These high levels ideas on the future of Vancouver are setting a trend towards community sustainability around the world. Yet, in order to become the ‘Greenest City’ it will take some major adjustments in the way Vancouverites operate. Everything from planting trees to building a solid green economy seem far out of reach by 2020. Compounding this is challenge of connecting these ambitions to those of community.
I’m proud to be one of the 14 students in the first Cohort of CityStudio Vancouver , a program which connects students, faculty, experts and City staff by working on real-world projects through dialogue and design. CityStudio is part of the ‘Campus City Collaborative,’ an initiative to bring together the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Economic Commission, and 6 post-secondary institutions to deal with the Greenest City Goals and work on tangible policy implementation.
According to Mayor Robertson, “Cities are driving innovation and job growth, especially in the field of green enterprise.” That being said, the C3 initiative with the Vancouver Economic Commission being a part, shows a robust connection to doing more than just building the ‘Greenest City’. My major critique of the goals so far is that they seem to focus heavily on the ‘green’ aspect versus the sustainability concept. A healthy and sustainable community is one that stimulates local jobs and allows low income families to meet their daily needs. Without work on these elements, the ‘green’ frontier will not come to fruition by 2020.
With my team at CityStudio, the 5 of us decided to create something called the Longtable Series. I wanted to see us work connect Vancouverites with the civic policy. The primary opportunity of these broad policy goals will be found in creating ways for individuals to participate. With the hope of bringing the policy to peoples’ domains, we chose to pick up where the past city campaigns had left off, and created the Longtable Series.
From a fallen old growth fir in Vancouver, the team constructed a 30 foot table that can be used anywhere in the city for events and gatherings. The longtable was first used at the initial event in the Longtable Series called: WATERTABLE. We brought water leaders like Rita Wong of Emily Carr University, Shahira Sakiyama, and Bryn Davidson of the False Creek Watershed Society to speak to the community on their work in water issues. We wanted to address water conservation and quality in the city. Amidst rain and cold weather, we brought out a small crowd and talked water. To me, this is an effective and tangible step towards making the Greenest City policy accessible and relevant to Vancouverites.
When we can bring conversation and awareness of sustainability into people’s backyards, we will begin to make the first steps towards the city we all want to live in.