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Knit Comfort

4 Nov

Looking out at the yellow leaves of this delightfully late fall, I have sweaters and boots on the brain. Gotta cover up for my first winter that involves sub-zero temperatures in over a decade.

One thing I did bring from the West Coast is a Cowichan Sweater.

Original Cowichan sweaters are named after and come from the local First Nations group on south-eastern Vancouver Island. The sweaters combine traditional Salish spinning and weaving and imported European textile methods.

The patterns combine 2-3 natural colours and are either geometric or representational. Although there are traditional themes and layouts, these sweaters have taken on a modern flare and were even appropriated for official Olympic merchandise of the 2010 games in Vancouver. Also popularized by the Dude, these sweaters combine tradition, fun, and practicality. Now the hard part is choosing one.


Human Geography

21 Feb

Mapping is a powerful tool for visualizing and understanding connections and context. I have shared maps that imitate life and life imitated my maps.

Beyond the apparent geography and proximity, maps expose a range of subterranean information. For example, creative uses of mapping to investigate social inclusion. 

Adding a beauty to the complexity of maps, Matthew Cusick uses maps as source material for collages. Inspired by topography, he likes to “catalog, archive, and arrange information and then dismantle, manipulate, and reconfigure it.”

The textured and intricate assemblages highlight the intangible aspects of maps. Seeing freeway maps take on their three-dimensional form brings to the forefront the influence infrastructure has on our cities and our lives. For me, Geronimo, is the most thought-provoking of the works, directly addressing issues that are still raw and unresolved. 

via Jason Hilgefort via oddity central


Today Councilor Suzanne Anton is putting forth a motion to expand Robson Square:

30 Nov

Today Councilor Suzanne Anton is putting forth a motion to expand Robson Square:


1. The 800 block of Robson Street between Howe Street and Hornby Street has been identified over the years as being a good location for a major public square for the City of Vancouver;

2. The 800 Robson has been closed for nearly a year now, during the Olympics and the renovations to the Courthouse complex;

3. The 800 Robson is between the Art Gallery and the Courthouse, enjoys an open and sunny southern exposure, and is already a favoured public gathering space;

Your support is needed! To weigh in: Vancouver Public Space Network.

It’s fantastic to see this motion on the table and the change will give space to the to the public plaza Robson Square should be. There is so much potential to consider, including what will happen after the Vancouver Art Gallery relocates.


Urban landscapes – streets, plaza, parks and gardens – are the glue that holds it all together, that

13 Sep



Now, even more reasons for community gardens.

14 Jun

Michael Hanson

As a part of Community Studio, I had the pleasure of working on the Alexander Street Blooming Boulevard, a community garden in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, renowned for being Canada’s poorest postal code. The project builds on a movement to provide green space and opportunities for maintenance in the socially and economically challenged neighborhood. As an extension of the work, I co-authored “Garden is a Seed: Community Gardening in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods” with Lara Davis, detailing the benefits and obstacles of urban agriculture in similar scenarios. The case studies demonstrated that a range of physical challenges, from contamination to parking lots, can be dealt with. In all cases, gardening brought about an increased sense of community, social connections, and improved health from the maintenance and food production. In my mind, the most significant impact is how the act of communal food production bridges cultural gaps, allowing immigrants to both maintain and share customs, ingredients, and recipes.

In Kansas, New Roots for Refugees Farm is taking the community garden a step further by providing income generating opportunities through a Farm Business Development Program. After at least one year with a community garden plot, 14 women accepted into the program receive a quarter-acre plot. In addition to providing a year’s worth of seeds, tools, water, and marketing, each farmer is also matched with two Community Supported Agriculture members to support the plot’s crop.

The hope is that after three years, the farmers can take the annual $200 of their sales they’ve been saving and start their own independent farm on a vacant lot within the neighborhood. Though it’s a long shot that they’ll be able to single-handedly support their families — most have husbands working full-time — the farms offer an invaluable monetary supplement, as well as filling the fridge and satisfying that essential human hunger for productivity and worthiness.

This is an exciting initiative that will have significant benefits to the community and local economy. By providing income in a way that works with these newcomers existing culture and skills, the NRRF facilitates a challenging transition to a new country and economy.

“Part of me felt that making the farm a nonprofit says that it isn’t viable,” [Katherine Kelly] explains. “It acts like a museum, and it’s run like a museum sometimes. Farming shouldn’t be like that.” She isn’t black and white on the issue, however: “I have to say there is a particularly Midwestern emphasis on the free market as the solution. I don’t like a lot of that — the idea that capitalism is the solution to everything. But I believe in small businesses, and I know and see how proud the owners are of their businesses.”

I can see this being applicable in Vancouver, given our enthusiasm for community gardens and diverse population.



Graffyard is a fascinating project by Berlin-based artist Sweza, who focuses on illustrations and

22 May

Graffyard is a fascinating project by Berlin-based artist Sweza, who focuses on illustrations and modifications in public space.

  • I am using QR Codes to preserve graffiti for posterity by photographing the graffiti before it is removed. After the graffiti has been cleaned off by the local authorities or building owner I place a QR Code in the exact location which resolves to an image of the original. In that way a mobile phone with a QR-Code Reader can be used to travel back in time.

I really like how the intervention bridges digital and physical realms in an interactive way. There is lots of potential to take this concept further, like physically manifesting virtual Easter eggs as part of scavenger hunts or contests.