Vancouver is a city in crisis, with sky-high rents, overdose deaths, homelessness, social isolation, rising sea levels — and a lack of shared solutions.
The Vancouver Crossroads conference aims to change that, bringing community members together to forge solutions to the environmental, economic and social challenges the city faces while building relationships and increasing collaboration.
The two-day event — Vancouver Crossroads: The Future of the City We Want — will begin the evening of Friday, May 4, when an expert panel of activists and urban thinkers will set outline the forces, global and local, facing Vancouver and how they impact the lives of residents.
On Saturday, May 5, community members from across the city will work on plans to address the problems.
“We’ll move from one-on-one relationship building, to small group discussions on the conference community’s dreams for the future,” said Laura Cuthbert, co-director at Organize BC. “We’ll end the day in groups large and small, where participants self-select to focus on the issues that they are most passionate about.”
“The Crossroads conference is about bringing out the ideas and insights Vancouverites have to offer — from the grassroots,” said labour council president Stephen von Sychowski. “Historically the labour movement in Vancouver has strived to work with community allies to make sure our city includes everyone.”
The conference will tackle Vancouver’s serious challenges, he said, “most notably the ever increasing difficulty of residents to afford to live here.”
“On the crucial issues facing Vancouver... our city has been a leader,” he added. “But many problems continue to persist, and this conference will bring residents together to propose new solutions.”
The Friday evening discussion will bring together experts including Yuly Chan, a community organizer with the Chinatown Action Group, a collective of progressive Chinese activists working to build power among working class residents against gentrification in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Panelists include Dimitri Roussopoulos, a Montreal-based political activist, writer, publisher and community organizer who helped establish the largest non-profit co-op housing project in North America and was a founder of Ecology Montreal, the first municipal Green Party on the continent, and Karen Ward, a former executive board member of Vancouver Area of Drug Users, who will speak on personal experience of mental illness, drug use, poverty and activist politics in the Downtown Eastside which have informed an artistic and collaborative approach to our converging crises.
The hosts will be Maria Dobrinskaya, B.C. director of the Broadbent Institute and a veteran of political campaigns at all three levels of government, and Libby Davies, a community activist and former Vancouver city councillor and member of Parliament.
That will set the stage for Saturday’s conference where community members will work on solutions and build partnerships that allow future collaboration. Facilitators Kera McArthur and Laura Cuthbert will be supported by a large team of small group facilitators.
Registration information is available here. Registration for the full conference package is $50. Single tickets are $10 for the May 4 evening panel and $40 for the May 5 day-long program, with lunch provided.
Twenty per cent of tickets have been reserved for full scholarships for participants who request assistance with conference fees.
Free childcare is available. To arrange, please email Laura@organizebc.ca.
The Friday event will be from 7 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. at Science World at Telus World of Science.
Saturday’s conference will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Dr.
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