Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Water Films

Vancity Theatre in Vancouver is currently showing the movies "Blue Gold" and "Flow: For Love of Water" from December 12 to 18.

Both films explore the pressing issue of water as an environmental, social and economic problem that is developing globally.

I saw Flow a couple months ago and Blue Gold last night. I found Blue Gold to be more focused and informative than Flow.

"Blue Gold" is based on a book by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke.

Monday, December 15, 2008

London on Tap

London on Tap was created to promote the drinking of tap water in London. Part of this campaign included a design contest and Neil Barron won with his innovative carafe (pictured above).

This campaign in London follows a number of global campaigns to promote urban tap water as a safe and healthy choice. Metro Vancouver has also created a tap water campaign which invites the region’s residents to make a “tap water pledge” to drink tap water in refillable bottles instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles. The goal is to increase the use of tap water for drinking purposes by reducing sales of bottled water by 20% by 2010.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Sustainable Region TV Program

Metro Vancouver has released a number of short video stories online which discuss various issues in sustainability at both the global and local levels.

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip

Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

“Culture and Community”

This morning's Sustainability Community Breakfast explored the roles of culture and community in creating sustainability.

The first speaker was Sheila McKinnon, Manager of Arts at Surrey Parks. The City of Surrey was designated as the cultural capital of Canada for 2008 and Sheila discussed the theme of this year's selection (Fusion-a catalyst for cultural sharing) and the various projects that Surrey participated in throughout the year which contributed to their selection. One source that she cited as her inspiration was the Creative City Network's special edition on Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Sustainability. Sheila also discussed the main points behind cultural sustainability including raising awareness, ensuring accessibility, planning a beautiful city, cultural events for tolerance and community pride among other aspects. She also stressed the power of the arts to motivate and move people to participate and create change.

Amir Ali Alibhai, the Cultural Development Officer for North Vancouver's Office of Cultural Affairs discussed his experience as an art director at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Yaletown. He also stressed how art has the power to allow people and communities to shift perspectives and create change and that small individual efforts can make huge changes in the world. He also took time to define sustainability in the cultural process, citing it as a continuing process rather than a final end point that can adapt to change. His strategies to attain cultural sustainability included having all classes work together, participation with all levels of the community (children, elderly, etc.), partnerships with individuals as well as organizations and the creation of special events.

Sheila Hall is an Artist and Instructor at Emily Carr University and primarily discussed her work on her project To Connect. To Connect is a public art project with Metro Vancouver which attempts to engage different cultures with the community while recognizing Vancouver's unique and diverse history. Sheila Hall also participates in a number of art projects that work with the global community towards sustainability. One of the projects she shared with the breakfast involved working with women in the Philippines to create dresses and fashion from fibers from leaves of pineapples.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Every Human Has Rights

December 10th is Human Rights Day - this year is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Make a personal pledge to uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and sign the Every Human has Rights pledge at Amnesty International.

You can read the UDHR on the United Nations website.

UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland

Watch what is happening at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, and interact in real time with conference participants online: Will be broadcasting live shows from Poznan every evening at 17:30 GMT / 12:30 EST from 6th December.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Artist as Environmental Urban Innovator

On Thursday, December 4 Cascadia BC hosted a talk by artist Noel Harding entitled "Artist as Environmental Urban Innovator".

One of Noel Harding's more well know pieces of work was the "Elevated Wetlands" in Toronto (pictured above). This project was commissioned by the plastics industry to create a piece of public artwork for the city of Toronto. Noel discussed how he came up with the idea of the elevated wetlands and the process of the production.

Currently, Noel is working on a project in Windsor, ON, just across the USA border. This project is called the Green Corridor and sits on one of the only Mexico - Canada highway routes. The project is on a highly industrial area and Noel took it upon himself to find opportunities for the 'crappy buildings' in the area. This project is in collaboration with the University of Windsor and the broader Windsor community as well as stakeholder that use the land (ie, the large number of truck drivers that pass through every day.) The area that is being used for the project is a 2 km area of land just across the border in Canada. Projects include a green overpass walkway with wind turbines, floating rehabilitating gardens in the river, green residential homes and an educational wetland and urban park area. The project is a good example of a collaborative urban planning project that utilizes various disciplines to create a functional and aesthetic urban environment.

While Noel mostly gave examples of his projects his underlying message was that all his projects are small symbols of what can be possible on the broad scale. While the 2 km area of land is being transformed into a more ecologically and socially friendly area of town it is primarily a symbol of what can be possible on a larger scale.

I found many of his ideas to be very interesting and quite simple. For example, the idea of putting wind turbines on highway overpasses to generate power from cars passing underground is genius in it's simplicity.

The technology and designs exist to create a more sustainable world, it is merely a matter of implementing what already exists.

A short animated film on the Green Corridor:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

OneWorld's People of 2008

The finalists for OneWorld's People of 2008 have been announced. Read all their inspiring stories, and vote for your favorite today: