Starting 2015 off with… collaboration!

For the past few months, I’ve been quietly working on a few new projects and connecting with great groups in Regina and beyond. Now that we are into 2015, I’m happy to say that these projects are taking shape and I can start talking about them.

The most exciting collaboration is with the folks at Queen City Hub and Regina Advocates for Design. They’re launching a lecture series called Urbanity 101 which will explore topics related to urban planning, design, and citizen engagement. The goal is to provide a space for citizens to improve their understanding of urban issues and planning concepts, ask questions, and engage in a more social dialogue. The specifics of the series are still under development, but more information will be coming soon!

I don’t know about you, but I’m already excited about what 2015 has in store!

Starting 2015 off with… collaboration!

Five Years of RUE

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Regina Urban Ecology! (first post here)

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As regular readers know, the blog has gotten quieter in the last few years – as a “not-even-non-profit”, every post and every project we’ve undertaken has been because contributors and guest contributors generously gave their time (and for posts in particular, they ALWAYS take longer than you expect). I’ve never held contributors to a schedule or even expectation for posting because if I can’t pay them for their work that’s just not ok. For myself, finding work-life balance has often been a challenge and I’ve had to set some things, including writing regular posts, to the side to make sure I don’t burn out. However, RUE continues to be a great way to connect with people locally and nationally who are working to improve our cities.

It has been so exciting to see the conversation about Regina as a city evolve over the last few years. More citizens are willing and interested to have a productive discussion on how our city is growing and changing and how we can ensure it grows sustainably and equitably. Consultants working on the Design Regina Official Community Plan and Transportation Master Plan have noted that Reginans are actually pretty educated and savvy when it comes to good planning principles. Reginans desire complete communities (with a mix of housing, employment opportunities, and amenities that are convenient and enjoyable to navigate on foot) and complete streets that are safe for all users regardless of their age, ability, or mode of transportation. There is a lot of work still to be done to ensure these goals and principles come to fruition but the support from the community is encouraging and a first important step.

And there are even more great groups in the city advocating for change and bringing such positive and productive conversation to our city. Bike Regina has gained momentum as a positive force in our city advocating for better bike infrastructure to improve safety and support sustainable transportation. Regina Advocates for Design has been provoking great discussion and participation with a film and lecture series, their summer sketch club, and, recently, spearheading Regina’s first Park(ing) day (I had the pleasure of stopping by their installation last weekend while I was in town- see above)! This group is really fantastic and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got next. The Queen City Hub (Regina’s first coworking and skill-sharing space) has also been active promoting discussions about the City with panels and facilitated discussions about housing in the city and the future for arts and culture in the downtown.

All of this is to say that the last five years have been a pleasure and, although RUE continues to shift and change, I can’t wait to see what fun new collaborations and conversations are coming. Many thanks to everyone who’s ever read, shared, and commented on a post, as well as those working to make our city even better.

xo

Five Years of RUE

Get2gether!

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Hi all!

I’m here to let you know about a cool project that launched this week to help you inspire change in your neighbourhood. The Montreal Urban Ecology Centre (MUEC), in partnership with the Center for a New American Dream and One Earth, is launching the 2014 Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge – a call to citizens across Canada to transform their city, one block at a time.

MUEC is accepting applications over the next few weeks from citizen groups who want to lead local improvement projects in their communities, and will help teams raise funds to make their project a reality. To do this, MUEC is partnering with IOBY, a platform for citizen-led, neighbour-funded projects.

After evaluating the applications, selected teams will begin the project process in August with targeted training sessions on how to crowd-fund their projects and whatever amount the teams raise through this process will be matched dollar-for-dollar by MUEC up to $2,000 per project. The deadline to apply is July 27, 2014 UPDATE – the deadline has been extended to August 4, 2014.

Regina Urban Ecology is working with MUEC, providing local support and information for groups in Regina who are interested in submitting an application. Have a Regina-specific question (e.g. “Our team wants to improve the pocket park behind the RPL Central Branch – do you know who I might talk to at the RPL to get their support?”)? Feel free to send us an email (regina.urbanecology@gmail.com) and we’ll do our best to help you out!

For more info about the project and how to apply, visit the project website here!

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Get2gether!

Summer 2014

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Summer in the Queen City is in full swing! In addition to attending festivals, relaxing on patios, and vacationing at the lake this summer, there are also some cool “urban” themed things that you should add to your summer to-do list:

1) Take part in the Regina Advocates for Design Summer Sketch Camp: RAD hosts an informal gathering every other Tuesday for people to brush up on their sketching skills. Bring your own materials and meet the group in front of Regina Central Library downtown. No previous experience required. Remaining sessions take place: July 15, July 29, Aug 12, Aug 26).

