Special June Newsletter: Montreal’s neighbourhood roundtables

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Click here to view our June newsletter:

  • Montreal’s neighbourhood roundtables: A unique model of inclusion and engagement
  • Collective Impact Project Awarded!
  • Be part of LEDlab’s 2017/18 internship program! Deadline: June 13, 2017
  • 17th IOPD conference - Montréal, QC. June 16-19, 2017
  • Cities of the Future: Co-creating Tomorrow - Vancouver, BC. Sept 25-29, 2017

 

Placemaker profile: Victoria Dickenson

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This is the first in a Placemaking Profile series in which we will share short conversations we've had with leaders in Canadian cities - from those who are actively building places that foster social inclusion to those who listen, engage, and tell stories from the communities that make up our cities. For more information about placemaking, please click here.

Victoria Dickenson: City Conversations (from the Placemaking Leadership Forum in Vancouver, BC, September 2016)

As part of a panel discussion on understanding and designing cities on a human scale at the Placemaking Leadership Forum, Victoria Dickenson shared her work organizing and facilitating in-depth, cross-Canada ‘City Conversations’. These semi-structured conversations surfaced city-dwellers’ values, hopes, and concerns about the place in which they spend time, from smaller, coastal communities like St. John’s, Newfoundland, to bustling cities like Toronto, Ontario which along with opportunities come a host of challenges, namely economic and social inequalities. 

We had the chance to chat with Victoria after her session about her learnings when it comes to seeking out, listening to, and sharing diverse perspectives about cities.

One of the aspects of placemaking that came up in your overview of the City Conversations you hosted was hearing about people’s immediate, visceral reactions to place. What are some of the strategies you use to surface those personal meanings and connections [that may not be heard or given undue attention in public consultations) so that they can be made more widely known? 

VD: [In my work as a curator] I was originally working in a museum in a beautiful, wooded site. When people came they would say: “This place is so beautiful; it feels so good!”. One day I had some Anishinaabe elders from Winnipeg visiting and I asked them: “What do you think about this place?”. They said: “There’s a real sense here that you’re on territory”. And it really struck me that we don’t spend half enough time exploring what it means to feel good in place. I went and looked at the literature, and  almost all of the authors - the geographers, the anthropologists, the historians, the architects - they all said that [feeling good in place] is indefinable, we don’t know how to describe it - but we feel it.

It’s the whole issue of respecting feelings. In Montreal, the conversations [touched on] when you’re talking about place, it’s not just a photograph - it’s a sensory experience...you can feel it in your body. So to get at that - what are these places - you have to listen to people tell you about the places that are important to them.

What might this process of surfacing these personal meanings and attachments to place look like?

First, they identify places...then you pull back and ask: Why this place? What is about it about this place...Is it a memory? Is it because you grew up there? In what way is it important to you personally?...Do you feel the significance of geological features [like two tectonic plates coming together]? Yi-fu Tuan, a humanistic geographer, talks about how the Grand Tetons of landscape don’t need interpretation...but other sites need to be [brought to the surface]. In literature or in the way that artists work, you find that they identify significant places...there’s a Newfoundland photographer, Ned Pratt, who takes photographs that make place happen in the spots he takes them in..

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Photo of the Grand Tetons from www.popphoto.com

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Portrait by Ned Pratt, www.nedpratt.com/portraiture

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Proposed M T L iconography atop Mount Royal in the heart of the city - a form of placemaking for the texting generation? Photo: www.montrealgazette.com

Listening to people’s memories of what makes a place significant, understanding traditional communities and why they are where they are...many communities are resistant to giving up their sense of place. They say: “No you can’t change this - we want it to stay the same”. Well, why? We need to get at that Looking at how artists communicate place - whether it’s visual artists, authors, poets, songwriters - they identify places that are significant. Stan Rogers, a folksinger and songwriter in Atlantic Canada, sang about bays and harbours, the small places along the coast, and influenced a whole generation of Maritimers to celebrate their place.

You have to listen and look at how people have used literature, art, and [other means of creative communication] and their lived experience in place to identify those significant places. I think one of the questions, now that we’re such a globalized society, is: do we all recognize the same place? Do we have to [agree on significant places]? And what’s the role of place - if certain places have power, which is what Aboriginal people [might say], when we’re all together in that place, does it inform who we are as a people? Does the narrative come from the ground?

