Tag Archives: Arran Stephens

Dad and the Tesla

“Whoever does not have a good father should procure one.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

My father Arran has always been more interested in gardening than cars.  His Nature’s Path business card titles are ‘Co-CEO’ and ‘Garden-keeper’.  Dad makes the world greener and warmer and brighter.  Like Johnny Appleseed, wherever dad goes, he sows seeds: of vegetables and fruits, of kindness.  After eating a particularly good tomato or plum, Dad will spit out the seeds onto a napkin to dry and save (to plant).  Even when residing in a temporary home whose garden had no vegetable beds, Dad planted several zucchinis and tomatoes in and amongst the decorative floral landscaping.  When Dad came to visit our new home, clippers were out within minutes, dead was taken out of trees and bushes.  Lunch long-forgotten, berry clippings were planted and seeds sown.  A dedicated visionary, Dad even turned the back of the parking lot at Nature’s Path head office into a vegetable garden.

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Dad, going to garden at Nature’s Path in his Organic tee shirt that says, “Avant Gardener”

Now, I’ve been asked by a few folks to post about Dad’s new car, the Tesla Model S built and designed in California.  This seems like an appropriate Father’s Day post.  Although Dad is not a typical car fanatic, I’ve never seen him get more excited about a car.  Ever.  He’s driven a whole slew of motor vehicles since I was a kid, which, regardless of how pretty and clean they start off – usually end up being turned into soil-covered utilitarian vehicles in which to haul plants, compost, and gardening tools.

Now I’m not a car buff myself.  In a vehicle, I value functionality, beauty, and environmental sustainability in the reverse order.  We humans are addicted to fossil fuels, even knowing full well that they are hurting us.  It’s a drug and we can’t seem to stop using.  (Myself included).  When I moved back to Canada 4 years ago, I had to choose a car (as our trusty little Belgian-bought Peugeot couldn’t move with us).  My criteria for a car was “Whatever, however, as long as it’s a hybrid”.  When asked “What colour?”, my response was “Whatever, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s a hybrid”.

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After waiting a couple years for his Tesla Model S to be delivered, Dad promptly put it work, hauling his gardening equipment from the Nature’s Path Garden to his home garden and a few other gardens in-between.

Everyone agrees that fossil fuel consumption is unsustainable, and that if one must drive, drive an electric car fuelled by clean renewable energy (not coal-based power plants for example).  Rob Stewart, film-maker, was one of the motivators for me to write this blog. He explains in his film that we have billions of reasons to kick the fossil fuel habit.  We have the technology to make change but we lack the political will. We know the problem and we know the solution.  We just have to put it together.

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After driving dad’s Tesla, I am super thrilled for the future of the electric car.  The Tesla is going down in history as tipping the point.  I am no car expert folks but I can tell you a few things neat things about the Model S.  First of all, dad can drive from Vancouver to Victoria and back (with a trunk full of seedlings and fruits of course) on a single charge.    The key is shaped like a car, the door handles pop out, the top is an all-glass panoramic roof.  Plus there is a cool large screen which does everything like open the garage door, babysit your children and buy your groceries (just kidding it doesn’t buy your groceries,  But the next model will).  Sitting in the middle part of back isn’t a punishment because there is no hump in the middle of the floor.  The Model S is wider than regular cars so 3 adults fit comfortably in the back.  This is all very nice.

tesla key

But what is truly amazing about the Tesla Model S is the silent, ridiculously-rapid acceleration.  This is the reason why every one who drives a Tesla will want one. It’s like being in a quiet rocket.  It’s science-fiction.  It’s 0-97 km/h in 4.2 seconds.  That’s like roller-coaster, stomach-dropping, rocket-ship fast.  I have a strong stomach.  I am someone who enjoys airplane turbulence (the bumpiness is soothing) and I like amusement park rides with names such as ‘Twister ‘ and ‘Kamikaze’.  But when Dad accelerates too fast, a mischievous look in his eyes, I get motion sickness.  The Model S model is that fast.

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Me and Dad, Canadian-Bollywood-Gothic

My father has always spoken out against what is wrong and voiced his soft tenor for what is right.  Being a custodian of the Earth, he has always defended nature, spoken out against conventional (chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides) farming and GMOs which are poisoning our planet un-necessarily.  Being an organic gardener, dad knows first hand what soil needs to be healthy: sweat, toil and love.  He knows what the long-term data shows: Organic methods meet or beat GMOs production in yields.  We need bees, we need birds, we need biodiversity and love and compassion for all.  With his head in the clouds and his feet on the ground, Organic gardening, Tesla-driving Dad is one of my greatest heroes.  I can’t think of a better father, a better example for me – and everyone – to live by.

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Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads who toil in the soil, who envision, support and spark change.  To the fathers who support the Earth – even when they could make more money by spoiling it.  I’ve heard dad say this a million times but each time it resonates and strikes a different chord inside me.  In everything we do, whatever we do, “Always leave the soil better than you found it”.   I need to share this as it is now what drives my every conscious action or purpose; in effectuating change we stand up against what’s wrong and stand up for what’s right.  In symphony with other salient, common sense truths, that mantra of leaving the earth better than we found it sings every day, ever louder in my heart.

Drop Everything and Garden

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.  Gardening is an instrument of grace.”

– May Sarton

Parking at Nature’s Path head office the other day, I was pleasantly surprised to witness a Planting session at the Garden.   There was something so beautiful and affirming in that scene.    It made me want to sing out, “The team that gardens together, stays together!”   I didn’t sing but I did take some photos to share with you.

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Group planting session at Nature’s Path

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Lovely Pegi, keeping her whites and creams pristine (a real accomplishment)

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Jason, the cool dude of sustainability.

