Archive for November, 2007

Stay of Execution for Rosia Montana

 Brazi Lake, Rosia Montana
Brazi Lake, Rosia Montana 

Cetate Hill will disappear all together, like a bad tooth plucked from the mouth of the Carpathians, to be pulverised along with three of its neighbors. Nick Thorpe, BBC News, Romania

I first heard about Rosia Montana, Romania in April 2005 at a reception held at SOMAsala (our former home and community space in San Francisco) to honor that year’s Goldman Environmental Prize winners who were also grantees of Global Greengrants. Last week, I was pleased to see this BBC article that indicates that Stephanie Roth and her colleagues at the NGO Alburnus Maior have been able to stop Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (a company registered in Canada) from extracting the estimated 300 tonnes of gold still left in low concentrations in the hills after centuries of mining.

That is why they need to grind up whole hills – 13 million tonnes of rock a year – to make the operation worthwhile.

The official Alburnus Maior site provides links to press releases stating that the licensing procedure for the Rosia Montana project has been stopped for an “unlimited period” by the Ministry for the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Congratulations Stephanie and Alburnus Maior!

Change the World – Application Deadline 3 December 2007

Echoing Green

I’ve posted a version of this on the ProPoor Blog as well as the CharityFocus Blog, but wanted to post it here as well because I personally know lots of you who fit this mold.  Go ahead – do it – change the world.


  • Do you have an incredible, new idea that could change your community, country, or world?
  • Are you an entrepreneur who won’t rest until your idea has been brought to life? Or a leader who has recently started an organization to do just that?

If so, apply for an Echoing Green Fellowship. You could receive up to $90,000 in seed funding and support to launch a new organization that turns your innovative idea for social change into action.Follow in the footsteps of the founders of Teach For America, City Year, and over 400 other social change organizations and apply online by December 3, 2007.

Watch the video:

Find out whether you qualify:

Apply online:

Questions? Contact us at

Carless in Vancouver

Mark and I have not owned a car in over 5 years – a fact that we state, with considerable pride, every once in a while when the topic comes up (i.e. “You rode here on a motorcycle?!?”) . But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had easy access to a car pretty much every time we’ve needed one in Pondicherry or in the Bay Area, the two other places we call “home”. And, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t had access to other motorized personal transportion in these two areas either. Mark owns a motorcycle, which is now parked in Betsy’s garage in Rockridge, Oakland; I own a motor scooter, which is parked in a friend’s garage in San Francisco. And we have access to a motorcycle and a scooter in Pondicherry anytime we want.

For reasons I won’t go into here, we have been without a car for 5 days now in Vancouver. When we first discovered the fact that we would be losing the use of the car for the remainder of our time here (a little over two weeks), we went into crisis mode. “Oh s**t – we’re f***ed!” “We have all these people coming to visit – what are we going to do without a car?” “You look for cheap rental cars while I look for cheap cars to buy.” All of a sudden, the hollowness of our smug, “carfree” status became crystal clear – we had become dependent on the car in Vancouver.

Before we attained our “carless” status in San Francisco, we had acquired four cars that we had to sell: 1) Mark’s first car as an adult – a classic, red, 1967 Alfa Duetto convertible, which we did not operate, 2) a turquoise, 1983 Alfa Spider given to us by Mark’s mom (“you sell it if you don’t want to keep it”), 3) a silver, 1986, 4WD Toyota Landcruiser that we used when we were running Class V river rapids in California, Oregon, and Idaho, and 4) a red, 1990 Toyota Corolla that our friend Rich made us buy from him when he bought his Prius because he wanted us to have a “practical” car. None of the cars we have ever bought was made in the same decade that we purchased the car. (The Landcruiser had over 100,000 miles on it when we bought it, and over 200,000 when we sold it.)

In San Francisco, our two wheeled vehicles served us well (although my butt would get numb during the 45 minute motorcycle rides to Santa Clara). But, I signed up for City Car Share for those rare occasions when we needed a car and couldn’t borrow one from family or friends. I felt pretty virtuous – I love sharing resources (mi casa es su casa). I checked out pods everywhere that we ended up staying and was delighted as new pods sprang up all over the Bay Area. But I only used my fob once or twice. I put my membership on hold the first time we went to India for five months, and have not renewed it since. (I suppose I should return the fob…) I still get their newsletters and am delighted to learn that City Car Share is now putting reusable shopping bags in their cars – “Share the Car, Share the Bag”.

In Rockridge, we can walk or bike for almost anything we need (and we do, mostly for bread), but we generally drive on the rare occasion that we shop for groceries. Half the time we go into San Francisco, we take BART.

