June 12, 2014

What’s a fair share for BC of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline?

I’m really excited to share with you a website I designed for Dogwood Initiative, which launched this week. Fair Share BC asks a simple but vital question: What’s a fair share of economic benefits for BC of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline? Whether you’re against the proposed pipeline — as are about three quarters of British Columbians — or for it, or agnostic/undecided, we’d like to hear your opinion.

Understanding that many of us would never put a price on our coast, the main purpose of the site is two-fold: to enable the people to decide what a fair share looks like, and to help conversations happen between folks with different view points. (Maybe Uncle Bob wants more permanent jobs for BC, but thinks we’d get a lot more than we would in reality?) I’d consider myself well-informed, and was surprised by the actual numbers.

Prime Minister Harper’s decision on the Northern Gateway project is anticipated soon. If he gives it the green light, it’s then up to Christy Clark to stand up for BC. But her “fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits” condition in the pipeline’s way is vague — what’s fair by her standards? Dogwood Initiative will collect the public’s Fair Share BC quiz answers (totalling over 2,000) to put some hard, public-powered numbers behind that. I want to make it clear that thinking about what a fair share looks like doesn’t mean we can be bought if we got what we asked for — the reality is that we won’t, so this is an exercise in making it clear that Christy Clark’s fifth condition cannot be met.

I worked closely with Kai Nagata, Energy and Democracy Director. Dogwood Initiative’s Karl Hardin and Joshua W provided technical heavy lifting for which I am grateful.

Additional ways to take action

Join over 16,000 people to send a message to the “Enbridge 21” — BC’s Conservative MPs who stand to lose a lot if the federal government approves the project. Encourage them to support BC instead of Enbridge.

Pledge to support a referendum on the future of pipelines and oil tankers in BC. If you have time, please consider volunteering in your community.

Send Christy Clark a message to stand strong for BC.

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.

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.

Continue reading Designing for good: why I do what I do »

November 13, 2013

Jer Thorp has awesome hair. But that’s not why you should attend Practivism

Jer Thorp and works


Friday, November 29th, 2013

6pm – 10pm at The Ironworks

If you’ve attended any of the previous Practivism speaker events, you probably don’t need convincing to attend this one. Now in its sixth year, the annual event brings change-making creatives from Vancouver and beyond to talk about their projects and the designer’s role in influencing change, whether it be social, environmental or in our practice. This year the keynote speaker is artist and educator Jer Thorp. “Coming from a background in genetics, his digital art practice explores the many-folded boundaries between science, data, art, and culture.”

Our 6th annual Practivism event will explore the opportunities that lay in front of each of us within the vast amount of data we pass by on a daily basis. A panel discussion with Alex Beim, Casey Hrynkow, and Eric Karjaluoto, moderated by Amanda Gibbs will further explore the possibilities and challenge individuals to take action — to envision and mobilize a better future.

The event has grown a lot since its sustainability-focussed beginnings. I’m looking forward to seeing what Thorp offers the event and audience on November 29th.

Get your tickets online now. Practivism sold out last year!

See you there.

September 27, 2013

How can responsive retrofitting benefit your business or organization?

Responsive website on iPhone

The increasing prevalence of smartphones and tablets has dramatically changed how people access the internet, to the extent that a statistic from last month is out of date today. As a consequence, people — rightly — have the expectation that your website will be easy to read and navigate on their iPhone or Nexus tablet. At best, a website not optimized for an experience on a smaller, touch-based screen will frustrate the visitor but they’ll complete their task (contacting your organization, finding your opening hours, or buying an item for example). At worst, they’ll give up and take their fingers — and business — elsewhere.

Some convincing math on mobile

There are many ways in which having a mobile-friendly website helps your business or organization meet or exceed its goals, not the least of which is making it easier and faster for people to buy your products or complete a petition. But if you’re not convinced there’s a critical mass waiting to look you up on their phone, here’s one juicy fact: an Internet Trends 2013 report shows that 15% of all traffic on the Internet worldwide is now on mobile, and projected to grow 150% per year. That number, of course, may vary for your site; sites I’ve worked on this year are achieving upwards of 20% mobile traffic. If a lot of your traffic comes via email or social media, changes are those numbers are higher.

Continue reading How can responsive retrofitting benefit your business or organization? »

May 30, 2013

Street posters, a mild obsession

I have a thing for street posters. I’m often photographing these in the thin moments between changing walk signals. Band posters played a role in getting me interested in design when I was a teenager, though I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to make one. Rarely do I even make it to the event. These are my favourites of the past couple of years.

Commentary follows each image.


This one for Iron and Wine reminds me of the crayon-layered images I made as a kid. And it might be made that way.

Continue reading Street posters, a mild obsession »

April 27, 2012

Are you in a toxic relationship with your household cleaners?

Spring Breakup

I’m not! I switched to vinegar and baking soda for most tasks years ago. I’m even considering making my own laundry detergent after I move out.

I have a confession to make, though: I used to like the smell of Mr. Clean. I’m sure a whiff of it now would send me into an allergic frenzy, but I broke up with Mr. Clean a long time ago. You can too, by going to SpringBreakup.ca, a campaign site my team at the David Suzuki Foundation recently launched with our Queen of Green.

Continue reading Are you in a toxic relationship with your household cleaners? »

August 30, 2011

David Suzuki’s Queen of Green gets a facelift — the brand, that is

Queen of Green email previewQueen of Green emails

While I’m mainly devoted to the web in my design practice as well as at my job, I do wear many hats in my work at the David Suzuki Foundation. I recently took on a rebrand of David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, the Foundation’s expert on green living and one of our most public faces. The Queen of Green, Lindsay Coulter, writes a weekly blog, offers tips and recipes, and has regular media appearances. Her recipes and other public materials lacked cohesive, formally executed branding, so when it was time to have a fresh go at the content of her resources, we gave her work a proper identity.

Continue reading David Suzuki’s Queen of Green gets a facelift — the brand, that is »

March 15, 2011

Where America gets its energy and how it’s used

Yesterday, I bought GOOD Magazine‘s energy issue. I spend a good deal of time drooling over their infographics, and their design in general, and delighting in navigating their information. Fortunately, they grace us with their online versions. (Their latest visualizes where the next earthquake is most likely to hit.)

In the midst of Japan’s disaster, it’s hard to find an item in their website’s environment section that isn’t about that, and given the discussions about nuclear power, I thought this particular interactive infographic not about Japan but about one of the world’s biggest energy consumers, would be relevant.

GOOD breaks down US energy sources and where it gets used. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are the heavy hitters, with nuclear in fourth place a ways behind, but the government is interested in more nuclear power. It appears more than half of the country’s energy is wasted, which brings me to question why more isn’t being done to mitigate the wastage, and to reduce overall consumption, instead of constantly focussing on extracting and generating more.

75th graphicThis daily green blog challenge is in celebration of David Suzuki’s 75th birthday, supporting the David Suzuki Foundation. Please help me out by sponsoring me online now.

Note: I am writing solely on my own behalf, and do not claim to represent the David Suzuki Foundation or its views here.

March 14, 2011

Upcoming: Mark Lakeman, Natalie Purschwitz and SUSTAIN: Vancouver

Street GardenThe garden is greener on the other side of the road. (Photo by urbanwild via Flickr)

I thought I’d alert you dreamers, makers and thinkers to some upcoming events in Vancouver.

This should be an interesting month, with David Owen speaking Thursday on why Manhattan is the greenest city, and if Portland isn’t, Mark Lakeman is sure to prove they’re ready to take the lead.

“Eco-Dreaming Vancouver!” with Mark Lakeman, City Repair Co-Founder, Portland

Friday, March 25, 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Join us for Mark’s “The Village Lives” presentation on how Portland is rapidly becoming the USA’s leading green city!

Saturday, March 26, 10am – 5pm

Join us for a day of Collaborative and City Repair Games facilitated by Mark Lakeman, Power of Hope and Village Vancouver. We will spend the day building community, having fun, and learning how to work as “villages” to ecologically re-design and retrofit our neighbourhoods. Registration 9:30 am. Please RSVP for Saturday workshops to: sara[at]powerofhope.org

Location: W2 Storyeum, 151 West Cordova

Cash bar and lunch service available by W2 Catering.

More information and register by donation at ecodreamingvancouver.eventbrite.com

Thanks to Sara Dent.

Continue reading Upcoming: Mark Lakeman, Natalie Purschwitz and SUSTAIN: Vancouver »