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Off The Beaten Track – Casa Verde & Spartacus Books

19 Jul

ACasaVerdeccording to Robert Stone – I recommend the Netflix doc “ Get Me Robert Stone “- the past is prologue. Now if you donʼt subscribe to that theory then you most likely werenʼt inspired by my suggestions to stop in at what was once Commercial Village. But if you do, you may want to check out another curiosity. Right in the middle of Commercial Street, at 3532, is a restaurant. Itʼs called Casa Verde and unless you were looking for it, you wouldnʼt even give it a side glance. With itʼs fading green awning and neutral storefront, the place looks like one of those “ social clubs “Tony Sopranoʼs pals would hang at. But actually itʼs a real restaurant. A Portuguese restaurant thatʼs been run by the same family for twenty years. Iʼm not going to review Casa Verdeʼs fare. Which is a good thing. I may not be the best food critic given that I did not like the much praised and acclaimed Savio Volpe on Kingsway and Fraser. I can tell you that the proprietors of Casa Verde recommend the salted Cod or their weekend chicken barbecue special. But thatʼs not whatʼs interesting. Whatʼs interesting is that behind Casa Verdeʼs almost invisible storefront, thereʼs also a banquet hall that holds up to one hundred. The hall feels like it should be accessible through a bookcase operated secret passage. Itʼs discreet and it might be the perfect venue to roll out your start-up launch, or throw that party when your new single drops.

On the other hand, maybe you donʼt have time for something as frivolous as checking out a restaurant you may never dine in. How could you have time when thereʼs injustice and inequality in the world? After all, you are a social justice warrior. Thatʼs why you live in East Van the birthplace of Vancouverʼs progressive thought. East Van was home to the first Lefties on city council Bruces Yorke and Erickson and the Godfather of Progressive Vancouver Trout Laker Harry Rankin. Itʼs also home to long serving former NDP MP Libby Davies and future long serving NDP MP Jenny Kwan. So itʼs ironic that in your rush to those committee meetings youʼve never stopped, right at where Commercial Street meets Commercial Drive, and checked out Spartacus Books at 3378 Findlay.

Spartacus Books is Vancouverʼs original Lefty book store. Itʼs been around since 1973 and for years was a beacon of socialist thought on the Downtown East Side. But eventually evil forces – think developers not CSIS- conspired to run Spartacus Books out of itʼs long time location and over to this innocuous spot under the Sky Train behind the Croatian Cultural Centre. Banished to this location, Spartacus Books soldiers on encouraging truth justice and the East Van way. Theyʼre friendly folk, mostly volunteers, and they wonʼt try and force feed you Das Kapital or insist you watch a North Korean video. If youʼre trying to establish an ideological position, validate your East Van political street cred, or just worry about the fires of capitalism being highly infectious, Spartacus Books can help.SpartacusBooks

By Contributing Writer: Al Tee

 

 

East Vancouver Newcomers Camp – Local Group Helps Refugee Children Break Social Barriers

17 Jul

EVNCWe recently learnt of an interesting non-profit based in East Vancouver we are excited about. It’s the East Vancouver Newcomers Camp.  This organization was founded by Duncan Bernardo and Dakota Koch just over a year ago. The founders have created and run summer day camps for refugee children. They currently run day camps in two locations, Surrey and East Vancouver.  Each camp has approximately 30 kids aged 6 to 12 years of age.  The day begins with English lessons by certified instructors that speak the children’s native language, then a break for lunch, followed by an afternoon of sports and games.   The summer camp helps children integrate into North American culture and break down social barriers.   Founder Duncan Bernardo understands this first hand having moved to Spain at 11 years old. He didn’t speak a word of Spanish and initially was quite isolated, but he had a love of soccer on his side. As many may know Spain is a soccer nation. Sport was an avenue for him to make friends and break down the language barrier. With the recent influx of refugees coming from Syria, the founders saw from personal experience how they could assist children integrate into a new culture and make friends. The founders, Duncan and Dakota, were able to obtain a grant from the federal government that covers the cost of teachers and organizers to run the camps, but they are currently running at 50% of their potential capacity as they don’t have  the funds to meet the needs of food and transportation for all the children.  They have some wonderful sponsors to assist with donations in-kind to help them get their footing, but they still need some financial assistance to help meet the demand of the day to day costs of running the day camps.   There are a couple of ways you can assist them, if you are able. You can provide financial assistance on their Donate page online. It costs $500 to send one child to camp for the summer. They also welcome gift cards for groceries as they provide snacks and refreshments for the children throughout the day. Should you be in a position to provide any new or gently used sporting equipment, that would graciously be received as well. To provide donations in kind or gift cards, you can contact Duncan Bernardo directly at info@evnc.ca.

