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Monday News Roundup

Apr 19, 2010

Every Monday, we post links to articles and blogs that you may have missed from last week. Enjoy!
10 Weirdest Urban Ecosystems On Earth (io9)
Cities are havens for weirdness. From communities built around garbage to dogs that ride the subway, urban environments have fostered all manner of weird patterns. Here are the 10 freakiest urban ecosystems on the planet.

Planning a Post-Carbon World (
Interesting article on sustainability planning for North Vancouver by Patrick Condon

It Isn’t Easy Building Green (NYTimes)
Michelle Kaufmann on the rise and fall of her green pre-fab housing business – and the future of environmentally responsible housing.

Saving shrinking cities in Germany (GOOD)
Parts of former East Germany have been shrinking, Detroit-style, for many years now. And consequently, Germany has a jump on the States in figuring out how to adjust when a city naturally needs to downsize.

Vancouver’s 1975 Transit Plan (Regarding Place)
In 1975, the Bureau of Transit Services prepared a transit service plan for downtown Vancouver. Now that 35 years have passed, it’s time to look at what actually got built.

Tri-Met in motion (The Overhead Wire)
This is a really cool simulation of bus and train movements in Portland from the Walk Score Page

Light Form: Gorgeous Wood Wall Panels Flip Up to Reveal Light(Inhabitat)

The Perfect Neighborhood  (GOOD)
What makes a model neighborhood? GOOD Magazine devotes an issue to the topic, beginning with a list of traits that make a neighborhood great.

Cool Website: Sustainable Cities 
“Provides knowledge on sustainable urban planning and best practice cases from cities all over the world.

by Matt Roewe, aka Dr. Density, aka VIA’s Director of Mixed Use + Major Projects

 Capitol Hill Housing sponsored a spirited panel discussion April 14th on what to do with land above and around the new Capitol Hill underground light rail station. The residual lands around the station are the result of a massive excavation to build a concrete station box 65’ underground which also connects to the surface with three head house entrances. The result is the demolition of one and half city blocks in the most authentic, fine grained and densely populated urban neighborhoods in the northwest. As one can imagine, in the heart of Seattle’s most bohemic community, all eyes are focused on the development potential here and how it will fit aesthetically, culturally, socially and ecologically.

150 people attended this event which was held in The Erickson Black Box Theater on Harvard Avenue. I was asked to be a panel member along with several other well known civic and community leaders:

  • Dow Constantine, King County Executive, Sound Transit Board Member
  • Cathy Hillenbrand, Co-Chair, Capitol Hill TOD Champions
  • Grace Kim, Architect, Schemata Workshop
  • Michael Malone, Developer, founder, Hunters Capital
  • Alex Steffens, Author, founder and executive editor,

An extensive series of public meetings has been ongoing for about three years, including design charrettes, Sound Transit briefings, and city sponsored station area planning. A long list of aspirations and expectations have been developed by the stakeholders including a “woonerf” type lane (in the alley) to host a weekly farmers market, a community center, affordable housing, wider sidewalks, subsidized small/local retailers, public plazas, arts facilities and more. The stakeholders want the developer to pay for all of this.

Sound Transit will need to sell the properties prior to the 2016 station opening. They plan on issuing a request for proposal to development teams, which means those teams would have to offer money, as well as basic design concepts to win the right to develop the project. What is unknown is how many strings will be attached to the sale, such as providing some of the desired community amenities.

County Council Executive Dow Constantine is a voting member of Sound Transit’s board. He noted that laws and funding requirements for the project require the residual land be sold at fair market value, so they can’t reduce the price to enable the public benefit features. However, the City may be able to help out by entitling the project with greater capacity or height with incentives.

Much of the panel discussion was centered around the public amenities and uses at street level. Everyone agreed that the project must be exemplary in quality, as a green sustainable project and as a context-responsive solution. The panel disagreed on the scale of individual parcels. Developer Mike Malone suggested that the larger parcel be divided up into 5,000 SF lots that would incrementally be built in the manner of the rest of Broadway. Grace Kim argued that that was unrealistic as the economics of each parcel having stairs/elevators/utility meters/parking would be extremely inefficient.

