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Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on September 10, 2013 at 7:01 pm
Summer's not officially over but change is in the air (for the record, we're keeping summer alive just a little longer by visiting Kits Pool rain or shine and refusing to put sweaters on during evening picnics). Whether we're starting new projects or thinking about the city in new ways, fall is the season for some major shifts across Vancouver. 
 
A New Way Forward. September 22 marks what will be Canada's first "Walk for Reconciliation" in Vancouver. As the wrap up to Reconciliation Week, and as part of the programming around the BC national hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the walk highlights the need for more just relationships for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. As Chief Robert Joseph explains, "It is symbolic of our intent to walk together, to find a new way forward."
 
Architects Wanted. The VAG is getting even closer to their big move with their recent call for architects to design the new gallery space. Words being used to describe the ideal design are "visionary" and "influential" with the goal of becoming one of the most environmentally sustainable museums in the country. As it stands, the new gallery will begin construction in 2017 and open in 2020. Can't wait.
 
Re-Envisioning Public Space. While Mount Pleasant's Guelph Park has not officially been renamed "Dude Chilling Park" the memory lingers on. The now infamous sign has found a permanent home in the Brewery Creek Community Garden located inside the park. It's a nice compromise (and perhaps an indication of a more whimsical, playful approach to public space in the future). And finally, a shout out to our buds at the Vancouver Public Space Network, their PS I Love You photo hunt gets under way September 21st. Register now!
 
At the MOVeum:

[Image: Autumn leaves, VanDusen Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 1502-2873]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on August 28, 2013 at 5:28 am

 
This week brings some new takes on common Vancouver themes like public space interventions, cycling, and transit. You'll learn where to track down a mobile park, what people want in a bike route (and how to flirt while riding), and about a potential downside to our new transit fare system.
 
Park-A-Park. So the parklet at East 1st and Commercial has been around for a while (since the end of July) but by now many of us have had a chance to experience its unique and diminutive charms. As Julien Thomas, the urban interventionist who created the mobile Park-a-Park in collaboration with Emily Carr explains, the space is meant to encourage connection: “Sometimes conversations with strangers are very surface level, but I think if you add a twist, say, in a disposal bin on the corner of a busy street, really interesting conversations can happen.”
 
Cycling Report Card. The Vancouver Sun recently spoke to Kay Teschke about what Vancouver is doing right, and what it needs to work on in terms of cycling safety and infrastructure. According to Teschke, a UBC professor and cycling advocate, separated bike lanes are the way to go, hands down, for reasons of accessibility, comfort, and safety. Another possible benefit? Facilitating bicycle flirtations
 
Transitional Transit. We've all heard about the controversy around the Skytrain no longer accepting bus transfers with the implementation of the Compass card system. But the Georgia Straight brings up another valid point: the $6 price tag attached to Compass cards could make it very difficult for social service agencies to provide transit support to people living below the poverty line
 
Happy Birthday, Stanley Park. And lastly in honour of Stanley Park's 125th anniversary, an article exploring its influence on the city. (Oh, but wait, there's a bit of a dark side). 
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: The Narrows, Stanley Park, ca. 1900. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 677-487]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on August 20, 2013 at 6:27 am
What do crowdfunded indie films, plastic-eating bacteria, and an anti-bullying libretto have in common? They all happen to be inventive responses to very specific issues being faced by Vancouverites. This week we take a look at the local makers, inventors, and designers who are tackling the city's economic, environmental, and cultural challenges.
 
Rising from the Ashes. Roberta McDonald provides an insider perspective on the struggling film industry in Vancouver and BC for The Tyee. Since recent cutbacks, it's been hard to ignore the unemployment and financial heartbreak surrounding the industry, but as she argues, there's also a "growing tribe of film veterans banding together, leaning into their passions and reviving the struggling industry." How are they doing it? In part, through increasingly popular crowdfunding campaigns
 
Eating Garbage. After visiting the Vancouver Waste Transfer Station during a class trip, scientists Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao started investigating the relationship between a pollutant in plastic waste and the local bacteria strains that seemed to be feeding on it. What they found were microorganisms that convert harmful phthalates into carbon dioxide, water, and alcohol. Their research was recognized as having the greatest commercial potential at the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge. And in other good environmental news: the tallest sustainable office building is set to be built in Vancouver.
 
Giving Voice to the Bullied. And lastly, in response to a heartbreaking social issue, the Vancouver Opera has commissioned an unexpected musical production. Slam poet Shane Koyczan will be writing a libretto dealing with issues of bullying for the VO. As Koyczan told the Vancouver Sun, "I think it’s going to be a beautiful fit. Opera is the original marriage of words and music, and there’s a theatre element, a dramatic element. It’s right up my alley.
 
