UBC forestry professor Suzanne Simard, who lives in Nelson, was one of the most interesting people we interviewed this year. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

UBC forestry professor Suzanne Simard, who lives in Nelson, was one of the most interesting people we interviewed this year. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

2021 YEAR IN REVIEW: Nelson’s most interesting people of the year

Here are the people we could spend all day talking to

We interview hundreds of people every year. Sometimes we don’t want the interview to end because the person is so interesting. Here are 12 of those people from 2021.

Ian Comishin is making something special in Procter. His company, Twente Additive Manufacturing, is using 3D printers to build custom homes from concrete. Affordable housing is an issue keenly felt in Nelson, and Ian’s company is in the early stages of offering a solution. He’s even teamed up with Vancouver-based World Housing to build housing that could one day end up in remote communities around the world.

Ian Comishin. Photo: Tyler Harper

Ian Comishin. Photo: Tyler Harper

Dani Evans was 12 years old when we interviewed her this year about her fundraiser for Friends of the Family. She is legally blind, but that doesn’t stop her from ski racing, writing novels and poetry, planning to become a human rights lawyer, and speaking articulately about it all. She more than doubled her original fundraiser goal.

Dani Evans with her brother Alex, 9, and George, her buddy dog (a guide dog for children). Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Dani Evans with her brother Alex, 9, and George, her buddy dog (a guide dog for children). Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Rachel Holt, an outspoken Nelson consulting ecologist, featured in two articles in the Nelson Star. She lambasted the provincial government for logging more old growth than it was protecting, and provided stats and maps to prove it. The province responded by naming her to a three-person technical advisory panel whose job was to identify the province’s most at-risk old growth ecosystems. The panel has done that, but the political consequences aren’t clear.

Rachel Holt. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Rachel Holt. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Cori Lausen is the best friend a bat could have. The Kaslo biologist is a bat advocate, and in January spoke out about a BC Timber Sales plan for Kalesnikoff Lumber to log an area near Beasley that is a popular habitat for the furry flyers and the only place in Canada where silverhaired bats hibernate. After a year of wildfires and intense public debate about logging, we’d all do better by listening to scientists like Cori.

Cori Lausen. Photo: Submitted

Cori Lausen. Photo: Submitted

Rob and Kristina Little were willing to speak out about the pandemic in a way few were. Earlier this year, after COVID-19 began spreading in the city, Rob was hospitalized with the virus for nearly a month. When Rob and his wife Kristina spoke to the Nelson Star about their experience, it was one of the first times someone was willing to go public about being infected. We think their brave, chilling account led to more readers coming forward and getting vaccinated.

Rob and Kristina Little. Photo: Submitted

Rob and Kristina Little. Photo: Submitted

Mandolin Martin was featured in three stories in the Nelson Star in 2021. The teenage artist created a mural celebrating Indigenous culture at Kootenay Kids’ Family Place. Her distinctive work on a youth-created mural at Cottonwood Park at Cottonwood Falls Park also caught our attention. And she was featured in our article about an art project at L.V. Rogers Secondary that responded to the news about the Kamloops Residential School. Mandolin is currently studying ceramics at Selkirk College.

Mandolin Martin. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Mandolin Martin. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Rita Moir provided comfort during another year defined by tragedies. In her new memoir Not Of Reason: A Recipe for Outrunning Sadness, Rita writes about the deaths of her sister and mother. The conclusions she comes to about enduring grief are universal yet also distinctly berthed from the Slocan Valley. We may not be able to beat death, but Rita shows there’s a way to live with it.

Rita Moir. Photo: Tyler Harper

Rita Moir. Photo: Tyler Harper

Galen Schnare, 14 years old when we profiled him in April, is a birder respected as a peer by adult birders in the West Kootenay. He started when he was four, and now his notebooks contain observations of about 700 birds from three countries. For the third year in a row he was one of the presenters at this year’s Creston Valley Bird Fest. Gaelen is also an expert fly fisherman.

Gaelen Schnare. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Gaelen Schnare. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Suzanne Simard lives in Nelson, teaches forestry at UBC, and this year published Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, which chronicles her groundbreaking scientific research into mycorrhizal fungi and networks that allow trees to distribute nutrients and support each other and behave as a single organism. The popularity of the book has made Simard a celebrity whose life and research will be dramatized in a feature film featuring actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams.

Dave Stevens can run farther in one day than you might in a month. The Nelson ultramarathon runner finished first at a 160-kilometre trail race in Colorado in September. Stewart, 39, isn’t a professional athlete, but his dedication to running up and down our city’s hills is paying off in ways younger runners with sponsors and dedicated coaching can only dream of.

Dave Stevens. Photo: Tyler Harper

Dave Stevens. Photo: Tyler Harper

Avie Waterfall, 17-year-old entrepreneur, artisan, scholar, and socially engaged citizen, received 12 scholarships amounting to a total of $80,000 on graduating from L.V. Rogers Secondary in 2021. She has been busy trying to make the world a better place since Grade 8, with a variety of innovative projects, and she intends to study affordable housing at university and maybe go into law. Avie learned blacksmithing from her father and has a successful business making a bread-making tool that she sells on the handmade art site Etsy.

Ave Waterfall. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Ave Waterfall. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

2021 Year in Review