From a land-use planning perspective, I don’t think these personal explorations of place are taken enough into consideration, or even considered at all.

If you don’t think of place when you start a [planning process], and you only see the ground as either commercial value or a groundscape - and you don’t ask “What are the characteristics of this place?” before thinking about [how you might intervene]...the meanings are lost. That’s one of the goals of these [City Conversations]: to get place as a category of analysis.

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Dr. Victoria Dickenson is an independent scholar and museum consultant. Her experience in museums - very special places - and her interest in cultural landscapes, have led her to develop the Conversations about Place project. She lives in, and has written about, Montreal, a city whose peculiar geography ensures that the past is always present; in summer, she lives in Newfoundland, where people belong to the place, not the other way round. She presented highlights from conversations held in St. John's, Montreal, and Toronto in a breakout session on The Human Scale at the Placemaking Leadership Forum. In the new year, she will host conversations in Victoria, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Ottawa.

Campus and the City

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Calling all Campus City Builders!

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SFU Public Square, in partnership with RECODE, an initiative of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is hosting a day-long, national conversation on the role of colleges and universities in city-building.

Designed by students from across Canada, this participatory, moving conference will bring together students, faculty and staff, city building leaders and community partners to reimagine how colleges and universities can be a driving force in creating vibrant, livable, and sustainable cities.

With visits to SFU campuses in three Metro Vancouver cities and case studies from campuses across the country, participants will have the opportunity to discuss national perspectives against the backdrop of living examples of community collaboration and city building.

Whether you are a student, faculty or staff at a university, a community partner or a leader involved in citybuilding, you have a role to play in shaping this national conversation.

Join us for an interactive, experiential and solutions-focused conference and help us co-create the future of our cities!

When
9:00am – 7:00pm
Oct. 31, 2015


How to Apply
Registration is free, and includes conference meals and transport during the day. Clickhere to register.

For More Information, click here

Questions?
If you have any questions, please contact Tesicca Truong, Program & Engagement Coordinator at SFU Public Square by phone at 778-782-3510, or by email attesicca_publicsq@sfu.ca.

ARTIST ROUND TABLE: New Economies

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ART-Main-Black-Tranparent
Friday, May 29, 2015, 9:00 – 11:00 A.M.
SFU Woodward's - Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre
149 W Hastings St., Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

Can art challenge us to shift our economy to one that embraces sustainability, equality, and justice? Can we create local and global economies that are not only resilient and thriving but inclusive of everyone?

The Artist Round Table (A.RT) on New Economies brings together a diverse group of panellists who have provocative ideas about art, economy, and transformative change. Set within a staged 1983 corporate boardroom, the A.RT will kick off with a presentation by artist Marilou Lemmens about her collaborative, multidisciplinary practice with Richard Ibghy. Lemmens will present artistic projects that explore the ways in which the economic system pervades nearly every facet of our daily lives. In response, panellists from various fields will engage in a lively discussion, digging deeply into the issues at the heart of the duo’s practice. The panellists will draw on their experiences in the realms of art and culture, activism and citizenship, and sustainability and radical urbanism as they tell stories, debate ideas, and challenge each other and the audience with thought-provoking questions. The audience will be invited into a discourse on the emergence of a new economy and how art can be a driving force for social change.

FEATURING:

Marilou Lemmens is a visual artist based in Durham-Sud and Montreal, Quebec where she works in collaboration with Richard Ibghy. Spanning various media, including video, performance, and installation, their work explores the material, affective, and sensory dimensions of experience that cannot be fully translated into signs or systems. For several years, they have examined the rationale upon which economic actions are described and represented, and how the logic of economy has come to infiltrate the most intimate aspects of life. Their work has been shown nationally and internationally, including at La Biennale de Montréal (Montreal, 2014), 27th Images Festival (Toronto, 2014), La Filature, Scène Nationale (Mulhouse, France, 2013-14), Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow, 2012), and the 10th Sharjah Biennial (Sharjah, UAE, 2011), among others.

WITH PANELLISTS:

Community organizer, writer, and activist Matt Hern teaches at UBC and is known for his work in radical urbanism, community development, and alternative forms of education. He is founder of the Purple Thistle Centre, Car-Free Vancouver Day, and Groundswell: Grassroots Economic Alternatives.

An avid seeker of beauty, authentic connections, and learning, Cédric Jamet has been involved in a flurry of citizen-led projects, exploring the relationship between urban imaginary, active citizenship, and the co-creation of sustainable cities. Most recently, he helped start 100in1day in Montreal and is completing an M.A. in Human Systems Intervention from Concordia University.

Artist and cultural producer Todd Lester has dedicated his career to supporting and enabling socially engaged artists around the world. He is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and founder of both freeDimensional and Lanchonete.org.

RSVP
a-rt-new-economies.eventbrite.ca

CONTACT
ross@adjacentpossibilities.org

LOCATION
SFU Woodward's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre
149 W Hastings St.Vancouver, BC, Vancouver, Canada

The Artist Round Table on New Economies is an experiment of Adjacent Possibilities, Musagetes, One Earth, and Cities for People. It is one in a series of international roundtables in which artists can share their ideas and projects with scientists, historians, Aboriginal leaders, policymakers, politicians, community organizers, and social movement leaders. Musagetes initially developed the A.RT approach in collaboration with Todd Lester.

Adjacent Possibilities
Adjacent Possibilities is a creative agency experimenting at the intersection of art, technology and society’s most complex challenges. We connect adjacent types of thinkers: artists, entrepreneurs, policy makers and others, to explore what possibilities might emerge from these unlikely combinations of thought in addressing daunting questions of human resilience. Our work is fuelled by a belief in our ingenuity as a species and includes the curation, design and production of exhibitions, facilitation of workshops and strategic planning, consulting on organizational strategy, and production of film and creative media.

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One Earth is a nonprofit ‘think and do’ tank based in Vancouver, Canada. Our mission is to transform production and consumption patterns locally, nationally and internationally to be sustainable, healthy, and just within the limits of living systems. Our passion is bringing people, ideas and activities together to accelerate the transition towards sustainability - we catalyze networking and action on the issues we care about. One Earth adopts a systems approach to identify high-impact solutions, and engages the arts and citizens to create compelling visions of life in sustainable futures.

Musagetes logo
Musagetes, the curator of the Art and Society theme of Cities for People, is an international organization that makes the arts more central and meaningful in people’s lives, in our communities, and in our societies. The arts play a fundamental role in mediating our life experiences, making artistic creativity central to healthy, empathic, social, and conscientious ways of living. Art creates a space for thinking differently, for opening up new possibilities for ourselves and the world around us.

Cities for People
Cities for People, a grassroots movement that looks at the resilience and liveability of cities, asks the question: how can we enhance social, ecological, and economic well-being and help civic cultures thrive? We are approaching this from the perspectives of four themes: Art and Society, CityScapes, Citizen Spaces, and New Economies. Each of these themes has a curating organization that is gathering compelling stories, connecting people within and across fields, and experimenting with new ways to approach old problems.

Lead Image: Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, Is there anything left to be done at all? (2014), five-channel video, sound, sculpture, dimensions variable. Video still.

Voices of New Economies – an Interview with Portia Sam

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By Alicia Tallack

Portia Sam is the Program Coordinator for Miscellany, a social enterprise that operates two thriving thrift stores and a variety of women and youth focused programs in Vancouver, BC. For Portia, the idea that a business can viably integrate revenue with community-based social programs just makes sense. In fact, she doesn’t think business is sustainable if done any other way.

Portiaheadshot In your view, what are some key elements of "new economies"?

There are many elements that make up how we run our economies in ways that work for communities. Two of the ways that Miscellany works, is through the idea of ‘conscious capitalism’, and through integrating community connections into our business practices and our daily routines.

  • Conscious capitalism: This doesn’t mean that we don’t want to make money – we do. It means that we want to make, and use, money in a way that is conscious to the needs of our direct community. There are a lot of microscopic examples of how we do this, such as recycling in a responsible way, and taking time to help people find out where they can properly dispose of materials that we can’t take, like mattresses. If you take the time, you can work in a way that your community approves of. We let our interactions evolve naturally, and then we take a closer look at how we want things to continue evolving.
  • Community connections: Conscious capitalism is impossible without recognizing that communities depend on each other, and that people matter. There are specific ways that we are touching our community; through networking with health, policing, and employment groups, for example. They know we are there and open to training people. A big part of what we do is train women for work experience when they get out of prison. As far as I know, there is no government program or stipend for this; it is simply not a priority to them. But we know different. We use our profits to pay for this program because we know that this is important, and we partner with women to give them a chance to break the cycle.

