Sidewalk history

I found another of these favourite sidewalk tags the other day, this time in Mount Pleasant, which is quite far from the Clark Drive and Prior St. area where I’ve seen the others (pictures here). This one is in front of the No Frills store, just around the corner from City Hall, where there has indeed been a lot of what we often think of as  “history” take place. I’m guessing that’s not the reason for the placement though. I would like to inquire. Yet another Vancouverite I’d like to meet; maybe I should start a list. As usual, one post begets ideas for three more.

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If you are disappointed that this post isn’t about the history of sidewalks, I apologize. That’s a fascinating topic about which I’ve long wanted to know more. Here are some places to look into that:

This 2011 book by SFU geography professor Nicholas Blomley: Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and the Regulation of Public Flow

10 questions for sidewalk scholar Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

Three blog posts: Simulated history: sidewalks and streetscapesSidewalks: ignored aspects of everyday life; and A brief history of black folks and sidewalks.

 Wikipedia’s sidewalk page

Also, an old friend of mine in Victoria, Janis Ringuette, has done a lot of research and writing on Victoria’s beautiful (though deteriorating) sidewalk prisms.

This all brings to mind a question: When did Vancouver get its first sidewalk? That depends, of course, on how you define sidewalk – i.e. one made of wood or one made of concrete? I’d be happy with the answer to either. If the answer isn’t in Nick Blomley’s book, I’ll bet it’s fairly easy to find at the City of Vancouver Archives (how many times have I said that about something I wanted to find, anywhere?), if I had time to go. Too bad the VPL’s Askaway service is no more. If I do find the answer in Blomley, I’ll update.

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More favourite West End places

My little stint of pretending to live in the West End is over. Back to my more familiar East Van turf. I’ll miss places and views like these. The gardens are under the Burrard Bridge. I think it must require a pretty expert gardener to make such a shady spot come to life like this. I’d love to meet whoever is responsible. I don’t think this garden is a community garden in the way that I normally define it (i.e a place where members of the public tend a plot and grow food) but it is open to the public, and I believe created and managed by one person – not sure. Like I said, would love to meet whoever that person or group is.

Public talk on the history of apartments and condos in Vancouver, by Michael Kluckner

I love the topic of this talk and think I might learn some things I can use in my thesis. I also hope to eventually contribute knowledge to this topic myself, through my thesis, since I consider Airbnb to now be part of Vancouver’s housing story, especially where it concerns apartments and condos. I’m assuming Kluckner will draw on a key academic article about the history of condos in Vancouver, which I’ve mentioned elsewhereThe Condominium and the City: The Rise of Property in Vancouver, by Douglas Harris. The abstract is here.

I know Michael Kluckner is a good and well-organized speaker, based on a previous “brief history of” talk of his I attended a couple years ago, on gentrification. That was held at SFU and you can view the video here.

West End placemaking

I noticed several borders and containers planted with flower seeds along Bute Street, just south of Davie the other day. I took note in part because I rarely do well with flower seeds planted directly in the ground, but that may be because my garden plot is a 10-15 minute walk from where I live, so I tend not to water newly planted seeds as often as they need it. I’d like to keep an eye on these spots to see how they do. I so appreciate it when people make this kind of effort to dress up and add points of interest to walking routes.

Another nice placemaking effort in the same area….seems like something Sharon Kallis might have been involved in.

Update: two more points of suprise and whimsy. These birdhouses. Do some birds like and use these, I wonder? Hope so.

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And these little tree-dwellers…

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While I’m often skeptical of placemaking efforts (a topic I’ll have to tackle in another post) encountering mini art installations like these always makes me smile…Another benefit of them that has only just occurred to me is that they reward paying attention to your immediate surroundings rather than keeping eyes down on phone.

Highlights from housing (and other academic) journals

I recently set up table-of-contents alerts on a bunch of housing, urban studies, and tourism journals and am finding it a great way to keep abreast, however superficially, of current academic literature in these areas. I’m mainly doing this in order to be alerted to new articles on short-term rentals (see my other blog for more info on that), but this tactic has the side benefit (or curse?) of bringing a lot of other interesting stuff to my attention. How to deal with that? I sometimes feel I’m a bit compulsive about sharing information I think might be relevant to people I know. I know info overload and the flittish (word?), distracted frame of mind it tends to create is a real problem for me and many others, so perhaps I’ll use this blog as an outlet for my sharing impulse instead of spamming inboxes…

Please note: When I post a title and/or abstract here it doesn’t mean I’ve read the whole article or endorse the views expressed. It means I think it looks interesting, I might want to read it, and/or that it seems somehow timely or relevant to current urban or other social policy debates. Some of these articles may have been published in journals as long as a few years ago and just more recently made available online: Hope some find this useful…

One more thing: Regarding access to the full text of these articles…I have access to a smorgasbord of stuff right now (thanks SFU library!) by dint of the fact that I’m paying tuition to SFU. If you don’t have that same access, try searching for the full text through your own public library, such as the VPL. There’s a good chance that will work for you. If not, you might want to check out the external access programs offered by your local post-secondary institution – I think most have some version of that by now. Info on SFU’s program is here. There’s also Google Scholar…or google the article author/s – sometimes they post their own published articles or similar versions.