Another part of the discussion centered around the massing and height limits which are 65’ along Broadway and 40’ along 10th Avenue. Recent developments along Broadway were a concern as a monotony of “bread loaf” buildings may be the result. Portland’s Pearl District prototypes were sourced as good precedents, which include historic preservation, midrise and high-rise building forms, with generous block-wide open spaces and pocket parks.

In my alter ego as Dr. Density, my approach was to swing for the fence and boldly propose that a stellar, 200’ or taller iconic residential tower be place on this site as a graceful and stunning beacon of light signifying this new nexus location. I framed this as just one lone skinny tower with a 30’ to 40’ tall podium at the base. One of the benefits of this approach would be the added value of a high end tower with more capacity traded for building public amenities desired by the neighborhood. By doubling the value or more, some portion of the profit could be directed by the private sector to help fund the public plaza, community center, subsidized local retail, wider sidewalks and of course, affordable housing. That will be an interesting equation that won’t fund everything, but will certainly help justify the upzone.

Instead of throwing stones and shooting arrows, the majority of the audience surprisingly loved the iconic tower idea. Even the panelists liked it, after initially not thinking it was the direction to go. Thus, the most vibrant and engaged community in the region may boldly support a responsible and well crafted development that is catalyzed by a significant tower that breaks all the zoning rules. Maybe we need a radical process to envision a solution that fully meets the community’s aspirations.

To watch video of the panel, click here.

Monday News Roundup

Apr 12, 2010

Every Monday, we post links to articles and blogs that you may have missed from last week. Enjoy!

Architectural Activism (Archinect)
Campaign to save Kreuzberg Tower gets results!

City gardening policy in action (Vancouver Courier)
I recommend chard.

Green and Affordable Homes, Out of the Box (The Tyee)
The first of a three part report on everyone’s favourite ironic mashup of globalism and affordable housing: the shipping container.

Slideshow: Solar power, shaped up (MIT)
3-D shapes covered in solar cells could produce more power than flat panels, MIT researchers find.

Bonn to Cancun (Grist)
Negotiators agree to continue efforts on international global warming

China Is Eager to Bring High-Speed Rail Expertise to the U.S. (NY Times) 
Nearly 150 years after American railroads brought in thousands of Chinese laborers to build rail lines across the West, China is poised once again to play a role in American rail construction. 

Different Projects to check out  (Icon Magazine)

Being a Bright Neighbor (Good) 
Could the threat of a peaking oil supply lead to a hyperlocal revolution? A group of Portlanders thinks so.

Cycling city leaders (Seattle PI) 
More and more officials opt for two wheels over four

Notes from Seattle’s Carbon Neutral Unconference (World Changing)
Carbon neutrality is a simple idea with complicated details: it’s hard to define and far-reaching in its implications.

USA=New Hampshire (GOOD) 
There are about 300 Million people in the US, spread out over 3,794,101 sq miles — but what if we wanted to all fit into one state comfortably, what state would we all fit into?

guest post by Jake Tobin Garrett (Beyond Robson)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from VIA Architecture’s post-Olympic discussion. Like many in the city, I have reached an Olympic saturation point—meaning that discussion, debate, and musing on the Olympics seems to be all I have been doing. Basically: I’m full. But with the Olympics being such a huge event that took years of planning and practically held the city hostage (physically and mentally) for months, it’s kind of difficult to let it slip past.

VIA brought together an interesting and complimentary set of speakers, three of whom spoke from a professional background, and one of whom, a torchbearer, spoke from a more personal background. On the professional side, there was Matthew Roddis, an urban designer with the City of Vancouver; Matt Craig, senior transportation planner and Olympic transportation at TransLink; and Annette O’Shea, the executive director of the Yaletown Business Improvement Association (BIA). On the personal side, was torchbearer Mark Hoag, an accountant who landed the position through a lottery system prior to the games.

I was most interested to hear what Matthew Roddis and Matt Craig had to say, as the planning that both the city and TransLink went through before the Olympics seems to me a monstrous task that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. The pressure to design and facilitate a smoothly run performance in their respective fields was, I’m sure, immense and complex.

Mr. Roddis spoke mostly of how the city performed during the Olympics, as opposed to the planning leading up to the event. As he pointed out, the city shone its brightest during those 17 days. I was surprised to walk (shuffle?) along Granville to Robson Square and see the place teeming with people, lights, and music. The city rarely comes out like it did during those days, and I hope that some of that activity carries on into the future as it makes the downtown core a more lively place.

