Paper or Plastic?

When it comes to choosing between paper and plastic bags at the grocery store many of us are left confused, unsure, even shamed.  Plastic today.  Paper tomorrow.  Does it even matter?  “Paper or plastic” has become analogous to the trends of globalization that marks our age of consumerism.  Driven by consumer demand and need, the issue stands as a slogan for environmental sustainability and communal health, born from the grassroots of a budding independently thinking public.  It’s about time we begin to think for ourselves.  It suffices to say, this latest trend to go green is something we can and should all embrace with a “fresh” conscience.  Organic, local, all natural – this is the kind of branding that might just help save the planet, and us.   Therefore we must ask ourselves: when we choose between paper and plastic, what are we really choosing? It’s not about throwing the dice at the checkout counter; much like casting your voting ballot, it is a call to action to propagate change that will exact a revolutionary effect to benefit generations to come.   This worldwide insurgency begins and ends with each one of us.

The single-use shopping bag was invented by a Swedish company in the mid-Sixties as a byproduct of the oil-refining process, and was later brought to North America by ExxonMobil, introduced to grocery-store checkout lines in 1976.   The plastic shopping bag revolutionized the way we began to shop for food.  Unlike paper bags, plastic ones are waterproof, durable, able to support 1000 times their own weight and cheaper to produce.  However plastic bags are not environmentally sustainable, and are not only toxic to our global ecosystem but to our health.  According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 35 of the 47 chemical plants producing plastics ranked the highest in carcinogenic emissions.  Furthermore DEHP, a chemical used to stabilize the plastic, has been shown to reduce fertility and acts as a neurotoxin, while vinyl chloride, one of the key ingredients in plastic bag manufacturing, is a proven carcinogenic that may contribute to liver, kidney and brain damage.

While plastics presently account for roughly four percent of global oil production, they are also difficult to recycle (due to the loss of quality and function in the re-melting process) and are not biodegradable, (it can take up to 1000 years for a single plastic back to break down).  In addition, plastic bags destroy aquatic wildlife.  Hundreds of thousands of marine animals die each year after ingesting plastic bags, which choke and block intestinal functionality.  Moreover plastic bags produce visual pollution, and buttress the observation of a wasteful society.   Sobering statistics reveal that the United States alone uses 100 billion plastic bags a year, which requires roughly 12 million barrels of oil.  When plastic bags can be found tumbling along the tips of the Himalayas or swaying at the bottom of Mariana’s Trench, it is evident the system we have created is seriously flawed and immediate changes must be made before it’s too late.

A worldwide movement to reduce dependability on plastic disposable bags has seen many nations and cities across the globe take action.  It may come as a surprise that Bangladesh banned plastic bags outright a decade ago, exacting a dramatic spike in sales of reusable bags.  In 2008, China followed in suit, which saw the elimination of some 40 billion bags in the first year alone, saving the energy equivalent of 11.7 million barrels of oil.   Australia’s Northern Territory no longer offers plastic bags to its shoppers, who are now faced with the choice to either bring their own bags, or pay for re-usable or biodegradable bags at the checkout.  This year, Italy became the first European country to issue a nationwide ban, paving the way for other countries like England and Scotland, who are now considering anti-plastic legislation.  And while shoppers in Wales are currently paying a minimum of 5p per bag, Ireland has also recently instituted a 15-cent tax on plastic bags in an attempt to end the “litter menace,” a move that reduced usage by 90 percent in the first three months and raised 3.5 million euros towards environmental projects.  Washington, D.C., also took the up initiative, imposing a 5-cent fee per bag, cutting monthly use from 22.5 million bags to just 3 million.  Last month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an expansion of the city’s celebrated restriction on plastic shopping bags in major super markets and pharmacies to all retailers citywide. Whole Foods Market, ranked among the most socially responsible businesses and placed third on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Top 25 Green Power Partners, no longer offers plastic bags to customers, a reflection, it says, of the company’s core values of caring for public and the environmental health and safety.  In like fashion, all Ikea stores in the United States and the United Kingdom no longer use plastic carrier bags in an effort to promote the use of their own brand of reusable bags from which they have donated over $300,000 to American Forests.  The list of plastic bag banning goes on, from small towns like Modbury, England to the populated streets of Delhi and throughout the Indian province of Himachal Pradesh, (where plastic bag use can result in hefty fines and even jail time) the move to reduce, reuse and recycle has undeniably become a global trend.

