HONOUR BOUND | Old Macs & New Mentors Needed By Kids At “The Writer’s Exchange”

April 23, 2014 

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The Writers’ Exchange is a local program that offers inner city kids a place where they can learn to love the craft of writing. The Writer’s Exchange used to be run out of classrooms across East Vancouver, but this past Fall it opened a public space at 881 East Hastings. Here, kids gather after school to learn about reading, writing and the versatility of their own imaginations in a safe environment – all for free.

The literacy superstars who run the show, namely Sarah Maitland and Jennifer MacLeod, are aiming to ensure that every Vancouver child has the opportunity to build the literacy skills necessary to access a world where anything is possible. That’s a pretty great vision and we think our city will be a better place for it. But stuff like this doesn’t happen unless community pitches in to make it happen.

And that’s where you come in…

TIME | Volunteer some time! A few hours one day of the week would make a huge difference. Giving kids a familiar and supportive mentor is a key part of what the success of The Writer’s Exchange has been built upon. “As a volunteer mentor, you can help with reading, creative writing projects, literacy games and cool crafts, or support a small group of kids during in-school book-making programs. Help us make literacy fun and accessible for kids!”

DONATE | If you don’t have time, maybe you have a little food or money that you wouldn’t mind contributing. Healthy snacks or cash donations are accepted with appreciation. The Writer’s Exchange also loves books and art supplies.

TECHNOLOGY | The Writer’s Exchange is looking for donations of Apple Computers. We know a lot of our readers are Mac users, so if you or your office or organization are looking at refreshing your hardware any time soon, please consider donating your old computers to The Writer’s Exchange. Macs are great for creating stop-animation videos, processing photographs used for some of the books that the children create and are generally easier for newbies to learn on. Anything after 2005 can be refurbished and used by these kids.

Connect with Jennifer or Sarah at The Writer’s Exchange here.

PS. Once upon a time, a burrito was born. He was sitting around in the freezer until someone put him in the microwave. The burrito never felt so alive. — Crissy, age 9

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Honour Bound details the many cool things that we feel honour bound to check out because they either represent our city extremely well or are inherently awesome in one way or another.

GOODS | Aaron Blake Evans’ ‘Once Upon The Wild’ Art Show At Greenhorn This Saturday

April 22, 2014 

The Greenhorn Espresso Bar is located at 994 Nicola St. in the West End | 604-428-2912 | greenhorncafe.com

The Greenhorn Espresso Bar is located at 994 Nicola St. in the West End | 604-428-2912 | greenhorncafe.com

The GOODS from Greenhorn Espresso Bar

Vancouver, BC | Join us at Greenhorn this Saturday April 26 at 7pm for the opening of Aaron Blake Evans photography-based art show “Once Upon the Wild”. Aaron Blake Evans is an anthropologist, archeologist and artist. His work focuses on the marriage of nature and industrialization. Evans finds a lonely beauty in our urban, as well as woodland landscapes. His poetry lies in decisive imagery – lightly touched by loneliness. He is currently working with photographic prints, epoxy coatings, and cold wax coatings.

DIG IT | Exploring The Artistic Institution That Is Mt. Pleasant’s Iconic Western Front

April 18, 2014 

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by Stevie Wilson | With the ink of my recent Ghost Hoods feature on Brewery Creek not yet dry, I took a look inside Mount Pleasant’s Western Front building at 303 East 8th Avenue to learn a little more about the history (as well as the current goings-on) of this neighbourhood landmark. After over 40 years as an artist-run centre and exhibition space, the building is full of distinct history and remains the oldest existing centre of its kind in the country. What’s more, it was once home to the Vancouver chapter of the Knights of Pythias, and they even have a few old ceremonial capes and spears to prove it.

One of the (many) unique features of Western Front is how the building’s original design has been preserved to accommodate and complement the needs of the staff and various exhibitions. Their Development Officer, Kristin Lim, explained how the address has transitioned quite seamlessly from a Pythian headquarters to an internationally renowned artist centre by simply utilizing the space’s existing structure. The various small rooms and cozy layout emphasize the centre’s differences from typical gallery sites.

