Friday, December 08, 2017

Embracing The Winter Season

It’s that time of year again, that cold-grey-never-stops-raining season that we always seem so surprised with (I don’t know why, it happens every year). I will be the first person to say that I love the sun and warm weather, but living in the lower mainland, that simply isn’t a reality for 5 (okay more like 7 or 8) months of the year.

Rather than match my mood to the weather (aka miserable) I decided that this year I was going to try my hardest to embrace winter and lean in to the season. Below are some of the ways that I plan to enjoy the next couple months of winter here in Vancouver/Surrey/Langley/etc. I've tried to include spots that are located across the Lower Mainland, because we don't all live in Mount Pleasant (even if we wish we did).

Stay Inside
If nothing else, the gross weather outside acts as the perfect excuse to stay inside and be lazy cozy. You know how all you want to do at the end of the day is binge watch that new Netflix series?.. do it! Grab some warm socks and blankets (heck, invite some friends over if you’re feeling social) and have a Netlflix Night. Want to switch it up? How about a movie marathon or watch a Christmas movie if that’s your jam. 

Want to get out of the house, but still not ready to brace the winter weather outside? Hit up a cute café or local brewery! They’ll be warm, get you out of the house, and maybe it’ll even be a little fun. Need recommendations? I would recommend these local cafes here and here. And this brewery. On my list to explore this season: here, here and here.

Step Outside
On those days where the weather isn’t filling up the streets with puddles, there are some really cool winter activities you can take part in. Plus they say if it’s raining down here, it’s snowing in the mountains, right?(I actually have no idea if that is a credible saying).

If you’re looking to hit up the mountains, there is the classic skiing and snowboarding, but if you want to do something different you could try your hand at snowshoeing (here) or snow tubing (with Active KSA December16th). Both options more affordable than the classic lift pass.

Want to stay more local? You could always check out the Bear Creek Park Christmas Train, Ice Skating at a local rink or sledding (if we get more snow).  


Get Festive
As we enter the month of December, we are also entering full force into the holiday season. Whether you celebrate a holiday this time of year, or not, it’s still fun to get a little festive. While the Surrey City Hall Plaza Christmas Tree Lighting has already happened, the tree will still be lit over the next few weeks to visit. Living closer to Langley? Similar to Vancouver’s Enchant, Langley will be home to GLOW this year. There are also lots of Holiday markets set up from Abbotsford to Vancouver that are sure to be a great time (and are not all ‘Christmas’ focused).

Even if you are stuck on campus studying for that seriously hard exam coming up, there is still a way to lean into the winter season. Listen to a soothing Jazz or Hygge playlist on Spotify, and order a festive drink from Grassroots Café while you cram (you’ll also get a student discount there).

For some of us, the winter season can be a tough (Vitamin D deficient) time, but as I told myself in early November, everyone has a choice. You can match your mood to the weather (aka miserable) or you can lean in and embrace the few delights that can only be done during the cold weather months. I mean you can’t snowshoe in July, at least in Vancouver.

Stay warm out there folks!


-        Kendell

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Council Recap: November 24th, 2017

The last meeting of the Kwantlen Student Association was held on the Cloverdale campus, also know as KPU Tech.  Did you know they have horses at Cloverdale (for the farrier program)?
Here are the FIVE things you NEED to know from this week's’ Council:
#5
Four KSA staff members - Nicki Simpson, Policy and Political Coordinator, Kendell Kitt, Clubs and Outreach Coordinator, Stephanie Chee, START Coordinator, and Kelsey Silk, Records Coordinator & Archivist - presented to Council about their roles. Nicki and Kendell accused Stephanie and Kelsey of being keeners, because they made powerpoint presentations.  But really, how do you do a presentation without slides?
#4
The meeting schedule for the Spring semester was set.  Council will meet five times in the spring, including a special meeting on April 3rd. Council meetings will be on January 26th, 2018 at 10 am, February 23rd, 2018 at 10 am, March 23rd, 2018 at 10 am, April 3rd at 10 am, and April 6th, 2018 at 10 am.

#3

Vice President, Student Life Jay Reedy presented his report on attending the Canadian Federation of Students Annual General Meeting in Gatineau, PQ.  His report was not favourable, but President Tanvir Singh did remark that having a good number of representatives from dissident schools did allow for the minority to hold the executive accountable.

#2

A representative from Vancity attended to present on the state of the KSA’s financial investments.  Earlier this year, Council approved a Credit Union Policy, and began the process of transitioning all account from our previous bank to Vancity.  It is the belief of the KSA that credit unions generally have ethical and environmentally sensitive investment portfolios that include investing in the local economy which supporting jobs for KPU students and graduates.

#1

Four students were appointed to student member positions on the Student Life, Finance and Operations, Governance and Environmental Sustainability committees.  Did you know that all the committees of the KSA have student positions?  You can apply by emailing appointments.chair@kusa.ca, and directly influence decision making at the student union.

The full minutes of this meeting, and all other KSA Council and Committee meetings, are available after approval on kusa.ca/committees.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

ASHEE Sustainability Conference Recap

Sustainable KSA took to the road this fall visiting San Antonio, Texas for the 2017 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference.


The annual conference brings together university sustainability professionals, students and faculty from across North America and internationally to share what’s happening in campus projects, research, and programming. Sessions like campus tours, speakers, film screenings, and poster presentations help everyone to exchange ideas, network and talk about what they’re doing at their campuses.


The AASHE Conferences give attendees an opportunity to share best practices, innovation and their refinement or application of a program. One of great parts of AASHE is that multiple groups present on a similar topic, for example, bee projects on campus - so you get several unique perspectives on the topic in each session.  The KSA’s delegation uses AASHE to learn about new programs and initiatives, tweaks for projects we’re already doing, and best practices in the industry. We share our learning with other departments when we return to help us implement these ideas or share them with our community.  Attending AASHE also gives us opportunities to see a wide range of presentation styles enabling us to learn better presentation skills and unique ways to share information.  

This year’s delegation was Mairi, KSA Sustainability Coordinator, Tonya, Active KSA Coordinator, Tia, student delegate and KSA Sustainability Specialist, and Sustainable Agriculture student Will. After the conference this year, each member of the delegation pulled together their thoughts. Read on for some personal insights.

WILL

On our final night in San Antonio, Texas we had an incredible Mexican meal and finished the evening off with a walk back to our hotel along the popular stone paths that navigate alongside the main river, the River Walk. As we left the river path and turned on to our hotel’s street, we realized that the San Fernando Cathedral that was in front of us, was somehow being lit up with all sorts of constantly changing bright lights and images. It turns out we had stumbled upon an art exhibit by the renowned French artist, Xavier De Richemont. This exhibit is a 7,000-sq-ft projection with music, which showcased the discovery of the area by Spanish conquistadors, settlement and development of San Antonio. While AASHE allowed me to be informed about the current sustainability issues at hand, the art exhibit allowed me to understand the importance of truly understanding a region’s history, if you want to tackle any issues in sustainability. - Will

   

TIA
AASHE 2017 was a fantastic experience and I learned a lot from both the conference and the trip. The focus on social justice was extremely beneficial to my current job, as well as my future career goals. I particularly got a lot of value out of the keynote speaker and the half-day workshop I attended, which was about understanding privilege in environmental sustainability work. It helped me develop my ideas about how to create a sustainable future with a focus on social equity, which I think is an ever-important topic on and off campus. In the future, I’d like to see Kwantlen move towards uniting social justice and sustainability issues, as I believe they are tied together in an important way. Since we are working on some workshops for the Spring that will focus on environmental racism and decolonization in Canada, I think this training came at the perfect time. - Tia

MAIRI

I was lucky enough to attend two different campus tours during my time at AASHE this year I visited the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio,  Each campus showed off different sustainability projects and features.

   
I visited a Monarch garden at UT San Antonio and saw Monarch butterflies, enormous air conditioning systems and condensers big enough to stand inside of and a campus that has to address groundwater everyday because they’re located on an area that naturally recharges the local aquifer through the limestone caves on campus.


At UT Austin, they showed off their bike rental program, talked about the waste impact of their tailgating events for Football and how they’re managing to get volunteers to sort publically the thousands of pounds of waste from inside the stadium. I loved seeing all the cactuses and arid region plants in the local landscaping. In Texas, you’ll want to be careful cutting through the gardens some of them are very prickly!

I also attended an eye opening session with Dr. Heather Hackman about developing your social justice lens. The session gave me knowledge to start developing my own social justice lense to use for projects and my own experiences in my community.  If you get a chance to attend a workshop by Dr Hackman, I strongly recommend her work. She presents with humour, knowledge and candor which makes her workshops both useful and memorable.

Walking through San Antonio one evening we saw a local group ride, that meets every week at 7pm and often has more than two hundred riders! Because the sun sets quite early in San Antonio due to its latitude, often the rides resemble Bike the Night as everyone wears lights, decorates their bike with lights and rides together in a group! If you’re in San Antonio I recommend finding the SATX Social Bike Ride group and find out if you can ride along on their next themed event! - Mairi

TONYA
AASHE 2017 in San Antonio was a great conference. This was my third AASHE and I went to the conference wanting to gather resources on active transportation, and connecting athletics and sustainability.

My favourite session during the conference was a presentation from two universities that partnered their sustainability department with their athletics department to run their most successful zero-waste and green energy projects.

What I really enjoyed seeing is that the majority of schools that were in attendance had made great changes on their campuses since I had last attended three years ago. Also, I really appreciated that many schools were putting an importance on having green spaces on campus. Schools are using these green spaces as living classrooms for academics, and also as mental health spaces so that students and staff can still feel connected to nature.

I’m looking forward to bringing project ideas back to campus in relation to zero-waste and active living with our sustainability department for our students on and off campus.

Outside of the conference, I really enjoyed the city of San Antonio. It has beautiful architecture, and the River Walk was my favourite space for trees and other plants right in the middle of downtown. There is a lot of cultural history in the city with the Alamo and the many small markets in the town. I learned about the Grackle, a very common bird in Texas and surrounding areas of the US, who is very intelligent and has a very interesting call.  - Tonya

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As a KPU student, you can look at the conference materials and many other resources from AASHE about campus sustainability, events and research you can register for an online account at www.aashe.org with your KPU email address.

If AASHE sounds like the type of conference you’d like to attend, keep an eye on the KSA’s social media because we do occasionally have calls for students to attend conferences as part of our delegation.

Did you know the KSA offsets all its flights throughout the year? At the end of each year, flight offsets are purchased through Offsetters.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The 5 Best & Weirdest Places To Eat In Victoria

So I get to do a lot of really cool stuff at work. One of the really awesome things about doing work that involves government is being able to go to Victoria. We recently went there with a bunch of fantastic students from across the province to meet with government for several days and talk about student issues. It was a really engaging and fulfilling trip and don’t get me wrong, politics is important, but today we are here to talk about the 5 best places to eat in Victoria.

Floyds
Victoria is the self-proclaimed brunch capital of Canada, so it only makes sense to start with a brunch place. Floyds has a quirky diner vibe, with booths, a collection of Marilyn Monroe decorations, vintage posters on all the walls, and a massive fish tank. Their fun breakfast thing is called the Mahoney, it’s $14 and you get whatever the kitchen feels like cooking for you (so this isn’t for those with dietary restrictions). The best part is that you can flip a coin for it. If you win the meal is free, but if you lose then you pay double.

Tapa Bar
The Tapa Bar is a really great place to go with a bunch of people because you can order seven different dishes and it’s normal. If you play your cards right you can end up with half of the menu on your table. It’s tucked away in a little alley right downtown (which is called Trounce alley, and that is adorable) and has warm decor and a great atmosphere. There are good vegetarian and gluten free options, and a great selection of drinks.

The Bent Mast
The Bent Mast is actually more of a pub than a restaurant, and if I’m being honest, it is actually a house. Well, it is a pub/restaurant that is run out of a house that was built in the 1880s. This sounds weird (because it is weird) but stay with me, it is a legitimate establishment and it is really cute. They serve brunch, craft beer, burgers, and occasionally have live music. It’s a little strange at first, but then you start to feel right at home. Obviously it is supposed to be haunted.


The Drake
The Drake is really trendy but also really comfortable, with couches and nice rugs, and it’s right downtown. It’s really laid back, like everything in Victoria. There is a good beer selection, and really interesting food. We went there on our first night in town and I got kimchi grilled cheese. I didn’t know you were allowed to put both of those things into the same sandwich, but oh man was it delicious.

The Mint
To get to the Mint you have to walk down a dark and kind of sketchy flight of stairs, but it is so worth it once you’re there. The food is really good. We booked a room there for our government social and we hung out with Melanie Mark, the Minister for Advanced Education, and enjoyed the delicious combination of West Coast and Himalayan cuisine that they serve.

If you are interested in going to Victoria, meeting with MLAs and promoting students issues like mental health funding or student loan interest rates (and maybe getting a chance to visit one or two of the places on this list) then you should get involved with the advocacy work we are doing at the KSA. A great way to do this is to join the External Affairs committee here:  http://www.kusa.ca/committees.html

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Club of the Month: Science In Action Club

Every month we (try to, yes sometimes it just doesn’t end up happening, we’re sorry, please forgive us) feature a KSA club and highlight the fun/cool things that make their club different from the others. It’s a chance to get a little inside information, and see what events and meetings they have coming up.

Our November Club of the Month is the new Science in Action Club!


The Science in Action Club was established in Fall 2017. This club was initially two independent clubs under the KSA (Biology Club and Health Science in Action Club). Both clubs decided to merge after their successful collaborative effort to host the first ever Health and Wellness Convention. Science in Action Club aims to provide a platform for students to apply theatrical knowledge learned in class thus enhancing their education while increasing student network.


At the core, the Science in Action club’s mission is to emphasize health, enhance student learning through collaboration with various organization and like-minded individuals.

They have a monthly Healthy Talk Series, approved by the Faculty of Science, that includes relevant health topics supported by current research, conducted by members.The Science in Action Club also has a monthly Speaker Series, inviting guests from various fields to discuss current research, discoveries, and provide relevant information for students.
The Science in Action Club meets every month. This month’s meeting is on November 17, 2017.

For more information, please email kpuscienceinaction@gmail.com.