Monthly Archives: June 2013

Video of My First Rally Speech

“Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

– Eddie Rickenbacker

Until May 25th 2013, I had never addressed a crowd at a rally.  I was scared and prepared my speech for days.  Speaking at a rally is something I had never seen myself doing.  I like to sing songs in front of people, stir up lyrical and melodic beauty, make people laugh (or cry) – with song.  I have never considered myself an activist.  But I suppose I am becoming an activist if it means that I want to know what’s in and on my food that I then put in my body.   At this time in history, we are activists in N. America if we want to know whether our food has GMOs in them.

64 countries in the world either ban GMOs or require them to be labelled.  There are countless compelling reasons for this.  I realized that if I didn’t do something, how could I rely on others to speak for me, address my concerns?  More selfishly, if I didn’t take some kind of action, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, knowing that our bees are dying, our waters are being poisoned and our soils destroyed by GMO agriculture.  Every independent study shows that toxins from GMOS are in our blood and our urine.  These are known carcinogens, hormone disruptors   These are poisons.   They are toxic.  They are in our foods because the companies making them did 3 month-long rat studies saying that they were safe for humans.  This ‘scientific evidence’ was rubber stamped by the FDA.  Europeans and others did similar studies and came to drastically different conclusions.  GMO have never been tested on humans.  The promise of GMOs reducing pesticide use was quickly deconstructed.  I was speaking with two young French biology students yesterday who told me that GMOs were necessary to reduce pesticide use.  What they were not being told was that even with plants that have a pesticide spliced in the gene, farmers still dump copious amounts of pesticides.  I’m going to send them the data this morning to convince them.  The use of pesticides is ever exponentially increasing.

Like the Moms who are marching across America (Moms across America March to Label GMOs) to demand mandatory labelling of GMOs I see Canadian moms following the common sense of our American sisters.  We must stand up for our poisoned soils and waters.

Someone posted this 12 min clip of my Speech at the March Against Monsanto

There are a couple errors.  For the record, I have an Honours BA in Biology from the University of Chicago.  I have an MA in Biopsychology also from The University of Chicago.  I began Doctoral Studies in Cellular Biology in Neurobiology at the University of Barcelona but left after a year.  I have one co-authored scientific article on Rat Behaviour.  All that said, I dont consider myself a “Biologist” not being an academic and not having completed my doctorate in Neurobiology.  Also the bug study In the GMOs versus organic fields wasn’t an independently reviewed study.

My favourite part of the speech is at the end when my daughter leaped into my arms, wearing her favourite green GMO shirt with three armholes.  She likes to put her leg through the third armhole.  The T-shirts, made by Nature’s Path Foods say, “GMO shirts are easy to spot, GMO foods aren’t.”

Demand labelling, demand your right to know what is in your food.

If it’s scary and you feel like you’re becoming an activist, welcome to the club.  What can be more important than how we treat others, how were treat our Mother Earth?  What we put on our bodies?  What we put in our bodies?

You tell me.

Style-Diet Shot – Alex we3 skirt

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

 – Thomas Jefferson

Alex is wearing a we3 skirt http://www.we3.ca/ made of hemp.  It was bought in Vancouver at Twigg and Hottie http://twiggandhottie.com/.  It has neat gatherings on the sides and back for awesome textured rouching (is that a word?).  The bracelet, bought at Twigg and Hottie as well, is re-purposed silver ware, the ends of two spoons artfully crafted together.

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Alex sent me a picture of the Silverware Jewellery Stall at Main Street Car Free Day:

Silverware Jewellery Main Street Car Free Day

The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

Giving with love

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

– Mother Theresa

My parents began their life together in debt.  Wed in India in 1969, the young, penniless (rupee-less), multi-cultural couple borrowed enough money for a plane ticket back to Vancouver.  From then on it’s been a historic rise for my parents.

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My mom Ratana Stephens, in her early twenties.

