2010 Cob Building Workshop!

Passive Solar Rocks!

Please click here for the latest workshop offerings

From August 14th to August 21st, I’ll be hosting another cob/natural building workshop on Lasqueti Island. The cost of $600 covers all meals (3 hot, fully organic vegan/vegetarian meals for 6 days, plus a welcoming dinner and a good-bye breakfast), on-site camping with running water, and hands-on instruction.

Women and families are especially encouraged to apply.  Barters or trades are always possible.

Your workshop facilitator (Dave Olsen) completed a cob workshop in 1996 and has had mud on his hands ever since.  He has also led workshops on many other topics since 1994.  On Lasqueti Island, he has organized and co-led 4 cob workshops and finished two small buildings; he has been very fortunate to have worked with many of the leading cob builders of our time.

Our chef, Bethany Scott, first came to cob by way of the Mudgirls, hosting a work party and seducing them with her amazing culinary talents.  She has worked her magic at multiple cob workshops, both on and off Lasqueti Island, and hasn’t met a diet that she hasn’t nourished fully and deliciously yet!

What makes these courses special?

  • You will get your hands on every aspect of building: from foundations to roofing, and everything (plastering, windows, doors) in between.
  • You will see firsthand how humans can build with what nature provides, without destroying the beauty that is offered.
  • You’ll also have many opportunities to master making cob itself. You’ll learn the “traditional” technique, known to cobbers throughout our wet coast, and we’ll learn how to modify it so that you can mix up to 4 times faster!
  • You’ll experience building walls the “old fashioned way” as well as a hybrid technique that uses reusable plastic “forms” which will get our walls up at least twice as fast!
  • Not only will you learn how to build naturally and affordably, you’ll learn how to do it efficiently enough to be empowered to build on your own and keep your community of builders interested and inspired to keep building.

One finished building and the base for the greenhouse extension

Travel days to get to and from the workshop are Saturday, August 14th (we’ll begin with a welcoming, organic and vegan dinner that evening) and Saturday, August 21st (a farewell breakfast on the 21st will fuel your return to the ferry dock).

Every workshop day (Sunday to Friday), we start with a short meditative building session, followed by an organic, hot wholesome breakfast.  Two longer hands-on learning sessions sandwich a hot organic, vegan lunch.

Most evenings, after a delicious dinner, we’ll have a discussion or mini-workshop on related activities, from ecologically-sensitive transportation to building a roof with cedar shakes.

Human-powered building is hard work. But since there are no machines or motors on site, it is a safe and quiet place for anyone, younger or older, and interesting conversation and laughter is common. This building site, and the materials for this building, were selected to make it as easy as possible to build an earthen structure.

The pace is casual but determined; the more effort you give, the more learning you will take away.  Natural Building is at least 95% experiential learning and you will be expected to self-motivate throughout the various scheduled sessions.

For more information and background, please visit:

https://humanpowered.wordpress.com/2009/05/16/2009-cob-building-workshop/ https://humanpowered.wordpress.com/2008/05/10/learn-to-build-naturally-with-cob/

To receive an application form, please email Dave: eec at resist dot ca or write a comment with your contact info (don’t worry, I won’t publish the contact info).

Here’s hoping you can experience the beauty of natural building and cob soon!


Safe, Separated Bike Lanes on the Dunsmuir Viaduct!

Change happens, constantly, everywhere. My daughter’s name reminds me of this every moment. But this is one change that I didn’t expect, despite living my life with the intention to facilitate positive change:

Safe, Separated Bicycle Lanes on the Dunsmuir Viaduct!

Burrard Bridge with barricade & two-way cycling that is now on the Dunsmuir Viaduct (original photo found on pricetags.wordpress.com)

Being closed for the Owe-lympics seems to have provided the new brain-trust at Vancouver City Hall with the time and space to give the people who pay their salaries a giant welcome-back-to-your-City surprise.

When I turned onto it from Main Street, I was surprised to see a private bus turn onto the on ramp so carefully. When the bus had entered, I saw the gift: a whole lane for cyclists!

