In 1976 while governments were meeting in the centre of Vancouver NGOs gathered at an air force base at Jericho Beach, close to the UBC Campus. They came with chain saws and gathered driftwood off the beaches. They built a conference venue and friendships were forged through building. At WUF3 Ian Athfield was spoken of with affection as a builder rather than as an architect. The Aussies and the Kiwis were remembered for their good humour and their ability to get things done. They never stopped to ask what needed to be done. They knew. They simply got on with the job.
New Zealand was also remembered for its politicians. Dove Myer Robinson was there. Diminutive Robbie stood up before a thousand people and began "I am the Mayor of the largest Polynesian city in the world..." No one knew who he was, and there was a dramatic pause as everyone from Ghana to Guatemala wondered where on earth he was talking about. "Auckland" said Robbie proudly. The whole hall erupted into applause. In one sentence Robbie had given a voice to those who felt they had no voice. Here was a Mayor who was proud of the indigenous people of his city.
New Zealand was to maintain the same high profile at Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996. Bob Harvey, Mayor of Waitakere City, stood up in the Mayoral Forum and began "I am the Mayor of the first city in the world to declare itself to be nuclear free...." His voice became lost in the roar of applause as the whole hall rose to their feet. Here was a fearless champion of principles rather than political compromise.
Habitat I changed the nature of global politics. Until then governments had met only with governments and NGOs had been excluded. As first the speakers and then many politicians moved down to Jericho Beach all that changed. It was a New Zealander who suggested that the Forum and the Governments should share the same ground in Istanbul at Habitat II, and also that the area should be pedestrianised. Megan Howell and Mark Tollemache were instrumental in having the first NGO document accepted as an official Committee One United Nations document. In twenty years everything had changed.
It was all to change again. In Istanbul the University of Auckland had led the world as one of only three accredited universities and the one with by far the largest and most effective contingent. By 2006 the leaders of the University of Auckland had lost the plot and it was unrepresented. An obsession with PBRF had reduced the Univerity to ineffectiveness. In Istanbul New Zealand architects were everywhere. By 2006 they stayed home to chalk up CPD points for being competent. Even New Zealand's mayors stayed home because they were so busy raising the rates to pay for not going. In ten years a great deal had gone wrong.
The Vancouver World Urban Forum was a time for remembering. It seemed that New Zealanders needed to be reminded that they had forgotten their whakapapa. How had it happened? It seemed that a nation's obsession with evaluation had become a substitute for action. Those who once did something had been reduced to filling in forms. WUF3 was a moment to pause and think. Aotearoa was not the nation it once was.
What then was it like to be there?
At 8.30am on Monday morning, 12 June 2006, my computer flickered and died. I was not alone. The power supply for the whole of Auckland City had failed, and the blackout was to last all day. One rusty shackle proved just how vulnerable a modern city is. For some reason the telephone network also failed, perhaps lest we should forget the nature of progressive failure. To cap the day off when the power finally did come on in the evening my printer failed and could not be revived. It was not a good day to think about celebrating the wonders of modern technology by flying around the world.
By Wednesday 14 June however life was running smoothly again. Dick had organised accommodation at UBC. It was becoming clear that many friends were heading for Vancouver from all over the world, for peripheral events such as the UIA Council, as well as for WUF3 itself. John Walsh had given me a letter of Press Accreditation and after e-mailing three of my articles to UN Habitat in Nairobi my accreditation had been approved.
With a single trip to the city I was able to get an International Driving License, have "Global Roaming" entered onto the SIM card of my cell phone, and buy a ticket at Flight Centre. In less than 24 hours I would be on my way.
Travelling is simply not what it used to be. In 1963 when I left Vancouver it took me more than two years to get back to Aotearoa. At that time I had flown the Atlantic by prop, with jets just being introduced. For thousands of miles I had pedalled my bicycle, and covered much more than that by foot. Planes are amazingly convenient but sadly they have taken away the experience of the journey.
Thursday 15 June
Karaka Bay - Vancouver
Packing is so much easier when you are heading into summer, and I wanted to have nothing more than carry-on baggage. Air NZ flight NZ008 to San Francisco departed at 7.15pm. The new 777 was fantastic. A great selection of movies available on your personalised screen. Watched all of "No 2" and "King Kong". Good meals, good service.
An announcement was made that US Federal Regulations forbad any meetings on the plane, and any gathering of more than three people was deemed to be a meeting. A queue for the toilets would be deemed to be a meeting if more than three people were in the queue. No one explained what might happen to the fourth person. Guantanamo Bay one had to asume.
Clear blue sky and great views as we came in over San Francisco, around 12.30. Hassle free entry to my surprise. There was no transit system. I walked from the International Terminal around to Terminal 1 to find that Air Canada were very happy to wait list me for the early flight I wanted. Changed my watch from 8.30am to 1.30pm.
Took BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in to Powell, the middle of town. Wonderful. It seemed as though I had stepped out of King Kong to find that not so much had changed. A long walk. Constant hassling by people wanting a dime. I was glad to have little luggage as I needed to carry it all with me. I was back at the airport by 5.20pm. and after a shoeless security check found myself in the last seat to Vancouver.
Incredible views as we flew over Oregan. Much more snow than I expected. Straight through customs as Vancouver airport was deserted.
At Gage Towers reception they had no record of me, and it took some time to sort it all out. With my swipe card I finally headed for S 14 B 5. The South block of Gage Towers, Level 14, Suite B, Room 5. My home for the next week was just great and had fantastic views across the Campus to Vancouver Island in the distance.
A great welcome from Sandra Hernandez Colon, who was the only other person to have arrived in our suite. We had never met but knew each other through the wonderful job she has been doing in New York, working with Jim Morgan to convene the Human Settlements Caucus. While others talk and wish they could get ECOSOC accreditation to the United Nations the two of them have earned the respect of United Nations for Arc-Peace as an organisation which is very useful to have around. They actually do something. We talked for several hours.
Friday 16 June
After nine hours sleep I woke up at 9am local time. It was really helpful having no jet lag problems. A day in the sun is better than any other remedy.
Sandra had already sorted out the local area so we went together over to the student union to get some breakfast/lunch and check out the free internet access. Then we took a No 17 trolleybus in to the city. By mistake we discovered the 'Architecture Centre', which was later to prove useful. You do not expect to find it in the middle of the East Hastings drug scene, but then again architecture can be a drug.
Registration for WUF3 at Canada Place was quick and efficient. The only problem was that media kits were not yet ready and they did not want to issue a programme without the kit. This made it impossible to prepare, as I had intended.
The first person I met at the registration desk was Zena Daysh. A New Zealander, she was one of the committee of seven who organised the NGO gathering at Habitat 1 in 1976. Her fire seems to be burning more brightly than ever, although she is now 92. It was Zena who organised the CHEC conference during CHOGM in Auckland and invited me to be one of the keynote speakers.
