Monday, December 26, 2011

Khusrow Mahvan, 54, sits in his rent-subsidized apartment in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2011. - Khusrow Mahvan, 54, sits in his rent-subsidized apartment in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2011. | Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Pilot Project That Tackles Homelessness is Saving Money, Too - The Globe and Mail

Toronto— The Canadian Press
 The federal government’s response to the Attawapiskat housing crisis may well have underscored Stephen Harper’s reputation for his hard line rather than his heart, with his focus on the aboriginal reserve’s financial problems, not its social ones.

Friday, December 23, 2011

From The Melbourne Urbanist
Do Great Buildings Make Great Cities?

New York has some great buildings because the city is great. Athens has the Parthenon because it was a great city, not the other way around. Bilbao doubtless has many virtues, but I haven’t heard it described too often as one of the world’s great cities just because its got a Guggenheim.

Monday, December 19, 2011

From Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood Network: Vancouver Historic Quartiers blog

Gassy's Town
Prior to the coming of the railway, Gastown was as a one-street commercial district serving the Hastings Mill population, and all who came either along the bridge built over False Creek from New Westminster, or by boat to any of its rickety floats. With the location of the first railway station immediately to the west, and the extant condition of the surrounding land as a timbered wilderness, Gastown became the first beneficiary of the energy and development forces unleashed by the new enterprise.

From Gordon Price's Price Tags blog —
Rybczynski in Surrey

Ivy-covered walls and green lawns have traditionally been the hallmarks of campus life, so the juxtaposition of study halls and stores comes, at first, as a shock. While universities often talk about coming down from their Ivory Towers, there is usually an arm’s-length relationship between the academy and the world of commerce—even college bookstores are generally relegated to the campus fringe. But why should students be isolated from everyday life? Or vice versa? The longer I walked around Surrey Central City the more convinced I became of the profound correctness of this innovative solution.

Rybczynski in Surrey: “Profound correctness” « Price Tags

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The 2600, in the north of Antwerp, is one of the most often cited trouble neighbourhoods: A Moroccan-Turkish-African cluster that saw riots between Moroccan shopkeepers and drug dealers in August. But a few days inside the neighbourhood raises a set of questions: Are these just plain old immigrant neighbourhoods, like we know in North America? Or are they "parallel societies," with no interest in integration, as Germans and Belgians increasingly believe? - The 2600, in the north of Antwerp, is one of the most often cited trouble neighbourhoods: A Moroccan-Turkish-African cluster that saw riots between Moroccan shopkeepers and drug dealers in August. But a few days inside the neighbourhood raises a set of questions: Are these just plain old immigrant neighbourhoods, like we know in North America? Or are they "parallel societies," with no interest in integration, as Germans and Belgians increasingly believe? | JERRY LAMPEN for The Globe and Mail
Why Did Antwerp’s Immigrant Ghetto Get So Bad? - The Globe and Mail

Antwerp, Belgium— 
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 8:00AM EST

It is an early Saturday evening on Handelstraat, a busy and somewhat dishevelled boulevard in the north of this historic Belgian port city, its sidewalks lined with outdoor cafés and tea shops, fish restaurants, butchers and bakeries, all of them buzzing with customers. It's a typical European street scene, except that most of the people have olive-coloured skin, many women sport head scarves and the throaty sounds of Arabic and Turkish mix with brusque Flemish.

Lisa Rochon in The Globe and Mail

 Gi-Da-Gi-Binez Youth Centre


The Cornerstones of a Better Attawapiskat

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Friday, December 16, 2011

From The Pop-Up City blog—
IKEA Off-the-Shelf Urbanism

Will the new era of architecture be the era of IKEA urbanism? IKEA has proposed to build a complete neighborhood in East London. The Swedish furniture giant tries to implement its ideas and concepts in new fields of knowledge and urbanism. After its injection of each single family’s interior with cheap design furniture and the introduction of the IKEA standard house by daughter company BoKlok, it seems to be time for a complete IKEA neighborhood, reports the Huffington Post, LandProp — also part of the IKEA group — is planning to build a neighborhood of 1,200 houses, shops, cafés and a 350-room hotel.

