For the Georgia Straight’s 19th annual Best of Vancouver issue, our editorial team has spent months on the lookout for good deeds, weird urban details, and various howlers to highlight. Here’s our contributors’ picks for Best of Vancouver 2014.
Best DIY libraries
Don’t get us wrong—we love public libraries. But we also like hoarding books for our own selfish pleasure, which makes Vancouver’s growing network of book exchanges so endearing. Built by avid readers and people looking to connect with their neighbours, these decentralized DIY libraries have been popping up all over the city. The concept is simple: build a weatherproof structure, add some books, and let the rest take care of itself. Passersby are encouraged to take novels home as well as donate tomes they think other bibliophiles might enjoy (or simply get rid of all those first-year philosophy textbooks laying about). Want to know where to look for new literary treasures? Find a map at tinyurl.com/littlefreelibrariesyvr.
Best prize for saving the planet
As part of SFU’s 2014 Community Summit entitled Innovation: The Shock of the Possible, up to 50 teams will present ideas on how the Lower Mainland can best respond to the one-metre rise in sea level expected in this region by 2100. The winning team in this competition, known as RISE, will capture a $35,000 grand prize; four other teams will take home $10,000 in the social, economic, environmental, and people’s-choice categories. There’s no entrance fee and everyone is welcome to submit proposals. The public pitches will be made on October 19. The deadline for entries is October 6. For more information, visit www.sfu.ca/rise.html/.
Best way to make your bloody mark as a horror-film director
If you’re an aspiring Vancouver director with a penchant for scary movies, one way to take a stab at fame is to take part in the Phrike FilmFest 72 Hour Film Competition (www.phrikefilmfest.com). The first annual event challenges filmmakers of all ages, both novice and pro, to bring horror-themed short films from script to screen in less than three days. Gorehounds will battle it out from October 11 to 14, and whoever wins over the judges—including actor Tyler Labine (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and creature/effects designer Tom Woodruff Jr. (Aliens, Terminator)—will take home a $5,000 cash prize. The 13 qualifying films will be premiered for the public and judged at the inaugural Vancouver Halloween Parade & Expo on October 18 and 19 at the Sheraton Wall Centre. Registration for the competition runs until October 7.
Best way to stop Celebration of Light from becoming the Celebration of Litter
Take your damn garbage home with you after the fireworks. Duh.
Best place to frolic with goats
Living in the city can really cut you off from nature. Sure, we have mountains and the ocean, but we don’t often get to interact with live animals other than pets. If you’d like to connect with your animal nature, head on over to Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver (405 Seymour River Place), where they have cows, horses, pigs, chickens, and all sorts of farmyard friends. Be sure to visit the Goat Hill Gang, a captivating group of ruminants who will delight both the young and the young-at-heart. And don’t forget to bring some carrots to feed the bunnies!
Best reason to skip the Grouse Grind
When the Sea to Sky Gondola was just a plan on paper, many environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts were justifiably concerned about the threat it posed to Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. But now that the gondola has opened its doors, many people are singing its praises. One major reason is the new Sea to Summit Trail, Squamish’s answer to the Grouse Grind. Unlike “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, it’s a real hike, with lots of ups, a few downs, some flattish bits, and not much in the way of stairs, except at the bottom. Plus, you can’t beat the patio waiting for you at the top. The views of Howe Sound and Sky Pilot Mountain beat Grouse’s scenery any day.
Best place to not catch fish
Let’s face it: fishing isn’t really about catching anything, is it? It’s about getting away from it all, good conversation, or even time alone—and if you happen to catch a fish, well, that’s great too. As long as you keep that in mind, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant fishing hole than Rice Lake. Located in the North Shore’s Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, the lake is kept stocked with rainbow trout and offers a fishing pier as well as many scenic and secluded angling spots around its three-kilometre circumference. The fish are definitely there—you can see them jumping—but no one ever seems to catch anything. No matter, if you really feel the need to bring something home, you can always swing by the supermarket on the way back.
Best last-minute festival location change
The Powell Street Festival has traditionally taken place in Oppenheimer Park, a historic location for the former Japantown. This year, the ongoing tent-city protest, launched in July to draw attention to homelessness and housing conditions on the Downtown Eastside, took over the park. Festival organizers responded by respecting the protest and quickly reorganizing the Japanese Canadian celebration to take place on neighbouring Alexander Street and Jackson Avenue, near such indoor fest venues as the Firehall Arts Centre and the Japanese Language School. The move for the 38th edition of the festival, which ran from August 1 to 3, appeared to be flawlessly executed. In fact, arts-and-crafts vendors on Alexander Street benefited from the cooling shade cast by buildings instead of being exposed to the sizzling August sun in the usual location in the park’s field. The move demonstrated true Japanese and Canadian respect, graciousness, and efficiency.
Best counterpoint to Dîner en Blanc
Dîner en Noir
Because many people are highly critical of the Dîner en Blanc outdoor picnic, surely there would be a groundswell of support if someone organized the polar opposite? How about Dîner en Noir, an event at which attendees must wear all black? This can be held at midnight in pitch-black conditions. No light would be allowed, thus making it the largest dining-in-the-dark experience ever, and there would be a literal blackout of annoying social-media posts since no one would be able to see a thing. So how about it, Vancouver? Anybody game? Non?
Best sequel to Dîner en Blanc
Dîner en Nu
Vancouver has become increasingly nudity-friendly, with the likes of the Naked Bike Ride, Bare Buns Run, Go Topless march, B.C. Cancer Foundation’s annual Underwear Affair, the No Pants Skytrain Ride, Kokoro Dance, David Suzuki posing nude, legendary Wreck Beach, and the random exhibitionist running around naked for no apparent reason. Since Vancouverties can never seem to get enough of nudity, maybe someone can organize the Dîner en Nu, a mass nude picnic at a secret location announced at the last minute. Just imagine: it could be an all-you-can-eat buffet of wieners and buns. Yum. Just be careful not to spill your hot coffee or you could be due for sex-reassignment surgery.