Photo Credit: East Vancouver Newcomers Camp  

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What’s On East Van: July 14, 2017

14 Jul

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Lots happening in East Van this next week.  Our weekly feature What’s On East Van sets out cool events for the upcoming week. Beyond the week, we invite you to check out our Event Listing which is updated daily and features events for the month and beyond.

Playland Nights – July 14, 2017

Playland hosts an adult only evening from 7:00 pm to midnight Friday. You will find beer, wine, special cocktails including Candy Floss Martinis and Snow Cone Vodka and the usual midway games and 25 rides. Advance admission is $26, tickets at the gate are $29.

Tango Lesson – July 14, 2017

Love to dance? Want to learn to dance the tango?  The Italian Cultural Centre is hosting dance lessons Friday nights in July. Classes are from 6:00 – 7:30 pm and cost is $20. To register visit, Italian Cultural Centre.

Eastside Flea – July 14 – 16, 2017

The Eastside Flea happens this weekend at 1024 Main Street. Friday night is their Shop N’Bop which features food trucks, pinball, a select group of artisans, craft beer and cocktails from 6:00 to 10:00 pm. The full market happens Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm each day and features over 50 local vendors.

Free Outdoor Concert – Trout Lake – July 19, 2017

Trout Lake Community Centre is again playing host to a line up of free concerts every Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. This week the Soda Crackers take the stage. In the event of rain, the event goes indoors.

Outdoor Long Table Dinner – July 20, 2017

The Italian Cultural Centre is hosting an outdoor long table dinner on Thursday, July 20th a Taste of East Van. The evening is a collaboration with Slow Food Vancouver and showcases local growers and producers. Tickets are $45 for dinner. Wines will be available for purchase. For more info or tickets, visit Italian Cultural Centre.

Entertainment, Comedy, Live Music + Theatre

Playland is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm this weekend. If you are looking for some family entertainment, the Commercial Drive Business Society is hosting free dance and Zumba in Grandview Park from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Sunday. This is a free event, everyone is welcome to attend. Friday night, Trout Lake will be featuring an outdoor movie at 9:00 pm showing Shrek. If you are looking for some thinking theatre, The Cultch is featuring Deviance until July 15th.  The show highlights the fine line between abnormal and unacceptable behaviour. Have a great weekend!

Image: June Hunter

A Little East Van History – The Lakeview Disaster And The Wild West

12 Jul

LakeviewDisasterVancouverHeritageFoundationWe introduce you to a new contributing writer Al Tee. Al loves a good story and has his eye on East Van’s history.  His East Van roots go back to his grandmother’s childhood home and farm at 41st and Sophia. Today, he’s going to share a little East Van history in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage area.

You live in East Van, youʼre always rushing. In a hurry. Youʼre rushing for the bus, for the Skytrain. Youʼre riding in the bike lane rushing to make the next light. Youʼre rushing trying to avoid traffic from pop-up city road work. All that rushing, and no time to take a side glance at what youʼre rushing past in East Van. Short anomalous streets and tiny micro neighborhoods. All of them bubbling over with anecdotal history. Because if you hadnʼt realized, East Van is where Vancouver started.

So let me do the side glance for you while you rush. As you rush North down Victoria thereʼs a point where you hit a big curve that becomes Commercial Drive. On your right you pass a large patch of green that hides a community garden. Plenty of those in East Van, except this has some history. At the bottom of Lakeviewthe garden is a shed thatʼs been built like a replica of one of the old shelters for the Interurban. The Interurban was the original Skytrain, Vancouverʼs first rapid transit. These shelters offered both protection from the elements and often a ticket agent to sell riders their fare. More importantly the shed has a plaque, placed there to remind passersby of the events of the Lakeview Disaster.