The building was originally constructed in 1922 as a lodge for the Pythians to conduct, well, whatever it was that they did – secret meetings and such. When they sold the property in the early 1970s, they left behind various paraphernalia including their signature capes, a trophy, club signage, and a portrait of their fraternal leader. During my tour we ran into celebrated Canadian artist and co-founder of Western Front, Eric Metcalfe (formerly known as Dr. Brute, who regaled me with more amazing history and anecdotes than I could possibly fit into a short article. He mentioned that when the space was founded by himself and eight other artists in 1973, the place wasn’t in the most pristine condition, which happened to be ideal for this group of young people engaged in the contemporary Fluxus movement. Of the creativity and freedom of the early years, he observed simply, “It was a party time.”

Over the last several decades the space evolved into the professional, prestigious centre it is today, yet the building has undergone only a handful of minor repairs and changes, the most significant of which was the 2013 renovation of the Luxe Hall to uncover previously sealed windows. The original architecture remains, including the large windows, wooden wainscoting, traditional doorways (complete with Pythian peep-holes), a vintage telephone booth, and the awesome original fixed side seating in the performance hall. “One thing replaced the other,” said Metcalfe of the transition from lodge to artist haven. “The architecture informed our practice.”

For more information on this fantastic piece of Vancouver art history, visit their website, or better yet, pay them a visit! The space is open to the public – just buzz! – and offers plenty of (generally) free events and exhibits involving new music, contemporary art, media, and so much more. Who knows, you just might run into a legendary Canadian artist with a few stories to tell!

Archival photos courtesy of the Western Front Archives

MORE VANCOUVER HISTORY

SEEN IN VANCOUVER #493 | A Look Inside The East Van Studio Of Artist Noah Bowman

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by Grady Mitchell | The East Van studio of painter Noah Bowman is stacked high with canvases of all sizes – some as small as a paperback book, a couple as large as a queen mattress. He’s arranged them into a sort of art fort, and it’s in here, surrounded by his previous work, that he creates new pieces.

Although his initial interest in art was sparked by the pencil portraits he sketched as a child, he’s since solidified his style as an abstract and conceptual artist with a vivid palette. His work floats in the space between the familiar and abstract, blending segments of reality with conceptual elements to find deeper meaning in the everyday.

Noah’s recent series Reverso explores corner spaces. While artwork is generally presented in the center of a room’s most prominent wall, Noah is creating paintings specifically for neglected corner spaces, angular two-panel pieces that either envelop protruding corners or slip into recessive ones. He strives to link or balance each half with the other, presenting a traditional pattern on one juxtaposed with an abstract image on the other.

Along with Reverso and the other series’ that Noah is working on, he also promotes the accessibility of abstract art through integrating it into everyday items such as clocks, purses and pillows. You can see more of Noah’s work on his website and on display at the Stewart Stephenson Gallery at 1300 Robson Street.

EVERYTHING SEEN IN VANCOUVER

SMOKE BREAK #1102 | When Kermit The Frog & Fozzie Bear Got Seriously Existential

April 18, 2014 

(via) Puppeteers Jim Henson and Frank Oz (playing Kermit The Frog and Fozzie Bear) improvise like the geniuses they were during this 1979 camera test for The Muppet Movie.

Kermit: “Well Fozzie, the thing of it is though you’re not a real bear. You’re not a real natural bear. I mean, you’re talking about a bear in its natural habitat…What do you have, you have sort of a fake fur. You’ve got foam rubber. You’ve got foam rubber and fake fur. You’re an artificial bear. Have you ever seen a bear with a magenta nose?”

Fozzie: “I got news for you kid. You have to hurt me, I’m going to have to hurt you. Are you ready for this? Are you ready? You got a wire on your arm. It’s only for movement. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I believe in you. I do understand that I am not a real bear but I know what I am. I am what I am. But I’m a real puppet. I’m happy with my lot in life.”

