2014 Go Smart Day, an initiative of Imagine Comox Valley, saw almost 500 people take to the streets in downtown Courtenay in a celebration of youthful fun, sun, sports, shopping, food, music and art. Organised by a handful of pro-active animateurs, supported by a few dozen volunteers and enjoyed by hundreds of community members of all ages, the event was everything the organisers had hoped for.
Image caption: 2014 Go Smart Day - early morning chalk art, started by local artist Tracy Kobus and filled in by people of all ages with some gentle guidance from local teacher Nicholas Williams.
After ongoing deliberation and varied input the group organising 2014 Go Smart Day under the banner of Imagine Comox Valley decided to change the name of the event from Car-Free Sunday to Go Smart Day. “It’s never been about being anti-car. We felt that the name Car-Free Sunday was too rigid. This event is about promoting the many possible uses of a public resource. Go Smart Day seemed a much better fit and we are grateful for the suggestion from one of our supporters.” said Andrew Gower, part of the organising team. “Considering the large number of children and youth that come out to the event, it seemed essential to have things flowing freely; we the organisers basically make the roads of the downtown core a safe space allowing people to do what they want as they want.”
Support from the downtown businesses played a key part in the success of the event and the organisers are grateful to be-Clothing, The Broken Spoke, Cardero’s, Courtenay Antiques, Everything Wet Store, Fiction, Home and Garden Gate, Iconic, Kradles, Courtenay Library, The Laughing Oyster, Courtenay Museum, Red Living, Union Street Grill and Grotto and Zocalo Cafe for their participation on the day of the event. Along with some shopping, people were invited to participate in a cretiri-fun event, a community garden potluck, create street art, enjoy a sidewalk music show (thanks to our friends from Elevate the Arts) and ride all kinds of things up and down and around 5th street and a small downtown core loop.
Getting to the event was pretty easy, even for those who had to travel some distance to get there, thanks to participation from the folks at BC Transit, who provided both a special transit schedule for the day of the event and an impressive informative booth. Special mention also goes out to Christine Nave of CNIC Traffic Services, who generously donated the time and effort required to ensure safe traffic control services for the event.
“Seeing your friends and neighbours out on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Strolling through our beautiful downtown core without worrying about kids riding their bikes. Supporting local businesses, knowing that it is money well spent because they support you. This is community-building at its finest - and most fun.” said David Frisch, volunteer coordinator for 2014 Go Smart Day.
As the event came to an end, and traffic on 5th Street resumed to normal, the volunteers enjoying some post-event goodies cooked up by Union Street Grill and Grotto, unanimously agreed that 2015 Go Smart Day couldn’t come soon enough.
For more media from the event search for #2014GoSmartDay on Twitter or Facebook.
Youth Media Project – Call for Applications
MAKE VIDEOS & GET PAID!
Youth Media Project is a program for community action through media involving 9 participants between the ages of 16 – 30. For 12 weeks youth work as a team to create videos expressing their visions for change in the Comox Valley, and are connected with job placements in the Valley. The project welcomes all youth, including immigrant youth, Aboriginal youth, street-involved youth and others who face barriers to employment.
TO APPLY YOU MUST BE:
- Interested in art & video
- Between the ages of 16 and 30
- Not attending school full-time
- Legally entitled to work in Canada
- Not on EI
- Experiencing barriers to employment
- Full-time minimum wage employment (9 weeks in-class + 3 weeks job placement)
- Experience in video production, graphic design & web development
- Consultations in career development
Apply Now – Applications accepted up to February 28, 2014
Info Session: Thursday, February 27 @ 5:30pm @ Comox Valley Art Gallery (snacks provided)
- A letter of application describing your reasons for applying, your work and school experience and how this
- project is important to your future
- Suggested: support material such as a resume, art work (photographs, writing, videos, etc.)
Email your application to: email@example.com
Or drop off your application to: COMOX VALLEY ART GALLERY, 580 Duncan Ave., Courtenay, BC, V9N 2M7
Questions? Call 250-338-6211. Space is limited – apply today
PROGRAM BEGINS: March 10, 2014 – This is a full-time 12-week program, Monday to Friday, 9:00am-3:30pm.
This project is funded by the Government of Canada & BC Creative Communities
Partners: Wachiay Friendship Centre, Creative Employment Access Society, Imagine Comox Valley, Lake Trail Neighbourhood Connections.
Two years ago world renowned leader in livable communities, Gil Peñalosa, was invited by the Comox Valley Cycling Task Force and the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition to imagine how the Comox Valley could become a truly ‘people-friendly’ community. Mr Peñalosa met with local community leaders and presented to a packed Native Sons hall on examples of how communities designed for people can function differently from communities designed for cars.
Citing research and tangible examples, Peñalosa explained how communities built around the automobile discourage active forms of transportation, contribute to the trend in North American obesity and other negative public health outcomes, create unsafe spaces for people, including vulnerable users such as children and seniors, create sprawling land use patterns and associated expensive infrastructure, as well as exercise a heavy toll on the environment.
Imagine Comox Valley was inspired by the tangible examples of the creative use of public space and initiated the Valley’s first and second Car Free Sundays as one of the identified “easy actions” recommended out of Peñalosa’s visit.
“In most communities, roads are our most expansive and expensive public space,” says Andrew Gower, board director of Imagine Comox Valley. “Imagine Comox Valley (ICV) saw an opportunity to host a Car Free Sunday as a tried and true event to raise awareness about our collective vision for these spaces and to physically bring people together. It was a lot of fun, we literally had people dancing in the streets!”
Car Free Sundays were held in both Courtenay and Cumberland in the fall of 2011 and again in the spring of 2012. The events inspired live music, chalk art, tango in the streets, stilt walkers, community booths, skateboard demos, garage sales, store specials, roller derby demos, restaurant deals and many other initiatives. While ICV spearheaded the event by organizing the road closure permit process, the event was community-driven and was successful due to the participation of numerous businesses, sports groups, artists and musicians, community animators and organizations.
“We had our share of controversy over the event,” acknowledges Gower. “We know that some residents felt it inconvenient that certain roads had restricted car use, but overall the feedback over the event was quite positive. And the road closures were limited to half a day. I’d say we were successful in raising awareness about a community service that is easy to take for granted.”
Despite this success, ICV will not be hosting a Car Free Sunday event for 2013. Instead, the group is using the Elevate the Arts event in downtown Courtenay to provide examples of creative uses of public space such as a temporary installation of a half pipe and a number of temporary ‘parking stall’ parks. ICV will also be providing an opportunity through the ‘Start Here’ community engagement arts project for residents to describe how their public spaces could be ‘enlivened’ to contribute to their quality of life.
‘Start Here’ is a community engagement project developed by CVAG in partnership with Imagine Comox Valley, the North Island College Fine Art Department, Highland Secondary, Elevate the Arts and a number of community animators. The highly interactive display will be housed at CVAG and uses a range of media to explore individual and group perceptions of the Valley. ICV will be contributing ‘Be Heard - Masked or Unmasked’, a videography opportunity that enables people to tell their stories. Participants are invited to sit in a tent where they have the option to wear a mask, and tell their story and vision for the Comox Valley to the video screen. Similar to a ‘speakers corner’, the installation provides a seemingly intimate space where imagination can let loose and visions are held. The ‘data’ from the entire ‘Start Here’ event will be used by ICV to create a multi-media presentation of a co-created vision that may be available at CVAG and other venues in the future.
“ICV saw a tremendous opportunity to harness the creative ideas from the community through the Start Here project,” says Pieter Vorster, board director of ICV. “Our organization’s mission is to help people re-imagine the Comox Valley as a truly sustainable place, for everyone. In order to help do that, we have to have a baseline ‘snapshot’ of what people care about in their community and what they think about on the day to day. Start Here will provide data for that snapshot.”
ICV intends to host a Car Free Sunday event in 2014 and will showcase the information that was collected during this year’s Elevate the Arts and ‘Start Here’ project.
Over eight weeks a team of Comox Valley Youth were immersed in learning digital media-making and employability skills at the Comox Valley Art Gallery, resulting in nine original videos which dare to imagine a bold and original future for the Comox Valley. Issues as diverse as sustainability, accessibility, street art and play were examined - and no video screening would be complete without Zombies!
The Youth Media Project (YMP), sponsored by the Comox Valley Art Gallery through the Government of Canada’s Skills Link Program provided a range of new skills training for nine youth who faced barriers to employment. This pilot project began January 28, 2013 and ended March 22, 2013. It assisted youth in developing life and employability skills through group-based learning. The YMP featured workshops with guest media-makers as well as from the project partners: The Wachiay Friendship Center, Imagine Comox Valley and the Creative Employment Access Society.
Throughout the project youth received training in digital video production, graphic design and animation through the Comox Valley Art Gallery’s media lab, and engaged with key community leaders in discussions surrounding social justice, cultural heritage and community participation. The participants then created group-based video projects that express unique visions of change within the Comox Valley. Alongside the video, participants developed an employment action-plan and resume/portfolio. By completing the program activities youth reportedly experienced reduced barriers to employment and increased ability to enter and participate in the labour market.
Imagine Comox Valley was delighted to play a role in this process and was deeply impressed with the quality of the productions and the social comments they made. Have a look at the links below to view the videos here on our website:
- PUSH TO OPEN by Alex Carey
- BAGWATLA by Colin Beans
- IT’S NOT JUST A TREND by Charlotte Conley
- NEW VILLAGE GALLERY by Carrie Poborsa-Cox
- WALKING THE VISION by Chantal Solomon
- CENTRE. ENTER. by Erich Magdzik
- FINDING THE POTENTIAL WITHIN by Hadley Zaborniak
- ZOMBIE WALK by Shane Colclough
- OASIS by Tim Tran
Alternatively you can show the Comox Valley Art Gallery some online love by viewing the entire playlist of videos on their Youtube Channel.
An informative look into the accessibility issues of downtown Courtenay businesses. Created during the CV Art Gallery’s Youth Media Project, Spring 2013.