What is it?

(pre-caffeine scattershot morning meditation on … conservation/community/the decline of/and impending loss of/the natural?)

how to do it won’t matter when the sun stops shining through slats on the neighbour’s deck peaking out towards the recycling – big blue shining bin – and the afterword, the aftermath of all that was never left to be sliding down the sides of the walls. In the corner by the red doors, new with pains of glass and broken stairwells marking out the vicinity of where we all abide. Should there be more than what is inside an individual – is a singular thing or a monster – bring on the backyard banquets and football Sundays, potatoes, creamed salads and baked beginnings of the last days of our culture riding out the end zone of some sport we all learned to play before we were able to memorize the universal rule book. Bad analogies and cropped pants, ladies in spring’s latest colours, it’s the heat of the light baking the passage to what is comfortable, secure and desired. Oh how? Communication fostering common portrayals of what the worst of us all could be – if it were scripted executives and prime time come-ons – perfectly coiffed and barely believable. Ass in the char, Ass in the chair, Ass on fire? Figure it out. The waiting game cannot continue, the hours of the journey to the end of what we would like to have had already transpired beginnings or endings and ergo ergo ergo what things have no productive value … productivity and bees with their little knees collapsing across America, or, the organism knows the way … method, matriculation, one sphere to another little known mentally agreeable moment in the backwaters of how are you doing today my friends?



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My visit to the Richmond Art Gallery

I had the pleasure of going to Vancouver to meet Cameron Cartiere, Megan Smetzer and Brian Campbell from the Pollinator Pasture team in Richmond. They took me to the Richmond Art Gallery to see Cameron Cartiere’s For All Is For Yourself, an installation which will be coming to the Kelowna Art Gallery!

Photo by G. Campbell

Photo by G. Campbell

They hosted paper making workshops with members of the local community, embedded the paper with pollinator seeds and then laser cut the paper into 10,000 silhouettes of the Western Bumblebee.

Western Bumble Bee Photo by G. Cambell

Western Bumble Bee
Photo by G. Cambell

Behind the bees on the wall are giant laser cut images of wild bee homes. I’d never seen a wild bee home before and they look like little clusters of burnt, caramel popcorn. So neat! Pollinator pastures will create a space where wild bees can make their nests – loss of habitat is a huge problem for wild bees.

Photo by G. Campbell

Photo by G. Campbell

I brought some of our Gaillardia seeds with me from Kelowna so Jamie Johnson (the paper maker) can test them out and see how they will work/look in the paper we will be making in Kelowna over the winter and fall for our 5,000 laser cut bees that will join 5,000 of the Richmond bees when they come to the Kelowna Art Gallery.


Photo by G. Campbell

The seed embedded paper bees will be given to community members to take home and plant in their garden. They will also be used to plant the Pollinator Pasture.

The other show that was up in the Richmond Gallery was jasna guy’s not by chance alone … a beautiful installation. She used paper that she dipped in beeswax and the whole gallery space had this beautiful smell from the beeswax. The smell comes from all the flowers the bees gathered pollen. It never occurred to me that the smell of beeswax comes from the flowers! Seems obvious now though, ha-ha! The other piece jasna did was create a series of colour samples with all the colours that pollen can be. Another learning moment for me … I always assumed that pollen was just yellow! Check out jasna guy’s website for pictures and more information about her process.

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Harvesting Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)

Getting Gaillardia seeds ready for our paper-making workshops!


Gaillardia is a drought-tolerant, pollinator attracting and long-blooming blanket flower that is well suited to the Okanagan.

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Last week when I was at the Pollinator Pasture …

I ran into a man walking a dog (the dog’s name was Peanut)
he asked me for the time (the man, not the dog)

he said he didn’t have a phone, he didn’t have a watch & that he didn’t need either one …

but, he needed to know the time (or wanted to know the time)

It got me thinking about the things we need to know … whether we know we need to know them or not (say that five times fast)

On that note, here are some plants I found around the site and their names … I hope that over the next few months I get to know more and more of these plants by name and eventually I’ll be able to recognize them and talk about them.

I think I know
these are things I need to know
(or want to know)


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October 15th

Spent a few hours at the site today with fellow MFA student Miriam Huxley, Nancy Holmes and Gabe Cipes. Here are a few photos:

IMG_6160 IMG_6164 IMG_6189 IMG_6191 IMG_6197 IMG_6199


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Brent’s Grist Mill Site, October 8, 2015

IMG_6144running around all morning
returning bottles, doing laundry
sending my vote in the mail

I’ve been putting off
for weeks

I pulled up and it started raining
–– so I’m sitting in my car
hoping it will pass

I’ve started reading
about pollinators, pollinizers, pollination
syndromes, sonication, convergent evolution

… because I can’t peer into the bushes
and wonder

what goes on in there?

on conversations:
mutualism, neonicotinoids
brain, navigation, colonies, pollution
mobility, feeding, foraging,
activity, behavior, memory,
learning, invasive …

apparently, there’s a document:
“The Economic Challenge
Posed by Declining Pollinator

economic challenge?

as though hordes of beings
wandering around
losing their minds, unable
to go home

form healthy relationships
feed and clothe themselves
take care of their young

their brains addled by chemicals

as though we would do differently
if it were people, instead of bees?

