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Sea cucumber crime, new homes, and more
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Welcome back to the Good Newsletter!

We're coming up on the final days of January—which means warmer weather and streets lined with blooming cherry blossoms aren't too far away now.

Do you have a favourite spot for spotting the first signs of spring in your neighbourhood? (Yes, perhaps it's a bit early to hope for spring, but I don't really care.) Personally, I always love taking a double-decker 14 or 15 bus down Yates Street when the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, or spotting crocus flowers in neighbours' yards and on the BC Legislature's lawn.

There's nothing better than exploring your own neighbourhood and finding something new—something that the person featured in this week's reader spotlight knows well. You can find out about his favourite spots in our community below!

Emily Fagan, Good Newsletter Editor
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Volunteers building the first hut at the Shelbourne Street Church.  📸 Emily Fagan
It takes a village to build a village: prototype Conestoga hut created to model new option for safe sheltering in Victoria


One chilly Sunday in January, a dozen community members gathered in the Shelbourne Street Church parking lot with power tools and truck beds full of wood and wire, united by a single goal: to create a safer refuge for people living on the street.

They were building a prototype Conestoga hut, based on the designs created by Erik de Buhr and the Eugene, Oregon-based organization Community Supported Shelters. Community members in Eugene have housed hundreds of people in their community with these huts, which are intended to be quickly assembled, insulated temporary shelters for people experiencing homeless to have a safe place to stay.

"Right now, this [prototype hut] is essentially a proof of concept; it's a way to show the community this is something that could work," said Krista Loughton, a filmmaker and one of the project’s lead organizers.

Ultimately, she hopes that established housing providers—such as BC Housing—will adopt this model for emergency shelters during extreme weather and public health emergencies. It’s not meant to be a permanent solution, Loughton said, but can help bring people indoors while longer-term solutions are being built.
Organizers Want to Bring a New Form of Shelter to Victorians in Need

A group of local organizers is working to bring Conestoga huts to Victoria as a new form of safe and warm temporary shelter. Good Newsletter Editor Emily Fagan visited a build of a prototype to speak with the people behind it. For Good News Friday, she joins to share what she learned.
🎓 An international student at the University of Victoria, currently working two part-time jobs while taking full-time classes, is unable to fund all of his tuition for this semester. Unfortunately, his study permit may be revoked if he can't pay tuition, and he will lose the life he has built in Canada. You can support him through this GoFundMe.

🧡 Indigenous community members can access 24-hour mental health support through the Indigenous Residential School Survivor Society crisis line:
1-800-721-0066.


🙌 Victoria Cool Aid is looking for volunteers at their Rock Bay location so that community members can continue to access vital programs including for hygiene services, computer availability, and clothing donations. Apply by emailing Johanna at jwesterng@coolaid.org.
Yellow icon of a clipboard.
Have a helping hand to offer to a neighbour in need? Need assistance with a task or problem? Contact us at goodnews@capitaldaily.ca to be featured in this section.
This week, our Reader Spotlight highlights Teale Phelps Bondaroff.

To find out more about Teale's abundant community projects and work, check out his website.


What current roles do you hold in the community, professional or otherwise?

I wear a lot of hats, both figuratively and actually. So let’s jump in, and I’ll go from furthest from Victoria to right here at home.

I am the Director of Research for OceansAsia, a Hong Kong-based marine conservation organization I co-founded three years ago. You might know us best from our work at the start of the pandemic, when we broke a global news story on face masks as a source of marine plastic pollution.

Also on the environmental front, I am part of a team of academic researchers working on a project examining the evolution of the political strategy of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a San Juan Island-based conservation group.

A little closer to home, I serve as the Chair of the AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception in BC—a grassroots advocacy campaign I co-founded in 2017.

For the past few years, I have also served as the Research Coordinator for the BC Humanist Association, a charitable organization that promotes progressive and secular values, challenges religious privilege, and provides a community and voice for humanists, atheists, agnostics and the non-religious in BC. In this role, I’ve published articles and reports on the prayers that still open daily sessions of the BC Legislature, on tax exemption policy, and on unconstitutional prayers at municipal council meetings.

Many readers may have seen my name pop up around Victoria’s growing network of little free libraries. For the past several years, I have been volunteer member of the board of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN), and among other things, I have led the Pocket Places Project. This project seeks to promote, map, stock, and build little free libraries around the CRD. I regularly tour about the city with a bike trailer full of books, topping up little free libraries, and help people source free books. To date, this project has distributed over 50,000 books in the CRD, and the number of libraries mapped has grown from 111 to 584!

I also work on a number of other projects through the GVPN; I am currently working on installing road murals in Saanich, a project that combines my passions for community building, placemaking, and road safety.

