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MOVments: Putting Ourselves on the Map

In the aftermath of the Waldorf closing the city is looking into mapping cultural resources like arts venues and spaces that resonate with city dwellers. Over at MOVments, this got us thinking about the other kinds of maps we're making and how they're helping to locate us and more importantly, guide us where we're going. Read on for details on a blueprint for a new food strategy, a development plan for a growing municipality, and how neighbourhood rebranding may (or may not) be helping East Vancouverites envision where they live.

Edible Streets. Imagine a city with more farmers markets, community gardens, rooftop plots, and edible landscaping. These are just a few of the actions outlined in the new food strategy being considered by city council. As the Vancouver Sun blog describes "City council intends the Vancouver of the near future to be a model system of just and sustainable locally-grown food, a city as pretty as it is delicious." This deliciously sustainable city would have at its centre a green economy which would incubate food businesses and create infrastructure for food processing and distribution.
 
City of Cities. And speaking of infrastructure, the City of Surrey has challenges of its own as its six, distinct town centres continue to grow. As the Vancouver Sun reports while the city offers (relatively) affordable housing and a myriad of parks and recreation opportunities, it still does not have a cultural infrastructure in the form of large-scale entertainment venues; for these, many still head to Vancouver. President of the Surrey Board of Trade, Anita Huberman, is looking forward to a city filled with "state-of-the-art elegant spaces for arts, events, [and] theatres" that would keep people working and playing there.
 
The Neighbourhood Formerly Known As...Hastings-Sunrise has recently been rebranded as Vancouver's East Village but residents have been slow to adopt the name, and some are not so sure the reference to the Manhattan neighbourhood is apt. Developers are quick to point out that the new name isn't meant to replace the old one but rather to help build a cohesive identity for businesses in the area. As executive director of the neighbourhood's Business Improvement Association, Patricia Barnes describes, "It’s a marketing and branding strategy for the business improvement area, within the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood. Critics have their own opinions, but it is not a renaming of the whole neighbourhood.” 
 
Spotlight on Vancouver. And finally, if you didn't get a chance to see Marpole and downtown all lit up this weekend, check out these photos of the playful Limelight: Saturday Night art installation. 
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Plan of the City of Vancouver, 1910. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, MAP 387]

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

MOVments

Rethinking libraries. Surrey is leading the charge in the trend toward building libraries as places for gathering and education, rather than as stacks of books. In addition to this, the Surrey Public Library is launching a 'living books' service, where patrons will be able to take experts on a variety of subjects out for coffee and pick their brains.

Rising oceans. Cities generally prohibit the construction of buildings in areas that are vulnerable to flooding and storm surges, but a new map of Vancouver shows that by 2100 many more areas will be at risk. The entire map can be found here.

Slowing down. A local non-profit shares a perspective from the Downtown Eastside about traffic calming along Hastings Street.

Making Vancouver better. Just ahead of the Design Thinking UnConference, urbanist and architecture critic Trevor Boddy shared some thoughts about making Vancouver a better place. Some issues he cites as areas for concern: the relative lack of office space and business activity in the downtown core, the segregation of social problems into areas such as the Downtown Eastside and the lack of debate over public space in the media.

Coach houses. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation is looking for examples of old laneway houses to show that the idea is not entirely new to Vancouver.

Urban bees. Vancouver Magazine visits the roof of the Fairmont Waterfront where the director of housekeeping maintains six hives of honey bees.

Rubber sidewalk. The city engineering department has installed Vancouver's first rubber sidewalk. It's made from recycled materials and easier to walk on.

Car-free Robson. The Vancouver Public Space Network has launched a petition calling for Robson Square to be maintained as a pedestrian-only space.

Public art. Two public art projects at transit shelters aim to encourage people interact more with public space. Adorno and Nose encourages transit riders to whistle or sing while they're waiting for the bus and A Sign for the City dedicates each firing of the Nine O'clock Gun to a cultural event or historical figure.

Image: squeakymarmot via flickr.

MOVments

The missing link. The seawall is finally connected in Coal Harbour. Gordon Price visited to check it out and found that on the whole, the link is pretty confusing. A second visit revealed that not much had improved on one of our most famous and beloved urban spaces.

Pipe exchange. Keeping in line with it's harm reduction strategy, Vancouver Coastal Health and Insite will be adding pipes to the paraphernalia that they distribute to drug users in the Downtown Eastside. While intended to slow the rate of HIV and Hep-C infection and result in cost savings for the healthcare system, they're expecting it to be a hard sell with the public.

What does life in the DTES look like? Ryan Fletcher lived on the streets for a week for his story in The Tyee and found community, charity and lots of characters.

Canada Line. TransLink announced this week that it will be adding extra trains to the Canada Line, reducing platform wait times. But some question whether the infrastructure is enough to accommodate the ridership of the future.

