Last night I was privileged to be part of a Langara College class being held by Australian planner and community engagement expert Wendy Sarkissian with whom I have been in contact throughout this year. She is in Vancouver this Fall to teach courses on planning at Langara and at UBC SCARP.
Last night’s class brought together a number of long-time neighbourhood activists (Eileen Mosca of Grandview, Gudrun Langolf of Marpole, Ned Jacobs of Riley Park/South Cambie, former mayoral candidate Randy Helten, Little Mountain documentarian David Vaisbord, and me).
Over the evening, we each discussed our own histories, our specific focus of activism, and often enough, how the history of activism in Vancouver and elsewhere informs potential solutions for today. I told a few a few stories, and then was happy to sit back and listen to the wisdom of the other “elders”. I hope the students got as much out of it as I did.
Many of us made the point that planning disputes are rarely ideological in a traditional political sense. The problems tend to arise through faulty process, and inequality in the servicing of that process (often appearing as “cronysim”.). Many of us still have the belief that an improved and equalized process can produce an improved result, to the benefit to the neighbourhoods, the City, and the building industry; and that a continuatuon of the current process will inevitably deliver a city that is unaffordable and without many of the features of livability.
It is the choice between these conflicting systems, one supportive of corporations and the other supportive of people, that makes the result of the upcoming election so important.
Most of the class was facilitated by students April Crockett and Elona Saro, who did a marvelous job and deserve congratulations. Well done for an interesting evening!