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Dad, raking away

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Arjan, turning the mulch

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3 muses of the seed  Kyla, Shannon, Natalie seeds in hand

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Chloe, turning the soil, preparing the beds for seeds

Wouldn’t it be great if every company had a garden?

Wouldn’t it be great if everybody in every company sowed seeds at work?

Ask for it. Create it.

Plant seeds, watch them sprout, grow and blossom.

Marvel at the flowers.

Earth Day Message

On this Earth Day 2013, I see a world where it is becoming ever hipper and cooler to garden and farm organically.

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Me and my dad, Arran

I was hanging out in Richmond the other day, dad was busy, furiously typing when I walked into his office

‘Whatcha doing?” I asked.

He kind of hummed and hawed and mumbled for a bit.  My phone rang so I left.  About half an hour later or so, I bumped into him again.  “Hey Deepie, want to hear what I’ve been writing?” he asked.  My friend Nathalie Chambers was there, talking about conservation of farmland (more on that in the future).  Dad read the following out loud to us.  Nathalie was crying by the time he finished.  Me too.

“Dad,” I said, “I have to share that on my new blog”.

He smiled his beautiful smile. “Go ahead.”

Dad and mom are my heroes, more so every day.  Dad founded Vancouver’s first vegetarian restaurant called the Golden Lotus and established Vancouver’s first super-market size Health Food store called Lifestream in the late 1960s.  An idealist driven to business in order to advocate for the Earth, Health, Organic Farming and Ethical business practises, my parents are inspirations to thousands.  Dad has been called a ‘folk hero”, “hippie capitalist” among other names.  To me he is a loving, kind, and firm father with a fierce sense of justice. When he feels that something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘just’ or ‘injust’, he will stop at nothing to stand up and say so.  My Mom is a determined mother bear and lioness.  She also has that uncanny common sense with the wisdom of Solomon.  They are a fierce team.

In case you are wondering, the goal of “The Deeper Side Blog” is not to promote my parent’s or their company but to use them and many many others as beacons of light, as shining models; templates of success for those searching to creating meaning in life.  I was thrilled to hear from Tricia Millhouse Walter feeling moved by despair about the conditions of children in her neighbourhood and transforming that energy into positive action by working for the non-profit ‘Corazon’.  She posted on my first ‘blogger’ post and I’m not sure that came through.  She is another example of people moved to ‘be the change’.   Although I’ve started this blog talking about the right of the seed, I am brewing and steeping with overflowing words in my bottomless teapot of ideas.  I’m just wondering which one to write next – and trying to find the time!  I could write this blog 15 hours a-day, not eat or sleep (Yeah, I’m a little obsessive).

Here is the Earth Day message.

EARTH DAY OPEN LETTER FROM ARRAN & RATANA, Nature’s Path co-
founders

On this Earth Day, we give thanks to the Earth, our Mother, and to the Creative
Spirit, our Father. We give thanks to you, our beloved Customers for believing in
and supporting Nature’s Path and what we stand for: good wholesome healing
food, food which is good for the planet, good for people, for animals, for farmers
and all living things. We give thanks for Light and Love, Peace and Beauty. May
it heal, spread and overcome the dark, the forlorn, the hungry, the pain and the
forgotten. We give thanks to the hundreds of valued team members at Nature’s
Path.

On this Earth Day, we would also like to say a few words in support of the
powerful, relevant, beautiful and poetic new film about food which is being
released across North America and the world: GMO OMG by filmmaker Jeremy
Seifert.

There is a parable about the Earth, which we’d like to share:

Once, the Earth was asked how She could support the weight of the mountains,
the land, the oceans, the peoples, the animals, the birds and fishes. How could
she possibly withstand the occasional famine, war, bloodshed and poverty. How
could she bear such a burden?

And the Earth replied, “I can stand any burden, except an ungrateful heart.”

Love to you all,

Arran & Ratana Stephens

This Earth Is Ours Song

I know of a world where farmers were moved by the land’s beauty to poetry and song. I see a world where farmers break out again into a joyful refrain. And may they carry spirit of this song in their hearts.

Gearing up for Earth Day…. This is a Farmer’s Anthem.

My grandfather Rupert Stephens was a gentle soul with 2 passions, organic farming and writing songs. He also wrote about farming. Grandpa’s most beautiful songs are (arguably) those about the Earth. He wrote “This Earth is Mine’ in the 1950s.

Last year, on Vancouver Island where the song was born, I re-recorded ‘This Earth is Ours’ changing the lyric slightly. My dad Arran recited the second verse as indicated in a creased, fragile, old lyrics sheet found in some random book. It had been type-written by my grandmother the glamorous Gwendolyn who loved the feel of dirt in her hands.

I got in touch with the amazing guitarist Adam Dobres. We took up the tempo, gave it a Joan Baez ‘Silver Dagger’ – feel with full vocal vibrato and Adam playing a wicked folk-rendition on his guitar.

Grandpa Rupert passed away when I was a toddler. When my dad Arran announced the event of the birth of his granddaughter (ie: moi), Grandpa Rupert was delighted. But when they told him my name, he didn’t say anything.

He must have been at the origin of the Stephens’ refrain of “Before you speak, ask yourself first, ‘Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?'” Grandpa Rupert really didn’t like my name.

Awww. Sniff. (I don’t blame him, it was a name that I found hard to wear growing up on the West side of Vancouver.)

A little afterwards, Grandpa Rupert told dad about a bird cooing outside his window. The bird was singing ‘G-Deep! G-Deep!’ And that did it. If the birds were singing my name, it was a sign. After that Grandpa Rupert loved my name.

I love him through his music and his earnest joy and romantic ideals of respect for the land and especially for the ‘lowly earthworm’.