Pantages. The city's Urban Design Panel has rejected the developer's proposal for the site of the Pantages Theatre as the community and the developer continue to disagree about what amenities and housing are needed for the area.

Little Mountain. Open File visits a public consultation about the new Little Mountain project and talks to the developer about how not to repeat the Olympic Village experience.

False Creek Flats. The city is receiving many proposals for the revitalization of the False Creek Flats, and is looking to maintain a variety of industrial uses in the space. It's come a long way from the cows pasture it was.

Pedestrian deaths. As pedestrian friendly as the city tries to be, far more pedestrians die in car accidents than people in homicides ahead of both Montreal and Toronto.

Wait for Me, Daddy. A commemorative monument is being planned in New Westminster for one of the most iconic Canadian photos from the Second World War.

Urban gardens. Also in New West, a group of residents and their strata council transformed the roof of their building into a community garden, showing yet another model for the creation and ownership of collective gardens.

And now, a video break: crowds gathering and dispersing at the Celebration of Light and bike lanes in action.

Image: Mark & Andrea Busse, via flickr.

MOVments

Disappearing lake. The park board is exploring options to preserve Beaver Lake. The lake has been steadily shrinking due to nearby construction projects, sediments and invasive pant species. Now they’re looking for public input about the project.

Underground chickens. Six months after legalizing chickens in Vancouver, only 18 people have registered their birds, and many more people are choosing not to register.

Social housing. Vancouver needs more affordable housing, but where to put it? The City may be backing off from it’s policy of requiring developers to dedicate 20% of new units in their developments to social housing. The property in question is the northeast section of False Creek. The developer, Concord Pacific has proposed that instead of building social housing there, it would give the City two properties in the Downtown Eastside.

Meanwhile activists are currently protesting a proposal to allow the construction of 7 new condo towers in the Downtown Eastside, something they claim will have a detrimental impact on rents and the affordability of housing.

Death at their doorsteps. Also controversial, plans to locate a hospice at UBC hit a snag as residents complained, citing their cultural values. Their concerns have been condemned by some as nimbyism, while others urge more tolerance.

Bike fashion. The Vancouver Observer looks at the colourful world of bike fashion in Vancouver.

Image source: feffef, via flickr.

MOVments

SOLEfood. A scrapyard on Hastings Street may be the location of the second SOLEfood Farm in the Downtown Eastside. The farm is run by United We Can and provides seasonal employment for residents in the Downtown East Side.

Big debut. The Vancouver Police Department inaugurated their new twitter accountwith a marathon session of tweeting every call they received in a 24 hour period. It just so happened that this allowed them to tweet about the lockdown at Gladstone Secondary but they say that they will likely only be using it for traffic and safety announcements in the future.

Hastings Park. The plan for the renovation of Hastings Park unveiled last week has come under fire from the local community for increasing the size of the PNE and the number of tradeshows hosted in the park.

Internet billing. City Council is voting tomorrow on a motion to oppose the CRTC’s approval of usage-based billing for internet service. The CRTC decision will likely result in increased costs for users, making access to information more difficult for those who can’t afford it. Council has no ability to change the decision but they want to raise the profile of the issue.

Powering the city. Scout Magazine takes a walking tour of electrical substations around Vancouver.

Red army. In the early 1930s the unemployed took to the streets of Vancouver and had their concerns largely ignored. Past Tense has a bit of interesting history about the political unrest at the time and the rise of the Communist Party in Vancouver.

Image source: Dan Toulgoet, The Courier

MOVments

 

Remembering Terry Fox. The Terry Fox monument at BC Place is slated for demolition and will be replaced with a new monument designed by Douglas Coupland. The architect of the original monument is understandably upset, but acknowledges that it was never popular with the public.

Cycling infrastructure. While improving cycling infrastructure in is a priority for many municipalities, they have been having trouble trying to secure funding and support from the province.

Great Beginnings. The City of Vancouver is currently looking for proposals for new murals that “offer new perspectives on Vancouver and represent a range of Vancouver’s diverse cultural communities.” The program is part of an overall plan to reduce graffiti in the city.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Straight has a great gallery of images of the mural on Beatty Street that is nearing completion.

Backyard chickens. The City of Surrey is considering whether to allow chickens on urban lots.

Unsung heroes. An article in Grist calls for more acknowledgement of the roles of women in the sustainable food movement. While the article’s focus is American, it’s good to look around and take stock of all the people, male and female, in our communities that perhaps aren’t being recognized.

Photo credit: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

MOVments of the week

 

A decidedly food-heavy round-up of things we’ve been following this week:

Food and rehabilitation. GOOD reports that the Soul Food Project in San Francisco prisons is helping women reconnect with the community, both behind bars and once they’ve been released. The program teaches cooking skills and healthy eating with a focus on affordable food and wellness. The life and job skills they learn are an important way of minimizing recidivism and encouraging inmates to seek lives outside of crime.