Talking to a very successful lawyer recently, he said, “We in the world of finance see money as a flowing river to tap into and divert.  Your parents have done the extra-ordinary.  They have built their success in actually creating value.” On so many levels.  I had never thought of it like that but he was right.  Nurturing people and the planet is part their triple-bottom line philosophy.  Socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and financially viable.

In encouraging change, we need examples.  What can be achieved? What is possible?  Whose shoulders should we stand tall upon and grow to new heights?  I look to my parents as a template for success.  Not just financially.  Not just in giving back but in making the world safer, providing wholesome organic food as the original and viable alternative to the toxins and chemicals that poison the Earth.  Through their vision, Nature’s Path is standing up for the planet again and again.

Here is a plaque recently put up in Vancouver General Hospital which honours the recent and huge monetary contribution to the Vancouver General and UBC Hospitals.  Dad and I were interviewed on CBC radio earlier this year about the donation.  I gave dad 2/3 of my liver.  Dad gave me life.  I gave him life.  And we give in return.

We give with love and accept with gratitude.

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Style-Diet Shot – Alex kimono

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

 – Thomas Jefferson

Alex found this Japanese kimono in Soho New York in the 1990s.  It is authentic Japanese silk of un-known vintage.

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The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

Godfrey and Jazz

“Painting, I think it’s like jazz”

– Brian Eno

Uncle Godfrey loves jazz. I love jazz. He loved jazz first but not best and shared that love with me. In 1990, he made me a cassette tape of ‘Kind of Blue’ with a state of the art dual cassette recorder. This tape has travelled the world. When I lived in London, and inspired by Kind of Blue, I named one my jazz groups α- blue (alpha blue). We did vocalese (putting words onto instrumental jazz solos and then singing them note for note). α- blue also fused two disparate genres of improvised musics: early music and jazz music.

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In honour of Victoria’s Annual Jazz Festival, here is one of my favourite paintings by Godfrey. A few years back this painting was turned into a poster for the Victoria Jazz Fest.

jazz taken by Gurdeep

The lines and colors scat, harmonize and improvise over the bass. Godfrey’s art is always born in and of loud blasting music, from the rhythms of Cuba, the chanting of First Nations or Turkish vocalists. If you haven’t seen this short video, do click on it. It shows Godfrey, the creative genius madly at work:

Style-Diet Shot – Sean Montreal policeman’s coat

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Coats are often the easiest thing to buy second-hand. Well-made, a coat can last generations. Here is Sean in a coat made for Montreal Police in the late 60s early 70s. It has a clip near the right breast which was meant for a badge. Montreal Police coats used to be made out of Horse Leather. Sean’s horse hide coat is heavy and durable and has sheep skin at the collar. I cannot endorse leather or fur for reasons of compassion. However, it would be a shame not to re-purpose clothes made back when it was the norm to use animals. Sean’s footwear are genuine motorcycle boots worn over the jeans.

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The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

Hula Hoe

‘We come from the Earth, we return to the Earth and in-between we garden.”

– Anon

It’s been about three and a half years since we got a house with a garden.  With much help and advice, I’m starting to understand some fundamentals about gardening.  When we arrived the previous owner had a whole bunch of toxic things in the shed: de-mossers, some pesticides and other weed-killers.  I was alarmed at this – my father and forefathers always farmed and gardened without these toxic chemicals.  Dad has experimented with salt on the slugs and more than a couple tragi-comic stories involving live traps and relocating squirrels.  But no poisons, no toxins.  And fantastic harvests.  One tip is to plant garlic and onions near fruit trees.  Another principle I’ve garnered from dad is, “get a good hoe”.

Dad gave me one last week.  This is a killer hoe for shallow weeds.  It’s also called a Dutch hoe or Stirrup Hoe it cuts both ways.

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Why dump poisons into the soil to kill weeds when you can uproot them with a few flicks of the wrist?  I can’t wait to show you my Fiskars dandelion puller!!