Mr. Roddis also brought up Vancouver’s lack of a real central public gathering spot. Robson Square, although recently revamped, has proved over the years insufficient as a real collective spot—probably because it is mainly underground, or hidden from street view. Mr. Roddis asked a question that I wondered about frequently over the years: Is Vancouver a city that lives around its edges—mainly the beaches and seawall?

I would have definitely said yes before the Olympics, but, as Mr. Roddis also said, the Olympic activity showed that Vancouverites have a real longing for a core area, a central spot in the city to gather and celebrate. Is it possible that the Olympics introduced the centre of the city as the place to be for many people? As the slogan for Robson Square put it: You gotta be here. Can this sustain afterwards?

Mr. Craig spoke of TransLink’s push to reduce vehicle traffic into the downtown core by 30%, a number that, while in the lead up to the games looked impossible, was reported to have been achieved. Although the system was in its highest use ever, I never had to wait too long for a train or a bus, and the apocalyptic traffic jams that were prophesied never came to pass. I rode my bike most days into the downtown core from Commercial Drive and enjoyed smooth sailing along the cleared Olympic Lanes on Broadway that gave priority to buses, bikes and Olympic vehicles.

Mr. Craig outlined how TransLink worked with many businesses in the downtown area on how they could reduce traffic by arranging carpooling for their employees, pointing out that just two people sharing a car to work cuts that vehicle use by 50%. Most interestingly was TransLink’s development of a flexible system of transit; this I believe was the biggest feat of Olympic transportation and one of the main reasons why it ran so smoothly. TransLink didn’t release “Olympic schedules” but instead monitored routes closely and added buses or trains when they were needed, rather than when they were scheduled. As he said, most people want their bus or train to be there when they need it, not necessarily when it is scheduled.

There were times when the station I use, Broadway and Commercial, was filled with people, and yet a train had just left, one was already pulling up, and I could see another behind it. It proved TransLink had the ability to provide for higher capacity use—something that I’m sure more people crammed onto trains at rush hour the rest of the year would like to see outside of the Olympics.

Annette O’Shea spoke at length of the Yaletown BIA’s drive and push to create Yaletown as a destination for Olympic activity, rather than simply a conduit from one event to another. They provided hundreds of free acts of entertainment, kept the streets clean of garbage, lobbied for new lighting (which they got), as well as encouraged the many, often out of reach pricewise, restaurants of Yaletown to provide economical street food. I was mostly impressed with the planning and dedication of the BIA, as I assumed that much of the things I saw in Yaletown during the Olympics were planned by the city. As Ms. O’Shea pointed out, it is events and planning like this that will help Vancouver shed its moniker of no fun city.

Graham McGarva, a Founding Principal of VIA holding the torch

Finally, Mark Hoag spoke about his experience as a torchbearer—something I was already a bit familiar with since a friend of mine (a former UBC hockey player) also ran with the torch. He related his feelings of exuberance, pride and historical connection, while carrying the most famous flame in the world. While I myself feel no real bond with the Olympic flame (I did see it go by my house from my living room window), I can understand the immense feeling associated with taking part in an event that links with so many other nations and time periods.

What was conspicuously absent from the discussion, however, was any mention of anti-Olympic protestors and their concerns, or any planning decisions that related to these. The only mention of this was by Ms. O’Shea when she mentioned they had volunteers out there removing anti-Olympic signs and graffiti from Yaletown. Anti-Olympic and poverty activists were quite visible in the run-up and during the Olympics and so I would have enjoyed hearing a bit more about how these alternate views and concerns were addressed in the planning process.

Place + Placelessness

Apr 02, 2010

by Kate Howe, Urban Planner for VIA Architecture

We planners like to use the term sense of place as shorthand. “Place-making” is an everyday verb where I work. But it’s really a complex term, and what does “place” really mean anyways!? I thought I would write some thoughts on it to help me approach our new planning project work on Seattle’s East Side.

The term, “a sense of place” evolved from the work of Canadian geographer Edward Relph in his classic phenomenological study Place and Placelessness. The book, written in the post modern mid-seventies, explores the value that local human behavior, practice, and lived experience have on the formation of our built environment.

Relph wrote that a “sense of place” has to do with the interchange between three essentials — location, landscape, and personal involvement; but that each by itself is insufficient. He recognized that how we design our communities is more than all else, a battle of identity. And place shapes who we are and what we will become.