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #492 | Making Sense Of The Abandoned Alley Chairs Of East Van

April 17, 2014 

This gallery of Alley Chairs can be found in our new HOODS section. It was curated by Nicole Arnett, an invaluable friend to Scout. It documents (invents) the dramas that explain the abandoned alleyway chairs and sofas of East Van.

EVERYTHING SEEN IN VANCOUVER

GHOST HOODS | On The Rise And Tragic Fall Of ‘Nihonmachi’ On The Downtown Eastside

April 15, 2014 

The GHOST HOOD series dovetails with the new HOODS section of Scout

by Stevie Wilson | Railtown-Japantown is a compounded micro-hood that is part of DTES. Its boundaries are Main (some say Columbia) in the west to Heatley in the east and from the railway tracks (hence the name) south to Alexander Street. What was once a thriving industrial zone of warehouses and workshops has become something of a tech/design hub over the last decade. Railway St. itself is now a parade of local fashion houses (Aritzia has its head office here), design shops, tech start ups, interior stores, and even an urban winery. You’ll often find a food truck or three parked hereabouts, too, and a whole lot of Instagramming going down. What does the future hold for it? Either breweries and condos. Probably both.

Vancouver’s historic Japantown, however, is vastly different. Once home to generations of Japanese families and businesses, the area now features only a few remnants of the large community that once thrived there. The history of this cultural enclave is unique, and offers a startling look at the effects of racism, intolerance, and indifference in a city now celebrated for its multiculturalism.

Though the modern diaspora of Japanese-Canadians is now found throughout Vancouver, at one time this neighbourhood was the epicentre of local Japanese culture and business. The site spans from Cordova Street to Alexander Street, between Gore Avenue and Jackson Avenue, just north of Chinatown, with Powell Street as its (former) commercial center. It features several character buildings, primary historic sites, and a handful of municipally protected buildings, each indicative of the neighbourhood’s development – and its subsequent losses – experienced over the last century.

While Japanese (and Chinese) workers had been present in British Columbia as early as the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858, the first “official” Japanese immigrant to Canada arrived in 1877. Following this, an influx of Japanese immigrants came to Vancouver near the turn of the century to work in the booming fishing and forestry industries. While they were a welcomed labour force for local industries in the city, particularly the nearby Hastings Sawmill at the foot of Dunlevy, many white Vancouverites were wary of what they perceived as a failure of the Japanese to assimilate, observing that they had their own cultural and religious spaces, generally did not speak fluent English, and had a perceived (potentially dangerous) loyalty to Japan. Additionally, many non-Japanese fishermen were concerned about the growing majority of Japanese fishing licenses being granted, fearing that their jobs were at stake. The federal government aggressively limited Asian immigration and originally only men were allowed to enter the country, forcing them to leave their families behind.

While many white Vancouverites tolerated the Japanese community, prejudice found a strong foothold in the Asiatic Exclusion League, a racist organization with aims “to keep Oriental immigrants out of British Columbia.” Following the 1885 imposition of the Chinese Immigration Act, which placed a head tax on Chinese immigrants entering Canada, racism and racial segregation had been a common sight across the country and extended the growing Japanese communities. This tension culminated in Vancouver on September 7th when members of the Asiatic Exclusion League rioted in the streets of Chinatown after being roused by racist speeches at City Hall (then located near Main and Hasting).

They marched into Chinatown shouting racist slogans, smashing windows, and vandalizing buildings. By the time the rioters reached Japantown, members of the Japanese community were waiting with makeshift weapons and bottles, ready to defend their neighbourhood. In response to the growing anti-Asian sentiment in Canada, the Canadian Minister of Labour Rodolphe Lemieux and Japanese Foreign Minister Tadasu Hayashi declared what is known as the “Gentleman’s Agreement” in 1908, wherein the Japanese government voluntarily limited its approved number of immigrants to Canada each year.

