Urban gardens build community in Vancouver

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Mark Lakeman shows how road artistry in Portland, Ore. brings communities together. (Ashley Legassic)

Permaculture may be the solution to Vancouver’s introvert stigma, but it will face challenges being the most densely populated city in Canada.

“I think the biggest challenge is the separation from nature. There’s concrete everywhere, there’s roads… it separates not only us from each other but us from nature as well,” says Langara permaculture instructor Kym Chi.

One technique permaculture uses is what Chi calls “social permaculture.”

Social permaculture and placemaking

Social permaculture includes placemaking, which co-founder of The City Repair Project Mark Lakeman says benefits not only the environment, but also the residents.

Placemaking is an approach to the design and management of public places, and Lakeman encourages residents to claim small areas of public land in a sustainable way.

Through this, communities can create community gardens and libraries to interact with and get to know their

Lakeman shows how houses grouped together create stronger bonds among a community. (Ashley Legassic)
Lakeman shows how houses grouped together create stronger bonds among a community. (Ashley Legassic)

neighbours better.

Lakeman initiated The City Repair Project in 1996, and has since brought the community of South Portland together through placemaking. The vision of this project is localization of communities by “planting the seeds for greater neighborhood communication, empowering our communities and nurturing our local culture.”

Lakeman didn’t hold back when comparing the differences between a sustainable and an unsustainable society.

“In a sustainable society we wake up in the morning and say ‘well, we notice we have a bunch of children to mentor, maybe we should do some stuff’,” as opposed to an unsustainable society where the people are there to work and make money.

Community gardens

In order to create sustainable societies, neighbours work together for the benefit of their community, and Chi says this is one of the best ways to bring people together.

Vancouver’s Kerrisdale Community Garden is on 60th and Angus Drive, and sells plots of land to residents to grow fresh fruit.

Dana Wilson of Village Vancouver says, “placemaking is our future,” and teaches students how to be leaders and work sustainably with the land and community.

With Vancouver being home to a lot of introverts, it can be hard for people to make friends and meet new people, but Chi says permaculture can change this.

Vancouver faces challenges that are hard to overcome when trying to adapt to a more sustainable society.

Community gardens are one of the best ways to overcome this challenge by getting people out of their house and socializing, while building a sustainable community.

According to Metro Vancouver, 35 per cent of metro Vancouver residents are renters, and Chi says placemaking is a great way for them to meet their neighbours.

To learn more about permaculture, you can attend the March 22 information session at Langara.



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