Patrimony Champagne Brut NV
4. Pushing all furniture against the wall By pushing all your furniture against the walls, it makes a living room look more like a hallway. Float your furniture by pulling your seating out at least 12” off the wall. It will create a cozier space and eliminate awkward empty space in the middle of the room. It also helps create intimacy. How can you have a good conversation when you are shouting across the room?
5. Hanging your dining light fixture too high People are often hesitant to lower their light fixture too close to their table for fear that it will block the view or impede on dinner conversation. A light fixture over a dining or kitchen table should be hung 30”-34” from the bottom of the fixture to the top of the table. This is a comfortable height to carry on conversation across the table. Trust us. If it’s hung too high, the fixture will look like it is floating and doesn’t belong to anything.
Given his propensity to serenade his vineyard and wine cellar with the positive vibes of Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi, winemaker Michel Loriot is considered by friends and family as slightly eccentric. Amidst the masses, the opinion is not so kind! It is true, he may well be on the fringes of wine making orthodoxy but he is also considered to be among the best Pinot Meunier winemakers in Champagne and the known universe! Michel Loriot makes superb Champagne! Patrimony is a blend of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, reasonably priced and absolutely delicious! Very light, very delicate! It’s charm floats like a butterfly across the palate!
Clos du Soleil Grower’s Series Middle Bench Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2016
Bring in a copy of this magazine to receive 1 5% off your service
The fruit for this delicious white is sourced from Middle Bench Vineyard in Keremeos. It is forward and generous with very pure fruit: peach, pear and nectarine. Fruit that you might stop and purchase at the farm gate while passing through on your way to somewhere else! The nose is ethereal and the palate completes the job, dancing between ripe fruit and racy acidity. Light, refreshing, an absolute joy to drink!
Kettle Valley Pinot Gris 2016
The 2016 vintage is a dazzler, as much a pleasure to look at, as it is to drink! Copper- peach in colour and utterly delicious with good structure and an expansive mouth-filling texture!
Ogio Pinot Grigio 2015
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In a world awash with cheap Pinot Grigio, Ogio stands out not only for its affordable pricing but also for its consistent quality. It is without a doubt worth the effort to seek out! Crisp and clean with fresh aromas of melons and lime, nicely balanced and lovely citrus fruit flavours!
Carmen Right Wave Pinot Noir 2016
There are moments when it may be prudent to imbibe something a little more frugally priced than the great growths of Burgundy. Just the thing here! Chile is known for the purity of its fruit and this Leyda Valley Pinot Noir is a case in point! Delicious with simple cherry and spice flavours, nicely balanced with a silky smooth texture and a soft, round finish at a price that it is easy to like and hard to beat!
www.studiokanti.ca 1071 Fort St Victoria BC V8V 5A1 778-265-7795 20 YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017
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SENIOR AND THINKING OF DOWNSIZING? DON’T WAIT... JORDY HARRIS
Moving after being so comfortable and so established after so long, is a daunting consideration.
