Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Global Civic Policy Society ―
Vancouver Urban Forum, June 6

Former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan's think-tank Global Civic Policy Society is presenting the upcoming Vancouver Urban Forum. Participants include Harvard Economics' Edward Glaeser author of The Triumph of the City and the Maytree Foundation's Alan Broadbent author of Urban Nation. Global Civic offered 30 seats sponsored by The Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia. I applied for one and was accepted. The two speakers mentioned above are of particular interest and there will be much else to discover and explore I'm sure. I have just received the full itinerary and will post detail as the date of the forum approaches.

Global Civic Policy Society | Vancouver Urban Forum

From The Globe and Mail — Crossed Signals


Crossed signals: Reducing the risk of pedestrian death in Vancouver

VANCOUVER— Saturday's Globe and Mail
“We have been designing roads that are killing about 1.3 million people a year. And we’re getting away with it by blaming the road user,”

A 74-year-old woman was hit at Robson and Howe downtown in broad daylight by an SUV on March 6 and died later that afternoon.

A 75-year-old woman was hit and killed at the intersection of 41st Avenue and Ross Street in southeast Vancouver 11 days later. A 29-year-old woman was critically injured in yet another car-and-pedestrian crash March 31 at the intersection of Broadway and Rupert Street.

Read more: Crossed signals: Reducing the risk of pedestrian death in Vancouver - The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

From Maytree ― Alan Broadbent on
Building Strong Organizations
For Hard Times

The world is changing. Our former consensus that government was there to protect us is eroding. As we operate community organizations in the face of government retreat, we wonder how we must change. How do we find the sustainable platform on which a progressive future can be built? In this month's Maytree Opinion, Alan Broadbent offers three areas we need to think about for our organizations to thrive in hard times.
Read more: Maytree » Building strong organizations for hard times

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Melvin The Mini Machine by HEYHEYHEY

In 2010, HEYHEYHEY the Dutch design studio embarked on a journey to create the biggest Rube Goldberg in current history which they named Melvin the Magical Mixed Media Machine. We all remember the magnitude and intricacy of this 'machine' when it launched at the 2010 Dutch Design Week - but things are different now. Melvin the Machine was too big, expensive and static. It could not travel and the demand of its popularity created certain roadblocks to the world enjoying this modern take on the Rube Goldberg machine. So after an interlude, the HEYHEYHEY team embarked on a journey to make Melvin the Machine smaller, more flexible and definitely more mobile.

Melvin The Mini Machine by HEYHEYHEY | Yatzer

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Does Good Planning Look Like?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Guest Comment, The Nanaimo News Bulletin

Three Things My Neighbourhood
Has That Yours Doesn't.

I live downtown and I think that my neighbourhood has 3 things that yours doesn't. Before I tell you what they are let me say that here's what we have in common: we're both very fond of our neighbourhoods. Permit me a broad brush stroke when I say I've lived in your neighbourhood and was also very fond of it. Raised the kid, enjoyed its almost rural feel with nearby trails and parks. Good schools and playing fields. Nanaimo has terrific suburban neighbourhoods but my downtown one has some things they don't.

1. Jobs. Hundreds of them. Jobs in tailor shops, offices, restaurants and pubs. Jobs in medical and dental clinics, law and accounting offices. Jobs in auto repair and warehouses and printing shops. Dozens more at the fire hall and the police station and City Hall. Inner city neighbourhoods like mine are economic engines. On my morning walk I enjoy the buzz and vitality of people arriving in my neighbourhood, very often by bus, to their work places. Some arrive to attend courses at the Music Conservatory or trade school. Through the day they patronize the coffee bars, restaurants and specialty retail stores.

2. Diversity. My inner city neighbourhood has a much greater demographic mix than your suburban neighbourhood. Within a ten minute walk I can enjoy, by quick count, 10 restaurants that feature cuisines from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Different languages are often heard on the streets of my neighbourhood, for example as young people from around the world studying at VIU travel though on their way downtown. An immigrant support office has recently opened. Business people who continue to work in the neighbourhood have over the past 20 years made large investments in both commercial and residential developments —condos and also quality rental housing, an important element that adds to the economic diversity of the neighbourhood which also often means more young people.

3. Walkability. Along with good, convenient transit. I have access to everything I need on foot. I can, and have, walked to my dentist, my doctor, my lawyer, my accountant. Happily, none of which I have to do very often. Many neighbourhood residents live within walking distance of their work and could easily do without a car. An inexpensive bus ride from the end of my block takes me quickly to BC Ferries. On the other side there's generally an express bus waiting and a half hour later, and all for well under twenty bucks, I'm at the corner of Granville and Georgia. Kids in my neighbourhood can, and mostly do, walk to school.

The main reason my neighbourhood has these features and yours doesn't is because more people live more closely together in mine. Because of this It contributes per square km vastly more property tax revenue to City Hall than yours does. It supports an old fashioned shopping street like the ones all our neighbourhoods used to have before we started designing our cities for cars.

Frank Murphy lives downtown and thinks that his neighbourhood has some things yours doesn't. What do you think? Frank's urbanist website is

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

From The Globe and Mail
The Economics of Energy Conservation

The Economics of
Energy Conservation

From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, May. 05, 2012

Three years ago, Jeff Rubin left Bay Street to publish a book that warned that the world was on the brink of a period of deglobalization because of the rising cost of energy. Now, as he argues in his forthcoming book, The End of Growth, sustained high oil prices mean that advanced economies are gearing down into a new era of slow – or no – economic growth.
Just what does this new world look like, and what will it take to adjust? Some surprising answers lie an ocean away, in Denmark.
The first thing I noticed on a flight into Copenhagen a few summers ago was a ring of wind turbines surrounding the city. Not far from the city’s harbor, the sweeping arc of offshore windmills is a hard sight to miss. I found out later that this is exactly what the Danes have in mind. The gleaming white windmills, which rise more than 100 meters above the deep blue waters of the Øresund strait, are intended to be an unmistakable symbol of Denmark’s commitment to renewable energy

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Filmmaker Gary Hustwit Discusses
His Documentary Film Urbanized

Urbanized is a feature-length documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world’s foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers. On April 12, PennDesign Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor joined filmmaker Gary Hustwit in conversation with two of the film’s participants, James Corner, Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at PennDesign and Principal, James Corner Field Operations and Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies and Director, LSE Cities and Urban Age/Global Distinguished Professor, New York University, following a screening of the film.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

From Dwell
Jane Jacobs: Neighbourhoods in Action

Jaime Gillin writes in Dwell:  I was so pleased to come across this video recently on the website Grist—a nearly ten-minute film about creating healthy neighborhoods, narrated by the late, great urban writer and activist Jane Jacobs and produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. I've read Jacobs before (she is best known for her classic tome The Death and Life of Great American Cities) but I've never heard her speak. Here, in her later years, she endearingly discusses the impact on automobiles on neighborhoods and our health; how to create dignified places where people will be proud to live (and how to do it affordably); and why cities should provide places for skateboarders "to do their weird skateboarding thing."

Read more: Jane Jacobs Video - Blogs - Dwell