Programs

UBC

Upcycled Urbanism: UBC SALA Material Culture Studio Visit

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

We popped in to help crit the very inventive modular unit designs the students in Bill Pechet's Studio have been creating for Upcycled Urbanism. We were really inspired by all the fabulous designs the students created and very excited to sit on a panel with Marlon Blackwell!

Work by UBC School of Landscape Architecture and Architecture Material Cultures Studio Students - Mahmoud Bakayoko, Minnie Chan, Lindsay Duthie, Jessika Kliewer, Margarita Krivolutskaya, Eric Lajoie, Mallory Stuckel, Shiloh Sukkau, Avery Titchkosky, Lorinc Vass

Photo Credit: Shiloh Sukkau, UBC SALA Student

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

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]

Painful Crushes Vancouver: Heartbreak City

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.

MOVments

Public demonstrations. A proposed bylaw to limit Falun Gong demonstrations in front of the Chinese consulate and place restrictions on structures used in public demonstrations has sparked considerable debate and has some concerned about democratic rights and freedom of speech.Pivot Legal Society has expressed concern that this bylaw may also make temporary structures used by the homeless illegal.

And speaking of free speech, the BC Civil Liberties Association has taken the case of the woman ejected from a Skytrain by police for refusing to remove a button with the F word on it.

First Nations in public art. The electronic billboard beside the Burrard Street Bridge now features selected messages as part of the Digital Natives project. Read about the project here.

Viaducts. This week SFU hosted a forum on the future of the viaducts in Vancouver. Gordon Price provides a round-up of bloggers’ responses to the event.

Casino. The casino hearings continue. PavCo and Paragon Gaming have proposed reducing the number of slot machines planned for the development.

Save-on-Meats. The iconic Downtown East Side building will be renovated and include a new butcher shop and restaurant, rooftop garden, office space and incubator kitchen for new start-up businesses.

Garbage. What should we do with Vancouver’s garbage? There are two options on the table.

Eagle cams. It’s nesting season again and the Hancock Wildlife Foundation has set up a live stream of the nest at the Lafarge concrete plant. The eggs are expected to hatch around April 20.

Image: .mused, 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.

What are Vancouver’s museums collecting now? Two more perspectives from the ‘other side’

 

Here’s that post I’ve been promising—long overdue! Consider this the last entry on the collecting-practices talk we hosted a couple weeks back, where we invited museum directors from the city’s west side—what Dr. Anthony Shelton of the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) refers to as the “other side”—to discuss their most recent acquisitions.

First, there was MOV’s Nancy Noble discussing the myriad changes we’ve made in recent months (a Q&A based on her presentation is found here). She also discussed the challenges of managing a collection that often reflects the “colonial wanderings” of Vancouver residents, rather than our new direction as a museum of Vancouver. Our name change wasn’t mere wordplay.

Then there was Dr. Shelton, who sees MOA returning to its “original principles” after wanderings of a different sort. When MOA was founded in 1949, the idea was to create a museum of world arts and culture. That’s the objective now, too. When MOA unveils its major renovation in January 2010, expect to see objects and ideas organized broadly by oceans, not continents, to underscore the fluidity of culture, spirituality, and philosophy.

Stories exploring the relationship between the world and Vancouver will be another area of emphasis. In collecting terms, this means a focus on acquiring or commissioning contemporary pieces, and efforts to grow the collections of regions currently under-represented, particularly Latin America, Europe, and parts of Africa. An exhibit planned for 2011 will look at beliefs between places and feature the work of 15 master-folk artists. Working title: Heaven, Hell and Somewhere in Between.

Dr. Wayne Maddison of the forthcoming Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC isn’t reshaping a history museum nor returning to a past vision, but rather, attempting to create a new institution from a collection of specimens amassed by university researchers over the years. MOV’s collection represents colonial wanderings; Maddison calls the Beaty’s an “accidental accumulation.” For him, the challenge is transitioning from neglected and varied collections to a consolidated public museum. Moving forward, they’ll be seeking items suited for display—specimens like the stunning blue-whale skeleton that will hang in their atrium, and, no doubt, be a major draw when the museum opens in 2010. We can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

Subscribe to UBC