“Jordy, your personable and
ith so much emphasis lately on the activity of the red hot housing market in Victoria, there is very little discussion about the actual people involved with all of these transactions. It’s easy to forget that behind each one of the numbers in those heady statistics is at least two families’ lives that are uprooted, temporarily displaced during the move, then left to set up home again in a new setting. Increasingly, the numbers are being made up from couples or individuals who are transitioning from the larger family home, where perhaps they have lived for many years, often with children, friends and family helping fill the rooms. With the passing of time the rooms become empty, the children move out and the home becomes too big, the yard too difficult to manage and perhaps the home even feels a little different without all the activity a family can create. It’s this time that can often signal the need or desire to create a more manageable space to call home, and perhaps one that is more representative of the actual need for an easier time of life. Regardless of the need or reason to seek out a smaller space, it’s never an easy task to say goodbye to what was not just a roof overhead, but more so the setting and witness to so many family memories. When we think of downsizing, (or perhaps more positively put, “rightsizing”) we may first think of the physical effort required to make the move. While that’s true, it’s often the emotional aspect of letting go which can freeze us in our tracks, and allow us to justify staying too long in the big, old, family home. While it feels better to stay put, and enjoy our home which we have lovingly enjoyed for all of those years, it can actually make things harder by 22 YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017
professional style put you well ahead of any other Realtor i’ve putting off the inevitable. When we acknowledge the need to move and find a home that is more comfortable and appropriate for the next stage in life, the longer we take to make the transition, the harder it becomes. On top of that, here’e the rub: we don’t really enjoy the current house we are living in as it’s too big, and the worry of caring for it too great, PLUS we don’t get to start enjoying a new home and all of the benefits it offers, so we postpone what we truly know is best for us. Moving after being so comfortable and so established after so long, is not only a daunting consideration when we consider what steps are required to physically make the move, but also fraught with so many questions that arise. Often, even after one has acknowledged that a move into a smaller setting would be best, they are often unsure how to go about it, or even how to just start the process. Indeed, considering the last time they may have been in the position to buy and sell a house, may have been years or even decades ago. It’s fair to say that a lot has changed since then, and it’s no wonder there is a strong sense of uncertainty regarding the idea! Thankfully, there are people and resources available that can help make the transition not only easier, but possibly even enjoyable. With such a complicated process to navigate, it makes a lot of sense to have an experienced guide to help explain and simplify the steps required to make the transition as seamless as possible. Perhaps the first question I hear is, where do I start? Well, the first step is to acknowledge that while you may never really be ready to make the move, you realize that it would be better to make the move sooner than later. It can be very difficult trying to wait and make such a move when
health and mobility are compromised. The second question I hear is, who can help me? While the first response would typically be a licensed Realtor, perhaps a better reply may be a Realtor that has had ongoing education regarding working specifically with those who are making such a step as downsizing, and can understand the different requirements and needs that arise in that scenario. Working with a Realtor who is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES designation) is a great way to ensure that you are working with someone who can guide you through the various steps of selling your home, but also do it in a way that is careful and compassionate. This licensed Realtor will have a great deal of understanding as to what you’re going through, and will have helped many other people before you who have gone through the exact same transition. They will be able to provide many contacts and resources along with suggestions as to how to prepare your home for sale, whether that means helping declutter and stage the home, helping with cleaners, movers, storage, arranging for furniture to be sold or donated, and ultimately do all that is necessary in helping to ensure the home is ready for sale. All of this while ensuring the pace of the transition is not too quick or too slow, and with full transparency.
ever worked with... Thank you!” - M.B. Victoria, BC
JORDY HARRIS Newport Realty 1286 FAIRFIELD ROAD VICTORIA, BC 250 385 2033 OFFICE 250 385 3763 FAX WWW.JORDYHARRIS.COM
If downsizing is a term you’ve been thinking about or at least hearing more of these days, chances are you’re not alone. The good news is there are resources available and people available to help. YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 23
THE MILITARY SAVED HER LIFE AND IT NEARLY KILLED HER TOO For Victoria’s Elizabeth Steeves, being a flag-bearer and two-sport athlete during the 2017 Invictus Games is an honour CHRISTOPHER KELSALL
he Invictus Games, an international Paralympic-style multi-sport competition, was created by Prince Harry of the Commonwealth Realms. He was inspired to create the games by a similar version that took place in the U.S. called the Warrior Games. The competition is for armed services personnel who are sick or injured, physically or mentally. Some of the sports include wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, driving competition, indoor rowing, athletics, swimming and powerlifting, to name a few. The games are named Invictus, which is Latin for “unconquered” or “undefeated”. The inaugural Invictus Games took place in London, England in 2014, primarily at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The 2017 edition is being held in Toronto in September. For Royal Canadian Air Force veteran and Victoria resident Elizabeth Steeves, joining the military saved her life. It nearly ended it too. What brought her into the military was her grandfather Thomas HubertScott, who one day, having seen enough of the teenage shenanigans, took her to the barn at the family home in Gananoque, Ontario and told her that she needs to join the military – she was going the wrong direction – so-much-so, that her substance abuse had caused her memory loss; certain stretches of time were blank. “That day in the barn, I told him he was right,” shared the 32-year-old. “So I joined the Air Force and with that, grandpa saved my life. I am sure I would have been a statistic without him. I lost him recently,” she added, tearing up. “My grandfather was the most important person in my life. He was the first person I saw in the mornings and the last person I saw at night. He was an amazing man.” He too was an Air Force vet. Steeves feels that others could benefit from joining the military too, even forcing some people who have lost their way and are living on the street, like what is seen in downtown Victoria. At the suggestion that perhaps a division of military should be available to help people straighten out their lives, get off of drugs and feel a sense of value and contribution to society, she said, “Absolutely, that is exactly right. Something like that may not help everyone, but it will help many – why not spend the money to give people a second chance, rather than just policing them?” It saved her life more than a decade before. In September, she will be competing in the 2017 Toronto Invictus Games, but getting there hasn’t been easy. What brought her to the Invictus Games was a life-altering training accident, which saw her drop 12-feet onto the concrete in a spinecompressing fall directly onto her head. That fall also resulted in her being impaled by an iron sight. Steeves now wears an exoskeleton and makes use of a wheelchair. So the Invictus Games are important and emotional for Steeves; to honour her grandfather as well as her country.
