The lecture Choosing the Happy City is just around the corner and it’s a good time to explore different perspectives on the connection between neighbourhoods and the happiness of people who reside in them. A few days ago, I posted the interview with Charles Montgomery – I hope you enjoyed it.
Today, I had a pleasure to speak with Chris Bruntlett, a residential designer, writer, photographer, and bike enthusiast. During the day, Chris works as a residential designer, designing single family homes, duplexes and laneway houses in the City of Vancouver.
Outside of the office, he spends a great deal of his evenings and weekends encouraging people to get on a bicycle through writing, photography, public speaking, and filmmaking. If you read posts about city cycling in the Spacing, Vancouver Is Awesome, Vancity Buzz, Hush, or Momentum Magazine, the chances are that you came across Chris’ work.
What city in the Lower Mainland do you live in?
Our family of four lives in the Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood of Vancouver, just a couple of blocks from the Commercial-Broadway Skytrain station, and have done so for five years now.
What makes you happy about where you live?
We love having the freedom to choose how we’re getting somewhere, dependent on the nature of the trip we’re taking. Sometimes it’s walking. Sometimes it’s cycling. Other times it’s by bus or Skytrain. And once in a while, we’ll borrow a car from Modo or Car2Go.
How do you usually travel around your neighbourhood?
More often than not, we get around Grandview-Woodlands by foot or bicycle. We are fortunate enough to have the traffic-calmed 10th Avenue, Lakewood, and Mosaic Bikeways at our disposal, although running errands along Commercial Drive can be problematic. We’re certainly hoping the long-term plan to create safe, comfortable space for cycling on The Drive happens sooner rather than later.
What’s your favourite thing about how you get around your neighbourhood?
Moving at a slower pace allows us to have an intimate, unfiltered, first-hand connection to our neighbourhood, its shopfronts, merchants, houses, parks, and neighbours we may run into along the way. Our kids know the people and places in their community like the backs of their hands.
How do you usually travel around your city?
When it comes to longer distances, we’ll usually take a combination of Skytrain and/or bus, although our kids have been known to amaze us with their ability to ride their bikes long distances. We absolutely love cycling on the seawall as a family, with its stunning views of the ocean, mountains, and glass towers; and can sometimes ride over 20 kilometres in a single day!
What do you like about travelling around your city?
Getting around without a car transforms all of our travel time into family time. Walking, cycling, or riding the bus provides ample opportunity to relax, hold hands, make eye contact, and chat about any number of topics, big or small.
You’re often involved in projects that focus on city cycling as part of everyday life. What are you currently working on?
I recently produced a series of six short films which intimately profile a number of Vancouverites who use a bicycle to get around. We just wrapped up the first series (http://www.youtube.com/vancyclechic), which were incredibly well received and publicized; and have started pre-production on a second series, to be shot and released in 2014.
You recently wrote a review of the book “Happy City” for Vancouver is Awesome. Anything you want to mention from the book?
As Charles Montgomery points out, the greener, happier and resilient city all occupy the same place. In my opinion, Vancouver should be aiming to be the “World’s Happiest City”, and framing the (sometimes heated) discussions around what we have to gain – rather than give up – in order to live sustainably.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the Happy City contest to win some great prizes. Apart from the Buzzer, this contest is run by the Vancity Buzz, The Thirties Grind and Surrey604. The lecture Choosing Happy City is sold out but you can watch it live via webcast; simply click on the webcast link here at 7 pm on March 26.