While the issue might seem black and white, it is not however a simple question of paper or plastic, it’s a question of what we can reduce and eliminate today in order to enjoy more tomorrow.  The first step is to eliminate one of the major polluting causal factors and inhibitors: plastic bags.  By drastically reducing or eliminating completely our dependence on plastics we will not only help our environment and ourselves, but we would open the floodgates for a greater ecological mindfulness and consideration to flow through.  If whole developing and developed nations worldwide have collectively banned outright the use of disposable plastic bags, such as China, Italy, South Africa, Australia, India, Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Bhutan, and so on, whilst many others have introduced a plastic bag tax, why hasn’t Canada taken the initiative to follow in these footsteps?   Considering we belong to the second largest country (landmass) in the world, with some of the most extensive natural landscapes and resources, it seems only commonsense that we should naturally be at the forefront of this anti-plastic campaign.

Although dependence on plastic should not be entirely replaced by a renewed necessity of the paper bag, (paper, as we all know, is made from trees, and it takes millions upon millions to sustain our yearly supply) the elimination of the plastic bag, should rather impress upon us the reuse and recycle philosophy.  If taking point means keeping up with global trends, then what’s in vogue is not paper or plastic, or virgin materials, it is vintage, it is salvage and it is environmental.  Reused boxes, cloth or canvas bags have created a new wave of trendy shoppers who embrace a wholesale approach to ecological sustainability.  In like fashion with the growing trends of organic food, natural products, farmers and flea markets, second-hand boutiques, and all things local, reusing bags at the supermarket is simply an extension of this popular green ethos.   So when we are asked, “paper or plastic?” at the checkout counter, without wanting to be an environmental cretin and in full understanding of the true issues, we are no longer caught between a rock and a hard place.  We know, as the consumer, as the voter, as the revolutionary, what we need to do in order to get things done. Let’s make the choice to reuse and recycle, to refuse plastic and put forward to the City of Penticton today the move to ban plastic bags within our municipality.  Change takes cause at the grassroots with towns like Penticton, who have the capacity and the power to ban plastic bags citywide, and lead by example for the rest of the country.  If China, with a population of 1.3 billion can do it, so can we.

-Elizabeth Cucnik






To Cull Or Not To Cull…

Deer culling is a notorious debate that seemingly pits moral and ethical impetus against practical and convenient reasoning.  It’s simply a question of which side of the deer fence you’re on.  However despite the polemic dispute, Penticton City Council has approved a deer cull as part of an urban deer management program.  Public education, ongoing monitoring, consultation and a ban on public feeding of deer are to follow in suit accordingly.  Although the date of the cull has yet to be set, the issue lingers in the gray matter of the debate itself.  Quantification is clearly lacking, and the want of accurate numerical data not only directly affects budget costs, but also the accuracy of population control by numbers.  And while it is true some Penticton residents will feel relief by way of their private gardens and undamaged cedar hedges, the culling will nevertheless fall short of our ethical and moral accountability.

Deer culling is a drastic step, argued by many to be cruel and barbaric.  Trapped in a cage by night, often struggling and kicking, deer frequently fracture limbs and sustain other injuries before they are shot in the head with a bolt gun.  Captive bolt guns however, were designed for use on restrained domestic animals, typically in slaughterhouses, and were not, under any circumstances, intended for use on wild animals.  While the bolt cannot effect a clean kill when the animal is not placed in a single-fire lane, restrained, with it’s head immobilized, a misplaced bolt can therefore painfully injure, necessitating the need for multiple attempts.   If “swift” and “certain” define in part, what it means to bring about a humane end to wildlife via population control, then the humaneness of the trap and bolt technique is seriously questionable.  And yet, for most of us, to cull or not to cull is simply a question of out of sight out of mind.

The deer cull, which was primarily initiated following 42 reports of urban deer sightings by residents to the City Hall, (the majority of which bordered on agricultural areas), fails to act on proportional representation, and does not seem to factor in the consideration of human overpopulation, urban sprawl and destruction of wildlife habitats.  Likewise, the culling unintentionally localizes responsibility among specific property owners, potentially creating personal animosity among members within the community.  On the other hand, the growing number of wayward wandering urban deer does in fact contribute to a rising increase in altercations between individuals and deer, pet animals and deer, attracts a range of other wildlife including coyotes, cougars and ticks, and makes driving more hazardous.  Therefore, despite the city’s inability to generate substantial numbers in order to understand the scale of such implications and their impact, the shortlist is enough to sustain a call to action.  Yet emphasis on ethical and moral integrity should not be displaced when considering such policies for human, animal and environmental protection.  Hence the question becomes more distinguishable: why not seriously explore a cohesive ongoing program and non-lethal alternatives and interventions to address human/deer conflicts?

