The way we envision, project, and ultimately imagine a community into being is immensely powerful (just ask Benedict Anderson). This week we're looking at how Vancouver is being shaped by our imaginings and ideas (or in some cases lack thereof) around streetscapes, public space, transit routes, and Aboriginal education.
Civic Bling. Have you ever tried to imagine what East Hastings might look like with more bike racks, trees, and street furniture? With Blockee, a new web-based app, you can redesign it completely using images taken from Google Street View. It's a pretty fun little project put out by Code for America, but as OpenFile reports, there are more serious applications. For example: with 150,000 more trees to be planted in Vancouver over the next eight years, OpenFile produced a greened up, and blinged out, vision for Hastings between Dunlevy and Gore, an area which has long been conspicuously free of greenery.
Reimagining Public Space. GOOD and the BMW Guggenheim Lab have announced the winners of their 2012 Transform a Public Place competition. With over 120 submissions proposing innovative ways of making public space more comfortable, Vancouver's own Rodrigo Caula was awarded one of the top five spots. His team's Ingrain Reclaimed Street Furniture Project converted a 205-year-old fallen tree into a public bench that is currently being displayed on Granville Island. As he says, "...Our intention was to give it new life and to use its story as the foundation of a movement that seeks to better respect our precious resources." Woot! Go Vancouver!
At the MOVeum:
Remember how last week we said that BC's push for online voting was a simple tale of convenience in our fast-paced world? As it turns out, it might not be. OpenFile points out why online voting might be more dangerous than you might think. That's right, dangerous. The whole thing got us thinking about how we perceive safety and the different ways that we engage with risk, liability, and uncertainity in Vancouver. So, this week we're looking at the slightly threatening (and also the smelly and the historically biased) side of the city.
Skytrain Safety. The first of many Skytrain fare gates was installed last Monday with the aim of reducing fare evasion and increasing safety for riders. But as OpenFile reports the new system (which won't begin operating until 2013) might make public transit seem safer but will probably do little to actually decrease danger. As TransLink Chief Operating Officer Doug Kelsey suggests, “The keyword is ‘perception.' By having fare gates, it enhances the customers’ perception of the system being safe...Does a light make people safer? I don’t think so, but if it eliminates some shadows and increases the customer’s perception of safety, then great. That’s a secondary benefit for us for sure.”
Odour Laws. Chances are if you've ever spent any time at the corner of Commercial Drive and Hastings, you've smelled something, well, gross. The rendering factory in the area is just one of the facilities that will likely be affected by a new bylaw designed to manage the city's stinkiest smells. High-risk businesses will be required to pay fees of up to $150,000 in order to implement odour management plans.
Getting Into It. There are also dangers associated with leaving some of Vancouver's harsh realities unexamined. For example, as Rebekah Funk argues, terms like ‘urban renewal’ and ‘urban sustainability’ used in place of 'gentrification' can shield people from understanding the detrimental impact of new businesses and higher-income housing on the city's poorest areas. Far from being a cut and dried issue, Funk's article in the current issue of Megaphone Magazine looks at the problematics of building integrated, socially-responsible neighbourhoods in the city. And, in a similarly revealing vein, a recent public intervention campaign aims to draw attention to historical injustices committed by BC's first lieutenant-governor Joseph Trutch against the province's aboriginal peoples. Several stickers reading "Joseph Trutch was a racist bigot” have gone up along Trutch Street. Definitely an attention-grabbing way of fighting historical amnesia.
Getting Cozy on Robson. And lastly, in a move that is making the streets happier, more lively, and ultimately maybe even safer, Robson Street will be filled with giant bean bag chairs for three weeks. The large scale art installation has already got a lot of use from children and adults playing, lounging, and sliding around, since it opened last Wednesday.
At the MOVeum:
September 13 - Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers | Design Challenge Winners Panel
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong
September 20 - Opening Day - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong
[Image: Pop Rocks installation on Robson Street. Photo by David Niddrie]
This week, we're engaging with some of the current debates and controversies taking place in Vancouver. From the Olympic Village neighbourhood, to the Vancouver Art Gallery's big move, to the the Marpole Midden, we're lending our ears to some of the city's most passionate voices for a provocative installment of MOVments.
False Creek Comes into Its Own. After years of controversy around the Olympic Village development, the False Creek neighbourhood finally seems to be thriving. As the Globe and Mail reports amenities like an Urban Fare grocery store, a new restaurant with a sizable patio, and the Creekside Community Centre are drawing visitors to the area in droves. Observers have taken note of the suddenness with which this all seemed to happen. UBC architecture professor Patrick Condon describes the phenomenon with a tipping point analogy: “It’s very common to urban areas that suddenly people say, ‘Hey. Let’s go there. That was fun the last time.’ Until that tipping point, people might go there, and say, ‘This isn’t very much fun. There’s not many people here. I don’t think I’ll go back.’”
The 'Pretty Face' Debate. But there are some who would see developments like the Olympic Village as just another testament to Vancouver's tendency to abandon the old, for the new and shiny. Local writer and ranter, Sean Orr for one, thinks that Vancouver is more concerned with its pretty facades than building substantial and meaningful cultural and historical connections. And he seems pretty angry about it. Read his interview with the Westender for an alternative tour of Vancouver that reveals some of the problems related to our constant need for reinvention.
100+ Days of Musqueam Protest. The National Historic Site known as the Marpole Midden is still under threat of development after more than one hundred days of occupation and protest by the Musqueam First Nation. Although the ancient burial ground and village was federally designated as a Historic Site in 1933, the midden on Southwest Marine Drive is on privately owned land. Condominium development had been in the works for a while when it was halted in January after the discovery of human remains. Celia Brauer of the False Creek Watershed Society passionately called for the resolution of the conflict in last week's Georgia Straight. She says, "The Provincial government has the power to overcome the “private property” issue. Future generations are watching. In 2012 swapping Cusnaum [village site] for a less important piece of land and giving a small piece of this Heritage Site back to the Musqueam is the right thing to do."
The VAG's Big Move. This week the Globe and Mail reports on the fascinating machinations behind the Vancouver Art Gallery's proposed move from the provincial courthouse building downtown to a new, yet to be decided, location. Real estate marketer and art collector Bob Rennie and VAG director Kathleen Bartels are two of the most influential and outspoken people in the Vancouver art scene so it's hardly surprising that both have strong opinions about the future of the city's artistic landscape. Notably, Rennie is suggesting splitting the VAG's collections between multiple new locations that would be spread out through the city. Bartels, on the other hand, is firmly in favour of a single new facility which she believes would be better suited to the visitor experience. Whatever the outcome, we are excitedly waiting to see how the discussion develops.
Online Voting. And finally, in slightly less controversial news, BC is considering implementing online voting for municipal and provincial elections. In fact, we think we can quite uncontroversially say: that would be very convenient.
At the MOVeum:
August 16 - Volunteer Information Session
September 20 - Opening Day - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong
This week's MOVments has us thinking about what it means to make a mark (both literally and figuratively) on the city and beyond. From neighbourhood banners, landmark treaties, and public infrastructure we are exploring the ways that Vancouver is being marked, shaped, and influenced by the people who live here.
Kits Pride. In Kitsilano, residents are marking their streets with signs that proclaim their love for the neighbourhood. The Kitsilano Neighbourhood House started the 'Kits Me-Love the hood you're in!' project to give locals the opportunity to share what makes the area special to them. Each banner features a photograph of the contributor and a quote, with people talking about everything from Kitsilano's walkability to its famous farmers' market.
Treaty Approved. After some hiccups, the Sliammon First Nation has approved a treaty with the federal and provincial governments. The agreement will give the Sunshine Coast group 8,300 hectares of land and $30 million over 10 years. Chief Clint Williams takes a practical view of the milestone event, saying "Now the real hard work starts."
Vancouver: Richest Canadian City (For Now). Nationally, Vancouver has set a record by coming in as the country's richest city for 2011 according to Environics Analytics WealthScapes. But there's speculation about how long this will last given the level of debt financing happening in Vancouver. And there's also the little matter of the declining housing market.
Velo City. As Luke Brocki reports, Vancouver is a long way off from being the benchmark in cycling infrastructure and bike-ability. In this case, it looks like we'll need to take cues from cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, New York, and Portland. Global experts at last month's Velo-city bike planning conference challenged Vancouver to move beyond helmet issues to creating more separated bike lanes and increasing the total number of trips taken by bikes.
Seawall Politics. Controversy continues to swirl around what would be a new line drawn on the city: a proposed continuation of the seawall linking Kitsilano Beach to Jericho Beach. Critics have been quick to point out the cost involved and the problems associated with private funding of public works. As OpenFile reports, Vancouverites have historically been pretty outspoken about what happens with our public spaces, and the seawall is no exception.
At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers
[Image: Vancouver bike path. Photo by Charles Lamoureux]
It's almost officially summer and true to form, the weather in Vancouver is an unpredictable mix of downpours and sunshine. As those clouds hurtle across the sky, things are moving just as quickly on the ground below. This week MOVments looks at the shifting cultural landscapes and the influential movers and shakers that are setting Vancouver in motion.
