affordable housing

Prototyping Protest Signs for Affordable Housing in Vancouver and Social Connectivity

Design Sundays returns to the Museum of Vancouver this November with the series Housing for a Connected City. Part III – Rally for Connection – was held on November 23, 2014 and was facilitated by Jorge Amigo of the #bemyamigo initiative.

Jorge Amigo initiated the session with a presentation on iconic signs and acts of protest from the 20th and 21st Centuries (right up to the concurrent Kinder Morgan protests in Burnaby), and how their images have come to define issues due to their ubiquitous circulation throughout the mass media, exhibitions, and the internet. See example below:

Participants discussed their own histories with protesting, each sharing their successes, failures, motivations and the dangers faced. We then broke off into teams to devise slogans encapsulating desires and attitudes surrounding housing affordability and social connection in Vancouver, spending over an hour and a half of intense planning to flesh them out into engaging visual prototypes.

Design Sundays: Housing for a Connected City wraps up this weekend with:

November 30: Part IV, CONNECT: Design Nerd Jam with the Vancouver Design Nerds Tickets

A key part of the Museum of Vancouver's mission is to strengthen Vancouverites’ personal connections and civic engagement. We believe that connection is critical for resilient communities, sustainability, and health. We are pleased to be partnering this month with Laboratory of Housing Alternatives, Generation Squeeze, marianne amodio architecture studio, THNK School of Creative Leadership, #bemyamigo, and the Vancouver Design Nerds to present the latest iteration of our annual four-part Design Sundays series: Housing for a Connected City.

More event photos can be seen here.

Thinking constructively about the problems of affordable housing

Design Sundays returns to the Museum of Vancouver this November with the series Housing for a Connected City. Part II was held on November 16, 2014 with REFRAME: Reframing Housing in Vancouver. This interactive workshop was facilitated by THNK School of Creative Leadership.

Participants worked together in teams of three using a reframing technique as a means of overcoming intellectual barriers impeding our ability to think constructively about problems of affordability in Vancouver’s housing market. By systematically identifying core negative beliefs about housing and affordability, further identifying the beliefs supporting those initial key principals, formulating beliefs in direct opposition to the supporting beliefs in the previous step, and then subsequently summarizing these opposing supporting beliefs to form new core beliefs, fresh perspectives became suddenly and unexpectedly apparent. As one participant summarized during the wrap up, by arguing for points of view we normally wouldn’t identify with, it becomes easier to accept solutions we might otherwise too easily write off as unfeasible. The results were eye opening for those involved, and the exercise allowed us to step outside of repetitive configurations and ways of thinking, aiding us as we move forward and strive for change.

Design Sundays: Housing for a Connected City continues...

November 23: Part III, RALLY: Rally for Connection with #bemyamigo Tickets

November 30: Part IV, CONNECT: Design Nerd Jam with the Vancouver Design Nerds Tickets

A key part of the Museum of Vancouver's mission is to strengthen Vancouverites’ personal connections and civic engagement. We believe that connection is critical for resilient communities, sustainability, and health. We are pleased to be partnering this month with Laboratory of Housing Alternatives, Generation Squeeze, marianne amodio architecture studio, THNK School of Creative Leadership, #bemyamigo, and the Vancouver Design Nerds to present the latest iteration of our annual four-part Design Sundays series: Housing for a Connected City.

More event photos can be seen here.

MOVments: Sunshine, Get Togethers, and Outdoor Fun

In celebration of the coming fine weather (it's coming, we promise. See?) we are offering a pared down round up for the week, leaving you ample time to see some buskers (or not), sit down at a cafe, and perhaps visit with your new co-housing neighbours.
Busker Idol. A new regulation has instituted a rigorous audition process for buskers wanting to perform on Granville Island. Some people are (understandably) upset.
Cafe Culture. This neat exploration of the socio-economic factors surrounding the placement of Vancouver's independent cafes will get you thinking about what it means to sip coffee in your own neighbourhood and beyond.
Living Together. Vancouver City Council recently gave the go ahead to Vancouver's first co-housing project. The residential units featuring shared kitchens and common rooms will go up on East 33rd near Victoria Avenue.
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Granville Island busker. Photo by Stephen Rees via Flickr]

MOVments: Telling Tales and Toying with the World of Vancouver Real Estate

This week in MOVments we explore some of the recent narratives, numbers, and neighborhood games top of mind in the ever-present world of Vancouver real estate. We have the on-going and multi-layered tale of gentrification in the DTES, some new research that tackles the oft-cited cause/effect relationship of of foreign-buyers driving up condo prices, a playful chronicle of one conceptual artist selling the smallest pieces of real estate in the history of Vancouver, and an online game that tests your knowledge of local city neighborhoods.