The third biennial edition will include 550 competitors from 17 nations including Afghanistan; for the first time. Leading up to it there was a Canadian National Flag Tour, which launched in Victoria on Wednesday, August 16th 2017. Steeves, a nine-year R.C.A.F. veteran was the first flag-bearer of the tour and is a first-time Invictus Games competitor. She competes in two sports, powerlifting and wheelchair tennis, which has been newly added for 2017. She may be permanently injured, but she also has done a lot of mental and emotional healing, which will continue. Her husband Travis has stuck with her and has also literally saved her from becoming a statistic. Although she did not utter the condition, PostTraumatic Stress Disorder, she has had to deal with the reality she isn’t getting better. “That’s right. I am not going to get better. In fact, I am only going to get worse. So, to me, it is about adapting and living a happy and successful life and Travis, the love of my life, is owed a lot of recognition for his support – it is stressful for him. He has also kept me from becoming a statistic, sometimes on a daily basis.” Steeves is a tough person inside and out. When the iron sight impaled her, she simply got up and tried to walk it off – she had no idea of the damage that was done. It is this level of toughness that got her accepted into the games after originally being denied an opportunity to compete. The second time, Steeves’ was asked directly by the games organizers. Canada accepts only 90 athletes. Steeves’ first duty to do with the Invictus Games was to attend the 2017 Abbotsford Airshow. She had been busy doing media interviews including five on one day alone. On the 16th of August at C.F.B Esquimalt she attended a media event for the tour launch. It’s a little payback for all of the support that she has received since becoming injured. The ultimate honour for Steeves is being a flag-bearer and athlete for Team Canada. “It’s a true honour to represent my team, my country and everybody who has put 110% into the Invictus Games as well as to Prince Harry for creating the event. I have no words to properly convey the emotions I feel; this is truly an honour.” “The organization, Soldier On is taking care of all the athletes. They need to be recognized too, for all of the work that they do,” she added. Soldier On is a government-funded program to support Canadian military members to overcome physical and mental illness and injury. Steeves would also like to meet Prince Harry, who created the games. Her goal is to chat with him on behalf of her grandmother, who would love nothing more than to chat with him herself. “Grandma would try to pinch his bottom, it’s probably best if I meet him instead,” she said laughing. The tour visited Canadian military bases, legions and communities across the country from Comox and Victoria, here on the Island, to Gander, Newfoundland.
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YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 25
Fried egg jellyfish
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
HOW WAS THE GAME?
