Tag Archives: Ratana Stephens

Book Launch of Wood Storms, Wild Canvas

“Weaving all these wonderful people into a warm blanket of appreciation, the memories of tonight should be something you would want to wrap yourself up in.  So set sail with your book, Godfrey, and please ride on the sea of your admirers, friends and family.  And may we help carry you to beyond the horizon beyond Godfrey’s navigation, beyond the now”

Above are words from the emcee of the evening: the enchanting Misty Britskaya, singer, rapper, artist, muse.  Below she is posing next to “Square Diamond.”  The long-awaited book was finally launched on the 75th Birthday of Uncle Godfrey at the historic Swans, owned by the University of Victoria with Victoria’s finest local art including Godfrey’s portrait of Michael Williams and the 11.5 tall Klukchitl red cedar abstract column.

Misty to crop

10 Times Chief (Nakapinkim) Tony Hunt, wore the ceremonial blanket weaved by his grandmother in the 1800s.  As a hereditary chief, Tony Hunt has only ever recognized two people as family in his big house in Fort Rupert.  One is Godfrey.  The two were regaled in these beautiful blankets (one of which has been photographed as the cover of a book).  The Chief then spoke at length of his admiration of Godfrey’s work and the frustration we fans have with Godfrey’s refusal to deal with galleries.  Chief Tony Hunt also spoke at length about how everywhere he travelled around the world, exhibiting his own art work, he got to see works of all the famous artists around the world.  He kept saying to himself, “My friend Godfrey’s better than that”. We all nodded. Yep…

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unnamed(photos of Chief Tony Hunt and Godfrey by Aija Steele)

Robert Amos, writer and artist spoke next.  Robert Amos has probably published more articles about Godfrey than anyone else.  Check out his review http://www.timescolonist.com/robert-amos-two-artists-with-wildly-different-visions-1.1466058 He talked about finding more about this legendary artist when he moved to the West Coast.  One of Robert’s cousins had dropped out of school in back east and made it out to the Wild West Coast in the 1960s.  But guess what? Godfrey was already there.  As Robert famously has written, “Godfrey never dropped out, he was already out there”.

DSC_0498(from left Chief Tony Hunt, Robert Amos, Godfrey, Luis Merino)

Arran Stephens, my dad, read from the book.  His lines are beautiful, starting with the phrase, “When my brother Godfrey was made, the mould, like the clamshell he climbed out of, was broken.”

unnamed-4above left: Chief Tony Hunt, Godfrey and Arran

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My parents Ratana and Arran with Chief Tony Hunt above.  Their generous support of me and this project made this book a reality.  Peter Grant gave the book lavish praise, making me feel honoured and a little bashful to have been able to tie it all together with such talented, accomplished individuals.

Gof alex arran megan aijaAbove: Arran, Godfrey, Alex Von Kleist, Megan Parris and Aija Steele.

Alex Von Kleist told a few stories about Godfrey whooshing into his life many summers ago.  Alex brought us into a scene when Bill Reid once spent about half an hour looking at a small yellow cedar Abstract of Godfrey’s and explaining it to him.  Masterful- as the abstract turned about its base, new images and hidden iconography were uncovered at every degree. Artist Luis Merino, whose portrait and words grace the book, said some delightful words in Spanish (does anyone know what cabron means?!).

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Aija Steele is the main photographer of the book.  Aija came over from Duck Creek Galley on Salt Spring Island, where she sells her photography, enhanced prints and original Godfrey Stephens.  (The Square Diamond, a limited giclee reproduction in the photo with Misty is currently for sale).  She is standing with film-maker Peter Campbell, of Gumboot Productions below. Thanks again to Tessa Lloyd for this photo:

Tessa photo Peter and Aija

We missed several important peeps. Lloyd Kahn, writer, publisher, blogger and photographer extraordinaire inspired me to make this book.  Lloyd sent good wishes from California. Check out his review http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.ca/2014/10/new-book-of-godfrey-stephens-art-just.html Also sorely missed were Elsie Johnson, Sarah Chritchley, Marial Shea, Jan Westendorp, Bruce Stotesbury, photographer Doug Van Sickle, Joe Martin the master canoe carver, and artist Tilikum Redding.  David Carey, who designed the beautiful cover and some book elements was there, listening to praise of his work.  Below I am next to there “Swamp Pookmis” painting, getting ready to give Godfrey a book.

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Eventually, I presented Godfrey with a book.  He wasn’t allowed to even touch a copy of this book until his Birthday on Tuesday.  It was exciting and thrilling.  I’m totally relieved that it’s out and he can’t say anything about it!  (He wanted me to write the book in incomprehensible haikus and fill up every inch of white space with lots of random images of his work.  Of course I didn’t and didn’t want him to complain until it was too late.  I’m happy that it’s too late.)

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Here is my dear friend Megan Parris, Godfrey’s wife.

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I was thrilled by this delegation of Yorkies below and we signed a book for the school library.

Yorkies legs

Mariner and musician John Van Tamelin was also there, another legend.  Writer and Elephant Earth Initiative co-founder Dag Goering and film-maker Peter Campbell documented this historic event.  Can’t wait to see their respective photos and film!!!! Tessa Lloyd, Owen Matthews plus Victoria City Councillor Pam Madoff were there – Godfrey had done a stunning portrait of Pam’s late partner Nick Bawlf that I wanted to put in the book.  Sadly, it didn’t fit but it is masterful.  I met the writer and artist Philip Willey, a cool British cat who hitchhiked with Godfrey around the world.  Check out his review of the at http://exhibit-v.blogspot.ca/2014/10/godfrey-stephens-wood-storms-wild.html Former Environment Minister David and Sandra Anderson attended as did singer-songwriter Kristin Sweetland.  Here she is with Misty and Godfrey behind the painting “Moss Street Nuvo.”

Kirsten and misty

Below I’m giving famous artist Joe David his copy of the book.  I wanted to include an early oil portrait of Joe that Godfrey did in the 70s or 80s but it didn’t photograph well enough to print in the book 😦

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It would have gone perfectly with Joe’s beautiful words in Wood Storms, Wild Canvas: “Godfrey is one of my all time very favourite artists. And Godfrey is a true artist in every sense of the word and concept.  He is a cultural and national treasure and unfortunately not as many people know this as should.  But who are we to know the true workings of his soul, as it just might be that fame and fuss over him might spoil and alter his genius. ”

Godfrey signed dozens of books.  Here is a close-up of a book for his pal Douglas Henderson.  The next two photos by Tessa Lloyd:

Tessa photo Douglas Henerson Tessa photo Henderson

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Writer and co-founder of the Elephant-Earth Initiative Maria Coffey gave us a beautiful reading.  She shared the enchanting words of missing mariner and dear friend Paul Clark.  They begin as follows “Godfrey’s muse is the sea, the silver thread where the ocean folds into the embrace of land.  Here every sense is engaged: light is refracted, atmosphere is ozone rich and the Voice is always beckoning.”

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I want to thank my husband Pascal for everything.  I have been with him through thick and thin and up and down.  It is because of him and the life we have built that I am able to do all the things I do.  A year ago I could barely speak.  After two major surgeries and months of rehabilitation, I learned to walk, talk and write again.  Pascal is the lode-stone and the rebar in our home and I am blessed and grateful.  Here he is with Megan Parris and Chief Tony Hunt (photo by Tessa Lloyd).

Tessa photo Pascal Chief Megan

Here is the poster for a our first ever book-signing Saturday November 1st at Munro’s Books.

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Thanks to Misty for the photos of me and Godfrey, to Diya for many of the other photos in this post, and to Tessa Lloyd and Aija Steele for letting me use some of their photos.  I’ve credited where possible!

Q&A With Arran Stephens re: GMOs

“I’m not the CEO, I’m just the gardener”

– Arran Stephens, Founder, CEO and Chief Gardenkeeper at Nature’s Path

Arran and Ratana Stephens, my parents, have recently been honored for their passion and commitment to the organic food movement.  I wasn’t surprised by the award but I was surprised by the fact that this story was picked up by the Wall Street Journal.  Organics is growing movement, a movement for food democracy, health, and planetary well-being.  More and more people are waking up the dangers of toxic pesticides and herbicides that our foods are typically drenched in.

Although my family has supported GMO labeling since the beginning, my battle became personal this Spring when I started to understand how little my peers know about them.  Everyone agrees that whether you think GMOs are healthy or harmful, we should have the right to know if we are eating them.  My dad was asked to answer the following questions about GMOs.

