Archive for November 2012

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week: Fasting with Fast Food


I like eating.

Anyone who knows me, knows how true this statement is. Whether they’ve made the mistake of looking away from their dinner for more than two seconds, or accidentally tell me they’ve ordered pizza, one of my best skills is making food disappear.

See what I mean?

So, when the Mustard Seed put out a challenge for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, I thought the most difficult of all the Awareness Adventures would be to cut down on how much I eat everyday. By a lot. So for the last week:

1– I haven’t eaten breakfast.
2– I haven’t snacked.
3– I have eaten lunch and dinner at specific times. No eating outside those two meal windows.
4- Meals I do eat are smaller portions than normal. No food comas allowed. 
– All the meals have been inexpensive, high calorie, and accessible to the inner city community.

I’ve tried to adopt the routine that directs life on the street: organizing your day around when you can eat. If you aren’t at an inner city community agency when food is served, it means you’ve missed a meal, or maybe even having food that entire day. This danger causes a lot of stress, and put limits on health, well-being, and happiness.

Aside from my 5 point eating plan, I tried to keep everything else in my schedule the same. This meant working full-time, exercising 1 to 2 hours a day, and going to the social events I’d promised Facebook I’d be attending. At first, it was kind of fun not to eat any vegetables, but after a few days I was actually craving broccoli. And carrots. When all of a sudden the foods you’re used to having when you’re hungry (or just feel like eating because you’re bored), are out of reach, it changes your daily frame of mind.

Food becomes the main priority. Going to bed with your stomach grumbling becomes the new norm. After a few days, my energy levels dropped, exercising became harder, and it took my body longer to recover. Sleeping more seemed like a sneaky way of countering this, but since homeless people don’t have that option, I instead started sleeping less every night – from 7-8 hours to 5-6. Focusing on tasks was more difficult, and articulating ideas was harder than usual.

Then, 5 days in, I started getting a sore throat, which soon turned into a harsh cough. Normally, when I get run-down and feeling sick, I eat lots of good food, and get lots of rest. Unfortunately, homeless folks don’t have that option either, and so I stuck to my diet plan. There’s vitamin C in cheap bologna, right?

On the last day of the fasting challenge, an awful feeling in my stomach was added to my symptoms. My body was starting to get really mad at me. It was my final indication of what it’s like to be homeless everyday. To set your routine around eating. To be worried about going hungry. To be tired. To have your body feeling sore. To get sick, and not have an easy way of getting better.  And then, while facing these problems on a daily basis, the homeless have to confront other issues, like finding work, shelter, and staying warm.

Good food goes a long way to giving folks a foundation to take on these other problems. To contrast a week of eating meals people in the inner city have access to, for the next week I’m going to do the reverse: eat balanced, healthy meals which are unavailable to the homeless.  It’ll be more expensive, but I’m guessing the benefits will outweigh the monetary cost.

Kids’ Festival of Ideas – What’s Up with the U?



Saturday November 17th, 2-3 p.m. at Enterprise Square 10230 Jasper Ave, Edmonton

“Older children can join four outstanding UAlberta graduate students who will share the excitement of their current research and discoveries. Come and hear about some of the fascinating and important research currently underway at UAlberta. What’s up with the U? will present research in into drug use/abuse, tropical ecosystems, “intelligent” bacteria in our guts, and the cultural story of Seattle’s punk rock scene.”


Blurring the lines between the inner city and the wider community.

you’re not hardcore unless you’re hardcore for humanity


Photo from the Edmonton Journal

There’s a lot of snow falling in Edmonton today. For most, it means snowball fights and visiting the ski hill, but for those without shelter and warm clothes, the weather puts their lives in danger. Every winter is life-threatening to folks on the street in our city, as they fight in a daily struggle against the cold.

Luckily, they’ve got help from people like Mattie Cuvilier. He’s an adult support worker at Bissell Centre, and the brains and muscle behind Clean Up Your Act Productions, an outfit that’s put on over 100 local shows since 2008. On Friday, November 9th, he’s organizing a great gig at DV8 called “Hardcore for Humanity.”

Cuvilier has teamed up with an awesome lineup of hardcore bands: TODOS CAERANDETROITBREAKBEATEXITS, and CONTENTION. It’s a United Way Fundraiser. Entry is by donation. Food bank and warm clothing donations are happily accepted.

And there’s a real need for these donations. As Cuvilier said in the St. Albert Gazette today:  “People not living in houses are vulnerable. They are easy targets for crime and assault. Women especially are victims to predators. There is the cold, but there is certainly a lot of violence too. And it’s especially difficult for those with diabetes, heart disease, AIDS, arthritis and cancer. If you’re not in housing, you can’t deal with a terrible physical illness and you can’t treat it when living on the streets.”

Helping those in need is important, but it’s not always easy. Going to a local show, with great bands, isn’t one of those times. The only thing hard is the music.


Jump up and say WEST!


The Collective West perform at the Artery tonight, to celebrate the release of their sophomore album, Fire & The Ocean.

The band is excited. Any respectable member of the Edmonton music community is too.

As banjo extraordinaire Erin Faught told this blog’s think-tank: “I feel especially proud of Fire & The Ocean because I think it truly represents The Collective West as the collective we really are– the previous album was a collaboration of all of us on songs that Alex and I had originally written for our solo careers but all of the songs on this album were developed by us as a team. Also Alex recorded and produced this baby entirely in his basement so that’s pretty dang impressive.”

The Alex whom Faught is talking about is Alex Klassen. They teamed up a few years ago, along with Dave Sustrik  and Alex Charlton. If you’ve seen the movie the Avengers, it was just like that. In the time they’ve been writing music and performing together, they’ve not only been getting better and better, but they’ve left audiences with an infectious positivity no one tries to escape from.

If you don’t have tickets yet, there might be some left from The show is with Fish & Bird and Lindsey Walker. Doors at the Artery open at 7:30.

Listen to their new song, “Call it Home,” here.