2) Participate in the community engagement regarding the Regina Public Library Central Branch: The RPL has launched a new public consultation to discuss the future of the RPL Central Branch – including the physical building and programming needs of the future. Engagement activities will be happening through the summer, including a booth that will be popping up at various events. Right now there is an online survey you can fill out – get on it!

3) Add your voice to cycling advocacy in the city: Bike Regina is looking for a new member on their Board of Directors! The membership of Bike Regina has been growing and they are increasingly a positive force for improving cycling in our city. Applications are open until July 31, 2014.

4) Map your thoughts on the Regina Cycles Map: While we’re talking cycling, Bike Regina and Regina Urban Ecology have an online crowdsourcing initiative to map the good, bad, and ugly about cycling in Regina. As you’re out biking and enjoying the wonderful weather, add your thoughts on improvements to the network, where cyclists can access existing amenities, and potentially dangerous conditions (e.g. collision hotspots).

5) Follow the Traveller’s Building on Twitter: The Traveller’s Building is a designated heritage building in downtown Regina that has been left empty and in disrepair for over a decade. There is so much potential for this building’s future. There’s a new twitter account to show this building the attention and love it deserves – you really should follow it!

Have a great summer!

-Laura

Summer 2014

Jane’s Walk 2014

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It’s that time of year again – the Jane’s Walk festival is just over 2 months away (Friday May 2 – Sunday May 4). That means it’s time to start dreaming, scheming, and planning the logistics!

This year, Regina is hosting its 6th Annual Jane’s Walk event! Over the last five years we’ve seen a fantastic collection of walks take place all over the city: as far north as Rochdale Boulevard and as far south as the University of Regina. Walks have included those that delve into the city’s history, that explore personal experiences in the neighbourhoods in which we grew up, and that encourage dialogue about important community issues like homelessness. I love connecting with new and returning walk leaders and continue to be inspired (and delightfully surprised) by the walks they create. Needless to say, I’m excited to see what this year will bring! 

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Photo from the very first Jane’s Walk in Regina (2009).

If you’re interested in leading a Jane’s Walk or volunteering to help on the days of the walks (taking photos, assisting walk leaders) please get in touch!

You can find more info about Regina’s Jane’s Walks here and connect with us on the Jane’s Walk website.

Jane’s Walk 2014

Four years.

That’s right!  Regina Urban Ecology officially turned four today! It still blows my mind to think of how simply starting this blog has influenced many aspects (read: most all) of my life.

A lot has happened in four years and, though I know the blog has been rather quiet for awhile, it is still something that informs the way I think daily…

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This summer I finished my degree as an urban planner (yay!) – as part of the McGill program, students must complete a supervised research project on any topic that is of interest to them. It isn’t quite a thesis but is a considerable amount of work. As long-time readers know, I have a real love for citizen-led initiatives, creative solutions to everyday problems, and straight-up urban subversion. I’m also a firm believer that planners and citizens need to collaborate more and that planners should empower citizens to be more engaged in the process of how their communities develop. So, for my final grad project I chose to look at the topic of tactical urbanism (small-scale, short-term interventions meant to inspire long-term change) — think guerilla gardening, chair bombing, and Park(ing) day.

I wanted to examine what role, if any, planners should have in these initiatives and how they might use these types of projects to collaborate with citizens. Planners are indeed starting to incorporate temporary and pilot projects into their work to test ideas in real-time before committing time and money to make an intervention permanent (the pedestrian plazas in New York City are a perfect example). I spoke to citizens, community organizations, planners, and municipal officials from cities across North America to get their perspective on projects they’d led and it was inspiring to say the least. A lot of wonderful, creative, and thoughtful work is being done in our cities. In the next month I’ll be posting a guidebook that I prepared as part of my  project (I may provide a link to the full project as well).

All of this is to say that the conversations here at RUE and the community that has developed continue to inspire me. Thank you to everyone who has ever read a post, left a comment, or simply mentioned that this little space exists. I greatly appreciate it all and look forward to continuing the discussion, sporadic though it may be.

-Laura

xo

Four years.

Fifth Annual Regina Jane’s Walk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnly three more sleeps until we host our 5th Annual Jane’s Walk in Regina! This weekend, May 4 and 5, there will be seven free walks for people to participate in – Jane’s Walk is a walking discussion where participants should feel free to get in on the discussion and make connections with neighbours across the city.

Since we started hosting Jane’s Walk five years ago, it’s been great to see the event grow and change. The level of community support for the walks in our city has always been strong which makes it easy to want to keep the flame burning. It is also a total treat each year to see what the topics will be and who will come forward to share their perspective. To celebrate our 5th year we have walks that explore everything from modernist architecture to community murals, and timely discussions about heritage, booming development, and housing in our city.

 

This year’s walks include:

Saturday May 4, 2013

11am: Bike Regina hosting a ride through the downtown to discuss bikability in the city

2pm: Story-teller Vincent Murphy exploring the history of the Warehouse District

3pm: Jeannie Mah returning to host her popular tour of modernist architecture in the downtown

4pm: An exploration and celebration of the Central Library by a collection of dedicated patrons including heritage architect Bernard Flaman, and writer Florence Stratton

Sunday May 5, 2013

1:30pm: Jan Morier and Jessica Hannah providing a view of community murals created by new and established artists throughout North Central

2pm: Professor Marc Spooner leading a discussion about homelessness in Regina’s downtown and Heritage neighbourhoods

4pm: Martin Gourlie leading a discussion about the opportunities and challenges inherent in one of Regina’s biggest development projects, the Regina Revitalization Initiative

 

You can get a list of the walks with more details here.

You can also click here to download a pdf of the walks, including their start times and locations.

Thanks again to all of our community partners!

Jane’s Walk in 2009 photo by Michael Bell

Fifth Annual Regina Jane’s Walk

Friday Feature: Love letter to your city

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Today’s Friday Feature is a great public art project being launched by Spacing magazine. The project invites citizens in cities across Canada to share their feelings about their city. People can tweet their thoughts to @DearCityCanada with the messages to be displayed on digital billboards in select cities …. and Regina is one of those cities! Messages from all cities will also be displayed on screens in malls across the country.

From Spacing:

Do you love your city? Or perhaps your feelings more complex? If you can fit it in 140 characters, we want to share it with the rest of Canada on a billboard as part of a new public art project. Your voice matters. Join other urbanists in a public dialogue about the issues affecting our daily lives in the cities we inhabit.

I think it’s a fun idea that allows people to share ideas and see what people in other cities are saying. What things are important to people Halifax, Montreal, Edmonton, and Hamilton? What things do we all have in common? What is unique about each place?

So Regina – what do you think? What do we love about our city? What do we want to love about our city? The deadline for tweets is June 1, 2013.

Have a great weekend!

Photo of back alley downtown by Aaron Hase

Friday Feature: Love letter to your city

RUE collaboration with Bike Regina

Hey RUE readers – long time no blog!

School has been very busy over the last year finishing papers and wrapping up my final graduate project. As school winds down I’m looking forward to graduation and seeing what the future will bring… and hopefully a bit more time spent here.

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But don’t think that because you’ve heard crickets on the site that we at RUE haven’t been hard at work – we’ve been actively working on developing a project in partnership with Bike Regina. After creating the Regina Cycles crowdsourcing map (now co-edited with Bike Regina members), we started looking for more opportunities to connect. It took a little bit of time to sort out the details, but Bike Regina and RUE are currently collaborating to get these great bicyclist’s accident report cards created and distributed in the Queen City.

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The cards were the brainchild of Boston lawyer, Josh Zisson, who specializes in bike law and created the site Bike Safe Boston. He developed these great cards for cyclists to report if they are in an accident or close call. In addition to simple graphics and info on basic cycling laws (tailored to each city), the cards provide a place for cyclists to note important information (date, time, driver’s information, licence plate numbers, etc.)… largely the same info you would take note of if you were in a vehicular accident. Here is a great article about the cards and Josh at Fast Company.

We’re very excited to be working with Bike Regina on this initiative. They are a great group and we are excited to see that they are building their membership and gaining visibility in Regina. We hope to have the cards printed and distributed in the next few months.

** Our sincere condolences go to all those affected by the bombing in Boston yesterday. Josh from Bike Safe Boston shares his thoughts here. Stay safe.

RUE collaboration with Bike Regina

Crash Bang Labs

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Come to Crash Bang Labs December 12 at 7pm to learn 3D modelling for 3D printers

A Hackerspace, according to Hackerspace.org ,”are community-operated physical places, where people can meet and work on their projects.”  A place where people can go and take things apart, work cooperatively and learn from each other in order to complete various projects.

A meeting was held by people in Computer Science at the University of Regina to see what kind of interest there was in having a hackerspace in the city.  Around 60 people came out, enough to support the creation of space and thus Crash Bang Labs was born.

Continue reading “Crash Bang Labs”

Crash Bang Labs