YOUR FINANCIAL SURVIVAL THROUGH FIRST YEAR UNIVERSITY/COLLEGE
hich would be more painful: being stood up for that anticipated first date on campus, or phoning your grandparents for a loan because you have run out of money 3 months before the end of term? Whether you require student loans to attend university or college or are amongst the roughly 35% who will graduate in four years without any indebtedness, planning and controlling your on and off-campus spending is as important a test of your self-reliant independence as a final exam. Students and their parents can budget anticipated tuition, residence, meal plan and textbook costs fairly accurately from campus website tools and financial aid advisories. For example, at the University of Victoria: http://www.uvic.ca/registrar/safa/planning/index.php At UVic, the fall and winter terms for an undergraduate will require approximately $6,140 for tuition and the mandatory Student Society, extended health, dental plan, bus pass and athletics fees; $10,064 for a single residence room with meal plan ($8,811 for double room) and approximately $1,500 for textbooks – a total of between $16,500 and $17,600. This can be significantly reduced for local students remaining at home or out-of-town students staying with welcoming relatives. Tuition and mandatory fees at Camosun approximate $3,635 for two terms. Off-campus living is generally more expensive depending upon location, how many students share the accommodation and how many meals are eaten in restaurants. 26 YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017
More difficult to plan and control, however, are the discretionary costs of entertainment, casual meals and refreshments, transportation (including periodic trips home), cell phone plans, clothing, gifts and personal spending. One student advisory suggests $200 per month for entertainment but clearly it is curbing impulse purchases while still enjoying student life which will demand the most self-discipline of students regardless of their forecast budget. Each of UVic, Camosun and Royal Roads require students to purchase a discounted B.C. Transit Bus Pass (U-Pass) which is of particular value to students staying in residence or on major bus routes. Insurance, parking and the operating costs of a car can then be avoided.
keep these budgeted discretionary funds for the fall and winter terms in a savings account and only transfer to a chequing account enough to cover the next month of spending. Use a debit card or cash rather than a credit card for spending.
shop for supplies and snack food at discount stores; set a limit on the number of times per month you eat out and, if you are not in residence, organize potlucks with friends to expand the menu and share the cooking effort.
use Victoria’s many incredible trails, parks and beaches for your outings with friends. Conversation provides the adrenalin rush of university and college life. Organize with a friend or two to take a bus to the breakwater, Thetis Lake or foot of Mount Douglas or jog to Cattle Point; costing nothing yet offering a priceless experience and memory.
make use of campus athletic and recreational facilities included in the athletics fee.
Students might also consider the following to stay within their budgets during those challenging first months living away from home: •
be realistic in establishing a budget for the full 8 months for entertainment, clothing and personal spending. What are the most valuable ways for you to take a break from studying and enjoy the broader experience provided on and off campus? No doubt once you are on campus you will be attracted to some new and different interests but if you have a realistic initial budget, you will be able to make informed trade-offs. Include in your budget a contingency amount for unexpected expenses. If it is not required, it can be a bonus reward at the end of term.
Welcome to the opportunity, challenge and excitement of campus life. With your enthusiasm and proven abilities, you are on your way. Make it easier for yourself with a little planning and by exercising selfdiscipline to live within your first year student budget. Once achieved, successful financial decision-making will become a natural habit and lead to a less stressful, balanced lifestyle through the years ahead.
WHOL IST IC CHIROPRACTIC & WELLNESS
Website: www.wholisticchiro.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 250-244-1700 Hours: M-F 9-6pm Alternate Times By Appt YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 27
My map showed me a trail that veered off to the left, snaking along the bottom of the water-carved limestone ravine, instead of hiking the switchback up to the entrance and walking along the highway. Since my guesthouse was also to the left of the park, I figured this trail might be an interesting diversion, and began to look for it. When I found it, I noticed that it had been restricted to the public by a small piece of fence. By this time there were very few people left in the park. There was that moment, a pause where I contemplated doing what I was supposed to, or doing what I felt compelled to do.
Plitvice, MAYBE HEAVEN DOES EXIST CAROLINE MITIC
f the creators of Avatar wanted to re-film the movie using a real-life setting, they would undoubtedly choose Croatia’s natural gem, Plitvice Lakes National Park, as their location.
