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Gelato: A natural indulgence

By contributor Jennifer Cox

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Tucked away on a rural property just off the highway in Fanny Bay, Karen Fouracre and Jaki Ayton raise a rambunctious and joyful group of Toggenburg goats. As small-scale farmers, they take pride in the fact that they know their goats by name. Best friends since high school, they have been raising goats since they purchased this property together 18 years ago. The resourceful pair determined that co-ownership would help them realize their dreams faster, so they pooled their finances, bought a small farm on Holiday Rd, and haven’t looked back.

“It was Jaki who was huge into goats,” Fouracre says, “so we started breeding and showing, starting off with 16th and 17th place, and now we have grand champions.”

Feeding and caring for their goats is a labour of love, so when an opportunity arose to provide goat’s milk to Saltspring Island Cheese Company, they jumped at the chance to have their animals earn their keep. They formed Snap Dragon Dairy to meet a growing demand for goat’s milk, but when they found themselves with milk leftover they knew they had to develop a secondary business plan.

“Everyone was making cheese and some are making it really well,” says Fouracre. They didn’t want to compete with existing businesses on the Island.

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Legato Gelato is packaged in containers for sale all over Vancouver Island in stores and at farmers’ markets.

In 2012, they launched Legato Gelato, crafting small-scale artisan gelato, hands-on through every step in the process. Demonstrating her morning milking routine, Fouracre jokes that dairy processing plants are only slightly more regulated than nuclear reactors.

“Everything is recorded,” she says. Intimate knowledge of the goats in her care helps ensure that Legato Gelato is made with 100 percent wholesome, natural ingredients. She knows what her goats have eaten for breakfast, and believes that their diet has a direct affect on the high quality gelato produced.

“I’ve raised them all from babies. I know their personalities, how much milk I can expect out of them. I know them intimately,” she says.

They milk the goats twice a day until they have 30 litres of milk. Then they transport it to the Canadian Cultured Dairy Plant in Royston (the home of Tree Island Yogurt), where the milk is pasteurized.

The pasteurized goat’s milk is mixed with Legato Gelato’s secret recipe that includes organic eggs, organic sugar, and organic cornstarch. The batch is cooked for several hours, forming a rich, flavourful custard that’s ready to mix with a coulis of fresh fruit. All the berries, of course, are sourced from local farms.

Legato Gelato is processed in a commercial kitchen at Lush Valley, a community kitchen that’s shared with other local food producers as part of a shared vision, promoting the production of local food. The kitchen is an ideal space for small-scale food production, and Fouracre appreciates having access to it. As business grows, she hopes that more people will become open to trying goat’s milk.

Each flvour of gelato is given a name inspired by local ingredients and places like Ironwood Strawberry, Wild n’ Free Blackberry, Cougar Smith Raspberry, Snapdragon Chocolate, Island Breeze Honey Vanilla, and Wild Spring Nettle.

Each flvour of gelato is given a name inspired by local ingredients and places.

“Some people have a built-in negative attitude towards goat’s milk. My mother has never had goat’s milk in her life, but she knows it tastes bad. She won’t even try it,” says Fouracre as she puts together samples to share. Once people have tried gelato they are able to see the flavour difference firsthand, and better understand its value.

“Gelato is much denser than ice cream, and because we are only using real food, our flavour is more intense,” she says.

“Most ice creams, if you read the ingredients, are not even made with real dairy anymore. They are made with emulsifiers and preservatives. Our gelato has none of that. We’re using real food from start to finish. And because we’re raising the goats we know exactly what they’re eating.”

Knowing where their food comes from is important to Fouracre and Ayton. They joke that when the hundred-mile diet was popular, they were following the one-mile diet, purchasing their food from neighbouring farms and vendors at the farmer’s market. They share the same philosophy on eating local: “It’s important for our community and important for our health.”


 

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Art and Activism

By contributor Chantelle Spicer.features

A major challenge in starting and maintaining social movements—political, environmental, humanitarian, or any combination thereof—is engaging people to get involved, as well as staying motivated. Successful social activism rests on the ability to provoke people’s perceptions, thoughts, and actions in positive and innovative ways. By joining with artistic and activist communities, social movements are able to overcome many adversities. The issue is given the ability to create a new visual landscape and language, form new collective identities, and redefine meaningful citizenship.

