April 3, 2014

I haven't taken out the trash in six months

Plastics recycling bin

Before you start thinking I'm super gross and live in a pig sty, let me explain.

I've been keen on zero waste for a long time. I'm definitely a devoted recycler and composter, having grown up with both at home. But once I moved out I got to make my own choices about where my trash goes and how to keep it from showing up in the first place. Here's my secret.

Pacific Mobile Depot

This is the most fun you'll ever have recycling. There are tons of people at the depot. Assuming you pre-sorted your stuff into categories, once you're there you just drop it into bins and have a chat with people. I usually pay a dollar to have three months' worth of stuff recycled and the depot is a seven minute bike ride from home. Super convenient.

April 1, 2014

Vancouver Public Space Network launches new website

Vancouver Public Space Network homepage

It's with great pleasure that I share with you a project that was long in the making. Built entirely by volunteers, the new Vancouver Public Space Network website is a labour of love that began about three years ago. I think that extended anticipation made the ultimate launch that much more exciting for me and, I think, for them. It's also amazing to consider how much technology has changed since our first conversation.

The Vancouver Public Space Network advocates for better public spaces and is responsible for such fun events as Parking Day and the annual Halloween SkyTrain Party and SeaBus pirates. (Not to be confused with the No Pants one. Although, I guess you could go without pants as Donald Duck if you wanted.)

As an advocacy organization, the VPSN works to champion the importance of public space to the overall liveability of the city. ... Our work attempts to provide a blend of focused research and design work, creative community engagement and a celebratory, solutions-based approach.

I'm proud and honoured to contribute to the success of this important organization that works to improve our urban life. I'm grateful for Nicolas Demers' countless hours bringing it to life, and to a team that changed hands partway through and which pulled it all together so beautifully. Alissa, Jillian, Graham, Jessica, Andrew and the rest of you behind the scenes: thank you for taking this journey with me and congratulations! I can't wait to see where you go.

Be sure to check out their upcoming events and please consider supporting the VPSN with a donation.

Got a project that needs design love? If you're with a business or non-profit making positive impacts, I'd love to hear from you.

March 15, 2014

Shut up, work brain. I'm going to enjoy a bike ride.

seawall-cyclist-secondbeach.jpg This is not me.

On Monday, a sunny day with a strong wind, I left a meeting with my new life coach close to five. I felt at once an obligation to head home — an internal guilt trip — and a desire to feed my bicycle-addicted brain. I was downtown already and compromising:

"You can't go ride the seawall right now. You have things to do."
"Like what? There's nothing important to be done when I get home at 5:30."
"I don't know, you just need to go home. ... Okay, you may take the short scenic route."
"It's a little farther but worth it."

It took me awhile to relax and give myself permission to feel like I was free for the evening, that I didn't need to go home and work.

February 24, 2014

Designing for good: why I do what I do

Erika portrait

I've always cared a lot about our planet. I was the kid asking other kids not to dig all the clay out of the creek bed at our elementary school. I'll never forget coming home from a trip at age nine to find a forest off the main road gone. Or at age ten seeing clearcut mountains on the way to Tofino. It hit home for me. I understood the issues. After all, this was the age of Captain Planet. But I think kids generally "get it." I never understood why people litter (because garbage magically disappears, right?). I stomped on tin cans a lot to recycle them and was brought up to not waste food. I have an obsession with trees that's visible in my drawings going back, well, forever.

February 19, 2014

What makes a Happy City?

Happy-City-cover-lrez.jpg

I felt sad when I finished reading "Happy City" the other day. Vancouver author Charles Montgomery weaves together stories, interviews, culture and information in such a compelling way that I felt like a month-long conversation had ended. When I began reading it, I gushed about it on Facebook and with good reason. It has something for any city dweller — from the history and science of happiness and behaviour, to impacts of transportation on wellbeing, to dwelling types influencing social interaction. I returned it to the library reluctantly after my initial 14-day restricted loan period was up, and waited anxiously to get it back until another copy was returned six days late. (I guess the other person liked it even more than I did.) I felt its absence like a close friend.

February 5, 2014

What is placemaking anyway?

Gather Round Roundabout Gather Round Roundabout at St George St at East 10th Ave. Image from Google Streetview.

A few years ago I wrote about a Mark Lakeman event, which I did not attend, so my interest was piqued when a friend of mine mentioned an upcoming event with Lakeman's name on it.

"Cracks in the pavement: Placemaking and the remaking of the modern city with Mark Lakeman" (tickets still available at Eventbrite) will be Lakeman's public talk this Friday evening "on Placemaking and Redesigning The Commons" ahead of a 9-month course on the subject.

Placemaking, the creative reclamation of public space was the brainchild of Mark, an urban designer, and his neighbours in 1996 when they transformed their own intersection into a place for community gatherings and interaction — starting a mini revolution in Portland, OR that has spread throughout the city and inspired the creation of City Repair, an organization that engages citzens in transforming places. (Read more.)

February 1, 2014

Changemakers Vancouver and Late Nite Art get creative for social change

artyouready-poster.jpg

I volunteer my time and design skills to an awesome burgeoning group called Changemakers Vancouver, which is "a network of people who want to learn, share, and act so to make the world a better place." On February 13th, we're teaming up with Late Nite Art for an evening around what insights we can gain when we engage our creativity.

Late Nite Art is a facilitated workshop that brings community together to collaboratively explore thought-provoking ideas and issues through visual arts. We achieve this by combining fresh local food, gratuitous beats, and explorative artmaking in one tasty package.

You definitely don't have to be artistic to participate. In fact, I think the more diverse a crowd we have, the more interesting and fun our evening and outcomes will be!

Really good food is included in your $35 ticket, which you should get today since capacity is limited.

See you there!

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About

Erika photo

I am a communication designer in Vancouver, BC. Most of my writing and community activism are in the interconnected issues of public transit, local eating and food security, politics, health, environment, and sustainability in general. At heart, I'm a geek and a total treehugger. Nature, tea, good food and great company make me happy.

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