So a movie producer, a guy in rehab and a recent refugee claimant walk into a bar! OK, truth be told it wasn’t a bar, it was A Rocha’s Brooksdale Environmental Centre just a few weeks prior to Christmas on a Thursday afternoon. It was moment that captured beautifully the different facets of A Rocha’s work.

The story begins with me standing in the parking lot with one of the managers of a film shoot occurring just north of Brooksdale — a shoot that requires a full-scale replica of a WWII Japanese internment camp (hence the watch towers now looming just beyond our vegetable gardens!!). Before we left the parking lot for a tour of the Brooksdale lands, a school bus pulled up and Grade Four students tumbled out and were met by one of our environmental education leaders. We watched as the kids bounded off further into A Rocha’s property, excited about exploring the river for spawning salmon.

A few minutes later, as we rounded the side of the barn, half a dozen guys, heavily tattooed and carrying shovels and pick axes, greeted us enthusiastically. After they passed my guest turned with raised eyebrows. I explained to him about the volunteers a local Christian addiction recovery center for men sends over on a regular basis. In the process of learning of the Creator’s love for them and desire for their freedom, they have opportunity to care for creation and we have the joy of getting to know these men committed to healing.

As we crossed in front of A Rocha’s guesthouse, a group of older women in beautifully colored saris were laughing and talking enthusiastically with some of our Farm to Families team. Responding to my guest’s, ‘What’s this all about?” I shared our conviction that growing and cooking local, sustainable food together is a tremendous community builder that ought not be confined to the affluent.

We were running low on time at this point and didn’t even get down to the river where some of the Conservation Science team were gathering water quality data. But I did mention that this sort of practical conservation activity was the backbone of our Centre’s ethos and work. On the way back to his car, the fellow from the movie production told me he had moved to Vancouver from Los Angeles three years ago. He bought a new condo with water views of downtown and had a beautiful fridge. He works long hours, eats out of the catering tent through the week and restaurants on Sundays. “I don’t think I’ve had a home cooked meal in three years,” he said. “What A Rocha is doing here is amazing, I had no idea conservation work involves working with so many people in so many ways.”

A good day.

by David Anderson, Brooksdale Centre Co-Director 

David comes to A Rocha with work experience in outdoor recreation, biology, church ministry and teaching. The opportunity to serve as director of Brooksdale is an ever changing adventure, a living experiment of a community learning to live sustainably and faithfully.