There are 15 speakers in the room this evening for Interesting Vancouver at the Vancouver Rowing Club, all from diverse and unique backgrounds and each with something interesting to say. I’m sitting here looking up at the Rowing Club’s Roll of Honor for men who gave their lives for their country in from 1914-1918.
Upon arrival we were each given a clothespin on which to write our names (wooden name tag FTW) as well as a blank index card and some instructions, “Write, draw, paint, collage or whatever your thoughts, opinions, inspirations may be and drop in the basket. Everything will be scanned and shared anonymously at interestingvancouver.com.”
Since there is only bar service available (no food) attendees were encouraged to bring their own snacks to enjoy before we got underway. I smell McDonald’s in the room – this definitely will be an interesting evening.
As announced on sixty4media earlier today, I will be supplying the live blog tonight so stay tuned.
Update: Organizer Brett MacFarlane has just taken the stage to warn us… “it’s not as stuffy as some other conference, and probably not as loose either.” …
Speakers: Tom Williams, David Young, James Sherrett, Darren Barefoot, James Glave, James Chutter, Naomi Devine, Shannon LaBelle, Cheryl Stephens, Colin Keddie, Irwin Oostindie, Roy Yen, Jeffrey Ellis, Dr. David Ng, and Joe Solomon.
This is also streaming live on Ustream (archived on Vimeo) and there is also a Flickr Group. There’s a box of apples at the front of the room, for eating of course, as well as a wingback chair next to an end table with a candle and glass of wine where each speaker can rest and enjoy whoever follows them.
Update: James Sherrett is up first with a great story about eating local (he has 3 minutes on the schedule). Darren Barefoot has 20 minutes on stage next, while James takes a seat in the comfy chair on the corner of the stage.
Ten questions Darren gets asked every day with regards to living and working abroad. He said his mother always used to say, “do something everyday that scares you.” 1. Why? 2. Where? 3. How long? 4. Home? 5. Office? 6. Money? (Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world – remember that your money will got a lot further in other places 95% of the time) 7. Time? (“My life is so busy when I’m home – friends, family – we like these things but they take up an awful lot of time.”) 8. Tools? 9. Risks? (Health, language, work/clients, etc.) 10. Why not? “Life is short, the world is a big place. The barriers you perceive when living this way for a while, are smaller and more surmountable than you may think.” You can read more at LaptopBedouin.
Update: Darren now moves to the comfy wine chair while Roy Yen starts his 3 minutes about community culture – starting with art. “If art is the ‘what’ or culture, than perhaps the spaces that we occupy become the ‘where’.” Speaking about how cities are growing so rapidly, “we’ve never lived closer to each other yet we’ve never felt further away.” He makes an interesting point about how in Vancouver’s earlier years, the Art Gallery was a place for people to gather en-masse until there was a riot in Gastown in the 1970s the city actually decided that mass gatherings were a bad idea. He says people now resort to gathering to commune (usually every day at 4:20) at the back of the Art Gallery – outside the back doors. Some say Vancouverites gather on the Sea Wall, “but it’s more like one giant movator.” However, “dogs love our greenspace, we’re probably the number one city in the world for dogs.” Roy suggests that we’re starving for community gathering places – in the public realm (not just on Facebook).
Update: James Chutter has the next 20 minutes to talk about the evolution of storytelling. That’s what is so great about Interesting Vancouver – it’s not just the hard facts, it’s my own personal take.” James gives us a bit of his background, which he admits is rather varied, noting some of us may recognize him as a deputy in the film Alien vs Predator. He went to NYU and graduated in 2004 – at the same time Tim O’Reilly coined ‘web 2.0’. “F*ck me! Here I just spent $100,000 on tuition to learn how to make Hollywood films and this guy is saying any 14 year old kid with a handicam can be the same type of content creator.” Social media didn’t really catch him at first, since the whole idea of ‘audience participation’ was nothing new. Side note – James totally reminds me of DaveO – he’s even got the scarf and cap to boot. He gives a colourful background on radio, film, and even the music industry’s evolution (all within the span of a few minutes). He brings up “mash media: appropriating media to reach a mass audience.”
He lists off so many artists (art, music, film etc.) that I’ll have to look up later or zoom through the UStream to references later. Although, I catch him mentioning the creators of We Feel Fine – that scrapes the internet for the words “I feel” and mashes all of those sentiments together on the site – with a new “feeling” every second. As well he mentions Nick Haley and the story of CSS, from YouTube to Apple for the iPod Touch commercials. James’ last slide is visual meme — all of the panels from left to right, to bottom, to left to right, are all connected.