First and foremost, a one-time cull may not solve the problem.  While the net-and-bolt tactic would most likely not reduce the size of the herd down to the desirable number, complaints to the city would therefore continue.  Consequently an annual cull might be required, in which yearly controversy on the issue would be hard pressing upon City Council, and residents may not have the stomachs for the unremitting slaughter.  Contrariwise, a non-lethal approach would help to integrate ethical and moral responsibility into the decision-making process, potentially reducing the polemical aspect of the debate itself, while providing Council with a program to help address complaints. Some of the components of an ongoing preventable program include: moving deer from the area, excluding deer from conflict areas and from specific plants and bushes through fencing, (which provides a longer term solution to the impact of deer on landscaping and backyard gardens) the use of repellents to make plants less palatable and less desirable to deer, the use of deterrents such as sound and visual scare devices, as well as planting less palatable landscape plants.  Lastly, one of the most ostensibly formidable non-lethal options available would be immunocontraception.  This alternative approach would require a select number of deer to be hit with a dart every two years, containing a vaccine rendering the deer sterile.  According to procedures of the new method of wildlife population control, animal marking would be synchronized with vaccine penetration, allowing experts to track and recognize which deer have been hit.  Furthermore at $30 per dart, the cost of immunocontraception would be significantly less than any form at lethal control, which for the city of Penticton would require $150 per deer culled.  Immunocontraception thus appears to be the more “humane” and cost-effective method of wildlife control.

So when reviewing the hot topic of debate this week: to cull or not to cull, the interrogation, it seems, claws at the heart of two imposing philosophies. While one apparently supports a more tactile, less costly and humane approach, the other seemingly provides a tangible short-term eradication.  Therefore as a collective community we should then ask ourselves: what are we truly looking for?  Delayed gratification, or instant satisfaction with the tailing potential for prolonged problems?  Penticton is a favorite destination for all sorts of people from all walks of life from all around the world.  Situated in the heart of BC’s wild southern interior, Penticton is not only a picturesque place to live, but remains a refuge for a wide range of Canada’s most extraordinary wildlife without which we would be indistinguishable, empty and forlorn.  As residents and inhabitants of this spectacular landscape, we are entrusted by its nature, to preserve, protect and respect the beauty and sanctity of its wisdom and love, in which it has always given back absolutely.  Deer culling is like a gateway drug to bigger and more grotesque reckonings.  What’s next, soylent green?  Let’s replace the “out of sight out of mind” with “in your right mind” and approach this problem with steadfast moral and ethical sensibilities, long-term solutions and peaceful, harmonious resolve.

-Elizabeth Cucnik




A Worldwide Sensation, The Musical “Evita” Makes Its Penticton Debut!

For those of you who’ve been hiding under a rock the past two decades, you might not be familiar with the phenomenon, Evita.   In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a person who could not chorus, “Don’t Cry for me Argentina,” the haunting hallmark of popular music that never seems to elude even the least musically attuned.   Singularly one of the most prevalent critically acclaimed musicals of a generation, Evita’s authenticity, power and humanity transcends to capture the heart in a sweeping dream of human experience.   With more accolades to boot than a hall of fame rock n’ roller, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita, is its own kind of “superstar.”  Following the real life story of political leader Eva Peron, Evita was originally conceived as a rock opera album, however overwhelming critical reception later lead to sold out shows in London’s West End and Broadway, followed by a string of professional tours, worldwide productions, various cast albums, as well as a major motion picture adaptation starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.  The musical employs an eclectic range of styles, from classical to instrumental, while rhythmic Latin American flairs can be heard in “Buenos Aires”, and “On This Night of a Thousand Stars”, ballads include “High Flying, Adored” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”, and rock music adorns in “Oh What a Circus” and “Peron’s Latest Flame.”

