Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Kevin Millsip

Kevin Millsip, sustainability coordinator with the Vancouver School Board, describes this generation’s mandate to spearhead a U-turn in attitudes and actions toward sustainability.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Ifny Lachance

Cycling advocate Ifny Lachance hosts and produces the community radio show, Pedal Revolutionary Radio. Here she presents creative ideas for community events promoting transportation by bicycle, including Critical Mass, Bicycle CARCass, and pie-jousting on a bike.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: David Ramslie

David Ramslie, sustainable development program manager for the City of Vancouver, presents a brief history of the green building movement in Canada, plus present and future building innovations.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts, artistic director for Urban Ink theatre company, reminds participants in the sustainability discussion to open their eyes to the stories and ideas of others in order to find places of commonality.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Tegan Adams

Tegan Adams, teaching and research assistant in the faculty of land and food systems at the University of British Columbia, challenges listeners to create a personal food ethic – to consider where their food was produced and how, then make choices that promote sustainability.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Jaime Kowal

Photographer Jaime Kowal believes in the power of visual storytelling to educate and inspire others. In this presentation she invites individuals to share their images and ideas for a greener Vancouver on GreentheCityVancouver.com, a website created by her company Graphic Activist.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Initiatives Summary

Steven Cox lists several notable on-going sustainability initiatives in Vancouver: Growing Chefs, 100 Mile Diet, Al-Fresco, Car Free Days, Richard Campbell and the Third Wave Cycling Group, Front and Company consignment store, Make Shift, Lanefab laneway housing, Ocean Wise chef Robert Clark of C Restaurant, Shark Truth and the Living City Design Competition.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: John Robinson

Dr. John Robinson, executive director of the University of British Columbia’s Sustainability Initiative and a lead author on the last three reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, presents UBC initiatives to accelerate sustainability in the areas of building design and operations, community engagement, and partnerships with the private and public sector.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Eesmyal Santos-Brault

Eesmyal Santos-Brault, green building expert and principal of Recollective, describes a number of collaborative sustainability projects he is involved with. Informal projects include the Vancouver Design Nerds, GreenBuildingBrain.org (a free database of green building resources) and The Hive (a collaborative office space). He also introduces Fallingwater Cottages, Recollective’s new project with Patkau Architects.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Ken Lum

Internationally-celebrated artist Ken Lum presents his vision for a sustainable city as a community that is not indifferent to trauma, that values cultural differences, and is accepting of diverse lifestyles.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Preet Bal & Poonam Sandhu

Preet Bal and Poonam Sandhu of Sandhog Creations Society discuss their voluntary effort to promote recycling during the annual Vaisakhi parades in Vancouver and Surrey – parades attended by 50,000 and 100,000 members of the East Indian community respectively.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Ernesto Gomez

Ernesto Gomez, cofounder of the Nuba restaurant group in Vancouver, draws on Nuba’s own business model to demonstrate how companies can not only embrace a commitment to value and sustainability in their product offerings, but also help build a better community.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Denise Taschereau

Denise Taschereau explains her career trajectory from a degree in environmental management to self-professed “swag baron” and owner of Fairware promotional products. Her passion for helping companies align their corporate buying with their values stems from an awareness that individual choices “in high volume” have a huge impact.

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Mark Holland

Mark Holland, senior planner with HB Lanarc and a member of the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Team, casts a vision for Vancouver in the 21st century as a city that brings people together through play. Ideas presented include providing locally-grown food, celebrating marine activities and the arts, and recognizing pets as “exciting members of the urban cast of characters.”

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Keynote by Mayor Gregor Robertson

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson outlines “greener city” measures already undertaken by the City of Vancouver over the past year and the city’s 10 goals for the next decade. In closing, he encourages Vancouverites to share their green ideas at Talkgreentous.ca.

iPod-compatible version

Pecha Kucha Vancouver 12: Intro by Steve and Jane Cox

Vancouver has set it sights on becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020. But just what would it take to reach that goal? On June 23, 2010, over 2,000 Vancouverites packed the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for Pecha Kucha Volume 12, the kick-off event for the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 Conversation. We invite you to listen in on this special Pecha Kucha edition sponsored by the City of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia.

