Monday, June 27, 2011

Viva Vancouver!

Vancouver is launching a new program/department for public space this summer called 'Viva Vancouver' and it has me very excited. Viva is the outcome of 3 pilot programs: Summer Spaces 2009, the 2010 Olympic Pedestrian Corridors and Rediscover Granville in 2010. From the looks of it, each space has a community partner which is a great way to ensure that these projects have advocates from within the city and the citizenry. And what's particularly lovely about this program is that it includes some great space ideas that I'm fond of such as 'Pop-up Parks/Cafes'. This idea will come to life in Mount Pleasant and here's some info:

What: "Modular Deck" occupying up to 2 parking spots on E. 14th Ave just east of bustling Main St., the custom designed modular deck will provide free 'no-purchase-necessary' seating for pedestrians strolling by. The Cities of San Francisco and New York have both been testing this 'pop-up-cafe or free public seating model over the last couple of years with great success!
When: The modular deck will be constructed and installed in July and left in place for the entire summer

Partner: Travis Martin

More on this type of space here and here.
Please read on about Viva Vancouver's space projects here!

Future Vancouver?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Car-Free Vancouver!

Last Sunday, Vancouver celebrated Car-Free Day. There were many streets in the city that closed down to automobiles to let pedestrians take over. My fellow coordinator and I set up a booth on Deman Street for the Vancouver Public Space Network. We handed out transit/bike maps, seed balls, other information and we also set up a map for people to share with us their fanvourite public spaces in the city (sadly, I don't have a photo). It was interesting to see that a lot of people choose streets/corridors over singular places. However, the big exception was Stanley Park. 

I also decided that it would be a great venue to push for Robson Square (or a the idea of a square in Vancouver in general). Here are some pictures:

We asked people, "What does your public square look like?"

Here are some responses:

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Photo Credit: Liam Hanham

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Day After: Vancouver is Still Beautiful

We've had an interesting few days - and that is putting it mildly. On Wednesday, June 15, the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup final and the city burned. As I watched everything unfold on my laptop screen, I felt sad, depressed, and angry at the spectacle of violence that I was powerless to stop. I was embarrassed for my city and my generation - people across the world riot against injustice and we riot after we lose a hockey game. It was ugly. But let me back up a bit.
Skyline of Vancouver as it burns doing the Riot
I am not a hockey fan per se and I didn't follow the series that much but I was intrigued at the change in the public realm during the games. It many ways it felt like it was during the Olympics last year. A 100,000 people turned up in the downtown core.
 The city even got on board and closed down Georgia Street, Vancouver's widest, during the games and set up giant TV screens, or 'Live Sites'. CBC set up a family zone in front of their building. Overall, I was excited for the potential of more space being turned over from cars to people.
Flickr: Kardboard604
This hope was soon dashed as it was soon people turning over cars, lighting them on fire and looting stores.

I'll leave the blame game to other bloggers. From all this mindless destruction, mayhem, and chaos, something incredibly positive happened. The sad, angry, depressed citizens of Vancouver (and beyond) wanted to do something. They utilized social media to organize a clean-up for the day after (that facebook group stands at 20,191 people). And people showed up.
Flickr: Maurice Li
This love for one's city manifested itself in another wonderful way: the wall of hope.
On the boarded up windows of the looted Hudson's Bay building, people began writing notes to each, to their city, and to the world. Consider is a citizen's manifesto and a brilliant piece of positive collaboration.
Even a patrol car became an 'vehicle' for positive messages. Funny, how in an age of instant communication, we chose this way to express ourselves as a city. We've done stuff like this in the past. When the Provincial Government was secretive about the construction of the Centennial Fountain in front of the Courthouse, we used the boarding that was meant as a barrier and turned it into a truly public art project.
The Vancouver Paint-In: Vancouver Archives - CVA 1551-7
I sincerely hope that these panels are saved in perpetuity. Perhaps, the city should auction them off with the proceeds going somewhere deserving. 

Point is, we are capable of these great acts of collective positivity in our city and we shouldn't need a riot for them happen.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cranky Version(s):

Gordon Price once said something that shook me up a bit. He said, “Change that is acceptable is not necessarily change that is sufficient.” At that moment, thoughts about my generation's future and many of the debates that we’re currently having in our city and region flashed in my mind. Some of these debates encompass topics that are well know: density, development, bike lanes, etc.

A few weeks ago he expressed this phrase a bit more fully and penned a post on his blog he called ‘The Cranky Version:’
...why would those in their twenties put up with financing the Boomers end-life at the cost of their own beginnings? Why would they remain passive if they felt Boomers were taking them down even as they stood in the way of change.
Put that combination together – inequity in the present, disregard for the future and refusal to change – and you have the conditions that disrupted North American society in the late 60s and North Africa practically yesterday: young people with resentments, not much to lose and a lot of new ways to communicate.
In short, he believes we're in a sort of pre-revolutionary period where a seemingly obstinate generation refuses to make necessary changes to ensure the stability of the next. Our parents and grandparents control our futures since they have both wealth and votes (or at least have a better track record of using the latter). Recall the recent election we had: not a single question during the debates were about the future of youth or the environment, which, I believe, are innately linked. 

To kind of reiterate what Price said: 'older' people have blinders on when it comes to future since they realize their glory days are over and they wish to continue to live as they have been living without hindrance and tough luck to those that have to live the consequences of their legacy of debts, "whether measured in credit or carbon."

I am not a parent but if I was, I could not look my child in the eyes and tell them I had their best interest at heart after filling up my gas tank.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Video: Manhattan in Motion

View this one full screen, HD. I particularly love the view at about 00:42 in: A pedestrianized Broadway.