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MOVments: Local Problems, Local Solutions

What do crowdfunded indie films, plastic-eating bacteria, and an anti-bullying libretto have in common? They all happen to be inventive responses to very specific issues being faced by Vancouverites. This week we take a look at the local makers, inventors, and designers who are tackling the city's economic, environmental, and cultural challenges.
 
Rising from the Ashes. Roberta McDonald provides an insider perspective on the struggling film industry in Vancouver and BC for The Tyee. Since recent cutbacks, it's been hard to ignore the unemployment and financial heartbreak surrounding the industry, but as she argues, there's also a "growing tribe of film veterans banding together, leaning into their passions and reviving the struggling industry." How are they doing it? In part, through increasingly popular crowdfunding campaigns
 
Eating Garbage. After visiting the Vancouver Waste Transfer Station during a class trip, scientists Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao started investigating the relationship between a pollutant in plastic waste and the local bacteria strains that seemed to be feeding on it. What they found were microorganisms that convert harmful phthalates into carbon dioxide, water, and alcohol. Their research was recognized as having the greatest commercial potential at the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge. And in other good environmental news: the tallest sustainable office building is set to be built in Vancouver.
 
Giving Voice to the Bullied. And lastly, in response to a heartbreaking social issue, the Vancouver Opera has commissioned an unexpected musical production. Slam poet Shane Koyczan will be writing a libretto dealing with issues of bullying for the VO. As Koyczan told the Vancouver Sun, "I think it’s going to be a beautiful fit. Opera is the original marriage of words and music, and there’s a theatre element, a dramatic element. It’s right up my alley.
 
At the MOVeum:

October 2 - Legacy Dinner
November 8 - Interesting Vancouver 2013
 
[Image: Trash on the ground, 1970s. Courtesy of the Museum of Vancouver collections, H2004.54.12.01]

MOVments: Forgotten Riots, Heated Debates, and Hot Air

We here at the museum have been enjoying the sunshine and warm breeze that have been rolling in the last couple of days. Spring is in the air (probably, almost?) and with the slight rise in temperature, we've noticed other warm currents flowing through Vancouver. There's some literal hot air like the kind that will be used to heat the new Telus development downtown or like the exhaust from cars that will be driving over a new downtown overpass. Then there's the heated conversation surrounding the possibility of a new, expanded VAG building. And finally, there's a look back at some figurative steam, a boiling point in Vancouver's history: the 1887 Race Riot. 
 
Hot Ideas Downtown. Telus' downtown data centre produces a lot of hot air. Luckily, this will soon be harnessed and used in the company's new Telus Garden development. According to Andrea Goertz, Telus’s senior vice-president for strategic initiatives, “Currently … the heat from that data centre is being exhausted. So rather than have that heat exhausted, we recapture it so that it really can become part of the ecosystem of the entirety of that block development.” Not a bad idea. And in news that will surely excite downtown drivers, construction will start next month on an overpass that will take Powell Street over the railway line in East Vancouver
 

Art Speak. Vancouver artists like Roy Arden and Ken Lum are voicing their support for the movement of the Vancouver Art Gallery to a new location near the current Queen Elizabeth Theatre. As this Georgia Straight piece explains, "In early March, Vancouver city council will consider something different: whether to allow the Vancouver Art Gallery to develop a new $300-million gallery on the old bus-depot site, a city-owned parking lot known as Larwill Park, just east of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre complex. It would replace cramped, inappropriate exhibition spaces in an adapted courthouse." Artist support for the move comes amidst opposition from the likes of Bob Rennie (who would like to see VAG's collection split between multiple new locations) and those dubious of the VAG's ability to fundraise the $300 million required to build the new gallery. 

Race Riot. As The Tyee points out, last week marked the 126th anniversary of Vancouver's very first race riot. Tracing the beginnings of an incident that saw white males run Chinese labourers out of the city, the article also delves into the long-term implications of the riot. As interviewee David H.T. Wong explains, although the extreme xenophobia of Vancouver's early years has dissipated, there is still conspicuously little Asian representation at events like the commemoration of the CPR's Last Spike. 

Hot Air Hipsterism. And finally, it turns out that contrary to popular belief, being a hipster might be a "real job" after all (if you consider acting on a reality TV show a real job, that is). 
 
At the MOVEUM:

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

[Image: Unidentified Chinese family in Western style dress, c. 1914. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 287-17]

Building blocks and hallucinations

[What is Upcycled Urbanism? Learn more here.]

Upcycled Urbanism is off to a roaring start on our journey to design and build new public space interventions, together!