This collaborative endeavour has a long history and bright future of success in furthering the general awareness of controversial issues. Ranging from fine arts to street arts, graphic designers to performance artists and musicians, these artists are inspired to create something beautiful and moving by social injustice, natural degradation, and the other harsh realities of our contemporary existence. Coupled with the power of the political and scientific voice behind most activist movements, art provides a new way to encourage the public to participate.

A sample of the cups that were created following the kick-off event for the collaboration at the Vault Cafe. Sacia Burton

A sample of the cups that were created following
the kick-off event for the collaboration at the
Vault Cafe.
Sacia Burton

I personally have a special interest in the global environmental crisis and wildlife issues (habitat fragmentation and decreasing population) that are attached to it. When looking at the science-based facts of the issue, the statistics come like body blows—they are staggering and bleak. Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond them to a solution that the entire planet, or even a local community, can get on board with. Data alone will very rarely influence a person to make big changes in their life; most often they leave people feeling overwhelmed or defensive. By creating a new language of information through music and art—presented through humour, colour, representation, poetry, or song—the general public can be engaged in a new way, through the heart. By connecting to human emotions, the data transcends itself into a new realm of meaning that can inspire real change.

Art has been a way for humanity to express individual and community identity, articulating who we are, where we come from, and where we are going, since primitive man put charcoal to wall. In today’s social environment, this kind of expression has an indisputable place in social activism. Using the many aspects of the arts allows for emotional connection, and also provides a new way to transmit information, ideology, and communication, reduce fear or anxiety, or provide a rallying point of solidarity. It is powerful.

activismSolutions, a VIU club dedicated to bringing information on the issue of sustainability to campus, are tapping into this power with their Love-a-Mug campaign, which focuses on human consumption habits. Sacia Burton, facilitator of Solutions, understands the importance of utilizing the artistic side of activism to make changes. “I think art and activism both come from the same place inside somebody, the part that isn’t satisfied with what’s going on in the world and wants to stir things up. Marrying activism and art enriches the conversations we want to have. It engages all the senses and gives people the opportunity to participate in a discussion about what’s good and what’s worth making a fuss about.”

At tabling events over the past month, Solutions has given away over 70 donated mugs, coffee shop gift cards, and new VIU travel mugs to raise awareness of Love-a-Mug. Recognizing the positive impacts of art in social movement, members are collaborating with students in VIU’s art program, friends, frequenters of the Vault Cafe, children, and anyone else who’s willing to join them in the creation of an installation for the campus.

Features11_Artandactivism1This installation will speak to the habitual use of paper cups and how this leads directly to the disposal of 58 million cups per year worldwide. Disposed-of cups gleaned from bins (and even friends’ hands) will be washed and given to the artistic community to be painted, written on, spray painted, or drawn on in any way the creator sees fit.

The project kicked off on Sunday, February 8 at the Vault Cafe, where Solutions members handed out cups to willing participants, turning it into a fun and motivating event which will continue every weekend at the café, as well as student residences.


The collaboration will continue until the end of March, when all the cups will be gathered and strung with lights for display in different areas on campus. The group hopes to mount installations in the cafeteria or library for maximum visibility.

For information on how to get involved with this community art project, Trash-to-Treasure, email VIU Solutions or visit the event’s Facebook page, #LoveaMug Art Project: Trash to Treasure.


 

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Christy Clark’s balanced budget lends no relief to BC students

The VIUSU Debt Wedding on February 19 went off without a hitch. The event aimed to inform students about the high interest rates paid on student loans.

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On Tuesday, February 17, the BC Liberals released their budget in Victoria. The following day, Christy Clark spoke at a luncheon in Surrey rather than attending the legislature in session at Parliament in Victoria.

Clark joked and laughed at the luncheon, boasting her third consecutive balanced budget as her time as premier. She intends to use the $879 million surplus to pay off the province’s $5 billion debt incurred over four years from 2009 to 2013.

The Globe and Mail said in an article last week that while this balanced budget is good for BC in general, it was only accomplished by “shortchanging areas such as education.

