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MOVments: Turning Over a New Leaf

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]

MOVments: The (In)Visible City

Our upcoming Visible City online exhibit and app has got us thinking more broadly about the relationship between the highly visible aspects of our city and the less conspicuous civic spaces and moments. From Native history, to informal bike paths, to the BC Bollywood awards, it seems that more often than not, the seen and the unseen exist in close proximity in Vancouver.
 
Shining a Light on Native History. “In the silent solitude of the primeval forest, he drove a wooden stake in the earth and commenced to measure an empty land.” That's how a Vancouver heritage plaque describes Lauchlan Alexander Hamilton as he surveyed the land that would become Vancouver. Of course, the land was not an empty wilderness and members of the First Nations community are trying to set the record straight. Another development that would make contemporary Native culture and history much more visible is this proposal for six longhouses to be built in the DTES. And on a similarly enlightening note, this recent Vancouver Sun article highlights the large First Nations collection at the MOV. 
 
On the Road. A proposal for a separated bike path linking New Westminster to South Vancouver would make cyclists more visible along Marine Way. Currently, riders seem to have created their own unofficial bike route along a ditch to avoid cycling on the busy freeway. If the New Westminster branch of HUB (formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition) gets their way, a two way bike lane separated by a cement barrier would be installed in the area.
 
Bollywood/BC. This Saturday saw the Times of India Film Awards held at BC Place Stadium. For many Bollywood fans, the glitz, glamour, and spectacle surrounding the event meant that it could hardly go unnoticed, however, others were less enthusiastic. Some have been critical of the $11 million doled out by the provincial government to hold it in Vancouver, others blamed high ticket prices for lower-than-expected ticket sales. And perhaps most troubling, there seemed to be no mention of Vancouver or BC in the Indian media coverage of the awards show. 
 
Gentrification Can Be Funny. Well, at least when The Onion puts its spin on it. We thought with all the serious gentrification talk happening around town lately we'd sign off with this.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Norman Tait eagle helmet. Museum of Vancouver collection, AA 2571]

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: Imagined Communities, Imagined Vancouver

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!

West Broadway Woes. So far we've heard about creative types re-envisioning Vancouver in unexpected ways, but the idea of a rapid transit line along West Broadway may represent a crisis of imagination for the city. Or so says Gordon Price in last week's Globe and Mail. He argues that given the endlessly complicated negotiations between TransLink, various levels of government, UBC, and private partners, we shouldn't expect to see a rapid transit line heading out to Point Grey within his lifetime. While TransLink is putting together preliminary reports on what form the line might take (above ground vs. underground), funding questions are up in the air and Surrey may actually be next in line to receive money for increased rapid transit infrastructure. Read more about the problems and the possibilities here
 
(Mis)Imagining Native History. Finally, this week The Tyee printed a revealing piece on the general public's knowledge of Aboriginal history and cultural in this province and across the country. In a recent online survey, when Canadians were asked about the relationship between Native peoples and the federal government "over two-thirds of respondents believed that not only are aboriginals treated well by the government, but also they receive too much federal money." As The Tyee points this couldn't be further from the truth: infrastructure like water systems and housing are incredibly underfunded across the board. What the survey ends up telling us is that we are not doing enough to educate around the ongoing struggles of Native groups in our school curriculums. On a positive note, UBC's faculty of education is doing its part to prepare its students to meaningfully engage with these issues in their classrooms through a course called Aboriginal Education in Canada.

At the MOVeum: 
 
[Image: Blockee image courtesy of OpenFile. With files from OpenFile's Trevor Pritchard]

MOVments: Safety First

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]

MOVments: Exchanging Words

MOVments, a museum blog

Controversies in Vancouver, Marpole MiddenThis 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

[Image: Village site of Cusnaum, part of the Marpole Midden. Photo by Tad McIlwraith]

MOVments: Making a Mark

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Vancouver bike laneThis 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]

MOVments: On the MOV

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Runner on the seawallIt'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]

MOVments: gathered for change

#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.

Evelyn Lau was named Vancouver's next poet laureate in advance of the Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference later this week.

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

MOVments: alternative education and remembering Terry Fox

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.

Theatre in school. Sir Guy Carleton Elementary has a new lease on life as the home of Green Thumb Theatre. The building was previously damaged by arson and on Heritage Vancouver's endangered list.

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.

Greenpeace. 40 years ago a group of activists concerned about US nuclear testing left Vancouver on their newly christened boat, the Greenpeace. The organization celebrated its' anniversary this week.

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

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