The Loneliness of the Vancouver Runner. As the weather improves (slightly), more of us are getting out for a morning run. But, unlike in Miami or Toronto, we're not greeting each other as we pass on our running routes. A new Vancouver Foundation survey suggests that this could be a symptom of the broader social isolation many Vancouverites feel. A quick fix? Flash a big smile at your fellow runners, folks!
Marpole Midden. It appears that the dispute over development on a 3,000 year-old village site may be closer to a resolution. The provincial government has offered the Musqueam First Nation cash in exchange for land previously owed to them, so that the group can purchase the historic midden. A condo development was halted when burial grounds were discovered at the Marpole site in January.
Happy 45th Anniversary Vancouver Magazine! To celebrate 45 years of engaging and entertaining readers with insightful content, Vancouver Magazine has put out a fantastic list of 45 people who have helped shape the city.
Northern Exposure. Are British Columbian cultural sensibilities and aesthetics invading the American psyche? Knute Berger suggests BC urban design, sports, and film sets have a greater influence on our neighbours to the south than we realize.
Book Ending. And finally, the St. George Bike Lane Library is putting books, ideas, and people into circulation in an exciting way. Everybody should go check it out!
At the MOVeum:
June 19, 6 pm – Home: Inspiration from Three Vancouver Communities
[Image: Runner in Stanley Park. Photo by Arlene Gee]
#occupyvancouver dominates the news this week. Thousands of people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery for Occupy Vancouver's first General Assembly on Saturday. Many people are prepared to camp out for some time, though the ban on staking tents to the ground and cooking with propane makes this more difficult.
The Tyee asks people why they have chosen to take to the streets.
We Day. Meanwhile, another gathering for change: as 18,000 youth participate in We Day, where Mikhail Gorbachev and other speakers presented on the value of community service and youth engagement.
The Missing Women Inquiry is off to a rocky start with protests as several groups have chosen to not participate. Many groups are concerned that the lack of funding provided to advocacy groups for legal assistance for is a serious impediment to having their voices heard, and without their support for the process, it is uncertain whether the Inquiry will acheive its purpose.
Powwow. A huge powwow took place in the Downtown Eastside to honour First Nations elders.
Re:CONNECT challenges Vancouverites to reinvision the city's eastern core and viaducts as a vibrant space.
No more pictures. Jeff Wall laments the loss of photogenic buildings in Vancouver.
Local food. A few months after being featured in MOV's Home Grown exhibit, the Home Grow-In Grocery closed suddenly, taking customers' deposits with it. Now the store has reopened with new owners, who are trying to regain the trust of their customers while building our local food infrastructure.
Ethnic enclaves. Is it time for Vancouver to have a Pinoytown?
Image: Ariane Colenbrander
Aboriginal education. The Vancouver School Board is proposing the creation of an Aboriginal public school. The school would have a curriculum that contains more Aboriginal content and is adapted to meet the needs of a demographic with a graduation rate of less than 50%. But public reception to the idea is mixed and complicated by the history of segregation and residential schools.
Farm school. And speaking of schools, a plan is in the works to turn part of Colony Farm back into a farm, dedicating 37 hectares to a farm academy and incubator farms where new farmers would be provided with mentorship as they learn the business of agriculture.
Terry Fox. The new Terry Fox memorial at BC Place was unveiled this weekend, designed by Douglas Coupland to symbolize his growing legacy.
Image: Colony Farm Community Garden by Tjflex2
Kate Follington, MOV's Director of Development and Marketing shares some background about some recent repatriations at the museum:
At the end of a labyrinth of hallways in the Museum of Vancouver, behind two large double doors, 70,000 pieces of priceless heirlooms are hidden away. It's a breathtaking collection: historical wood carvings, First Nations masks, an entire wall of deer horns and moose heads, railway paraphernalia, and row upon row of carefully wrapped ball gowns. Sitting on shelves 100 feet deep and 10 feet high, the items have been carefully placed and numbered according to theme, ranging from textiles and gold mining, to gaudy neon signs like the Blue Eagle Café, just one of 55 signs in the neon collection.
Wandering past wide-eyed heads of elk, deer and caribou, there's an almost cinematic feel to the space. Vancouver's history, unfolding from aisle to aisle. But where did it all come from, who does it belong to, and who should own it now? Returning historical objects to their original communities -- a process known as repatriation -- is an arduous, expensive process for any museum, and not without controversy. But for the Museum of Vancouver (MOV), it represents a critical part of the growing role of museums in forging stronger cultural ties with First Nations communities around the globe, and it starts with a cloak.
Read the whole article at The Tyee.