“And Ms. Clark has made balancing the budget a big part of her political brand.”

However, while this news is good for Clark and her party, it does not change anything for BC post-secondary students, who suffer high fees and interest rates on their BC student loans. Zachary Crispin, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-BC (CFS-BC) said, “Interest rates in Canada have never been lower, yet this government charges the highest interest rates on student loans in the country.”

The CFS-BC explains that with interest at two and a half to five percent, a BC student can end up paying over $10k on “the average student loan” in additional interest.


“Every other province charges less than what BC charges,” said Michael Olson, Executive Director of the VIUSU. Olson added that provinces like Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador have eliminated the interest on their provincial portions of student loans.

In a poll conducted for the CFS-BC, 77 percent of students want to see interest rates eliminated or reduced in some way, along with 80 percent of British Columbians deciding that the increased interest and high fees make it harder for students to continue or finish their degrees.

The CFS found that the cost of education tax credits and savings schemes for the 2013-14 year was $2.83 billion, which exceeds the $2.46 billion loaned for The Canada Student Loan Program that same year.

“This $2.8 billion, if used instead for upfront grants, could allow every dollar loaned by the Canada Students Loans Program (CSLP) to be a non-repayable grant.”

Working with the CFS-BC’s Squash the Squeeze campaign, the VIUSU has collected over 2000 postcards that will be sent to the office of BC’s Minister of Advanced Education, Amrik Virk.


 

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Local authors visit to share writing on VIU’s Nanaimo campus

  Tuesday March 3, VIU is providing students with an opportunity to meet and hear two Canadian authors and their works.

            At 11 am in building 345, room 103, Shelley Leedahl and Michael Kenyon will be the last two writers in the Writers on Campus series. If you can make it, the authors will be reading from their works, and answering your questions.

            Shelley Leedahl is new to the Island, moving to Ladysmith in 2014.  Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Leedahl’s recent collection of essays I Wasn’t Always Like This is giving her the chance to share her essays with new audiences.

            “I am slowly building a new audience of readers,” Leedahl said.

            Leedahl said she enjoys “accepting a variety of presentation opportunities,” like the presentation at VIU, because it allows the audience to “experience two different voices.”

            Michael Kenyon, the second author visiting Tuesday has over fifteen books of poetry and fiction. According to VIU, Kenyon lives and works on Pender Island as a freelance editor and therapist. In the fall, Kenyon had two books published Astatine and Parallel Rivers.

            A presentation like the Writer on Campus series is great not only for the students and professors to meet local talent, but Leedahl said she enjoys meeting other authors to hear their work, and is “always impressed” by Kenyon’s multi-genre writing.

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Movie review:
 Inherent Vice

By contributor Spencer Wilson

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Leave it to legendary director Paul Thomas Anderson to immaculately adapt the first ever film of a Thomas Pynchon novel. Diving into the world of Inherent Vice feels like you are revisiting Boogie Nights (1977), but with a touch of oneiric reality thanks to the cast’s heavy drug use. Inherent Vice reads like the 2009 novel, but that doesn’t hold it back from using the language of film to the best of its abilities.

Oneiric filmmaking has been a long staple of multi-Oscar nominee Paul Thomas Anderson. Although his films are often rooted in reality, the editing carries careful attention to flowing through events like they were memories, maintaining just enough ellipses so the audience can understand the effect without getting lost. This style is not used as heavily as it was in Anderson’s last film, The Master (2012), which helps the film flow as if you were reading the book.

Inherent Vice opens with the mysterious hippy, Sortilège (Joanna Newsom in the first film), telling us about private investigator and heavy narcotics user, Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix). Doc’s old girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston), who has now become what Sortilège calls “of the straight world persuasion,” approaches him with a case involving her boss, powerhouse real estate developer Mickey Wolfman (Eric Roberts). Shasta says that Mickey’s wife and his wife’s boyfriend are orchestrating a plot to throw Mickey in a mental institute. Doc takes on the case while still taking on side jobs, and soon finds that many of them intertwine with the recent disappearance of Mickey Wolfman and the presence of the insidious cocaine cartel Golden Fang. The drug-crazed atmosphere heavily invokes that of California in Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) (if Slouching were a comedic mystery novel) thanks to Doc’s “thinking comes later” form of detective style.

