Vancouver Public Space Network Open House TONIGHT: free food and urban community building

If anyone’s looking for something (other than the last pit night) to fill their time this evening, consider checking this out. I’m thinking of heading down to the downtown branch of the public library myself, depending on how much procrastinating I feel is required to avoid studying. ahem.

Anyways, this forum seems particularly relevant, coming on the heels of last weekend’s Terry Talks (which, to echo Genevieve, I though were absolutely amazing and inspirational). The Vancouver Public Space Network is, in their own words,

“a grassroots collective that engages in advocacy, outreach and education on public space issues in and around Vancouver, British Columbia.

This includes challenging the increase of advertising ‘creep’ in public places, promoting creative, community-friendly urban design, monitoring private security activities in the downtown core, fostering public dialogue and democratic debate, and devising creative ways to re-green the neglected corners, alleys and forgotten spaces of the city. 

We also like to devise ways to have fun in public space.”

They do all manner of things, including urban agriculture projects (which reminded me of Tiffany’s wonderful talk on Saturday) and parties that aim to reclaim public space for the community. The most recent one, I think, was a Sea Bus pirate party. How AWESOME is that?

The tug-of-war between public and private/corporate space is an interesting topic. Naomi Klein wrote a book called No Logo a while back that dealt in part with the idea of corporations invading public space and branding it. If I remember correctly, she described a number of interesting grassroots protests/projects that had sprung up as a result. 

Locally, the (originally)  Commercial Street Car-Free Day is another one of these events that has gained popularity, not necessarily as a protest against corporations, but with the same goal of strengthening local community and making cities more sustainable. Environmentally, yes, but also socially (and again, this reminds me of Idette’s talk on Studio 801, which also hopes to support and nurture local communities through a more personal and community based type of architectural design). 

Newmindspace is another very cool initiative, based in New York and Toronto, that reminds me of the VPSN. In fact, the parallels between some of the events make me think perhaps, the VPSN is a spin off of Newmindspace. They seem to exist mostly for fun, however, and put on events like city-wide capture the flag and pillow fights. 

So yeah, the Vancouver Public Space Network looks like a great organization for people looking to get involved in reclaiming their city. I think these sorts of projects get rid of the anonymity that cities sometimes foster. And I think that, in turn, makes people more invested in the welfare of their city, which, in turn, can lead to a safer, greener, more compassionate city.

If that seems a little too sentimental, think of it this way: they put on PIRATE PARTIES people. What else could you want?


Oh, and I just want to offer my congratulations and thanks to all the wonderful Terry speakers. I am proud to belong to a community with so many courageous, intelligent and inspiring individuals.

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Sarah Andersen is both a wave and a particle.