Plitvice (pronounced Plit-vit-sa) is made up of sixteen azure pools that vary in size and depth, wedged like a necklace of bright blue jewels into steep limestone crags. Each pool is separated by cascades of crystalclear water, one brimming over and frothing into the next. The water is like liquid air, so translucent that you can see the bottom, and everything in between. Schools of fish parade around the edge, hoping for a nibble. They look like they are flying, as they glide amongst lifeless trees that have fallen, and lay fossilized and suspended in time. The water’s surface sparkles in the sun like diamonds, and branches bend gently to caress it with their leaves as though mesmerized by their own reflections. As though even nature itself must bow to pay respect to such a masterpiece. Plitvice. This is paradise. Never had I seen such natural beauty with my own two eyes, and it made me blink like it would all end in the awakening from a perfect dream. My friend Stephen and I took the gentle, 2-hour bus ride from Zagreb, checked into a guesthouse nestled in a sleepy village nearby, and hiked into the park. I use the word “hike” loosely; it was more like an amiable stroll suitable for people of all age-ranges and physical abilities than something you’d require athletic gear for. Boardwalks perch gingerly above boggy peat, allowing people breathtaking access to each outpour without threatening the fragile ecosystem. “How is the water seriously that blue?” I asked. “Minerals,” said Stephen. The lakes of Plitvice get their unnatural shade of turquoise because the dissolve-and-deposit process of super-pure water eroding the surrounding limestone rocks, moss and algae, coats the lakes’ floor in white mineral “dust,” which creates a bottom that
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reflects sunlight and sky. In other words, nature does the photoshopping for you. To the point where I almost felt the need to desaturate my photos so people would think they were real.
We decided to tour the lower section of the lakes together. With cameras in hand we snaked across the boardwalks, weaving in and out of tour groups with matching hats, and families with small children. Each pool of water was more dazzling than the next, and had spouts of water gushing from its brim. Blades of wild grasses and water vegetation sprouted at the edges, their reflections so vivid it made your mind play tricks on you. The following morning Stephen had to leave, and begrudgingly packed up and headed to the bus station. I showered, and got ready for day two of Plitvice paradise. My plan was to tour the upper lakes. Once in the park, I hopped onto the tram which took me all the way to the very top of the upper-most lake, and I started in on the trail after a cup of coffee. The upper falls were perhaps more breathtaking than the lower, if only because the lakes themselves are prettier and more remote. Water gurgled gently over the landscape, bumping impatiently into the boardwalks in many places, in its constant pursuit of downstream. An hour or so later I found myself back at the boat launch. From there I decided that instead of riding the boat, I was going to find the trail that hugs the lake’s shores, and take that. I was suddenly alone, and it felt amazing. I stopped to enjoy the complete solitude, accompanied only by cheeky bullfrogs, the odd mallard, a lizard, a shy water snake, and the water itself, lapping lazily against the rocks. In the near distance the boats that ply the lake were going back and forth silently, as a reminder that civilization was not far away. When I got to the next rest stop, I took a break, and let the last of the throngs of tourists thin out. By now the sun was golden and beautiful as it sunk slowly into dusk. Darkness was still a few hours away. From there I made my way by trail back to the entrance again. I wasn’t entirely alone, but most visitors had chosen to call it a day by this point, and had probably retired back to their fancy hotel rooms or a restaurant for dinner.