At the MOVeum:

October 2 - Legacy Dinner
November 8 - Interesting Vancouver 2013
 
[Image: Trash on the ground, 1970s. Courtesy of the Museum of Vancouver collections, H2004.54.12.01]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on August 13, 2013 at 7:04 am
This week we explore what it means to be a good neighbour in Vancouver. From humans living side by side with insects, to getting along with our green-thumbed neighbours, to heritage buildings coexisting with new housing developments in the Downtown Eastside, we find that being a good neighbour involves working on our interpersonal skills, embracing diversity, and being prepared for a little bit of conflict.
 
Five-Star Insect Hotel. The Environmental Youth Alliance, in partnership with the City of Vancouver, has built a habitat for bees in the Oak Meadows Park at 37th and Oak. The hope is that with bee populations on the decline, the converted telephone booth will attract a thriving insect population to a corridor of green space in the area. We love the idea of upcycling increasingly obsolete phone booths for the purpose too!
 
Food Fights. To those who thought there was no dark side to the proliferation of urban gardens in the city, guess again. While positives like sustainable food sources, job creation, and community engagement far outweigh negatives,The Vancouver Sun reports that urban green spaces can cause neighbourly disputes. And there's also the complicated matter of commercial property getting tax breaks when used for temporary community gardens.
 
Heritage in the DTES. With all the talk of gentrification in the DTES, it's easy to ignore another issue confronting the neighbourhood: the loss of heritage buildings. With a possible Local Area Plan that would see some 10,000 residents move into the area, local historian James Johnstone argues that protecting historical buildings has become all the more important. But some tough questions remain: what happens when historical preservation is at odds with new social housing developments?
 
At the MOVeum:
 
August 15 - Redacted Readings
October 2 - Legacy Dinner
 
[Image: Rainbow chard in Vancouver community garden. Photo by Steph L via Flickr]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on August 1, 2013 at 8:32 am

Sometimes there's a fine line between being on the cutting edge and just plain being on edge. This week we bring you two lovely stories of Vancouver's willingness to push boundaries and embrace new, fresh ideas. And for good measure: one story of a divisive new bike plan that has excited some and induced anxiety in others.

Beach Biking. We start with the story that's put some Vancouverites on edge: the freshly approved Kitsilano bike route that will see a one-kilometre stretch of Point Grey Road closed to commuter traffic. Many cyclists are loving the idea of biking directly between the Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach, while some local residents fear the impact of 10,000 motorists being diverted onto their streets. Meanwhile The Tyee asks: Why was this such a controversial topic in the first place? And Gordon Price tells us to relax.

One Little Free Art Exchange. As the Globe and Mail reports, "It is believed Metro Vancouver has between five and 10 “little free libraries.” And now, one little free art exchange." Cheryl Cheeks' brain-child, the aptly named Dude Chilling Art Exchange, located in Mount Pleasant's Guelph Park (also known as Dude Chilling Park) was unveiled this weekend. We're pretty excited to check out the first public spot in Vancouver where you can swap anything from sculpture and paintings to poetry and photos.

Sunshine, Pride Week, and Rainbows. In other very exciting news: Davie Street Village unveiled Canada's first permanent rainbow crosswalk on Monday to kick off Vancouver's Pride Week celebrations. According to Spencer Chandra Herbert, NDP MLA for the West End, the colourful crosswalk symbolizes the city's unique contribution to gay rights across the country. Check it out at the corner of Davie and Bute.

At the MOVeum:
October 2 - Legacy Dinner
 
[Image: Rainbow Crosswalk on Davie Street. Photo courtesy of Sean Neild via Flickr]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm
 
This week we start off with emerging details about Vancouver's long-awaited bike share program. From there we explore some forgotten public spaces by following the city's country lanes, we visit the Lower Mainland's contentious agricultural lands, and finally we travel to that glimmering urban centre in the distance: the happy city.  
 
Bike Sharing Rolls Forward. Last week new details were released about Vancouver's bike share program. The gist: Spring 2014 will see 1500 GPS-capable bicycles installed at 125 docking stations around the city. What about our helmet laws, you ask? Not to fear, there will be dispensers at each station, with each helmet being checked and cleaned before going back into rotation.
 
Green Laneways. When is a garden also a parking lot? When that garden is a green laneway. According to Jordan Yerman from theVancouver Observer, laneway houses coupled with grassy 'country lanes' running alongside them could be the solution to our density woes. Read on to learn more about Vancouver's largely forgotten green alleyways.
 
