The Penticton Vees Dig Deep To Shoot High

The Penticton Vees have had an incredibly memorable year, having generated the best regular season in BCHL history, winning fifty-four games, including a CJHL record forty-two game winning streaks.  To date, the Vees, as a team, have picked up five trophies on their way to the RBC Cup Championship in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, having won the Ron Boileau Trophy (Regular Season Pennant), Ryan Hatfield Memorial Trophy (Interior Conference Championship), Fred Page Cup (BCHL Championship), Mowat Cup (BC Provincial Jr. ‘A’ Champions) and the Doyle Cup (BC-Alberta Championship).

The Vees, described as a “juggernaut team,” are now in search of glory at the Royal Bank Cup.  Toppled by the host Humboldt Broncos in 3-2 overtime on Sunday, they entered Day 4 of the tournament Tuesday night, when they succeeded in a 2-1 win over the Woodstock Slammers.  The win is the Vees (1-2) first of the tournament and advances them in a four-way tie for second place.  The Vees fans are waiting with bated breath; perhaps inspiring what optimists hope will be a win for tonight’s game to keep the Vees in the thrust of the tournament as giants of the minor hockey league.  While the imminent pressure of these games is immense for all (the franchise, the organization, the teams and staff involved as well as those invested fans, friends and family), regardless of the season’s overall standing, the Vees are no less than true champions, carrying the torch of unprecedented success.  Online commentary for the Penticton Vees has called for a “rolling up the sleeves and getting hands dirty” to help orchestrate a strong offense that may lead us to assured triumph.  With eyes only for the net in sight and the winning goal that will put Penticton directly into the sports spotlight, indeed the crowds’ cheer on, as the arenas flood with an uproar of devotion, enthusiasm and anticipation.

We are incredibly excited for our juggernaut team, who has dominated this season with remarkable victories and excitable games.  Standing upon the precipice, we take a deep breath in to ease the pressure of this pinnacle moment and simply indulge in the thunder that follows victory.  As fans, we let the tenet, live and let live, chorus throughout the stadium, echoing in the minds of sports fans and athletes alike, to remember that at the end of the day, it is about enjoying the skill and the pace of the sport, and to celebrate true athleticism and the brilliance of teamwork. Go Vees Go!

-Elizabeth Cucnik



Going Green: "Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground"

Growing global awareness on environmental issues, sustainability, preventative health, and community has kindled a newfound precedent in our daily lives whereby we are acting locally while thinking globally.  The Penticton Lakeside Resort is proud to be apart of this worldwide revolution.  Our newly established biological smallholding, Valleyview Farm, now supplies our hotel with quality, healthy, environmentally-friendly organic produce, while our geothermal heating system uses natural sources of energy to mitigate energy consumption.  We believe going green should go beyond the celebrated slogan, to befit an integrated ethos and a comprehensive lifestyle.  In keeping with the thought-think of everything green, this week we take pause to consider the far-reaching effects of the individual, the importance of local awareness and consumerism, and the butterfly effect of the think global act local stimulus.

Convenience seems to be the hook line and sinker of commercialism.  Lost in a hedge maze of economic materialism, consumers grapple to simplify the daily routine by taking, (what is perceived to be) the easy way out with marketed convenience foods, convenience packaging and convenience products.  An indoctrinating commercial agenda leads consumers to believe and trust in a system based solely on profit gain rather than environmental integrity, sustainability and general health.  It is not surprising that of the some 17,000 chemicals, which appear in common household products, only 30% have been adequately tested for negative effects on our health.  Studies conducted by The American Federal Environmental Protection Agency found that airborne chemical levels in homes were as much as seventy times higher than the outside.  Incidentally, childhood asthma has nearly doubled in the last twenty years.  Many products that are marketed as “healthy” and “natural” in fact contain harmful chemicals such as parabens and phthalates, highly disruptive compounds used in most skincare, cosmetic and hygiene products, that are now linked to certain cancers, hormonal dysfunctions, as well as a broad range of adverse health affects in pregnant women, children and adults.  Evidence of the detrimental effects of environmental toxins is escalating.  It’s time to return to our common sense.  Natural products made with plant and mineral-based cleaning ingredients derived from biodegradable proponents and homespun solutions made from vinegar, baking powder and lemon juice, are great alternatives to chemical-based cleaning products.  Natural skincare and hygiene products that are paraben and phthalate-free, will absorb less toxicity through the skin, containing biological alternatives to synthetic preservatives such as grape-seed oil and grapefruit seed oil.