The CHEC website is at www.chec-hq.org
For a brief biography of Zena refer to www.chec-hq.org/index.php?id=423
Sandra went off to do other things and I walked around the waterfront to the Bayshore Westin. Perfect timing. I walked straight into the reception for the conference dinner for the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. In the midst of the splendour it seemed quaint to suddenly have many people asking after Piglet.
Met Louise Cox, who had already attended the AIA Conference before the RAIC Conference. She was heading back to Australia after the UIA Council Meeting. Met Kazuo Iwamura who raced off to fetch the book he had brought from Japan for me. He had concluded that Jean Claude had treated New Zealand badly about the Sustainability Work Programme and we all agreed that we needed to work out a new structure.
Met Gaetan Siew for the first time since he had been elected President of the UIA in Istanbul so I was able to congratulate him. We had first met when he worked with me on the Gallipoli Peace Park Competition. He invited me to a UIA Press Briefing tomorrow morning over breakfast at the Westin. I was also invited to the UIA Council Meeting.
Met David Parker President of the RAIA, whom I knew from the time we shared a Fellows Breakfast at an Auckland conference. Met Bob Nation who had spoken in Christchurch a few weeks previously and really impressed Don McRae. He was delighted to know that we were keen to have him back. There were also many other UIA friends. Lost somewhere in the crowd was Shigeru Ban, who had designed the paper house, the Japanese Paper Building at the Hannover Expo, and many other fascinating explorations into the world of sustainability. Patricia and John Patkau must have been there but I could not find them.
Browsed through an excellent display of Ballenford books on architecture. The RAIC Festival of Architecture had been on from 14-17 June so this was almost the conclusion. Gathered up information on 'Super Saturday', but I was too busy to be able to participate.
Walked back around the waterfront to catch a 17 UBC trolleybus back to the Gage Towers and my wonderful room.
Saturday 17 June
My watch alarm woke me at 7am. Without it I would never have woken up. A cup of coffee to get me going. Yasmine Carlson had arrived from Sweden. She decided to come with me so we set off together on the 17 UBC trolleybus. Off at Pender and then walked down Hastings to the Westin. 8.15am for my 8am UIA Press Conference. Not bad. The Editor of "Canadian Architect" was already being briefed by Gaetan. All interesting stuff but not newsworthy.
The second Celebration of Cities competition jury met in Vancouver, and the judging was complete. Results would be announced at the Venice Architecture Biennale, and the winners will be on display. But who cares? The UIA meets Prime Ministers. Well so do I. Three times in the last two weeks. There is now Moscow heritage protection. At least until the first capitalist comes riding over the horizon, I thought to myself. Louise advocated community control of architecture. Martin Drahosky talked about the meeting in Georgia. It was a great discussion and really interesting, but in every architectural magazine there is hot competition for space, and none of this could compete with glossy pictures.
To stir things along I suggested that the UIA could give moral support in local issues where local architects could not, for political and economic reasons, get involved. Twenty years ago Coal Harbour was a place of life and vitality. You could buy a fish or talk to really interesting people. Now it has been privatised. The design is fine but it sanitises the city. The only boats now are those for sale at a price which no ordinary person could afford. The people have gone. Where the plan permitted 2 storey development 31 stories are being built. The city has been divorced from the water. The diversity and complexity which underpins sustainability has been lost. Yet the development is on display for an award by the RICA. Who is to speak out for the city?
Silence. Over on the north side of the inlet the forests on the hillside are being replaced by housing. The Immediate Visual Juxtaposition is being lost. Who will speak out for the really big issues?
Silence. Yet I can sympathise. No one in Auckland remembers that the site of the Skytower was compulsorily acquired for a transport hub. The community workers in the old schoolhouse were dispossessed. Then with a little smooth corruption the transport hub evaporated and it became a casino. The ground has blood on it, but who will speak? The UIA shouted me breakfast and I headed off back to UBC.
Meanwhile 'Super Saturday' was in full swing. There were numerous 'On site' events such as a Sustainability by Design Charette, a workshop and tour on Heritage and Rehabilitation, an Eco-effective workshop with experts helping people to improve their designs, a Roundtable with experts from all over the world looking at what cities might be like in a hundred years, a presentation on how satellite technology is making it possible to understand relationships between land, oceans and atmosphere, if only we had the political will to do something about it, a Roundtable on the San Diego Council of Design Professionals, a Roundtable on Public Participation in an era of Smart Growth, a presentation on Healthy Communities by Design, and other events on Environmental Policy, Working in Multi-Disciplinary Teams, Re-thinking the Shop-House, Canadian Urban Design and First Nations.
There were also numerous 'Off site' events, such as a tours of UBC by bicycle, green buildings, green roofs and grey water, Regional Greenway systems, local protected agricultural areas, community gardens, public art, heritage, Green streets, the water's edge, Granville Island, and even a four hour tour of 'Arthur Erickson: Modernism in the City' with guides of the calibre of Phyllis Lambert, Director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. A Film Festival ran continuously for the afternoon. The day concluded with workshop results on display, a keynote speech by the Minister, and there was music and dancing on into the night.
Vancouver takes green design seriously and really does get the community involved. 'Super Saturday' was very impressive for its breadth and quality. In Auckland it would have been sucked into the vortex of political infighting.
I arrived back at Level 14 of the Gage Towers at 11am to find the Arc-Peace Executive Meeting scheduled for 10am to 6pm was only just getting underway. I was the only founding member there, so it felt as though I had been around a long time.
I needed to support the work being done by Sandra at United Nations. Sweden is a long way from New York, in every sense, and for Dick the UN culture, or the importance of ECOSOC accreditation, is understandably rather remote.
In the UN no document has a name on the bottom. In academia everything has a name on it. In the UN ideas are important. In academia promotion and egos are important. If our universities were to leave their cult culture behind they could play an important intellectual role in the world.
For ECOSOC accreditation visibility is important. Sandra, and Jim before her, have since 1994 convened the Human Settlements Caucus. You cannot do that and also spend all your time talking to a Board to make them feel important while they do nothing. I put a vote of thanks to Sandra, which was passed, but it somehow got left out of the minutes.
I then worked hard to sort out the distinction between Arc-Peace and ASF (Architects Without Borders). Arc-Peace is concerned with politics but short on projects, while ASF is concerned with projects without politics. Thus they have different, but complementary approaches to life.
Eric Selis had thirteen projects on the go with ASF in Belgium. We talked of vernacular in Uganda. Traditional buildings were healthier. Thatch was preserved by the smoke from cooking. Vernacular architecture belonged in the climatic conditions. Now we have tropical buildings which require energy. UNESCO. Architects were not involved in tsunami recovery. ASF in Italy have concerned themselves with refugees within Italy.
Boredom is the great architectural problem. Architects themselves are not bored because they are having fun creating their own dreams, but people have been left out of this building dreaming process.
Eric professed not to be interested in UN accreditation, but clearly would have liked it. He left soon after the discussion.
Sandra introduced the concept of "do no harm". I suggested that we should make this our thrust for WUF3. An ethical position which was simple enough to be understood across languages and cultures. Sadly there was not much interest. It would be great for planners. Do no harm to ecology, place, stories. Cities have a life and are living entities, but architects do not notice.