Land-Banking. It looks like the practice of land-banking, or buying agricultural land and then letting it go fallow, is more common than anyone thought. The Globe and Mail explains that foreign owners often buy land in the Lower Mainland's Agricultural Land Reserve without knowing about restrictions on non-agricultural development. City officials are hoping that raising taxes on fallow land will encourage landowners to lease it out to farmers who want to get their hands dirty.
 
The Happy City. A recent panel at the Indian Summer Festival explored the idea of the 'happy city' and how Vancouver is faring on this emotional front. As The Tyee explains, panelists that included writers, researchers, and educators agreed that public spaces that encourage easy interactions with strangers make people happier. What then of a city dotted with isolated condos and high-rises? Is there hope? The answer is yes. Read on for more on the intersection between urban design and emotional wellbeing.
 
 
At the MOVeum: 

 

[Image: Farmland in Delta. Photo courtesy of Evan Leeson via Flickr]

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm
 
This week, an interactive map of Vancouver occupations got us thinking about patterns and socio-economic trends in the city. As the map reveals, doctors are seemingly more likely to live in Shaughnessy and musicians on Bowen Island. But elsewhere in the city people are defying expectations and reworking conventional wisdom. Unexpected donations to the arts, innovative art and architectural interventions, and shifting ideas surrounding homeownership are forcing us to reconsider what we thought we knew about the city.
 
Funding Win. While the arts and culture sector is generally facing funding cuts, one unique Vancouver program recently got a big break from an anonymous donor. Vancouver Coastal Health's The Art Studio Program received more than $208,000 allowing it to stay open another year and provide people with mental health and addiction problems therapeutic access to art classes. A longterm financial solution will still need to be put in place for the program to continue.
 
Taking Art & Architecture to the Street. This Saturday, July 13 saw Granville Street come alive with MOV’s long-awaited public design and build event, Upcycled Urbanism. Hundreds of Vancouverites and passersby took part in the re-imagining of one of Vancouver’s busiest streets to build beautiful, hallucinatory, and playful structures out of re-purposed polystyrene. Stay tuned for the official wrap-up, but in the meantime, here are photos to relive the day, posted on Xinhua, Flickr, and Facebook.
 
And a hat tip to our neighbors for their massively successful Khatsahlano! Festival, for bringing Kitsilano streets to life with vibrant musical acts and innovative art works, including a POD container gallery where MOV shared its new mobile app and virtual exhibit, The Visible City with the Festival’s estimated 100,000 attendees.
 
Getting Real with Vancouver Real Estate. For many of us the dream of buying real estate in the city is just that, a dream. As this Globe and Mail article explains, as of last year over half of all single-family detached homes in Vancouver were valued at one million dollars or higher. This has caused a major shift in how young people are viewing homeownership and the Canadian dream: "Young, well-educated wage earners, who for decades have regarded a detached home as a natural aspiration, are now revising their expectations, ratcheting down their hopes." Great take on the cultural ramifications of Vancouver's real estate market.
 
At the MOVeum:

August 15 - Redacted Readings
October 2 - Legacy Dinner

[Image: Khatsahlano! Festival 2013. Photo by Christopher Porter via Flickr]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 9, 2013 at 6:52 am
 
Summer's finally here and we at MOV have been spending more and more time outside (which reminds us, we're going to be out on Granville all day for this on July 13). Stepping out your door this week could mean encountering a number of issues, sights, and sounds: from getting free and easy with patio protocol in the city, to the politics of graffiti, to tickling some ivory on the city streets.
 
Late Night Patios. Mayor Gregor Robertson is pushing for extended hours and expanded seating for the city's restaurant and cafe patios. Currently, patios close promptly at 11pm across Vancouver. At least according to Facebook, it looks like we're overwhelmingly on board with the change.
 
Mo'Hinder, Mo' Problems. Michael Mann of the Georgia Straight tackles the wave of Mohinder tags sweeping the city. Depending on who you are this scribbly graffiti is either a hilarious postmodern take on an urban artform or property crime, plain and simple. One person who's definitely not laughing about graffiti in the city is artist Jeannie Kamins who just had her blue heron rookery mural vandalized
 
Urban Orchard in Bloom. If you're like us, you're delighted by the proliferation of urban gardens in the city. That's why we couldn't be happier about the largest urban orchard in North American opening right here in Vancouver. The orchard at Main and Terminal will be leased by SOLEfood for a dollar a year from the city. 
 
Public Pianos. Vancouver public spaces just got a little more musical with pianos installed at three different locations across town. It's all happening as part of the 'Keys to the Street' program implemented by CityStudio, the City of Vancouver, and Vancouver's post-secondary schools. Learn more about the program here
 
Rainbows on Davie. And lastly, we're also feeling pretty excited about the permanent rainbow crosswalk in the West End. Just in time for Pride Week. 
 