Meanwhile, protest continues over the closure of Canada’s prison farms. The farm program provided inmates with job skills while providing meat and dairy products for the local economy.

Social inclusion through food. Vivian Pan at Beyond Robson has started a series about food security and community gardening in Vancouver, with a focus on community building and social inclusion. The first two posts are here and here. It has been an interesting read so far. We’re looking forward to reading more!

Edible landscaping. The Vancouver Sun has an interesting article about the edible garden at the Teahouse Restaurant in Stanley Park. The garden provides decoration for the dining area while it also provides fresh herbs and greens for the restaurant. The fact that the garden is actively used for cutting makes maintenance a bit of a challenge. Still, it increases the visibility of urban agriculture and provides a great example of how food crops can be beautiful as well as edible.

STIR-up in the West End. Terry Lavender presents a useful primer of the issues, stakeholders and conflict surrounding two proposed Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing projects in the West End. The development pits the City against concerned residents over the issue of the construction of new purpose-built rental housing in order to provide more options for affordable housing in one of the most diverse and dense neighbourhoods in the city.

Bloedel Conservatory. Earlier this week the City of Vancouver announced that the Bloedel Conservatory will be saved, and jointly operated by the City, VanDusen Botanical Garden Association and Friends of the Bloedel. The Conservatory ran into financial difficulty due to city budget cuts, and was facing closure. It’s great to see that this local institution will be around for some time to come.

Image credit: Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press

MOVments from the week

 

A round up of news stories we followed this week, plus other events and cultural happenings worth a notice.

You see arugula, I see an eyesore? As City Council pushes for a green, sustainable Vancouver (allowing backyard chickens, introducing new bike lanes, building a demonstration garden on City Hall property, etc.), awkward snags in the day-to-day functioning of city emerge. Two neighbours in East Van are going head-to-head over a vegetable garden. Seems the tenants at 470 E. 56th Ave. have turned the front and back yards of the property over to vegetables, growing everything from kale to raspberries to herbs. Every inch is maximized for growing—even the dandelions are used for tea. (An image of the yard from last summer is pictured left.) They write a blog about their “yarden” project, too, and have even offered workshops to would-be farmers. Their neighbour says their efforts are impacting the value of his property and that weeds are travelling into his yard. The City is now involved, expressing their support but also requiring clean up of beds planted on the city land the tenants have taken over between the sidewalk and the street, among other things. Question is: Would the neighbours complain, and thus the city be involved, if the house were located near Commercial Drive where such philosophies are more commonplace? Or are the tenants pushing things too far, too fast, politicizing the issue instead of just trying to get along? Would love feedback on all this. See the article in today’sGlobe and Mail for additional background.

First United embraces a new mission. This week, First United Church launched a campaign to raise $31-million to “redevelop the church into a multi-service facility that will provide everything from health care to housing” for residents of the Downtown Eastside. Though the church has been a beacon for the poor and marginalized since its establishment in 1885 (archival photos from the 1930s show people lined up around the building for food), it has adapted in recent years to meet a growing demand for safe shelter. In 2007, they stopped offering formal Sunday services because of poor attendance; in 2008, they became one of the City’s emergency homeless shelters, under the HEAT initiative. Some 250 to 300 people sleep there each night. With this week’s announcement, they’ll now formally transition from a place of worship to a place of sanctuary, a move a spokesperson for the church says resulted from questioning what it means to be a church in the 21st century. (Globe and Mail)

So long, white dome. On May 3, at 10 a.m., the distinctive air-supported roof at B.C. Place will deflate for good, marking a major change to the city’s skyline. The 27-year-old roof is being replaced with a retractable version that’s scheduled for completion next year. Click the link for a slideshow of artist renderings. (BC Place)

Art, popular culture, and Kurt Cobain. On May 13, the Seattle Art Museum will open an exhibition devoted to Kurt Cobain. The group show sees different media to interpret the work, life, and continued influence of the city’s most famous musician. On till September 6. Click the link for a slideshow of works from the show. Wonder what Kurt would think. (Seattle Art Museum)

And a note on what we’re working on. Sorry to be off the blog this week. We’re gearing up for the opening of our latest exhibition, Fox, Fluevog & Friends(!), and preparing for the launch of our summer program schedule and related online content. Some of the programs will relate to the Fluevog exhibition, others won’t. Lively mix assured.

We’ve also been busy mining the content from our history galleries for a new interpretive guide/mini-catalogue. It’s been written and designed as a visitor’s guide to those galleries, and part of an ongoing effort to link the stories from the city’s—and the Museum’s past—into our new vision. I’ll write more about it once it’s available at our visitor services desk. Happy weekend.

Image credit: The Farmhouse Blog

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