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Posted by: Erin Brown John on August 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Picnurbia is a pop-up installation of picnic benches and artificial turf at Robson Square as part of VIVA Vancouver. Perhaps installations like this can help us re-evaluate the way we think about public space.

Homelessness. The city's new housing plan reveals that five neighbourhoods outside of the Downtown Eastside will be targeted for the construction of homeless shelters and supportive housing.

Renting. The Tyee's Reporting Fellowships are turning out some good stories: this week an in depth series about renovictions and affordable rental housing in Vancouver. Catch them all here.

Humanitarian architecture. Two Vancouver-based architects are recycling the fabric from the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre's old sail roof into projects for Architecture for Humanity.

Community awards. The City of Surrey has launched the City Awards Program, a variety of awards to recognize people for community spirit, clean energy, urban design and beautification.

Cycling infrastructure. Another update on the Coal Harbour seawall connection: it still sucks for cyclists. A little further down the seawall, installing consistent signage and adequate infrastructure for cyclists at Stanley Park doesn't seem to be a high priority either.

Just who are bike thieves anyway? The Dependent talks to bike thieves and learns about the tools of the trade.

Earthquake preparedness. An engineering report has found that both City Hall and it's data are vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake.

Data mapping. The Vancouver Sun has created a series of interactive maps with data from the 2006 census.

The road not taken. Forty years ago Vancouver and Hamilton shared many similarities. Nicholas Kevlahan takes a detailed look at how they diverged.

Image: Krista Jahnke for Loose Affiliates

Posted by: Erin Brown John on August 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm

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.

Posted by: Erin Brown John on August 3, 2011 at 11:38 am

Affordable housing. More this week about the City of Vancouver's ambitious plan for housing. Some of the strategies include a "rent bank" to assist tenants when they have difficulty paying rent, limits on profits in real estate sales and housing on city-owned land. But some caution that several parts of the plan lack specific information about how these things will be implemented and how much it will cost. City staff have also noted the difficulty they have had in moving the hardest to house into current social housing.

Meanwhile, another one of the city's 14 planned social housing projects has opened and the West End civic report recommends creating an advocate for tenants' rights and increasing green space.

Bike lanes. After a study last week revealed only a moderate impact on businesses, the city has chosen not to compensate business owners along the Hornby and Dunsmuir bike lanes. A disappointing response rate for the survey, as well as businesses' apparent unwillingness to disclose financial information make it difficult to find a conclusive link between bike lanes and a downturn in business.

Smelling vinegar. The Vancouver Archives shares a bit the process they use to rescue old film negatives from deterioration. The Archives also on HIstorypin now, so you can take a peek at what Vancouver used to look like.

Slow down, watch the... The City of Vancouver will be setting up a trial 30 km/h speed zone on East Hastings through the Downtown Eastside. The area is notorious for jaywalking and it's hoped that this measure will increase pedestrian safety.

Disappearing traffic. As Vancouver considers demolishing its viaducts, consider the Law of Disappearing Traffic: when a main artery is blocked off, traffic finds new routes.

Eastern Core Strategy Study. Erin Innes at the Mainlander reminds us that there is more to the Eastern Core Strategy Study than potentially removing the viaducts, as it's the last major parcel of land to be redeveloped in Vancouver, right next door to the Downtown Eastside.

LoCo BC is a non-profit looking to help connect local businesses and strengthen the local economy through buying local.

Why do Vancouver cafes close so early? Because people don't visit.

Image: mezzoblue, via flickr.

Posted by: Viviane Gosselin on August 2, 2011 at 10:34 am

I’m very excited about the opening of Chosen Family Portraits in the MOV studio. It may be a small exhibition but its message is powerful.  Simply put, this inter-disciplinary project is asking us to re-consider our ideas around “what is a family?”  

The project started last year when the Queer Film Festival (QFF) invited Vancouver’s queer and allied community-at-large to model with their chosen family and share their stories. Photographer Sarah Race and radio journalist Sarah Buchannan brilliantly captured the spirit of these families in image and sound through a series of photo portraits and oral histories. A couple of months ago, I met with QFF staff, Amber Dawn and Drew Dennis to discuss ways we could work together. I was immediately seduced by the idea of presenting Chosen Family at the museum.

After a couple of meetings between QFF and MOV staff, we decided to play with the idea of the family photo wall, the archetypical motif of traditional households.  We felt that the eclectic assortment of frames would hint at the idea of difference, while painting all 28 in bright pink would suggest the idea of shared experience.

