|I recently read a theory that going for 50 coffees with people you’ve never met is the entrepreneurs equivalent to the theory that doing anything for 10,000 hours will make you an expert on it. While I get the idea, 50 coffees is far easier than practicing something for ten years, and while I’m far from lazy I’ve decided to set out on a fairly simple mission: over the next 50 weeks I’m going to invite 50 interesting Vancouverites, most of whom I have never met before, to go for coffee. I’m going to use this as an exercise in networking for myself and for V.I.A. while also using it as a platform to introduce you to some people who are doing really cool stuff in the city you live in.
Meet Peter Ladner. Author, columnist, consultant, co-founder of Business in Vancouver magazine and a former City of Vancouver Councillor (2002-2008) for the NPA. Peter was a Fellow at SFU for the past two years where he hosted a series of workshops and conferences under the title of Planning Cities as if Food Matters. Luckily for us, through that project he was able to research and write the book The Urban Food Revolution, which made it to my top 6 recommended Christmas book buys (HINT!).
Our meeting at the Woodwards JJ Bean started off a little less casual than most of these 50 Coffees have, as I was fresh off of reading his book and I had some burning questions written down about my own garden, commercial aquaponics and the future of food production in the city. I usually have no written agenda going into these and it’s mostly just a handshake and a “Hey, let’s get to know you” vibe, and after I got the semi-formal food-themed questions out of the way it felt more like a coffee and less like an interview.
The conversation steered into civic politics, as I was really interested in his take on the recent election. You know he ran for mayor in 2008 against Gregor, right? Well, he had some issues with the way the NPA ran their campaign this time around as he felt they mistook “wedges for building blocks” as they seemed to take a stand against food security and sustainability. They took those issues that almost every single one of the world’s cities are addressing and presented them as frivolous, attempting to paint Gregor and Vision Vancouver as crackpots. If you cringed when you saw some dude dancing in front of city hall dressed up in a chicken suit or you paid attention to the election at all and were sick of the negativity the day it began then you should read the summary of Peter’s thoughts on the campaign in THIS Vancouver Sun piece.
After politics we moved on to the issue of housing and the fact that many people I know (myself included) may never be able to afford to own a home in Vancouver. Peter headed up and moderated THIS affordable housing lecture and workshop that we co-sponsored a few months back and he had some very exciting things to tell me about the next step for the project. I don’t mean to dangle a carrot but I can’t say much more about it right now, however I do promise to share more details in the coming months as we’re going to partner again in some capacity.
In the meantime, go read Peter’s book!