Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 -> 2012

Year end reviews are sometimes bitter-sweet. While I personally feel I achieved a lot in 2011 - like getting into Grad School (whole point of this blog!) - there's a lot to be desired on the progress front toward a sustainable future...with the epitome of failure being Canada's lack of leadership at Durban.

If there's one but of advice I can impart on you is: be persistent and have courage. Go for your goals and don't look back. Even if you don't reach them, you will make progress and be better off than when you started. 

Here's what I can look forward to 2012:
  • Starting Grad School this January
  • Starting a Podcast on this blog (thanks to a very generous Christmas gift. Ideas are welcome!)
  • Perhaps holding a 'Paint-in Event' in Centennial Square
  • Presenting at Velo-City on behalf of Translink 
  • Bike-share coming to Vancouver?

To you and yours, I hope you have a very happy and safe New Years.

-Brandon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Great Vancouver Paint-In: Let's Do It Again!

The Great Vancouver Paint-In is one of my favourite history items that no one in Vancouver really knows about (I've written a bit about it before). I think it's an important one and one that may need to be repeated. 

In April of 1966, artists from across the city gathered at the courthouse (now the Vancouver Art Gallery) and went to work paint the hoardings that surround the construction of the centennial fountain. The artists were invited and encouraged by Mayor Bill Rathie (to raise the ire of the Premier). Rathie was somewhat upset at the construction of the 'secret' fountain in such a central and integral public space with very little public input.

Behind the fountain was Premier W. A. C. Bennett. He refused to let anyone see the designs and put up the hoarding so no one could see it until it was complete. The Paint-in made the public space public again and in a way, it was a very successful (and simple) case of public engagement. Crowds of up to 700 amassed to see the paintings and painters in action. It was widely covered by the media (even internationally!). In this newspaper article, one woman lamented: "Everything is going to be so dull when it's over." Was she ever right.

When I passed the Art Gallery the other day, I saw that the great steps, formerlly the grand entrance to the Courthouse on the Georgia Street side, were fenced off. I assume it's to dissuade people from using them (re: Occupy Vancouver). Here's how it looks when I walked by:

Public Space?
I think it's time for an intervention in a very important public space in Vancouver. How about a paint-in? Public art as expression, as protest. How about? Leave a comment if you're interested.
The Vancouver Archives finally has some more photos digitized from one of their private collections. Take a step back in time:
2010-006.064
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2010-006.074

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shit

I am by no means the most eloquent writer and I am definitely not the foremost authority on climate science or the economy but the past few weeks have riled me up and I need to vent a bit. Granted, Kyoto wasn't perfect. Not many international treaties are but it was something - It was an understanding that action was needed.

Our government (I refuse to preface it with Harper because it doesn't belong to him, it belongs to all of us), was purposefully critical at Durban without the intention of being constructive. Rather than be a leader, Canada chose to opt out.

To be fair, this government inherited Kyoto from a Liberal government that ratified it but did little to enforce it or attempt to meet its obligations. But, so what? A new government should have seen that failure as an opportunity and said, "we can and will do better!" It should have lead the way, engaging the provinces, our cities and our citizens. We are an innovative nation full of people with ideas who are willing to help. But the economy blew up and for some reason, we stopped caring about the environment - as if you could separate those two things from one another.

We've opted out without a plan (not true...we're just waiting for the United States to take charge first). We've become a nation no one looks to.

So we have a problem, to put it mildly. My generation is bound to inherit a future that no one would ever wish upon their children - so why are we letting it happen?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Video: NBC Interviews Janette Sadik-Khan

Reading

Every 10 percent increase in fuel costs led to an increase in bus ridership of up to 4 percent, and a spike in rail travel of up to 8 percent. These results suggest a "significant untapped potential" for transit ridership, Lane reports in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Transport Geography. In other words, a significant part of America's love for the automobile may only be its desire for inexpensive transportation.
Submission #71 of Vancouver's Design Competition for re-envisioning the Viaducts.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cheap Rent: New York's Mid-70s Musical Revolution

A week ago, I was listing to a podcast episode of NPR's All Songs Considered. The episode was called "When New York Was 'On Fire': A Mid-'70s Musical Revolution". Here's the synopsis:
If you were in New York City in the 1970s, you might have stumbled upon the birth of punk, new-wave, hip-hop, salsa, disco, minimalist classical and avant-garde jazz. The city during these five years — 1973 through '77 — was the birthplace of many of the most innovative and influential musical genres born in the second half of the 20th Century, despite the fact that it was economically devastated, and was thought — at the time — to be musically bankrupt.
This episode interested me for a few reasons: it's about New York and music and they also address connection between the city and arts/creative industry. For the most part, the thing that struck me was how integral cheap rent was to fostering such a vibrant scene (according to the host and his guest). They discussed how easy it was to set up/pay for a new venue - this 'cheapness' also afforded (pun!) artists and musicians to be more experimental and take bigger risks.
"...one of the reasons they were able to do this . . . is it was so, sort of, all dilapidated back in New York City in those days, rent was cheap." "Yes, rent was incredibly cheap."
The hosts also talked about the the loft scene (again made possible by cheap rents): they had so much "so much room, they could actually have performances in their home."

Being somewhat involved in the arts in Vancouver, this is perhaps the #1 issue: affordability and space. A lot of Vancouver venues tend to close (re: demolished for condo development) or are illegal (No, I can't tell you where these are). When we talk about affordability in Vancouver, we often only talk about rent/housing prices when, in fact, we should be broadening the discussion to include these other aspect, as well.