The following set of 16 presentation videos was created for the City of Vancouver in under two days, thanks to Pluraleyes and Singular Software Presto for Sony Vegas Pro.

Hosts Steven and Jane Cox, directors of Cause+Affect Design, provide an overview of the origin of Pecha Kucha and their motivation for spearheading this initiative in Vancouver. Pucker up and practice saying “Pecha Kucha” with help from this clip.


Let me depart from the usual tech and tech event flavor of this blog to write about something I care about deeply.

I don't buy lottery tickets because I figure I have won the lottery several times already: I am a white mail born in Canada into a middle class family. How many more advantages does a person need? The impulse to want to help others who, simply by accident of birth, do not have the same opportunities I have had is very strong. So what is the best way to do this?

Like most businesses I'm sure, we at Singular Software get a lot (and I mean, a lot) of requests to donate our software or other things for various causes. It would be easy to just say yes to all of them, but I used to consider them carefully and support the ones that seemed genuine and worthy. I'm glad I took the time to do so because a few of them were for purposes that I strongly disagreed with. And of course some are simply not genuine.

But in recent months I have been examining more carefully what I and my company can do to actually achieve something and be effective. Every one in business is keenly aware of the difference between activity and accomplishment (or should). Our charitable giving should be looked at in the same light. And mine, I'm afraid to say, has been mostly activity with questionable accomplishment.

So now I am taking a much more active approach to my philanthropy (modest as it is). But, perhaps paradoxically, one result is that I have less time to assess and respond to incoming requests and may seem less generous than before.

Here is how I explained it to one particularly persistent request for assistance.
I have given a lot of money to various causes over the years and have concluded it was a complete waste. The reason why is that it was passive and reactive, with no real attention being paid to the impact it might have. My response to this is not to pull back, but rather to redouble my efforts, take the time to devise a donation strategy, pick my battles and be very conscious of whether I am being effective. This takes a lot of time, but I like how it is working out.

Part of the strategy is to allocate my time carefully. There are only so many hours in the day that I can spend on philanthropic efforts. Every minute that I take to write letters like this one is a minute I can't spend finding the most effective way to stop the trafficking of women in Vietnam or free a political prisoner in Burma. We get a lot of requests for donations to all kinds of things. We can either say yes to all of them or no to all of them, but there is no way we are going to take the time to investigate them to see which ones we feel we should support. Instead, we will use our time to identify the efforts that make the most sense to us and we will put a lot of support behind those, without having to be approached about it. In other words, don't call us, we'll call you.

So, no, I don't know your organization and I am not going find out about it. I will assume that you are a good person who is sincere in what you are trying to do. If that is the case, then I think you will agree that there are many ways to do good things in this world and that we should be respectful of the time and efforts of those who are doing what they can, even if it is not directly supporting our own specific cause.
On re-reading the above, the tone is a little harsher than it needed to be. (I overreacted a bit to the sixth attempt from this person to contact me.) I have all the respect in the world for those who are taking an active role, whatever it is, when so many don't. But the opportunity cost is too high to just be reactive.

This is not to say that I will never consider a request for support. But if the message doesn't hit me the right way right off the bat, you may just get a link to this blog post in response.

There seems to be a bit of a minor revolution happening in the realm of aid, philanthropy, NGO strategy and social entrepreneurship. I am late to the party, but I am catching up. I plan to write more about this in the future.

Update: In the case that prompted this post, I took the time to learn more about the effort behind the request and have given them the support they asked for.


NV10: How (Should) Journalists Use Social Media

Social media is having a significant impact on the way that we share news and stories, and so is also changing how journalists go about their work. In this panel discussion with Kirk LaPointe, Managing Editor of the Vancouver Sun, and Lisa Johnson, a reporter with CBC television, we get some fascinating incites into the use of social media tools in the hands of journalists.