One of the major environmental impacts on our planet is the supply and demand of our food system. While the fundamentals of organic farming support crucial environmental principles such as biodiversity, ecological balance, sustainability, natural plant fertilization, natural pest management and soil integrity, all of which synergistically work to reduce our carbon footprint, new research demonstrates the beneficial affect of organic produce consumption on our health.  For example, organically reared cows that consume high levels of fresh grass, clover pasture and grass clover silage, produce, on average, milk 50% higher in Vitamin E, 75% higher in beta carotene (Vitamin A) and milk two to three times higher in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine than the non-organic equivalent.  Side-by-side comparisons of organic and conventional strawberry farms, demonstrate that organic farms produce more nutritious and flavorful berries while supporting healthier and more genetically diverse soils.  Other findings have yielded the nutritional benefits of organic produce, such as more dry matter, minerals and antioxidant micronutrients, as well as significantly lower amounts of nitrates and residues of toxic chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.  Moreover, while many look to our oceans for healthy alternatives, it’s also important to realize the far-reaching impact contamination, farming and over-fishing has had on this dwindling resource.  However, some seafood, like Albacore Tuna, Alaska’s wild-caught salmon, farmed oysters, wild-caught pacific sardines and farmed rainbow trout, have low levels of contaminants with health-promoting omega-3 fats, and are sustainably managed by environmentally friendly practices.  On the other hand, Bluefin tuna, Chilean sea bass, monkfish, orange roughy and most farmed salmon, are either considered a threatened species, contain high levels of mercury and contaminants, and/or are mismanaged by inhumane, environmentally disruptive practices. There are solutions, there are alternatives, but we must take the initiative.  We must arm ourselves with knowledge and eat smart.

Small measures taken to reduce our energy consumption, such as cold-wash cycles, air-drying, energy efficient appliances, solar technologies, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and resetting the thermostat, can have far-reaching effects when carried out collaboratively. On Saturday night, March 31rst, for one hour, a record 150 countries and territories across 6,494 town and cities participated in Earth Hour 2012, which saw up to 10% reductions in energy consumption in certain areas and cities worldwide.  Reducing our carbon footprint can mean as little as walking, biking or carpooling to work.  Taking it perhaps a step further, would be to lobby our local government in collaborative affect, to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes.  And why not take advantage of secondhand or invest in high-quality, long-lasting products while donating and recycling responsibly?

The more knowledge we have about these issues, the more we can focus on solutions and ultimately save ourselves from ourselves.  It starts with awareness.   It begins with initiative.  Thinking before buying.  Reduce and recycle.  Shopping local.  Buying organic.  It’s about understanding on a fundamental level the deep interconnection we have with our planet and everything on it.  This week we take pause to review environmental issues, sustainability and preventative health, and to remind ourselves not about the way we should be, but who we really are and what we are capable of.  Think global, act local.

-Elizabeth Cucnik




Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale This Weekend!!

This weekend it’s time to pull out all the stops and taste-to-challenge your pallet with a selection of sensational world-class taste-bud-busting brews from across North America!  That’s right; Fest of Ale is back to celebrate its 17th annual consecutive year this Friday and Saturday, April 13th and 14th, at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.  This celebrated occasion attracts patrons and visitors from all over the map and continues to be a success beyond measure, with plenty of accolades to boot, including last year’s donation of over $95,000 to the South Okanagan community at large.  Bragging rights extend to all of us, by the unremitting hard work, care and compassion of the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society Board of Directors, coordinators and volunteers, who have managed to gift over $387,000 cash to numerous qualifying Registered Charitable Organizations since 2003.