The UIA had adopted a code of ethics. New Zealand architects ran scared at the possibility of being sued.
I put a vote of thanks to all those who had supported Arc-Peace, in their various ways, since Gdansk. The meeting was all over by 5pm.
We met again at 6.30pm in the foyer. Dick was keen to go into the city to get a meal but I convinced him that we ought to try and find something on campus. We did. An excellent Japanese Restaurant where we could have our own room with a single table for the eight of us. With one vegetarian and one who only wanted miso soup we ordered the banquet for six. It was fantastic and I had an enormous meal. Miso, sushi, sashimi, tempura, noodles, oysters in the shell, fish and much much more. We washed it all down with Japanese beer, and someone managed to upend a bottle over me.
Our group was as cosmopolitan as the world itself. A Somali girl who had been living in USA for 16 years. Friends from Peru who had been paid to come by the UN, so they were staying in fancy hotels. We had no common language between us all, so the conversation moved all over the world.
Sunday 18 June
Jaime Royo Olid, from ASF UK, has arrived during the night on some incredibly cheap charter flight from London. Dick walked over from his corner of the UBC world, which I never did find, to work with Jaime on their Network Session presentation.
After a slow start I went over with Sandra looking for food, but everything was closed for Sunday. We ended up instead looking at photographs from her web site of some of her many archaeological trips.
It was only a short walk across Campus to the Archaeological Museum. For today only it was free, with a donation anticipated for the Native Youth Centre. Jerry Adams, Executive Director, was helpful, informative and interesting, but had none of the pride you would find in a Maori in his position. He seemed to belong to a lost generation which still had chips on their shoulders, while the world had moved on and they had let the bus go without them.
This disconnectedness problem was reflected within the Museum. A totem pole had been taken to Sweden many years ago and had lived out its old age in a Swedish Museum. Left in Canada it would have rotted away years ago and been forgotten. Now, as is the fashion, it had been repatriated to the indigenous owners. It lay, as a centrepiece of the Museum, still carefully packed in the box in which it had come from Sweden. The idea was for it to be formally handed over as part of WUF3. The problem was that the locals did not even have a tin shed in which it could be put. It was going to cost millions for a museum which would provide the climatic conditions of its Swedish museum. Stalemate. Nothing happened at WUF3, and I image that 9000 other delegates left Canada without ever seeing the totem.
It was good to renew an old friendship. The Museum is now 30 years old, and it gives form to the confidence which was everywhere in 1976. It seemed to be as fresh as ever and above all it belongs in place in stark contrast to most contemporary architecture which belongs only in international placeless magazines. Arthur understood the post and beam building process of the Haida and took it to a different level. Vernacular is concerned with understanding, not imitation. Traditions live.
The exhibit which I found most interesting was that on building a canoe. A log is hollowed out as though for a dugout. It is then filled with water and hot stones to steam the shape. The timber is then stretched out sideways to treble the width of the canoe. The process was beautifully documented with photographs, and the finished canoe was on display.
The Museum was founded by a New Zealander, Wellington born Harry Hawthorn. He taught at the Whatawhiwhi School in Northland before Peter Buck, the eminent Maori anthropologist, encouraged him to go first to Hawaii University and then Yale. In 1947 he was appointed UBC's first anthropologist. Harry Hawthorn died two months after we were there, in August 2006, aged 95.
We walked back to Gage, discovering that what I thought was a water tank was in fact a concert hall. On then to the WUF3 Reception out on the promenade, courtesy, I think, of the Canadian Government. In glorious sunshine this was a chance to go in search of friends, with a plate of fresly carved meat and delicious salads.
By 8pm with the sun still high the show was winding down. During all of WUF3 the days seemed to end early. Evening festivities were out at the Earth Village.
Monday 19 June
Sorted through paperwork, enjoyed the outlook from my office, and then took a shuttle bus to the Conference Centre. They were now running door to door every fifteen minutes or so.
The WUF3 Opening began at 10am with a token drum and dance nod to indigenous people, but for their part they constantly complained to me that they felt marginalised and left out of the Conference. Four Kenyan teenage sisters were the stars of the show. A song with a message. They had charisma.
The usual necessary political speeches followed. Predictable and rather dull. No challenges. Nothing to object to. There were no Margaret Meads this time around. Saving the world has now become such a respectable middle class affair. The passion has been neutralised.
Eric Fault was MC and welcomed everyone. Charles Kelly stressed both 'sustainability' and 'action' without realising how strange that combination sounded. They just don't go together in an economic view of the world, and no one talked about changing that view. Sam Sullivan, Mayor of Vancouver, spoke of ecological footprints. 70% of journeys in Vancouver are on foot. No one laughed. He did not notice that needing festivals is a sign of failure. Keep the life of the city going and then you do not need anything extra. Every mayor should remember the bread and circuses of Rome. They were only buying time.
Gordon Campbell, Premier of BC, emphasised the WUF3 theme of "Turning ideas into action." He noted that citizen involvement had resulted in public waterfront access, clearly not having noticed that outside the pile drivers were busy taking it away.
Kofi Annan was not there, but a message from him was read. A bad political move I thought when he needs all the friends he can get. The Canadian Government had obviously fronted up with a lot of money, all the other top people had found time to come, and there were 9000 converts willing to help out with UN projects. It was a missed opportunity unless there was some other agenda which was not obvious to me.
Anna Tibajuka, UN-Habitat Executive Director, stressed the role of civil society and called for a minute's silence for Jane Jacobs and Rafic Hariri. Anna raced all over the place for the next five days, constantly popping up in the middle of meetings or press conferences to say a few words and then disappear. Lightning changes of outfit from her extensive wardrobe enhanced the effect.
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, gave a keynote address. Of course it was rosy. Honesty and the politics of the vote do not go together, in spite of all the talk about transparency. How things have changed since Canada was urbanised. The Vice-Presidents of the Philippines and Tanzania moved the discussion back to Asia and Africa, where it is all happening, or not happening, depending on your point of view. Now, almost everywhere we are talking about the "urbanisation of poverty". In rural areas people have a chance of working their own way out of the poverty cycle. They can get on with building. In cities poverty mixes with architectural powerlessness to create an explosive mix.
In the Plenary Session which followed Maria Antonia Trujillo said we did not need to spend any more time defining problems. It sounded like a request for all the academics and planners to go home. Diane Findlay, Chair of WUF3, introduced the agenda and organisation of work. It was adopted by the delegates, which left me wondering about the powerful strategy of getting a different agenda adopted. Probably not enough people understand the political game well enough to pull it off. That would have created some media interest.
Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, stressed the importance of home ownership. It was central to the US economy. He did not seem to understand however how you make things your own. "Ownership" is a big global issue, and the foreshore and seabed debate has left at least some Kiwis ahead of the play. Too far ahead for people for people in Vancouver to even see the issues. It would have been great to have had a Kiwi film like "The Last Resort" with me. Meanwhile back in New Zealand home ownership was declining rapidly. In Auckland home ownership fell by 26% in the year to March 2006. If Jackson was right, and I thought he was, this would lead to an economic downturn. When people are disempowered motivation dies.
