we need a stair update?

I was talking to Dino the other day trying to figure out exactly when we started the construction phase of Project 851; It would have been too easy, or made too much sense, to actually look back on the blog I’ve been writing to figure it out (lol). At any rate, I was pretty sure we started work in May 2017 but Dino pointed out that it was actually earlier and we are at that two year point now. WOW! It came as a surprise since life seems to present itself in moments and only when you reflect do you, or at least its the case for me, connect the dots to the bigger picture: I’ve been trapped in moment to moment land for quite sometime. So here we are 2 years into what I originally thought was my swan song project heading into early retirement!! haha we’ll see when all is said in done if it’s more like Dua Lipa’s version…

This weeks bigger picture is going to reflect on the moments for the stairs going into the BIG PINK HOUSE. Fingers crossed it won’t take two more years to get them finished. When they’ll be done it will truly be a work of art.

First your start with a ladder, until working stairs arrive and then you need to talk to the experts who can take it from paper to reality.

Experts, experts…. ??? How do they get in the door and to the top floor? ??? more experts, experts…Okay let’s just take out the top floor stairs all together… Oh my, there’s a lot of prep going down to make this happen.

It gets serious when the work horses they bring in are heavier than your car… The Templates are transformed into the actual steel pieces of staircase and side structures… Owwww and the hoisting gear… (“by the way Mira did we mention this was going to look industrial?”)

Above are details, taking pause before the drum roll and the stairs getting installed… (and drum roll please)

WOW, right? From coming in the door to gracefully placed in their perfect spot — it was an industrial dance!

These last 4 are just ‘cause I can, and I love them, and they allude to things to come (hopefully not in 2 years) — fingers crossed it will be 2 weeks..

Swan song — swan dive …

PEOPLE... (it takes a village to make change) continued...

March 7th 2019 we made history, at least it felt like that to me. Here’s what happened. Members of the neighbourhood met with 6-7, maybe 8, city staff from the engineering department and “WE” working together actually had a “real and productive” community engagement session. I’ve attended many, many, many city meeting and this is the first one where I felt we accomplished something on both sides. Quelle Surprise!!! Bravo to the city staff and bravo to the people in this community.

The meeting opened with the city apologizing for their disregard in consultation for the street lamps paid for by the community that were removed. It wasn’t that direct but I like to put it into that framework and acknowledge it was a great start on the side of the city. The people present gave thoughtful feedback on solutions to the present debacle. . Discussion ensued as a large group and then we broke out into 3 tables working together to focus on solutions.

Upon conclusion of the meeting we requested all notes to be sent to us and Claudo, our champion, will pass things along to the community. We are so fortunate to have such great people in our neighbourhood and a score of champions not afraid to respectfully take things on; now that’s what I call a community!

Here’s what we accomplished? I walked away hearing that the community wants the respect deserved to this neighbourhood and to return the lights that were paid for by this community. We understand the lighting requirements by the city and ask for those old lights to be put in the linear park at Union and Hawks, replacing the present hideous (my words) ones there. As we are a historic community we have requested to have a consistent lighting theme throughout our neighbourhood (Gore to the tracks and Prior to Hastings). To this point we would like the community to be consulted on the choice to those lights and we would like the poles to be black. Lastly, to the Union St issue we will be getting arms on those new hwy. lights that reflect the history of the neighbourhood (similar to the ones they’ve put on the west side of the city for their bike lanes) ; note: these lights referencing the past will have globes and they will be frosted glass, similar to what is on Atlantic. Oh and I happened by Commercial Dr. recently and must say those lights would be great on Union St.

It was great to share this exchange with the city staff and have them understand our position as well as tell us the parameters in which they are required to operate so we could come up with realistic solutions. In the past 2 or 3 people would have likely been the ones coming to this solution and now it takes 30- 40 to get involved. Perhaps it’s for the best, as since that meeting I learnt from a local historian that the original street lamps in this neighbourhood, the beautiful ones in the last post, were actually removed from our hood and placed in streets on the west side of the city. Yes, perhaps it’s better that these solutions are not in the hands of 2 or 3 people who lack understanding and/or integrity.

I took a wee look back as some of the overwhelming amount of photos taken with the focus of light and came up with a few to share: old and new, as well as moments of light.

Old… 2 year ongoing pole mess in the back; kitchen with paper lantern light; pink bedroom light main floor; basement or horror.

New…Garden suite kitchen; Garden suite living room pot lights; Garden suite special spot; Upstairs Sasamat lighting to come that is a reference to the Octopus out back (3 hearts and 8 arms/legs)

Just couldn’t resist the moments — light play.

COMMUNITY...It takes a village to help me stay sane

Sanity, hmmm such an interesting word, why do we strive to maintain it? Perhaps we should just roll with the ridiculous and toss cautious sanity to the wind.