Each year, from May through to June, registered charitable community organizations are invited to submit their request for community funding from the net proceeds of the annual Okanagan Fest-of-Ale event.  Past organizations have included: Agur Lake Camp, Girls at Risk Program, Okanagan College Foundation, D.A.R.E., Boys and Girls Clubs, Victim Assistance Society and Kid Sport Canada, to name but a few.  Moreover The Society also provides scholarships for the following educational institutions: Okanagan College Foundation, Penticton Secondary School, Princess Margaret Secondary School and Summerland Secondary School.  Lastly, the OFOA Society has extended their bequest, with the establishment of the Legacy Fund, to provide community support in the event of cessation, dispersing the interest on funds collected from past events on an annual basis.  In doing so, the Fest-of-Ale has truly become a substance for community support, awareness and synergistic cooperation.

Considerations of the non-profit society take care to support and promote tourism, hospitality and food and beverage factions and industries within the community, alongside those featured microbreweries, upholding Penticton as a renowned all-year destination.  Many various local and Canadian restaurants, businesses and products are showcased at the event, together with incredible entertainment and musical talent, some of which were included in the 2011 People’s Choice Award Winners for Best Band, Best Booth and Best Food.  Expect nothing but the best from an incredible program of artists, including Joe’s Garage (who will also be performing at the Barking Parrot post-event, where the party will continue!)  Look out for this year’s most sensational food booth hosted by the Bufflehead Tapas & Pasta Room, featuring a custom-designed Roman themed platform sampling the finest Italian cuisine in the valley.  Lastly, if driving is an issue, the event has organized in conjunction with the BC Liquor Stores Get Home Sage Program, for patrons to receive $3 off their ride home with participating cab companies and community groups.

The Penticton Lakeside Resort is excited to offer excellent accommodation packages with the purchase of your OFOA ticket.  For more information, call us directly at: 250-493-8221 or you can contact Okanagan Reservations toll free: 1 800-663-1900.  The festivities will begin this Friday at 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm and will continue Saturday from 12 noon until 6:00 pm.  Tickets cost $20 (Canadian) per person per day (plus facility & handling fees and HST) and will be sold in advance only.  For more information on ticket purchasing, please visit the OFOA website at:

It’s safe to say, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is more than just a celebration of good brew, it’s a foundation built on the fundamentals of philanthropy, which stands akin to the event itself. By the authentic purpose of affecting change, growth and development on a human level through communal fun and celebratory spirit, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale does everything to inspire and leaves nothing to be desired.  See you all there!

-Elizabeth Cucnik






Probing The Infinite...A Local Scientist's Legacy

It would seem, on most days, that we are indeed at the centre of the universe.  In fact, for all intents and purposes, we are.  What exists for us in the constant flow of our daily lives is the sum total of all we know and understand.  It is the reality by which we thrive and the logic, by which we rationalize, interpret, perceive and analyze while attempting to remain relatively sane.  It is the octopus’s garden under the sea.  Above the surface, however, storms surge, waves crash, winds blow, suns bake, moons pull, stars gaze and reality, in all its infinite forms, remains an enduring constant, oblivious to the authenticity of the human “self”.  Venturing from the thinking confines of our gardens, to rise and meet the “impossibilities” of realities above the surface, can be utterly mind breaking and yet astonishingly liberating.  That woozy, out-of-body sensation which accompanies a dissolving rationale, labours to create new room for a broader, more inclusive comprehension of the meaning of life amidst a vast, intelligent system.  One such individuals who moves us to rise to the shallows and think above and beyond our daily reality, is Ken Tapping, a local astronomer and scientist at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory at White Lake, located just outside Penticton.

