The Duke of Data at Simon Fraser University’s City Program Andy Yan suggested it first: if you have Christmas lights up on your condo railing or your abode, why not keep them up longer this year to get through the dark, dull, rainy part of each Metro Vancouver winter. No one will judge you, especially this year.

This idea of bringing in more light in the darkest part of winter is feasible too with the energy efficient outdoor lighting now widely used. And the idea of keeping Christmas lights up (or jazzing them up with colours that are not so directly Christmas festive) has been adopted elsewhere.

The City of Kitchener Ontario’s mayor Berry Vrbanovic is encouraging people to keep their Christmas lights up through January stating: “Seeing our neighbourhoods lit up with lights and decorations has been a wonderful way to feel connected as a community – I love the idea of stretching that festive atmosphere into the new year as we continue to get outside for safe neighbourhood walks and physical activity.”

And in Salem Virginia, residents are urged to keep Christmas lights up to honour the front line healthcare workers through January. This is part of a national campaign urging municipalities and organizations across the United States to keep Christmas lights up until January 31, and to spread the word on social media with the hashtag ##LightsUp4Heroes. In Colorado,the initiative is being embraced state wide.

There is also a historical precedent~in Great Britain, the feasting, decorations, Christmas cakes and puddings used to continue for a much longer period than what we typically do today, in tucking everything away by early January.

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A quote I don’t remember from “Death and Life of Great American Cities,” but, thanks to Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times, one worth repeating:

“Cities were once the most helpless and devastated victims of disease, but they became great disease conquerors …

“All the apparatus of surgery, hygiene, microbiology, chemistry, telecommunications, public health measures, teaching and research hospitals, ambulances and the like, which people not only in cities but also outside them depend upon for the unending war against premature mortality, are fundamentally products of big cities and would be inconceivable without big cities.”

 

For those who believe populous cities of massive density are, um, toast because of their pandemic vulnerability, one word:

 

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If you have not been on a walking tour or an event and met Vancouver historian John Atkin, now is your chance to hear him moderate a fascinating panel on the impact and outcomes of the 1918 Spanish Flu and the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic.

The 1918-19 influenza outbreak and our current CoViD-19 pandemic have many parallels in government action, public reaction, and a concern for the economy.

Join our panelists Dr Margaret Andrews, Professor of History at Washington State University  and  Simon Fraser University’s Duke of Data Andy Yan for an enlightening discussion on pandemics then and now.

Funds raised for the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives, whose contributions support the work of the City of Vancouver Archives, including making materials from its holdings available online.

This event is sure to be oversubscribed so get your reservation in. The suggested cost is $15.00 CAD plus tax, and if you wish to provide a donation over $25.00, you will get a tax receipt.

Date: Thursday December 3, 2020

Time: 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

You can reserve your space by clicking on this link.

Image: VIA

 

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You have seen it in Vancouver~long lines of vehicles  in the drive-in lanes at McDonald’s in Kerrisdale when there’s no one inside the quick serve restaurant. You may have wondered why there were so many people  idling in a queue, and just assumed it was an anomaly. But apparently it is not, and as News 1130’s Monica Gul reports Dr. Sylvain Charlebois who is the director of Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University is studying this phenomena. Dr. Charlebois has called it “the fake commute”.

It does make sense in that Tim Hortons and McDonalds have been reporting a doubling or tripling of business at some drive-in locations, and the locations that expected a 30 percent drop in revenue quickly gained ground. Sadly the drive-in quick service chains have been able to adapt well to the pandemic and will emerge with healthy profit margins unlike the independent retailers and restaurants that are not set up for quick serve window accessed meals.

There is a psychological reason that people are leaving home to pick up a coffee whether by foot, bike or vehicle. As Dr. Charlebois notes, people don’t just get up in the morning and sit to work at the home office station, and leaving to get coffee elsewhere creates a regularity and a “commute” to the home office.

Which means that even though people aren’t necessarily going to work, physically, or going to some place, people are still basically driving around or busing around to get their morning fix…A lot of people are struggling to physically distance themselves from their work.

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Cruise ships have a life of thirty years before they need to be revamped.

But in Liaga Turkey which is just north of Izmir on the Turkish coast there has been a surprising increase in cruise ships being beached here to be wrecked.  One of the cruise ships being scrapped is the former Sovereign of the Seas, the first mega cruise ship launched in 1988 with 2,278 passengers.