1.        What potential effects do GMO’s present?

Up to this point, neither government nor industry has provided any long-term safety studies on human or animal health from consuming Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) foods in our daily diet, making us all guinea pigs in the biggest feeding experiment in human history. GMOs have not been proven safe, and nearly 64 countries—including Russia and China—have significant restrictions or outright bans because of this.  We are now starting to see a growing body of research, and the results are pointing to potential negative health effects like pre-cancerous cell growth and tumors, damaged immune systems, infertility and more.   Couple this with the negative effect on our environment and the potential impacts are too great to ignore.

2.      What do consumer’s need to know about GMO’s and their consumption?

Consumers need to know that GMOs have not been proven safe, and they do not have to be a part of this huge science experiment – they have the right to know what’s in the food they are eating and feeding their families.  In 2013, 95 bills related to the labeling of GMO foods were introduced in 28 states, including I-522 in Washington.   Now is the time to learn more, spread the word and vote for your right to know, so you can make an informed decision about the food you buy and feed to your families. The best way to avoid GMOs is to choose food that is USDA certified organic, which prohibits the use of GMOs, and Non-GMO Project Verified, which  means it went through rigorous third party testing to bear the seal.  At Nature’s Path, all of our products are both organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, so consumers can feel comfortable knowing our products avoid GMOs.

3.       What does organic mean, and why is this movement important?

Organic means that food has been grown without toxic, chemical pesticides and herbicides, GMOs, antibiotics and artificial growth hormones.  Organic is the gold standard, and your best way to avoid GMOs.  Non-GMO Project Verified products have been tested for GMOs – which is incredibly important – but it doesn’t mean they are organic, so they most likely have been grown with toxic and carcinogenic agri-chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, and fertilized with fossil-based fertilizers which harm the environment. The only way to have both Non-GMO and the numerous, additional benefits of organic food, is to choose products that bear the USDA Certified Organic Seal. It’s not hard to imagine why this would be better for people and the planet and there is a growing body of research that is beginning to show the health and environmental benefits of organic food.

4.      What is the argument for GMO’s?

The biotech industry claims that GMOs increase crop yields and are the answer to world hunger.  In some cases, yields have been shown to improve while in others, they have not, and recently, those claims have been challenged by a United Nation’s special report: which found that

‘agroecological methods [without the use of GMOs] can outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live,” and that “conventional farming relies on expensive inputs, fuels climate change and is not resilient to climactic shocks.  It simply is not the best choice anymore today.”  We’ve seen people in Haiti, who desperately needed food, burn GMO seeds that were given to them, considering them a kind of Trojan Horse – we need to help feed the world with food that has been proven safe and nourishing, not genetically engineered and filled with chemicals.

Another claim from the biotech industry is that GMO crops use less pesticides, since the Bt toxin pesticide is already spliced into the GMO seed. But, since the introduction of GMO crops, toxic, carcinogenic herbicide use has gone up over 1,000%, as these GMO seeds are bred to resist the application of herbicides which kill everything else on the fields, not just weeds.

Mom’s advice from the Social Venture Institute

I see people holding to their ideals.

My mother Ratana and sister Jyoti gave a talk yesterday at the Social Venture Institute.  Jyoti has been championing sustainability at Nature’s Path even before she got her Green MBA.  My mom, co-founder of Nature’s Path, steers the company forward with vision, style and a sense of greater purpose.  With their beautiful voices and complementary speaking styles, they got a well-deserved standing ovation after their talk.

Here they are today – unintentionally color-coordinated

Mom (Ratana Stephens) and Lil' Sista (Jyoti Stephens)

Mom (Ratana Stephens) and Sista (Jyoti Stephens)

My mom is uncannily wise.  Here is the advice she gave yesterday for making a difference in business.  I want to share it with you.  I daresay that this advice can be applied to most endeavours:

Mom’s advice number one: Choose the right life mate

Mom’s advice number two: Understand the finances of your company

Mom’s advice number 3: Create a business you belive in and are passionate about

Mom’s advice number 4: Surround yourself with people whom you respect

Mom’s advice number 5: Don’t wallow in mistakes, learn from them and accept and move on

Mom’s advice number 6: Welcome advice from those you trust

Mom’s advice number 7: Don’t compromise your beliefs

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