Here in Vancouver, our house is a bit far from any commercial area. And, this time of year, the weather isn’t conducive for errands on foot or bike. But, Day 5 into our carless condition, and we are doing fine. I generally walk to the shops, banks, and library on W. Tenth Street, in West Point Grey, and Mark rides to the commercial area on W. Fourth Street, in Kitsalano. After our initial research into used cars on Craigslist, rental cars, and car share companies, I signed Mark up as a Zipcar member (Zipcar worked better for us than Co-operative Auto Network). He got his Zipcard yesterday, but we haven’t felt the need to take one out. We probably won’t use one until we have to pick Betsy and Zing up at the airport on Monday.

I now realize how cavalierly we used to drive to Richmond, BC (the equivalent to driving across the Bay from San Francisco) to have lunch or dinner at one of the thousands of cheap, delicious, Taiwanese or Shanghai restaurants or to shop at the Asian markets. Or hop in the car to get a loaf of bread fresh out of the oven at Transylvania Peasant Bread, which we now do by bicycle. Or drive across town for gelato.

Tomorrow, we check out the bus system.

Birthday Cake

 Ginger Cheesecake
Ginger Cheesecake from Mix the Bakery

I had to get my own birthday cake this past Sunday at Mix the Bakery on W. Tenth Avenue in West Point Grey.  (Mark was too busy smoking.)

Ginger cheesecake.  Whowouldathunkit? Perfect amount of ginger in the cake, good cheesecake consistency (New York style – the only style worth eating), crystallized ginger pieces atop dollaps of whipped cream (unnecessary, but a nice, festive touch), a chocolate graham cracker crust, and a dusting of toasted coconut flakes around the bottom half of the cake… yum!  The only thing I would change is the amount of allspice, which confused your palate every once in a while to think you were eating pumpkin cheesecake.

It was well worth the 28 block walk (uphill, both ways).

True North Wind Tower

True North Wind Tower True North Wind Tower

The current edition of The Hampton Journal (circulation 18,000) has a story on the True North Wind Tower – a wind tower built to create natural ventilation for the new, $10 million underground library at Regent College at the University of British Columbia.

I profess that I’ve never heard of a wind tower – perhaps because the True North wind Tower is the only one of its kind in North America. How does it work? According to the story, the pressure differential from the wind moving along the top of the tower creates negative pressure that pulls air up through the building into the tower. Apparently, wind towers have historically been used in indigenous structures in the Middle East and are now being considered for contemporary buildings as part of a move towards more energy efficient and sustainable building.

You can learn more about the environmental components of the project as well as the architect, Clive Grout, who proposed the idea of a wind tower in the early planning stages for the library five years ago, here.

Another first: Toronto-based stained glass artist Sarah Hall has turned the True North Wind Tower into the first installation of photovoltaic glass art in North America.

Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy Condemns Emergency in Pakistan


November 4, 2007


Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) strongly condemns the imposition of Emergency in Pakistan. This Emergeny is illegal and unconstitutional. The Emergency means suspension of all fundamental rights. The regime of Pervez Musharraf today arrested Dr. Mubashir Hasan and I A Rehman, both founding members of PIPFPD, amongst others. The regime has also arrested Asma Jehangir, internationally acclaimed human rights activist, and sealed the office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Lahore.

Musharraf has usurped the independence of the judiciary by sending troops into the Supreme Court of Pakistan and detaining Iftikhar Chooudhary, Chief Justice of Pakistan and removing other judges who refused to take an oath under the Provincial Constitutional Order (PCO). Emergency has been imposed as the Judiciary, of late, became pro-people and embarrased Musharraf many times. The Supreme Court was to deliver a judgement on petitions challenging the election of Musharraf as President of Pakistan.

Emergency also means encroachment on freedom of expression and speech. It is no surprising that a few vocal journalists, too, were arrested.

We express our solidarity with the struggling, pro-democracy people of Pakistan and express confidence that sooner than later the citizens of Pakistan will achieve true democracy.

Jatin Desai, Hon. Secretary
PIPFPD (Maharashtra)

Please note: Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD), Peace Mumbai, Awami Bharat, among others, will demonstrate on Monday November 5, 2007 at 5.00pm outside Churchgate Station, against the imposition of Emergency in Pakistan. If you are in Mumbai, please join them.

Bath Time for Elephants

It is 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) in Vancouver as I sit warming my hands on a cup of China Rose and my legs with a wool throw, cleaning up my hard drive for my next trip to India coming up at the end of this month.  I hope that pictures of tigers in Simlipal, Orissa will replace these pictures of elephants, taken near Edayar, Kerala 25 March, 2007.

Walking to Water
Walking to water

Testing the Water
Testing the water

Tastes Great
Tastes great!

Getting in Deeper
It’s getting deeper…

And the Back Too
And the back, too

The Matriarch Shows How It’s Done
The matriarch shows how it’s done

Like This?
Like *this*?

Bath Time’s Over
Time to go


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