What are some ways that you listen to your community in order to genuinely connect?miscellanyfinds_header1

We do this in several ways, and it largely depends on what is needed. We listen directly, one-on-one, but also have some business-wide practices in place. These work together, so that we can respond to what people need. For example, we have gift certificates that we give to transition houses, where they give it to the women as needed. They usually give it to women as they are transitioning from the house into second stage housing, and they use it to buy things to set up their new home. When they come in, they are equal to anyone else in there. It is ultimately a thrift store, but it has been organized by our volunteers to feel like a boutique. So when a woman comes in with a gift certificate, she doesn’t feel like she is getting leftovers, she is getting quality items that are useful. Our donors recognize that just because a woman is marginalized, that doesn’t mean that she should have the dregs of whatever we can give her. And when we don’t have what she needs, we take the time to connect her with trusted organizations that do.

We also work with PLEA, a community courts service program for youth that have been in the system. We offer basic training for youth that have never had training or a job, that don’t know how to dress for a job, or how to talk to customers. These kids haven’t had anyone watching their backs and lifting them up, telling them that they can do it. They have been in the system, and we work with them to overcome their obstacles. They are usually very ready for this. They are willing to do whatever it takes to change their lives. It is really empowering to work with them and to see this. They show me how amazing humanity can be.

Can this type of connection scale up within cities?miscellanyfinds_web.001

Yes I think it definitely can. It scales up beyond one business by being part of standard policies and business practices. Integrating the expectation that through connecting with other groups around you, we are all stronger. For example, over time we have connected with the community-policing group, and they come to us when they know of someone that needs something that we can provide, like sleeping bags or blankets. They are always telling people that we are great to them – but we’re not; we are just enacting an important part of a social enterprise. Our mission is to take what we are given, and re-invest it in things that matter, in a responsible way. That is an idea that can easily go beyond our thrift store.

To me, a social enterprise is simply a business with a social element. It could involve training, which is our main thing, but it is more than that. You take the profits, and you put it back into social programs that ultimately contribute to a stronger economy overall. I don’t see any reason that all traditional business can’t move toward acting like a social enterprise. You still make a living and feed your own family, but you give back to humanity at the same time. Instead of making money for the sake of it, we can make money to help others, which in turn helps us. Everyone is better off because of it. If even a third of our businesses became social enterprises, we would solve a significant portion of our problems.

What does real wealth mean to you?

Real wealth is truly having the opportunity to give back. Building a sustainable business that promotes social programs and having the ability to develop programs that are suited to what your communities’ needs are.

Related links:

- Miscellany
- Social Enterprise Canada
- Conscious Capitalism 

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Social justice entrepreneur Portia Sam is the program coordinator of Miscellany Finds thrift store for social change. With decades of experience in business management and a dedicated passion to conscious contribution for community sustainability, Portia combined her talents to create a thriving resource to meet the diverse needs of a vibrant community. Portia is proud of the foundational programs Miscellany offers.

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks.

The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network.

This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.

 

Vancouver Climate Risk Forum – Dec 5

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On December 5th, the Vancouver Climate Risk Forum will build on similar events hosted in Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco, and bring together local leaders and investment professionals to talk about the impact of climate risk on our pensions, cities, foundations, churches, and other public institutions.

Scientists and organizations like the International Energy Agency are warning investors that most fossil fuel reserves need to stay buried if we hope to avoid the worst effects of global warming. At the same time, more than a trillion dollars a year over the next 36 years must be invested in clean energy if we hope to limit warming to two degrees Celsius.

The Vancouver Climate Risk Forum looks to accelerate this transition to a safer, cleaner economy by supporting local institutional investors looking to manage climate risk and engage with companies to improve their practices on clean energy and carbon.

The forum consists of a daytime program tailored to investment professionals and decision makers, as well as a free public panel in the evening, with former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn as the keynote speaker.