Naokazu Takemoto, Japan's Senior Vice-Minister of Finance, noted Japan's relief efforts in Iraq and areas of Asia affected by the 2004 Tsunami. Smangaliso Mkhastshwa, Co-President, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) on the one hand said his organisation represented half the world's population, and on the other hand stressed decentralisation. Rather like the Auckland City Council saying it represents me. God forbid. The problem with local government all over the world is role definition. Auckland City, fortunately, is very different from Auckland City Council. The catch cry of the slum dwellers in Vancouver was "With us, not for us."
Someone suggested that Foundations were at WUF3 looking for projects, but sadly I never met anyone trying to give me money. Economics however were on the WUF3 agenda, in a big way. The economists were working out their sums and concluding that payment payback is Nairobi is 9 months for urban investors in slums. Kibara is actually a better investment than St. Heliers. Marketing is money. People move to cities because of their expectations, not the reality of what they will find.
The actual opening of the exposition was a little hard to find, but the show was all quickly under way. Nothing from New Zealand or Australia or the Pacific, but just about everyone else was selling their wares. Swedish Universities were trying to attract third-world students. Africans were selling trinkets. Japan or Iran stayed aloof and quietly dignified. If you wanted to attract crowds to your stall you simply threw out all the environmental stuff and wheeled in a TV screen to show the World Soccer games being played in Germany.
The afternoon was devoted to multiple Roundtable and Networking sessions. There were the usual suspects. Ministers, Parliamentarians, the Private Sector, Women (men seemed to be totally left out), NGOs, and Researchers.
Some sessions were tempting because of their topics and others because of their speakers. I tended to shop around. I went to a little of the "four pillar model of sustainability" which puts culture alongside economic, environmental and social considerations. It had never occurred to me that sustaining culture was not right at the top of the agenda. Perhaps I needed to be reminded that this is not self-evident to others.
A little of the World Bank session was enough to let me see how within the world there are very different worlds. Often in sessions the questions were wide of the topic with people wanting to push their own barrows without realising that the techniques they were using were totally ineffective.
My real interest was in the Press Briefings. Here the questions coming from well informed reporters went to the heart of the matter. The cut and thrust was quick and incisive, and the players all understood the power of the media.
The Press Room itself was well organised and well equipt. The notice board kept up with breaking news and the staff were very helpful. Being media was very useful in every way. You need a purpose to gain focus at large gatherings like WUF3. I was really enjoying myself. I had an agenda to bring forward at every opportunity. I was plugging for cities which "do no harm".
The weather out in the fresh air was fantastic. With a free pass to go anywhere on the transport network the obvious first trip was a journey on the Sky Train to the end of the line, which is now King George on the other side of the Frazer River. The old juxtapositions have sadly gone. There is also a new loop, called the Millennium Line, with the old track now known as the Expo Line. I left around 7pm and was back just in time to get some Falafel and catch the 9pm shuttle bus back to UBC.
Geoffrey Payne had just arrived from the UK so we shared a coffee around 10.15pm and caught up on news.
Tuesday 20 June
Up at 7am. Coffee. A quick check with other team members about activities for the day. A shuttle bus was waiting at the door. A half-hour ride to the Conference Centre, passing Jericho Beach where the 1976 Forum was held.
Habitat for Humanity started building a house outside the venue at 6am this morning. The idea was to finish it in a day, take it apart again, and then send it off to Louisiana. In fact it was a PR stunt. The roof trusses arrived complete and the wall frames were also made up, so it took no time to make spectacular progress. The front door was fitted into the framing. A few sheets of ply bracing went on. With lots of people in T-shirts milling around it was a great photo opportunity. Handshaking with dignitaries. Messages for Louisiana written on panels. When the TV crews went home everyone else went home too, and nothing more was done until it was packed up again on Friday. Habitat for Humanity had a very large stand in the exposition.
Off to the Media Centre to pick up my briefing for the day. Breakfast was provided.
Alphonso Jackson, USA Secretary for Housing, spoke at the Plenary Session. "It is madness to live without a dream." Jockin Arputham, President, National Slum Dwellers Federation of India, observed that as the number of papers, conferences and seminars was increasing around the world so was poverty in developing countries. He stopped just short of saying that universities are part of the global problem. not part of the solution. In competing with each other to be bigger and better the universities drain the world of resources which could be used to do some good.
Lindiwe Sisulu, the South African Minister for Housing, had been a former ANC fighter. "Poverty is when people are excluded from those things which affect their economic well being." (like housing) By 2020 two billion people will be living in informal settlements. "The urbanisation of poverty." "Indifference denies the rich the experience of humanity."
The Dialogue on the Millennium Development Goals closed with David Satterthwaite, International Institute of Environment and Development, calling for a new model to "replace 30 years of professionals failing to upgrade slums". No architect stood up to defend the profession. No "Award for Social Responsibility" had been on display down at the Westin. This is where the UIA could be effective, but as John Sinclair said "we found that other architects had the same concerns as us". Making money, he meant, not saving the planet.
A press briefing for Youth. Mozambique commented that in our universities we no longer teach people to do things. They wait for jobs. Architects don't build houses any more.
Over to the Waterfront Hotel Ballroom for the first UN-Habitat Lecture from 10am to mid-day. John Friedman was marketed as "one of the most distinguished urban planners in the world today" and the room was packed with adoring fans. You do not get such a title by taking any risks and so it was all very predictable, with seemingly profound insights to justify the status quo. Jenny would have loved it. His key thrust was the concept of endogenous ("growing from within") cities. Labour and capital are placeless. Relying on them destroys place. Stories, traditions and culture belong in place. He did not challenge the establishment by suggesting that owner-building might be a good idea. A Nepalese architect from Kathmandu wondered how you could stop the brain drain out of his country. How could you make architects into idealists? How could you get architects to have a commitment to place? Good questions, to which John Friedman had no answers. He was part of the problem, not the solution.
I had been invited to go to the announcement of the Living Steel Sustainable Housing Competition Awards at mid-day, with a free lunch included. Glenn Murcutt had been one of the judges, but it was too late when I found that out.
A CD produced by CHS/UBC outlining the journey from Stockholm to WUF3 was launched and then a memorandum of agreement was signed between NFB and UN-Habitat. Peter Oberlander spoke. NFB did 200 films in 1976. UBC has really been putting effort into the IDRC International Development Research Centre, Western Economic Diversification, and other similar ventures. Why not Auckland University, I wondered. After being ahead of the world at Istanbul Jenny and Errol had let everything fall to pieces.
An Indian interested in rural India talked to me while I was waiting. Some of these people are as timeless as the landscapes they inhabit.