So come out and experience what the world has been talking about for over twenty years, as Soundstage Production’s presents, Evita in its long sought-after Penticton Debut at the Lakeside Resort.  Opening January 18th and playing through to the 21rst, with an afternoon matinee show on the Saturday, Evita is a musical spectacular, to be experienced by all ages.  First conceived in 1990 by humble beginnings, Soundstage Productions has grown into one of the most acclaimed theatre companies in the Okanagan.  The Penticton Lakeside Resort is now home to Soundstage, showcasing professional full-scale musical productions in an intimate theatre setting where one can truly experience the magnitude of world-class performance.  Soundstage Productions never fails to enthrall, enrapture and unravel the senses, with its stunning commitment to artistic depth, performance and musical insight, it continues to inspire and create.

An evening of musical entertainment of the finest quality and professionalism is yours to experience and not to be missed!  Tickets for Evita can be purchased at the front desk of the Lakeside Resort Hotel or by calling 250-493-8221.

Evita is not just a sensational endeavor; it is a revolution of musical and lyrical genius.

-Elizabeth Cucnik


January’s Calendar is No Less Full Than a Post-Christmas Belly

The New Year is upon us.  It settles in, like a nesting bird upon the tree of our daily lives, as memories of the holiday season fall to the ground, the last leafy drags sifting into dust from a dream.   Stores swiftly revamp commercial drives to grapple at the next fast-approaching observance with cunning ease, whereas the rest of us fumble at the knot of our ends and beginnings, to pursue a long string of uncomplicated sensibility.  However the festive spirit does not diminish come New Years Day.  In fact, the myriad of calendrical observances that exhaust the coming months, honour the enduring will of humanity by their persistent desire for thoughtfulness and transcendental expression.  It seems we are always on the run.

While it’s easy to get lost in the clutter of commemorations that trail each month, some stand worthy of our attention.  The Twelve Days of Christmas, a tradition remarked by the more popular English Christmas Carol, customarily extends throughout Christmastide until January 5th, (the “Twelfth night”), while Orthodox Christmas falls more commonly on January 7th, (Christmas Day) following the Julian calendar.  Meanwhile, the Old New Year, an informal, traditional Orthodox holiday, celebrates the start of the New Year of the Julian calendar on January 14th.  Martin Luther King Day follows on January 16th, while the Chinese New Year and Robbie Burns Day proceed to fill out the end of the calendar month with supping, toasting, dancing, music and fireworks.

It is interesting to note the relevant changes of such celebrations over the years, as our cultures and societies take on fresh shapes molded by particular economic and social interests.  Throughout the commonwealth for example, aspects of the Twelve Days are still celebrated, such as Boxing Day, (a national holiday) being the first full day of Christmas.  Chief culinary elements of the celebration, as are featured in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, still remain relevant in Britain, (plum pudding, roasted goose and wassail.) However such traditions as the Epiphany Feast and Twelve Days have mostly been forgotten in North America.  Widely popular nineteenth century stories focusing on generous gift-giving, the corresponding rise of commercialism and shopping campaigns, as well as the introduction of more secular traditions such as Santa Claus, and the growing popularity of New Year’s Eve parties are key contributing factors. Nevertheless, despite these fading seasonal customs, many Christians in other parts of the world continue to celebrate the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas according to their traditions.

Like a spike of insulin from a sudden hit of sugar, Christmas has become that decadent piece of dessert we tend to lament after consuming.  Did I really need that?  Have I eaten too much?  I wish there was more… But Christmas is not about gluttonous ambiguity.  Rather it’s a return to the simplicities of our nature brought forth into New Year in a humble parcel of goodwill and love.  January 1rst should never be known as the come-down of the holiday season to salt the soils of our heart. Rather it is the fertilizing nourishment for the months to come, a steady pulse of celebratory spirit from which new things can begin to grow.  Even though we may have lost aspects of our historical customs that once lit up January like a festive holiday display of Christmas lights, wooden reindeer, nativity scenes and blow up Frosty the Snow Mans, we can still appreciate the impetus of the season: the strive for synergistic appreciation, benevolence and love.