For example, Seattle as a geographically bounded “place” relies on any number of historic events that defined interaction with our unique ecology: the Ballard locks and fisherman’s terminal, the cherry trees on Lake Washington Blvd, craftsman houses, or the relentless march of our rectilinear grid from the shoreline to the hills. Relph wrote that a “sense of place” has to do with the interchange between three essentials—location, landscape, and personal involvement; but that each by itself is insufficient. He recognized that how we design our communities is more than all else, a battle of identity. And place shapes who we are and what we will become.

As practicing architects and urban planners, we are asked to craft our designs in recognition -even reverence- to this intangible, but also very real “sense of place.” But often enough, particularly outside of the well-defined community, the primary goal seems to be to invent a sense of place itself; thus the title “place-maker.” Well intentioned designers push back against the insidious “no place” of strip suburbia. But I find this to be somewhat treacherous territory, and the balance depends very much on the heavy handedness of its application. We all know that an idea when entirely too crafted (Celebration Florida anyone?) doesn’t feel genuine either. Why do some of the newly invented “neighborhoods” we’ve all seen, be they greenfield or brownfield developments work as “places,” while others don’t?

Relph wrote,

“Authenticity is above all that of being inside and belonging to your place both as an individual and a member of the community, and to know this without reflecting on it. We strive for a sense of insideness—or the idea that the more strongly an environment generates a sense of belonging, the more strongly does that environment becomes a place.”


“Placelessness arises from kitsch–an uncritical acceptance of mass values, or technique–the overriding concern with efficiency as an end in itself. The overall impact of these two forces, which manifest through such processes as mass communication, mass culture, and central authority, is the “undermining of place for both individuals and cultures, and the casual replacement of the diverse and significant places of the world with anonymous spaces and exchangeable environments.”

Returning America’s “geographies of nowhere” to livable communities is a heavy task. We need lots of collaboration and civic engagement to do it, in particular to circumvent the tangle of codes, ordinances and standards that seem to default even the best of intentions to homogeneity, a default to avoid the complexity involved in making our own fragmented decisions about place.

I think as we move towards rebuilding, and redefining neighborhoods, a real question for us will be how to “plan for” both the adaptability and flexibility required for place, while leaving accessible the predictability needed for capital investment.

A precarious balance, which continues to evolve as we redefine American ideas of self reliance, and individuality, within the natural constraints of community.

Monday News Roundup

Mar 29, 2010

by Kate Howe, Urban Planner for VIA Architecture

In the Pacific Northwest, Tacoma struggles somewhat from its brand as a post-industrial place. But, I and many, many others HEART Tacoma for its deeply layered and intense urban infrastructure; it holds a similarity for rust belt and east coast cities we keep hearing about, like revitalizing Pittsburgh (see the link for a New York Times article), Youngstown and Providence. Because these communities are still scarred by economic loss, they appreciate that without the ability to adapt, experiment and elevate the cultural attributes of their existing place, the free flow of unencumbered capital $ will do just that, keep on flowing right out of town.

While its situation is drastically different from a growing Pacific Northwest, I am particularly impressed by Youngstown OH, which is making a name for itself as one of the most experimental planning cities in the US, with its shrinking city concept. It is led by the country’s youngest mayor (elected at the tender age of 33). Now in his second term, his city is making headlines as one of the best places in the country to start a business.

Tacoma is hard at work at its own structural re-invention. Over the past year, they have adopted a new downtown strategic plan, a new downtown comprehensive plan, and development studies for some of its key neighborhoods.

For the Brewery District, a group of stakeholders, including the Hillside Development Council, the University of Washington (their new campus is just next door), the city, the arts community, business and land owners, recently came together to talk about what they would like to be. There is a lot of optimism surrounding the future of the District; in nearly every meeting, someone would mention wanting to be more like Granville Island, Vancouver. The Brewery District has decided on a Tacoma-driven, south sound, flavor – a diverse and activated place of production.

 Granville Island, Vancouver

“Production” instead of “industry” underlies a progressive diversification of meaning. We are moving away from location-specific industry; and “production” suggests an evolution, signifying technological innovation and adaptation such as the need for robustness, resilience and environmental sustainability.