The Settlement Caucus Network Session was at 2.15pm. I sat down, by chance, next to Allan Rodger. Who was most surprised? We suffered a terrible presentation on Belgrade gipsies from an ex-pat friend of Sandra now living in New York. Belgrade seems to export people to universities all over the world just to get rid of them. It all felt deja vu. Allan was rapporteur, and so he had to try and make sense out of it without entirely revealing his thoughts. He commented that John Turner had said back in 1976 that "housing was a verb". Housing needs to be place and culture specific. Gipsies do have a culture. You cannot empower people. You can only create conditions for them to empower themselves.
The ASF/Arc-Peace Network Session was 4.30 - 6.30pm. It was packed out and a great many people were turned away. One of the problems with the meeting rooms was their limited capacity. Simultaneous translation was into French only. Jaime Roya Olid, Luz Maria Sanchez, Dick Urban Vestbro, Eric Sellis, Craig Williams, and Assumpta Nnaggenda-Musana spoke. The presentation was dense and the power-point was excellent, but there was little to take home. The highly selected audience was asked to admire rather than participate. A pity. It was a chance to forge alliances. Dick acknowledged me as the only founding member of Arc-Peace present, which was very gracious of him.
Met Graeme Bristol, the Bankok architect who ran the International Symposium on Architecture and Human Rights at the beginning of the month. The issues were so interesting and so important that I was tempted to go to Bangkok, but could not fit everything in. One of the outcomes of the Symposium was the Bangkok Declaration, which was signed as a draft and will be finalised in October 2006. Recognising such issues as "the training of those engaged in the planning professions presently lacks a sufficient and consistent exposure to and understanding of the impact of their work on the enjoyment of human rights" or the need for "ensuring freedoms of cultural identification" the Charter seeks a commitment to three ideals.
1) To recognise and implement their responsibilities to exercise all available means to avoid harming any segment of the population. 2) To acknowledge that full participation in the construction, management and improvement of acceptable habitat is a fundamental human right. 3) To act in accordance with the principle that the future security of the world depends on ensuring its responsiveness to all who live within it.
Graeme can be contacted either at <
> or at King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi <
> It was really encouraging to find at least one university in the world which is engaged in real issues rather than self indulgent navel gazing.
Zena Daysh wanted me to work with CHEC on a film.
Back to the Media Centre to send off my daily report and then I went off to North Vancouver on the Sea Bus just to get some fresh air and enjoy the end of the day. Back to grab a bite to eat while on my way home on the 9pm shuttle bus to UBC. A glorious sunset.
Turned on my phone to look for "networks" and it suddenly lit up "Rodger" and it was all systems go. Coffee. An up-date from the others.
Wednesday 21 June
Early start with the 7am shuttle bus. Found out too late that there had been one at 6.30am. Lavish breakfast for Alumni - those who had been at either Habitat I Vancouver 1976 or Habitat II Istanbul 1996. It was good to be able to sit with the table of Aussies. Dennis Ingemann from Melbourne had organised the Self-Build Conference many years ago and we had been together in Istanbul.
Nostalgic speeches. The Habitat Mafia. Enrico Penelosa from Colombia. Al Cap led the Jericho Beach building, log by log. The legacy of a strong NGO movement. Barbara Ward led the 24 symposia. We saw a film clip of her. Buckminster Fuller. People from Ekistics. The first on-screen real time videoing. The secretary to the Bruntland Report. Paul Manning. Ross McDonald. Peter Oberlander. The morning concluded with a selection of the 200 films prepared by NFB for 1976.
At 9.45am there was a Media briefing for the day. 115 Mayors were meeting in the afternoon at 2.30pm at 580 Hastings Street. All were welcome at their meeting, although other information said it was closed to media. The Plenary was a bit dull. On to the Local Government press conference.
The Mayor of Montreal, Gerald Tremblay, was in town to present the "Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities". at the request of UNESCO. The media briefing spoke of the "Right to the City". This concept was first developed in a 1995 Conference on the "City of Solidarity and Citizenship". UN-Habitat was concerned with this as part of the global Campaign on Urban Governance and its emphasis on the Inclusive City. With the notion of 'sharing the views of all city stakeholders' it seemed that nothing could go wrong. The TV cameras rolled and reporters raced off to get their sound bites to air. "Love and justice lead to peace in the city."
Then it all began to unravel. Among the suits and plastic smiles two people clearly did not belong. The mayor found himself confronted by two homeless from Montreal who had just been in trouble with the police. One challenged him while the other filmed the interview. There was no escape. Anger levels rose along with blood pressures.
I discovered that the homeless of Montreal had created a virtual city for themselves. Later in the day they established a live link from a Montreal park where they expected to be evicted. NFB had been training them to do their own filming. While the Mayor was denying everything the flashing red and blue lights on the screen packed a powerful punch.
There was a Press Conference with "Slum Dwellers International" at 12.30pm. In 21 countries they were sorting out their own problems. "Not for us, but with us." I asked about professional help and the response was passionate and focused. It produced one of those memorable moments. "We are our own architects. We do not need someone else to tell us how to run our lives." Anna Tibajuka, UN-Habitat Executive Director, really went for architects too. "Architects can be useful for infrastructure at a large scale, but they should not interfere with peoples homes." Wow.
Allan Rodger was there and he thought the interchange was great. Robbie was at Habitat I and Allan had acted as his adviser. We swapped Zena Daysh stories.
In the background we could hear drumming and singing from indigenous folk at the Canada stand. First Nations had been mostly absent so the sound was refreshing.
From there I headed to a selection of Dialogue and Network Meetings.
The "Indigenous People and Media Roundtable" was extremely interesting. Manon Barbeau and Melanie Kistabish presented the first case study. Wapikoni Mobile is a mobile studio for filmmaker training that has been touring Aboriginal communities in Quebec for more than two years. My proposal for the mobile extension of the Kohukohu Library was a modest reflection of the same idea.
Kamala Todd presented "Our City, Our Voices" part of a community arts project that supports Aboriginal people in telling their stories of Vancouver. Marilena Correa presented "Video in the Villages" an initiative from Brazil to train indigenous peoples in filmmaking so that they could portray themselves and the world around them. NFB are training people around the world to make their own films.
Imagine a stone age tribe in Brazil clad in little more than war paint doing traditional dances. A few of the tribe however were not involved. They were racing around, still in their war paint, with cameras, filming their mates. Fast forward to the evening when the whole tribe was gathered around a video screen enjoying their film of themselves. It was clearly possible to move from the stone age to a technological world without the need for a university education in the middle.
Sadly the questions afterwards did not address any of the real issues which I wanted to know about. Who owns the images? How may they be used. All those things which Barry Barclay addressed in 'Mana Tuturu'. Instead a diatribe developed about how WUF3 had failed to provide participation for indigenous people. One good point was that we ought to have a van which goes around teaching people how to build houses.
