Category Archives: Community Resources

Navigating the Gig Economy – Part 1

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.”
~ Gilda Radner

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Welcome to 2017 and the start of an uncertain future…I don’t know of any time where the future has been “certain” but there were periods in the past (and applicable to some places and peoples, to be completely honest) where things seemed much more predictable that they look now.

Uncertainty can be frightening and paralyzing but can also be an opportunity to ground yourself into what’s always “certain”: that as long as you are alive and here, you have a choice. The choice of being intentional and proactive instead of reactive, the choice to respond in a way that works for that you believe on.

One of the trends we have been witnessing in the last decade is the emergence of the “Gig Economy”: more and more jobs are now contract, part-time, outsourced or project-based.

For employers, paying workers to stay 9-5 with no guarantee (or need) for productivity is becoming more and more disadvantageous. Contracting people for what needs to be done saves them time and money as there is no need to pay for benefits, vacation, employment insurance and the like.

Automation, demographics, trading and outsourcing are also factors affecting worker stability, and that without going deeper and mentioning the real limits to grow at the resource, energy and financial levels or the more social and psychological nature of boredom, skills gap or mismatch, lack of motivation, abuse and oppression, etc.

For workers, the Gig Economy can be a real challenge, especially in the case of vulnerable workers such as people with disabilities or chronic conditions, low skilled workers, women, seniors and people from minority groups such as immigrants, refugees and people from the LGTB communities. These are sectors of the population who have always experienced instability and uncertainty in their jobs. The Gig Economy has the potential to make things worse for them, but also to give them tools to empower themselves.

The Gig Economy is not new: we always had contract and temp jobs in the past. What’s new is the trend for these practices increasing…and showing no signs of going anywhere soon.

While “stable” jobs are not going to disappear, they are being reduced. Different studies predict that in the next decades (if we survive climate change, resource depletion, social, economic and financial issues and the like), between 40% and 60% of the population may be engaged in some sort of “Gig Economy”. This includes social entrepreneurship and small business in general.

If you still believe in the formula “Go to School, Get a Job+Get Married, Make a Career, Buy a House+Car+Form a Family, Retire and Enjoy”, your expectations may be shattered by the realities of the Gig Economy. Most people alive today has already have two or more jobs, those in their 20’s or 30’s can expect to change jobs at least twice per decade, if not more…salaries are stagnant and benefits are being reduced or completely dismantled.

For many, however, the Gig Economy may be a door to enjoying life in a very different way and the liberation from the enslaving 9-5 job. If designed and planned, the Gig Economy can give you time off between gigs to explore Nature and your inner world, enjoy quality time with friends and family, contribute to your community and support others in their life paths. The Gig Economy also gives you the opportunity to explore different career paths, work in different areas of interest and develop diverse skills instead of being attached to one sector, profession or occupation your whole life!

The Gig Economy has also another potential: to re-build our local economies and communities in a very different, more sustainable way and to take advantage of the many gifts each one of us brings to this world.

Diane Mulcahy, author of “The Gig Economy” and lecturer of a course of her own creation and with the same name, has developed a set of “Ten Rules” to succeed in the Gig Economy.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be posting my own interpretation of these “rules” as a preparation for my presentation at the BCCDA 2017 Conference for Career Development Practitioners.

If you are a Life or Career Coach or someone who has been affected or is curious about the Gig Economy, you may want to start following these postings. You’ll find my own twist (I am a career and life coach myself with a twist that embraces an eco-psychology approach), which includes my studies and activism around transition out of fossil fuels, climate change, resource depletion, social justice and permaculture, among other areas of interest.

 

 

 

 

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Upcoming Workshops

Individual, Household and Community Resilience are built one step at a time: from learning to grow some of the herbs and vegetables your family consumes to learning how to preserve and make your own food from scratch, those are all small acts of love and true resilience: sometimes we don’t have the time, energy, support or even motivation to make “big things” happening around us…but it is the small things such as making your own cheese or yogurt, starting seeds, growing your Rosemary and learning how to use it to heal and relax that you build the foundations of a more resilient and sustainable world.

