Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hempyrean : Your Eco-Friendly Clothing Company

It is easy to recognize the value of natural ingredients when it comes to food, health and beauty products. But what about the value of natural clothing? While most people know basic types of fabric, not many concern themselves with the impact that their clothing makes on the environment. Wearing natural clothing is just as important as eating natural food products. Luckily, The Forks’ Hempyrean carries a variety of styles in natural organic fibres to meet your fashion needs while also being environmentally friendly.

At the forefront of the Hempyrean is Mike Carriere. His story began 10 years ago when he decided to open up his shop at The Forks. Before launching Hempyrean, Mike Carriere researched the benefits of hemp. His research revealed that hemp was extremely versatile, which fully convinced him that opening a shop was the right idea.
Next up was to decide what type of product and styles the Hempyrean would carry.

Carriere states “We wanted to use this amazing fabric, but knew that it needed to be moved towards something softer that we could use for our cross-over urban/tribal styles.

The store supplies a variety of designers to keep stock fresh, stylish and accessible. Brands carried include Nomads and Hemp Hoodlamb. Hemp Hoodlamb specializes in jackets for men and woman. With a fashion forward approach, Hemp Hoodlamb provides stylish outerwear products for both casual and formal occasions. The Ladie's Long Coat and the Men's Classic Coat are ideal for day to day wear, providing clean straight lines with a faux fur hood lining for warmth and comfort. If you are looking for a jacket to wear to more formal events, the Men's P Coat is classy and practical.

Hemp Hoodlamb
For a sportier look, Nomads offers a number of sweaters, hoodies and jackets. The menswear Zephyr Jacket is a great layering piece for winter. The Aquarius Hoodie for women features slimming lines and a lined hood to stay toasty. Keeping with their casual and laid back vibe, the Nectar Tunic hugs your curves without being constricting and looks great paired with other comfy-favourites like leggings.

Hemp is only one of the natural fibres that Hempyrean carries. You can also find clothing made from bamboo, soy, organic cotton and tencel. In addition, the store supplies a variety of health and food products such as shampoos, lotions and seed oil.

The Forks was the clear winner when it came to picking a location for his shop. Mike Carriere was attracted to The Forks because of the relaxed yet energized atmosphere and the environmentally aware visitors who shared in his vision for natural products.

Next time you visit the Forks, be sure to stop by Hempyrean on the second floor of the Forks Market and support the vision of sustainable, green fashion.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Soul of The Forks

It’s been almost 20 years since my mother’s sister last visited her home town Winnipeg.
During a family visit this past summer my aunt, a former antique shop owner and now an aspiring poet, story teller and writer, recalled how she always enjoyed “the shops in those old warehouse buildings” at The Forks

And so, on our way to the site this summer I decided to give her a different view of The ForksWe parked the car beside the Basilica in St. Boniface and walked across the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge.  Needless to say she was quite surprised to see the iconic architecture of the “new” bridge and the CanadianMuseum for Human Rights.

We strolled along the riverbank pathway through the national historic site and behind the Children’s Museum before stopping at the grassy bowl amphitheatre known as Oodena (Ojibwe for “heart of the community”).   

I told my aunt that a local architect (Gary Hilderman) was commissioned to design this space as a “spiritual heart” within the hustle and bustle of The ForksThe concave space recalls the ancient ties between early humans and their environment as the three meter deep excavation unearths the ground Aboriginal people walked upon 3000 years ago. Oodena acts as a naked eye observatory.  Its steel armatures mounted on the cobblestone monoliths define precise sight lines for visitors to view specific stars.  Stories and images from various cultures are presented on interpretive panels and sandblasted into the monoliths.

With seating around the grassy bowl this is a special place for Aboriginal and cultural celebrations (not to mention a popular spot for sunbathing).  Live plays, storytelling and some great musical performances, including John Hammond Jr. and the Blind Boys of Alabama, have taken place here!

Next to Oodena is The Forks Prairie Garden in full bloom.  My aunt does a fair bit of gardening and was quite impressed with the naturally wild garden with over 150 plant species, including prairie plants such as prairie crocus, wild iris and purple prairie clover. I explained that the garden was actually above an archaeological preserve.  After people had camped here thousands of years ago, the evidence of their campsites would be covered by mud from one of the many floods that took place at The Forks, preserving the artifacts beneath the new soil.