“I don’t have the time, the resources to …”

IMG_6130do anything
this isn’t some lecture, guilt trip
or call to action

we’re tired, busy, stressed out
trying to make it through
one day and the next

can’t live up to what we think
we should be, or think
we’re supposed to be

maybe it is cynical, negative
… but sometimes I wonder
if the disease and decline is in

our society
and the bees, the bees
only reflect that

this isn’t a dirty look
cause you’re using plastic grocery bags

the average working person:
trying to raise a family, be a good person
and make enough money to get by

the average person:
wants something good

community, environment
this site, so beautiful, really

surrounded by parking lots
and concrete blocks
a field half gravel, half plants
(whose names I don’t know)

here, salvageable
surrounded by stress

the oppressive
nature of capitalism

IMG_6134we need a beautiful garden
a home, a sanctuary
… a shady place of rest

my hour has come
to an end

and I’m still sitting in the parking lot

all the rushing around this morning
the school work and reading
piling up, the rain and the way

my pants don’t fit
because I’ve been eating too much crap
and drinking too much wine. The stupid
emails I sent people last week,

that thing I said to someone that
might be misinterpreted

… the fact that my apartment is a mess
and my clothes all live on the floor
(the floor that needs vacuumed)

my hour here has come to an end
… but it has stopped raining

before I leave, I’m going to walk
into this site and take a breather

I’m going to tend to that place
of beauty and rest

the spaces of sanctuary in my own life



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At Brent’s Grist Mill Site: future home of the Kelowna Pollinator Pasture.

For my first post on InkSwarm, I decided to come down to the site, set up my folding chair and spend some time here taking in the place as it is now, before the Pollinator Pasture goes in this coming Spring.


Photo: Andrea-Linh Le

From my vantage point, in the incredibly bright Okanagan sunshine (note to self: bring a hat next time) I can see three heritage buildings enclosed by a chain-linked fence. The original Grist Mill building reminds me of the old houses and barns found around the prairies where I come from. Beyond the enclosure is a wooded area around Mill Creek and beyond that the busy traffic of the city. To my left is Dilworth Drive, one of the first streets I became familiar with when I moved to Kelowna three months ago, because on one end of Dilworth is where the Kelowna’s Farmer’s Market is held and on the other end, where it crosses Mill Creek and this site and goes up into the hills that surround Kelowna there has been road construction since I got here. Twice now I’ve found myself coming to the site from the University and forgetting about the construction. I’m a new driver and still getting used to the hills and curving streets of Kelowna … there aren’t a lot of hills where I come from and most of the roads are fairly straight. However, I feel like it is a good metaphor for this project and my time as Writer In Residence … on one end construction and on the other, bounty and fresh healthy food.

Behind me are cliffs that I’ve been told are classic Okanagan landscape and the colours are beautiful. An old, now unused, rail track runs along at the bottom of the cliffs. There is a little train bridge just through the trees going over Mill creek. There are bikers beyond that and as I was coming into the park a lady walking up and down the path talking on her cell phone. It sounded like she was having trouble at work. I can hear what I think are grasshoppers or maybe some insect mating in air the way dragonflies do, birds are chirping in the trees and the leaves are rustling just like they do in the aspen back home. There are little shady, grassy spots under the trees in places that remind me of Anne of Green Gables … places where young couples might have lover’s trysts or something. Somebody told me the other day that they saw a pink pair of panties and empty bottles on one of the numerous paths down to the creek though … so the lover’s trysts might not be so innocent and bucolic as any in Avonlea. I’m imagining what it will look like when the pasture is here and the insect hotels are set up and the bees start buzzing around. The birds and the bees …

Last Saturday we held an event here where eco-artist Lori Mairs displayed a giant sized replica of a Mason Bee home and the stages of development from tiny egg to the full grown pollinating superstar that a mason bee is. People and volunteers from the community came out and built Mason Bee homes for their gardens, kids had their faces painted and made bee finger puppets. Someone even brought fresh tomatoes from their garden to share (something I notice happens a lot in the Okanagan). Two friends that I know from Saskatoon were in town and able to make it, and new colleagues and classmates were there with their families as well.


Photo: Andrea-Linh Le


Photo: Andrea-Linh Le

The weather on Saturday was beautiful and I was struck by how many different folks, connected to one another in various ways, came together for an afternoon to learn about Mason Bees. The thing I kept hearing everyone saying was, “Wow! I had never heard of Mason Bees before this” and, “I didn’t realize they were such amazing pollinators”. All of us, the migratory and not so migratory, passing through and stopping to share an afternoon with one another to learn about bees and ways we can better care for our communities and the natural world that we live in. Even though this little patch of land is in the middle of the city, it is full of plants, insects, birds, history, people (and I’m told the occasional coyote). What a beautiful and worthy project this is and I’m honoured to be the 2015-16 Writer In Residence. I hope you will follow me and this blog over the next eight months as we gear up to plant the pasture this Spring.


Photo: Andrea-Linh Le

Since I started writing this I have turned my chair around so I’m not facing the sun anymore and there is a beautiful cool breeze coming through the trees. I might just take a nap here and maybe I’ll dream about bees!

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