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Foreign Workers, Local Neighbours: A Multimedia Initiative about Temporary Foreign Workers in Vancouver

Thanks to Callista Haggis for this great introduction to the short documentary Foreign Workers, Local Neighbours, which examines the conditions and socio-economic impacts of temporary foreign workers in Vancouver, Canada. At the bottom of this post is a link to view the entire film!

In April 2011 The Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration launched a multimedia initiative to incite discussion and awareness about the socio-economic impacts of Temporary Foreign Workers in Vancouver, Canada.

The 20 minute documentary, Foreign Workers, Local Neighbours (FWLN), was one project component. It was born from a small project team (Devon Wong, Krystle Alarcon and myself), with critical input from temporary foreign worker community representatives, academic researchers, advocates and residents.

FWLN’s premier screening was at a public forum on May 28, 2011. … Continue Reading

Empowering Youth through Food Sustainability and Healthy Communities

As the idea of healthy communities is becoming a popular way to sneak sustainability into popular planning discourse, I thought it would be interesting to write about a youth empowerment program that is promoting health and organic food systems.

The Food Empowerment Education and Sustainability Team (FEEST) is a Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association program, outside of Seattle, WA. FEEST’s purpose is to create a safe space for youth to gather to grow, prepare, and share healthy, delicious food, while becoming actively engaged in issues of food resources and the built environment in their lives.

FEEST’s young members lead Wednesday organic dinners at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Monthly dinners are open to the community on the condition that … Continue Reading

Online Storytelling Part II – RentersSpeakUp

The region of Metro Vancouver, Canada (pop. 2 million) is experiencing a housing crisis, with a shortage of affordable rental housing.

In Metro Vancouver, purpose-built rental stock is aging, and not being replaced fast enough. Thanks to Gak for this Creative Commons shot of walk-up apartments in Vancouver.

From the perspective of regional housing planners, providers and advocates such as the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association and the Co-op Housing Federation of BC, the situation urgently requires both direct federal funding and ongoing support in the form of a national housing strategy.

Approximately 80,000 rental households in Metro Vancouver lack affordable housing, spending more than 30% of their incomes on rent. 30,000 households spend more than half of their incomes on rent. These … Continue Reading

Online Storytelling Part 1 – EdmontonStories

Canadian author and storyteller Roch Carrier, as a 10-year-old boy wearing his despised Toronto Maple Leafs hockey sweater. Public Domain photo.

Roch Carrier’s short story The Hockey Sweater, based on an experience from his own childhood, tells one of the defining narratives of Quebecois, and Canadian identity. It reflects inequities and tension between Francophones and Anglophones and captures a shared national obsession with hockey. An excerpt from the story graces the back of Canada’s $5 bill, and never fails to make me smile.

Shared stories strengthen and even define social groups, from families to communities to nations. Personal stories communicate the lived realities of every planning issue. However, the reach of these stories is traditionally limited to the storyteller’s immediate community.

Innovative initiatives in two western … Continue Reading

Making Space for A Cart/Kiosk Culture in Accra and Portland

Portland Food Carts: Photo by Author

In Portland you might enjoy a steaming bowl of curry, while in Accra a spicy box of jollof.  Both purchased for a low cost and in a convenient location.  What is known as a cart in Portland or New York, a kiosk in Accra or Moscow, might also be a booth, pavilion or a stand.  Each is a different form of micro-enterprise that plays an increasingly important role in our cities today. A kiosk is an efficient way for an individual to start a business with low costs and short time, while providing an immediate service to an urban area.  Congruently, the vibrancy of a neighborhood can be accentuated through the articulation of these small forms.  But … Continue Reading

Marine Futures Explored With New Choice Visualization Tool

Photo courtesy of Lenfest Ocean Futures Project

How much fishing is too much, and what decisions can we make to secure the health of our marine ecosystems? The answer to these and other questions about managing our marine ecosystem have confounded policy makers for decades. A new interactive scenario exploration program being developed at the University of British Columbia just might be the tool they’re looking for.

Ocean Summits is an interactive decision making system that supports stakeholders of a specific marine ecosystem to play out scenarios that can help create consensus on key management issues. The system creates realistic-looking simulated marine ecosystems in which users must make environmental, social and economic choices about their marine environment. They can then compare the results of their new scenario … Continue Reading

Vancouver’s Open City Initiative

Vancouver’s announcement earlier this summer that the city would open its data created quite a buzz on blogs and podcasts around the world.

Photo from Vancouver Transit Camp by Jason Vanderhill on Flickr

Photo from Vancouver Transit Camp by Jason Vanderhill on Flickr

What is involved in opening a municipality’s data to the public? The motion passed by Vancouver city council this May includes three simple components:

  • open data
  • Any data that the city collects, from current zoning applications to the library catalogue, should be made publicly accessible unless it impacts individual privacy.

  • open standards
  • While plenty of public documents and data have long been publicly available, open standards will improve its accessibility and usefulness.

  • open source
  • City-made software will be licensed … Continue Reading

    Sink or Swim Round 2: Northeast Division

    Well, thus far, it looks as though New York and Los Angeles have the best planning websites of the first round.  Toronto isn’t too far behind and polling will remain open through November.  Admittedly, the sample size is pretty small – but we move forward…

    Our second group of cities ranges from the glorious to the notorious, perhaps with websites to match.  Take a glance and let us know what you think of these planning sites from the Northeast.

    Remember, the rating scale is as follows:

    • born with gills (best)
    • making waves
    • treading water
    • strictly kiddie pool
    • floats like a brick (worst)

    Do these sites give you a window into planning in their respective cities, or would things be clearer if they tried to explain in Esperanto?
    Round 2: Northeast Division

    Does Philadelphia’s website … Continue Reading

    Sink or Swim


    In keeping with our theme here at Planning Pool, we’re proud to present the first annual Sink or Swim Series, honoring cities that make good use of new media to involve the public in planning.  The point of this exercise is to identify what works well and what doesn’t when city websites communicate plans. We’re all about inclusiveness, so we won’t be making the calls ourselves, but will instead be relying upon your input.  Every week, a few cities will be presented for your critique.

    Now, we know not everyone enjoys reading the nitty-gritty of planning documents, so please remember: you are not judging whether a city’s plans are “good”, but whether its website makes planning more accessible. Everyone will come at this from a different … Continue Reading

    Marpole Grows: Communicating Development Scenarios

    Marpole Grows from Planning Pool on Vimeo.

    As part of an on-going research project conducted by UBC urban design professor Maged Senbel, students in SCARP’s Digital Video and Planning course prepared a few short films on development issues facing the south Vancouver neighborhood of Marpole. This particular film, created by  An Minh Vu, Silas Archambault and myself seeks to engage the community in a conversation about how they would like to see Marpole address inevitable development pressures, brought about by a new Skytrain station, among other things. 

    It was originally screened at a community meeting where students from other classes, mostly design, presented their own projects. Among these was an impressive scale-model of the area around the new station, as well as a series of 3D computer models. … Continue Reading

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