Pidgin Protesters. By now, you've probably heard about the protests happening outside of a newly opened restaurant called Pidgin in the Downtown Eastside. Anti-poverty activists are arguing that the intrusion of another high-end restaurant in the neighbourhood means that there is not only less space for low-income housing or organizations providing community services but that it is also disrespectful to the culture of the community. On the other side of the argument, people like city councillor Kerry Jang see the mixed nature of the area as a positive and restaurant co-owner Brandon Grossutti sees his efforts at hiring DTES residents as a path to a more integrated community. And while we're on the subject, check out a couple other perspectives that range from accusations of a kind of reverse NIMBYism to biased media coverage of protestors.

The Myth of the Foreign Buyer Boogeyman? Chances are that if you've lived in Vancouver for any length of time you've also heard about the people who come from overseas to buy up our real estate, drive up prices, and then leave the residences vacant. This Globe and Mail piece suggests that there may be less truth in the story than we previously believed. Although exact statistics are tricky to obtain the article states that "2012 figures from Landcor Data Corporation show that only 0.2 per cent of people who bought residential properties in Metro Vancouver last year are currently living outside of the country" In other words, hardly enough to drive the market. The article also says that many foreign investors are in fact also residing here, coming from China and other countries in order to support their children's educations.

Cube Living. Looking for some affordable real estate in the city? Then look no further than artist Alex Grunenfelder's Cube Living project at 221A Artist Run Centre. Last week, Grunenfelder was selling one cubic foot units of space to interested buyers for as little as one dollar. In this interview for The Tyee Grunenfelder explained the project: "I'm not necessarily advocating living in smaller spaces," he says of Cube Living. "It's about looking at the discussions that are happening around all of this, and maybe looking at things from a different point of view, and also trying to project, where is this going? Where is this process of urban densification going to end up?"

Know Your 'Hood. And finally, get to know your Vancouver neighbourhoods with this cute little app (helpful for the next time that you buy real estate?).

At the MOVeum:

March 3 - Design Sundays: Upcycled Urbanism                                             March 7 - Special Curator Talk & Tour: A Clandestine History of Contraception March 10, 17, 24 - Design Sundays: Upcycled Urbanism 

[Image: Screenshot from Click That 'Hood game by Code for America]

MOVments: Getting Steamy


With our Sex Talk in the City exhibit opening this week, we've been talking a lot about the history of sexuality and the controversies that have raged around subjects like women's reproductive health and birth control in the city throughout the years. It seems whether in the bedroom, the streets, or the classroom the topic of sex has caused even ordinarily reserved city-dwellers to express some pretty strong emotions. In that spirit, this week we're talking about some other (not quite so sexy) issues that tend to get us all worked up, namely: Surrey's bad reputation, our city's film industry, public transit funding woes, and who could forget, affordable housing.
Hating on Surrey? Well, now there's a t-shirt for that. Surrey entrepreneur Don Pitcairn is selling t-shirts with the logos “The future dies here" and “Better safe than Surrey” spoofing the city's official motto and its reputation for violent crime. Not surprisingly, this has angered city officials who have sent Pitcairn a letter asking him to cease and desist the production of the clothing line. However, it looks as though those of you still wanting to buy and sport the controversial tees will be able to, given that parody and satire are protected by our national copyright law. 
Film Industry Love. Today (February 12) City Council will respond to a motion proposed by Mayor Gregor Robertson asking for a "national approach" to the film and television industry in Canada. Motivation for the motion comes from observations that Vancouver's tax credit offers for filmmakers have become less competitive, causing some productions to move to Ontario and Quebec. Bill Bennett, the BC minister responsible for film, has said that while the province is certainly on board with supporting film, it is unlikely that it will increase the millions of dollars already subsidizing the industry. Keep your eyes out for developments on this one.
Frustrated with Increased Transit Fares? There's good news, they won't be increasing again soon. Well, not exactly, anyways. Metro Vancouver mayors recently converged to propose five new sources of funding for transportation expansion projects such as light rail in Surrey and rapid transit along Broadway. In a letter to Transportation Minister Mary Polak the mayors stated that while "economic and political limits have been reached on the rates of existing taxes and fares" they would like to see funding come from sources such as a vehicle registration fee and a regional sales tax for Metro Vancouver (that could generate up to $250 million per year). The province is currently considering the recommendations outlined in the letter. 
Hoping for (Affordable) Homes. Finally, we thought we'd turn your attention to a project dealing with another touchy subject: affordable housing. As this Tyee piece explains, the Housing Matters Media Project is "a series of 11 digital short films produced by Lower Mainland youth who've been affected by the region's ever-growing need for affordable housing." They will hold their second screening of short films on February 20 at SFU. Get out there and check out these provocative, compelling pieces, if you haven't already!
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Quotes above the entrance to the Sex Talk in the City exhibit]