For those of you who may be interested in learning more about growing food, Permaculture, food preservation and food sovereignty, here are some of the workshops still to come:

At Sources (South Surrey) Food Bank and Sources Women’s Place:

Pickling 101 (June 11) at Sources Women’s Place

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Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/462771710598707/

Registrations and Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/pickling-101-tickets-24210988719

 

Canning 101: June 25

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Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1258550070826553/

Registrations and Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/canning-101-tickets-24211069962

 

Cheese Making from Scratch: July 9

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Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/950322805017417/

Registrations and Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/cheese-making-from-scratch-tickets-24210912491

At Homesteaders’ Junction: http://www.homesteadjunction.ca/products/20160521-making-fruit-vinegars

At the UBC-Farm:

Fruit Vinegars from Scratch: April 9

Container Gardening (Permaculture in Containers): April 16

For registration and details:

http://ubcfarm.ubc.ca/community/workshops-short-courses/

Food Sovereignty 101: Having Fun with Easy Cheeses

Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese
~ Luis Buñuel

Curds

Curds

Have a last minute potluck and no idea of what to bring?

Friends coming over unexpected and you haven’t done your groceries?

Want to make a midnight homemade pizza and suddenly realize the cheese is gone?

What about eating healthy and knowing what’s in your cheese?

Well…now you can make a variety of cheeses, at home, with just milk, vinegar or lemon!

There are many ways to make cheese…when I started years ago, my concern was time and the need for all those strange names: rennet, citric acid, cultures…not only they were nowhere to find (now you can buy them from Homesteaders’ Junction if you live around Vancouver, or from Cultures for Health if you are in the US, but a few years ago these were rare things to be looking for), they were also expensive and difficult to ship: cultures usually require some refrigeration…

I have been making my own feta cheese (with culture) for a while now (I make it every other week as that’s the favourite at home), and cultures are great to create that specific taste you are looking for (the taste that differentiates a Parmesan from Feta, Mozzarella or Asiago, for example), but those delicious cheeses require time and specific cultures (as mentioned before) and you may end up investing much more money than what you would if you just buy them from the store.

My other concern was sustainability and resilience: if I want to make cheese and can’t buy cultures, rennet and so on, how do I do it? In ancient times, people didn’t have Amazon, or a home delivery mail system. But they did have cows and goats around…

Thankfully, getting the milk is not that difficult (any milk would do, except the ultra-pasteurized as everything living has been killed there)…so I started to ask around, experiment and…remembering!

My mom and grandma used to make ricotta and “queso fresco” (fresh cheese) at home without any of those strange things: they used milk that was going to go bad and lemon. Some of my Indian friends would also make paneer (an Indian cheese) the same way!

With time and playing with all types of milks, acidic stuff (from lemons to all types of vinegars), salt, herbs plus different amounts of time and heat and different proportions of one or other of those same things, I created a few different cheeses.

And then one day, my partner came with a book I could have written myself! “One Hour Cheese” by Claudia Lucero, founder of “Urban Cheese Craft”: a compendium of many of the cheeses I was already making (and mom and grandma and the Indians), plus some other great ideas!

This coming Saturday, I’ll be facilitating a workshop to learn how to make your own “easy cheese” at home (and it’s already sold out!) but don’t worry: I’ll be facilitating another one in South Surrey Food Bank on July 9 (2016) at 10 AM…(see details at the bottom of this post)

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Cutting the cheese

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Salting the cheese

Here a small treat for you to try:

Queso de Cabra” (Goat Cheese, or Fresh Cheese)

What you need:

Equipment:

  • A non-reactive pot with capacity for a gallon
  • A big spoon
  • A strainer (such as pasta strainer)
  • A butter muslin
  • A cheese thermometer (but don’t fret if you don’t have one)
  • A glass container to put your cheese once is done

Supplies:

