There's something surreal about being able to walk for blocks and blocks up Main Street in Vancouver and never encounter any traffic.
Today at the annual Car Free Festival, thousands turned out to experience what life might be like without motor vehicles clogging up one of the city's primary arteries.
The event attracted numerous activist groups, eager to occupy the street with information tables filled with pamphlets.
One of the most entertaining was People's Voice editor and peace activist Kimball Cariou.
Wearing a top hat and looking every bit like a multimillionaire, the former Communist Party of Canada candidate declared that he was attending the festival on behalf of the wealthiest members of society.
"We’re protesting against the Quebec students’ strike by wearing our red squares upside down, which shows we want people to be as uneducated, as poor, and as desperate as possible, so that they’ll work for the lowest wages to increase profits for the rich," he told the Straight.
Former Communist Party of Canada candidate Kimball Cariou raises hell on behalf of the rich.
This was so that members of his class could buy more diamond-tipped canes. "This is the way the world should be," Cariou maintained. "Pots and pans should be banned as a weapon of mass distraction."
Across the street, financial activist Andrew Perry discussed a new community currency called Seedstock, the brainchild of him and his friend Jordan Bober.
Perry explained that local businesses can generate a certain amount of Seedstock. The majority would be contributed to nonprofits that they want to support.
"The nonprofits can then use that to go back to any of the participating businesses to get goods or services, or else they can use it for a fundraising campaign,” Perry said. "So if you were to contribute whatever amount of Canadian dollars to that organization, they give you the exact same amount in Seedstock."
Andrew Perry talks about a revolutionary idea to weaken the power of central bankers.
Bober wrote a master's thesis on community currencies at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Seedstock was inspired by community-currency advocate and author Michael Linton to unleash the power of communal wealth.
"In five to 10 years, I would like to see this all over North America and the world," Perry said. "This is a model that can be replicated in any community to really help people extend their purchasing power."
The Green party had a table on the street, with members Don Barthel and Onni Milne encouraging people to sign petitions opposing oil tankers along B.C.'s coastline.
Don Barthel and Onni Milne represented the Green party at the festival.
Milne said that she came out to demonstrate her support for Vancouver councillor Adriane Carr, who has been a vociferous opponent of more tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet and along other parts of the coast.
Next to them was Nicola Hill, executive director of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society wants more national parks in B.C.
Hill encouraged people to sign petitions to protect Canada's oceans. Those who did were eligible to win a paddleboard and gift certificates from Mountain Equipment Co-op.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is also campaigning for national parks in the South Okanagan–Similkameen and in the Flathead Valley areas of B.C.
Other groups on the street included No One Is Illegal, StopWar.ca, and Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver.
There was also lots of music, including a free performance by the Evaporators in front of Neptoon Records.
You can check out some square-dancing music here:
There was some fancy footwork on Main Street.
Closer to West 12th Avenue, there was some hard rock, courtesy of Sonic Planet Rock School.
Sonic Planet musicians rocked in the street without any traffic interruptions.
The Car Free Vancouver Day after-party is at 8:30 p.m. at the Anza Club (3 West 8th Avenue) starting at 8:30 p.m. There's a $5 cover charge. For more on the Main Street Car Free Festival, see the photos below.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.