Read more: IKEA Urbanism: A New Era In Urban Design? — The Pop-Up City

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From Changing City Updates blog

The system, which has been trialed in the UK, is claimed to produce 20 times the yield of field crops, using a fraction of the space and 92 percent less water. 
This isn’t our usual development proposal update – 635 Richards is a parkade, owned by the City of Vancouver. Vehicles seldom bother to drive all the way to the top – but by the middle of 2012, when they do, it will be to collect a crop of lettuces. VertiCrop™ a Vancouver based company whose invention was one of Time Magazine’s top 50 best inventions in 2009 plan to build a legal grow-op on the roof. The system, which has been trialed in the UK, is claimed to produce 20 times the yield of field crops, using a fraction of the space and 92 percent less water.
The company claim the vertical growing system will produce 95 tonnes of fresh vegetables a year, equivalent to a growing area of 16 acres. Assuming the project proceeds, the 6,000 sq ft facility will be covered in a fluoropolymer greenhouse.

Vancouver, A Walking Passion Story —
The Little Metropolitan Area that Could

Gordon Price, Director, The City Program, Simon Fraser University addressing the 12th annual Walk 21 Conference in Vancouver in October.

Accompanying slides here: 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From Michael Geller's Blog:
Priority Number One: Housing Affordability

On Monday, the new Vancouver City Council was sworn in, and in his inaugural address, the Mayor focussed on his goal to create affordable housing for all. He proposed a 'blue ribbon Task Force" to examine various solutions, including 'leveraging' city owned lands....

Michael Geller on housing affordability with links to stories in the Sun and Strait and Frances Bula's blog.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Charlie Rose —
A Conversation with Architect Moshe Safdie

Aug 23, 2011 Moshe Safdie and Charlie Rose discuss the challenges facing contemporary architecture, as well as individual projects and the thinking behind them.

Safdie Architects 
Charlie Rose interview

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Lincoln Centre Myth

From Roberta Brandes Gratz  The Battle for Gotham — New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs

Credentialed experts often attribute urban regeneration of any kind to the official plans and developments of the day. Most planners and government officials and observers don’t give credence to the gradual block-by-block and business-by-business improvements that mark organic incrementalism. They can’t recognize it until it is full-blown. They insist that ad hoc change is insignificant. They are wrong on all counts. One needs to recognize the often small precursors of positive change to understand its emerging appearance. The precursors were in abundance on the West Side, as all the gradual changes already mentioned indicate.


Visitors, whether from other neighborhoods or out of town, are never enough to spark rebirth.

Local residents and businesses do the spade work, re-energize a place or district, give a place character, and make visitors comfortable.

Visitors follow locals in the process; they are never catalysts for the rebirth process.

Years later, after [New York's] Upper West Side had turned dramatically upscale, many of those visitors came there to live, too.

... a key Jacobs principle:

Cultivate your constituency rather than trying to persuade your opponents.

"You could spend all that energy on trying to bring reason to Robert Moses, or people like him, showing him how he was harming the city, And you would waste it all because his idea of improving the city is really to wipe it out and start over with big projects." (Jane Jacobs)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Vancouver Means to Josh

What Vancouver Means to Me from Lewis Bennett on Vimeo.
Thanks to Gordon Price's blog Price Tags

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TAVERNA from Hein Lagerweij on Vimeo.

...for everyone who wants to know what a good public space intervention is.
In April 12-17 2011, FOUNDation projects was part of the Public Design Festival in Milan. Esterni invited us to come back with a new project that built on the previous Foundation projects. 
We built an open air bar, from found waste material. During the festival we served fresh soup, bread and drinks in order to create a meeting place that gives a colourful glimpse into the neighborhood and its people. The project is called Taverna.

Monday, December 5, 2011

From The Tyee
A Bohemian Vancouver, Lost and Found

Café Men. Photo taken in Vancouver in 1972 by Curt Lang.

More than a biography, At the World's Edge is a detective story in which [author Claudia] Cornwall investigates a man, and a kind of life, she deems elemental. The author knew Lang in his later years and, she being a gifted reporter, decided to go back and gather his story in order to retrieve glimpses of a Vancouver that now is all but polished from view.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jane Jacobs Medal: 
The Rockefeller Foundation:

Jane Jacobs changed the way we think about cities and urban planning. Learn more about Jacobs, her principles, the Jane Jacobs Medal and its recipients...


'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Curbside Haikus:
Poetry to the Streets Via Traffic Signs

Oncoming cars rush
Each a 3-ton bullet.
And you, flesh and bone.

