What Can We Do About Traffic?

“If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.”

~Fred Kent, Project for Public Spaces

If you are of a certain age, and were sufficiently geeky, you played a bit of SimCity in your youth. This was an interesting game/simulation where you were mayor, controlling development and growth of an imaginary city. Your goal was to keep citizens happy, which meant ensuring they had places to live, work, and shop, while taxes, crime, pollution, and traffic were kept in check.

You didn’t have to play for long before you realized that you couldn’t build enough roads. No matter how well you ran your city, there was an insatiable appetite for more roads. They eventually ate up your budget and filled your neighbourhoods with pollution, but they remained choked with traffic and angry citizens demanded more. It was a no-win situation.

SimCity was just a game, but it modelled reality better than you may think. The world is rife with examples of cities that have tried to build their way out of traffic congestion, with the only constant being “the bigger the project, the bigger the traffic.” Continue reading “What Can We Do About Traffic?”

Busy As A Bee

img_Issue 1-11The bee scene in Fried Green Tomatoes, in which Mary Stuart Masterson reaches through a swarm of bees to extract honey from a tree trunk, is one of the most memorable movie scenes I’ve ever seen.

I channeled Masterson (who did the scene without a stunt double) less than a decade later when I encouraged a swarm of bees to follow me from a shed to a different part of the yard then back again when I realized I was better off leaving them where they were.

My more recent bee experiences have been with the gentler, solitary kind, the mason bee (from the genus Osmia). Mason bees produce neither honey nor beeswax but play an important role in the pollination of our flowers and fruit trees. In fact, mason bees are such efficient pollinators, it takes just one mason bee to pollinate 12 pounds of cherries, while it takes 60 honey bees to do the same! Continue reading “Busy As A Bee”

Century House in Motion

IMG_1531 (1)We do movement at Century House – lots of movement – and it’s a part of my job as a recreation programmer for the New West activity centre geared toward adults 50+ (run in partnership with the Century House Association and the City of New Westminster) to come up with ways to get people moving for fitness and fun. But, what is movement? And, perhaps a bigger question, “why movement?”

The early pioneers of movement education were influenced by the idea of the body being an expression of movement. This idea found a great home in early modern dance and creative arts. Isadora Duncan, an American dancer from the early 20th century known for a flowing, creative, and expressive style and a fondness for scarves while performing, comes to mind.

Rudolf von Laban, another early 20th century dancer and theorist, is considered by most as the true pioneer of movement education. He believed the body was an instrument of expression and made a distinction between expressive movement and functional movement — movement that serves a purpose in everyday life. Expressive movement communicates ideas in dance or other forms of artistic expression. Functional movement has a purpose, in addition to helping with activities of everyday life, such as sports and games.

Functional movement is what we do at Century House. Continue reading “Century House in Motion”

Keeping Kids Moving

I have a very clear memory of my mom discovering her winter boots leaked one cold and wet November afternoon, right before my soccer game kicked off. At half time, she proudly showed me her clever fix for ensuring her feet stayed dry. Rather than leave the sidelines, Mom had donned plastic bag “socks” and was back in action, cheering and shouting for my teammates and I. We won that game, 4-1.

My mom’s dedication to my soccer (and later, field hockey) was constant. She drove, volunteered with the organizations I played for, and scrimped and saved so that I could play sports. In return? She got to stand on sidelines in horrible weather, with her feet in plastic bags just to shout “GO!”

Nowadays, she jokes that she wishes I had opted for indoor or summer sports. “In all seriousness, I really enjoyed being a part of your sports,” she recalls. “I wanted to support you in something you loved.” Continue reading “Keeping Kids Moving”

Finding a Place

Refugee.

A word loaded with power and imagery: terror and burnt-out buildings, explosions and cowering children.

After the 2015 federal election, the incoming govern- ment pledged to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by year-end, a commitment that was meant to bring hope to those fleeing war-torn areas and to signal a kinder, softer Canada.

Maryam has been a refugee twice. Yet she came to Canada at 19 after being sponsored by her husband who had moved here on a student visa. It was within her own country that she was a refugee.*

“Twice we lost everything. We walked out the door with only our clothes.” Continue reading “Finding a Place”

Featured Artist: Jim Walsh

Artist Statement:

JW_headshotJim Walsh painting as J. Charles

I am a graphic designer, an artist and a long-time New West resident. I’m an Active Status member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and my work is represented by galleries here in the Pacific Northwest as well as with Fine Caribbean Art in south Florida. As a painter, I am drawn to the random patterns and colors I see and feel in our natural surroundings. I’m interested in capturing a specific moment and then reimagining it through the colors I see as well as the colors that I want to see.

My paintings are in the permanent collection of the Alberta Art Foundation as well as in private and corporate collections through out North America including the home office of Bristol-Myers Squibb and 3Macs Financial Management in Montreal. Continue reading “Featured Artist: Jim Walsh”