Pecha Kucha #12 happened last night in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and 2000 people came to fill it up and be inspired.
That’s a lot of people to inspire and an especially big job when it’s trying to inspire people to make Vancouver a green city. Oh and not just recycling and eco-bags but really – dreaming, moving and working towards sustainability in our communities. But the 14 presenters, only able to show 20 x 20 second-timed images/slides each, did a damn good job.
I came home with my mind racing and full of ideas and the urge to use my designer super-powers to help our city be green. To make sure I would remember all the incredible points made in the presentations, I put them together with other prominent points captured in the event’s twitter feed in a prose of sorts to help me envision a larger picture and common themes to remember:
Walk the talk green your city
Tonight Preet and Poonam brought down the #PKNvan house and the Gregor-Robertson-picture-in-my-presentation index was high.
We were asked: how can we turn a livable city into a lovable city and told to live like you plan on staying.
We were invited to tell our culture’s stories and: if you want to change a culture, change it’s stories. what legacy do we want to leave future generations. talkgreentous.ca (link) and greenthecityvancouver.com (link).
And we were challenged to create together: make sure everyone in your company is happy. If they’re happy, your customers will be happy. Shared Values + diversity + brainstorming + (potluck + alcohol) = innovation and inspiration makes us act.
Because there are visions of a sustainable city in all of us. Visions of building beyond the property line. Cities should see themselves as carbon sequestration engines. We have a disconnect with our supply chains but if you want to really be green stop buying things – we heart consignment. I did not know “swag” is an acronym (Stuff We All Get).
One of mine visions was so while summarize by the statements that the quality of your life is inversely related to the amount of time you spend in your car and that bicycles are socially lubricating so why wouldn’t you ride one?
In my entire life of countless road trips on prairie pasture-lined highways, driving by cows and horses has never gotten old. They’ve always been a break in the monotonous wheat field blankets patched with yellow canola. Animated creatures to wonder about once you tire of imagining that carebears will reveal themselves in the clouds.
While from a car we’d yell “cows!” to brown and black lumps video framed in the window and seemingly static on the field, on a bike details emerged: eyes, ears, bigger and smaller and chewing.
Animals that don’t bat an eyelash to traffic astonishingly paid attention to us. They stared and as we biked away their heads and gaze followed. Occasionally they took a few steps in our direction and once two young cows had seen us and they galloped alongside the road. How often do you see cows gallop?
I loved how bike touring could bring you so close to your surroundings. But honestly it can expose you to some bad stuff too: pollution from vehicles, their noise and the dirt they stir up (and the occasional rabid dog). This would never make me give it up but at least I have a choice. It was honestly the first time that I thought about cattle, horses, sheep, etc. living alongside roads and always exposed to traffic.
Maybe they learn to ignore. Are they bothered? How do they perceive the difference between periods of high and low traffic or between a hot, dusty day and a rainy-fresh one? The picture above was taken North of Jenner, CA in an area where cows can roam freely. These ones chose to sit between the road and a 500-ft drop to the ocean.
What is traffic to them and how does it affect the occasional hamburger I eat? It’s kind of sad that an animal will spend its life by a road as people who use it drive by and by again.
I could wrap my head around the redwoods just as much as I could wrap my arms around them. Not very much at all. Then I read the following in John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America and thought, “oh yeah, that’s it…”:
“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time. They have the mystery of ferns that disappeared a million years ago into the coal of the carboniferous era. They carry their own light and shade. The vainest, most slap-happy and irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect. Respect – that’s the word. One feels the need to bow to unquestioned sovereigns. I have known these great ones since my earliest childhood, have lived among them, camped and slept against their warm monster bodies, and no amount of association has bred contempt in me. And the feeling is not limited to me.”
After pitching our tents up in Elk Prairie Campground we went for a short hike in the Prairie Creek Redwoods. Being near the end of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, close to Crescent City and having a sizable parking lot and visitor centre, it’s a popular destination to see the trees. But unlike other places swarmed by tourists the forest is eerily quiet. It swallows voices and turns us into silent observers.
I approached the redwoods part of this trip holding my breath slightly. It hadn’t been a year since my first visit and the beginnings of an end to a relationship. Superstitiously, a part of me feared that I could lose something again, that maybe this forest had a spirit that didn’t jibe with my own and bad things would happen to me there…I don’t know. Silly fears.
But it was all okay (of course). Just sunlight, majestic trees and their quiet. It felt so quiet that I realized how much I had been scream-full of expectations last time around; of what I’d make of myself, life and love. These expectations wore away my confidence and made a specific context within which I could be happy. Coming back to this place without them, I felt peaceful and free and when I looked up up up I held my breath not out of fear but in admiration.
Next time my worries bring me down, I’ll try to remember the redwoods and that no problem of mine could ever be 300ft tall.