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Choosing the Happy City Lecture Recap

Charles Montgomery presenting at SFU Woodwards on March 26, 2014 Image by Borjana Slipicevic

Charles Montgomery presenting at SFU Woodwards on March 26, 2014
Image by Borjana Slipicevic

 

Hello Buzzer readers! I hope you made it to the lecture Choosing Happy City by Charles Montgomery or watched it via webcast. It was the third lecture in the series “Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas”. The lecture was streamed live and the video will be available shortly.

Stephen Rees built a another interesting Storify post of the tweets posted during the lecture. Again, he kindly allowed us to post it here and give our readers a better idea of the what the conversation was about. Kudos to everyone who tweeted during the lecture!

The next lecture is in May. More details to follow – stay tuned!

 

 

Choosing the Happy City: People, Part 2

Image by Chris Brayshaw

Image by Chris Brayshaw

The lecture Choosing the Happy City is tomorrow and I continue to interview interesting people in our region about what the ‘happy city’ means to them.

Today, I spoke with Chris Brayshaw, an independent bookseller. Chris started Pulpfiction Books on Main Street in Vancouver in 2000 and later added two more stores, one on Broadway Street and one on Commercial Drive.  His stores offer a combination of used and new books to ensure there is something for everyone’s taste.

What city in the Lower Mainland do you live in?

Vancouver.

What makes you happy about where you live?

The number of smallish, owner-operated businesses around.  The non-corporate quality of the streetscape, which is perfectly scaled to walking, and not to travel by car.

How do you usually travel around your neighbourhood?

By foot or trolleybus.

What’s your favourite thing about how you get around your neighbourhood?

Green parks seamlessly integrated into the grid of the neighborhood, perfect for cutting through.

How do you usually travel around your city?

By foot or trolleybus. Less often by Skytrain. I like transit lines with three to five minute service.

What do you like most about your work?

I opened Pulpfiction Books, Vancouver’s largest independent new & used bookstore, in June 2000. It’s still the best poorly-paying job I’ve ever had.

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 BuzzThe 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 p.m. on March 26.

Author: Borjana Slipicevic

 

 

Choosing the Happy City: People

Living in the #happycity means hopping on the train for an impromptu sunset seawall stroll after dinner. Photo by Chris Bruntlett (@cbruntlett)

Living in the #happycity means hopping on the train for an impromptu sunset seawall stroll after dinner.
Photo by Chris Bruntlett (@cbruntlett)

 

 

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.

Author: Borjana Slipicevic

Choosing the Happy City: Q & A with Charles Montgomery

Author Charles Montgomery at Madison Square Park, Flatiron District, Manhattan Photo courtesy Lee Satkowski

Author Charles Montgomery at Madison Square Park, Flatiron District, Manhattan
Photo courtesy Lee Satkowski

As we’re getting closer to the lecture Choosing the Happy City on March 26 at SFU Woodwards, I had a pleasure to talk to Charles Montgomery, the author of the book Happy City and the speaker at the lecture.  Charles is a passionate and engaging speaker, and here he explains why he dedicated five years of  life to find out how cities can improve happiness of people who live in them.

What inspired you to write the Happy City? 

It started with a bike ride through Bogota, Colombia, chasing the mayor who had used that unhappy city as a testing ground for his ideas on happiness. Enrique Peñalosa insisted that by transforming the form and systems of his impoverished and violent city, he had made citizens happier.

So, the bike ride through Bogota led to you start your five-year long exploration of happiness and cities?

That experience in Bogota posited a question; could a city really be redesigned to build happiness?

It was a thrilling idea, but I was skeptical. So, I set out to test it against science and evidence from other cities. The quest led me to the doorsteps of neuroscientists, psychologists, behavioral economists and activists, as well as sites of remarkable urban transformation around the world.

What connection between urban design and happiness did you find?

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, we shape our cities, and then they shape us. Buildings, roads and other city systems alter how we move, where we pause, how much spare time and money we have, and how we interact with and regard other people.

Good relationships, physical health, and social trust—all of these are key ingredients of happiness. By understanding these effects, we can reconfigure our cities and our lives to be healthier, happier and more resilient.

How can transportation help build happy cities?

We know that social relationships are the most powerful ingredient of happiness. So it’s crucial that we build systems that help us connect with other people in the city easily–and get us home in time for dinner with the people we love. Relying only on private cars won’t achieve that.

What’s the place that make you happy and why?

My happy place? Granville and Georgia at rush hour. The tide of people pouring out of the Canada Line station give the corner a thrilling sense of life and possibility.

What can regular people do to build urban happiness?

We need to understand the effect that city systems have on our emotions and behavior. We need to demand cities that reward us rather than punishing us for making healthy, more efficient choices.

Do you have examples?

In Davis, California a couple convinced all their neighbors to tear down their backyard fences so they could all enjoy a giant shared garden—and ended up with a finely-tunable device for sociability.

In Brooklyn, a man angered by honking horns outside his window went from throwing eggs at drivers to altering the way his city’s traffic lights worked. His work launched a movement that would lead to the renovation of the entire city, and pedestrianisation of Times Square.

None of them were thinking about the science of happiness. But they proved that we all have the right and the power to fix our cities.

What about the rest of us? What about the people who don’t have aspirations to change the system?

You can boost your happiness just by changing your relationship with the urban system. For some people, this means changing where you live, or how you move. For others, the answer lies in understanding the city’s invisible emotional systems, and consciously altering your response to them. I hope Happy City will help.

To hear more about the Happy City, come to the lecture on March 26. Admission is FREE but you have to register. RSVP here.

Did you know that you can enter a Happy City contest to win some great prizes? Spoiler alert: all it takes is a selfie! Check it out here.

Author: Borjana Slipicevic

 

 

Rethinking Transportation with Andrew Coyne

Andrew Coyne speaking at SFU Woodwards

Andrew Coyne speaking at SFU Woodwards

Hello Buzzer readers! I hope you had a chance to attend the second lecture in the series “Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas” that took place on Tuesday, February 26 at SFU Woodwards. The lecture, Easing Congestion in Metro Vancouver: Prices without Subsidies, by Andrew Coyne, was streamed live and the video will be available shortly – I’ll keep you posted.

The lecture generated a very interesting conversation about mobility pricing. Stephen Rees built a storify of the tweets posted during and about the lecture. He was very kind to let us post it here to give our readers a better idea of the what the conversation was about. Kudos to everyone who tweeted during the lecture!

The next lecture is on March 26, 2014. Check here for more info.

Storify: Rethinking Transportation lecture #1

Hello Buzzer readers! I hope you had a chance to attend the first lecture yesterday in the series “Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas” that took place last night at SFU Woodwards. The lecture, Breaking the Political Gridlock to Address the Transportation Challenge: Lessons Learned from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, by Dr. Anne Golden, was streamed live and the video will be available shortly – I’ll keep you posted. The lecture generated great conversation about transportation and a great part of it is reflected in the tweets in this storify.

The next lecture is on Feb 25, 2014. Check this link for more info.

Breaking the Political Gridlock to Address the Transportation Challenge: Lessons Learned from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, by Dr. Anne Golden on January 28 was the first lecture in the new series of lectures on transportation. The next lecture is on Feb 25. Info: http://bit.ly/Khlbte.

http://storify.com/TransLink/rethinking-transportation-new-voices-new-ideas-lec

Author: Borjana Slipicevic