Not only did the pedestrian have the tiny sidewalk to himself without worry, all of us on bike could relax and enjoy the pedalling — at least while on the Dunsmuir viaduct.

The details are what make me realize that something fundamental has transformed the engineering department at City Hall: regular entrances and exits to the bike lane (so people are not trapped and can enter even if they miss the first entrance), width enough to pass easily, wide entrances/exits so the poles/bollards are not a hazard but still keep those drivers that watch TV out. The signage is good, but then City Hall has spent well over a decade practising putting up signs for cyclists. It finally connects the painted lines on Dunsmuir with the green signs on Adanac.

Now, we have one and a half bridges to the downtown core that are Safe, Separated spaces, only for bikes! Let’s get the other half of Burrard Bridge changed so pedestrians can walk where they wish and cyclists are safe in both directions. If the Georgia viaduct is to continue standing (and let’s hope NOT so the past glory of the Black Community can resurface again), that will be an obvious next step, too. The Granville Street bridge could be as quick and simple as the Dunsmuir viaduct and the Cambie Street bridge? Well, the previous council blew a huge opportunity with that entire corridor when it was torn up for the Worm Line…

Although it’s tempting to attribute some of this new found goodness to that $8 Billion, 2 week party, (hold the press: I was just informed that Beijing cost $24 Billion, Torino $22 Billion, and that the IOC forbades any leaks of real expenditures for another year) I’ll leave it to Geoff Berner, the APC, Pivot, and many DTES groups to tell it like it is about that fiasco. In any case, spread the word and get on your bike so that these Safe, Separated Bike Lanes spread over all the bridges and beyond!

Remember, you can ask your representatives to represent you anytime you’d like; it’s actually their job to do so.  I won’t get into how government works on behalf of the rich and powerful (otherwise, there wouldn’t be a government); that’s another few thousand postings!  But do let Vancouver’s Mayor and Council know if you appreciate this new initiative by emailing them at mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

PS. It’s International Women’s Day today…let’s celebrate and honour the gender that is still (10,000 years later?) fighting for equality in our civilization!

Hitler’s legacy comes to the streets of Vancouver

Nazi Torch RelayA friend who grew up in Nazi Germany recently informed me that Hitler’s Third Reich started the Olympic Torch relay as a propaganda tool for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Gee, I wonder why this fact isn’t widely reported by the mainstream media or highlighted on the IOC’s website?

But the nazi torch parade is not the only tool of fascism to come to Vancouver….

Remember the promises made before the Olympics were imposed on Vancouver and Whistler?  “Not a penny more than the initial cost of the bid”  exhorted Mayor Larry Campbell.

Back in 2003, his lie persuaded less than 20% of Vancouver’s residents to vote in favour of hosting the Olympics.  86,113 residents voted in favour (64% of votes cast) out of approx. 440,000 eligible voters and 545,000 residents.

The So-called Security (SS) budget has grown from $175,000 to $900 million and will end up well over $1 billion.  The reported 15,000 police and military SS agents make this the largest military operation in Western Canada since the end of Hitler’s War.

The overall cost of these “games,” once touted as being a mere $660,000, is now at least $6 billion and could reach $10 billion.  Does that mean Larry Campbell will pick up the difference?

I also recently learned that five of the corporate sponsors for this version of the Olympics are accused of human rights violations; no wonder the security budget is at least 45 times higher than originally expected…no wait, that’s because of the terrorist threat…see killercoke.org for more.

But these are mere details.  This, as is the case for every Olympics, is another formidable opportunity to privatize previously public places.

Three months ago when I tried to snowshoe with my daughter in a Provincial Park beside Cypress Mountain, we were told that the military had occupied it and it was closed to the public.

Two and a half months ago, the south side of False Creek was completely closed to the public.  No matter that it hosts two key bike routes (the Seawall is completely separated from motor vehicle traffic, while the Ontario route is the 2nd oldest in the City).  People on foot and bike are de facto terrorists because they obviously aren’t supporting the Olympic vehicle sponsor.

Two months ago, when my daughter and I tried to ride our tandem to a public swimming pool along the Seawall, the only safe, separated-from-cars route was blocked because David Lam Park was being paved over for an Olympic corporate sponsor’s pavilion.