Register to attend the Vancouver Climate Risk Forum
RSVP for the evening
public leadership keynote

To learn more, visit:  http://www.vancouverclimaterisk.ca/

The Coffee Cup Revolution – Monday 6 October in Vancouver

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On Monday October 6th, from 9:30am-2:30pm in Victory Square, Vancouver binners are carrying out a street-level environmental action, reminiscent of United We Can’s efforts in the early 1990’s. That work helped shift social behavior and responsibility and resulted in the expansion of the deposit laws for beverage containers.

The ignition key for this event will be a “pop-up” depot in Victory Square that will pay binners 5¢ for each of those ubiquitous used paper cups that we see strewn across the urban landscape every day.

The spark behind this action is an exploratory venture, The Binners Project which is being supported under Cities for People, an experimental program for advancing urban innovation.

For its première event, the Binners Project has intentionally identified the “disposable” cup as the symbolic evidence of a conspicuous shift in consumer habits over the past several decades. Binners get up close and personal with our urban waste every day so they see first hand, the effects of this shift. Some older binners recall a time when people used to sit together in cafés chatting over steaming pottery cups of hot coffee. Today, in a busy wireless age, with paper cup in hand, we pursue our goals on the go; leaving a trail of cups, lids, stir sticks, and maybe even some of our values behind us in the dust.

A symbol of our times, but so much more, paper coffee cups have become a serious environmental problem. They litter the highways and byways of our cities, each one of them, an aesthetic assault to our collective unconscious. While it is difficult to estimate with absolute accuracy just how many of these cups we go through every year, the most recent statistics we could find suggest that conservatively, it’s well past the 1.5 billion mark. And that represents more than half a million trees, thousands of tons of garbage, and millions of liters of the fossil fuel needed to move this waste to our landfills and incinerators.

Event sponsors and partners: BC Housing, City of Vancouver, Vancity Community Foundation, Central City Foundation, Vancity Community Investment, Haebler Construction, UBC Learning Exchange, The Dugout Drop-in Centre Society, Recycling Alternative, United We Can, DTES Street Market, and other anonymous supporters.

What is a binner?
binner \`bin-ner\ – noun
Canadian west coast colloquialism
1. A person who collects bottles and cans and other objects of value from garbage (in bins); a dumpster diver; The binner pushed a shopping cart full of empties to the bottle depot.
Origin: Attributed to Robert Sarti (Vancouver Sun journalist) - 1990

What Bike Sharing Says About Our Cities and Our Values

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By: Michaela Kramer, Evergreen CityWorks, Intern

Bike sharing programs have gained immense popularity over the past decade. There are variations in over in 500 places around the world. Yet their presence often sparks controversy- with advocates pointing to their popularity and social value while critics object to their economic instability. Both positions speak to wider questions about what we, as a city, consider to be a public good, how new programs should be paid for, and how we can improve access to services among low income communities. The dialogue around bike sharing is important in order to improve these programs as they continue to grow, but also to explore what this global trend says about our cities more generally.

What is bike sharing?

A bike sharing program is a transportation system in which bikes are available to the public at stations around a neighborhood, or across a city, on a short-term basis. Usually these systems offer yearly or one-day subscriptions, both of which allow users 30-45 minutes of riding time between stations, with additional costs attached to rides that exceed this time limit. The systems are geared toward city residents or tourists travelling from one destination to another rather than those interested in taking leisurely cycling trips.

While the idea was originally developed in Paris, the largest system now operates in Hangzhou, China with a total of 66,500 bikes available. The first Canadian city to receive a bike sharing system was Montreal, whose BIXI program launched in 2009. This was followed by Ottawa a month later, and Toronto in 2011. In 2015, Vancouver is expected to launch a bike sharing system as well.

Bike.Share.PhotoA Hangzhou Public Bicycle station, Source: Flickr 

For most, the appeal of bike sharing stems from its ability to provide users with mobility and flexibility. Bike sharing can be added to car or transit trips to make commuting more seamless or to reach places where transit does not extend to. It allows people to cycle to their destination and then take transit back if the weather, or simply their mood, changes. And unlike owning a bike, users don’t have to worry about the initial cost of purchase, storage, maintenance expenses, or theft.

Why does it matter?