Following Doc’s every move is the hulking, crew-cut sporting police detective Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), who carries a bizarre working relationship with Doc throughout the case. Bigfoot is also on the look for the recently disappeared Mickey Wolfman and suspects Doc has something to do with it after wrongly accusing him for murdering one of Wolfman’s associates, who also happens to be of the Aryan Brotherhood. Why Bigfoot gives Doc a break is never made clear, but his interactions suggest that he used to be a hippy just like Doc.

Understanding the plot beyond that point will probably require you to Wikipedia the rest of it. Similar to Howard Hawks’ confusing film-noir The Big Sleep (1946), Inherent Vice does such a good job of evoking the atmosphere and aesthetic of the time that it’s easy to get lost in all the long eyelashes, sparkling lipsticks, marijuana fogs, one-inch-too-short dresses, and ‘60s stoner rock songs—and this is for a film that takes its time.

Film-wise, there isn’t a single wasted shot or cut in the movie. As Doc gets higher, the camera closes in more and more on him, to the point where simple things passing the screen become startling, as if you were too strung-out to expect them yourself. When Doc isn’t doing drugs, the sometimes incredibly long takes are juxtaposed by seconds-long sex scenes that make sex feel like just another drug that the characters take for a quick thrill.

Inherent Vice may not be one of Anderson’s best films thanks to the difficult plot, but that doesn’t matter when the language of the film does such a good job of evoking the landscape of 1970s Los Angeles. What it lacks in clarity it makes up for in beauty and laughter. Like any Paul Thomas Anderson film, this one deserves a watch.


More films by Paul Thomas Anderson

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Movie review: The Theory of Everything

By contributor Spencer Wilson

arts-e1410731038391

There is something to be said about a Stephen Hawking docudrama that moves the man himself to tears. Based on the autobiography Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Hawking’s ex-wife, Jane Wilde, The Theory of Everything attempts to charter the degradation of his physicality due to ALS and how he overcame it. Although Hawking’s scientific work and his life struggles are significantly underplayed in the film, Eddie Redmayne gives an extraordinary performance as Hawking, which alone makes the film worth watching once.

The film opens to Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) racing his colleague on a bicycle. The year is 1963 and Hawking is still very mobile and unfocused. Whether it is intentional or not, many viewers will recognize Hawking as the brainiac who never shows up to class except to demonstrate how smart he is by doing the teacher’s challenge questions last minute. Hawking is working towards his doctorate degree at Cambridge and is uninspired about what to do a thesis on despite working with one of the fathers of modern cosmology, Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis). During this time, he has an awkward yet charming encounter with Jane Wilde, an arts student who would become his wife.

As Hawking’s relationship with Jane and Penrose mathematics continues to grow, so does the appearance of his disability. In the beginning, there are a few tiny moments where Hawking picks something up just conspicuously enough to look suspicious, and soon this evolves into him possessing an increasingly unnatural gait. Before he has finished his thesis on Properties of Expanding Universes, he is diagnosed with motor neuron disease (now known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) and given two years to live. Hawking and Jane swiftly marry and, despite his stature, manage to have three children and exceed the expectations of Hawking’s predicted lifespan.

The lifestyle begins to weigh heavily on Jane, who has her own writing and ambitions she wants to accomplish. Despite being married to a science-minded atheist, Jane is a devote Christian, and befriends a widowed pastor named Jonathon Jones (Charlie Cox) who then helps the family due to loneliness and an attraction to Jane. Tension in the family builds as Hawking has to have a life-saving tracheotomy, making life in the household even more of a struggle.