Janette Sadik-Kahn and the New York Department of Transporation succeed yet again in putting the fun in transportation. Bike lanes! Beach chairs in Times Square! Reduced vehicular traffic! Now they've launched Curbside Haiku [PDF], a project that takes poetry to the streets via traffic safety signs throughout New York City.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Garden in the Sky in the Heart of Vancouver
KERRY GOLD Special to Globe and Mail Update
Published Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 4:43PM EST

Until now, downtown Vancouver was known for branch offices, not company headquarters – but that might be about to change for good.

The Telus Garden building, set for completion by 2014, should act as a catalyst to attract more head offices away from the suburbs and industrial parks and towards the downtown core.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Squaring Public Space
With Human Needs
LISA ROCHON | Columnist profile
Paris— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 25, 2011 3:30PM EST

Place des Vosges always draws me to its magnificent truths whenever I visit Paris. But, last weekend under a cloudless autumn sky, the 17th-century square seemed especially ageless – and, for the makers of public space back home in Canada, freshly instructive.

The prototypical European square was packed with children in classic blue cardigans playing make-believe in the sandboxes and with teenaged boys playing raucous games of soccer on the fine gravel. Along the edges of the square – past the geometric lawns of grass – friends, lovers and families were folded into conversations at tiny restaurant tables under the sheltering, arched arcade. Girlfriends peered into the artisan shops and haute-couture boutiques. Tired-looking fathers cradling babies, and elderly couples in stiff woollen coats gathered on the wooden benches near the rows of clipped, leafless linden trees, bathed in the warm rays of sun.

Friday, November 25, 2011

From the NFB — Highrise: The Towers in the World, The World in the Towers

Explore more, including an interactive version at:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Richard Rogers Architects —
Las Arenas, Barcelona

Richard Rogers Architects 
Las Arenas Completed

From —
Las Arenas formally re-opened to the public on 25 March 2011 as a major new mixed-use leisure, entertainment and office complex.

The historic bullring, built at the end of the 19th century, fell largely into disuse during the 1970s due to the declining popularity of bull fighting in Catalonia. However, the strong civic and cultural role which the building played in the life of Barcelona over nearly a century led to a decision by the city council that the façade should not be demolished. The design has created an open and accessible entrance to the new building at street level. In addition, a separate building – the 'Eforum' – in Carrer Llança, adjacent to the bullring, will provide retail and restaurants at ground and first-floor levels, with four levels of offices above.

Monday, November 21, 2011

City of Vancouver Design Competition: Viaducts & Eastern Core

Vancouver Viaducts & Eastern Core

re:CONNECT invites the citizens of Vancouver, to join with local and international designers to ignite discussion and dream new possibilities for the future of the Viaducts and the City's broader Eastern Core. Design ideas have been received and you can now vote and comment on your favourite ideas for this area of the City.

Are Complete Streets Incomplete?

This illustration from Indianapolis's "Multimodal Corridor and Public Space Design Guidelines" reflects how the new wave of street policies specifies Placemaking guidance as well as how to accommodate all modes.

Are Complete Streets Incomplete? « Project for Public Spaces - Placemaking for Communities

The “complete streets” movement has taken the United States by storm, and has even taken root in countries such as Canada and Australia. Few movements have done so much to influence needed policy change in the transportation world. As of today, almost 300 jurisdictions around the U.S. have adopted complete streets policies or have committed to do so. This is an amazing accomplishment that sets the stage for communities to reframe their future around people instead of cars. Read more at Project for Public Places

Michael Geller:
Affordable Housing a Difficult Goal

Michael Geller, writing in the Sun, answers a reporter's question: "Can municipal politicians really do much about affordability or is [Mayoral candidate Suzanne] Anton just blowing smoke?"
"...I will be voting for politicians who have a realistic understanding of the issues and the appropriate role of a municipal government. I will also support those candidates who will spend money wisely. Otherwise, an increasing number of people may be sleeping in tents three years from now." Emphasis mine...
I am also wondering how and why important public health care and social policy (addressing homelessness and its attendant complexities) ended up being developed by municipal politicians and earnest, well-intentioned volunteers. 
Vancouver Sun, Nov 18, 2011 Affordable housing a difficult goal

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Charlie Rose - A Conversation about the
New York City High Line

A Conversation about the NYC High Line with Amanda Burden, director of the New York City Department of City Planning, Diane von Furstenberg, Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line and Joshua David,Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Parking lots are...the best possible way of destroying a city’s soul."