Hastily, and with ease I skipped past the fence, and carried on down the path. I soon understood why this path had been closed to the average lake-viewer, but in my desire to see something new I carried on. I soaked my runners as I climbed gingerly down a set of rock stairs that had nearly become a waterfall themselves, like a scene from The Land Before Time. When I got to the bottom I crossed a section of boardwalk that looked as though it hadn’t been used in some time. Upon closer inspection it appeared safe. I’m adventurous but not stupid. A broken ankle at the bottom of a ravine, while completely alone and with no one knowing my whereabouts after park hours, is stupid. The boardwalk turned into more soggy path. I continued along it, as the limestone cliffs rose higher and higher around me, becoming towers of sharp, majestic rock. I suddenly felt like I was on earth during the Jurassic era. I was completely . . . alone . . . what was that noise? The sky turned overcast and unhappy clouds threatened to spit rain. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as my senses tingled with the notion that I was alone in what was essentially a micro-wilderness. There isn’t really such a thing as wilderness here, in a country that is so small, but at that very moment I could have been fooled. I passed a set of spectacular falls, and took a moment to appreciate that I was perhaps the only person who had seen them today. I snapped a photo. By this time my camera had died and I was relying on my iphone. The path meandered along what had become a river, and the jungle around me got thicker. I decided that if I lost the path altogether I’d turn back. No point getting lost at the bottom of a limestone canyon near dusk. The boardwalk transformed into two spiral staircases, clinging to the rock with metal railings and wooden steps. It hadn’t been used in awhile but it was in good shape. I was headed down the side of yet another giant waterfall. At the bottom I found myself back on a flooded path, and hopped from rock to rock. My shoes were already soaked, but somehow the cold ooze of new water still wasn’t appealing. When I was on solid enough ground that I could look up to admire my surroundings, my heart nearly stopped. Above me, carved into the rock face on the opposite side of the river ahead, less than half a kilometre away, was a giant cave, a black, vacant abyss, a lightless hole like a 20 metre gaping wound. It sat some fifteen metres up, and was in clear view. I trembled irrationally at the thought of what abominable creature could reside in such a place. It was truly massive. It was frighteningly massive. The path took me closer and closer to this cave, and then I realized I was crossing the river on a boardwalk at the top of another set of gushing falls. These falls were high, and I tested each plank carefully before
stepping foot on it. Falling from here would have plunged me into rapidly moving water, and put me over the edge faster than I cared to think about. Now I was standing at the bottom of the cave, and looking up I could barely see it through the trees. But I knew it was there. And I knew it was big. The path began to switchback up. I had no choice but to follow it or turn back. I went up. I soon realized that what I thought was only one cave, was actually two caves put together, as though the rock face had been pierced with a giant barbell and the jewelry removed to reveal two holes. The trail continued right into the mouth of the cave, and I stood there, marveling at its sheer size. The ceiling gaped so far above me that I could barely make out detail. This staggering cathedral, built by time and water, carved carefully into the side of a canyon, whose architecture was nothing like you’d see in the civilized world yet was so spectacular it took your breath away. It seemed big enough to house a sporting event. Or a concert. Far beneath me snaked a ribbon of shimmering turquoise and I realized just how high up I had climbed. My heart thumped in my chest as I took it all in. I was alone. The shape of this cavern was like that of a cone on its side so that the floor and ceiling arched steeply towards each other and met in the middle at the very back. The path continued into the cave, up, up up . . . Because the cave had two huge openings it wasn’t dark, and I was easily able to see the very top. I climbed the switchbacks, eight of them, the highest ones had railings. I was in complete awe, and I was utterly alone. And that was a very eerie feeling. I could hear the echo of water drops as they splattered onto the ground, the sound amplified by the hollowness. I could hear the echo of my heart beating, thump, thump, thump. At the very top the path ended in a sort of terrace, and I was confused. There was a passageway carved into the side of the cave, and a grated metal door covering it with an old sign that had some Croatian and the word CLOSED on it. The door was ajar, but the space beyond it was completely black and dank smelling. I approached it cautiously. I was spooked by the blackness beyond the door, and its jail-cell appearance. I was also aware that I’d either reached a dead-end or the trail was no longer passable, and I wasn’t sure where to go. At that moment a crack of thunder rolled through the canyon, and a space that is capable of amplifying the sound of a water droplet turned that rumble into a deafening explosion. I decided to climb back out of the cave and search for another path to the road above. By this point I’d come a long way and wasn’t appealed by the thought of turning back. Thunder continued to growl through the canyon like angry indigestion, and I found the path I’d been looking for quite effortlessly. I’d missed it in my earlier awe and apprehension of such a terrifyingly huge cavern. There is something so exhilarating about being in a place you’re not supposed to be. By this time I was so dizzy and drunk off adrenaline I could barely see straight. The path switchbacked up the side of the cliff to the road, and I practically ran the entire way. All in all the path was in decent shape, had only been decommissioned for probably a few seasons, and was likely built with the purpose of allowing people access to a spectacular cave that now sat vacant. Aside from the flooding in areas, I wasn’t certain why it had been closed off. It amazes me that thousands of people visit Plitvice and miss something so striking. I made it back to my guesthouse just as the skies opened and rain pelted onto the quaint European countryside. YOUR LATE SUMMER 2017 29
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