Sneakpeek of Chosen Family Portraits                                                        photo credit: Jillian Povarchook

 

Chosen Family @ MOV feels like the first offspring borne out of our Sex Talk in the City project, a full-scale exhibition that will explore issues of sexual diversity, expression and education as it relates to Vancouver. The show is opening sometime in 2013.  We have our eyes set on Valentine’s Day . . . but why commit so early to a date? Seriously, starting to plan an exhibition a year-and-a half before opening to the public may seem like a huge amount of time, but we have a lot of work ahead of us in regards to research, design and fundraising to mention a few. We also want to create plenty of opportunities for Vancouverites to contribute their ideas to the project. I’ve already had an awesome all-day brainstorming session last March with our Advisory Committee and some project allies. Options for Sexual Health, Out-on-Screen, the Vancouver School Board, the Queer Film Festival, 10Four Design, activists, writers, historians, education scholars, performing artists and museum staff identified possible themes, messaging and interpretive strategies. Here are some of the keywords generated by the group when envisioning the exhibition:

 

light & heavy

informal

slick & raw

inclusive

youthful & mature

serious & humorous

provocative

visceral & intellectual

textured

multi-vocal

interactive

 

We now have to give shape to these words. We need a storyline. We need a few “big ideas”- because of course we won’t be able to say everything. We also need more artefacts. Ideas about sexuality are not just in our head, they are represented materially. They morph into places, objects and events that surround us: clothes, drug prescriptions, toys, laws, public celebrations like Pride Weekend . . .  Sex is everywhere!

I’m looking forward to opening the conversation to a broader community, using Chosen Family Portraits as a springboard for discussion.

Stay tuned on the MOV blog for more updates as the exhibition develops. 

Viviane Gosselin is curator of contemporary issues at MOV and project lead for Sex Talk in the City.

Join in the conversation on Twitter: @xtalkinthecity #xtalkMOV

Posted by: Erin Brown John on July 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Bike lanes. A new study about the impact of the bike lanes on business finds that while there has been a decrease in business along the routes, losses are not as bad as the figure often cited. At the same time, ridership continues to grow. Gordon Price has a round-up of a lot of the commentary this week.

Housing. The City of Vancouver released an ambitious 10 year plan to end street homelessness, calling for the creation of 38,900 new housing units by 2021.

Viaducts. After much talk and proposals about what to do with the viaducts, the City is looking for public input.

Civic arts. Councillor Heather Deal wants to create a central committee to oversee the city's 2008 cultural plan. Currently there are multiple smaller committees working on different aspects related to culture but communication is an issue.

Clarifying transit. An Emily Carr grad has redesigned the Metro Vancouver transit map to make it clearer and easier on the eye and more like the London tube map.

Drinking and driving. With the tightening of drinking and driving laws, some are asking why Vancouver still requires bars to provide so much parking space. Could that space be used for something else?

Hidden floors. Scout looks at the so-called "cheater storeys" in Chinatown's architecture.

Fading history. Open File looks at efforts to document and preserve faded "ghost signs" in Vancouver and reveals that often nothing is done. So make sure you photograph your favourites!

Riot aftermath. WorkSafeBC is now receiving claims of post-traumatic stress from people working during the riots.

Gordon Price asks whether the City should be spending money to promote professional sports like hockey over other arts and cultural events, and who benefits.

The Bulkhead Project is an open, food-producing garden on False Creek.

Image: framestealer, via flickr

Posted by: Guest Author on July 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm

New MOV Blog series: Painful Crushes Vancouver
Guest MOV series by Anna Wilkinson

Photo by Paul Clarke
photo by Paul Clarke

As someone who’s had a lot of painful crushes in my life—so many that I curated an art show and created a blog around the idea—I’m pretty familiar with pining after someone who seems just out of reach.

You’ve probably felt it at least once. There’s the good: a fantastic conversation or a shared glance from across the room. And the not-so-good: awkward side hugs, night sweats, not knowing whether they like you “that way”.

Weirdly, I’m starting to think I have a painful crush on Vancouver. Like so many emotionally distant relationships, the city keeps giving me the hot and cold treatment: I endure two months of non-stop rain, then suddenly I'm riding my bike through canopies of pink cherry blossoms. I watch as young ruffians light cars on fire and steal Pringles (seriously guys, worst looting ever), and then see a bunch of lovelies clean up the mess and write sweet love notes to the city. I just can’t seem to quit you, Vancouver.

