So there we were, Olympia, Wa., 6AM. I quit my job by an early morning FAX, van’s loaded. Lots of cameras, mics, tapes, film, lights, sleeping bags and ideas. The Olympia morning is dark, coldish and drizzly. We drive north to the end of America, Port Angeles, top of the Olympic Peninsula to catch the M.V. COHO ferry to the Northland.
The ferry split at 8:20, we arrived later. Wait. Pancake breakfast at a wharf-side diner, there is time to kill. Shoot the pulp mills, piles of logs, rotting boats, new painted buildings, sawmills, piles of sawdust, smokestacks spewing grey-blue-green sludge. The wind blows it away.
We drive into the mountains of Olympic National Park. Sky is November but it breaks clear for a moment and we capture shy mountain peaks by 16mm. Majestic.
More time on the dock, roaches into the ocean, roll into the swaying belly of the COHO. Away we go.
The crossing is cloudy and wet, a few bold oldsters remain on the bow searching for whales or just getting wet. Some nice ambient shots and views of the deckhand hauling in thick rope docklines. Think about olden oceangoing vessels coursing across the seas with hempen ropes, sails, caulk and rigging.
Victoria is dusk and grown since last I was here, harbour-side condos and shopping malls. Still quaint, just not little.
We roll off, cruise customs and call Ecosource for our late appointment.
Waiting for us at Ecosource was a delightful Swiss woman named Odette who imports a beautiful array of top-quality papers from Eastern Europe. We talk about paper, fiber, supply, demand, sustainability and cooperation, capital and the future.
Several recent magazines, brochures and portfolio have used the fine Ecosource papers. New products and ideas are coming together and the future looks positive for this smart, gentle, hard-working woman.
Odette gifted us several sample packs of paper which we used for printing our business card on. Works great, looks beautiful.
Back downtown to a Hostel. It’s convenient, clean albeit somewhat sterile.
We haul gear into locked room. Sleep soundly til morning, wake up, move car to legal parking, eat granola, soymilk, apple pie.
I go find Ian Hunter and he meets us for a cup of joe at an atrium like cafe where we chat and drink fine beverages.
Ian ranges across topics and ideas as he eats a bagel and shares his thoughts from botany to bicycles to harm reduction. Clearly a man with a vision and sense of the future-ways.
We make our way inside the neat little Paper Box Arcade to Sacred Herb, the Hemp Store. The windows and walls are covered with newspaper articles and letters about Ian’s actions and campaigns on Vancouver Island. The shelves hold a wide array of stock from clothes to books to seeds to lip balm. Especially intriguing to me was the support of base level ecomomics. All products have a barter value and only cash or trade is accepted. No checks, no credit cards. This is a great way to rid ourselves of the yoke of dependence that banks tie us into.
Sacred Herb’s groovin manager, Sarah Bedard shows us around and points out the many objects made by local artists, many of whom are living on the streets and weaving macrame necklaces and other such ornaments. They do brisk business with these. Sarah also makes some high hemp-oil content lip-balms and even a special therapeutic type with tea-tree oil and THC.
We head out to the garden to talk with Ian some more about his mayoral campaign (he took third). He said he “strolled” rather than “ran” for mayor.
He succeeded in bringing important questions and discourse about Cannabis into the public forum. We’ll see how he does in 2000. He also spreads free Canna-bikes around the community and is trying to convert an old Mercedes diesel to run on old grease, right on.
Next Ian leads us up and around the corner to Earthen-Ware which is a good contrast and complement to Sacred Herb.
The owner, Padra, keep an elegant line of high-quality clothing in his very sharp boutique. We talk about his university studies (Science stuff at Univ. of Vic) and about the ups and downs of doings business in regards to licenses, import, export, duties, permits, finance and especially about doing business with Canadian companies to support a local economy. Based on the well-made Canadian clothing, there are a number of fine manufacturers across the country.
Outside of Earthen-Ware, we talk with Ted, a local harm reduction, education and awareness activist working with groups about the medicinal and spiritual uses of Cannabis. He’s straight up and working hard in his goals and adhering to his values.
Over across town to Zima Foods where Eric and Alice are importing, cleaning, flavoring, roasting, packaging and marketing 4 flavors of hemp seed snacks. We munch as we film. They talk nutrition and public reaction while they were vending around markets and fairs all summer. They had such positive reaction that they are now selling in local stores and really bringing this delicious and healthy snack straight to the snackin public.
Zima’s new labels are real pro-looking and printed on 100% hemp Ecosource paper. By the way, those 4 flavors are; Teriyaki, Cajun, Garlic and Sweet Roast.
We eat good vegetarian buffet dinner at half-price and I find my old compadre Colin who I met in Mexico years back. Yeehaw, he’s living on a sailboat just a few blocks away.
Eiji and I meet Ian down at a lecture-hall at an indoor zoo with iguanas and flamingos walking amidst humans. Speaking is renowned ethnobotonist / author, adventurer Wade Davis. He is from Vancouver island but lived, travelled and researched elsewhere since gaining his Doctorate at Harvard. He spoke of South American adventures researching medicinal and spiritual plants used by indigenous peoples. Also talked about his Harvard professors teaching about the differences between Sativa, Ruderalis and Indica in Boston in the 50’s.
Fascinating and inspiring. He switched between several languages, topics and times and managed to relate the history of the region and tie it into the last hundred years or more of western science and thought. I was stunned and impressed. I wrote him a note telling of our project so maybe he’ll drop a line. You never know, right?
That night, amigo Colin and I check Eric’s 7-head jam machine named DIGG at a club. They grooved hard and it was neat to see another side of Zima Foods inspiration. We hang with our new friends then head off for a 2AM rowing adventure around the harbor in the tiny skiff, Sprite.
Next day after sailboat sleep, we head out to get some scenery around the area and then hook up with Alice downtown to film the seed roasting process at their commercial kitchen. It’s fun and interesting as she mixes, roasts and talks about health benefits and marketing strategy. We eat plenty Sweet Roast and take a bag for the road.
It was more or less a wrap at this point, we relax, eat well, crash out at our gracious hosts pad and get up early to vacuum out the van. I can just imagine the border, “No officer, these aren’t Northern Lights, they’re Teriyaki seeds.” Crinch, crunch.
Onto the ferry, away we go, more rain, I sleep, Eiji films. It’s hard to leave this lovely, tolerant, progressive and prosperous town. We drive from Port Angeles with the heavens dumping raining fury on us.