Constant probing of the night sky by scientists like Tapping reveals a plethora of activity surging within our very solar system.  Knowledge and study of such activity moves us to reconsider our own mortality within the infinite, and our position among the stars, literally and figuratively.  The sun, the planets and the movements of asteroids are studied and tracked, particularly those with orbits that take them into our inner solar system, hazarding potential collisions with Earth.  The most famous catastrophic case being the asteroid that hit our planet 65 million years ago, contributing to the end of the dinosaurs.  The discovery of an asteroid calls for the allocation of a name, an opportunity most often given to the discoverer.  This year, three Canadian astronomers have been recognized by the International Astronomical Union to have their names bestowed upon one of these orbiting pieces of space rock.  One such individual is local scientist, Ken Tapping.  Asteroid 293878 Tapping is now an enduring symbol of his ultimate legacy, in honor of his highly accredited work with his Solar Radio Monitoring Program.  Roughly two kilometers wide, and at an approximate distance of 200 million kilometers from Earth, the asteroid is identifiable solely by a high-powered telescope, and is considered one of the smaller “well-behaved” asteroids orbiting tidally between Mars and Jupiter. While it is not exclusive to have an asteroid named after a person in the scientific community, allocating designations for these pieces of revolving space dirt is not a casual thing either, as Ken Tapping joins the ranks of world renowned and respected scientists, astronomers and global thinkers, including George Gamow, who postulated the Big Bang Theory.Tapping

Tapping’s labor of love is the sun, in which he studies and surveys its activity and behavior to better understand the relationship between the star and our Earth.  The pioneering Canadian program he spearheads, serves to analyze the critical correlating impact the sun has on our technologies and planet.  Due to expanding infrastructure and contingent technologies, Earth has become more sensitive to the sun’s activities, an example of which highlights the events of the Quebec blackout of 1989, a causal affect due to a solar flare generating a substantial geomagnetic storm.  This international recognition of Tapping’s work, credits the usefulness and substantial global impact it continues to have on the whole of humanity.  Society at large is beginning to look up, rather then simply straight ahead, no longer afraid to feel more than just the heat of our own skin, but the heat of a vast cosmic body in which we are inexorably apart of.  It is no longer fulfilling to live a life in the calm of our subsurface gardens; we must now push to understand the impact of the turbulent wavy world above, in order to better understand ourselves by way of the infinite.

-Elizabeth Cucnik




Springtime, an Ode to Joy...

Spring is finally here!  The new season obliges a wealth of imagery and descriptions, many of which conjure wonderful memories and heartwarming feeling.  “Fresh, muddy, bright, promising, eagerly anticipated, green, welcomed, crisp, uplifting” are just some that may come to mind.  Springtime is truly nature’s idyll poetry.  It invokes creativity and expressionism, culture and philosophy, and a lingering romanticism within us all.  It is not surprising academics, artists, independent thinkers and philosophers alike have embellished upon its spirit for millennia.  In homage to the lyrical beauty of the new term, we should take pause a moment to think on its meaning and expression…

Spring is more than just one of the four temperate seasons that divide up the year, demarcated by the values of average monthly temperatures.   A portage between winter and summer, the transitional nature of springtime exploits the senses, making us more grateful and appreciative of the simple pleasures of warmth, sunshine, color, smell and sound. Suffusing the bone structure of the landscape is the light of its earthly essence, as spring revives after wintery slumber.  With bated breath we wait for its transmission: a seasonal zenith of blossoming buds and floral jubilation, melodiously serenading emergent fresh philosophies and restored humors. The scenery begins to awaken all around us, yawning and stretching by the melting of snow and the roaring of rivers, as does our minds and bodies with a sense of renewal and regrowth.

We are now at the cusp of the spring equinox, straddling the border between seasons like the prime meridian.  As the axis of the earth increases its tilt toward the sun, we begin to experience longer and longer days.  Frosts become less severe and new plant growth “springs forth” in a long succession while the hemisphere begins to warm, thus giving name to the season.  The blooming of deciduous magnolias, cherries, hyacinth, tulips and lilacs, heralds this newfound warmth.