In 1909 at the current location of the community garden, a BC Electric Interurban train collided with a runaway railcar loaded with timber. The collision resulted in 14 people killed and another 9 seriously injured. What happened at Lakeview became the worst transit accident in Vancouver history. While you give that a pause as you rush by, two blocks east is a short strip of Commercial Street that was itself once considered a village. The Commercial Street Cafe located at East 20th and Commercial Street, is particularly significant. While I canʼt vouch for the coffee – Iʼm too anti-social to have coffee anywhere but home – I can vouch that this was the sight of Vancouverʼs first armed robbery. The restored Cafe was once home to the Bank of Hamilton, a forerunner of the CIBC, and on one August Saturday night back in 1912, six armed men entered the bank and robbed it. While this was going on, members of a nearby gospel meeting began singing. At the same time two South Vancouver Police Constables Pcʼs Thomas and Winters happened by. There was a shoot-out. According to PC Winters; “ …men came running out of the bank and opened fire on me. Quite a fusillade was opened on me…I raised my revolver to shoot, but the crowd that had been singing and preaching now began to realize what was on and they scattered. “

Picture the opening scene in Sam Peckinpahʼs The Wild Bunch happening two blocks from the Croatian Cultural Centre. A running gun battle ensued and the robbers, some possibly wounded, escaped into the bush around Trout Lake. Which brings us back to Lakeview. Because these six “ desperate outlaws “ all passed by the sight of the cityʼs worst traffic accident ever. Think of it, a train wreck and an armed robbery with a shootout only a couple of blocks apart. Is this is a side glance of East Van? Or the Wild Wild West?

Contributing Writer: Al Tee

Photo Credit: Vancouver Heritage Foundation (above)
Photo Credit: Commercial Street Below (below)

RecycleFest At Trout Lake July 22, 2017

10 Jul

RecycleFestWe are big fans of recycling. It honestly pains us to throw things away and we endeavor to keep that to a minimum.  Each and every person makes a difference, it may be small, but collectively it’s big. We invite you to check out the upcoming RecycleFest happening Saturday, July 22nd at Trout Lake. The event is hosted by ElectroRecycle which is BC’s small appliance and power tool recycling program. Bring down your broken, old and unwanted small electrical appliances and power tools with the view of keeping these items out of landfills, our water ways, streets and parks.  Along with recycling, there will be a host of family friendly activities including a hot dog BBQ, bouncy castle, arts and crafts, a photo booth, caricaturist and more.  The event runs from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Heads up for those wishing to clean house, ElectroRecycle program does not accept electronics such as computers, televisions, cellphones or batteries. To learn where those can be recycled, visit ElectroRecycle.ca.

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Vancouver Greek SummerFest July 6 – 16, 2017

5 Jul

 

GreekFestival2017The Vancouver Greek Summerfest is back for its 31st  consecutive year. The festival kicks off Thursday, July 6th and runs until Sunday, July 16th.  This is a fun community event with great Greek food including BBQ Lamb, Loukoumade, souvalaki, gyros and more. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the dancing, there will be lots of it, belly dancing, folk dancing, Serbian dancing and of course those attending will be encouraged to dance.  Organizers also have a great music line up including performances by bands Zougla, Urban Myth, Asi Somos, Dolphin Jazz and Golden Thread Orchestra, Jim Byrnes as well as Steve “Elvis” Elliot tribute artist.  When there are not live performances, a DJ will be spinning tunes.   The event takes place in the parking lot behind the Greek Orthodox Community Church of East Vancouver at 4641 Boundary Road which is located on the border of Vancouver and Burnaby.  If you are coming from Vancouver, the intersection is 29th Avenue. If you are coming from Burnaby, it is Moscrop.  The event is free to attend. Note, as there is food and lots of moving bodies, pets are not permitted and in the summer heat, they’ll be happier at home. During the week, Monday to Wednesday, activities take place from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm and from Thursday to Sunday, things go from Noon to 11:00 pm. To learn more about the event, what’s available for food or which musician is playing on which date, check out Greek SummerFest. Opa! Live and eat like a Greek for a day.

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