Oh Canada, Our Home (on) Native Soil

My first week in Canada, and so much has happened. I knew it would be a magical internship when I got a first-class flight on frequent flier miles. Who knew they still serve food on airplanes? Looking out the window at the sun shimmering on countless lakes, sipping whiskey and snacking on shrimp, I predicted – this is fate.

Sure enough, my first week was already shortened by their kooky holidays. We had Friday off because of Canada Day – their version of Independence Day, sneakily planned to happen three days before the 4th of July. Figures. If you can’t do it better, might as well do it sooner.

All funning aside, Canadians really do a great job at celebrating their national holidays. Look at all this birthday spirit! I’ve never been downtown for a 4th of July event – I’m not interested in accidentally getting punched in the face by a drunkard – so I can’t really compare it to anything US-side. But the only time I’ve seen this many people in body paint and flags is on TV at a World Cup match. I doff my hat to ye. And to think some people don’t believe this is a country!

Oh, right, and I also started my internship. I’m working for a renewable energy nonprofit in Vancouver Island, Cowichan Energy Alternatives, and organizing an awesome conference about sustainable biofuels, among other things. It’s the Collective Biofuels Conference’s fifth year, and its main goal is sharing information about community-scale biodiesel, from grass-roots initiatives to successful business case studies from across North America.

The conference will cover feedstock collection (since locally produced, sustainable biodiesel is produced from waste vegetable oil collected from restaurants), safe biodiesel production (since a lot of producers are messing around with explosive and poisonous chemicals like methanol and lye in their garages) as well as speculation on future biodiesel sources (what’s happening with algae, anyway?). We’ll also talk about alternative fuels like straight vegetable oil and ethanol.

Speaking of ethanol – we’re going to have an international film premiere, and I booked the gig! Josh Tickell will be premiering his new movie, “FREEDOM” on Friday night to kick-off the CBC. Josh is a professional speaker, author, filmmaker and alternative fuels enthusiast, whose 2009 film, “FUEL”, won the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, and was described by the Seattle Times as “Dynamic, stirring…a must-see, and not just for environmentalists.”

“FREEDOM” takes a hard look at North America’s ever-growing addiction to foreign oil, and delves into the pros and cons of the “black sheep” that is ethanol. And from early responses, it seems like our environmentalist attendees are not buying this sheep’s wool – it’s going to be an interesting Q&A, to say the least!

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