If San Francisco Can Do It…

November 19, 2012

As we work through Phase 2 of the Grandview Woodland Community Plan — a period that makes Grandview heritage enthusiasts very nervous — we can only hope that the planners take note of this important story from San Francisco.

Perhaps the most important quote, and one we need to repeat loudly and often here, is that we need to become “a city more interested in conserving its old Victorian-style homes than in making a statement with new development.”

More than 50% of all buildings in Grandview were built before 1929.  They have served us well for a hundred years or so and they continue to provide both single family housing and affordable rental units. Grandview is heritage.  Future planning must take this into account or it will destroy the neighbourhood we love so well.



The New Secession Movement

November 16, 2012

The big news this week is that there are now petitions from all 50 U.S. States demanding their right to secede from the Union — mostly based on their dislike for the colour of the U.S. President so far as I can tell.

As an anarchist I am, of course, all for the breakup of the nation state into ever-smaller parts.  I just wish it wasn’t these racist extremists running the game.  If they got their way, I suspect they would simply set up smaller more fascistic nation states further oppressing the people.

My ever-loving has her own take on this, demanding that, when they fail, these secessionists don’t come to Canada.  It is a good piece that was picked up by the University of Utah online Hard News Cafe.  Worth the read!

Radio Interview: Friday 3:40pm

November 15, 2012

I am scheduled to be interviewed by Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio’s “On the Coast” programme on Friday at 3:40pm.  The topic will be the Grandview Heritage Group’s project re: “The Highland Echo” and the value of local history.

I’m looking forward to it.  Please listen in at 690AM or 88.1FM.

“The Highland Echo”

November 13, 2012

Today, my colleagues and I at the Grandview Heritage Group, fulfilled a promise we made to ourselves some months ago.  We delivered microfilms of “The Highland Echo” — Commercial Drive’s local paper — to the Special Collections Department of the Vancouver Public Library.

These editions, from 1970 to 1995, were previously only available at the BC Provincial Archives in Victoria, which made it difficult and expensive for Vancouver-based researchers to access.  We raised the nearly $3,000 from generous supporters and through our history walks of the neighbourhood this summer.  Now this precious resource — completing the VPL’s collection from 1935 to 1995 — will be easily accessible to historians and researchers and residents here in Vancouver.

It has been a fine collaborative project to work on and I for one am looking forward to using these materials when I write the second volume of my history of “The Drive.”  More details can be found at the GHG site.

Local Power Is Slipping Away

November 12, 2012

The ability of neighbourhoods to control their own affairs, in matters of zoning and streetscapes, business and housing, is slipping away at a fast and increasing rate.

It is vital that we re-establish the rights of the electorate by pushing powers down to the lowest, most local level.  In terms of municipal policy this means making “city-wide” policies subject to local opt-in or opt-out.  Today, this would mean that the Interim Zoning policies enacted after the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing, land use policies under Transportation 2040, and the city-wide plan currently being devised by the Vancouver City Planning Commission would all be controlled and enacted — or not — by each neighbourhood in Vancouver.

This also means that regional groupings, such as the unelected Metro Vancouver, need to become operational liaisons only with no executive powers, and certainly no authority to over-ride neighbourhood decisions through Regional Context Statements and similar.  If necessary, the City of Vancouver should be prepared to withdraw from Metro in order to ensure this level of local control.

In a Twitter exchange with me today, major Vision supporter and real estate maven Bob Ransford called “parochial decisions” and “endless debate” a problem.  No, it’s not a problem.  Parochial decision making — not the negative Ransford tries to make it — after legitimate local debate is exactly what we DO want, what this City needs.

Why is it that centralisers, top down authority freaks like the Vision managers, always think they know better than the local residents? Now, if only we had a genuinely grassroots political base to follow this up on …


See also: It’s About Control, Stupid! and Heritage and the Community Plan

Better Holidays

November 12, 2012

On August 9, 1960, Harvard professor Timothy Leary consumed seven Psilocybe caerulescens mushrooms in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Five hours later, he experienced a “full blown conversion experience” next to a swimming pool.  It was Leary’s first drug trip.

Now, it doesn’t matter what your view of drugs might be, but wouldn’t it be more fun and relevant to have holidays based on important cultural events, such Tim’s first trip, or the day that Marshall McLuhan saw his first TV show, the premiere of “Steamboat Willie“, the date of Mary Quant’s first runway show, Elvis’s first appearance on Ed Sullivan, the first email, the launch of the iphone.  Stuff like that.

Each generation could then change them as needed.

For Remembrance: On Seeing A Photograph

November 11, 2012

You were young men in the Guards
treading water in wretched trenches
swinging kitbags and rifles and broad silly grins

so young
that two billion volumes single-spaced wouldn’t be enough
to list all of life’s treasures
you haven’t experienced yet
and still you would die
right then
right there
doing right
or so you thought
as you lay where
no-one could tell where
mud ended and blood began

three and four generations removed,
we lay wreathes for your wraiths
on a hollow day in November
while the parades and the poppies
an annual landscape of memory

profound today, gone tomorrow

and for three or four days the flowers fade
and the greenery browns at your memorials
and then the work crews come

young men and women with guarded futures
treading water at minimum wage
swinging brooms and shovels and black plastic bags

and when the work trucks leave
your memory has turned once again
to cold undecorated stone
and nothing can ever change
the fact
that you died before you started living.