Community – the rest of March.

My plan to provide regular Smilin’-Politician-in-the-Community blog posts keeps getting derailed. But let’s see if I can catch up since my last report about two weeks ago, because I have been smiling quite a bit.

We had a meeting of the Mayor’s Public Engagement Taskforce, which has been doing some pretty cool work as of late in figuring out how the City can do a better job engaging with the public (expect to see some reporting coming out this spring). I also had an ACTBiPed meeting, and have been doing some work with the Mayor’s Canada Games Pool Taskforce.

I attended the UNIBUG Forum. The User Network for Insect Biology in the Urban Garden (UNIBUG) is a citizen science initiative at Douglas College that lets people doing urban gardening contribute to research into beneficial insects, while providing a learning network to help them garden better. If you have a garden box, a backyard gardens, or even planter gardens in New West, you should check out UNIBUG and see if understanding your bugs is right for you!

I attended two artist talks at the New Media Gallery, both relating to the recently-closed exhibit OTIC. Jesper Norda spoke about his piece The Centre of Silence, and showed us some of his remarkable earlier works. Then on the closing day of OTIC, composer John Oliver walked a group of us through the exhibition, bringing his interpretations of the works, drawing from his vast experience in composition, avant-garde music and psychoacoustics.


It was interesting to me, as someone who thinks pretty squarely about topics of science (when they talk about the mass of the air in the room, I can’t help but do a Fermi Estimate: “22 Litres per mol, 30grams per mol, so ~700 grams per cubic metre… etc.”) to be given a completely different viewpoint that connects the actual science to how we interpret sound. It was educational and brought a whole bunch more out of the exhibition I already really enjoyed.

I also wanted to note, after leaving the Norda talk on a Thursday night (I had to rush off to curling), I was riding my bike up Columbia Street and was amazed by the entertainment opportunities. There was an Open Mic going on at Old Crow Coffee, live music at el Santo, live music (and a new menu!) at the Heritage Grill, and a general buzz of activity downtown. I can’t help but feel we are turning a corner here…

Talking about turning corners, the group that tried to put together an electric racing cart series a couple of years ago are back on the scene, and it appears that a series is happening this summer. A few of us were given an opportunity to check the carts out in the City Hall parking lot, with a pro driver going fast around an impromptu circuit, and several of us going quite a bit slower:ud3

The carts are your typical high-performance racing carts, except that they are 100% electric powered, which makes them scary quiet, and scary fast. apparently we have a race coming this July in Downtown New Westminster. Hold on to your hats.

What kind of a Metro Area do we live in that a former transportation commissioner of New York can sell out a talk in a 700+ seat theatre and be given rock star status while here? There was a serious urban planning and sustainable transportation geek-out at the Vancouver Playhouse when Janette Sadik-Khan arrived on the Vancouver stop of her book tour. And I, of course, was the total fan-boy:ud1Her book “Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution” tells how she re-drew the streetscape of New York City following a motto that “The public realm is the public’s realm”. From strategically reclaiming poorly utilized parking spaces to closing a stretch of Broadway to make Times Square a human space again, he book is a manual of how to take out streets back from those who want to use them only as roads.

It is also full of condensed insight, beautifully concise explanations clearly honed by years of having the same arguments discussions about the same controversial simple ideas to make public space more useful and pedestrian spaces safer. Her page-and-a-half about curb extensions should be required reading for anyone who argues that removing them from Royal Ave will help anything.

So that, a trip over to Saturna to make life difficult for some scotch broom, and the wrap-up of the curling season (Team DeGobbi finished in the semi-finals! Congrats to Team Pierce for winning the Royal City Curling Club’s 50th Club Championships!), have been keeping me busy and smiling.ud4.

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