Making Vancouver sustainable: Greenest City meets Village Vancouver
“The challenge [for Greenest City] is translating goals into tangible action. We have Talk Green Vancouver. We want to go beyond talking. Maybe what’s next is Act Green Vancouver!” adds Moster.
A check of the Greenest City website would indicate this is in the plan.
New initiatives in the works by Village Vancouver and its villages include:
- Measuring how much food Vancouverites are growing and sharing – the agricultural productivity of VV members; and developing a more sophisticated ecological footprint calculator (according to Chaterjee, Greenest City is also doing this)
- Putting together a program with BC Hydro to do basic home energy saving retrofits – staffed by VV volunteers
- Expanding collaboration with Greenest City and other sustainability organizations including Zero Waste Vancouver
- Exploring the possibility of obtaining charitable status
- Creating and implementing local currency, starting in Dunbar with a pilot project to be supported by neighborhood businesses and non-profits; and a VV interest group focused on Ecological and New Economics
“We grow 20% of the calories we eat here in the Lower Mainland," Chatterjee says. "During World War II in London, residents grew their own food. Our goal is to produce three to four times what we do now in the Lower Mainland. I think we should be able to export agricultural products. We have incredible resources here. This is the definition of food security: How do we ensure we as a population can feed ourselves?"
Moster elaborates. “Greenest City is doing some good stuff around food. Their Local Food Goal, encompassing equitable access, is one of the top-rated strategies [by members on their website].”
They talk about neighborhood food networks and neighborhood composting projects. We’re very interested in creating neighborhood food networks in collaboration with other groups to focus on anti-hunger, anti-poverty and climate change or peak oil issues. We see both social and ecplogical justice focused networks as integral to our mission.
“I think food is where Village Vancouver and Greenest City will achieve the most success. The Greenest City goal is to increase neighborhood food assets by a minimum of 50% over 2010 levels. I think we’ll achieve this well before 2020 and the 2020 levels will then be much higher.”
What other synergies do Moster and Chatterjee see between Village Vancouver and Greenest City?
Moster thinks VV’s bottom-up approach and City’s primarily top-down approach “can be complementary. Given the enormity of the challenges we face, we want to come at it from as many directions as possible — top-down, bottom-up or sideways.
“We are very people-driven,” he says. “We’re not averse to funding. One of our strengths is we’re doing all this largely without money. We’re more resilient than an organization based on funding.”
At the same time, both he and Chatterjee appreciate the funding support Greenest City can offer to some of VV’s events and initiatives.
Moster explains Village Vancouver and City of Vancouver are just beginning to collaborate. Two upcoming events include: Building a Neighborhood Food Network in the West End on April 9, and Eco-Dreaming Vancouver workshop on March 25-26 with Mark Lakeman, co-founder Portland’s City Repair. VV has also invited Greenest City to give presentations at its monthly Village Vancouver Meetups.
The City has 60 people working on Greenest City to facilitate green initiatives, Chaterjee says. “They’re spending money wisely by holding events we couldn’t do,” he says. “I’d like them to buy composters we could help set up locally. This would be a hard asset they could contribute as they have financial resources we don’t. This is where I’m looking forward to collaborating.”
“I tend to think we’re only limited by our imagination,” Moster says.
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Let us know what you think about how each has performed over the past two years and what their respective roles should be moving forward.