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 crafty arts place
Community arts-and-crafts studio Blim celebrated its 10th anniversary at the end of 2013. Founded by Calgary-born artist Yuriko Iga, Blim started as an experimental-art space in an empty penthouse in Chinatown. Almost immediately, Iga began teaching public workshops on screen printing, tie-dyeing, and button-making. In 2005, Blim relocated to Mount Pleasant for five years before Main Street’s gentrification pushed it back into Chinatown. Blim (115 East Pender Street) is a creative hub with one of the most cheerful storefront awnings in the city. Along with offering workshops, Blim has provided affordable open-studio space to local artists and hosted almost 100 artist-run markets. It’s a sure sign that DIY culture is alive and well in Vancouver, and Iga has said that she looks forward to at least another decade.
Best effort to revive radical journalism
We live in an era of blow-dried news anchors, celebrity stalking, and corporate public relations masquerading as news. But the editorial team behind the new magazine Radical Desi is bucking that trend. Straight contributor Gurpreet Singh, Gobind Thukral, and activists Kimball Cariou and Harsha Walia launched a fiery publication focusing on South Asian politics and history just as Vancouverites were preparing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru sailing into Vancouver’s harbour. Radical Desi lived up to its name by splashing a giant red X over a cover photo of new Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. The editors are following a path created by B.C.’s South Asian pioneers, who started radical publications in the years preceding the Komagata Maru episode in 1914, which culminated in the deportation of more than 350 of the ship’s passengers.
Best new word invented by marketers
We usually ignore most of the public-relations releases that manage to evade the Straight’s spam filter and clog its inboxes, but a word employed in a recent media announcement from local firm Vanguard PR for a preview of a new line of jeans caught our eye: “We are so stoked to present a fab new concept in denimology.” Denimology? Where do you go for that degree, the Acid-Wash Institute of Higher Learning? Put that on your résumé and the Catholic Church might mistakenly hire you as an exorcist.
Best way to curry favour with a media outlet in advance of an election
The Safe Surrey Coalition, headed by Doug McCallum, recruited the editor of Surrey Now, Beau Simpson, to run for council. Simpson’s profile on the party website states: “Beau believes in a balanced perspective to public policy that attempts to understand and incorporate the many sides to every story.” His opponents may want to remember Mark Twain’s famous quote: “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”
Best abandonment of journalistic scruples
It’s bad enough that reporters and editors attached to most of the newspapers available in Vancouver—national and local dailies and urban weeklies alike—have made it routine to allow email interviews in their pages according to the fiction that, “Hey, it’s the digital age!” In fact, they are merely capitulating to increasingly controlling and unforthcoming governments and corporations that enjoy having their news releases printed verbatim and unchallenged. This lazy and permissive practice entrenches that secretive policy and damages media credibility (not to mention the ethical outlets). And let’s not even mention the scourge of anonymous sources that has long been a fixture with most of them as well (barring exceptional circumstances, the Straight allows neither). But the Vancouver Courier hit some kind of dubious pinnacle on September 5 when it published an evil amalgam of the two journalistic failings: an email “interview” sent by an anonymous city hall source. The reporter grumbled about Vision Vancouver’s “ridiculous media policy” but ran with it anyway. A good workman doesn’t blame his fools.