Parking lots are — with only a handful of exceptions — the best possible way of destroying a city’s soul. They’re gruesome, lifeless places, and I’m constantly astonished by the way in which governments and developers are convinced that they’re a great idea. Instead, local government should act as a brake on private developers’ desires to build out new parking: while that might (or might not) be good for an individual commercial operation, it can at the same time be bad for the city as a whole.

More here (Reuters): Parking datapoints of the day | Felix Salmon

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jane Jacobs and the
Power of Women Planners

Fifty years ago this month, Jane Jacobs published Death and Life of Great American Cities and changed the way the world understands cities. Yet even when she's acknowledged as an important urban thinker, the 'housewife' qualifier is invariably included. When we talk about strategies for city growth and economic development, women aren't often offered seats at the table. They hold jobs in the field but few posts as critics. Jane was the exception. But the rules didn’t change a great deal.

Read more
 Jane Jacobs and the Power of Women Planners - Arts & Lifestyle - The Atlantic Cities:

'via Blog this'

Creative Financing |

As they stroll along the grand boulevards of Paris, few visitors understand the creative financial mechanisms that underwrote the city's reconstruction in the 1850s. Between 1851 and 1869, the Prefect of the Seine, Baron Georges-Eugènes Haussmann, oversaw the expenditure of some 2.5 billion francs and took the view that "expenditures on public works were not expenditures at all but investments readily recoverable in rising tax revenues from the growing population and from increased property values that the expenditures themselves created," according to historian David H. Pinkney. In 1918, New York City adopted its own form of "creative financing" to preserve its landmark buildings, by allowing owners to transfer their rights to develop to other sites. Since then, Transferable Density Rights (TDRs) have preserved many historic buildings in New York, with over one hundred municipalities in the United States having adopted similar legislation. Such policy mechanisms are less common in Canada.

Read more: Creative Financing |

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vancouver Sun, Nov 14, 2011
Municipal spending grows four times faster than population

Operating spending by B.C. municipalities has nearly quadrupled in the past decade compared to the rate of population growth and inflation, says a new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Sun

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eastside Mural Projects

A quartet of four community-based murals sponsored by Britannia Community Services Society and coordinated by Richard Tetrault has been painted in East Vancouver this summer, marking Britannia High School’s Centennial and celebrating its place within the community. These public murals express some of the history, traditions and contemporary life in the surrounding neighbourhoods. Strathcona, Commercial Drive and Hastings/Sunrise are dynamic parts of Vancouver, and home to hundreds of artists, arts events and festivals. These include the annual Heart of the City Festival and Eastside Culture Crawl. This set of murals explore the rich qualities of this area, drawing from events, individuals and narratives found within this community. Eastside Mural Projects

For further information contact: Richard Tetrault

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Portland's Aerial Tram

Monday, October 31, 2011


Think inside the box...
Gallery Müvbox

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Comment, Nanaimo Bulletin

I’ve just finished Gabor Maté’s remarkable book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Close Encounters With Addiction and thought I’d share some thoughts in regard to the assisted housing initiatives the city and province are undertaking here in Nanaimo.

Our single-family residential neighbourhoods are part of what can be seen from this vantage point (some 50 or 60 years after their post-war beginnings) as an historic social experiment.

Demographics and economics were among the dynamic elements at work in their creation. Add the miracle of the internal combustion engine and it all seemed to spell salvation from the turmoil and smells and poverty of the inner city.

Nothing characterizes today’s suburban single-family neighbourhood more than its demographic uniformity. Which, in truth, was and is still at least part of its appeal.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Submission to Vision Nanaimo

Urban Planning -- and what has become referred to as New Urbanism -- offers a useful viewfinder to examine Nanaimo's challenges and opportunities. Mike Harcourt mentioned in his presentation Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida. There is a great deal of research being done which builds on Jane Jacobs' seminal work which began in the 1950s and 1960s.

As Canadian architect Ken Greenberg (a long time associate of Jacob's when both found themselves American ex-pats in Toronto) writes in his Walking Home -- The Life and Lessons of a City Builder, that the new urbanist imagining of the pedestrian friendly, safe, compact, diverse city is, in fact, exactly what future prosperity and sustainability look like for cities large and small.

It occurred to me later, after absorbing the insights of your 2 excellent presenters at the Vision Nanaimo Rally, the question I would ask both is, "Can the environmental sustainability goals you envision be achieved in a city with such low population densities?" Safe to say the answer would almost certainly be "it would be extremely difficult if not impossible".

City of Vancouver Archives —
W.J. Moore Panorama Photographs

Western Canada Shipyards, Vancouver, Apr 30 1918

From the City of Vancouver Archives blog Authenticity:
Very few Vancouver photographers had revolving panoramic cameras. Here’s a look at the career of the man who produced the panoramic photographs we’ve featured on flickr.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

8th International Public Markets Conference

Read more at Project for Public Places

Reply Received From
Social Planner John Horn

From: John Horn
Subject: RE: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
Date: 19 December, 2011 1:50:43 PM PST

Good morning Frank

I know you wrote this email to me a long time ago (60 days L) so please accept my apologies for the tardy reply. There is so much rich material in your email that a quick reply didn’t seem right, and I felt you deserved a comprehensive response but at that point I didn’t have the time available to do that. So thank you for your patience and I hope to do your questions justice.

I read “Hungry Ghosts”, and I have had the chance to meet Dr Mate several times (though mainly in the context of his work on ADHD ) His book and his person reveals a man with considerable insight and compassion.

But that’s my social planner hat, and I’ll take that off and put on my urban planners hat for a moment as you suggest. The historical rise of the suburban neighbourhood parallels my own growing up in Nanaimo; when I was a child Nanaimo essentially ended at Country Club and North Nanaimo was trees and cabins, similar to other parts of Nanaimo that have since beencolonized.

The people who moved into these ‘empty spaces’ were remarkably coherent in their outlook, they wanted space (interior mainly), they wanted the suburban life shown on television, they had the income to realise that idea and they assumed the underlying principles of the age of the auto; mobility anytime anywhere. In planning terms I think also one of the more implicit appeals was the idea that the only land use surrounding a residential property should be other residential uses, and in social planning terms home buyers expected that when they looked out the window they would see people who were essentially a reflection of themselves; their values, income, way of life. Most of the subdivisions built post 1960 in Nanaimo reflect these ideas; no corner stores, even at a time when those were still economically viable, surrounding commercial land use aimed at consumption instead of production, uniformity of product etc.

Our experience with the Wesley street housing, even though it is identical to the other projects, was that there was a relatively high degree of acceptance by the neighbourhood. That may be because city centre resident’s idea of neighbourhood includes a wide variety of income levels and occupations, or that the homeless aren’t an imaginary group but rather people who they see every day, or because they are more confident in the ability of governments/NGO’s to provide services to the poor without detracting from the quality of the neighbourhood experience.

By the way, I agree with your comments on the benefits to having a master plan for Quensnell Square, unfortunately the school board, for various reasons, wasn’t able to engage in such a planning exercise and ultimately we had to proceed without their input.

Should we retrofit diversity into homogenous neighbourhoods? I would take my answer from Merv Wilkinson (the forester) who told me and others “ a healthy forest is multi age, multi height, multi species”. Time has proven Merv absolutely correct (hello pine beetles!) and I believe this holds true for the cluster of humans that make up our city; we need multi age (intergenerational) multi species ( diversity of beliefs and values) and multi height (differing income levels) neighbourhoods to achieve a healthy and robust forest. Some of this will happen naturally and over time (in the last five years more recent immigrants have taken up residence in the north end that any other part of Nanaimo), but land economics is a powerfull barrier to economic diversity in an area like Dover Bay (average household income $78,000 pa). In terms of what detracts from a neighbourhood - In the context of the broader community history would suggest that what detracts from a liveable community is spatial segregation, i.e. neighbourhoods open only to a specific socio economic class whether that be rich or poor. Examples abound, from Rio de janero in Brazil, to Detroit or the Bantustans of South Africa to Beverly Hills, which has been called a ghetto for the rich. Geographic segregation inevitably and always leads to a diminishment of trust and a rise in conflict, which erodes the quality of life for every resident of a city.