The first peoples were bison hunters. Two 6000 year old hearths (camp fires) discovered near the Forks Market containing catfish remains and flakes from making stone tools are the earliest evidence that people camped at The Forks.  The hearths were uncovered at a depth of 20 ft.

At the Prairie Garden location a 3000 year old campsite and trading centre was discovered 10 feet below the surface.  The different styles of arrowheads confirm that people from the north, the plains, and the west met at The Forks.

The Forks was continually visited by different Aboriginal groups. They had many varied ways of life – prairie people hunted bison, fished and farmed; people of the forests relied on moose, fish and wild rice; and people from the Great Lakes area hunted deer and fished.
Because of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, it was easy for people to come together to trade their special products with others. Aboriginal Elder oral history tells of a Peace Meeting of several tribes held at The Forks over 500 years ago. Intensive hunting and fishing occurred in conjunction with the important trade and territory discussions. 

My aunt noticed the Healing Rock, across the pathway, a massive granite stone weighing about ten tonnes and estimated to be millions of years old.  I told her a Metis artist Natalie Rostad Desjarlais created this as tribute to the Aboriginal community, using her talent to highlight the hidden images within the rock.  Gazing closer my aunt could see images of an eagle, and human faces. 

The rock originates from St. Francis Xavier.  A number of years ago The Forks was contacted by the artist looking for a place where more people would see it. We made arrangements to truck the Healing Rock to the Forks. 

Next up was the colourful mural painted by Aboriginal artist Mike Valcourt on the Historic Rail Bridge’s counterweight.   The mural pays tribute to Cree artist Jackson Beardy as well as the other members of the 'Indian Group of Seven'.  In the words of the artist, “Beardy painted the legends of his culture and became a legend himself.”

We crossed the bridge to the South Point where some historians believe Fort Rouge (1738-1749) was established by La Verendrye.   La Verendrye was the first European to meet the First Nations peoples camped at The Forks.    

What’s in the future for South Point ?. The Forks is presently working with a group called The Treaty Legacy Foundation on an intriguing concept for this site. Their goal is to create a venue and program that builds public awareness about treaties and the relationship of treaties to present day issues affecting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.  The group’s planning includes the commissioning of a feasibility study and preparing design concepts for the project.

Our walking tour ended with some shopping in the Market and some delicious fish n chips. Later that evening while relaxing and reflecting on the day’s activities my Aunt commented on how much she enjoyed the stories behind The Forks…”it’s what gives the place “soul”. It’s been 25 years since renewal of the abandoned rail yard began.  My walk that day was a reminder of how important it is to share the stories behind this historic site.

-Toby Chase

Monday, 5 November 2012

Taking Green to the Next Level

We’ve got an impressive goal with our Target Zero initiative: zero garbage, zero water consumption and zero carbon emissions. This year, we saw some real green when it came to this initiative, both environmental and cold, hard cash. 
There are some pretty cool statistics that go along with our savings:
·       Geothermal – Last year we saved $100,000 in heating bills due to the installation of the geothermal heating/cooling system in The Forks Market. As a direct result nearly 1 kilotonne of greenhouse gas emissions were not put back in to the air.
·       Water – Since The Forks began its water conservation/matching use program, 7.5 million litres of water have been conserved in The Forks Market at a savings of $22,000.
·       Waste – In 2005, The Forks paid $75,000 to put waste into the landfill. Last year, only $30,000 was paid and revenues from other tenants totaled $20,000.
·       Fuel – By converting fryer oil and powering site equipment, 22,000 litres of “veggie oil” were used and $30,000 was saved. That’s why our Zamboni smells like French Fries!

But, we’re not stopping there. We’ve been meeting with active living and recreational groups to find out how they use our site. We met everyone we could think of: biking, walking, hiking, kayaking, running, winter and skateboarding groups. We want to come up with a strategy for everyone that could improve amenities, communication and use.

We also just launched a really cool walking tour for school kids that teaches them about our stuff and then encourages them to think of things they can do themselves. The Target Zero Eco-Kids Tour, presented by MMSM, is led by two great actors from Green Kids Inc.

Inside The Market there’s now a green store too. The aptly named Generation Green specializes in eco-friendly bio-degradable items for household use. They have laundry detergents, baby stuff and tons of cosmetics.

And, we’re not slowing down either. We really do believe that we can make a difference by continuously looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. No greenwashing here either. When we do it, we do it the best way we can.