  • 1 quart of goat milk (if you don’t have goat milk, just use regular milk, but the taste will be slightly different, you can also make this with the 2 quarts of goal milk, just experiment!)
  • 1 quart of regular milk (not ultra pasteurized!)
  • ¼ to 1/5 cup of vinegar (I like the flavour of apple cider vinegar, but you can try any and see how it goes, each vinegar will provide a different flavour, the apple cedar is the one that leaves the least flavour)
  • salt to taste
  • herbs (dried or fresh)

How to proceed:

  • Open the butter muslin on the top of the strainer and put all this over a big bowl to catch the whey
  • Heat the milk in the pot until it reaches around 200F or when you see it is about to boil (but don’t allow it to boil or it will taste a bit “cooked”
  • While the milk heats up, stir a bit to avoid it to stick to the bottom or form a layer of fat on the surface
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, just check until it is foamy and about to boil and turn it off
  • Add the ¼ cup to max 1/5 cup of vinegar and stir gently with a long spoon
  • You’ll see the separation of the curds happening right now and the whey (that yellowish liquid) differentiating from them
  • Take the pot from the stove and stir slowly for about 1 minute
  • Ladle the curds over the butter muslin, slowly
  • Take the butter muslin by its borders and make a ball, like a package (see picture below), you can press this bowl a bit or hang it for a few minutes so it dries a bit more. (do not leave for hours or you’ll end up with another type of cheese…unless you are looking for a hard cheese instead!)
  • Take the cheese from the butter muslin and mix it in a bowl with salt and herbs of your taste.
  • Once is good, put it into a glass container and press it down: it will take the shape of the container…
  • Tada! you have cheese! You can eat this cheese with crackers, jam, fermented apple butter, small berries, or allow it to dry and age a bit and cut it for a pizza…it should keep OK up to 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator (it doesn’t keep more than a few hours at home!)
Ball of cheese...

Ball of cheese…

What to do with the whey:

  • Freeze it to use later
  • Save it in the fridge for is using within a couple of days
  • Use as base for broths, soups, casseroles, sauces, etc
  • Use it instead of water when making bread
  • Use it instead of water or milk when making smoothies and shakes
  • Add a few table spoons to any fermentation project such as fermented apple butter, sauerkrauts, etc
  • Use it to water your plants (make sure is well drained so no curds stay afloat or you may be attracting pests)

Bonus: Fermented Apple Butter (delicious with this cheese and crackers!):

Fermented Apple Butter

Fermented Apple Butter

Equipment:

  • Oven tray
  • Knife
  • Non reactive bowl and spoon
  • Glass jar with lid

Supplies:

  • Apples, cored and peeled (about 4 if you want two 500ml jars). They can be a bit “old” (actually this is an excellent way to use those old apples that nobody wants anymore)
  • Honey (I use raw honey, organic), about a cup
  • Apple cider vinegar (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (from a lemon!)
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon ground
  • Whey (from the cheese above, about 1-2 tablespoons)
  • Some thyme (optional)

Steps:

  • Cut the apples into chunks and put them in the tray, cover them with half of the honey
  • Bake the apples for a few minutes (until they are tender, don’t overcook, about 30-40 minutes at 350F)
  • Take them from the over and puree them with a fork or masher, let them cool down
  • Add the rest of the honey, the lemon and cinnamon, the vinegar and the whey and mix until it becomes a paste
  • Leave this to rest for about an hour, covered with a cheese cloth
  • Pour the puree into the glass jars, bury some thyme into each and put the lid on
  • Allow if to ferment overnight at room temperature
  • Put inside the fridge the next morning and allow it to “age” for a few days…if you can resist the temptation!
  • Enjoy! (It should last about a month if refrigerated, same as the cheese, it doesn’t last more than a week in my house!)

For more awesome DIY workshops, check Homesteaders’ Junction workshops and teachers: http://www.homesteadjunction.ca/pages/meet-our-teachers

Or stay tuned for the workshops I’ll be presenting at UBC Farm: http://ubcfarm.ubc.ca/community/workshops-short-courses/

Or at Sources (South Surrey) Food Bank and/or Women’s Place: http://www.surreywhiterockfoodactioncoalition.ca/

For Workshops in South Surrey/White Rock, check the Facebook events (tickets will be available for registration soon!):

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