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Posted by: Gala Milne on July 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Youth Council at Vancouver mini Maker Faire

Found amid an explosion of DIY creativity ranging from homemade airplanes and robots to gigantic Mondospiders, the Museum of Vancouver Youth Council shared their exhibit, Concrete Expressions, at the first-ever Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. This community event served as fantastic conclusion to the first youth council team at the MOV.

Beginning in February 2011, a group of creative youth ages 16-18, from around Vancouver joined in a weekend long conversation at the MOV to discuss ideas of concern to youth in Vancouver. Housing & homelessness, our environmental footprint, art and performance, and multiculturalism topped the list – no small issues, to say the least. More challenging, would be deciphering how to represent these issues in physical format. After a few more brainstorming sessions, the youth council decided to combine notions of street art with environmental sustainability, and repurpose plastic bags to create a gigantic knitted "plastic scarf" with which to yarnbomb the iconic crab statue in front of the MOV. Essentially bringing street art to the doorstep of the institution, and carrying the conversation beyond the museum’s walls.

If I were to describe the youth council in one word, it would probably be 'unpredictable' - in a good way.” Says youth council member Chenoa Lui. “The creativity and dedication of everyone involved helped shape a most unique and exciting project that turned out to be nothing like what we first imagined, yet at the same time, nothing short of amazing.”

Additionally, the council members created a documentary film about the process of creating the scarf, and invited young musicians and spoken word performers to join a night of “Concrete Expression” at the museum on May 14th. Watch the video here.

In summarizing her experience, Tina Yuan states, “Youth Council really brought me a whole new opportunity to explore my own potential with others like me, and I really enjoyed the whole experience of putting up an exhibit.”

From the outset, the youth council divided into three teams of multimedia producers, curators, and event programmers for a very busy 10 weeks together. Inspired by an initial tour of the MOV’s archival collections from Joan Seidl, council members were encouraged and mentored by museum staff Carman Kwan, Gala Milne, Amanda Gibbs, and media producer Selina Crammond. Overall coordination was carried out by Vancouver media educator Wendy Chen, and special thanks is extended to the Vancouver Design Nerds, and Birkeland Brothers Wool Company for their aid and encouragement of Concrete Expressions. Funding support for this project was graciously provided through the BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Foundation, Vi Nguyen and the Youth Philanthropy Council, and the Chris Spencer Foundation.

“What I really liked or even just thought was cool was that young people like me, were able to come together and put their ideas together and make something out of it. This was my first time working in a youth council and we weren't able to make something completely crazy and revolutionizing, but in the future I really believe that this kind of youth council will make a bigger impact. In the future, I look forward to see a youth council that is mature enough to get a job done and yet creative enough to be revolutionizing. I think that is what youth is all about."            - Chano Huang

A huge thank you goes to the council members who volunteered their time after class and between other volunteer commitments to take part in this pilot project. Your dedication and enthusiasm for participating in a Museum of Vancouver project was truly inspiring. As many of the council members have expressed interest in continuing participation at the MOV, the Museum of Vancouver expects to facilitate future youth-driven community conversations and projects.

Thank-you so much to all the youth council members and we look forward to working with you soon!

Posted by: Erin Brown John on July 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Neon. OpenFile is spending a month researching the history of neon in Vancouver and asked many Vancouverites, including our curator Joan Seidl what their favourite neon signs in Vancouver are.

Graffiti. The city of Vancouver is reinstating it's anti-graffiti program after a resurgence in tagging around the city. Though the increase in graffiti may not be directly related to the program at all.

Disappearing phones. Merchants in the DTES say payphones are more hassle than they're worth.

Rising seas. BTAworks has released a toolkit that visualizes the effects of climate change on the coastline in Vancouver. One interesting thing is that a rise of even a couple metres in sea level would go a long way toward restoring the original coastline of False Creek.

Book exchange. Members of the Grandview-Woodlands Block Watch are creating community with a book exchange box and community chalk board.

Liveable Laneways is working to transform back alleys into vibrant public spaces with planters, events and open air markets.

Cycling. The Tyee continues it's weekly series about bike-centric urban planning.The Dependent remembers Vancouver's first dedicated bicycle paths, constructed in 1886.

Changing City is a blog that tracks new developments in Vancouver.

Before it was home to Canuck Place Hospice the Glen Brae mansion was the home of the Kanadian Klu Klux Klan.

Image: pixeljones, via flickr.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on July 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Cycling. Translink has released it's regional cycling strategy meant to encourage cycling and make it safer. Good thing, too, because safety is one of the major concerns that keep women in particular off the roads.

Evergreen line. Negotiations to build the Evergreen Line took a huge step forward when Metro Vancouver mayors voted in favour of increasing the gas tax to pay for it. Spacing explores other sources of funds for a cash-strapped Translink.

Shoebox living. A new development under construction features 270 square foot condos. Is that even livable? Well, Gordon Price made it work in the 90s. But in spite of their size, these units aren't as affordable as you'd think.

Status quo. While the city develops around it, the West End has remained more or less the same.

Olympic Village. While many of the housing units at the Olympic Village are still empty, businesses are slowly starting to open.