The fences surrounding the venues, the helicopters flying day and night, and the uniformed and undercover SS out in large numbers suggest much more than a mere sporting festival.  With no one around weeks before the games actually begin, these closed public streets and parks suggest what the rich and powerful have always known: nothing in the public realm is really public property in our civilization.  And they will test out their latest weaponry and fortress-making with our taxes.  All on unceded Coast Salish Territory.

I may have witnessed the first attempt in so-called Canada to fully privatize public urban space in 2001 when a fence was built around the old town of Quebec.  Even then, the public space around the outside of the fence was deemed off-limits to the public.  Why do I suggest that?  Because the SS rained tear gas and rubber bullets at just about anyone that moved, day and night.  And 4 of my fellow accused were convicted of such heinous crimes as sitting under a tree, holding up signs, and (sit down for this one) asking where the toilet was.  I was arrested and held for 33 hours in a maximum security prison’s single person cell with 4 others.  The charge?  Illegal clothing.  I kid you not.

The thousands of closed-captioned cameras installed by the SS and bought and paid for by our federal taxes will not willingly be decommissioned.  Why waste our hard-earned tax money?  If we have ’em, let’s use ’em!  Especially with all those dangerous gangs and thugs around.  My suggestion is that we use them in the gang’s and thug’s own offices and workplaces: police cars, police stations, courts, government offices and the like.

The Olympic lanes are another lovely example of this creeping privatization.  Thousands of brand-new SUVs brought in for VANOC to drive around in have exclusive use of these lanes.  Oh sure, VANOC-approved buses can use them, too.  Unfortunately, there’s been at most 1 passenger in any of the hundreds of VANOC vehicles (SUV, Van, car, bus) I’ve seen.  Public buses?  Well, they would use the Olympic lanes if they weren’t full of SUVs.  Talk about turning transportation planning upside down.  Instead of banning Single Occupant Vehicles (SOVs) and using the abundant resulting space to reserve 24/7 public bus lanes (not to mention making transit Fare-Free so everyone could get around quickly and affordably), we have Olympic lanes for SUVs all month.

Yes, these will be the Greenest Games ever.  The trees on Cypress and (adjoining) Debt Mountain attest to this.  For Americans that relate green to money, the Whistler bankruptcy will ensure these games have lots of green associated with them.

However, the 4 million tonnes of carbon estimated to be emitted (probably even more now with snow being rained down from helicopters), the missed opportunities to built an accessible at-grade rail and bike link to Whistler and between Vancouver’s venues, and the continued push to pave South Surrey farmland and forests for the next $6-10 billion project (see Gatewaysucks.org) will not colour these Olympics green.

The $800 million cost of the Sea-to-Sky/Eagleridge Bluffs Highway Project that killed Tseybayotl (aka Harriet Nahanee) could have more than doubled the bus fleet (1,000 now; up to 1,600 new).  Fare-Free Transit with 10 minute service could have been a reality with these extra buses and it could have facilitated the banning of SOVs and the spread of 24/7 bus lanes throughout the Lower Mainland.  Now think about what the $6-10 billion earmarked for Gateway would do for transit, rail, and bike infrastructure…or women’s shelters.  Too bad we just can’t afford luxuries like these.

And then there’s the promise to not displace one person for the games; another lie exposed.  3,000 more homeless people can not be covered up despite the SS’s cleanup attempts utilizing the latest in bylaw fashion.  See http://olympictentvillage.wordpress.com/ for more.

Luckily for me, this independent media reporter doesn’t have to cross a national border.  One that tried, Martin Macias Jr., an independent media reporter from Chicago was rejected by Canadian border agents and held without outside contact for at least 7 hours.  Hitler would be proud.