I drifted up to the Universities Dialogue. Typical academics. Everything sounded very profound and full of insight until you thought about it. It was a game they were playing with each other and it had nothing to do with the real world. One delegate shrewdly suggested that universities should develop indicators by which to measure the gap between rhetoric and implementation. No one laughed. No one got it. Even more worrying was that someone might go off and actually develop indicators and get a PhD for their time and trouble. Really worrying. Are there no intellectuals left in the universities any more? Or do all intellectuals lack the political courage to speak out?
I had run out of time to get to the 2.30 - 5.30pm Mayors Meeting which was over the road. About 120 mayors from around the world participated. Getting Bob Harvey involved with a global network of mayors had been one of my major initiatives back in Istanbul. Kadir Topbas, the Mayor of Istanbul, was at this meeting. I also missed the 4.30 - 6.30pm Pacific Rim Design Network and the meeting of Commonwealth Planners. It was impossible to be everywhere. You need a team to cover a gathering like this.
During the whole time of the Expo there had been a continuous showing of films in a cinema which backed onto the Press briefing theatre. Nineteen in all they had been selected by a jury for their relevance to the theme "Cine Urbana". The only one I managed to see in full was "Aboriginal Architecture Living Architecture" from 5pm to 7pm. (Canada, 2003, 93 min) It visited seven communities, Pueblo, Mohawk, Inuit, Crow, Navajo, Coast Salish and Haida, looking briefly at traditional building forms and then how they had been interpreted by architects who had not really understood the traditional building forms in the first place. It was not just disappointing. It was an indictment of a university system which does not belong in culture or place, and does not teach vernacular architecture. It was not just very superficial. I cringed so much that I could not even ask any questions, although the directors and actors turned up to make dialogue possible. Architectural racism is a major global problem.
In passing I had glimpsed a few fragments of other films. "Totem: The Return of G'psgolox Pole" (Canada, 2003, 70 min). The story of the totem which I had seen on Sunday in the Anthropology Museum. How the Haisla from Kitamaat Village had done the easy bit of claiming their totem from Sweden, when they might have done better to wait until they were better organised. Tricky.
"Detroit Collaborative Design Centre" (Canada, 206, 63 min). "BedZED" of course, and the "End of Suburbia", but apart from this moment there was not a single whiff of New Urbanism. When tired ideas have died they seem to get exported to New Zealand so that the Auckland City Council can "discover" them. A pity that Dick Hubbard had not come to Vancouver. He would have realised that the ACC was the victim of second-rate pseudo-experts.
After these films the Auckland Film Festival which I returned back to in Aotearoa seemed brilliant. "The Last Resort", "Struggle No More", "Departure and Return" or "Ans Westra: Private Journeys / Public Signposts" would all have lifted the standard and been more relevant than most of the WUF3 films. A pity that no New Zealand University now takes the United Nations or sustainability seriously.
Barnaby Bennett, a New Zealand recent graduate from Victoria University, Wellington, made himself known to me. Gordon Holden had generously paid for his trip. He was very new to the game and keen to learn. He would have benefited enormously from the caucus breakfasts we organised for ourselves in Istanbul. To make that work of course you need a commitment from the Universities to global issues and a commitment from New Zealand to participate rather than just observe. Action is not part of PBRF so it has died. Only when I returned to Aotearoa did I discover that Dusko Bugonovich had been at WUF3 and was "disappointed". At these gatherings no one does it for you. You need to do it yourself. Barnaby had been at the ASF/Arc-Peace Network Session.
Back to the Media Centre to check my mail and send off an e-mail on the days activities. Picked up my media briefings for tomorrow.
Back out into the sunshine to find the big cruise ship which had been moored alongside had left late in the day. The Aussies had invited me to join them for a drink at the Bayshore Westin so I walked around the foreshore enjoying the float planes, sparkling in the sunlight, along the way. I was feeling a bit groggy with being in enclosed spaces all day so I needed a break.
You pick up gossip over in Vancouver about what is happening in Auckland. Who has been approached by the University as they look for a new professor, without actually advertising. Brian Roberts, a friend of Richard Harris, from Canberra, had been asked to become professor. Another opportunity to catch up with Dennis Ingemann from Melbourne who organised the Self-Build conference years ago.
I turned down an invitation to join a small group of Aussies for a meal as I figured that would result in my missing the last shuttle bus.
Thursday 22 June
Another day of glorious weather. An easy start to the day. Shuttle bus to Canada Place with a Ugandan talking about corruption in Africa. He felt it was an injustice to say politicians and businessmen were corrupt. In his opinion everyone in Uganda was corrupt. Breakfast at the Media Centre. The total figures for WUF3 were posted on the board. 9296 participants, 11,290 if you include staff etc and 349 media.
The Plenary was not interesting. At the first Press Briefing the Minister of Housing for Kenya insisted that Kibara was in public ownership and assured everyone that there were no evictions. A reporter insisted that Kibara was owned by politicians. The angry confrontation did not resolve who was lying. The Uganda and South African Ministers observed that "People who build their own homes refuse to sell them, but if you give people houses they sell them to buy education or health."
The Afghan press conference was impressive for its size. There were fifteen in their delegation. No one was giving too much away and this was not the venue to ask the questions I really wanted to ask. Tribal structures have been ignored by local government and yet history tells us that they are more sustainable than the 'one vote' concept to which democracy has been reduced. Kinship survives. Kinship passes stories and understanding from one generation to the next. "Democracy" is efficient for economic growth, but when Western civilisation forgets the story of Midas it will be history. Forcing democracy on the Afghans, Iraqis or Iranians is not very different from going out to shoot aborigines.
A David Suzuki Press Conference followed, with Derek Corrigan, Mayor of Burnaby, Larry Frank and Ian Bruce in the chair. It was really a single issue PR stunt to oppose doubling the capacity of a bridge which would only move congestion into the city. "Only the human species has foresight." declared David Suzuki. Really? At the moment it seemed to be the one thing which was lacking, with regard to the bridge as well as all the other major environmental crises.
Derek explained the new thrust, which he opposed, of developing the Frazer Valley. I asked David "How do you keep the revolution fresh?" to open up the concern that even if one generation of planners gets it right the next generation always throws away the hard won ground. He stumbled and suggested wealth and quality of life are the key. A most peculiar position. David Suzuki told me afterwards that he was going to be in NZ in October.
I did a two minute podcast on my theme "Do no harm" and it went live to air. Anyone with broadband will be able to find the clip on the web at
Alternatively go to Thursday and look for my name.
Lunch at the Media Centre, At last I managed to get uptown and I discovered tepees pitched around the Art Gallery and a stage set up in the square with lines of logs for seats. The continuous programme of indigenous dancing and music made me think of Harry Turbott. Hundreds of years of tradition and in that time so little has changed. Two great slabs of smoked salmon on "Maori bread".
"Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art" was on in the Art Gallery (June 10 - Sept 17), but it was too expensive to take a quick look around, and I never managed to get back. A pity you cannot get a ten minute cheap deal as that would be the best way of ensuring that people returned for a more leisurely look.
