The folks behind Imagine Comox Valley and the latest TEDx Comox Valley event would like to extend their gratitude to every member of our community that attended our event focusing on revealing hidden local talents. We gathered close to $450 in donations and exposed a crowd of more than 60 people to some ideas that were well worth spreading.
The organisers ask that anyone who attended the event please consider giving us some feedback by completing a short survey.
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.
- For more information on ‘Start Here’ visit http://cvagstarthere.wordpress.com.
- For more information on Elevate the Arts visit: www.elevatethearts.com.
- For more information on the Comox Valley Cycling Task Force including the full set of recommendations from Gil Peñalosa’s visit: www.courtenay.ca/planning/cycling-/cycling-task-force.aspx.
- For more information on the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition visit: http://cyclecv.squarespace.com/
An informative look into the accessibility issues of downtown Courtenay businesses. Created during the CV Art Gallery’s Youth Media Project, Spring 2013.
Downtown Courtenay is launching a new event this April 20th and the whole community is invited! Earth Day Downtown is a day-long celebration of local food and backyard gardening and a great way to celebrate good green living. Live music, kids’ art activities, local business events, vendors and local non-profits will all be part of the fun as the community celebrates earth-friendly choices in the heart of our urban core.
The DCBIA is welcoming a wide variety of vendors and community organizations downtown from 10 am till 3 pm. Vendors are offering everything from compost makers and compost product, mushroom kits, seeds, seedlings, trees and berry bushes, seed bombs, kids crafts and much more! Vendors and groups will be set up in the lot at the corner of 5th and England
Families are invited to come down and learn about gardening methods, chat with growers and farmers and get inspired for their own backyard farming activities. Community organizations are also joining the celebration and talking about projects and initiatives that support local food production, urban famring and healthy eating!
Confirmed vendors to date include: Merville Organics, Natures Way Blueberry Farm, Weegasin Farm (mushroom kits), Sugar Shack Seeds, Comox Lazo Women’s Institute, Lake Trail Neighbourhood Connections, Lush Valley, Earth Art Studios - hands of kids art activities, Sunrise Rotary - Skyrocket Compost, CVRD Community Educator Gayle Bates, Tree Eater Nursery and Farm, Morrison Creek Alpaca, Fresh Earth Products - Speedibin Composter, City of Courtenay Green Team, Comox Valley Seed Savers and Fertile Ground.
Live music and hands on art projects will add even more fun! Performers include Luke Blu Guthrie, Alan Jossul and Annie Becker, with more surprises yet to come. Earth Art Studio will be offering hands on earth day crafts for kids.
Local shops and restaurant are also getting in on the action! Beyond the Kitchen Door is hosting a special “Meet Your Maker” cooking demo with Chef Laura Agnew owner of As You Like it Catering. Chef Laura will be working with products from local food producers from noon till 4 pm including Abuelo’s (tortillas), Clever Crow Sea Salt and Spice Mixes, Eatmore Sprouts, Ironwood Farms (produce), Tree Island Yogurt, Simply Divine (honey) and Island Bison.
Restaurants are offering special “Earth Day Fresh Sheets”. Union Street Grill is getting into the spirit of things offering Bison Tacos with local Abuelos Corn Tortillas, Pattison Farms and Eatmore Sprouts Greens, Sunflower Sprouts, Island Bison Blade Roast (slow roasted with Pattison Farms Tomatillos and fresh rosemary right out of Danielle’s garden from home) and topping it off with Union Street Pico de Gallo and Smoked Crescendo Pepper Tree Island Yogurt.
Earth Day Downtown is a reflection of the many ways that Downtown Courtenay is defining itself as a community destination as well as a retail one. “Visiting Downtown Courtenay has to be a ‘value added’ experience” says DCBIA President Mark Middleton. “We can’t always compete with pricing but we can always compete with personalized service, unique selections, atmosphere, quality and a strong sense of community.”
In fact, the development of strong community partnerships has been at the heart of efforts to add vibrancy to Downtown Courtenay. The DCBIA has taken on several exciting new initiatives over the past year. These include sponsoring the development of the innovative new Elevate Arts Festival, partnership with the local multi-cultural society on a Lunar New Year celebration, collaboration with the local Arts Council on Market Day and Local Colours, development of the new WinterFest Celebration and working with the BIABC, Fortis BC, and the Vancouver Island Aids Society to promote energy conservation and collect warm weather clothing for the homeless.
Through partnerships with the community the DCBIA is adding value to Downtown Courtenay for retailers, restaurateurs, visitors, shoppers and even residents of local neighbourhoods. These collaborations are powerful. Community partnerships create a ripple of awareness and participation as friends and families of community partners join the fun. Add to that the power of social media and Downtown Courtenay can have a competitive edge that can’t be beat!