Other ships being wrecked include the MS Monarch, Carnival Fantasy and the Carnival Inspiration.

In March 2020 American authorities issued a no-sail order for all cruise ships that remains in place.”  Cruise ships were one of the first places that the Covid pandemic appeared.

Where  previously the wrecking yards at Aliaga focused upon freighter ships, cruise ships have become a major part of the dismantling operation. It takes 2,500 workers six months to take apart a passenger ship, with ship’s furnishing recycled to hotel operators.

The volume of dismantled steel has almost doubled to 1.2 million tons since January.

The cruise industry generates about 200 billion dollars in global economic activity and provides one million jobs.

This YouTube video below by Chris Frame describes the scrapping process and how some of the items from ships, including full panelled dining rooms are reused ashore.

Image:Reuters

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The Pandemic & Climate Change
Can COVID-19 get us to respond to the climate crisis?

City Conversations continues in a live online format while we continue physically distancing!

The international response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that humans can react quickly when their health is threatened. Another great threat to humanity–and to the planet–is climate change. But unlike COVID-19’s immediate threat, most people and governments have been unwilling to take action against a threat whose current impacts may be less apparent. So, is it time to rethink and reframe climate change as a threat to public health?

At this online event, we’ll hear from urbanist and former Vancouver City Councillor Gord Price and economist/entrepreneur Michael Brown, who both contributed to the 1990 report Clouds of Change, one of the earliest civic studies of global warming. Representing a newer generation of climate activists, we’ll also hear from Adriana Laurent-Seibt of UBC Climate Hub and Rebecca Hamilton of Sustainabiliteens.

This event will be hosted online. After you register, you will receive instructions for logging into the online event via email.

 

Wednesday, June 17

12:00 PM

Hosted online.
Free event | Registration required

 

 

 

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Sullivan, a columnist with New York magazine (and an early blogger – one of the best before it became too great a burden), provides some helpful perspective for our time by comparing it to year of the London plague (one year before the Great Fire):

Historians now rank the 1665 plague as the worst of that century (though much less severe than the Black Death of 1348). By September, as it peaked, there were 7,000 deaths a week. In COVID-19, the fatality rate is around one percent. In London in 1665, in a matter of seven months, around a quarter of the population perished. The number is vague because so many records were destroyed by the Great Fire of London, which broke out a year later. But it’s still staggering. A rough equivalent today would be 4 million deaths in the New York City metro area this year alone — with no real medical care, and people dropping dead on the streets.

Now imagine that after the deaths of those 4 million, much of Manhattan were to be burned to the ground by a massive and uncontrollable fire. That’s what Londoners had to handle in just two years: a pandemic of far greater scope than ours, and a conflagration that amounted to 9/11 several times over. And it was not the end of the world.

In fact, in just a couple of years, the population of the city had rebounded. The massive fire had killed much of the rodent population that had been spreading the fleas behind the plague. London was rebuilt, stone replaced wood, and Christopher Wren was brought in to design and replace the old Saint Paul’s Cathedral and over a dozen other landmarks of the city to this day.

What must have felt like an apocalypse of plague and fire became, with astonishing speed, a new city, forged anew by communal trauma, and soon to be the most powerful capital in the world. And somehow, Pepys lived through all of it, face-to-face with death, and never stopped living, maintaining a stoic cheerfulness and humor throughout. And today, in the richest country on Earth, with medical technology beyond Pepys’s wildest imagination, and a plague killing a tiny fraction of the population, some are wielding weapons in public to protest being asked to stay at home for a few more weeks and keep a social distance. Please. Get a grip.

Full column here.

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Richard Florida’s observation, in M GEN: “The Harsh Future of American Cities”:

Much of our current aversion to crowds will dissipate with time.

… after the 1918–1919 flu pandemic, it took five or six years until people got comfortable taking trains again but that ultimately they did. “There was short-term adaptation and then no long-term change,” Florida said.

This American Experience episode on the 1918 Influenza pandemic takes that observation about trains to its global conclusion: humanity pretty much forgot about the pandemic altogether.  At least it dropped from the storyline of our 20th-century experience, very much secondary to wars, depressions and social changes.  We know dates like 1914, 1929, 1939, 1967 …  but 1918 not so much.

So which kind of date will 2020 be?

 

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