Here’s a little Earth, Wind and Fire to help us see the LIGHT (hahaha) as LIGHT is the topic of this post’s community activity.

Yes, you read it correctly, we’re talking Light and street lamps. Claudio, one of our community members, has been all over this issue since the city came and put highway lights down Union street and took away our character/heritage street lamps that we paid for years ago. For so many of us that are stressed from our lives and choices these kinds of things can be dropped and just slip through, but thankfully not in this “hood” as we take care of each other.

So here’s the history on the lights in the hood, so brilliantly documented by Claudio and Angus McIntyre a local photographer. Here’s some of those images from the 70’s when, believe it or not, the neighbourhood was dealing with the same issue…(take a look at the last Community post think there may be a theme happening here?) Could we be ignoring the “locals”, dismissing those who know and understand the history of a place; a community?

Angus writes Claudio: "I was pleased to see my letter of so long ago appear in your email. It just goes to show that as time has passed the City of Vancouver, and its Engineering Department, show the same disregard for Strathcona as they did 45 years ago. 

I photographed the removal of those original light standards, as well as the streetcar tracks and wood block streets. The modern replacements, which I objected to, I likened to flying saucers. But to think that existing replica post top lights in the 800 block Union, pedestrian and bicycle friendly, could not be left in place shows a complete lack of understanding of the neighbourhood.” 

"What really upset me most back in 1973 was the fact that the original light fixtures on East Georgia, formerly Harris Street, had unique box-type bases not found on the other streets. The post top light globes were not original, but had cluster lights on top of the posts similar to those in Gastown.

Another major change you will notice in the early photographs is the lack of street trees."

East Georgia (Harris) looking west from Hawks.

East Georgia (Harris) looking west from Hawks.

641 East Georgia Street. Removed streetcar rails on sidewalk.

641 East Georgia Street. Removed streetcar rails on sidewalk.

Georgia Street looking west from Campbell Avenue. Incandesent post top streetlights by night.

Georgia Street looking west from Campbell Avenue. Incandesent post top streetlights by night.

But take a look at Atlantic Street in Strathcona, and you will find newer post top lamps similar to the ones removed long ago, although they have a sodium vapour light source.

But take a look at Atlantic Street in Strathcona, and you will find newer post top lamps similar to the ones removed long ago, although they have a sodium vapour light source.

Looking east on Georgia. (With regular painting, these cast iron bases could still be in use today.)

Looking east on Georgia. (With regular painting, these cast iron bases could still be in use today.)

img891 2.jpeg
August 13th, 1973 Vancouver Sun

August 13th, 1973 Vancouver Sun

Who would have guessed there was so much to know about street lamps right? Probably, James Mason the original owner and machinist foundry dude. It is and it isn’t about the street lamps in the end it’s really about being respectful and listening to each other. It’s about slowing the world down and not throw out the baby with the bathwater. It’s about doing it right not 2 or 3 or 7 times or taking 45 years …

Looking forward to see how this one unfolds and meeting up with my neighbours, yet again, this week.

Strathcona Community Centre at 5:30 pm on Thursday March 7th in the Activity Room (aka the SRA room)

(I’m extending the invitation to all — let’s shake it up and have some fun)

PROGRESS...take yourself back

If progress means (noun) forward or onward movement toward a destination and/or (verb) move forward or onward in space or time, then it kind of begs the question, where were you before you achieved progress? When it comes to Project 851, let’s look at the verb before the noun; time was 2014 so coming up 5 years ago before owning this space is part of that answer. Hmmm, as to the noun destination unknown or Haunted House to destination Pink House and Octopus. In this neighbourhood is it possible to progress without recognizing the past, Strathcona has that respectful balance in it’s movement forward. So take a tour of the hood and see what I mean.


Part of the baseline for this Project’s progress was getting the history of the house done — hmmm, look up ya that’s the guy who did it; the one doing the tour of the hood. James gave me a booklet of all the people who had lived here from 1898 on and that’s were progress got integrated into the Project. Taking the old shingle house and moving it forward to a Pink Palace, or just the BIG Pink House; I’m hoping it will progress further and many a Pink Party will be held here.

These images above show the progress of the contemporary. The Pink paint and choices of how it was applied takes the old tradition and gives it a contemporary kick in the window by keeping the color choice monochrome. Victorian and Edwardian houses in the past typically painted the trim and window frames different colors to the rest of the house — walk the hood and notice much of that tradition has been upheld. The mechanical room, or engine room as I call it is another kick in the pants for progress. The entire compound old(Pink house) and contemporary (Octopus) is run from one engine room!! Can we say EFFICIENCY!!!

Awwwweee and for extra fun let’s just toss in another treasure on the road of progress!! Koko!! How can you not love that face? Definitely opening my world even more, moving forward with a lot of dog walking (smile).