Your block, my block

On March 3 we unveiled prototypes for the building blocks we’ll be using to create our designs. These unique prototypes were designed by Minnie Chan and Jessika Kliewer, students of UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Congratulations, Minnie and Jessika! Your work will be transformed into hundreds of big blocks of expanded polystyrene by our friends at Mansonville Plastics.

SALA students Minnie Chan (left) and Jessika Kliewer (right) introduce their building block prototypes. Image on right: Kellan Higgins.

Designing together

Last week’s workshop was a blast. After a primer on participatory design by Vancouver Design Nerds Marten Sims and Kim Cooper, participants came up with some wild and wonderful ideas for animating moribund spaces in our city. A giant slide. A waterfall from the Burrard Bridge. A giant Pac-Man board on Granville Street. Check out their ideas here

Participants at March 3 workshop present their ideas, including...Human Plinko! (Kellan Higgins image.)

Hallucinating in public

Now it’s time to figure out just how we’ll use these blocks to transform public spaces in Vancouver. This Sunday, March 10, join SALA and Spacing Magazine for the first of three workshops. Workshop leaders promise to lead participants into what they call the hallucinatory state needed to imagine new designs. The mind reels. Join us!

RSVP: http://march10upcycledurbanism.eventbrite.com/

Upcycled Urbanism is a participatory project that invites students, artists, designers, makers, and anyone with a even a smidgen of creativity to reimagine and rebuild parts of Vancouver’s public realm. Working together, teams of participants will design and build prototypes using modular blocks of expanded polystyrene containing material salvaged from the construction of the Port Mann Bridge. 

Upcycled Urbanism is a partnership between Museum of Vancouver (MOV), UBC's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA), Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN), Maker Faire Vancouver, and Spacing Magazine, with generous additional support from SALA, the Vancouver Foundation and Mansonville Plastics.

Twitter: #upcycledurbanism

[What is Upcycled Urbanism? Learn more here.]

MOVments: Talk of the Town

Innovators, thinkers, and trailblazers across the city are rejoicing at the news that the ever-popular speaker series, TED, is moving its headquarters to Vancouver in 2014. But that's not the only kind of talk happening around town this week: the city held open houses last week surrounding new proposed bike lanes that may make access to the MOV and Point Grey much safer, complaints are flying around a failed energy-efficiency program, and after much discussion, the city will be responding to a recommendation made by the B.C.’s missing women inquiry. Of course, after all of the talk is done, we're hoping to see some very real results, practical solutions, and measurable progress.

Bike Lane Buzz. Chances are if you've ever ridden a bike or walked the streets near the MOV you've encountered high traffic volumes and at least a couple inconvenient crosswalks. A city proposal shopped around at three open houses last week aims to change this. As the city website states, "The Point Grey Road - Cornwall Avenue Corridor Active Transportation Project proposes creating a safe, convenient and comfortable connection for pedestrians and cyclists between Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach." You can find the all the proposed solutions here and can join the conversation by taking a survey here.
 
Home Energy Loan Fail. A loan program for homeowners looking to reduce their house's carbon footprint looks as though it will no longer be offered by the city. As The Vancouver Sun reports, "Had the program worked as well as city officials and politicians hoped it could, it would have led to as many as 3,000 homes a year being retrofitted with high-efficiency furnaces, hot water heaters, windows and insulation." But complaints surrounding the loan ranged from interest rates being too high to feeling that it wasn't worth it to extend the maximum amount, $10,000, over a 10-year period. As it stands, it's unclear if the city will continue to be involved in the program. 
 
Sex Trade Liaisons. Meanwhile, the city will be hiring two liaisons to work with the sex trade community following commissioner Wally Oppal's recommendation. As the Georgia Straight explains, the new employees will liaise with the city, community groups, police, and those involved in survival sex trade to prevent and reduce violence. However, another of Oppal's five recommendations is currently being neglected: the WISH Drop-In Centre which provides 24-hour emergency services to women is suffering a lack of funding which Mayor Robertson finds concerning. Task force members and city staff will meet again in June to discuss solutions and their progress. 

 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Burrard Bridge bike lane, 2008. Photo by Ariane Colenbrander]

 

MOVments: Vancouver, All Shook Up

Ever since the ground literally moved under our feet this weekend, we, like the rest of the province, have been thinking about how we can prepare for potentially earth-shattering changes in the future. The earthquake off the coast of Haida Gwaii has had Vancouverites rushing out to get trained in emergency preparedness procedures but other potentially seismic changes also have city-dwellers stirred up. Read on for some examples of how we're gearing up for changes to our community gardens, the density of our neighbourhoods, and the availability of sustainable lumber products.
 