The dark side of 100 mile. An exhibit on right now at W2 Media Cafe shows the unsavoury side of local food - the exploitation of new immigrants and temporary foreign workers who work on farms in the Fraser Valley. It's an issue also covered in our Bhangra.me exhibit on display right now at MOV. If you have the chance you should come down and check it out!

Public square. Gordon Price wants to get rid of the fountain in front of the art gallery to turn the space into a proper gathering area.

Crime. Did you know that Vancouver is the bank robbery capital of Canada?

Image: LastGreatRoadTrip, via flickr.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on July 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Maori cloak repatriation

Kate Follington, MOV's Director of Development and Marketing shares some background about some recent repatriations at the museum:

At the end of a labyrinth of hallways in the Museum of Vancouver, behind two large double doors, 70,000 pieces of priceless heirlooms are hidden away. It's a breathtaking collection: historical wood carvings, First Nations masks, an entire wall of deer horns and moose heads, railway paraphernalia, and row upon row of carefully wrapped ball gowns. Sitting on shelves 100 feet deep and 10 feet high, the items have been carefully placed and numbered according to theme, ranging from textiles and gold mining, to gaudy neon signs like the Blue Eagle Café, just one of 55 signs in the neon collection.

Wandering past wide-eyed heads of elk, deer and caribou, there's an almost cinematic feel to the space. Vancouver's history, unfolding from aisle to aisle. But where did it all come from, who does it belong to, and who should own it now? Returning historical objects to their original communities -- a process known as repatriation -- is an arduous, expensive process for any museum, and not without controversy. But for the Museum of Vancouver (MOV), it represents a critical part of the growing role of museums in forging stronger cultural ties with First Nations communities around the globe, and it starts with a cloak.

Read the whole article at The Tyee.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on July 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Just how bike-friendly is Vancouver? Researchers at UBC mapped data on several key factors that make streets accommodating to cyclists. The result is a series of 'Bikeability Index' maps.

Spacing Vancouver. Spacing Magazine has partnered with the staff at re:place to launch Spacing Vancouver. We're really excited to see what comes out of this partnership.

This week the magazine kicked off with a series about planning for schools in downtown Vancouver: Part 1 and Part 2.

Public space. Erin O'Melinn shares some thoughts about Spacing's list of the top ten public spaces in Vancouver and why they are nearly all in the downtown core.

Surveillance. It has come to light that some of the surveillance cameras purchased for the 2010 Olympics were repurposed and put into service during the Stanley Cup playoff games.

Public art. Many of the Vancouver Biennale's public art works will be heading home to their owners between now and the end of this year.

Phonebooth. In response to the disappearance of phone booths in the DTES, Spartacus Books set up their own.

Housing in the DTES. Tenants at the Wonder Rooms in the DTES filed a class-action suit against their landlord for the inhumane living conditions in their suites. City council discussed this week whether to file an injunction to force the landlord to make repairs.

"Old urbanism" on the Fraserlands. A huge new development for 20,000 residents is intended to be a modern Rome or Pompeii on the banks of the Fraser River. Seems an odd choice of comparison but there you go.

Local food. The Food Secure Vancouver Study and Foodtree's mobile app were both launched this week.

Image: Roland Tanglao, via flickr.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on June 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Post-riot therapy. Scout lists 101 awesome things about Vancouver. Glad to see we (and this blog) made the list!

Riot. An independent review of the police response to the riot is underway. The Vancouver Police Department has released a fact sheet.

The backlash continues. Employers of outed rioters are facing boycotts and negative press and in some cases are letting those employees go. Blenz has launched the first major lawsuit against as yet unnamed rioters.

The backlash highlights lines of cultural divide and prejudice between the city and suburbs. A lot of the blame for the riot has been leveled at the suburbs, but many suburbanites are disputing th

There is growing concern that some riot photos submitted to police have been photoshopped, and it's likely that this will be a popular defence in court.

Rebranding. In light of recent marketing campaigns by Vancouver and Calgary, how does a city go about changing it's image?

Gentrification. The Dependent looks at some of the people walking the fine line between gentrification and revitalization in Gastown and the Downtown East Side.

Language. There is now a dictionary for the Squamish language.

Local food. Turning a new page in the local food movement, the City of Vancouver funds a project to encourage people to replace their lawns with wheat.

Summer of our discontent. Past Tense remembers Vancouver's Yippie civil unrest.

Authentic sky. Appreciation for a local artist who paints Vancouver's sky like it is: usually cloudy.

An oddity from the history books: Police conclude that sounds of a man drowning that had been frightening visitors at Third Beach were actually coming from a bird.

Image via Past Tense.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on June 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm

What a week! In a few short days we have been witness to everything that is good and bad about this city. There's been no shortage of news and commentary about the riot on and it's near-impossible to summarize. So this week, a few things to think about.

Brave people who do the right thing. Like these people who formed a human chain in front of a store to prevent it from being looted. Or this man who took a beating for his efforts, and the people who dragged him to safety.

The role of social media in all this. A social media riot made for TV. A tale of two riots.

