Frances Bula header image 2

Our two transplanted Chicagoans give a talk

January 13th, 2010 · 6 Comments

Interesting event planned for Jan. 27, when Gord Price and SFU’s City School have arranged for us all to hear from the, not one, but two new bureaucrats we have imported from Chicago. (You didn’t know TransLink was hiring Yanks, did you?)

More info here.

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  • I am sorry Gord and his cronies have to resort to this because . . .

  • PS . . . don’t forget Gord and his cronies, not too long ago, were trying persuade us Vancouver is “PARADISE”: obviously they do not have to commute to Abbotsford.

    Shilling for these over priced imports does this town no favour . . .

  • I really don’t expect to penetrate the carapace of self-serving stupidity of our lovable “cyclists”: it is nevertheless necessary to keep the record straight.

    Quoting from Price Tags: “Come welcome two of Vancouver’s newest city-shapers as they share their experiences from one of North America’s most vibrant cities – Chicago.” Huh! Is the Hall not supposed to be going thru a Penny-wise retrenchment?

    Are we not able to “vibrate” our own city? What is the secret? What on earth do these two over paid itinerants know about city shaping that we do not know, and why do we not know.

    Again, Price Tags: “Vancouver Deputy City Manager Sadhu Johnston and TransLink Vice-President of Planning Mike Shiffer both worked in the Windy City, one in the Mayor’s office, the other in the Chicago Transit Authority, at a time when sustainability was emerging as a key platform in the city’s political culture. Come learn what they learned, and what it might mean for Vancouver.”

    As for the Chicago Transit authority: if, “sustainability was emerging as a key platform in the city’s political culture” when Mike was there, then “emerging” he knows less than we do . . . at least the cyclists have been pedaling for over a decade. And if Skytrain isn’t sustainable by now, and we need outside help. then I have big time questions.

    Most Vancouver size cities do wonderfully with buses: I Googled subways in the UK and came up with a sandwich!

    Newton’s second law of thermodynamics, entropy, state nothing is sustainable so what is all this “friendly” Cascadia “green” sustainability competition really all about? Certainly not the environment. And what can Sadhu and Chicago contribute to Cascadia?

    Why, if we are talking “green”, does the director of planning announce four 450’/700′ downtown towers? What perverse mindset allows a 320′ Woodward’s tower in a 70′ zone? Is the public really scammed by the diminished W crammed between those looming testaments to the demise of architecture? They sure as hell don’t spell sustainable!

    God knows how many tons of concrete and re-bars go into those things. Sustainable? Kiddin”!

    The director of planning and his minions are too busy scoffing their Geritol to know re-bars from safety bars in a walk-in bath tub!

    The cycling crowd has forgotten their helmets just too often.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The “Americano” Thought of the Day

    “One basic rule is that a parasite must not kill its host before the parasite has succeeded in reproducing and moving on to a new host.”

    Frances, why doesn’t anybody talk about the real Chicago, the Chicago that nobody from Chicago wants to talk about? Including the transplanted ones. What a complete joke this all charade has become.

    Also, it boggles my mind that a Canada wide talent (if there ever was one) search came back empty handed. Our head-hunters must be a bunch of utter incompetents or there is something else, rotten to the core. Get the message here, anybody?

    For the past weeks, on the radio, subliminal, patriotic slogans are broadcasted furiously: “Canadian gold on Canadian soil; do you believe?”

    Oh yeah, when it comes to moving the puck around, snow shoeing with a mission or going down the hill, head first on a piece of plank wood, that’s Golden, but when it comes to the real things, the things that matters, not so much!
    The message sent is pretty clear. “Girls and boys take your Canadian MBA’s, MSc’s, PhD’s, or whatever Street savvy ThD’s you may have and wipe your collective arses with them!” And while doing that, listen to this:

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

    By the way, is the new Metered Parking account a Chicagoan template of the times to come? Could be a simple coincidence that both City of Vancouver and Translink are in it together? I think not. Something to ask on the 27th!

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    As a sometime “Plan Talker”, let me get the garden hose out and hose down the previous posters.

    First, I want to congratulate the PIBC for Plan Talk. When I hosted one with Michael Larice, then teaching at SCARP, we “Plain Talked” about why the first Olympic Village proposal should be reconsidered, and urged that it should be designed along the lines of human-scaled, street-oriented urbanism with a strong typology of urban space.

    Everyone it seems turned out, including Gordon Price, and top level bureaucrats from the key departments in the City of Vancouver. We held back no punches. And, an open and level-field conversation ensued. I remember saying at one point in the proceedings that it resembled a “dis-functional dinner party” because we were all in one room, and the food was across the hall in another.