Director James Marsh’s approach to dramatic films is a convoluted one. Marsh is a powerful documentary filmmaker who knows how to blend truths to make his own statements on a given person or event, but the same cannot be said for this docudrama. The only parallels that Marsh attempts to draw are scenes in the beginning where Hawking is repeatedly shown as a leader, and scenes where Jane has to struggle with her scientific and religious sides by having both Hawking and Jonathon in the same room. The quiet depiction of Hawking’s physical degradation is well executed, but after the charming opening scenes between Hawking and Jane, any emotion left ends up feeling sterile. Marsh begins focusing too much on images that have a muted beauty, which greatly subtracts from the emotional portrayals. The greatest flaw comes from the lighting, which is deeply over-saturated in every scene, to the point where it feels like it was shot in a hospital. It becomes so overdone at some points that it looks like they took Vaseline and rubbed it over the camera lens. Scenes that should have depicted extreme feelings of hardship end up coming off as dull and unemotional, and the opening scene is so laughably colour-altered that it looks like the film is running on a Windows ‘98 computer that can’t keep up.

This leaves the only saving grace of The Theory of Everything, which is Eddie Redmayne. His performance is so convincing that you may mistake him as the real Hawking in later scenes, although that is partially thanks to a stellar make-up department. Redmayne had the enormous task of not only copying Hawking’s earlier and current mannerisms, but also nailing down the timeline for ALS symptoms. Redmayne’s dedication is summarized in an on-set story about how he would remain motionless and hunched between takes, to the point where the alignment of his spine had been altered. Everything from his electrically goofy young performance to his struggle to form words later on is remarkable. Redmayne has done his research and fully deserves this year’s Oscar for Best Actor.

Despite the performance, it’s not entirely enough to save the film. The Theory of Everything is worth watching one time to see Redmayne’s performance, but the rest is ruined by poor art direction and a lack of focus. We are left with a film that fails to fully recognize Hawking’s brilliant achievements in cosmology despite his limits, and are instead left with someone who helped people feel good about themselves.

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Essential viewing: Man on Wire (2008)

By contributor Spencer Wilson

arts-e1410731038391

When first hearing about Man on Wire, it’s hard to imagine this will be an entertaining or engaging film. And yet, the documentary about Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers manages to not only be a great film, but one of the best documentaries of all time.

Petit begins by telling us an experience he had as a young boy while waiting to see the dentist about a toothache. While sitting in the waiting room, he sees an ad in a magazine for the building on the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center. Overcome with the desire to high-wire walk between the towers, he decides to skip his appointment so he can swipe the magazine to hang onto his “dream and obsession.” By this time,  it was 1968 and Petit was 17. At the age of 16, Petit had already taught himself how to high-wire walk and how to do every trick possible on the wire. This led to a couple of illegal, high-profile, and risky high-wire performances between the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral in 1971 and across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1973.

In between those times, Petit and his cohorts worked for six years on how to pull off a high-wire walk between the Twin Towers. The documentary is very much narrative-driven, with interviews from Petit and those associated with the stunt, as well as Petit reading passages from his book To Reach the Clouds, driving the story and themes of inspiration. The footage switches between masterful uses of Ken Burns’ Effect photo shots, footage of Petit practicing and organizing the stunt with his friends, and staged scenes depicting how the stunt was executed.
 The staged scenes are what really help the movie tie everything together.

Obviously, not every aspect of the operation could have been captured on film, but James Marsh’s objective portrayal of the interview stories brings life to what was happening. In a way, the operation part turns the film into a fantastical crime film, which is how Petit describes feeling about the operation in the days leading up to its execution. Even though we know that Petit succeeds, the film’s excellent build-up of tension makes it feel like there is a sense of danger, making the victory that much more satisfying to witness.

The most amazing aspect of Man on Wire is that James Marsh manages to hide his own take on Petit’s life inside the film. When we are first introduced to Petit, we are given footage of him surrounded by his friends, and everyone being interviewed talks about having the same dream of helping Petit pull off this stunt. Once the stunt is over, there is suddenly a disconnect between Petit and the rest of the group—one that is so strong that it makes one of the main conspirators, Jean-Louis Blondeau, cry during the interview over that loss of friendship. Now famous, Petit is depicted in the company of very few, and at the end of the film, alone. Hidden within Petit’s messages to follow your dreams is the warning of what might happen to those who are not ready for fame.

Man on Wire took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2009, and rightfully so. The film showcases a lot of James Marsh’s strengths, which are not as evident in The Theory of Everything. It is a wonderfully unique and beautiful documentary experience, and one that any person should take the time to watch.


Other great documentaries:

Other Essential Viewings: