The UrbanCSA’s (possible) last event of the year! Come hear Gian-Carlo, who is also running for mayor in Calgary’s upcoming municipal election, discuss the importance of design and how it can influence Calgary.
Who: Gian-Carlo Carra
When: Wednesday, March 31st @ 2:30pm
Where: Bianca Room, Mac Hall
We need to make some significant changes at City Hall if we are going to achieve the Calgary we all want. To that end, over the next couple of months, I will be delivering a series of lectures on what the nuts and bolts details of what I believe the new system must look like.
Vibrant Urban Villages: Three Essential Elements
Our culture’s dawning understanding of the pernicious problem of suburban sprawl has been the result of various sustained efforts bent on comprehensively reshaping North America’s approach to physical development. Thanks to the New Urbanism, Smart Growth, and the various green building movements, terms such as “urban villages,” “walkable communities,” “complete communities,” “transit oriented development,” and “LEED certification,” (to name only a few) are now part of a popular lexicon. But despite being liberally bandied about by planning bureaucracies, design consultants, developers, and concerned citizens, meaningful change has been frustratingly slow. My work over the last ten years as a consultant and community activist has led to the conviction that underlying the systems of design conventions, political processes, and legal regulation that perpetuate business as usual, is a more fundamental conceptual issue. At root is the need for a massive, culture-wide, conceptual shift from conventional automobile-scaled suburbanism to sustainable human-scaled urbanism – an Urban Shift. Drawing from the lessons learned throughout both my professional practice and my community activism,this talk introduces what I believe are the three absolutely essential elements of urbanism that must be embedded in design, process, and regulatory systems of change: The Urban to Rural Transect; the Networked Thoroughfare System; and, the Sustainable Neighborhood Unit.
And here is a short write-up on Gian-Carlo, courtesy of the Gaining Ground Summit website:
Gian Carlo Carra Senior Urban Designer, T-Six Urbanists Inc.
Gian Carlo is a Senior Urban Designer for T-Six who balances professional practice with community service and academic research. Gian Carlo brings a balance of all of these considerations to the table and serves to bridge the gap between ideals, practicality, and education of the public. Gian Carlo’s roles include urban design, project management, charrette facilitation, education and public speaking. He holds a Masters in Urban Design from the University of Calgary, and is currently working on a PhD in Urban Geography.
On Friday March 26th the UrbanCSA is offering a Transit Talk and Tour hosted by David Cooper, a transit planner with the City of Calgary. This event will involve a brief presentation on the challenges that transit planners face in Calgary, as well as a tour of the Victoria Park Station Garage (where all the Calgary Transit magic happens.) We will be meeting at the Victoria Park LRT station at 3pm sharp. Space is limited for this event, so please RSVP to Heather (firstname.lastname@example.org). This will be a great chance to learn about both the social implications and technical aspects of the public transit system in our city.
So to recap:
Who: David Cooper and YOU
What: Transit Talk and Tour
When: Friday, March 26th, 3pm sharp
Where: Victoria Park LRT Station
In the words of David…
The brief outline is that I will provide a 45 minute presentation on Transit Planning in Calgary followed by a 30 minute garage tour. I would like to have the event from 3-4:30pm so I can meet the attendees at Victoria Park LRT Station on the platform at 3pm sharp. The presentation and garage tour will be held at Victoria Park Transit Garage which is a 10 minute walk from Victoria Park LRT Station. You are free to open up the event to Civil Engineering/Transportation Studies, but keep in mind that the maximum attendees is 20.
Urban Studies graduate and former VP of the UrbanCSA, Derek Pomreinke, recently attended the much-hyped TEDxYYC and was nice enough to write about the experience. In his words…
As I was fortunate enough to have work (the City of Calgary) give me the day off to attend what was ostensibly a professional development conference, I figured Id give you all the run-down of the speakers, my thoughts, and a link to their speech on YouTube so you can check them out for yourself if you so desire.
For those who dont know, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and began as a small conference to discuss the growing integration between all three subjects and to look toward the future. After offering all their lectures online for free at http://www.ted.com, they began an outreach program allowing people to set up conferences in their own cities and receive official support from TED. Thus, we are given TEDxYYC, where YYC is the airport code (and increasingly the Twitter hashtag) representing Calgary.
The unifying theme behind the event was Great Minds, a reference not to just our fantastic speakers, but also to our audience and to the population in general. Great Minds is about calling us all to action. They had a board featuring the guest list, most of whom appeared to be in fields such as architecture, web design, social media, and the like. Basically a cross section of Richard Floridas now-defunct creative class. The day was split into three sections, though the distinctions between the sections were hazy at best once you got into the actual speeches.
Community & Culture
Rick Castiligone, Journalist, Film-Maker, Philanthropist
-Rick began to tell us of the power shift occurring within the mediascape with regards to funding for programs. Because local stations are having difficulty competing against national stations, they get bought out which standardizes broadcasting across the nation. These national stations then try to cut costs by creating reality TV shows instead of serialized dramas. A side-effect of this is that it becomes unfeasible financially to market a one-off documentary special, no matter how important the subject matter is, and thus filmmakers like him are forced to look elsewhere. But fortunately enough if you make quality documentaries that tell important stories about real people, the funding will flood in regardless.