This first article is definitely relevant to current Vancouver debates on community planning and public engagement, and specifically to the question of whether we should have a citywide plan instead of (or in addition to?) a series of neighbourhood plans. Some point to the mid-1990s CityPlan process as a model to be revived, but I’ve heard other knowledgeable people suggest that process has been somewhat overhyped or romanticized…

Governing cities through participation—a Foucauldian analysis of CityPlan Vancouver

by Marit Rosolin in Urban Geography
Abstract: In 1995 Vancouver City Council approved new policy guidelines for future urban development that departed from the traditional model of suburban growth, instead prioritizing urban intensification. Theoretically guided by the Foucauldian governmentality approach, I argue in this paper that this shift towards intensification can be understood through an analysis of Vancouver’s extensive participatory planning process known as CityPlan. Created as an answer to conflicts around the intensification of historically evolved urban neighbourhoods, CityPlan Vancouver exemplifies a specific form of urban governance that has been understudied in geography and participation research: a governance consisting of conducting the conduct of citizens through participatory processes. The paper examines this “governing through participation” by carrying out a microanalysis of the problematizations, rationalities, and technologies of CityPlan. Such an analysis differs significantly from an evaluation of participatory planning processes against normative ideals, and thus enriches critical research on participation in urban governance.

Onto the next…gentrification, ever a hot topic in these parts (and rightly so):

“They want to live in the Tremé, but they want it for their ways of living”: gentrification and neighborhood practice in Tremé, New Orleans

by Trushna Parekh in Urban Geography
Abstract: In this study, I deploy an ethnographic approach to analyze the detrimental effects of gentrification on longstanding residents in New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood. I focus on conflicts between long-established residents and gentrifiers over the use of neighborhood space on a day-to-day basis as a means for examining the consequent changes in neighborhood life. As their neighborhood gentrifies, long-term residents of Tremé must contend with greater policing, the erosion of place-based knowledge, practices, and cultural traditions, the loss of social networks, and the closure of vital neighborhood institutions. These changes in neighborhood life provide a starting point from which to begin to understand the broader effects (beyond displacement) that longstanding residents experience as a result of gentrification.

This one looks very interesting – think I will have to read it.

The rules of residential segregation: US housing taxonomies and their precedents

By Sonia Hirt in Planning Perspectives
This paper reviews how urban regulations in history have been used to relegate populations to different parts of the city and its environs. Its main purpose is to place the twentieth-century US zoning experience in historic and international contexts. To this end, based mostly on secondary sources, the paper first surveys a selection of major civilizations in history and the regulations they invented in order to keep populations apart. Then, based on primary sources, it discusses the emergence of three methods of residential segregation through zoning which took root in the early twentieth-century USA. The three methods are: segregating people by race, segregating them by different land-area standards, and segregating them based on both land-area standards and a taxonomy of single- versus multi-family housing.

Not recent published, but recently found…Another for the reading list….soon.

Are There Limits to Gentrification? The Contexts of Impeded Gentrification in Vancouver

by David Ley in Urban Studies
This paper examines conditions that impede inner-city gentrification. Several factors emerge from review of a scattered literature, including the role of public policy, neighbourhood political mobilisation and various combinations of population and land use characteristics that are normally unattractive to gentrifiers. In a first phase of analysis, some of these expectations are tested with census tract attributes against the map of gentrification in the City of Vancouver from 1971 to 2001. More detailed qualitative field work in the Downtown Eastside and Grandview-Woodland, two inner-city neighbourhoods with unexpectedly low indicators of gentrification, provides a fuller interpretation and reveals the intersection of local poverty cultures, industrial land use, neighbourhood political mobilisation and public policy, especially the policy of social housing provision, in blocking or stalling gentrification.

And related…

Urban rapid rail transit and gentrification in Canadian urban centres: A survival analysis approach

by Annelise Grube-Cavers and Zachary Patterson in Urban Studies
Despite the existing knowledge that urban rapid rail transit has many effects on surrounding areas, and despite some attempts to understand the links between transit and gentrification, there remain methodological gaps in the research. This study addresses the relationship between the implementation of urban rapid rail transit and gentrification, which is conceived of as an event. As such, an event analysis approach using ‘survival analysis’ is adopted as the statistical analytical tool. It tests whether proximity to rail transit is related to the onset of gentrification in census tracts in Canada’s largest cities. It is found that proximity to rail transit, and to other gentrifying census tracts, have a statistically significant effect on gentrification in two of the three cities analysed. By providing a methodological framework for the empirical analysis of the impact of urban rail transit on gentrification, this paper is a reference for both researchers and transportation planners.

2015 Food

Some of the food I’ve made (or grown) so far this year…