What contributes to a neighbourhood is a function of built form – “car-oriented suburbs with traffic a blur, walking a hostile, dangerous activity and instead of stopping by the corner store for smokes and chips and getting to know the let's say Vietnamese shopkeeper by name, and he or she you by name, your only alternative is the glossy alienating artifice of the palace of consumerism that is the shopping mall.” And also a function of the social compact – do we honour equality of opportunity while allowing for the diversity of outcomes achieved by individual merit? Is there a place for those who make different lifestyle choices to live in the same part of town I do? What are the social norms in a neighbourhood and to what extent is deviation from those norms acceptable? A good example of this last is the fact that some subdivisions have a covenant barring commercial vehicles from parking in residential neighbourhoods – so if you’re a self employed plumber with a truck that has your name on the side you can’t park your vehicle in your driveway. The implicit social norm is; “white collar people live here, blue collar entrepreneurs need not apply”. In my mind deviation from this norm is not only appropriate but a matter of principle; lawyers shouldn’t be privileged over plumbers, nor plumbers over lawyers. Imagine a neighbourhood where late model luxury SUV’s were not allowed! A neighbourhood can only prosper in the context of a robust and fair social compact, anything else is illusory, short term and subject to cataclysmic failure (did I mention the pine beetle?)

You’re largely correct in your assessment of the medical nature of the issues being addressed by the social housing projects, housing essentially opens the door to health, lack of housing effectively closes it. But while the goal of this initiative is to improve the health and functionality of individuals the general public reaction (outside of social workers, government & non profits) focused on broader societal issues; particularly addictions. While being addicted is a medical issue, becoming addicted is a societal one. We have created a culture where use of substances is normalised, encouraged, supported at many levels. So the folks under consideration for these housing projects aren’t outliers, they are in fact the logical extension and outcome of our culture.

So perhaps incremental progress looks like embracing the downside of our culture, or at least its victims, as well as celebrating the upsides.

I believe that by the time these buildings are up and running the present animosity will have dissipated, and that the residents will find themselves in a welcoming and supportive neighbourhood. I base this belief on experience with other housing and social services in our city, and also because most Nanaimoites are decent folks with compassion. These ‘true colours” will always show through at the end of the day.

Thanks for your email, if you have more thoughts throw them out and I’ll be happy to dialogue

John Horn
Social Planner
Community Planning Section
City of Nanaimo

Monday, October 17, 2011

Email to Nanaimo Social Planner John Horn

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 15:23:46 -0700
From: Frank Murphy <>

John: I've been thinking. I'm the first to admit that good does not always follow that but anyway... I've just finished Gabor Maté's remarkable In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and thought I'd share some thoughts.

Before I talk about that though, indulge me for a minute: more with your Urban Planner's hat on than your Social Planner's. I want to offer a perspective that will certainly not be news to you and also will unfortunately offer very little help in the daunting immediate problems you face particularly with the assisted housing initiatives the City and Province are currently undertaking here in Nanaimo. At the same time though I'm sure you'll agree that this perspective has a legitimate place in the discourse. And it's basically this: our single family residential neighbourhoods are part of what can be seen from this vantage point (some 50 or 60 years after their post war beginnings) as an historic social experiment. Demographics and economics were among the dynamic elements at work in their creation. Add the miracle of the internal combustion engine and they seemed to spell salvation from the turmoil and smells and poverty of the inner city. It's probably more than anything the eternal law of unintended  consequences that explains the state of the social experiment in the first decades of the 21st century. Nothing characterizes the suburban single family neighbourhood more than its demographic uniformity. Which was in truth at least part of its appeal, wasn't it. I was an exile from North Vancouver almost 20 years ago. We raised our daughter in the wonderful air and civility of North Nanaimo. Though now that she's grown up and moved to Victoria with a VIU BA and BEd tucked under her arm, we've moved downtown to the more dense and diverse Old City...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

3 Keys To Creating Great "Good Places"

The liveliest public spaces share a few core ingredients.

In his book, The Great Good Place, the urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg wrote about the importance of third places--the informal “public places on neutral ground where people can gather and interact.” Unlike home (the “first” place) and work (the “second”), third places allow people to put aside their concerns and simply enjoy the company and conversation around them. These are the places of “regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.”

Read more at Fast Company's Co.Design

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Perfect Day for a Piano in Washington Square Park

Photo: Sarah Goodyear
His name is Colin Huggins, a.k.a. the Crazy Piano Guy. He’s not crazy, unless you think playing a piano in a New York park is crazy, which it isn’t. He’s a classically trained pianist who hauls his baby grand around the city “making people obnoxiously happy,” according to his Kickstarter page, where earlier this year he successfully raised the cash to buy a new set of keys. And one of his regular venues is Washington Square.

More at Project for Public Places