Clean up. Recognize all the great work of volunteers, police and civil workers in putting the city back together.

Grief, gratitude and apology. Many Vancouverites gratitude for police. Plywood covering smashed out windows at the Bay and BMO Bank were covered with messages of apology, support for the team, police and volunteers, and condemnation of the riots. The apology wall at the Bay has since come down, but can be viewed in it's entirety here.

Parts of the wall will be stored permanently here at the Museum of Vancouver for future Vancouverites to see.

In other news:

Only Seafoods. The Only Seafoods returns! The newly renovated restaurant will be operated by the Portland Hotel Society and will feature the restaurant's original menu.

Architects. Cornelia Hahn Oberlander was recognized this week for her 60 year career in landscape architecture and Vancouver Magazine profiles Gregory Henriquez.

Cambie corridor. The BC Court of Appeal upheld the class action suit by Cambie Street merchants about Canada Line construction.

Community gardens. Inside Vancouver visits the community garden on the lawn at City Hall.

Multiple kite world champion. Open File visits one of the most dedicated kite fliers on the lawn outside the museum at Vanier Park. He makes kites do some pretty amazing things.

Image: Erin Brown-John

Posted by: Erin Brown John on June 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Fire. This day in 1886 a massive fire swept through Vancouver, destroying the city and taking 20 lives.

Team colours. A social media uproar resulted in the banning of the display of the Boston Bruins logo on City vehicles.

Canucks on Georgia. Gordon Price recalls that even a few years ago shutting down a major artery for hockey fans would have been totally unheard of.

High rents. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a report this week that named Vancouver the city with the highest average rents in the country.

Life and death.  The hospice at UBC will be going ahead in spite of the concerns of nearby residents and will provide important research opportunities in palliative care.

Little Mountain. The redevelopment of Little Mountain Housing Co-op has stalled. In 2008 the housing development was cleared in anticipation that a larger social housing development would be created. But after three years with no construction in sight, people are wondering why there was a rush to vacate in the first place.

Save-On-Meats. Save-On-Meats is set to open within the next two weeks.

Image: Winston Wong via flickr.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on June 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Hockey. The Vancouver Archives posted a neat photoset of historical hockey photos and Vancouver’s previous team to win the Stanley Cup: the Millionaires.

Public celebrations. Vancouver suburbs are experiencing challenges finding and creating public spaces for celebrating Stanley Cup games. With an eye to public space, are championship runs good for urbanism?

Online voting. The provincial government has denied the City of Vancouver’s request to allow online voting in this year’s municipal election.

FOI. A recent response to a freedom of information request reveals some negative attitudes towards journalists requests. Frances Bula weighs in with her experience contacting City staff.

Residential conversions. The real-estate market is so hot it’s pricing a lot of businesses and jobs out of Vancouver as land is converted to residential development. The latest losses - Avalon Dairy and the Hollywood Theatre and more industrial land.

Housing affordability. Here is the data that Bob Rennie was relying upon when last week he claimed that housing is not unaffordable in Vancouver, so you can draw your own conclusions.

Density. How do we go about densifying development around transit hubs? If we use the intersection at Broadway and Commercial as an example, it turns out there are lots of barriers.

Planning. What if we choose not to plan our urban spaces, let nature take it’s course and crowdsource solutions?

On Broadway. Stephen Rees provides a good overview of SFU City Programme’s Designing Broadway dialogue on May 30.

Safe injection. Another point in favour of Insite: a study shows that a similar facility in Montreal has not had any adverse effects on the neighbourhood it’s located in.

This week’s image courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on May 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Homelessness. The numbers are in. Initial results from the 2011 homelessness count indicate that street homelessness is down in Vancouver, though there has not been a change across the Metro Vancouver region overall. This is causing some to question whether or not the massive investment in dealing with homelessness over the past three years has had an effect.

The results do however suggest that low-barrier shelters are having an impact and are seeing a higher level of use. While First Nations people still make up a disproportionately high proportion of homeless, the number of First Nations people who are homeless appears to be dropping. Youth are better represented in this year’s count, though it’s hard to say if this is due to an increase in homelessness among youth or a more accurate count.

What will be the future of the Hornby bike lane? Researchers are in the process of studying it’s impacts on the local community. Geoff Meggs says the City did not do a good enough job of communicating the need for cycling infrastructure to Vancouverites.

The City is once again looking for public input about transportation and looking for more ways to get people out of their cars

Viaducts. What’s in store for the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts? re:place looks at the future of the viaducts and offers some suggestions.

U-Pass. Translink is threatening to discontinue the U-Pass program if it continues to lose money to U-Pass theft and fraud. But Stephen Rees reminds us that the U-Pass program was never sustainable in the first place.

Hockey riot. As we head toward the Stanley Cup finals, the Tyee presents an alternative view on the 1994 hockey riot and how we became the ‘no fun city.’

Bike watch. A cool idea via Gordon Price, Vancouver Bike Watch lets riders report road hazards, stolen bikes and collisions.

Affordability. Bob Rennie says Vancouver really isn’t that unaffordable if you ignore the prices at the top fifth of the market.

Image: chris.huggins via flickr

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