Give us a brief taste of the great work you’ve done for our community. Of this, is there anything you’re most proud of?

Despite some of my work having a provincial or even global focus, I do try to do as much as I can here in the community. I am particularly proud of the work of the AccessBC campaign—this grassroots campaign went from a Twitter account and small group of folks gathered around my kitchen table to a province-wide campaign that has been gathering momentum.

We have participated in budget consultations, lobbied ministers, and flooded the inboxes of MLAs with thousands of letters. This hard work has paid off, with free contraception gaining support by all major parties in the last election. It was recommended by the last three budget consultation committees and Premier Horgan included free contraception in Minister of Health Adrian Dix’s mandate letter. Our team of volunteers is currently pushing hard to get this policy into the upcoming budget and I am incredibly proud of their work!

I have becoming increasingly passionate about placemaking. The more placemaking in which I am involved, the more I realize how the way in which we design and animate spaces shapes connectivity and builds community. This has become even more apparent with the challenges presented by the pandemic. I meet fantastic and interesting people through my work with little free libraries and have a constant stream of books running through my life.

I am also proud of my work on sea cucumber wildlife crime. When people think about wildlife crime, they will often think about tigers, elephants, sharks, and whales. But the scope and scale of wildlife crime is mind-boggling. Over the past several years, I have worked to establish myself as an expert in illegal fishing, and I like to focus on neglected species, like sea cucumbers. I am pleased that my work is introducing more people to potentially new and important species and wildlife crime adversely impacting these animals.

Is there anything people familiar with your work might be surprised to learn about you?

Absolutely! I play ice hockey on a rec league called the ‘Crows’ and have placed hockey my whole life. When I was in grad school, I coached the Cambridge University Women’s Ice Hockey Team and played for the men’s team. Speech and debate has had a huge influence on my life and I grew up competing in high school and university competitive debate teams. I currently volunteer as the debate coach in Port Alberni and help out with local teams when I can.

When you need inspiration, where do you typically go to find it in Greater Victoria?

When I need inspiration, I try to get out into the community and tour around Victoria’s growing network of little free libraries. I love how each of these small interventions into the urban landscape reflect their builders and communities, and I love meeting people and finding interesting books.

This is my main form of exercise—doing hills in the Gorge with 100 kg of books in a bike trailer is a great workout. My less than satisfactory experience cycling on our local roads has certainly inspired me to step up and take action to promote road safety and active transportation infrastructure. When I need to recharge, or when it’s a bit too rainy to go out with the bike trailer, I like to walk around Swan Lake and take pictures of mushrooms and moss.

Tell us about something local that’s brought you joy recently. What is it about this that you enjoy the most?

Someone in James Bay has festooned a tree with crockery. The branches of a lovely cherry out behind the Legislature have been covered in little tea cups and a teapot.

I stumbled across this delightful sculpture when I was out topping up little free libraries and it filled me with delight. I’m a little ashamed to say that it took me a while to get the obvious pun: it’s a ‘tea tree.’ I love how the piece changes with the seasons—the cups will blend into the foliage in the summer, but stand out like hawthorn berries in the winter—and I love how someone has gone to a lot of trouble just to interject a little bit of whimsy into the urban landscape.
Know someone who we should feature in an upcoming reader spotlight? Send their name, contact info, and why you feel they should be nominated to emily@capitaldaily.ca.
 
Together With
United Way Southern Vancouver Island
Help your senior neighbours

Becky is a 96-year-old who lives on her own in Central Saanich. Like most of us, she wants to age in place at home.

United Way supports Becky and other older adults like her who need help to get by. Volunteers from our More than Meals program deliver nutritious meals with a smile – and sometimes a sweet treat! – to seniors from Saanich to Sidney to James Bay.

For these often-frail seniors, the other important aspect of More than Meals is that someone is there seeing them in person and checking to make sure that they are doing okay. The pandemic has shown the world how fundamental social contact is in our lives. When we care for each other, we are a stronger community.

You can help.
Give today.
 
🎨 UVic student creates illustrated map of Victoria
The artist drew a walking map of her local neighbourhoods, with notes on local points of interest. [Victoria News]


🚌 BC Transit fare going electronic in Victoria this fall
Soon, you'll be able to *finally* pay for your bus tickets by card! [Victoria Buzz]

💭 Cognito Mental Health
Get personalized treatment for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and ADHD. Start feeling like you again. Visit GetCognito.ca ➞*

*Sponsored Listing
 
THAT’S IT FOR TODAY
Have a great weekend!
Headshot of Emily Fagan, Good Newsletter Editor.
It's been a great week for sunsets on the Island. Fingers crossed we get another good one this weekend!

Emily Fagan, Good Newsletter Editor
 
Overstory Media Group, 101-524 Yates Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1K8, Canada
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