Vancouver intersection becoming public space to battle winter blues

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You may have seen some pop-up ping pong tables around Vancouver this summer, and in particular seen them bringing people together in East Vancouver on Adanac Street at Vernon Drive. Now the group behind this engaging endeavour are hoping to create more opportunities to bring Vancouverites together in public spaces, even during our dreary rainy months.

Run by a trio of female “urban catalysts,” under the moniker frida&frank, the ping pong pop-ups were awarded a City of Vancouver VIVA grant. They’ve now set their sights on something less summery: Seasonal Affective Disorder, and how public space can still foster unity in the face of dreary days of rain and cold.

Called cure(eos)city, frida& frank (Renée Miles, Haley Roeser, Eleanor Arkin) is championing what they’ve dubbed “Seasonal Effective Design,” to work with Vancouver’s often unfriendly weather.

“By working intimately with nature and embracing the rain, we are able to focus on social healing rather than threaten social and physical wellness,” frida&frank explain on their Wayblaze crowdfunding page.

Using the space they’ve been working with at the intersections of Vernon Drive and the Adanac bike route, frida&frank is inviting the public to not only experience the space in the changing seasons, but to also be part of the “placemaking” process, and provide input on what they’d like to see happen there.

The City of Vancouver has made frida&frank “the official stewards” of this interim plaza, and has given the group a wide berth to do whatever they wish and can in the space. Recently they’ve put on community programming like jazz night, and movie night, and now they’ve set forth to establish “a living design lab throughout winter months,” according to an e-mail from the group.

Although what the exact path this public space will take has yet to be fully shaped, frida&frank have put forth their wish list for the space and their fundraising initiative:

  • Create local small grants for people to implement seasonal effective design projects of their own
  • Hold regular talks, workshops, and events to engage with the community about tactical urbanism and placemaking
  • Explore the local ecosystems in the space and expand the amount of green space
  • Bring light to the space in a variety of ways
  • Colour the concrete benches with beautiful mosaics
  • Develop a magazine which further explains our placemaking approach and our findings and your stories connected to the space
  • Create temporary tangible projects to activate the space
  • Design and create a weatherproof system to allow people to gather outdoors

Check out their crowdfunding video to learn more about the project:

cure(eos)city | crowdfunding video from Lucid Visuals on Vimeo.

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Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Vancouver Is Awesome, and the co-host and co-producer of the Vancouver Is Awesome Podcast. A fifth generation Vancouverite and life-long foodie, Lindsay also serves as a judge for the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Previously the Food Editor of Daily Hive, Senior Editor of Vancity Buzz, and Editor-in-Chief of LAist.com, in her past life in L.A. she earned an MA in English, attended culinary school, and was an English professor. Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancouverisawesome.com // Twitter/Instagram: @squashblossom