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Maleea Acker

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Focus Magazine Nov/Dec 2016

Sept/Oct 2016.2

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Everything posted by Maleea Acker

  1. Image: Frances Litman in 2012 at the first CUP festival Frances Litman has a passion for bringing people together and fostering conversation around creative solutions to environmental problems. Go to story
  2. Litman has a passion for bringing people together and fostering conversation around creative solutions to environmental problems. LIKE MANY OF US, FRANCES LITMAN receives a lot of emails—about saving salmon streams and protecting water rights or forests; from environmental and human health organizations looking for support. As a photographer, she is used to seeing the world through many lenses. She thinks a great deal about the relationships between the arts, the environment, health, even the disappearing old-growth forests in BC. To Litman, it all seems connected—all facets
  3. Image: Some local suppliers of wood treated with arsenic warn customers; others don't. Allan Galambos’ fight against CCA treated wood products. Go to story
  4. Allan Galambos’ fight against CCA treated wood products. IN 2016, PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER Allan Galambos and his wife moved to Cordova Bay to enjoy retirement. His wife was hoping to garden but the back yard had a significant ash pile. Rather than mixing the ash into the ground, they made the decision to gather it for disposal and test a sample. It was a good thing they did. The testing revealed an extremely high level of arsenic—344 parts per million (ppm), nearly 14 times the allowable level for livestock grazing in BC—and high levels of chromium and copper. One tablespoon of the a
  5. Posted January 25, 2021 Gerald Harris and other volunteers are making progress towards introducing chum to the meandering city creek. Go to story
  6. Gerald Harris and other volunteers are making progress towards introducing chum to the meandering city creek. IN 1978, GERALD HARRIS wrote a short series of articles on Vancouver’s buried and long lost watercourses. The articles were eventually collected and published as a short book: Vancouver’s Old Streams, and offered by the Vancouver Aquarium in 1989. In the book, Harris weaves stories from fishers and “old-timers” with research from the Vancouver Archives into a compelling portrait of a city of salmonberry-lined pools and streams, laden with coho, chum and rainbow trout, inclu
  7. Posted December 3, 2020 Photo: Bob McMinn at Mary Lake in the Highlands Without his stewardship, it’s unlikely Victoria would have the nearby forests it has. And at 96, he’s not finished yet. Go to story
  8. Without his stewardship, it’s unlikely Victoria would have the nearby forests it has. And at 96, he’s not finished yet. Bob McMinn at Mary Lake Nature Sanctuary (Photo by Koi Neah) “I’M A FIRM BELIEVER IN FOREST BATHING,” Bob McMinn tells me as we sit in the house that hangs over the green and pristine edges of Mary Lake in the District of the Highlands. The lake stretches out from the windows, framing the November colours of the far shore’s forest. “Two reasons I have lived to 96,” he tells me, “is my mother’s genes and I’ve lived in the woods all my life.”
  9. Posted August 6, 2020 Image: Map of the meadow Sonya McRae helps Shoreline students honour and learn about biodiversity and the Songhees and Esquimalt Peoples. Go to story
  10. Sonya McRae helps Shoreline students honour and learn about biodiversity and the Songhees and Esquimalt Peoples. AT THE FAR EDGE of Shoreline Community Middle School’s fields, which run from the Old Island Highway down to the inner reaches of the Gorge Waterway, a Kwetlal ecosystem, or meadow sits atop a rise. Kwetlal is the Songhees name for camas, one of the key plants in native Garry oak ecosystems. The garden’s approximately 500 square feet abuts a vestige coastal Douglas-fir forest, with remnant species of arbutus, oak, fir and maple. When I visit with Sonya McRae, the garden’
  11. Posted June 20, 2020 Photo: Victoria's Owl Clover, a red-listed (Endangered) plant Join a group of volunteers working to restore the Upland Park Garry oak meadow. Go to story
  12. Help restore—or just enjoy—one of the most intact Garry oak meadows on the island. LOOKING FOR MORE nature-bathing time? Residents can now socialize while staying safe during BC’s Phase 2 reopening. Margaret Lidkea, president of the Friends of Uplands Park Society is looking for more volunteers to help restore and maintain the beauty of Cattle Point and Uplands Park in Oak Bay. A 30.6 hectare municipal park, Uplands contains 17 rare plants in its vernal, shallow and deep soil meadows, and is one of the most intact representations of a south coast Garry oak meadow ecosystem on the i
  13. March 2020 Two UVic librarians volunteering for Surfrider are leading the battle against industrial plastic on our beaches. DANIEL BRENDLE-MOCZUK takes a small jar from his office shelf and shakes it, his eyebrows knitting together. “This is from one site, one collection, ten litres of sand.” He hands me the 192 millilitres of small plastic pellets, about the size and shape of a Baby Aspirin. They are various colours of white, beige, pale yellow, and grey. They darken as they absorb contaminants from the ocean, he tells me. Brendle-Moczuk’s colleague, David Boudinot, wal
  14. January 2020 A Fernwood well brings history lessons, community, and precious water together. AFTER A CAPITAL REGION SUMMER of near-normal precipitation and one of the wettest Octobers on record (though one of the driest Novembers), it’s easy to forget the troubles much of the world has with limited water supplies. California’s groundwater supply is dwindling; Cape Town is running dry; even Tofino has run out in the past. Climate change promises to bring water insecurity to much of the world. So when a water source is dedicated by the Hudson’s Bay Company to the people of Victo
