Posted by: jillianglover | October 4, 2012

VPSN Public Space News & Events: October 2012

VPSN Public Space News & Events: October 2012
After an event-filled summer, the VPSN is gearing up for a busy fall! Vancouver was blessed with an unusually warm, sunny, and mostly rain-free summer. It was a perfect time to take advantage of the numerous public space projects around the city, including the VPSN’s Lunch Meet, Karoake Kiosk and Digital Graffiti Projections (organized in partnership with the City of Vancouver’s Viva Vancouver program) – as well our as our Public Space Movie Night, Park(ing) Day and the Main Street Mosey.
In this edition of the Public Space News & Events, we take a moment to reflect on ‘what we did on our summer break.’
But before that, we start with some exciting news on two long-standing VPSN items: Robson Square and our annual Halloween SkyTrain Party.


Expanding Robson Square – Stand Up and Say Yes!
August 2012 was capped off by the City of Vancouver’s exciting announcement that the closure of the 800-block of Robson Street would remain in effect for three more months. The stretch between Hornby and Howe has been a pedestrian-only space since July, when the Jazz Fest kicked of a series of summertime events at the site.
The three-month extension is intended to give City staff a chance to study the feasibility of permanently closing the space to vehicular traffic.  We understand that various forms of consultation are being planned and that the details should be available shortly.
This is an important moment for public space in Vancouver.  The city has long-lacked a central gathering area of any caliber.  The current Robson Square site, with its multiplicity of nooks and spaces, will benefit greatly by not having car and bus traffic cutting it in half.
The discussion around Robson is also well-timed for other reasons.  The north end of the Art Gallery site is in need of repairs, so there is a key opportunity to link the processes and to move them together in a synchronized fashion.  
We know that concerns have been expressed about the Robson site – about transit routing, the possibility of impacts on business, the need to ensure good access to and from the West End – but we are confident that thoughtful planning can ensure that these are dealt with in a way that works for everyone. 
Expanding Robson Square can and should be a big step forward for the city’s public realm.  Not only will the city’s public life see immediate wins with the improved space, but the benefits to creating the enhanced public space will continue to accrue far into the future.  This is a real opportunity to create a legacy for future generations.  
The VPSN will be working hard over the next few months to advocate for making this temporary closure permanent.  We encourage all of you, regardless of your take on this issue, to participate in the discussions that take place, and to have your voice heard. 

2012 Halloween SkyTrain Party
It’s getting to that time of year again!  We’re planning our annual Halloween SkyTrain Party and will be rolling out the details over the next few weeks. 
This will be the seventh year we’ve held the event – and it promises to be a blast.  We hope you’ll consider joining us, ‘cause nothing says ‘transit transformation’ like the skytrain party: the best of costumes, the sweetest of dj-driven vibes… and a chance to say a friendly, music-filled ‘thank you’ to Vancouver’s SkyTrain network.
:: Feel like lending a hand with the preparations?  Contact Karen –  Quinn[at]vancouverpublicspace<dot>ca

Summer 2012: In Review

Lunch Meet – July 6-27
Hundreds of people descended on to Abbott Street each Thursday in July for Lunch Meet.  The VPSN transformed half a block of Abbott Street into a place for people, with a long table and music provided by DJ Rocky Fisher to bring people together to share in a communal outdoor meal. Lunch Meet event invited people to eat lunch together, share a unique experience and start a conversation in a first step to building a community. This event took many volunteers to help set up and take down the equipment and a big thanks to Simon for his dedicated ground work for this project. Lunch Meet was supported by local businesses such as; Ignite Smoke Shop, Olla Flowers and the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association. The beautiful handcrafted long table was supplied by  Emily Carr University student Theunis Snyman.

:: Check out our photos from Lunch Meet

Karaoke Kiosk – August 12-26
Singers from all walks of life converged on downtown public spaces to take their chance at street stardom. The VPSN rolled out the karaoke kiosk for three weekend in August… and in so doing, helped to fill Robson Square, Granville Street and Library Square with the sound of music.

Designed by our friends at Urban Republic (and supported through the Viva Vancouver program), the Kiosk is an outdoor karaoke booth that lets you to choose your favourite song from a touch screen display and sing it for the adoring public on the streets of downtown Vancouver. Each brave soul that stepped up to the mic channeled their inner Tom Jones and Celine Dion to the delight of the many Pop Rocks loungers and curious passers-by on Robson Street. Singing in the street was so addictive that many came back to sing a second, third, and sometimes fourth song.

Read More: How to Survive the Karaoke Kiosk

Digital Graffiti Projections /Laser Graffiti – August 18th
Laser graffiti was back again this summer and was good as ever! With help from the city’s Viva Vancouver program, the VPSN rolled out the laser graffiti gear to alleys and public spaces across town this summer.  Visitors to the Liveable Laneways night markets near Main & Broadway in July / Aug were treated to fun with laser graf in the alley… And we surprised & delighted folks from all over town at our installation one evening at the Maritime Museum… We even had a dad with his 3 kids stick around with us til we shut down at midnight – those lucky kids have a cool dad!

Public Space Movie Night – August 27th
The weather held and it was a perfect night for the Arts in the Heart of Mt. Pleasant night of short films. We had over a 100 folks show up and enjoy an evening of free movies about public space. The space behind Our Town Café at Main and Broadway in Vancouver was perfectly suited for a film event, and it didn’t take much to transform the space from a parking lot into an intimate outdoor arts venue. You can see a set of before & after pics, as well as a listing of the shorts we screened on the VPSN blog.

Park(ing) Day – September 21

Park(ing)  day is a worldwide event to facilitate dialogue about the use of urban public space. It all began in San Francisco in 2005 when Rebar, a local art and design studio, successfully transformed a parking meter in the downtown core into a mini park. This unique take on the street life has since inspired people from around the world to create their own Park(ing) event.
In celebration of Park(ing) Day, VPSN came together to transform a regular parking meter space on Kingsway and Joyce Street into a mini farm. A truck loaded with hay bales, 50 corn stocks, planter boxes, a few two by fours, and a toolbox were unloaded to revive a parking space. The space was completed with the decoration of colorful vibrant cloths and musical bluegrass beats to accompany our theme. We met a lot of people with our intervention – and heard tons of enthusiasm for parking space reclamation.  One man sitting in the sushi restaurant next to us liked our urban initiative so much that he bought the group sushi for lunch. Another nearby resident popped over with tea and tales of the neighbourhood.
Read more: VPSN Celebrates Parking Day
Main Street Mosey – September 23
A small but keen group of urban enthusiasts gathered on a beautiful fall afternoon to join in on a communal cross-town stroll across the entire length of Main Street, from end to end.  Starting at the beach in Crab Park with some ceremonial ‘toe-dipping’ in Burrard Inlet, the group headed south, admiring the diversity and beauty of Vancouver’s eclectic neighbourhoods, from the Downtown Eastside, through Chinatown, Mount Pleasant, Riley Park, Sunset, all the way into the riverfront industrial lands at the south end of the city.  The 3-hour walk terminated with an unexpected discovery – a ‘home-made’ beach and mini park nestled in a bend of the Fraser River.  Another toe-dip into the waters completed the journey and the walkers congratulated each
other on making it all the way across Vancouver, from shore to shore. Stay tuned for future urban walks across the city.
Volunteer Orientation
Our next VPSN Volunteer Orientation takes place on Wednesday, October 3.  Care to join?  Contact Erin for all the details – erin<at>vancouverpublicspace [dot] ca



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