Doors are about to open here at the brand-new (you can smell it so) SFU Woodwards Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, where volunteers, organizers, and technicians of all stripes (but all in black) are running around to ensure everything goes without a hitch tonight at the Greenest City Ideas Slam event, which starts tonight at 7. It’s been affectionately known as a “Dragon’s Den” to celebrate just a small sampling of the ideas that Vancouverites have been posting and voting on to the City’s TalkGreenToUs.ca since June on helping Vancouver, its residents and its businesses live, work, and play with lighter impact on our surrounding environment.
The VPSN has been happy to collaborate with staff from the City of Vancouver‘s Greenest City Implementation Team, the Sustainability Office, and SFU to help pull together an event as awesome and diverse as the ideas people have been diligently submitting and debating. The City of Vancouver has an open house in the Woodward’s Atrium to talk about the goals and process for the implementation plan, but I’m most looking forward to grabbing some dinner off the food carts right outside the doors of the theatre.
This night is gearing up to be awesome! I (Karen Fung, public transit coordinator) will be live-blogging throughout the evening, so follow VPSN or Greenest City on Twitter for up-the-moment commentary, or check back here at this blog post throughout the evening as the ideas get pitched and the events unfold!
Update (7:24pm): SIFEsimonfraser is also live-tweeting. Are we all sitting next to each other?
Larry Grant is sharing stories of the Musqueam and the changes he and his people have seen in Vancouver.”This is going to be the greenest city in 10 years.
Update 7:36pm: Bill Richardson’s up and has gifts for opening band Maria In the Shower (who are back playing “traveling” music)! “The city has implemented the Talk Green to Us program and some 2500 people have logged on, 650 ideas have been posted on how to make the city greener.” He’s now introducing the panelists!
Update (7:41): The panel is introduced!
Tamara Vrooman, CEO of Vancity
Emily Jubenvill, from the Edible Garden Project (and Greenspaces Coordinator for VPSN)
Sadhu Johnston, Deputy City Manager of City of Vancouver
Jyoti Stephens, from Nature’s Path Organic Foods
Andrea Reimer, City Councilor in Vancouver
Matt O’Grady, Editor-in-chief of BC Business Magazine
Janet Austin, CEO of YWCA
Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver
Helen Spiegelman from Zero Waste Vancouver is giving her pitch.
Update 7:51pm: Matt O’Grady suggests creating disincentives for businesses to create waste in the first place. Cheeying Ho suggests to Helen to “start small” and use social marketing to spur coffee shops to encourage in-house consumption. Sadhu weighs in: “The key is taking waste to profit. Create new products using waste. It’s been successful in the UK. We launched a network in Chicago. We’re taking roof shingles and re-using it to pave our streets. Mandates – it’s easy for government to fall back on it, but I think we can be really successful by encouraging businesses to thrive by taking waste for new products.”
Paola Murillo speaks to the cultural history for innovation in re-using old things. Mayor Robertson speaks to how we have no policy limits on how much waste they dispose – paying by how much garbage you generate? He also riffs on Cheeying’s suggestion of having a non-profit manage a reusable coffee cup distribution and cleaning system. Andrea thanks Helen for putting in a picture of the “dead horse” in her presentation — “we have the capacity to be creative when we have to be.” Changing behaviour, says Andrea, is a challenge — how do we link up policy changes with getting people in communities to change what they actually do, and the people who are passionate about it?
Update 8:03: Veda Hille is playing “LuckLucky” (the name comes for the native name for the area that is now Gastown.) Grab the song at home here to play along. “It took 30 years to draw this map…”
Update 8:16: Emily, Sadhu, and Janet have weighed in on the City University idea. Mayor Robertson: “How do we get these institutions which are focused on resisting change…how do we open source it to make the City a better place?” The combination of the “City University” idea and open data (as driven by Andrea Reimer) is fantastic. There are already UBC students who have done this on the topic of crime.
Update 8:29pm: Doris Chow from United We Can talks about urban food systems and urban agriculture. “The very act of local food production teaches us about natural food systems…this leads us to question the culture of eating, such as eating meat.” Vegan meal choices are a top idea on the Talk Green to Us website. One thing urban agriculture has that big businesses don’t is values: that of social, environmental and economic values that me and many other Vancouverites hold.”
Update 9:01: Whoa! Got carried away with the live-tweeting, so back to the live-blogging. We’re now into the bike topic. Paola tells her story of living in Bogata and moving to Vancouver thinking she would buy a car, and about living there as Gil Penalosa was making changes to focus on cycling and walking as it was equalizing the residents and engaging people in the city. “I want to be in the future of Vancouver as people learn discover cycling.” Mayor Gregor lays out the economic case for bikes; “the only way our population and economy downtown can expand is to grow our infrastructure for walking, cycling and transit. [...] We don’t make cars here; we have a very robust bicycle industry here. It creates a lot more support for the local economy to support bikes.”
Update 9:12 pm: The door prizes have been drawn, which means there’s only one thing left: Blues Swing Dancers!