Bike.Share.Photo(3)Bike sharing programs have numerous benefits, including environmental, health, and economic effects. They are important drivers of urban sustainability, helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and traffic congestion. In Denver, 34 percent of B-Cycle members use bike sharing to replace trips otherwise taken by car. Also, bike sharing promotes healthy living by providing exercise to users, lowering their stress levels, and helping them to feel happier. 31.5 percent of Capital Bike Share members in D.C. saw their stress levels go down once they started bike sharing. They also help attract tourists, they can serve as a local employer, and boosts the business of bike-related shops.

BIXI riders in Montreal, Source: Flickr

Yet these benefits are not without costs. Bike sharing programs, alike most public transportation systems, provide the predicament of being expensive to implement and run while needing to be relatively cheap to the user, in order to ensure accessibility and to dissuade people from driving. Subscriptions, normally at a cost of $60-$100 per year or $6-$10 per day, despite their popularity, are not enough to finance the operating costs that bike sharing demands.This means that the revenues from subscriptions must be subsidized, either through tax dollars, by a local community group or nonprofit organization, a public-private partnership, or a corporation.

Is bike sharing a public good?

There are two ways of looking at bike sharing: either as a public amenity that the city has interest in maintaining but seeks private funds to run or as a public good that should be financed through city revenue due to its public value. The former was adopted in New York City when proposals for Citi Bike were endorsed as a privately funded project.

But what makes bike sharing any different than other transit systems or other public goods? Many argue that bike sharing programs are an extension of public transit and should be publically financed because of their essential value to the city. These are the questions that some New Yorkers are asking as Citi Bike endures another year of financial loss despite its overwhelming popularity among users. . Similar concerns were raised when Montreal company, BIXI, filed for bankruptcy last January.

Bike.Share.Photo(2)BIXIs outside a Montreal metro station act as an extension of transit, Source: Flickr 

Some claim that the model of financial self-sufficiency was not only overly optimistic when Citi Bike was proposed but possibly unnecessary as well. If sustainability and healthy living are goals that city governments endorse, why shouldn’t more support be given towards bike sharing systems?

This is the thinking that has been adopted in Washington D.C. where Capital Bike Share is partly funded by the United States Department of Transportation and in London where Barclay’s Cycle Hire is largely subsidized by Transport for London. In Minneapolis, Nice Ride is operated by a nonprofit with money from a federal grant and the Blue Cross. In these cities, there is an understanding that the public good generated from bike sharing systems far exceeds their financial loss.

Can bike sharing systems be improved?

Accepting that bike sharing programs are a worthwhile expenditure of tax dollars is one thing, but the work doesn’t end there. There is a major problem of inaccessibility for low income communities around the world that needs to be addressed, especially if public money is going to be funding these projects. One reason for this is that in many places bike sharing stations are clustered in the commercial centers of wealthy residential neighborhoods (usually where an abundance of transit exists anyways) with disparities in low-income areas. For example, this has been a critique of Bike Share Toronto, which barely reaches beyond the city’s central core. Another problem is that low income residents are more likely to have longer commutes that might exceed the 30-45 minute time limit of most systems.  Furthermore, bike sharing programs require users to have credit or debit cards, which restricts some people from accessing these services.

These maps illustrate the differences in accessibility between various bike sharing systems, Source: modified from Quartz 

Unfortunately, these limitations stand in the way of bike sharing being accessible to the people who could benefit from it the most. Low-income neighborhoods are usually not as well served by public transit compared to other areas, so bike sharing can be an important tool to mitigate the inadequacies of transit. The person who finds it most difficult to manage the upfront cost of purchasing a bike would benefit greatly from having a bike sharing membership. Low-income residents are more likely to spend a greater portion of their income on transportation costs so developing more transit options can work to alleviate this burden. Overall, there is a need for bike sharing networks to be designed in more accessible and inclusive ways so to benefit the city as a whole.

There are various ways of going about this, some of which have been implemented and others that have only been proposed. One strategy to expand the accessibility of bike sharing is to more evenly distribute stations in low income neighborhoods or next to strategic locations like social housing. Another method is to make memberships more affordable by offering discounted rates, payment plans, or waving the temporary insurance fee that most systems charge. In Boston, qualifying low-income residents get a $5 membership and a free helmet. Capital Bike Share in Arlington County, Virginia developed a special marketing campaign in Spanish aimed at reaching Latinos with limited English proficiency. Ultimately, one of the biggest barriers is the credit card requirement. To solve this, some have proposed that local organizations or nonprofits could recommend people they trust who do not have access to a credit or debit card.