Yet spring is not without its dramatics.  Unpredictable weather, jet streams, temperature convergences and snowmelt contribute to flash floods, tornados, and supercell thunderstorms accompanied by hail and extreme winds.  Moreover, global warming now sees the shifting of the seasons in which phenological signs of spring occur earlier.  Therefore spring cannot be defined by a particular date, or by a particular set of metaphorical and physical attributes.  Like all things found in nature, spring is wild and temperamental, indistinguishable, profoundly poetic and contingent upon a global interconnected ecosystem.  It compels the authenticity of life, turning the wheel of our cyclic beginnings and ends.  Likewise, spring gives romance back to the pragmatic, faith to the disillusioned, excitement to the sedentary, courage to the passive and thoughtfulness and creativity to the dull.  One can only imagine the soundtrack of spring being something of a classical spectacular, a triumph of spirit blasting through in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as new life pushes forth in an Ode to Joy, bursting with essence and fervor.  May it sound exultantly through us all.

-Elizabeth Cucnik

Daylight Saving or Daylight Slaving?

What does daylight saving really mean to us in our daily lives? Longer leisurely evening strolls, outdoor dinner BBQs, patio toasts or perhaps post-dinner ice cream trips that stretch into the eight o’clock margin…   Many of us do not put much stock into the time change that allows us to jump ahead one hour each spring, thus affording us to exchange longer daylight evening hours for shorter mornings.  However daylight saving time, (DST) which begins on March 11th this year, has a dynamic and deserving history that accompanies a slew of complications, controversies and challenges.

Although the idea of daylight saving was first alluded to by Benjamin Franklin in his 1784 publication of a satirical letter proposing shutter tax, candle rationing and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing canons, 18th-century Europe did not adhere to precise schedules and therefore DST was not of critical importance.   The requirement for a standardization of time however came with the development of rail and communication networks following the Industrial Revolution, whereby New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson first propositioned DST in his 1895 paper presented to the Wellington Philosophical Society.  Curiously enough, a decade later, William Willett, a prominent English builder and outdoorsman, independently conceived the modern notion of DST and published his proposal, which was fortuitously taken up by a Liberal Member of Parliament and introduced as the first Daylight Saving Bill to the House of Commons in 1908.  Although Pearce’s bill along with several others did not become law until some years later, it created a readily available platform deferrable to the outbreak of the First World War, which saw the critical implementation of DST among many European nations, in efforts to alleviate hardships from wartime coal shortages and air raid blackouts.  The United States followed in suit and adopted daylight saving time in 1918.  However since such time, the world has seen many enactments, adjustments, and repeals, as the practice has been both highly celebrated and criticized.

A simple justification for daylight saving time is that it helps society synchronize mechanical clock time to natural time.  Additionally, extending daylight to evenings has been argued beneficiary for all industries and activities that exploit sunlight after working hours such as sports and retail. Proponents generally contend that while modern society operates on standard time rather than on solar time, it is more advantageous to have longer hours of sunlight during the more active periods of the day, (assuming most people sleep in the early morning hours and stay up later in the evenings).  Moreover advocates claim that DST saves energy, reduces traffic accidents and crime, is good for business and promotes outdoor leisure activity in the evening, therefore benefiting physical and psychological health, as well as helping those with seasonal affective disorder and depression.  However pundits have dubbed it “daylight slaving time,” while its opponents claim that DST essentially disrupts sleep and morning activities, (reducing efficiency) and is economically and socially disruptive.  Research on the effectiveness of DST and energy consumption is limited or contradictory whereas modern heating and cooling patterns differ significantly depending on culture, region and geography, while its effects on crime and general health are even less defined.   Furthermore DST presents other challenges whereby timekeeping becomes more problematic, disrupting daily schedules, travel, billing recording-keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment and sleep patterns.  Yet the most compelling argument against DST might be the effect it has on our circadian rhythm, a physical, mental and behavioral pattern within the brain and body that follows a 24 hour cycle responding primarily to light and darkness.   Studies have shown that effects on seasonal adaptation of the circadian rhythm can be severe and last for weeks, while disrupted circadian rhythms can alter sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions.  For these such reasons, the government of Kazakhstan abolished DST in 2005 citing “health complications,” while last March, the president of Russia, Dmitri Medvedev, declared that Russia would stay in DST year-round, to abolish the “stress of changing clocks.”  This declaration was chorused shortly after by Iceland and Belarus.  In the United Kingdom, while the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents supports the observance of DST, other industries such as postal workers and farmers and predominantly those living in northern regions are opposed.assorted tags with daylight savings text