The actions suggested by the Brewery District groups and documented in a new Study due out soon includes:

  • Adaptive re-use of a former carriage house into a public market/incubator space;
  • The introduction of a gathering place and bike/ped path on a decommissioned BNSF rail line;
  • Potential for an art school, live-work lofts or more activated public use in the Nisqually Power Station (now owned by Tacoma’s most famous glass artist Chihuly); 
  • A new arts complex for a variety of performance managed by the School of the Arts just up the street;
  • Reintroducing the original brick on Holgate Avenue to slow traffic and take back the public realm as a shared space.

These ideas are not brought from the outside, but from those who have lived and worked in Tacoma. To succeed, it will need to be a grassroots driven process, building off these lifetimes of investment and local talent. The Brewery District is already in proximity to some of Tacoma’s best assets, close to the campus, the waterfront, to LRT transit. Its remaining Brick Breweries are aching for a reinvention. I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

This is an early peek at some of the ideas the VIA team produced as part of our exploration:

by Stephanie Doerksen, VIA Architecture Vancouver Office

At the beginning of 2010, two American cities made notable changes to their transit systems. Baltimore implemented the first of three entirely free bus routes called the Charm City Circulator, while Portland began charging bus fares in its well-known “Fareless Square” downtown.

Those looking for trends in the transit world will certainly be confounded by these opposing moves. What do they indicate about the viability of free public transportation for inner cities?

A large area of downtown Portland, commonly known as “Fareless Square” has been a free transit zone since 1975. It was initially implemented to combat air pollution and a lack of parking in the downtown core. Although the square has succeeded in attracting greater transit use, it has also been faulted for encouraging crime and annoyance on buses. This type of free transit zone also makes it slightly more difficult to collect fares when patrons board buses in the free zone and then continue travelling outside the zone.

Trimet (Portland’s regional traffic agency) reasons that 34 years ago when the square was implemented, bus service was the predominant form of public transit. With the recent expansion of the MAX light rail system, in conjunction with the streetcar, Trimet claims that 95% of trips within the square can be accommodated on these systems, which remain free within the zone (now referred to as the “Free Rail Zone”). They have also cited increased revenue from bus fares as an incentive for the move.

While Portland is trying to capitalize on fares in order to expand service, Baltimore has implemented a tax on parking. The 16% parking tax, expected to generate about 5 million annually, will be used to fund The Charm City Circulator, a series of 3 free cross-town bus routes. The city is hoping that free transportation linking downtown and key sites around the city will provide some economic benefit by encouraging shopping and patronage of the city centre and entertainment districts. Not only will these lines be free, but they have dedicated lanes through congested areas of Baltimore, ensuring that service will be efficient and the planned 10 minute headways can be provided.

So what can we learn from these examples about the relative merits and drawbacks of free transit lines or zones for inner cities?

Firstly, increased transit ridership equals economic benefits. Or at least, the City of Baltimore is sufficiently convinced of this to implement a comprehensive and well-thought-out transit strategy, including a new tax to fund it.

Secondly, the fare (or lack thereof) is not the whole picture when it comes to encouraging transit use. True, paying a fare can be a psychological barrier, even if the fare is very affordable. I know I’ve opted to drive and put my $2 in a parking meter rather than use the same $2 for the bus. However, convenience and efficiency are real attractors to a mode of transportation and in order for a free transit area to be useful it also has to provide good service. As an aside I should add that this assertion is borne out by my experience of living in Calgary for 4 years, during which time I never once used the free light rail that traverses downtown (it was generally faster to walk!).

The structure of the free transit system is also important, in order to reduce some of the potential drawbacks, such as difficulty in collection fares when travelling outside the zone. Baltimore avoided this problem by making the entire Circulator route free. This can be accomplished on a smaller scale by using a dedicated downtown bus or streetcar. When integrating with systems that use an honour system (generally combined with ticket checkers) like Vancouver’s Skytrain, the fare collection issue isn’t a problem.

Lastly, despite the fact that adding a free transit zone or line may increase ridership, it’s not going to pay for itself. Cities considering this option would be wise to look to the indirect benefits of free transit service –increased urban vitality, greater social equity, economic stimulus, decreased pollution and vehicle congestion- and then find a supplementary way to fund it.

Image Credits:  Portland Streetcar, GoByStreetcar, SaveFarelessSquare, Portland Bus, Baltimore1, Baltimore2

Monday News Roundup

Mar 22, 2010

Every Monday, we post links to articles and blogs that you may have missed from last week. Enjoy!