Back to WUF3 for more Networking Sessions. The architects for the Venice Biennale in Architecture 2006, Stephanie Robb and Bill Petchet. presented their "Sweater lodge" design. It consisted of an enormous orange sweater, 87 feet across before being crunched up to fill the whole Canadian Pavilion. The sweater symbolised the vastness of the Canadian landscape. It was made of recycled pop bottles to symbolise a nation of consumers. Visitors needed to pedal three bicycles to power the film show.
Joe Wai, another architect, talked on China Town. The architecture was not very interesting, but the history of goldmining was and it made me realise that the number of Chinese in BC was much larger than I had thought.
This session continued with musicians, photographers and other artists as well as architects, but I was keen to take at least a brief look at the session on Habitat JAM, an internet event to prepare for WUF3. 39,000 people from 158 countries participated. A CD is available which explains Habitat JAM.
I did not have time for the 2.30pm Launch of GUSSE (UBC) in the Plaza, and also missed out on the 13.30 - 15.30pm session "Slum diaries: Participatory Media Creation for Social Change" which continued the dialogue about giving slum dwellers a voice through empowering them to tell their own stories.
I raced on to catch a 3pm Press Conference with mayors from both Israel and Palestine, with Wim Deetman from the Hague sitting between them. It was edgy. Only a month later the Israelis would be firing US missiles with pinpoint accuracy right though the centre of the Red Crosses on top of Lebanese ambulances, as well as indiscriminately killing civilians and senselessly destroying infrastructure. Ahmet Rabi, the Executive Director of Association of Palestinian Local Authorities, seemed to be pleading "give peace a chance", while the Israelis were about to kill UN Peacekeepers so that they could not observe atrocities. The world will finally be destroyed by arrogance, not global warming.
This was followed at 3.50pm by an Indigenous Peoples, First Nations, press conference to present their declaration. They were all under 25 and seemed to be so very, very young. The document was a plea for self determination. They wanted housing sensitive to cultural needs. They were deeply concerned about developer aggression. They felt they had been excluded from WUF3.
Up then to the network session on universities working in the third world. It was dominated by Scandanavian universities and UBC, but the ghost of an Auckland University which has also lost the cultural plot was lurking somewhere. It is fashionable now to run student programmes on flavelas. Those who do not know their own culture go off to muddle into the lives of others, without having a position there either. It was interesting that none of these 'teachers' bothered to come along to hear what the slum dwellers were saying.
The 16.30pm network session entitled "The Moon, the Lake and the 'Leapfrog': A 'Making Discipline' Approach to Designing Urban Development." was as convoluted as the title. Academics have theories about what ought to happen when they would do better to just go out and do anything.
By this time the Exposition was in closing down mode so I took a second-to-last look around. Back at the Media Centre I checked out the "Homeless Nation" virtual city web site. It has been great having such good internet access.
While doing all this I was also watching Cirque du Soleil rehearsing for Friday's hour long performance to end the Closing Ceremony. Wow.
The Business Party at the Science Centre was very slick, with a mix of high level politicians and me. The agenda was simple. How could the idealism to be found down the road be turned into money? Three presentations showed how the private sector was really doing it all. The first was the latest phase of False Creek, the second a very large new development in Victoria which will be autonomous, and the third the new sustainability campus. The displays were from leading edge innovation companies. There was even a hydrogen torch. It was the first time I had actually held a fuel cell in my hand.
There were five stations with delicious food from five different areas, to ensure that you kept circulating. All too soon it was over by 10.30pm.
I could not work out how to get to Great Northern Way, although I knew it was relatively close. Eventually I found I could have walked, although being realistic a shuttle bus was really the only way. Instead I took the Sky Train back to Canada Place only to find the last UBC shuttle had gone, in spite of the rather confused information that they would be running until midnight. Instead I used my free pass to get back to UBC on a 17. With two parties tonight I did not have time to get to Joanna and Mike.
Friday 23 June
I discovered that everyone else was moving out of UBC and it was impossible for me to stay on in a suite on my own. Suddenly I needed to pack and be on my way. I left two bags in storage and headed off on a shuttle. Meanwhile the Peace Forum was getting under way at UBC. Academics wanting to improve their CVs could stay continuously at UBC and just chalk conferences up as the summer passed by.
I was too late for several tempting early sessions by the time I had done all this. Homeless International in MR17, Peaceful Cities in MR 18, and Global Studio in MR 2. I was however in time for the Closing Session and the Closing Ceremonies at 11am. Most of the conclusions were very relevant to New Zealand. There was widespread agreement about not simply transferring responsibility to others. Build your own house, and don't blame someone else if it leaks. Risk taking was seen as part of innovation, which left me pondering the cultural crisis now that New Zealand has become a risk averse nation. Citizens need to be informed about steps taken by government. Auckland City Council would be horrified at the thought. Planning needs to be reinvented so that it is more inclusive, transparent and ethical. In New Zealand it certainly does need to be reinvented.
The highlight of WUF3 was it concluding with more than an hour with Cirque du Soleil. So Canadian and so unbelievable.
Final e-mails from the Media Centre which closed at 4pm. A final glimpse of Expo packing up. Farewells to friends. Allan Rodger was heading off with Margaret to Alaska on the morrow.
Not everyone was so lucky. As he left Abdel Minim Al-Avys, the Mayor of Beirut, was not to know that the Jews of the USA would be shipping bombs to Israel in a few weeks so that Israel could blast his city to pieces in a ruthless attack on civilian targets. At WUF3 he spoke of Beirut setting goals for reconstruction after years of war. He spoke of rebuilding its sewerage, water, sanitation and communication infrastructure, and investing in employment and development.
I was however one of the privileged people of the world. I could walk over to the Visitors Information Centre to try and work out the best way to get to Pemberton. They were hopeless. Trains seemed to be beyond them, They looked up Greyhound buses on the internet and concluded that they might go four times a day, but then again they might not. The encounter was useful because it confirmed that I was on my own.
The dancing and music continued among the tepees. I indulged in more BBQ Salmon and "Maori bread". This was the first time I had seen the new Library. Like most Post-Modernism it left me cold. A tortured exterior trying to imitate a classical ruin, and an interior which had nothing to do with the exterior and felt like a cramped afterthought.
Walked all the way down to Drake and Homer to find that Ray and Shirley Spaxman had closed their office and were now working from home. Took the bus back to Canada Place. I knew the last shuttle to UBC was 6.30pm, which made it impossible to go out to the Earth Village and then come back through town. However shuttles ran late from the Earth Village to UBC. That route seemed logical, but by now I was already running late. I took a shuttle to the Earth Village around 6.30pm. Enough light and enough time to take some photographs and have a meal.
The idea of Earth Village was to provide an inexpensive centre for young people to make friends, music, dance and theatre while exploring the idealism of WUF3. It could have been another 1971 Warkworth Congress, but how times have changed. We have moved from active to passive, and from passion to middle class with torn jeans. Earth Village was located on the new "sustainability campus" which brings four universities together in one location. At the moment there is a magnificent sign, and then a building where UBC is doing research on grass roofs. It all seemed faintly ridiculous. This is where the new super-expensive sustainability building which Ray Cole enthuses about will be built, to make it look even more ridiculous.