There are many things to consider when reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of daylight saving time, such as energy use, economic effects, public safety and health and the sheer complexity of execution.  A move to "permanent daylight saving time,” now implemented in several jurisdictions, is sometimes advocated, however, many remain unconvinced of the benefits.  Whether or not you are for or against daylight saving time, this Sunday we will nevertheless experience a change on our clocks.  However daylight saving time is not just about changing our clocks one hour ahead, rather it is a hallmark in the calendar that celebrates the start of springtime, the beginning of a new season and stands as a reminder of the curious and wondrous workings of our natural world.

-Elizabeth Cucnik

Leap into the Leap Year Bizarre...

A common misrepresentation many of us believe is that there are exactly 365 days in a year.   However there are in fact 365.242199 days, the difference of which, despite a seemingly miniscule discrepancy, greatly impacts the seasonal and astronomical years.  While it takes the earth approximately 365 and a quarter rotations on its axis to complete a full year’s orbit around the sun, our calendar therefore has to compensate, hence the invention of leap years.  A leap year, which consists of one extra day, February 29, for a total of 366 days, allows for the calendar to correctly synchronize the seasons, without which we would experience a loss of almost six hours every year, amounting to 24 days after only 100 years.  Historically, the ancient Roman calendar saw the addition of an extra month every few years to maintain the correct seasonal changes, and was later revised in 45 BCE, with Julius Caesar’s implementation of the Julian Calendar, which added an extra day every 4 years.  Subsequently, Pope Gregory XIII refined it further in 1582, amending to the Gregorian Calendar, (also known as the Western Calendar) which is now the internationally accepted civil calendar.

As a concept, Leap Day and Leap Year have existed for thousands of years, and still attends superstition and ancient traditions steeped in legend. In the British Isles for instance, a custom holds that leap years should bestow upon women the "privilege" of proposing marriage to men, (rather than the other way around).  According to conventions bound in old Irish legend that speaks of relations between St Patrick and St Brigid, any man who refuses a woman’s proposal during Leap Year, owes his scorned suitor compensation in kind - a silk gown, a kiss, or twelve pairs of gloves (presumably to hide the shame of a naked ring finger).  Allegorically, the folklore appears to take similar restorative measures to balance traditional gender roles as the Leap Day does the calendar year.  This romantic tale has been rooted in many early English-language sources, the likes of which include a passage from the early 17th century volume entitled, Courtship, Love and Matrimonie, which discusses the “common law” of “social relations of life,” permitting women the sole freedom of professing their love every bissectile year.  A couplet from the Elizabethan-era stage play called The Maid’s Metamorphisis also alludes to the legendary custom, as well as another passage from the Treatise Against Judicial Astrologie by John Chamber dated 1601, which furtherer discusses the reversal of gender roles during a leap year.  Finally, the earliest documented reference to the "ladies' privilege" is found in the couplet attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) by Vincent Lean in his Collectanea, published in 1905. Interestingly, within the same decade of Lean’s publication, postcards from the leap year 1908 express illustrations of old maids with many chins setting silver bear traps and women catching men with butterfly nets.  Other such folklore traditions and superstitions surrounding the Leap Year confer that marriage in a leap year is unlucky, and that leap years can have a hampering affect on the raising of crops and livestock (in the words of the Scots, "Leap year was never a good sheep year.")

And so, while the Leap Year is a scientifically proven and necessary calendrical asset to the management of the seasonal and astronomical years, it has not only played a curious and dynamic role throughout history, but continues to hold sway upon many peoples and cultures worldwide.  Like a full moon, beliefs in the bizarre and strange effects of the Leap Year and Leap Day are not soon forgotten.  Therefore let us appreciate these ancient uncustomary customs, which help us to better understand ourselves in the past and present, and revel in the delights of the season as we bow to the wondrous workings of science and the masterful imagination and creativity of mankind. - Elizabeth Cucnik

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