What bike sharing teaches us

Bike sharing is not about making a profit and it’s not about providing a novel amenity. It is about leading positive change on the critical issues facing local cities today. Supporting bike sharing programs illustrate the values of a local government, prioritizing health, sustainability, and livability. It improves the environment of the city and the experiences of the people in it.

Bike.Share.Photo(5)Citi Bike riders in New York, Source: Flickr 

Urban Installations and the Element of Surprise

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By: Michaela Kramer, Evergreen CityWorks, Intern

Something that cities offer is unlimited access to surprise, to unexpected interaction, to a blending of different people and ideas at any moment. The anticipation of this is a reason why people are drawn to cities, and especially to their public spaces. Think of the feeling we get when we stumble upon a musician playing on the sidewalk, when we notice a freshly painted mural on the side of a building, or when we taste food at festival like nothing we’ve tried before. It is the possibility for these experiences that makes living in the city so attractive.It’s not just about doing something exciting, it’s also about the potential that these experiences have for people to interact, engage, and to change their city for the better.

But these occurrences don’t need to be left completely up to chance. Instead, designers have an opportunity to develop spaces and places awaiting surprise. It is possible to plan for these kinds of spontaneous experiences by creating spaces in the city that nurture social interaction in creative ways, and in doing so, tap into the unlimited potential for joy and transformation in the city.

One way this can be achieved are through installation projects that temporarily alter the city landscape- using design to encourage play and civic engagement. Unlike major infrastructure, installations can be time and cost effective. There are examples of this kind of design intervention across Canada, which can serve as an example to inspire future projects with these same goals.

Pop Rocks, Vancouver

Capture(2)-poprocksSource: David Niddrie Photography

Pop Rocks was a project in downtown Vancouver during the summer of 2012 that temporarily transformed a street into a social space using a collection of pillow-like boulders. The installation reshaped the street in order to encourage play and leisure among pedestrians. It also incorporated an aspect of environmentalism, not as an obstacle, but as a catalyst for innovative work- the boulders were made entirely of re-used material and were recycled once the installation came to a close. This information was displayed for users, incorporating an educational element to the project.

Cardboard Beach, Toronto

Capture-Cardboard.BeachSimilar to Pop Rocks, Cardboard Beach was a temporary installation placed in the downtown that used whimsical urban furniture to create social space and promote civic interaction. Created as a hub for the 2014 Luminato Festival, it was made up of an array of beach-style lounge chairs and umbrellas all made of cardboard. The project transformed a normally empty public square into a new, exciting place. The unusual cardboard forms attracted unprecedented interest from city dwellers.

Source: BlogTO

 

Pink Balls, Montreal

Capture-pink.ballsSource:Claude Cormier and Associates

Unlike the previous projects, Pinks Balls served more as a decorative installation, marking a street in Montreal’s Gay Village that becomes pedestrianized during summer months. The project involves strings of pink balls suspended above the street, which embellishes the landscape and designates this social space. The piece introduces the temporary pedestrian space to the city and calls upon new visitors with its celebratory design.

What these projects exemplify is the power that temporary installations can have in shifting the everyday landscape of an urban space into a new, dynamic stage for civic enjoyment. Cities, by nature, foster the melding of ideas and the production of culture, but it is up to people involved in design and planning to celebrate this, through the making of creative public spaces. Installations are useful not simply because of their novelty but in the way that they tune into the public’s desire to participate in play and develop community. The city is open to surprise and design can be an important tool in inspiring joy and engagement in the public.

Sparks of the New Economy at 100-in-1 Day

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On Saturday June 7th, citizens in Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal created acts of urban change as part of 100-in-1 Day, a movement uniting people across the nation to make cities better. Each Canadian city hosting the event was fortunate to witness an outpouring of engagement. Two numbers tell the story: A total of 460 interventions took place across Canada - many more than the stated target of 100. Halifax had five times as many actions (on a per capita basis) as any of the other cities. Go Halifax!