-Elizabeth Cucnik





New Years Resolutions…

There’s something to be said about the idea of starting anew, especially in the context of the New Year.  An initiative wrought with prophetic understanding and restored faithfulness; the idea of the New Year and its call for resolutions blows the wind that drives our sails.  Apart from the customary observances of fireworks, silly hat-wearing, clinking and clanking and midnight kissing, the heralding of a new Gregorian calendar year means more than just a “good time.”  New Years inspires a moral impetus for peaceful resolve, goodwill to all and the realignment of sensibilities gone astray.  Whilst Auld Lang Syne speaks to us from the depths of human experience, we are reminded of this wholesale need for novelty: the need for beginnings, the need for tolerance, forgiveness and healing, as well as the need for legacy in friendship, family and love.  New Years is our cairn of stones, marking an objective reference point from which we can trail our evolution and make sense of ourselves in the vast expanse of experience.  And so we usher in 2012 as our newest landmark, with a slew of resolutions to lead us to a superior vision of tomorrow. These resolutions, however small or large, help to create the foundation for our future relief and renewal, enlivening sluggish spirits to turn our slow, burning flame into a fury of wildfire that propels change and directs development.  Even though this New Year’s Eve may pass like any other night, without a break in the march of the universe, none of us will quite feel the same.  We will feel different somehow… changed.  Something inside us will begin to stir, awakening a laden confidence with which we can overcome the challenges and responsibilities of daily life.  And as we watch the cairn of stones rise and fall on the horizon, we begin to appreciate the constant variable of change framed by powerful resolution, in which the world will never again be the same as it is right now… as it is with each passing moment, as it will be on New Year’s Day.

-Elizabeth Cucnik





Charity Begins At The Penticton Lakeside…

The art of giving is rarely honed and crafted to such collaborative altruistic tenor, as it is at Christmas.  Tis’ a true wonder to behold: this call to action that nourishes a restorative faith in mankind.  What invokes this stirring spirit of benevolence?  Maybe it’s the spices in our drinks, the extra butter and cream in our foods, or the customary carols that transpose us back to our warmest childhood memories… or maybe it’s simply the feeling of Christmas that inspires us so.  The feeling of Christmas, like pollen dispersed by a field of winter roses, is the dander of the very idea, meaning and tradition of Christmas.  It covers all things in a blanket of fuzzy tenderness and beauty, under which we are snug, sheltered and loved.

Despite the frostiness of the global economy, people within the community are warming up by supporting local businesses, volunteering, and participating in charitable causes like Toys for Tots to Teens.  This year, Toys for Tots, hosted by the Penticton Lakeside Resort, successfully met the growing demand for gifts with the help of non-profit organizations like the Salvation Army and with the assistance of generous businesses like Canadian Tire and contributions from the City of Penticton.   Live Christmas music festively filled the air, while children’s choirs from Columbia and Uplands Elementary Schools sang with heartbreaking devote conviction following weeks of preparation.   As each child extended themselves to present individual gifts over the Rotary, smiling from ear to ear with budding humility in recognition of good deeds done, an overflow of Christmas spirit pervaded.  The scene, in all its munificent splendour, conjured historical sentiments seemingly lost to generations past that embraced an open door philosophy which didn’t require us to lock our doors.  It reminded us of a simpler time: when communities centered more on family values, familiarity, reciprocity and friendship rather than enterprise and capitalism.  Toys for Tots has become the cardinal event of the year, where the jovially-spoken slogan, “Merry Christmas” is echoed among the crowds with good will and true holiday cheer. This year, the event saw volunteers from all spectrums of our local community, (Starbucks, Quality Greens, Summerland Realty, Critteraid, Kinettes, Penticton Self-Storage, White Kennedy and Penticton Lakeside staff and family) working as hard as Santa’s elves on Christmas Eve, to package and bag gifts in joint jubilee for those less fortunate.

Of course, the season of giving does not stop there.  The Penticton Lakeside Resort hosted a complimentary “picture with Santa” this past weekend, which saw handfuls of wide-eyed children lost in rapture, experience the iconic man himself, with the photo to prove it!  Set among an authentic backdrop of antiquated tapestries in the Lakeside’s front lobby, Santa Claus, all clad in traditional red and white, sat atop a bona fide Victorian sleigh, alight with glittering Christmas cheer: a true hallmark on the holiday agenda.  And now we must turn to the next events that fill the advent calendar: December 18th, the Christmas Community Market and the Artists Lobby Gallery are coming to the Penticton Lakeside Resort, inspiring yet another reason to get dressed up in festive finery and enjoy the delights of the season!

This Christmas, there is so much to cherish, love and experience in Penticton,  so get out there and snuggle up together, under that warm Christmas blanket of fuzzy tenderness, beauty and love.