Community Gardens Threatened. The possible demolition of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts may mean that Cottonwood and Strathcona community gardens could be displaced. This fascinating piece from The Mainlander looks at the history and social significance of the community gardens in the area and raises the issue of "eco-gentrification." As the article points out, condominiums co-opting the "language of sustainability" have begun creating their own community gardens. However, they often do so without offering the same socio-economic benefits that come from more democratic, grass-root projects.
 
Dense Districts. Two areas in the city are looking at major changes in the near future: Little Mountain and Grandview-Boundary. While highrises are being proposed for one section of the soon to be redeveloped Little Mountain area, residents in the area adjacent to the site are consulting about what new "ground-level townhomes and multi-family units" will look like in their neighbourhood. Meanwhile, city officials are looking for ways to fund infrastructure for a new high-density commercial zone at Grandview-Boundary. The former industrial area is in need of improved sewer systems, sidewalks, and bike lanes to serve residents living and working in an area that has attracted big businesses such as Bell and HSBC.
 
UBC Prof Makes Good (Wood). Like most of you, we here at MOVments had no idea what Lauan was (or why it's so bad) before reading this recent Globe and Mail article. It turns out that the wood used to make the majority of movie sets in North America does huge environmental damage in places like Southeast Asia. But UBC professor Garvin Eddy is helping to change that. He has had a hand in developing Oregan-produced ScenicPly which is sourced from sustainable forestry projects. Although it costs more, Eddy is confident that it will provide a viable and environmentally-responsible alternative: "It’s never going to be as cheap as Lauan. [But] if you’re going to use Lauan, why don’t you just go and hire a bunch of 10-year-old kids to work in the studios? Because it’s the same thing."
 
First World Car Problems. Oh, and this happened in Richmond recently. Sigh.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
[Image: Old Georgia Street viaduct, 1939. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 371-2242]

MOVments: Ruffled Civic Feathers

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

We’ve been noticing an insurgence in activism across the city recently. Between resistance to the Endbridge pipeline, opposition to bill C-30, we’re wondering if Vancouverites are getting a little more riled up than usual? If so, we think it’s a riveting quality. This week’s MOVments reflect your inner-activist’s voice, and some neat public art!

Hand Vote from Vancouver Art GalleryAccording to Ontario, a three-bedroom house in Vancouver can be rented for a mere $621/month! Thankfully Vancouver’s Seth Klein and the CCPA are around to give Canadians the real facts on poverty and livability in the city. Interestingly, Metro Vancouver is hosting a “Sustainability Community Breakfast” on affordable housing next week as part of their series. Soon, you may actually need these “food for thought” breakfasts, considering the outlook of the recently released provincial budget.

If you’re a tweeter, you’ve probably been following the hashtag #TellVicEverything with much laughter over the last week. Smiles aside, Bill C-30 is a serious issue that has a lot of Canadians up in arms.

A new art installation on the theme of democracy is now set up outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s called Hand Vote, and it gets our vote.

Equally outspoken is this temporary urban garden from Spain. The posting is a few months old, but quite beautiful and reminds us that tonight, the Re:Generation public dialogue continues on the theme of sustainability and Zero Waste. January’s talk on transit was really engaging and Wednesday’s talk is likely to impress!

A new radio show titled The City is now airing on UBC’s community radio station, CiTR. The City will look at urban issues ranging from housing policy to food security.

Lastly, our favourite cycling magazine, Momentum, is hiring an online editor!

At the MOVeum: Food, Energy, and Community Resiliency talk February 28th

[Photo Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery] ]]]]

MOVments

 

 

Happy New Year! Wishing you lots of health and happiness in your year of the rabbit.

Favourite places. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation wants to know which places in the city are most important to you. They intend to place 125 plaques around the city to recognize important and previously unrecognized places.

Homelessness. The City has made great strides in providing new housing for the homeless but is projected to fall short of it’s goal of eliminating homelessness by 2015 unless more funding can be produced.

Cultural space. The City has set aside space at 688 Cambie for cultural use but the Vancouver Art Gallery must still demonstrate that it is able to raise the necessary funds to build a new building and operate and there are concerns that the City is trying to fit too many things into the same site.

Internet metering. Vancouverites are taking on the CRTC over the issue of usage based billing, plans by internet service providers to limit downloads and charge people for extra use. To date more than 400,000 people have signed the petition created by Vancouver-based OpenMedia. Another Vancouverite, David Beers, debates the issue in the Globe and Mail here.

Green design. re:place Magazine looks at Canada’s first Passivhaus in Whistler. Formerly Austria House during the Olympics, the building uses 10% of the energy a normal building would and shows the possibilities for sustainable design with wood.

Image: Carol Browne, via flickr

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