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Greenangel Choppers Circle Their Wagons

Greenangels (left to right) Ken Smith, Dave Hargreaves, Gary Gee and Dave Howe
(photos courtesy of Davy Rippner, another Greenangel)

Two enormous pick-up trucks drove into the Medicine Beach shops parking lot, last Friday. A white one and a red one. They made a wide circle, each hauling a trailer loaded with firewood, and pulled up to the Happy Monk. It was just after one p.m.

I could have said it was the Hell’s Angels taking over the parking lot, but that would be wrong. It was the GREEN ANGELS. And they wanted their bread!

Two guys jumped out of the trucks. They weren’t big burly bikers, but older guys who’d been chopping wood since 7:30 am. No Steppenwolf music, no “Born to Be Wild” playing over the soundtrack.

“I think I ordered the Salish Sourdough and a Danish Rye,” was about as tough as they talked, that day. They sounded a little tired, but who wouldn’t have been after chopping cords of wood since the early morning.

I gave some thought to saying, “Cry me a river, guys! I’ve been up since two a.m. baking bread!” But I held my tongue, just in case there was a bit of toughness left in them. I knew there were axes and chainsaws in the trucks!

To the Greenangels, I doff my cap

Besides … I take my hat off to the Greenangels!

Greenangels Gary Gee and Harold Siebert
(photo by Davy Rippner)

The Greenangels are a foundation started several years ago by then Pender Island resident, Dave Howe and his partner, Ina Timmer. I’ve been buying firewood from this organization for years. I get excellent quality wood and I know the money I pay for it goes somewhere worthwhile.

The Greenangels Woodchoppers are a band of volunteers who go where ever called to take wind fallen trees off people’s properties. The angels buck the tree and turn it into cords of firewood, which is then sold for the going rate: $300-$350 per cord.

Good works on Pender, Mayne and beyond

Ninety-five percent of those sales then go to fund worthwhile programs on Pender Island, Mayne Island, and international regions. The other five percent is used for supplies and repairs.

The Greenangels have supported some significant projects, including Brooks Point, Dragonfly Childcare on Pender Island, the Mayne Island and Pender Island Community BusesPender Island First Nation ReconciliationTsawout Cedar Burning Ceremony for the Ancestors and the recently installed power generator for the Pender Island Community Hall.

While Dave and Ina have stepped back from the organization in recent years, you can still find Dave out with the crew, occasionally. Veteran choppers Dave Hargreaves and George Leroux now carry most of the management functions, such as managing the crews and logistics.

For as long as I can remember, it’s been the same core of choppers, Pender Island residents, all. They’re mostly retired guys who welcome the exercise and camaraderie of chopping wood. You’ve probably seen them taking up the Vanilla Leaf Bakery or Slow Coast Cafe for their “Americano Hour” … a post-chopping ritual.

The dissolving landscape

There’s another reason why I doff my cap to the Greenangels.

They were generous contributors in funding an artist’s residency for my daughter, Ella Morton. Three years ago, Ella took part in a three-week expedition of artists and scientists on a Barquentine tall ship sailing through the Svalbard Archipelago. She chronicled the dissolving Arctic landscape through her very cool photography.

Antigua at Blomstrandhalvøya, Chromira print from soaked film, 8” x 12,” 2016 by Ella Morton

The Svalbard Archipelago, a group of islands belonging to Norway, is in the Arctic Circle, near Greenland. Ella took images with film that she’d soaked in various acids that distorted the images in a surreal and degraded way. She called her work a form of “poetic activism” to inspire an appreciation of the Arctic and the impending effects of global warming.

She’s moved on to different techniques since then, but all of them have the same goal of bringing attention to climate change. Ella’s very thankful for the role the Greenangels played in this part of her career.

Take a look at Ella’s Instagram feed for some of her more recent work.

Ella raised other funds through a Kickstarter Campaign, but the Greenangels support was significant.

Charity that you can see

Most charitable causes are laudable, I suppose, for what they contribute to the community. We depend on them for looking after social/medical/political enterprises that would never be addressed by government or corporate interests. Some organizations have built enormous fundraising machines that consume a huge amount of capital to operate, including executive salaries, offices and public relations.

What I like about the Greenangels is that the working capital is right in front of us: the sweat and sore backs of the the choppers themselves. You can hear it in the chainsaws and axes splitting the wood. You can see it in the camaraderie of Americano Hour in the cafes of Pender. Delivering cords of wood for people to warm their houses over the long, cold winter.

And when the Greenangel trucks pull into the Medicine Beach parking lot, I can take satisfaction in providing some of the guys with nourishing bread that has been baked in an oven fired by the very wood that they have chopped!

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#anadama #anadamabread #cornmeal #cornmealbread #metchosinbc #armstrongbc #stoneground #stonegroundflour #stonemilled #stonemilledflour #stonemilledbread #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries

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#anadama #anadamabread #cornmeal #cornmealbread #metchosinbc #armstrongbc #stoneground #stonegroundflour #stonemilled #stonemilledflour #stonemilledbread #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries
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Morning Breadsong (volume up!) A pile of Salish Sourdoughs just out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven.
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#breadsinging #breadsong #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland
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