  15. September 2019 Saving forests and removing invasives in Saanich FROM HIS HOME IN EAST SAANICH, Harry Drage tells me “It’s fun to say that you worked your entire career in the forests of BC.” A member of the Saanich Environmental Advisory Committee for over ten years, Drage, a forester, has been an ardent volunteer in both Haro Woods and Konukson Park (in East Saanich) since his retirement. This summer, Drage received Saanich’s Individual Environmental Achievement Award for 15 years of leadership in stewarding invasive species removal in Haro Woods and Konukson, a testament to
  16. July 2019 A deep and abiding love for ȽÁU,WELNEW/John Dean Park is evident in the stewardship work of volunteer Jarrett Teague. IN OLD GROWTH STANDS of Douglas fir and cedar, interspersed with sunlit, mossy meadows of Garry oak and arbutus, Jarrett Teague is surveying a landscape that he’s helped restore into an archetype of Southern Vancouver Island. Free of mature Scotch broom and other invasives, it looks largely as it did before colonization. In winter, rains blanket the park’s forests and trails; in spring, calypso orchids dot the mountain’s slopes. This past May, the W̱S
  17. May 2019 A molting elephant seal on Gonzales Beach offered lessons in nature and an occasion for friendship. FOR OAK BAY RESIDENTS Kerri Ward, Gina Lemieux and Stephanie Weinstein, April 2018 was an exhausting month that changed their lives. A female elephant seal arrived on Gonzales Bay beach to complete its annual spring molt. The three met on the beach, while trying to protect the seal. “I don’t think it was an accident,” Ward tells me, of the three women’s introduction to one another. I meet them in Ward’s kitchen, her character house surrounded by red-winged blackbir
  18. March 2019 Combining creative work with research, Estraven Lupino-Smith collaborates with HAT to monitor and celebrate bats. A FEW YEARS AGO, when Estraven Lupino-Smith was living in Philadelphia, they threw their back out. (Lupino-Smith is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.) Miserable, between contracts and home-bound in winter, instead of succumbing to depression, they fell back on their long history as an artist. “I’m going to make something,” they decided, “I’m going to do a series of prints on nocturnal animals.” Many are vilified, they explained, considered dangerou
  19. January 2019 Julian Anderson and Cuthbert Holmes Park AN IMPORTANT FACET OF ANY SUSTAINABLE CITY is its green spaces—providing opportunity for residents to step off a city bus and walk into wild areas to enjoy the ecosystems that make a region what it is. On Southern Vancouver Island, that includes salmon-bearing streams, Douglas-fir forests, wetlands, and habitat for a variety of bird and mammal species. Saanich’s Cuthbert Holmes Park, though sandwiched between a suburban mall, a residential neighbourhood and the Island Highway, satisfies all of these needs. But throughout it
  20. November 2018 In the face of ecological disasters, art and science together can lead to hope and resilience. “I CAUGHT THE DREAM OF THE ORCA,” Robin June Hood tells me in Demitasse Café during Fall’s first rainy period, “and it was so full in meaning that I knew something had been transmitted. I had to do something about it.” Coming from a cultural geographer, a consultant for community-based research and development projects who holds a PhD in global education, this might sound like an odd thing to say. But Hood is anything but ordinary. She focuses her attention on prot
  21. September 2018 One woman’s commitment to de-colonization. SOME PEOPLE IN THE WORLD serve as profound role models. They embody our species’ best qualities—care, patience, empathy, tenaciousness, optimism—and they focus on doing “right work” that acknowledges the importance of all beings, that tries to decolonize settler relationships to the land, and that seeks justice and fairness for all. This column gives me the opportunity to meet a lot of these kinds of people. Marion Cumming, however, is one who comes frequently to mind, not least because I spent two years working as
  22. July 2018 Digging, planting and watering together produces food, strengthens community and helps the bees help us. THERE'S NOTHING QUITE LIKE planting a garden in an urban area to garner attention. It raises interest, creates detractors and supporters, and gets people talking—to one another and to those doing the transforming. And when that garden gets built in a municipal park, over top of a former lawn, there’s a sense of revolution—taking back the history of lawns as European pleasure grounds, as demonstrations of wealth or conformity. We can do so much more with a patch of
  23. May 2018 Colleen O’Brien is restoring Playfair Park’s Garry oak meadows—allowing the rest of us a walk back in time. COLLEEN O'BRIEN AND I SIT ON A BENCH tucked into a gap in the split-rail fence that surrounds the two-acre Garry oak meadow expanse in Playfair Park. It’s windy, but when the sun shows, it’s deliciously warm. Around us, the ground is thick with the new green leaves of common camas, great camas, Pacific sanicle, fawn lily and other rarer species she demurs mentioning. It’s beautiful, and by the time this article comes to print, that sea of green will be a sea of
  24. March 2018 Mary Haig-Brown wants us to see vital connections in the natural world. IN VICTORIA'S RICH WORLD OF CONSERVATION STEWARDS, whether talking with mycologists, fish hatchery volunteers or amphibian counters, one name keeps coming up. Mary Haig-Brown is a bright-eyed optimist who lives in the Prospect Lake region of Saanich. The daughter of renowned writer, naturalist and outdoorsman Roderick Haig-Brown, she grew up in Campbell River alongside its rivers, learning about local ecosystems from an early age. Her optimism about the future of the natural world and the region
  25. November 2017 Peter McCully and his volunteer team are passionate about their work with the Goldstream Hatchery. WHEN I ARRIVE AT THE FIRST SET OF GATES to the Goldstream Howard English Salmon Hatchery, weekly volunteer Steve Atamanchuk greets me with a wave and sets upon me with a dry sense of humour that pushes away the cobwebs of the morning. “Yup, I’m a volunteer here. Last year they offered me a 20 percent raise. I told them not to give me so much.” Atamanchuk is part of the “Tuesday Crew,” comprised of six retirees from the ranks of over 20,000 volunteers that work
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