At the MOVeum:
 
August 15 - Redacted Readings
 
[Image: Piano player outside the VAG. Photo courtesy of Stephen Rees via Flickr]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm
 

For months, teams of designers, students and regular folks have been hard at work re-imagining, re-configuring and re-designing Granville Street. Finally, on Saturday, July 13, their design dreams will be revealed as MOV and our partners invite the public downtown to participate in the transformation of the 700 Block of Granville.

Their designs will become a reality through the use of hundreds of super-sized polystyrene building blocks salvaged from construction sites around Metro Vancouver.

The material is part of pioneering work by Langley-based Mansonville Plastics, which rescued polystyrene and ground it down for use in new blocks. After our event, materials will be returned for a third round of recycling and re-envisioning.

The entire Upcycled Urbanism project came together around just such ideas of 'upcycling.' Way back in January, the project was born from a common aspiration of UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA), the Vancouver Public Space Network, Maker Faire Vancouver, Spacing Magazine and MOV to offer people new ways to re-envision public design. As we've been reporting since then, teams of students, artists, designers, and makers have been talking about and planning public interventions that juxtapose unexpected forms and ideas against otherwise mundane spaces.

So what can you expect to see on July 13th? We don't want to give too much away, but you might see a giant living room, a super-sized game zone, or, as one team member put it, an "all-out public hallucination." As Zanny Venner of VPSN explains, the idea of disrupting expectations is intrinsic to the project: "I think people will be surprised at how much of an impact the material of polystyrene can make. You wouldn't necessarily think so, but it has inspired people to transform a street space into a unique and unexpected social landscape."

Excited? There's still time to join a build team by emailing us at upcycledurbanism@museumofvancouver.ca. And on July 13th everyone is invited to watch, encourage builders and engage with this interactive landscape between 10:00am and 8:00pm.

See you there!

 
[All images from our Volunteer Orientation Night on June 26, 2013]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on June 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Re-designing from the bottom up: The City of Vancouver unveiled its new sign design for rezoning and development projects last week. The new simplified design is a response to the previous hard-to-read and overly technical signs. Meanwhile in other parts of the city, glitz and glamour are being favoured over simple design, with multi-million dollar homes and surreal hotels marking the horizon. And in Grandview-Woodland we have a radical new plan for redesign and redevelopment. This week we explore Vancouver's stylistic tendencies, ranging from the flashy and ornate, the clean and (not quite so) simple, to the contentious and complicated.

Luxury Living. The Vancouver Observer gives us a tongue-in-cheek take on the fanciest (and most expensive) houses in the city. And yes, those are home cinemas and private bowling alleys that you're seeing. In other multi-million dollar news, Trump Tower is coming to downtown Vancouver. The $360-million Georgia Street development will include a hotel complete with champagne lounge, spa, and banquet and conference centre. It's expected to be finished in summer 2016.

Clean Slate. On the other end of Georgia, removing the viaducts and streamlining the area between Chinatown, Gastown, Strathcona, and the Downtown Eastside, is beginning to seem like a better, and better idea to many, including Mayor Gregor Robertson. As a recent report remarks, "In every city's evolution there are rare opportunities to take bold city-building steps to advance the city's goals and livability or correct a past planning wrong. The potential removal of the viaducts provides an opportunity for the City of Vancouver to do both."

Riding in Style. And for something that is perhaps neither simple or flashy, TransLink is shopping around various options for funding future upgrades to Metro Vancouver's transit system. One idea is road pricing, which could mean anything from bridge tolls to charges for drivers based on time of day or location. Could road pricing be the simplest, most elegant means of funding future transportation infrastructure or is it a complicated solution to an equally complicated problem? Your thoughts?

Decision-Making Style. It looks like Grandview-Woodland will be going through a drastic redesign. As Charles Campbell explains for The Tyee, "The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan calls for a radical remake of the area around the Broadway SkyTrain station: a possible 36-storey building on the Safeway site behind the station, towers up to 22 storeys in "transitional" zones including the area between 11th and 12th avenues near Commercial Drive, and more high-rises up to 26 storeys between Broadway and 7th towards Woodland." But for Campbell (and many others), the question remains: Who decides?

At the MOVeum:

June 26 - Upcycled Urbanism Volunteer Orientation night
July 6 - Curator’s Talk & Tour Foncie's Fotos w/ Joan Seidl
July 13 - Upcycled Urbanism: A Design+Build Project for Everyone - Granville Street Build Day

[Image: Expo 86 Georgia Viaduct and Saskatchewan pavilion, 2001. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, 2010-006.517]

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