MOVments: Vancouver, Isn't It So Cliche

We've all heard certain stereotypes used to describe Vancouver before (Vancouverites = yoga-fanatic, organic juice-guzzlers). But as is the nature of cliches, while they may contain a kernel of truth, they also ignore a deeply layered lived experience that is not so easily summed up in buzzwords and cute expressions. In MOVments this week we're looking at the city through the lens of a few well-worn adages and in the process deconstructing and complicating some of our civic assumptions.

(Heritage) Home is Where the Heart Is. This story from the Vancouver Sun about the relationship between heritage buildings and densification got us thinking about the notion of "home" and our historically-rooted aesthetic expectations. As the article suggests, in a city that is constantly changing, Vancouverites are being forced to reevaluate what the "quintessential Canadian home" will look like in the future. It also poses an interesting idea from local historian John Atkin: while there seems to be an "inherent" cultural beauty to heritage houses, given time, Atkin believes that our contemporary glass towers will also take on a similar emotional and nostalgic resonance.
The More Things Change..."Housing costs are high, but we can't afford to throw up our hands and say we can't afford to build many more houses until costs come down again. In a city growing as fast as ours this would be the counsel of stupidity and despair. We must have more homes and we must have them at prices people can afford to pay." Sound familiar? It was pulled from a Vancouver Sun article from 1958. The Tyee reflects on the findings of the Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability, putting them into historical context for us in this little article from a few weeks back. Nothing like some good old-fashioned archival research to shed some light on contemporary issues. Great read!
Beggars Can't Be Choosers. Chances are you've heard of Mark Brand's sandwich token program at Save-On-Meats. And chances are if you know about it, you also know that it's been surrounded by controversy from the get go. The Mainlander laid down some harsh criticism of the project that encourages restaurant goers to purchase meal tokens for panhandlers in the area, in this recent article. Peter Driftmier argues that the program's basic conceit ("beggars can't be choosers") is based on an assumption that the homeless cannot be trusted to make "appropriate" purchases with money given to them. He says,"Instead of playing into stereotypes about poor people and tokenizing the poor, it’s best to trust and empower all residents to make the best food choices possible for themselves and their families." Stephen Quinn further complicates the story in his piece for the Globe and Mail where he provides a more nuanced perspective on Brand's social enterprise but also ponders the efficacy of treating the symptoms of poverty rather than the causes.
At the MOVeum:
January 17 - Built City@MOV
[Image: English Bay, c. 1937. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1376-569