World’s High-Speed Train Makers Set Sights on U.S. (NY Times)
“Central Japan Railway and China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock are competing for the $8 billion that President Barack Obama has granted for 13 high-speed corridors across the United States, including a line between Tampa and Orlando in Florida that may include a station at the Walt Disney resort near Orlando.”

Letter from Baltimore: The Humanitarian-Design Debate (Metropolis Mag)
“Nothing—not even well-intentioned design—is above reproach. The confluence of organizations and individuals working to bring design practice to those who might not normally get it seems to have hit a critical mass, and with it comes the inevitable backlash.”

White House Releases Climate Change Adaptation Report (NRDC)
President Obama’s Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force releases Climate Change Adaptation Interim Report.

Climate Change Problems hit Native Americans (Carbon Based Climate Change Adaptation)
Studies show that mountain snowpack in Montana is melting an average of three weeks earlier in the spring, threatening native fish and putting pressure on agricultural use of water. On the Flathead reservation hydropower and electricity generation is threatened by low water levels, potentially hurting business.

We Will Take Transit if it Meets our Needs (NRDC)
Discusses the use of transit from the perspective of availability and cost rather than a subjective opinion that touts environmental contentiousness.

Midwest gets a jump on high-speed rail (Christian Science Monitor)
“Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, center, announced on Jan. 29, 2010, in Chicago’s Union Station that Illinois will receive more than $1 billion of stimulus money for the development of high-speed rail in the state. In preparation, Union Station itself will be renovated.”

Africans ‘take blame for climate change’ (BBC News)
“Many Africans blame themselves for climate change even though fossil fuel emissions there are less than 4% of the global total, a new survey suggests.”

Best of Inhabitat: 6 Super-Cool Floating Homes and Habitats (Inhabitat)
“While we’re working on actually mitigating global warming, architects, designers and visionaries are one step ahead, imagining homes, buildings and entire cities situated above or even beneath the surface of the world’s oceans. Check out our favorites that we’ve seen ‘floating’ around.”

The Non-Legacy of the 2010 Expo (Next American City)
“Ever since Prince Albert invited the world to London’s Hyde Park in 1851 and dazzled them with the Crystal Palace, grand expositions have been seen as one of the premiere forums for daring, inventive architecture. The temporary nature of these events and the spirit of (ostensibly) friendly competition that fuels them creates an environment in which architects are encouraged to experiment. In more recent decades, expos have, at least in the United States, taken a back seat to Olympic ceremonies when it comes to international competition; and, like expos, these events are seen as plum opportunities to show off daring, high-profile designs.”

In honor of our 100th post (!), we asked our staff to submit things that VIA has done or accomplished in the last 25 years. Out of a list of 100 entries (because you probably wouldn’t stick around long enough to read all 100), here are our top 10:

1  We designed one private residence that required higher levels of security than our work for the US Department of Homeland Security

2  VIA is the first Architectural firm known to incorporate the now popular “Dress as your favorite Revit Command Day” into its annual holiday schedule

3  Alan Hart (founding principal) is really a Blackberry in a man’s body

4  Translink, in an effort to show their appreciation for all VIA does for them, has both routes of the ever popular #17 bus say our name every time the doors open! “UBC. VIA. Downtown.” “Oak. VIA. Downtown.”

10  We like to go to the end and come back

5  Everyone at our firm knows that inside every car is at least one pedestrian

6  Amongst our staff, we have an artist, a jazz musician, a few photographers, a boat enthusiast, a farmer, parents, a hip hop artist, a few flâneurs, a mushroom forager, a poet, bloggers, the wife of an olympian (archery), a choralist, community activists, a wine maker, runners, bicyclists, sailors, and some things that just can’t be written

7  Is it “vee-yah” or is it “vye-uh”

8  Our firm has so many competitions between the offices throughout the year, we compromise for our annual summer picnic by meeting at Peace Arch Park (right at the border) — no border traffic, and no risk of deportation

9  We now have sweatshirts, t-shirts, sweatpants, coffee cups, water bottles, umbrellas, backpacks, blankets, laptop bags, hats, vests, jackets, and pencils, all with our “blue V” logo. A few of our staff have been around long enough to be completely decked out in VIA apparel