Category Archives: Community Engagement & Action

Ideas and lessons learned for fostering participatory democracy and community-level action.

CLIC: Idenfitying the Long Term Costs of Sprawl

Can you identify the long term costs of sprawled development? Three BC-based planners certainly think so and they’ve contributed to the creation of a free online tool to help communities of all sizes do the same. “I feel like it’s the tool planners have been waiting for,” said project lead Narissa Chadwick, playfully referring to the tool she helped create…. Read more »

On DIY Culture & Growing Up to the Music of NoMeansNo

Over the weekend, B.C. band NoMeansNo announced their well-deserved retirement after nearly four decades of churning out music. My nerdy love of weird, noisy music usually doesn’t so obviously make its way into my equally nerdy blog about transportation and cities, but in this case, I felt like I needed to make an exception.  When I heard of NoMeansNo’s retirement,… Read more »

Building Great Cities Starts with Teaching Kids to Build

“Okay,” I say looking over at my construction partner, “you ready?” “Ready,” she says, giving her safety glasses one last nudge and shifting the electric jigsaw in her grip. She is determined.  She is capable.  And she is six years old. And just like that, she pulls the saw trigger, the blade whirs as we both help guide it, and… Read more »

Sense and the City, Part 1: Your Nose Knows

The other day I wasn’t just walking through the city, I was stomping. My mind was a swirl of angry thoughts and I was moving fast across the pavement.  I was completely focused inside my head and paying exactly zero attention to the world around me. Not the gathering dusk or other people or the buildings.  They were technically in… Read more »

Accelerating the Sustainable Built Environment with BC’s Real Estate Foundation

REFBC Sustainable Built Environment Workshop

I recently had the excellent opportunity to participate in a workshop hosted by the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia (REFBC). Called “Accelerating Progress Towards a Sustainable Built Environment,” the workshop was geared at figuring out which actions should be our united priorities when it comes making our communities more sustainable. I’ve been to many other events that showcase sustainability… Read more »

When Activist Worldviews Collide

Ever experienced a community process where you shared a common objective with others but your approaches seemed worlds apart and maybe even resulted in strife and conflict? Such a situation often seems all too common and can be demoralizing.  Even more so, conflict over styles of approach has real implications in terms of our ability to make change happen. So,… Read more »

The Little Things That Make a City

I was struck by how little things truly make a difference in a city at our neighbourhood barbershop this week. Under its previous owner, the Cook Street Barbershop had become grimy and seemingly unloved.  Walking past on the way to the grocery store next door, there was never a reason to pause.  The windows were dirty, the inside looked grim… Read more »

Christmas on Two Feet

I’ve been watching with interest Chris Bruntlett’s Twitter posts (@modacitylife) and facebook page of crowd sourced photos of Christmas trees being carried home by bike. What I like most about Chris’s posts are that they are bringing visibility to the different choices that people are making in their lives in terms of how they get around and the meaning they… Read more »

Five Great Books on Cities and Community for Younger Citizens

This post is a love letter to my five all time favourite kid’s books about cities, neighbourhoods and community. Well worn and ragged, each has been well tested at my family’s house and and are the kind of picture books that can be enjoyed over and over again by younger citizens and their older fans alike. Important to me, none… Read more »

Water, water everywhere: sustainable redevelopment in Kolding, Denmark

Kolding, Denmark's Bioworks facility.

From the Vault: I originally wrote the following story for Momentum Magazine in 2003 and had completely forgotten about it until speaking the other day with a co-worker interested in aquaponics. That chat made me remember the first time I’d ever seen water, plants and urban fish in action together, in Kolding, Denmark.  While over a decade has passed since this… Read more »