MOVments: The Usual (And Not So Usual) Suspects

Housing affordability, the Marpole Midden, local design culture, and bike sharing are just a few of the continually evolving topics we revisit with some frequency here at MOVments. This week, we look at them all from some new angles, providing fresh perspectives on UBC real estate costs, the negotiations around the Musqueam burial grounds in Marpole, the recent IDSwest Design Show, and bicycle helmet laws across the globe.
Buying the Ivory Tower. It looks like there's another thing we can blame on Vancouver's astronomically high housing prices: brain drain. In an effort to attract more highly-qualified faculty to our little corner of academia, the University of British Columbia plans to reduce the cost of home ownership for professors and staff to 33% below market cost. As UBC's Pascal Spothelfer says, “If you look at the housing situation on the west side of Vancouver, for any younger or new faculty member ... it would be very difficult for them to find housing affordable for them coming from other jurisdictions where housing is less expensive. From a competitive point of view, we want to make sure this doesn’t become a hiring impediment and we can continue to hire excellent faculty.”
No Development on Marpole MIdden. The province has made a final decision to effectively halt development on a Musqueam burial ground in the Marpole neighbourhood. Members of the Musqueam First Nation have been protesting for months against Century Group which had already begun the development of a 5-storey building on the ancient village site. While the Musqueam First Nation is celebrating this as a precedent-setting resolution, the real estate developers are not as happy, complaining that there has been no offer of compensation and that the decision could be seen as a threat to private property laws. 
Meaningful by Design. While the Interior Design Show West in full swing this past weekend, the Vancouver Convention Centre was filled with pretty, sleek, modern things. But the show also highlighted objects that resonated both aesthetically and emotionally (a term not often associated with "design" or "mass-production"). For example, local furniture designer Henry Sun used part of a 200-year-old tree felled in Stanley Park (for safety reasons) to create a collection he calls Amber. For Sun, the design process is about much more than aesthetics; he seeks to imbue his pieces with meaning through a feeling of rootedness and sense of place (something that a 200-year-old tree seems particularly suited for). If you had a chance to check out IDSwest let us know in the comments below!
Safety First? The New York Times explores the helmet-law debate surrounding bike sharing systems in this insightful piece. We've heard many of the arguments before: in cities with mandatory helmet laws there are generally fewer bike-share users and hygiene issues make helmet-sharing particularly tricky. What we found particularly interesting was the suggestion that helmets increase the perception of danger among potential users. As Ceri Woolsgrove of the European Cyclists' Federation argues, “The real benefits of bike-sharing in terms of health, transport and emissions derive from getting ordinary people to use it. And if you say this is wonderful, but you have to wear armor, they won’t. These are normal human beings, not urban warriors.” Your thoughts? Feelings?
At the MOVeum:
October 10 - MOV Legacy Dinner
[Image: Artifacts excavated from the Marpole Midden, 1931. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 371-2448]

MOVments: Growing Up Fast

We here at the MOV just discovered that Vancouver has two of the 10 largest green roofs in the world. This article on the history and logistics of green rooftops got us thinking more broadly about our tendency towards stacking, extending, and expanding in the city. From condo culture to mall expansions, this week we're exploring the direction of growth in Vancouver, and more often than not, we're looking up, way up. 
Living in Isolation. It seems like we can hardly get through an instalment of MOVments without running up against the ever-present density debate. This week, Gordon Price's blog featured a fascinating segment of Walrus TV which compares contemporary condominium developments to what Northrope Frye described as the "garrison mentality" of isolated, early Canadian pioneer settlements. Necessary viewing for anyone interested in the cultural challenges of condo living. 
Rethinking Affordable Housing. The winners of the City's re:THINK Housing competition will be announced next week on July 30. The competition was designed to bring the general public together with architects, planners, and non-profits to discuss bold, creative, affordable housing solutions in Vancouver. With any luck, there will also be some ideas around how to combat the isolating effects of high-rise developments.
Growing Pains. There are some who think that crowd-sourcing won't be enough, and that Vancouver is at a planning turning point, in need of drastic (and de-politicized) change. Lance Berelowitz asks some tough but timely questions in this opinion piece about the direction of the City's planning strategies. As he says, "The city needs a forward-looking, comprehensive plan. We need to come to grips with what kind of city we want to be; with chronic housing unaffordability; with a city of increasing haves and have nots; with transit underfunding and transportation conflicts; with the challenges of intensifying our land uses and densifying our limited residential land base..." Definitely food for thought.
Mall City. Already one of the most successful shopping centres in Canada, Oakridge Mall at Cambie and 41st is set to expand upward and outward. A proposal has been made to develop the mall into a small city, complete with parks and community bike paths. Defying the trend of declining sales at American malls, Oakridge, with customers streaming in via the Canada Line, seems to be uniquely positioned to take on such a project. 
Stacking It. And finally, have you ever wondered about the story behind the towers of books and chaotic floor plan at MacLeod's Books? This profile on owner Don Stewart is a fantastic read. 
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Green Roof at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Photo by Harry2010]

MOVments: Out with the Old, In with the (Sort of) New

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Community garden near Rogers arenaVancouver is changing and growing so fast that, as Gordon Price reports, its newest neighbourhood doesn't even have a name yet. But if we look closely, we can see that a lot of our old ideas and landscapes are actually being repurposed, redesigned, and redefined. This week's MOVments explores the ways Vancouverites are reusing old spaces, re-imagining affordable housing and urban planning, and putting a new spin on a time-honored tradition: the business lunch.