Update: Cheryl Stephens takes the podium for the next 20 minute slot while we all pass around a hand out, which is rather fitting since her topic is literacy and the communication of rights. “People who read, think differently,” she speaks about storytelling and the importance of reading. One of her slides is a poster that can probably be seen around town that states, “literacy is a right.” She presents some graphs about the way people learn and statistics on learning and reading skills. Cheryl also speaks to how it can come to be that illiteracy can come to be in today’s society, which can be attributed to learning disabilities, language skills, social problems, along with stress, anxiety, abuse etc. “These things affect the child’s ability to focus, and their ability to process what they are learning.” She notes that it is possible to lose your ability to read if you do not keep it up and keep feeding your brain with literature of all kinds. I just checked in on her website where you can get information about her book, “Plain Language Legal Writing”. Clear + simple + human = good writing (side note, this makes total sense and is also the way I try to approach my blogging). In closing, she just wants us to be aware of these issues and points us to LiteracyBC.
Update: Shannon LaBelle is up next to inform us of all of the museums around town – some of which we may not even know are there. She won’t have time to tell us about all of them today, but check out her site for more goodies. Shannon starts off by giving us an update about the Museum of Anthropology‘s renewal project as well as the relocation plans for the Vancouver Art Gallery to False Creek (near the old Plaza of Nations). The Art Gallery plans to double in size and with regards to the Vancouver Museum, “they no longer want to bring the world to Vancouver, they want to reflect and connect Vancouver to the world.”
She also mentions the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre that runs the annual Holocaust Symposeum at UBC (that I attended during my grade 11 and also grade 12 years of high school).
Update: Irwin Oostindie has 20 minutes and will talk to us about his neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside and Fearless City – spawned in part by an article in the Vancouver Sun about what they called “four blocks of hell”. He mentions Roy’s talk about how we’re pretty much discouraged from being social beings in Vancouver (large gatherings etc.) Irwin also wants to make sure Vancouverites are away of the ICI “13 commitments that were going to be benefits for the inner city including things like building 2400 units of social housing, purchasing and hiring locally.” Side note, Irwin also runs Gallery Gachet. “We’re handing out handsets to people in our neighbourhood so they can communicate for free… No you can’t eat these, no you can’t get shelter but mobile is the way things are moving around the world.” Irwin also mentions the Woodward’s project and how they still look at it as a success story. “It’s a hybrid space – it will be a huge space for cultural expression… It will be really important for the city of Vancouver to come back to Woodward’s.”
You can listen to a cool podcast DaveO did for Raincity about the W2 development and there’s a Mobile Souls at Parade of Lost Souls event Saturday the 25th (tomorrow).
“We hope the community comes back, plays basketball, has a farmer’s market, and lives in this space.”
Update: Jeff Ellis from Cloudscape Comics has the next 3 minutes. “Part of a vibrant underground comic community,” Jeff mentions the Vancouver history of comic creations. “I encourage you to look into some of the local comics being produced.”
Update: Quick 10 minute break and a PSA – if you want to watch the video from tonight’s talks they will be archived on Vimeo.
Update: Tom Williams of GiveMeaning is up next for 20 minutes. “How many of you know what you’re passionate about?”. “So I called up the CEO of Apple every single day before I went to school…” Tom started work at Apple Computers when he was 15, “my mom calls it an elaborate way of running away.” He tells a story about passion – about his career paths and being asked that very same question about passion years ago. “Follow your tears.”
“I wanted to help my own local community – and (from Google) all I got was the big national charity.” He started approaching local charities, mentioning it was harder to reach someone from the charity than it was to reach the CEO of Apple. But it wasn’t about communicating with people like him – they were all about their cause. “What’s the big problem? Fundraising.” Tom says something that every one of these organization have though, are people and volunteers with passion. “I don’t just want to support my organization, I want them to be able to do this specific thing,” which you can setup on his site, GiveMeaning. The people who create projects and causes can upload photos, blog, and engage with their supporters – supporters and sponsors who donate the same amount they would spend on a cup of coffee in the morning (or at the bar here tonight) and together they can all come together in this way and create change. He was also asked about how if the economy goes down the drain if people will stop giving and put him out of business because they’ll start caring more for themselves – he says quite the opposite.
“Who am I stripped of artifice, who am I stripped of all these things of meaning, and will I – dare I – act on what is meaningful to me?”