We’ve taken a closer look at some of the interventions that have new economies at their heart. New economies are about taking a holistic perspective on the nature and origins of wealth, and evaluating the ways in which economies can work for people and the planet through shared, just, and lasting prosperity. This includes fair trade, the sharing economy, collaborative consumption, alternative measures of progress and wellbeing, social enterprise, and social finance.

OVER 460 URBAN INTERVENTIONS ACROSS CANADA IN 1 DAY!

Toronto featured 174 interventions, including one on the reclamation of public space. In the People's Queen Street, people occupied parking spaces on a major street, and filled the spaces with grass, hammocks, back yard patio furniture and games. Similarly, public spaces came alive with people participating in public poetry (Halifax), hosting a piano picnic (Vancouver) and hosting a potluck in a park

In Halifax, 52 interventions took place. In one, people shared ideas for a new tool library...

“Setting up on the street and selling hot dogs was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the Tool Library in the community where it will be located. We received useful input on our lending policies and some neighbours took the opportunity to donate tools. Like many of our engagements, the most fulfilling aspect was watching people come to grips with the concept of a Tool Library for the first time. We hope it will spark other ideas for the resources we can share.” Halifax Tool Library

Montreal was also buzzing with energy as over 87 interventions took place in the urban fabric - even families got into the action, planting a garden that would encourage eating their leafy greens...and plenty of muddy playtime. One of the 83 interventions in Vancouver was the Match Maker booth hosted by Kits Space Projects at Vancouver's Maker Faire. It provided an opportunity for makers to connect with the Strathcona Resource Exchange where business waste is repurposed for creative projects and new economies...and people see what’s possible when waste is recognized as a resource.

Citizen actions explored the links between the economy and ecology in Toronto: people came together to discuss what engineering means to them; they walked through a ravine while pondering the effective integration of nature and people.

Interventions encouraged local and indigenous food consumption, including by designing a First Nations Indigenous Garden, by holding a permaculture blitz, growing an organic food forest (Vancouver), by distributing seed bombs, and by learning about urban beekeeping (Halifax).

And across the border in Boston, Canadian Justin Ritchie (nonprofit The Extraenvironmentalist) recorded a livestream of the New Economy Coalition conference, CommonBound. He interviewed Mike Lewis of the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal. Other speakers from Canada include Béatrice Alice of Chantier de l’économie sociale and Mike Toye of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDnet). Web: http://commonbound.org/register

WHAT DOES REAL WEALTH MEAN TO YOU?

The One Earth team took to the streets of Vancouver to discuss new economies, talking with people to figure out what “real wealth” means to citizens. Our question, “What does real wealth mean to you?” generated interesting responses like, “people reclaiming their power”, “access to sports”, “being in love”, “accomplishing your goals”, and “kindness”. An 88 year old pensioner we spoke with said that real wealth “is loving what you do”, while a 5 year old girl confidently stated with that “snails” make her feel wealthy.

These genuine responses to understanding wealth brought to light an important aspect to consider while re-evaluating our current economic system. They reveal that wealth is a state of being, and not necessarily a state of ownership. This is what the new economy is striving to highlight through these generative discussions on the roots of value, money, and exchange.

Economics has traditionally been about understanding the allocation of scarce resources - but what we saw on June 7th was an abundance of happiness, enthusiasm and connection, not scarcity. The intangible qualities of what real wealth can mean - creativity, innovation, equality, participation, capacity, and ability - all expand the more they are used. These are important to keep in mind when thinking about what we want our present and future to look like, and how economies should be understood and measured.

Our commons don’t need to become a tragedy - they can, instead, be bountiful and rewarding shared assets. 100 in 1 Day showed that through people coming together to act, express, engage, connect and design what they want to see in the world, we join together on the path to manifesting that reality.

JOIN US CITIES FOR PEOPLE IN FOSTERING NEW ECONOMIES...

Cities for People will continue to explore the different ways in which we all engage with new economies. Sign up on our mailing list to receive updates and invitations to future events, access to insightful discussions, and prizes.

Click the following links to get involved in the upcoming events:

- Sharefest TO, July 16, Toronto

- New Economy Week, 12-18 October

- Cities for People Toronto Leadership Summit, 12 November, Toronto

You can also sign up to watch the recorded livestream from the new economy conference by CommonBound June 4-6th, Boston.

Photo credit: Lucy Gao