-Elizabeth Cucnik




A New Canadian Christmas Tradition

Christmas is more than an idea, belief, or calendar date; it’s a universality that extends into the far reaches of the imagination, anchored in transcendent thought and feeling.  A return to innocence and magic the holiday season renders pure spirit, when Canadians come together to behold a lighter rendition of ourselves and feast upon the world with childish wonder.  Society revives in a decadent display of festive holiday cheer, local and small businesses extend themselves to give back to their communities by charitable means and provide services that encourage homespun creativity, fellowship and association, while neighbourhoods put Christmas in the air by seizing it first in their hearts.

As we lean back in a deep collective sigh, admiring the glow of the Christmas tree as it blooms from within, we are reminded of its profound state of mind – the notion of simple extravagance by which we are truly rich indeed: family, friends and the utter joy of human experience (the crunch of snow underfoot, the peaceful calm and beauty of a winter flurry, the radiance of a blazing hearth, hot breath upon a chilly air, the sparkle of dancing lights, the awakening of senses…)  However rising concerns over the recent global economic crisis, foreshadowing the possibility of a double-dip recession throughout the developed world, does little to encourage jovial toasts and bursts of spontaneous laughter.  Instead it stands as a reminder of what we must hold close, cherish and preserve this holiday season: the think-tank of Canadian-ism, inspired by communities and businesses across Canada.

Local and small businesses (which account for roughly 48 per cent of the private-sector labour) are the engine-force of this country, as they propagate the wants and needs of society by reinforcing strong, healthy communities in which to raise our children, accommodate our youth and provide for our elders.  Local and small businesses account for an enormous portion of the Canadian economy, with a quarter producing goods and the rest providing services, they reflect the true inner workings of culture, whilst integrating a broader consensus within the hearts and minds of Canadian families.  However, the global financial crisis has tightened access to the kind of credit and loans these businesses rely on for their livelihood, and there is a growing concern over short term viability, which will become a serious problem in the near future should sources of credit dry up.  Indeed, many local and small businesses have felt the negative impact from the current economic environment.  It’s more important now than ever to rethink our Christmas shopping, by accommodating and supporting local businesses and communities.  Let’s begin to rebuild and strengthen Canada’s economy from the grassroots.  Buy Canadian.  Shop local.  Gift certificates to ma and pa businesses, locally-run and operated restaurants, ski lift passes and day passes, hair salons or barber shops, car washes and detail shops, gym memberships, home repairs and maintenance or house-cleaning services, golf course memberships or certificates, dog-walking and grooming services, children’s daycare, babysitting, computer repair, local craft, jewellery and boutique shops, art galleries, local pottery and artisan stores, community theatre  and live shows at local venues… this Christmas we can all buy local and buy Canadian, for we have so much right at our doorstep to inspire!

Christmas is a savoured gift to mankind, one that beholds the world in a softer and more beautiful vision, therefore it’s imperative we uphold such revelation by maintaining strong, healthy communities and continue to support local and small businesses that provide us with the kinds of unique products and services which encourage synergistic friendship, reciprocity, intimacy and mutualism – the key elements of Christmas spirit.

-Elizabeth Cucnik


The Hidden Gem of Winter, Apex Mountain Resort Speaks to Snow-Seekers, From 1 to 92…