John Manzo, Sociologist
-My favourite speaker of the day, John examined the third-wave coffee renaissance currently striking Calgary. He noted that, per capita, Calgary actually has more third-wave coffee shops than Berlin, traditionally (ie since the 90s) the capital of the European coffee/barista couture. These third-wave shops are differentiated from second-wave shops by their generally more open floor plan that facilitates interaction between customers, as well as between the customers and the baristas, as well as by their increased focus on local products, local business, and the restoration of the art of coffee, something that was stripped away by the commercialization and standardization of second-wave Starbucks outlets. Fascinating. He even threw a shout-out to Insomnia as an example of how Calgarys local entrepreneurial spirit was creating a new chapter in our history.
Chris Turner, Author
-Chris previewed his new book, The Great Leap Sideways, where he continues his optimistic vision of the future first identified in The Geography of Hope. Im not going to lie, I sort of tuned out during this one as Ive heard much of what he has to say before regarding peak oil, the diversification of energy investments, the shrinking of space we deem acceptable to travel through, etc. Nothing new as long as you know about moving toward a more sustainable urban form.
Science & Discovery
Jennifer Martin, President & CEO of the Telus World Of Science
-Being the head honcho at the science centre, she had a vested interest in creating space and conditions whereby children could feel comfortable and confident enough to express their ideas in small-scale settings. Under these circumstances, where kids and teens express themselves, intra-generational learning can be facilitated and mentorships with adults can strengthen their reciprocal nature.
Garnette Sutherland, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, UofC
-Robots performing neurosurgery. This ones pretty self-explanatory. His speech may have been a bit on the dry side, but it was still worth it to paint a picture of how technology and design are coming into conflux in such diverse areas as the arts and neuroscience.
Eden Full, Youth Entrepreneur, World-Changer
-This young woman not only came up with a $10 idea that could change the world, but it provided her with the second-most desirable title to have on your business card: World-Changer. A self-described engineering nerd, Edens academic career at Princeton focused on photovoltaic panels and their support systems. She crafted a simple, cheap, easy-to-repair device that assists PV panels in tracking the sun across the sky (thus optimizing their output) made out of bamboo and a bi-metallic strip. This simple device replaced a $600 electromechanical tracking system and thus made solar panels much more affordable. Her long-term goal was to assist in any way possible the implementation of cheap electricity across the world, especially in Africa. All this and shes 18.
Arts, Culture & The Future
Lorrie Matheson, Songwriter
-Not much to say about him, he bookended his speeeeeeeeeeech with two indie songs that were really well crafted and executed in their simplicity. He spoke about the creative process, how someone in his line of work still hasnt run out of ideas for songs even after 20 years, and though sometimes the germ of the idea will need to be put on the backburner temporarily, the idea will usually be fleshed out 5, 10, 20 years down the road. I thought immediately about our long-term projects.
Ben Cameron, Program Director, Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
-Clearly an old pro who has delivered this speech many times, this was one of the most passionate arguments Ive ever heard in support of the traditional delivery of arts against the onslaught of modern technological reform. As the downloading and iTunes era has altered our expectation of entertainment to be personalized, customized, and democratic, it is the traditional performing arts that are institutional, prescribed, and elite that now require a reformation on par with that of the churchs. He dreams of living in a world where culture is defined by artistic participation instead of consumption. I highly recommend watching this.
Ruben Nelson, Futurist
-Best job title EVER. While I dont want to say his speech was sentimental or schmaltzy, it did seem rather congratulatory to all of us in attendance. We were told that the world is changing and that people willing to analyze the coming convergence of technology, entertainment, and design would be prepared to create physical spaces where this convergence could be realized. His best quote was that the greatest cities in human history have existed non-trivially, that to simply maintain the city is to relegate it to someday losing out. It is our place to strive constantly to better our city, to make it stand for something and to produce new things, and to make it a place worth caring about.
All of the speeches I watched were unique yet with a defined sense of importance to them, which was no doubt imparted by the speakers as many of them were lecturing about their lifes work. The first section on community & culture piqued my interest the most, though the passion brought to the arts & future section left me with a great sense of optimism about the day. If I could sum up this conference succinctly, it would be with just that word: optimism.
I hope they have more of these events here, from what I understand there was one at the university shortly after, and another one TEDxCalgary booked for the near future. This new one is put on by Leadership Calgary, its theme is Humanity 3.0: Leadership the World Needs Now, with sections on youth, elders, conflict, and poverty. For more info on it, check http://tedxcalgary.ca
Advertising is so ubiquitous that it’s almost hard to imagine urban spaces without it. And yet, this is precisely what São Paulo, Brazil (the worlds fourth largest city) has done: in 2007, the city passed an ordinance that put a ban on outdoor advertising. Is this choking off a vital source of revenue for some businesses, or this a progressive step towards uncluttering and decommodifying the urban lifeworld, moving one major city one step away from the ravenous jaws of corporate capital? Has this move beautified São Paulo, or has it turned active space into negative space, and if so, what does that say about contemporary design and architecture? See for yourself, and make up your own mind.