Many cities are known for how they respond to a bad situation: Rotterdam responded to the complete destruction of their urbanscape by fostering a forward-thinking culture of architectural design; Hiroshima responded to a nuclear attack by declaring itself a City of Peace and subsequently calling for the abolishment of nuclear weaponry. For their own reasons, these are the world’s resilient cities.
Despite the much smaller scale of events that occurred on 15 July 2011, it’s safe to say that Vancouver ought to be on this list of resilient cities. Vancouver’s 2011 riot, the aftermath of a heartbreaking Game 7 loss for the Vancouver Canucks at the hands of the Boston Bruins (in case you’re wondering, I’m still not over it), saw the positive global image that Vancouver developed during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games evaporate in just a couple of hours. Despite a huge citizen-organised clean-up session the day afterwards, Vancity is still seen as Riotcity to many.
One year on, some Vancouverites tried to change that image (and for good reason: the city is pretty beautiful). With a little help from other Vancouver-loving folks, local entrepreneur Graham Anderson put out the call for I Love Vancouver Day on Facebook recently. The idea was to recreate the iconic images of renewal from last year’s riot clean-up, where boarded-up shop windows were covered in written confessions of love and apologies to the city that so many adore.
This year, shop windows were plastered with notes and tweets using the #ILoveVancouver hashtag, starting a conversation about why people love, and take care of, the place that they live in. Here’s to happy urban interventions!