As white settlers migrated out of the area and into newer, more affluent communities – particularly the West End – Japanese business, cultural centres, and mixed-use buildings developed in the Powell Street area. Shops along Powell began opening in 1890, but the retail industry of took shape later, during the commercial building boom from 1907-1912. Multiple residential buildings, often with street-level shops, became popular in later decades as the boarding room trend developed. These apartments typically housed seasonal workers; many now function as SROs.

Business development in Japantown – which locals called “Nihonmachi” (derived from the Japanese words for “Japan” and “Town”) – culminated in the 1920s and 30s, when local shops and restaurants flourished, and ties to nearby Chinatown also became strong. A shared sense of Asian identity – and likely a shared sense of the effects of racism – joined these communities. Fuji Chop Suey at 341 Powell, which offered Japanese-style Chinese food, is a unique example of the link between Asian cultures during this period, and is heralded as one of the important locales contributing to the area’s rich multiculturalism from 1931-1942. Japantown’s famous Asahi baseball team, established in 1914, won several championships and were a popular draw during the 1930s and early 1940s for the Japanese and non-Japanese communities in Vancouver. In 2003, the team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ultimately, Japantown and Vancouver’s Japanese population fell victim to the xenophobia brought forth by World War II. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, a series of legislations were imposed on Japanese-Canadians under the guise of national security. In addition to curfews, interrogations, job loss and property confiscation, all persons of Japanese heritage were forcibly relocated to Internment Camps in remote areas of the province. Their property and belongings were sold, and all mainstream Japanese newspapers and publications were shut down. In 1944, Prime Minister Mackenzie King declared that all Japanese-Canadians were required to relocate to eastern Canada or face repatriation. By the end of the 1940s, however, many individuals had been granted re-entry to the west coast and, finally, the right to vote. The variety of Japanese shops, restaurants, and vibrant community culture in Japantown never fully recovered from these events, and until the resurgence of Japanese cuisine in the 1980s only two ethnic restaurants remained on Powell.

Today, Japantown still retains a few visible reminders of its past, but has yet to be designated as a Historic Site by the City of Vancouver. This means that many of its remaining historic buildings are at risk. In 2013, the 122 year-old Ming Sun building at 439 Powell was threatened when city officials deemed it structurally unsound. Without proper heritage designation, it was up to the local community to save the site and propose restoration, rather than demolition. As a reminder of the rich history of the area and the continued legacy of the Japanese community in Vancouver, the Powell Street Festival at Oppenheimer Park is the largest annual Japanese-Canadian festival in Canada, and the city’s longest-running community celebration since its inception in 1977.

MORE VANCOUVER HISTORY

SMOKE BREAK #1102 | “A Rising Tide” Film Follows The Early Surfing Pioneers Of India

April 15, 2014 

Lose yourself in this short documentary film, the first about surfing in India, a country with a 7,500km, a population of over 1.2 billion people, and barely one hundred surfers.

Through interviews with local watermen we celebrate the joy of riding waves and the aloha spirit of the Indian surf tribe. As the numbers of surfers in the country keep growing each day, we hope that these stories may never be lost and shall help create a deeper sense of surf community in India.

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THE VIEW FROM YOUR WINDOW #163 | Up North Over The Rooftops Of South Granville

April 15, 2014 

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Reader A.J. | South Granville | 9:14am | Vancouver, BC | SHARE YOUR VIEW

We love posting the photographs that reveal the views from our reader’s windows. Whether it’s a back alley in the fall or a sandy beach in high summer, we’re always stoked to see what you see from home, work or while on the road. What does your view look like right now? Take a snap of it and send it in. Check out the gallery of our all-time reader submissions below… Read more

GHOST HOODS | On The Rise And Fall (And Rise) Of Mount Pleasant’s “Brewery Creek”

April 10, 2014 

The GHOST HOOD series dovetails with the new HOODS section of Scout (launching on Monday)

by Stevie Wilson | In conversations about Mount Pleasant these days, the old “Brewery Creek” moniker is being increasingly employed on account of all the new breweries that have arrived in recent years. But what exactly is the significance of the name? It’s important to note that although it’s generally thought of as synonymous with the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, the “Brewery Creek” distinction refers to a particular stretch of waterway that was integral to the growth and economic development of the area. Long before white settlers arrived, this expansive region was a popular harvesting location for First Nations. It would later become an important economic sector for new businesses thanks to its flowing natural resource.

