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Musings from Sustainability Visionary Paul Hawken – Resilient Cities Conference

Paul Hawken is a visionary environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author of well known books such as Blessed Unrest, and co-author of Natural Capitalism. (His opening remarks for the Gaining Ground Resilient Cities Conference were blogged on Planning Pool earlier today.) He is also a twin, as we learned during the session.

The author with Paul Hawken!

The author with Paul Hawken!

In a salon session with conference participants, Hawken mused on topics suggested by attendees. Here is a sampling of the wisdom and thoughts he shared:


  • As individuals, it’s okay to make make mistakes. Nature makes lots of small mistakes, but no big ones.
  • Everyday I have the same problem you have, I ask myself: am I making a difference? I just need to have faith that if I continue to … Continue Reading

Portland’s Plans to Be The Greenest City in the World – Resilient Cities Conference

Who will be the most sustainable city in the world? Vancouver, British Columbia, unveiled its Greenest City Initiative today, which sets 10 ambitious targets for resource use reduction, to achieve by 2010. Portland, Oregon, is a close competitor for this “greenest” city title, having already won the number one spot in US city rankings by Sustain Lane and Popular Science.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams is urging Portlanders to not rest on their laurels. At the Gaining Ground Resilient City conference, Adams and his team outlined an innovative strategy to advance their city’s sustainability. The vanguard of this effort is a 25 year strategic planning effort that will push a triple bottom line for the city, to ensure “that Portland is a thriving and sustainable city and our people are prosperous, healthy and educated.”

Planning and … Continue Reading

Resilient Cities Conference: Paul Hawken on innately resilient cities, eco-porn, and peak energy

The first morning of the Gaining Ground, Resilient Cities conference concluded with a presentation by Paul Hawken, renowned author of Natural Capitalism, the Ecology of Commerce, and Blessed Unrest. His remarks followed up on Mayor Gregor Robertson’s introduction of Vancouver’s Greenest City Initiative, so he opened by teasing Vancouver about our good-looking and charismatic mayor, whose work he takes seriously.

Creative Commons photo of Paul Hawken from 2007 by the Rainforest Action Network.

Creative Commons photo of Paul Hawken from 2007 by the Rainforest Action Network.

Hawken’s hopeful message is that resiliency is innate to cities, which are the most effective and natural epicenters of change. Humans’ most complex creations, cities are resilient for the same reason that ecosystems are resilient – with complexity comes efficiency. Culturally, … Continue Reading

Planning Pool @ the Gaining Ground Summit

During the coming week, Planning Pool will be liveblogging the Gaining Ground Summit from Vancouver, BC. This means you can expect a flurry of posts detailing many events headed by leading thinkers on urban resiliency. Click here for the event program — if there’s a specific event you want to hear about, let us know and we’ll see what we can do!

Event: Strathcona Community Gardens Open House in Vancouver

Next Sunday, Vancouver’s biggest community garden hosts its annual open house. Check out garden tours, workshops, beekeeping demonstrations, a native plants display, live acoustic music and free vegan snacks!


Musicians take a break at the 2007 Strathcona Community Gardens open house.

When:     Sunday, July 12, 2009
Where:   Strathcona & Cottonwood Community Gardens
(Just off the Adanac bike route. See map below.)
Time:      10am – 2pm
Cost:       Free!

Perhaps like all community gardens, the Strathcona and Cottonwood gardens have wonderful stories in their soil. In the 1950s and 1960, the site served as a garbage dump and a city works yard. Since the 1980s, the land has been completely restored through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. Today, the gardens thrive in a seven-acre urban oasis that is also a living example of urban … Continue Reading

Event: VSPN “City Shorts” Film Night in Vancouver

This Thursday, the Vancouver Public Space Network is presenting a one-night film festival of short films dealing with public space.

When:     Thursday June 18, 2009
Where:   VanCity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St @ Davie St
Time:      Doors open at 7:00, Screening begins at 7:30
Cost:       10$ regular;  8$ students/ seniors (no advance tix, only door sales)

This is the first event of it’s kind in Vancouver – let’s hope it’s a roaring success so that we can look forward to seeing more short films about cities and public space!

VSPN Shorts Poster

To find out more about the festival, check out the Vancouver Public Space Network event page here.

Event: Jan Gehl is coming to Copenhagenize Toronto

I’m excited to announce that one of the brightest minds in urbanism today is gracing Toronto with an appearance on June 3rd. Jan Gehl, who is known for countless public space interventions over his long active career, will be speaking at the Design Exchange near Bay and King.

Jane’s Walk 2009 happening this weekend – See your hometown in a new light!

Urbanist-cum-superhero Jane Jacobs left quite a legacy. Starting in the 60s as a journalist, she took a keen interest in the huge changes she saw happening to North American cities. To commemorate her life, a group of keen Jacobites started Jane’s Walk – a series of walking tours led -for free- by community members like you.

Upcoming “Urban Food Renaissance” Panel Discussion

What are the challenges facing planners and policy makers in addressing issues related to food security and public health? How can we contribute to effective actions that address these challenges? Join  representatives from the City of Vancouver, City of Surrey, UBC Farm, and BC Healthy Communities at the upcoming PlanTalk for discussion on these issues this Monday.

When: Monday, April 27, 2009.
Appetizers and networking from 6:30-7:00 PM, to be followed by presentations and discussion from 7:00-9:00 PM.

Location:     Room 1600, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St., Vancouver, BC

Who: Featuring the following speakers:
• Samara Brock, Social Planner, Food Policy Staff Team member, City of Vancouver
• Mark Bomford, Program Coordinator Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm
• Mark Allison, Senior Policy Planner, City of Surrey
• Deirdre Goudriaan, Fraser Region Facilitator, BC Healthy Communities
• Paris Marshall-Smith, MA candidate, SCARP (moderator)

$20 PIBC Members*
$25 Non-PIBC … Continue Reading

Blogging “The Public Square as an Economic Space” Event

Tonight, in a packed community hall with eager community members perched on gym mats and kindergarten-sized chairs*, city councilor Andrea Reimer, economic development planner John Tylee and UBC geography professor Trevor Barnes offered very different perspectives about the economic value and potential of public squares.

The event at the Kitsilano Neighbourhood House, was organized by the Vancouver Public Space Network, whose upcoming events can be seen here. Not having a chance to film the speakers, I decided to try sitting in the back and typing madly. The flavour of each presentation is briefly presented below.

*Sincere thanks to the guy who let me take the last grown-up chair!


Trevor Barnes: Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia 

Trevor Barnes began by evoking his childhood in the English town of St. Austell.  Its Aylmer Square was “geometrically a square, but … Continue Reading

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