The Week — Dec. 1

Prepare to get mobbed, Vic; a world of aid still needed; making a moove for raw milk

Shelby, a rescued dairy cow, may not be allowed to share her products thanks to some new legislation.

Shelby, a rescued dairy cow, may not be allowed to share her products thanks to some new legislation.

Prepare to get mobbed, Vic

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a gift from Hemp and Company. By the 12th day of Christmas many more will realize: the power of the dollar can surprise.

That’s what a few residents will be singing this week, starting Thursday, Dec. 1, with the kick-off to Victoria’s first-ever “12 Days of Christmas Cash Mob.” The mob, which was spearheaded by a Victoria mom over Facebook, selected a new business for each of the first 12 days of the month, and has asked people to come bearing $20 bills to spend.

“The idea grew in the U.S. from a man who wanted to bolster support for small local businesses,” says mob head Angie Gray. “I thought it would be a neat surprise for our own businesses, so I started a group and invited 40 of my friends — then, it just went crazy.”

The open Facebook group shows nearly 3,000 invites as of press time, with over 400 confirmed attendees. Because the initiative is self-directed, Mobsters can peruse the selected days, times and businesses and choose only the ones they want to hit for Christmas shopping anyway, or use this as an excuse to check out a new store. And yes, owners have been warned, now that the mob has grown.

With businesses ranging from Hip Baby to Niagara Grocery, to Tall Tale Books, Knotty by Nature and Cold Comfort Ice Cream, there’s bound to be check-off treats for everyone. Gray just hopes people will see this as an opportunity to curb holiday waste and plan out how to make your spending as effective as possible.

“I know a lot of people get overwhelmed this time of year, and most of my friends and family want to pare that down to go from quantity to quality,” says Gray, whose parents own Discovery Coffee — which didn’t make the mob cut this time. “This isn’t about saying certain businesses are better, it’s about really taking the time to consider where your dollars are going.”

A world of aid still needed

Dec. 1 marks an important time of remembrance for those living with HIV and AIDS.

The 2011 World AIDS Day campaign is about “getting to zero” — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths. AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) is hosting a number of events in Victoria, including the annual lighting of the steps of the legislature with a candle-composed “red ribbon” from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 1, and the yearly “Rock Your Awareness” fundraiser at Logan’s Pub on Dec. 2, at 9 p.m. If you’re vibrating with support, Discovery Coffee will be donating 25 cents from every espresso-based coffee sale on Dec. 1 to AVI.

“Getting to zero is about increasing access to HIV treatment and support,” says AVI acting executive director James Boxshall. In 2009, 38 new cases of HIV were diagnosed on Vancouver Island.

prisoners deserve poetry, too

Not all jail sentences are handed out fairly, but one group of poets is trying to level the scales. Poems 4 Prisoners will be hosted Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Solstice Café, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Performers include Jane Bee, Shayne Avec i Grec, Gluke Maynard, Serina Zapf and Comrade Black, with all proceeds going to political prisoners Nicole Kish and Walter Bond. Learn more on the Poems 4 Prisoners Facebook page.

Making a moove for raw milk

About 50 people gathered at the provincial legislature last week to ask the government to make a moove on citizens’ rights to drink raw milk.

Shelby, a seven-and-a-half-year-old rescued commercial dairy cow was milked by her owner, Kerry van Wiltenburg, on the corner of Menzies and Belleville. Van Wiltenburg then proceeded to filter and drink the milk while onlookers held signs and talked about herd-sharing agreements that are illegal in Alberta and B.C. Shelby produces up to 48 litres of milk a day at her peak production, says van Wiltenburg. She makes milk, cream, mozzarella, sour cream, cream cheese and ice cream from Shelby’s milk, which has been tested by a vet. “I’d love to be able to share what my family doesn’t need, but the province doesn’t recognize that,” says van Wiltenburg, a farmer from Metchosin and mother of three.

The rally was held in solidarity with other Food Freedom rallies across Canada on Nov. 23, and was organized by Nadine Ijaz of Shawnigan Lake, a clinical nutritionist and registered herbalist who has been a herd-share member for 15 years. Members split the cost of purchasing and maintaining the animal’s health and also share the milk. “I had the distinct impression herd-sharing was legal,” she said. “It was a shock to us that public health authorities think that what we’re doing is illegal. Not all raw milk is safe, but we’re advocating access to clean raw milk.” M

Mary Ellen Green