Update: Naomi Devine now has 3 minutes and she is a, “climate change and sustainability policy expert.” She mentions Roy’s talk again, “who knew that there were 800 events mandated by policy in the city of Vancouver each year.” She was a member of the Premier’s climate action team – “In BC we’re actually world leaders.” Naomi brings up a slide that says, “I (heart) Carbon Tax” and says we all need to be on board with this, “I’m at the policy table, are you there?” She also notes, “we need to democratize the way that we make policy,” and takes a poll in the room regarding the last election. “Democratic fitness – Democratic fulfillment – Citizens assembly.”
Update: James Glave now has the floor for 20 minutes. He starts by introducing his children, his daughter is obsessed with: “Hamsters, the smaller the better – dwarf hamsters are ideal.” His son is obsessed with: “Death, war, weapons, people being injured etc.” (which ties into a Star Wars obsession as well). All kidding aside, he is talking about climate change – the tipping points, and the future – things that could happen before his son is 14 years old. “How do we make Green easier?” – he starts discussing shades of green. Baseline is somebody that does curbside recycling, backyard composting, shops for organic labels, swaps lifebulbs, uses a push mower, is a transit user etc. Keen these are folks that have made some kind of personal revolution. They own one car or they share their car, they’re avid cyclists, they’re locavores, they’re “cul-de-sactivists – they’re trying to reach beyond their front porch.” Bright – “they’re ahead of their time, they are anti-fashion, perhaps members of a carbon-rationing group.” James mentions that we’re in a DIY society (which is helped with social media… ie. DIY online photo album, videos, etc.) So how do we get involved, share ideas around climate and such? James says Google is great especially Google mash up maps “connecting with your place and the people around you.” For example, the cycling in cities project out of UBC. Neighbourhood Inventories: YouMapVancouver – among other things you can list neighbourhood fruit trees – “come and pick fruit from my tree I don’t have the time to collect it all.”
Update: I lost my connection during Colin Keddie’s talk about the Buckeye Bullet.
Update: Due to the brief wifi loss I missed the start of David Ng’s talk but here’s what I did manage to jot down on TextPad: “Thanks again to Brett for organizing this – I know, it was a gutsy move to schedule this on the same night as the High School Musical 3 opening.” His talk is about science literacy. After an audience poll about some true or false scientific facts, David mentions that 8 out of 10 children (during a study) could identify Pokemon characters and their abilities. Meanwhile they were later shown images of local flora and fauna and the number of children that recognized these things was dramatically lower. “What does that say exactly about society in general?”
He had two more true or false questions that I have been unable to capture (hoping the slides will be available on the website later). One dealt with MHC and the other about scientific and creationist theories (for some reason more incredibly interesting to me than usual on a Friday night at 10:00pm after a three hour live blog – video review is mandatory at this point). David ends his talk on a note about collaboration – which ties into other themes by speakers this evening — community, mashups, etc.
Update: The final speaker of tonight’s series is David Young. “I want to talk about why I moved here and what I think can happen here,” as he is originally from Indiana having moved to Vancouver about a year ago. We start our journey with Lao Tsu and Confucius in China (and begin the illustrations on the giant writing pad in the middle of the stage) and then we move on to Athens with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Euripides, Myron, etc. “all of this happened in a town of less than 350,000 people – now I don’t think they had better genetics than us – why can’t this happen to us?”
From there David moves us to Florence, with Dante and his peers – a place with 60,000 people. Staying in Florence he brings up Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci… making so much happen for humanity, art and science, in a town of under 100,000 people again (which is roughly 1/25th the size of Vancouver). Moving ahead to London with Shakespeare, Marlowe, Johnson and Raleigh who were all working around the same time with a population of 250,000 people at the time. London, in later years (1700’s) had 400,000 people and Newton, Wren, Hooke, Boyle, Halley (as in the comet), and Locke. “Half of all the people who have ever lived, lived in the last 100 years.” Philadelphia, population 50,000 in 1776-1789 with Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Washington, and Hamilton. Vienna – Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Brahms, Schubert all between 1780-1880 in a town of 150,000 people. Paris with Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Miro, Proust, Joyce, Hemmingway… in the 1900’s “in a town that was again, smaller than the town we have now.” Berlin, early 1900s E=MC2, “that’s all we need to know about this group.”
“This region of BC has the potential to be the next great place – and why not us?” All of the talent in all these towns here – and they’re only using half the possible talent “because women were not allowed to play.”
Update: The after party starts now along with some folks doing art installations.
Update: There were about 100 attendees and since I was sitting near the front of the room, and I left after the 4-hour live blog, I’d love to find out who else was there.