Redefining Growth. Much to our delight, SOLEfood, Vancouver's largest urban farm, has outgrown its first home in a parking lot on East Hastings. Using a social enterprise model and employing over 20 people from the Downtown Eastside, the urban farm just opened its second location under the Georgia Street viaduct. As The Tyee explains much of SOLEfood's success has come from from garnering community support; the farm has received multiple grants, help from local business owners, and a free three-year lease for its new spot on Pacific Boulevard.

Video Stores Live.  With the demise of big-chain stores like Blockbuster and Rogers, They Live (formerly Cinephile) is one of a handful of independent video rental shops in Vancouver that is still making a go of it in an increasingly Internet-dominated business. Like Black Dog and Limelight Video, They Live is filling a niche, catering to those who are searching for hard to find titles and a little personal interaction. And as with other local businesses and art spaces, diversification is the name of the game; They Live will also be offering live music and film screenings.

Rethinking Homelessness. In the midst of so much change, UN representative Miloon Kothari says one thing has stayed pretty much the same since his last visit to Vancouver in 2007: the city's affordable housing crisis. In his interview with The Tyee, Kothari gave a sobering account of the crisis, which he says is caused in part by too much emphasis on market solutions. He suggests that it's time to completely re-frame the housing issue: "What you see in Canada and what you see in the United States is that housing is seen as a commodity and not as a social good. If it's treated as a social good, then the whole thinking will change."

Shifting Planning Policy. Judging from our situation in Vancouver, it looks like the new generation of Canadian urban planners have quite a task ahead of them. This fascinating Globe and Mail article explores the shifts currently taking place in urban planning policy and power assignment. While cities across the country face diverse challenges, Vancouver's former co-planning director, Larry Beasley, is excited at the prospect of a new generation of Canadian urban planners taking on roles as visionaries and risk takers.

The Evolution of Lunch. And finally, on a lighter note: the Vancouver Public Space Network and Space2Place are co-hosting communal outdoor lunches every Thursday this month. Long cafeteria tables, food specials from local vendors, and musical entertainment are making Abbott Street the place to be for an afternoon meal, whether you work in the area or not.

At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers

[New SOLEfood location on Pacific Boulevard. Photo by David Niddrie]

MOVments: City on the Edge of Tomorrow

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Expo 86 postcardEven for a forward-looking city, Vancouver seems to be on the verge of some particularly big changes this week. Maybe it's because we just finished watching a Franklin Templeton commercial which features a decidedly Vancouver-shaped, futuristic city, but this week's MOVments has us thinking about what the city is going to look like in 5, 10, or 20 years. Check out these links for some clues to what might be in store.

Floating Houses (Maybe...) Vancouver's new Task Force on Housing Affordability will present its second set of findings and recommendations to City Council tomorrow (June 27). One of the suggestions that's gotten a bit of press involves converting container ships into low-income, floating houses. Cool? Oh yeah. Feasible? We'll have to see.

Art Spaces in Unexpected Places. A new art space called The Nines at the former Budget car rental office at Pender and Abbott could be part of a larger trend towards more studios and art spaces in the city. The Tyee explains that the city recently approved a plan to  convert a number of former industrial spaces into art studios. Artists, makers, and multi-media-ers all across Vancouver are optimistic.

A Leader in Refugee Care. As new laws make life more difficult for many refugees in Canada, Vancouver will become home to a world-class Welcome House Centre for people escaping dire circumstances in their countries of origin. The Immigration Services Society of B.C. plans to combine a variety of services including short-term housing, language training, and medical care at the facility that will be built at 10th and Victoria.

Life Without Luongo (Maybe...) Speculation abounds over where Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo will end up as the NHL draft finishes this week. Although backup goalie Corey Schneider becomes a free-agent after July 1, opening him up to offers from other teams, the Canucks' manager maintains that they won't be rushing to make any decisions about trading Luongo. And, while you're in a sporty state of mind, check out this little article about the Vancouver Canadians minor league baseball team and what they're doing to help the Toronto Blue Jays in the major league.

At the MOVeum:
Sunday, July 1 (Canada Day) - All general admission is FREE
June through September 30 - Reading the Riot Boards exhibit

[Image: Expo '86 Souvenir Postcard from the MOV collection H2008.23.2501]


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