UBC seeks to tap rain as renewable resource

Posted by Fabiola Carletti on Oct 29th, 2009 and filed under Environment at thethunderbird.ca

A sea of umbrellas at UBC

A sea of umbrellas at UBC

Curtis Ballard rushed to fasten plywood between parking curbs as rain cascaded down Wesbrook Mall. The water runoff streamed toward TRIUMF, the laboratory for particle and nuclear physics at UBC.

“The water outside eventually rose to our knees,” said Ballard, TRIUMF’s operations manager, who worked with personnel from the lab and the physical plant to clear catch basins and set up dewatering pumps.

Although the water from the flash flood seeped into offices and damaged flooring, the group’s work spared a nearby laser lab filled with high precision equipment. They now refer to it as the great flood of 2009.

Such temperamental tales become lore at the University of British Columbia, which sits on the outskirts of rainy Vancouver.

The project team behind Campus and Community Planning know the challenges of managing stormwater, but are also creating policy that may channel it into opportunity.

The planners are entering the final phase of drafting the UBC Vancouver Campus plan, the guiding document for the next 20 years of property development. Taping the copious amount of rainwater, a renewable resource, is finally on the agenda.

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Better to light 350 candles than curse the darkness

In the long run the pessimist may be proved right, but the optimist has a better time on the trip. ~Daniel L. Reardon

350 at Clovelly, Sydney, Australia. Uploaded by 350.org under the creative commons.

350 at Clovelly, Sydney, Australia. Uploaded by 350.org under the creative commons.

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I wasn’t at
Cambie Bridge yesterday, and I deeply regret it.

Instead of drinking in the energy of about 5,000 other environmentally-conscious Vancouverites, I sat in my room sipping cold coffee.

(Side note: Too often my schooling gets in the way of my education! But maybe I’m just lame because one of my J-school peers made the time to go.)

The bridge was one of thousands of places around the world where concerned citizens gathered to call out for action on climate change. This time, they rallied around the number 350. Why?

Well, climate scientists have said that 350 parts per million is the upper limit for heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the longer we live past this concentration, the worse the global repercussions (like droughts, rising sea levels, famine, etc.) will be.

By the way, we’re currently living at 387 parts per million.

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UBC Grad students entitled to three-week vacation

The statue outside of the Thea Koerner Graduate Student Centre

The statue outside of the Thea Koerner Graduate Student Centre

BY FABIOLA CARLETTI
CONTRIBUTOR

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18TH, 2009

Graduate students are now entitled to take three weeks of vacation per academic year. The decision was made by the UBC Vancouver Senate last Wednesday.


Before this year, UBC was the only major Canadian university without an official policy regulating graduate students’ vacation time. The new policy, effective immediately, creates clear and formal expectations for both students and supervisors, replacing the unofficial and occasionally unfair arrangements of the past.


“It took us a while to get the wording quite right,” said Jim Thompson, the associate dean of graduate policy and program review. Thompson explained that the Academic Policy Committee reviewed the documents of other universities, ultimately crafting original wording that meets national standards without being exceedingly rigid.”


Read more…

This article is published in The Ubyssey.


Tappin’ the Power of Re-Branding

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If someone offered me two unidentified glasses of wine
and asked me to assess their value, I’d get nervous.

Sure, I’d feign competence and do the swirl, sniff, and sip but, without any information about the products, I’d simply choose the more enjoyable and hope it was also the more “valuable.” Yes, this might mean I’d go with the bargain bin basic over the super-rare vintage from eons ago but, apparently, I’m not alone.

In “Life Lessons from an Ad Man,” the recently posted TED talk embedded above, Rory Sutherland explains how advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception of a product instead of changing the actual product itself. I know this notion may seem obvious, especially when directly discussed, but Sutherland’s examples highlight how persuasion has worked as a powerful marketing tool.

In terms of wine, Sutherland quotes the American Institute of Wine Economics [sic]*: “Except for among 5% or 10% of the most knowledgeable people, there is no correlation between quality and enjoyment in wine—except when you tell people how expensive it is, in which case they tend to enjoy the most expensive stuff more.”

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Reviews from the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival

The line up for the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival

The line up in front of the Granville Theatre for the premiere of Toad's Oil at the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival. As you can see, people just love line-ups on cloudy days.

We’ve all heard that journalism can be a strenuous pursuit.

That’s true, no doubt about it… but sometimes we gadflies do get some truly sweet gigs. I thought about that as I flashed my media pass and received free tickets to some of the best new movies from around the world. Thanks to Schema Magazine, I was able to watch, enjoy, and review four films at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).

If you’re interested in any of the titles, click the link to see what this rookie reviewer had to say. Shout outs to Schema for taking a chance on an unknown kid.

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Help for the Homeless in British Columbia

What if we chose to see the homeless as more than just statistics?

What if we chose to see the homeless as more than just statistics?

Last Friday I sat down with Monte Paulsen, the investigative editor of the web-based magazine The Tyee.

For three years, Paulsen has been writing solution-oriented journalism on homelessness in BC, talking to everyone from politicians and outreach workers to people living beneath the Science World docks. We spoke before his free public talk, “Ending Homelessness: What Works,” an event that was co-sponsored by The Tyee and the Museum of Vancouver, and timed to coincide with the region’s fourth annual Homelessness Action Week.

Paulsen wants to prove, beyond an optimistic sentiment, that the province can end homelessness for the same amount it currently spends to maintain it.

To read my article on Paulsen’s ideas, click here.  (There’s also a link to hear audio)

Group confronts social stigma with humour

“When I first heard my dad had a mental illness, I thought ‘how could someone so weird get any weirder?’” - Ten-year-old Jonathan Granirer

“When I first heard my dad had a mental illness, I thought ‘how could someone so weird get any weirder?’” - Ten-year-old Jonathan Granirer

Click here to see the original story in the Ubyssey

BY FABIOLA CARLETTI
CONTRIBUTOR

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8TH, 2009

Nearly 500 people attended the two Stand Up for Mental Health comedy shows on Monday at Frederick Wood Theatre and the Totem Park Ballroom. The campus comedy day coincided with National Mental Illness Awareness Week, a campaign that aims to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Karine St-Jean stood before the microphone clutching her cue cards. Most of the audience wasn’t much older than her, and many without seats sat close by and cross-legged on the floor. The 16-year-old comic wore heart-shaped earrings, which framed her cherub cheeks, and a bright yellow shirt.

“I took this anger management class and they told us to do the square–breathing technique when we get angry,” she said. “That really pissed me off.”

The crowd erupted in laughter, showing support for St-Jean and the other comedians that highlighted the humour in a diverse list of mental illnesses.

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