On Sunday June 14th, many areas of Vancouver went “car-free” for the day. On Main Street for example, instead of the usual congest one sees on the weekend, there was a street festival stretching a few dozen blocks. As a part of the Leave Out ViolencE campaign, I had a booth for PeerNetBC (non-profit organization that provides workshops and training for peer-led groups) near King Edward which was also next to a stage!
There were four or five booths beside the PeerNetBC one and it really goes to show how connected the non-profit/youth-led groups in Vancouver are! I knew the colleague of the guy who was there from Check Your Head (above). One of the Points Youth Media girl beside my booth (below) was the sister of this girl I knew from my organization. One table over, the girl participated in the My Circle program with my friend. And the City of Vancouver ladies two tables away I knew from Youthpolitik and also from presenting a workshop at City Hall a few months ago. Wow!
For those of you who read the Vancouver 24 Hours newspaper, you probably have seen the cynical comments in “letter to the editor” about how useless Car-Free Vancouver is when it comes to reducing traffic and helping the environment. That part is true, in my opinion. I had to have one of my colleagues drive me over and park a block away to get the board there. A lot of people simply drove as close as possible and parked infront of someone’s lawn. However, I don’t think the value of a street festival-type event such as this should be measured by how much it helped the environment. I saw tons of kids and families there having a blast and I think it’s just a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Not only does it gives non-profit organizations a chance to showcase their services, but also lets merchants/performers promote their products/acts. It sort of adds a little culture and recognition to a city that sorely lacks it. I know I would’ve spent the day couped up at home if it wasn’t for Car-Free Vancouver.
QOTW: Do you think there should be future Car-Free Vancouver Day’s? Have you been to other street festivals?
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Of course there should future street festivals. Like you said, a festival like this will do nothing to help the environment in and of itself, save for maybe raise a bit of awareness… but this city definitely needs more culture/events/fun
About that 24 hours cynic – they come across sounding a bit too idealistic in their expectations isn’t it? I agree, sure, street festivals might not revolutionalize the world the way we expect it to, changes might not happen all in one day – but that’s the way it works isn’t it? There’s a constant buffer that we have to work against all the time – the comfort of the status quo.
Sure it’s fun to party in the streets. Don’t think it’s doing much for the environment ’cause many people got to the event in their cars ! If we hadn’t have had it perhaps they would have stayed home. And car-free day means transit-free day which seems counter-productive.