    Did our Plan Talk do any good? Can I be seen dancing naked down Pacific Boulevard? Not yet…

    But, the original proposal to go “tower-n-podium” was dropped, and a year-long process ensued at the conclusion of which the CoV presented concepts that were radically different from the initial position.

    Then came everything else.

    As I shut off the hose I’ve turned on my friend, let me admit to the fact that the Olympic Village—seen from a distance—appears remarkable only in the fact that it looks different from the stuff on the other side of False Creek. We will have to bid the Olympics “adieu” before we can go in and see for ourselves.

    Now, is Chicago a vibrant city? I’ve been there, and… Je n’sais pas. The evidence had on Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile” is not convincing. However, it is a western city, and as such, it has borne many of the same challenges as our own city.

    In any case, as far as the credentials of the folks in question are concerned, it is hard to imagine that Urbanismo and myself—and maybe Glissando too—could ever sit around sipping an “Americano” and agree with anyone that did not have a solid European grounding.

    Nevertheless, we should give these folks a chance. The urbanism that reverberates with human sense perception (and maybe even with “Pink Floyd”) can be had in a handful of North American sites, but in my own experience, urbanism of human scale is an everyday occurrence—and best understood—in Latin America and Europe.

    We are just too Yankee here in western Canada, and dollar driven, to give a damn about the niceties of a street-square-street system. We like our parking lots and our strip malls, our mega stores and our tower-n-podium. We don’t care that gated communities, and just about everything else built since 1940, “turns a back on the street”.

    Streets are not “public realm”, we say. Streets are “dirty” and meant for automobiles, not people. As Galbraith once famously put it, our values are about “private luxury, and public squalor”.

    Got a problem with rush hour traffic, or too much asphalt? Move up, and get a better view.

  • Glissando Remmy

    Lewis ,

    If it was during the Summer Games season I would have said, hose me off, hose me off. But being in the middle of the Winter Games season, I’ll say, nah thanks a lot, why don’t you go and hose yourself?!

    Not knowing you, I went back a few months and read some of your previous posts, trying to find out more, this time really paying attention. I’ve still to reach a conclusion.

    Some people’s desires are grand; climb that mountain, write that book, compose that symphony, cure that disease. Other’s are petite; lie out in the sun, sucking on their severance packages, walk their dog three times a day, move to downtown for the Games or simply like to kiss Bureaucrat ass in the eventuality of later gratification . The question is which one are you?
    I understand your ambition. Keep it strong and next Formshift competition you’ll be among the winners. It’s all up to you; so far you’ve been touching all the important issues in all the right places.

    Now to the topic; Read my post, again. Your comment vis-à-vis mine is like comparing an unfortunate Haitian earthquake refugee to a Wall Street banker. They both are crying out for help. However the reasons are significantly different and I may add, terribly wrong.

    I’m advocating Canada and the Canadian talent, Lewis. And I bet Urbanismo and many others are with me on this one.

    I’m questioning the hiring procedures behind the structurally rotten to the rebar nepotism and cronyism that’s building up inside our public Corporations aka City Hall, Translink…the ever so present political appointees in public office saga.

    It’s not directed in particular to the Americans, it just happens, ironically that these two late transplants originate from one of the most politically and corporately corrupt cities (oh yeah, build on that great experience) in the US plus I also had a great song to go with it (Tu Vuo’ Fa’ L’Americano); for as much as I care they could have been from Peru, New Zealand or Iraq.

    Lewis, sooner or later you’ll have to wake up to the fact that we have talent in our own backyards and despite that, we are persistently behaving like a bunch of brainwashed Real TV addicts. We have become mere spectators in our own reality show. Why are we buying foreign material?

    We don’t need to bring the Paris Hilton’s of the world in order for Vancouver’s sewage plants to produce less toxic gases, or for our parks to become more attractive or for our buses to be on time 24/7.

    By giving these people a round of applause anytime of the day you actually doing them a disservice. Criticize when necessary and point out the deficiencies and maybe, just maybe, you’ll keep them honest for a while. You can’t blame me for trying.
    You were almost right about one thing. I’ll be joining you and Urbanismo on that “Americano” chat on the Delightfully European Design versus the Flawed North American one.

    One might say that I have a preferred list of “usual suspects” from people in politics, civil service and mainly from select corPORKorations. So, why shouldn’t I? Everybody has an agenda. Except me.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.