The patch of land that became known as Mount Pleasant was originally shrouded in dense, dark rainforest. The creek that drained this forest into the salty waters of False Creek sat at the bottom of a large ravine that was open to the sky. It offered an abundance of flowers, berries, and other plants used by First Nations for medicine and food. The (now lost) waterway began near where Mountain View Cemetery is located today. Water flowed downhill just west of modern-day Fraser Street to a marshy, dammed area near 14th Avenue (Tea Swamp Park). From here, the creek flowed down the Mount Pleasant hillside, following a northeastern path alongside a First Nations trail (near where Kingsway cuts across Main Street), and continuing into the eastern waters of False Creek (which have since been filled in) near Terminal Avenue.

In 1867, the creek area in Mount Pleasant became Vancouver’s first piped waterway, delivering water by flume to Gastown – then the center of the city – and the boilers at Captain Edward Stamp’s Mill near the foot of Dunlevy (later known as the Hastings Sawmill).

The Brewery Creek region was defined by its open landscape, its distinct flora and fauna, and the numerous businesses that followed the path of the waterway – including several slaughterhouses, the nearby Vancouver Tannery, and an assortment of local beverage-makers that used the creek to power their water wheels: the San Francisco Brewery (later known as the Red Star Brewery), Mainland Brewery, Landsdowne Brewery,  Lion Brewery, and the Thorpe & Co. Soda Water Works. Read more

GOODS | New ‘Phantoms In The Front Yard’ Show Exhibiting At The Burrard On April 25

April 10, 2014 

The Burrard Hotel is located at 1100 Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver, BC | 604.681.2331 | www.theburrard.com

The Burrard Hotel is located at 1100 Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver, BC | 604.681.2331 | www.theburrard.com

THE GOODS FROM THE BURRARD HOTEL

Vancouver, BC | The Burrard is always excited to team up to support its neighbours, and so they’re thrilled to host a short-and-sweet exhibition of miniature works with local artists’ collective, Phantoms in the Front Yard on Friday, April 25. Called “Everyone I’ve Never Known,” the show asks questions like, “Where do we know others, or not know them? How are we impacted by people we have never met? Who are the strangers that have made a mark in our lives?” It’s no coincidence that these are questions that come up in hotels ALL. THE. TIME.

Everyone is invited to come down to The Burrard on April 25 and check out the works in the courtyard from noon ‘til 8:30pm, with a reception with Phantoms in the Front Yard and the Burrard team from 6pm to 8:30pm that evening. All the works are miniatures, for sale, and priced between $200 and $500 each. In the meantime, you can enter to win one of the works, along with a two night stay in one of The Burrard’s updated, retro hotel rooms via Instagram or Twitter – just check out the Phantoms’ website for details. Read more

THE VIEW FROM YOUR WINDOW #162 | In Formation Flying High Above Coal Harbour

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Reader T.R. | Above Coal Harbour | 6pm | Vancouver, BC | SHARE YOUR VIEW

We love posting the photographs that reveal the views from our reader’s windows. Whether it’s a back alley in the fall or a sandy beach in high summer, we’re always stoked to see what you see from home, work or while on the road. What does your view look like right now? Take a snap of it and send it in. Check out the gallery of our all-time reader submissions below… Read more

SMOKE BREAK #1099 | An Insightful Tour Of Great Britain & Ireland’s Myriad Accents

(via) Here’s UK movie industry dialect coach Andrew Jack giving a quick tour of the many accents of the British Isles. Omissions? We would have like to have heard his Mancunian.

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