But then again maybe it’s not so surprising that I have such a confusing relationship with Vancouver. I mean, it is consistently ranked one of the most livable cities in the world and one of the saddest cities in Canada.

Maybe part of the problem is that some of us come here with extremely high expectations. We’ve heard rumours about how good-looking Vancouver is. We see people falling head over heels for it. We hear that the legendary Leonard Nimoy loves it so much he might live here (I want to believe that he watches over us from his West End penthouse. Please don't take that away from me). So how can we help but feel a little heartbroken when we never quite see the Vancouver of our dreams?

Over the summer I’ll be exploring what makes this city so attractive and heartbreaking and asking Vancouver “experts” (that includes you!) about how to get over a painful crush on our Heartbreak City.

Find @Museumofvan on Twitter and share some of your #PainfulCrushes in our city.

Painful Crushes Vancouver, Part One:  Heartbreak City

Holly Flauto Salmon on Granville Street during the 2010 Olympics

Holly Flauto Salmon on Granville Street during the 2010 Olympics

For the first of this series, I had a chance to sit down with Holly Flauto Salmon, one half of the writing duo behind Holly and Holly, a blog dedicated to “un-hating Vancouver one grey, cloudy, drizzling, dizzy day at a time.”   

If you’ve read their recent posts you’ll know that since undertaking this mission, one of the Hollys has actually started to like it here. Ms. Salmon is that Holly and she opened up about finding an intellectual community, unexpected Google searches, and how she ended up falling for Vancouver on her own terms.

How did you get the idea for the blog?

The other Holly and I met because our sons were in the same class. We were both living out at UBC and felt pretty isolated. We just kept saying, “But we should like it.”

And so we started the blog, but decided, “We can’t say we hate this place. It’s so negative.” So we decided to “un-hate” it. That was my goal. I’d lived in a lot of cities before and I’d always found a niche but for some reason it was harder in Vancouver.

From reading your Dear Johncouver post, there’s an image of the city as really attractive but sort of vapid. What were your expectations before you came here?

Well, my spouse got a job here when were living in New Haven and neither one of us had been here before. My friend said, “You’re moving to Vancouver? You’re going to love it!” This was coming from someone who had been here on a trip once and whose favourite book was Stanley Park.

I think it’s definitely seen as being spectacularly beautiful, very international, and culturally diverse.

What are things that come up most often in your blog about Vancouver’s heartbreaking qualities?

It seems to be that sense of isolation, the aloneness. Sometimes commenters on the blog insist that people here are mean but I don’t know if that’s exactly true. For example, it was my second year here, and I would talk to other people who had been here longer than I had, and they would say, “Oh yeah, I didn’t like it when I first got here either. Don’t worry about it.” But then they wouldn’t invite me places. I’d say, “I feel really alone.” And they’d be like, “Oh yeah, I felt that way too.” And then, “Okay bye! Good luck!”

How exactly did you start un-hating Vancouver?

I think finding an intellectual community was definitely part of it. I took a writing class with Lee Henderson at UBC last spring and we became friends. And then one of my stories was published in an online literary journal and I became friends with the editor there, who started introducing Holly and me to people. I call him “Mr. Vancouver.” 

I love the writers I’ve since met and how they all support each other in a way that I haven’t seen another group of artists do. They’re all very proud to be here and really identify as “Vancouver writers.”

Through your blog it seems like you’re building a community of “jilted lovers.” Has it been cathartic?

That’s a great analogy. It’s like a group of people who have been dumped by the same bachelor. You ask yourself, “Why didn’t this work?” And when you meet other people who’ve had the same experience, you can say, “It’s not me! He’s just a jerk.”

If you looked in the search results for our blog, you’d find “I hate Vancouver + want to die.” Now, at what point does a person sit down at their computer and want to Google that? What exactly are you looking for? Holly and I gain some satisfaction in knowing we might have made a difference for some of these people, that they don’t feel so alone.

For now, it seems like at least one Holly has gotten to first base with Vancouver. Some of us, of course, are still just waiting for the city to send us another cryptic text. Stay tuned for the second installment of “Heartbreak City.”

Anna Wilkinson is a museologist and oral historian living in East Vancouver. Her Chestbursters blog is a collection of endearingly awkward, cringe-inducing, and heartbreaking crush stories.

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.

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