As with many things in the world, the greatest treasures are often those found off the beaten path – paragons in the white space of the remarkable and unfrequented, to which there remains a quiet refinement.  Apex Mountain Resort is one such treasure.  Nestled in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, a short 30 minute drive from Penticton, Apex is not difficult to seek out and is indeed, anything but usual.   Apex Resort has personality.  Its quaint, rustic, home-spun appeal, invokes a personal experience that inspires a savoring belonging.  Unlike the larger, commercialized, corporate ski resorts, Apex speaks to a more intimate sensibility, emphasizing family, friends and the timeless magic of the season, without the burden of long queues and heavy crowds.  The perfect blend of world-class terrain and accessibility, the peak sits at an impressive 7,200 feet, delivering 2000 feet of vertical in just six and a half minutes, with 1,112 ski-able acres, and a total uphill capacity of 6,700 riders per hour, ensuring quick and easy navigation.  An ideal climate makes for the most incredible champagne powder among the widest variety of trails; from the extensive glades of the Wild Side, to the elliptical south bowls, from the steep chutes along the north face, to sprawling wide open terrain and gently rolling slopes, Apex Mountain Resort captures the indefinite imagination of any snow-seeking enthusiast.  It`s no wonder the mountain has been awarded so many distinctions over the years, including, Canada’s Best Small Destination Resort, Best Weather, Best Lift/Run Ratio, Best Steeps, Best Grooming, and B.C. Alpine Resort of the Year, (to name but a few).  Moreover, Apex is now recognized as the National Training Center for Freestyle Aerials and Moguls, where one can catch Olympic and world-class athletes from around the globe, training for upcoming events and competitions. Hosting a plethora of activities that cater to everyone, from the tube park, to the Fairview hockey rink and adventure skate loop, from night skiing to snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing at the Nickel Plate Nordic Center, Apex has it all.  The resort is a diamond in the ruff, a place of engaging innocence and enduring character that encourages the funky and poignant, the seasoned and savvy as well as the green and inexperienced, in a transcendence of age and ability.  This year, The Penticton Lakeside Resort wants to let you in on the best-kept secret in the world of winter recreation.   We are now offering ski packages for two, that feature two nights stay in one of our deluxe lakeview guestrooms, inclusive of two full day lift passes at Apex Mountain Resort, starting at only $280.00 + taxes, and our All Inclusive Ski Inclusive features an additional hot toddies for two at the Hooded Merganser Bar & Grill, and dinner for two at the Bufflehead Pasta & Tapas Room, starting at only $365.00 + taxes, both of which are available until April, 2012.  Call for details and bookings at: 250-493-8221 or toll free at: 1 800-663-9400. Experience one of the world’s greatest hidden treasures today!

-Elizabeth Cucnik





Remembering The Meaning Of Remembrance

Remembrance Day is about remembrance.  But what exactly are we remembering?  Officially, November 11th is a Canadian public holiday, commemorated by the Commonwealth countries in remembrance of all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty since the Great War.  World War II, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 and most recently, the Libyan Uprising, are all included in a collective acknowledgement.  War is a central theme to the institution of Remembrance Day, but Remembrance Day is not just about remembering a timeline of war, nor its distinctions and details.  It also reminds us of the seed of war, surging in the hot and dense state of our early universe, before it spontaneously burst across the heavens in a thunderous rage of fury and might – creating, destroying, building and beating.  It reminds us of our own peaceful and war-ravaged creation and the very germ from which we sprung.

Remembrance Day is a motion that emphasizes the human in humanity.  An unyielding reminder of mankind’s universality, Remembrance Day creates history just as much as it pulls the rug out from under it. It stands as an annual indication of our pressing mortality, slinking sneakily in the shadows of Man’s epic struggle and loneliness.  Like leaves which fall to the ground with the changing of seasons to cover the earth with a blanket of decay, the years of mankind’s collective history is the mulch of our future.  Remembrance Day, is simply a walk through the leaves; history is its compost.  And so we remember…

Independent of epoch or culture, we remember the human condition – constant, universal, innate – it subjugates any linear timeline of sociocultural evolution, bringing into question the relevance of history among the backdrop of Flanders Fields.   Emblems of the common humanity, poppies symbolize the dreams of our unconscious by their opiate properties, and our life, death and resurrection by their blood-red colour.  White poppies, born in peaceful protest by the pacifist hand of the hopeless romantic, in dissent and denial, they undermine the human condition by disassociating themselves from the militaristic aspects of Remembrance Day with the meaning of a hope to end all wars.  This dichotomy of red and white tears at the very heart of our civilization, as humankind remains both full of the red fire that creates and destroys, and the white wash of peace that wants for nothing.

And so, Remembrance Day is more than, O Valiant Hearts, the sounding of The Rouse and the wearing of red and white poppies.  It is a beacon within the dark abyss of human evolution, a marker in no man’s land, speaking of an experience within which we can dream, fail, and continue to survive.  And when we stand in salute for the Royal Anthem of Canada, we sing, “God Save Mankind from Man” while the Queen disappears into history before the veterans march past.  Like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we are nameless, faceless, everyone and everything, echoing its inscription within the context of our own convictions, “The Lord Knoweth them that are his, Unknown and yet well known, dying and behold we live.”  Yes.  We remember.