Don’t despair!  If you can’t escape the insanity then consider venting some of your passion at the many creative and inclusive events planned for Friday and beyond.  You can check http://olympicresistance.net/ for the latest schedule; here’s what was known at press time:
– Fri Feb 12: Resist the Torch! Resist the Games! The Olympic Torch will be coming through our neighbourhoods. Meet at Victory Square, Cambie and Hastings at 8:30 am or Grandview Park on Commercial Drive at 9 am. Let’s show VANOC and their Coca-Cola corporate spectacle what community really looks like. Celebrate our strength, creativity, and diversity.
– Fri Feb 12: Take Back Our City! “Welcome” the 2010 Olympic Torch with Free Games, Free Speech, and Free Food! Beginning with a festival at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 3 pm, followed by a parade and protest to BC Place Stadium. Details, including childcare, at: http://2010welcoming.wordpress.com/
– Sat Feb 13. 2010 Heart Attack: Street March to Clog the Arteries of Capitalism. Arrive at 8:30 am in Thornton Park (Main and Terminal). This demonstration will respect diversity of tactics and aims to disturb “business as unusual” on the first day of the Games! Details: http://olympicresistance.net/content/2010-heart-attack
– Sat Feb 13th from noon to 5 pm: Call to Action by No Sochi 2014 Committee. The next Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia in 2014. Demonstrations will be held in front of the Russian “Sochi House” at Science World between 12-5pm at Thornton Park to protest against the 2014 Sochi Olympics on the Land of Circassian Genocide.
– On Sun Feb 14th, we will be standing with the 19th Annual Women’s Memorial March to honour all the missing and murdered and women in the DTES (this is not an anti-Olympic protest). Details at: http://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/
– Mon Feb 15 (ONGOING): Noon at Pigeon Park (Carrall and Hastings). No empty talk, no empty lots! Rally for Homes and Support the Olympic Tent Village. Organized by DTES-based, anti-poverty, and housing rights groups. http://olympictentvillage.wordpress.com
– Mon Feb 15: Vancouver Art Gallery, Gathering at 6:00pm and leaving at 6:30pm. Come out and be part of an anti-war and anti-militarization moving spectacle. This event is a festive and creative demand for the Canadian government to respect and uphold human-rights, international law, the right to self-determination and civil rights.Organized by Stopwar.ca
– Friday, Feb 12, 2010 at 8:00pm, Legion Hall, 2205 Commercial Drive. We do not like the Olympics Celebration Party! Lineup: Dreamscene, Legally Blind, DJ Josef, DJ Kinky Kitty, Team YPE Cost: $3 – ($1297 cheaper than a ticket to the opening ceremonies). Nobody turned away.
– Fri Feb 12: Resistance Media Lounge at Rhizome Café, 317 East Broadway at 8 pm. Join the Vancouver Media Co-op for a mash up of protest footage, news, and images from the actions against the Olympic torch and the kick off of the anti-Olympics convergence.
– Sat Feb 13, 8:00pm at Rhizome Cafe (317 East Broadway). Anne Feeney in Concert: 5 Ring Circus Special. Join Anne Feeney for political songs about: the environment, jobs, gay rights, women’s rights, stopping racism and other forms of discrimination, homelessness, a world without war, and much, much more. $12-$20 sliding scale.
– Sunday Feb 14. People’s Prom. The most kick ass antidote to Valentine’s Day in the city. You like funk and frolic? Love and revolution? Perfect. All money raised goes toward grassroot, direct action and creative resistance groups engaged in the resistance to the 2010 Olympics. http://peoplesprom.resist.ca/
– Friday, Feb 19, 7:00pm at Rhizome Cafe (317 East Broadway). Board Games are Soooo Gay! Board Games, not Olympic Games! Bring your favourite games or use ours. Our in-house DJs will keep the tunes coming.
– Saturday, Feb 20. Rally for a National Housing Program from noon-2 pm, north Side of Vancouver Art Gallery. The UN now calls Canada’s housing crisis, ‘a national emergency.’ Come join this rally to pressure the federal government to once again re-establish a national housing program in Canada. Organized by Impact on Communities Coalition.
– Sat Feb 20: Anti-OH-LIMP-IC show at Rickshaw Theater, 254 East Hastings Street. Door at 8 pm. D.O.A. will headline. The games are not much more than a corporate sellout. Professor Chris Shaw, who wrote the definitive book Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games will speak at the event.

The Film Fest is on; bike parking is not!

What a great festive atmosphere in and around the Vancouver International Film Festival Saturday.

The sun was shining and the streets were clear of cars outside the Granville 7 Theatres downtown, which hosts the bulk of the Fest’s screenings.

Unfortunately, the streets were also clear of bike parking…completely.  Ellie O’Day, Media Director for the Festival, briefed me before I could even open my mouth that she had informed the City’s staff about the Festival’s growing need for bicycle parking outside the Granville 7 Theatres weeks in advance.  She was told by staff that the street is under construction and that no bicycle racks would be installed.

Bus shelters are installed.  Parking meters a block away were stuffed full of coin from cars parked along both sides of Granville all day.  Hmm.

Outside Granville 7 Theatre: note the sign shown in the other photo above the bikes

Outside Granville 7 Theatre: note the sign shown in the other photo above the bikes

Bikes are Bad!

Bikes are Bad!

I did see a sign in the window of the Granville 7 Theatre: “BIKES…Please do not store

bikes on company property.  If this conduct persists, bikes will be removed.  Thanks, Management.”  Um, just where are we supposed to park them?  Oh right, we must fuel the economy (read: kill the planet) by driving one tonne killing machines to the Film Festival.  How silly of me.

Let’s see if we can change this situation, shall we?  Back racks cost hundreds of dollars; the Worm/Canada Line just cost us over $2 billion, while the repaving of Granville and Davie Streets just cost us millions more.

The mayor claims he’s “green”; ask him to make it happen (gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca).  Geoff Meggs is supposed to be the head bicycle cheese; ask him too (clrmeggs@vancouver.ca).  Or just email the whole band at once: mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

There’s almost 2 weeks left in the Festival (it ends October 16th) and it takes less than an hour to install a bicycle rack; a dozen racks would take about a day.  The skies are forecast to be clear for the foreseeable future (well, if you ignore that pesky brown cloud that thickens hourly between rains).  Is Vancouver really the world class city it aspires to be?  Do our politicians really run our city or is it the suburbanite staffers who drive to their jobs at City Hall?  Send ’em an email and see what happens!

Island Transit wins Vote to improve Fare-Free Funding!

Martha Rose sits on a 3 bike rack at the front of an ad-free bus

I was just informed by Island Transit Executive Director Martha Rose that Island Transit won the Sales Tax increase that was voted on in Island County, Washington State on 18 Aug 09.

Island Transit has been Fare-Free from its inception in 1987.  Prior to this vote, they received funding from a 6/10 of 1% sales tax applied only in Island County; it is now 9/10 of 1%.  This means that for every $100 of purchases in Island County,  90¢ of the sales tax applied goes to Island Transit.  Obviously, Island County voters know a great deal when they see one!

Congratulations to all the wonderful people that help keep Island Transit Fare-Free and a pleasure to use!

For more information about Island Transit, click here.  For more information about Fare-Free Transit, click here.

2009 Cob Building Workshop!

Please click here for the latest workshop offerings

Want to learn how to build your own house/greenhouse/shed/whatever?

Want to build with cheap, reusable, completely natural materials that are earthquake proof, fire proof, sound proof, insect proof, and proven to last for centuries?

Cob is the term for an earthen building technique that mixes sand, clay and straw and is sculpted into a wall.  No forms or other wooden structures are needed to build with cob.

Waldenburg in Winter

Waldenburg in Winter

From July 26 to 31st, I’ll be hosting a cob workshop on Lasqueti Island.  The cost of $600 covers all meals (3 hot, fully organic vegan/vegetarian meals per day, plus a welcoming dinner and a good-bye breakfast), on-site camping with cold running water, and full, hands-on instruction.

Most evenings, we’ll also have a discussion or mini-workshop on related activities.  Topics will include sustainable and ecologically-sensitive transportation for individuals as well as builders (we’ll also have a night of bike repair) and how to build a roof with cedar shakes (we’ll even learn how to make those shakes).

Travel days are Saturday, July 25th (with a welcoming, organic and vegan dinner included) and Saturday, August 1st (a farewell breakfast on the 1st is also included).

Everyday (Sunday to Friday), we start with an organic, wholesome breakfast, followed by an hour of interactive instructionals, then 3 hours of hands-on learning with a yummy snack break.

After a hot organic, vegan lunch, we have 3 more hours of hands-on learning and building, followed by a break to swim and/or wash up for dinner.

Last year's project

Last year's project

The host site provides examples of how to:

* live off the electrical grid,
* harvest and use rainwater,
* live well w/out internal combustion engines,
* make it easy to harvest hu-manure.

The workshop buildings will provide opportunities to learn:

* passive solar heating design,
* how to install windows and doors,
* how to wire your earthen building for solar electricity and running water,
* how to build a cedar shake roof,
* how to sculpt earthen materials, and
* how to design beauty and function right into the walls of earthen buildings.

Human-powered building is hard work.  But since there are no machines or motors on site, it is a safe place for anyone, younger or older, and interesting conversation and laughter is common.  This building site, and the materials for this building, were selected to make it as easy as possible to build an earthen structure.  The pace is casual but determined; no one cracks a whip!

Now here’s the real deal: the best (only?) way to learn how to build is to do it, and the more you do, the more likely you’ll take away a useful skill.  Think about whether six 7 hour days is realistic for you.  To be fair to the other participants (and the “team” we are also building), we will only accept applicants able to complete the whole workshop.

Space is also very limited.  If you are interested, please reply to this email (or directly to eec at resist dot ca if this was forwarded to you).

I hope you, too, can experience the magic of building with cob in community!

Bike to Work? Not if the VPD has anything to do with it…

Vancouver’s finest example of our civilization’s insanity struck yet again last Monday morning.

Not surprisingly, Private Constable Clark (badge 2432) was “working” in an automobile, misusing another expensive and dangerous piece of technology provided to him by our tax dollars.

Here’s the scene: me, riding a bike (my bad) north on Main Street, a minute away from reaching my client’s office on time at 11:30am.  Suddenly, north of Pender, I hear a loud click, click, click sound behind me but after looking in my rear-view mirror, I can’t see anything that would make such a weird sound.  I then hear a voice over a loud speaker say, “you have enough room there, Chief?”

I won’t bother debating the racist undertone of that comment.  I will say that I was riding as far right as practicable, as written in the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), meaning that I was just far enough away from the line of parked cars so that I would not get “doored” if one opened suddenly (recent court cases in other jurisdictions confirm this serious threat to a cyclist’s health/life).  This put me into the right most lane of traffic, about where the right-hand side tires of cars and trucks travel.

I stopped at the red light at Pender.  Although I was on my pedals ready to ride when the light turned yellow for the traffic on Pender, I waited until the light turned green on Main before crossing the white line demarking the pedestrian right-of-way painted across Main Street.

I then heard the loudspeaker voice say “move over into the bike lane.”  I stopped, looked around behind me, and asked what the problem was.  I tall, young, white male got out of the passenger side of the car and told me to get off of the road.  I asked again what the problem was and he walked onto the sidewalk and told me to get my bike on the sidewalk.  I refused and asked again what the problem was.

This man then walked right up into my face and told me I was obstructing a police officer.  I replied that I was doing no such thing and, if he was indeed a police officer, that I would like to see some identification.  He then told me that he was a Vancouver Police officer and showed me his badge (PC Clark [2432]).

PC Clark (2432) again told me to move off of the road, which I did immediately.  He then lied to me and said that I had entered into an intersection on a red light at Pender.  I told him I did not.  He then asked for my ID.  I told him that I was not carrying any and had no need to do so.  I also told him clearly that I was on my way to work and that he could plainly see that I was carrying materials to do my work on my bike (I was carrying a large box of network cable on my rear rack) and that I would be late if I did not leave immediately.

He then asked for and wrote down my name, birthdate, and address.  He also asked for my mother’s maiden name, which I am not legally required to give (hell, I wasn’t under arrest, so none of this was legally required of me!) but I gave it anyway.  His partner in crime (no wait, they’re the good guys, right?!) then ran my information through their computer database in their unmarked car.  When she couldn’t find anything to hold me on, PC Clark (2432) then tried to find something else.  While he was hard at it in the idling car, filling up the neighbourhood with lethal airborne chemicals, I told the woman cop that I find it despicable that people that are being paid a generous, if not hefty, salary with my tax dollars would tell bold-faced lies (about going into the Pender intersection on a red light).  She said that she would back her partner up completely.  Big surprise.

PC Clark (2432) then came over to me and showed me the two MVA fines that he was about to issue to me (not operating a vehicle properly: $109 + not riding a bicycle as far right as practicable: $109 = $218).  Then he explained that he not only has the power to write me tickets but that he also has the power of discretion to not write these tickets and he would make that decision after asking me a couple of questions.  Gee, how generous and kind abusers can be, no?  Any further abuse directed at me now becomes “my fault,” not his!  Psychopaths are wonderfully consistent this way.

1st question: why am I so hostile toward police officers.  I didn’t answer that he got what he gave, only because I didn’t think of it at the time.  I told him I didn’t know he was a police officer until he showed me his badge.  He lied again and said that he told me when he got out of his car.

2nd question: why was I riding in the middle of the road when there was a bike lane?  The “bike lane” was full of parked cars.  He then clarified himself by dictating that I ride on the white dotted line, which means that one tonne killing machines can pass me at 60 or more km/h within millimetres on one side, while parked car doors can maim me on the other.  Nice.  And thoughtful, too.

After “agreeing” to everything he said, PC Clark (2432) correctly pointed out that I could call the non-emergency line of the Vancouver Police Department anytime and ask for Internal, the department that notes complaints against their co-workers.  What he didn’t tell me, but know from personal experience, is that the hour or more wait-time on the phone results in your information falling into a black-hole, never to be looked at again.  Funny how cops don’t find fault with fellow cops, isn’t it?

I then waited for the cops to get into their idling car and start driving.  I then followed them to avoid having their gaze fall on me again.  The very next block, he was back on his loudspeaker harassing pedestrians crossing Cordova with the walk signal.  His car was turning right onto Cordova on the RED light and the people walking were instructed to get a move on.

I have heard continually from virtually every “other” community that the training cops receive is far from adequate in terms of dealing with their community.  Add to the list of racism, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and sexism a lack of understanding of what it is like to ride a bike or even walk in the city.

For an unending list of police abuse and corruption, please visit Pivot.org or do an Internet search with the terms VPD and abuse or corruption.

What can be done?  I suggest letting Vancouver’s Mayor and Council know; previous Council’s have claimed that they are powerless but maybe this one will be different (there’s that incredibly debilitating power of hope again).  Going public, as I also am, will at least help future victims of police abuse know what to expect.

I have learned that asserting my right to be unharassed is useless with these people.  They are trained to believe that everyone else is a threat and the best way to deal with difference is to pre-emptively strike (sound familiar, Mr. Bush?).  This cop proved it with almost every word he uttered, lying about me going through a red light, lying about obstructing him, and giving me his incorrect understanding of riding as far to the right as practicable.  Sure, I’ve received vindictive tickets and gone to court to prove that cops not only make bad mistakes, but that they absolutely should not be granted the powers of punishment in any way, shape, or form.

There’s much work to be done, for sure.  Removing most laws and by-laws would be a good start, to take away the discretionary tools that cops mis-use hourly (no, make that minutely).  Removing all lethal and most non-lethal weapons from cops is another necessary step.  And, of course, training cops to understand that other human beings are, well, human beings, not potential criminals.  Although far and few between, there have been cops that use their words in a humane way to understand a situation.  Call me crazy, but this could be the standard way of interacting with others, instead of the current way of either creating a confrontation from nothing or escalating a minor issue into a major one.

Who’s going to do this work?  Apparently not the people that need to do it (hello, cops!).  And to date, not the politicians.  So, as always, we do it as best as we can.  Of course, if we look back at our past, we can see that every other culture that has ever existed on our planet (only a few hundred thousand different ones, to date) have never created a concept called work, nor put food or other essentials under lock and key, so there’s more than one way out of this mess.  I suggest reading Ishmael, then My Ishmael, and then The Story of B as a start.  After that, the world will seem a much different place…