This post has been contributed by Patricia Thomson, outgoing Executive Director of the Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES”).
Patricia Thomson has been one of Stanley Park’s more tireless advocates, and we thank her for her passion and dedication to helping people connect with nature. Here, in her own words, Patricia shares an insider’s perspective of Stanley Park’s recent past and her hope for its future.
Protecting a Park
Stanley Park Ecology Society’s outgoing Executive Director reflects on 14 years of conservation and education in Vancouver’s beloved Stanley Park
“I have had the immense satisfaction of working for Stanley Park’s ecological integrity and environmental education for almost half of Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES)’s 30 years.
When I accepted the posting as Executive Director in 2004, there was a staff of seven, and a Board of 14 directors. Today, there are on average 15 staff positions year round, and we swell to 20 each summer. In addition, more than 800 volunteers per year collectively donate over 15,000 service hours, gifting a conservative value of $250,000 /annum to SPES projects and programs for Stanley Park.
Patricia joins in on a SPES ivy pull
in Stanley Park. Photo: Krystal Pyke
My own first project when I signed on was to ensure the completion of the Cob House earthen architecture popcorn stand in the Stanley Park Railway plaza. Most nonprofits fundraise to build a facility; in this case, this facility was built to fundraise: Popping delicious snacks provides important cash support for our all-important School Programs that inspire and invest more than 6,000 students each year.
Built of reclaimed stone, clay, straw and sand, UBC, BCIT, the City of Vancouver, and others contributed engineering research and a garden roof system all when green building methods were still being explored and developed. In September 2004, I found myself on top of this ‘hobbit house’, raking its growing medium in zen fashion while my brain worked overtime contemplating Park projects to prioritize ahead. Within months, I was able to represent the 200 cob volunteers by accepting a prestigious Innovation Award.
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