-Elizabeth Cucnik


The 21rst Century Relevance of Halloween

That day has come.  We are in the present of a future only imagined in science fiction novels and comic books from decades past, a respective conclusion of Fritz Lang’s 1927 vision.  Westernization has become the Metropolis in which we live – the well-oiled, fire-breathing machine that feeds off the blood, sweat and tears of nations enslaved to the system itself.  Historical social contract has up sprung a nightmarish embodiment of new-age restrictions, manifesting our own cynicism, narrow-mindedness and spiritual anarchism, to which there is no longer any magic left in the world.  1984 is 2011 going on 2040.  We are those futuristic drones from Lang’s expressionist film, from Orwell’s compelling imagery: shuffling in and out of the Big Brother workplace like marching penguins dressed in black and white, matching our outsides with our insides.  We speak in codes and cling desperately to the addiction of our remote technologies.  Surrealism has replaced realism.  We don’t even need to be our own person anymore.  Alter-egos projectile into cyberspace via social networking platforms to create a new world of celebrity in which we make-believe ourselves into anyone we want to be – anyone, except who we really are.  Our phones talk for us, our cars drive for us, our computers compute for us, our machines make and break for us, and we, the Wizard of Oz, sit behind the smoke and mirrors of this global farce, not sure whether to laugh or cry, (maybe there’s an “APP” for that?…)  Too much is at stake for us to be so cavalier about it all.  We are losing our instincts, if we haven’t already lost our humanity.

There is something eerily apocalyptic in our inherent quest for greatness and absolutism.  As if the ‘the meaning of life’ has simply been reduced to an anagram for ‘the fine game of nil’: the more we look, the more there is nothing left to see.  In this day and age of media, technology, profit and gains, alchemy within the world has been stripped bare, reduced to vague reflections in store windows and dancing plastic bags embracing in a sinister gust of wind.  Customs and traditions like Halloween have become a commercial means to a profitable end, where we gain disposable, shallow ideals from the loss of true substance and meaning.  Oh how predictable we have become! Work to spend, and spend just so we can work again.   It is true, the overstimulation of our technologically-charged culture, has under-stimulated our intrinsic understanding and insight, leaving us deeply deprived and starving for a sense of bewilderment and perplexity in the wizardry and witchcraft of the unknowns.  Yes, indeed, we yearn for the return to a world that wriggled in an infinite regression of possibilities.

All Hallow’s Eve is an adrenalin shot of magical mystical wonder straight into the heart of society’s indifference.  It reconciles us with simpler ideas, and acts as reprieve from the burden of daily responsibility and restriction, in which we learn to trust in the wisdom of our youth once again, while stepping out of the shadowy shackles of maturity.  Halloween, like other seasonal holidays, summons the allure of our childhood, when we saw the world through the world’s unveiling, omnipresent eyes, rather than by the prejudice of our own.  Now that Halloween nears, we are reminded of this time to believe in magic again and of the importance of the supernatural element of all existence, (to which we are undoubtedly apart of).  It is time to set aside our tricorder-turned-smartphone, our pop culture trivia and YouTube references, to surrender to the deep.  So on this Hallow’s Eve, whether we share the excitement and anticipation with our children and our families, or we take a solo stroll down a dark street with nothing but moonbeams shining down from a starlit helm, we must look not with our eyes, but with our senses, hear not with our ears, but by the stirring silence within, understand not with our logical brain but with our pure spirit.  In doing so, a quiet beauty will begin to appear, like a small kindling fire catching wind from within your mind.  We shall begin to see magic again, the way our children see magic: a natural perfection that pervades and covers the entire world, like a shimmering sheath of fairy dust.  The supernatural abounds: tree moss becomes witches hair, caught in the branches and twigs as they fly by on broomsticks, black caves on rocky cliffs become the dens of dragons, ripples in the water’s surface are trace movements of mermaids, and silvery moonlit trails through the wood lead to unicorns and dwarf dwellings.

And so, Halloween, like other customs, traditions, and festive holiday seasons, satiates the needs of our humanity, and becomes imperative to the healthy functionality of our societies.  Acting as anchorage to which we are tethered and unable to drift away, even within the stormiest of seas, Halloween is an action of openness, willingness and surrender, a lightness of heart, which unveils a wider world of the infinite.  We cannot speculate about the future but we can plant the seeds and cultivate the right kind of conditions to sway the future towards a favorable, desirable outcome, one that includes magic, mystery, wonder and beauty.

-Elizabeth Cucnik