I raced off to catch the 8.30pm shuttle to UBC, but I need not have hurried. At 9.15pm I was still waiting. Eventually a bus did come, but by now I was very late. At UBC I only needed to collect my bags and then take a 25 bus to 4027. Helpful passengers sorted out where I needed to get off, right outside Tony Albang's. Tony was waiting. Eileen and Leila had gone home. Louise had gone to bed. A yarn and by 10.30pm I was also in bed.
Saturday 24 June
Up at 8am to organise both my gear and my head. Tony went off at 7am to watch Germany play Sweden in the World Soccer series. I declined an invitation to join him. I needed to get organised and to catch my breath. Louise had gone out and left me a note, asking me to ring Rachel. Did so, and arranged to go to her place.
Walked down to 10th, took a bus to "Waterfront Station", and then walked to the Sea Bus. A 230 bus from the terminal and easily found 29th, Queens, and then Kings. Did the whole journey with a single ticket, using transfers. A very short walk to easily find 194.
Her land-lady was trimming flowers out the front. A big welcome from Rachel. Her basement flat, where she has been living for the last three years, was bursting with colour and life. Rachel is now 37 and she has been doing lots of painting and photography. Excellent work. Photos printed onto canvas. An early work of a man in New Orleans. Black and White crosses in an aboriginal Cemetery close by. Listened to one of her songs. Astonishingly good, with a message. She now has three songs ready for a CD. Blackcurrent tea. We talked of life and love. She is being picked up tonight by a boyfriend from her church to stay over at Squamish. The church is not Brethren but related.
We bused off to Grouse Mountain and took the Skylift to the top. We could have walked I later discovered, but it would have been a stiff climb. Trees grow on impossible rock faces. Snow at the top, to my surprise. Included in the price was a chair lift ride, half way back down and back up again. Fantastic views. Mt Baker in the distance, 80km away in USA. A skiing area out of season with all the junk which goes with it. A wedding at the expensive restaurant.
Back down and we ran to just catch the bus. Made it, but as it drove off we realised it was the wrong bus. We ended up at the Sea Bus Terminal. There was no 230 so Rachel decided it was best to eat there. A good move. Everything was closing for the day so they made up two big boxes of Chinese food, and only wanted $8 the lot.
Rachel headed off to catch her bus, just missed it and came back to talk some more. Then she headed off to wait for her boyfriend. I finished off the gigantic meal sitting out on the deck enjoying the tugs. Caught the 8pm Sea Bus, as they only go every 30 minutes in the evening. A welcome coffee at Waterfront Station. Used my transfer to catch a 17 to Crown. Found some very modern stained glass windows in the Catholic Church on the corner just before it closed at 9pm.
Explored the local streetscape and talked to locals about the relationship they had with the Council with regard to maintenance. I came back the next day and took some photographs of all this. Tony and Louise were out so off to bed for an early night. Just as well I had my own key to my own door.
Sunday 25 June
Tony prepared a fruit salad for breakfast. Louise produced the toast and jam. Yogurt. Tea, herbal of course, which neither of them normally have. Then they decided to go for a walk along the beach, for themselves, but I was welcome to join them.
Tony drove down to show me the Jericho Beach housing built for Habitat I. The big old building adjacent to them which had been a centre for Habitat I is now a Youth Hostel. Another objective achieved.
We walked in bare feet for some miles out along the low tide waterline. There is a fourteen foot tidal range from low to high here so the flats were very extensive. Astonishingly beautiful. Yachts, windsurfers, freighters and a sprinkling of people. Snow capped mountains all around. By the time we got back every parking space had gone. Tony took me along Marine Drive, past Red Beach which is the local nudist beach just below UBC and then back along 16th. to 4027.
Louise made lentil soup for lunch. We talked of toastmasters and CYS in Victoria. Tony remembered me making great speeches.
Contacted Eileen by phone and she agreed to call around and pick me up in an hour. Eileen arrived and we headed off around 2pm to collect Leila from a birthday party Met people from WUF3 and UBC. The woman in charge of sustainability action.
Down to Greek Day. Broadway had been closed off for a good many blocks and the place was throbbing. The street itself was interesting with everything from Jewish bakeries to "Aussie" pubs with all the windows wide open to the street. Endless food.
Eileen took me to her office and showed me her workstation. We looked at two large projects she was supervising and another she was preparing working drawings for. Everything was computerised with not a drawing board in sight. Three partners and around thirty staff. Being an architects office one staff member was hard at work in spite of the sunshine and activity outside.
Leila's father took her home for the night and would then drop her at school in the morning. Eileen dropped me back at 4027. Walked down to 5pm Mass. Great singing, great liturgy and a good sermon. The child who says "I wished Mary a happy birthday and then blew all her candles out." The bishop who told his rookie priest to begin his sermon "I love a beautiful woman. Her name is Mary." Sure to get the congregation listening. The rookie priest began "The bishop is in love with a beautiful woman, but I cannot for the life of me remember her name."
Back to 4027 to sit in the garden to write up my diary. Salmon, cheese and French Rose for supper. Stories of basement flats. Louise took me two blocks to show me Arthur Erikson's house. Modest and completely enclosed by high hedges. 10pm and time for bed.
Monday 26 June
Vancouver - Pemberton
Sorted out a strategy. Tony and Louise had invited me to share a turkey dinner, but it seemed unreasonable to intrude on their last night together before Tony flew off to Germany very early on the morrow. I decided to bus to the airport and pick up a rental car.
I rang Budget. They were happy for me to collect a car in the city and return it to the airport. Everything suddenly became much easier. Much later I remembered the 16% surcharge for collecting rentals at the airport when Clive and I had hired a car.
Left a message with Hugh and Jan to say I would be with them tonight. Only when I arrived would I discover that Hugh had been down in Vancouver at the Earth Village and they had sent me an e-mail inviting me to join them for several days holiday by a lake north of Pemberton.
Walked down Crown to catch a 17. A helpful woman sorted out the street numbers for me so that I was able to alight only a two block walk from John and Patricia Patkau's office at 1564 W 6th. Cool. Minimalist. Their wonderful models dominate the office. Unfortunately they had both just left. Left a note with their very helpful secretary.
Called at the Cyber Cafe on the corner to check for any incoming e-mails. Very smooth. Straight into Actrix. Nervous about running up a big bill but I need not have worried. The total cost was 73 cents. I needed to ask if that included the coffee. She apologised. The coffee was extra.
Back onto a 17 to Georgia. Walked along to Budget. Smooth. Efficient. In a few minutes I was driving off through the city and over the Burrard Bridge. Along 4th to spend an hour at Jericho Beach, from mid-day to 1pm. Photographed the 1976 houses and talked to some of the happy residents. Found the school picnic but could not locate Eileen, Leila or Tony. Off to 4027 to collect my bag. Farewell to Tony.
Back over the Burrard Bridge, through Stanley Park, across the Lions Gate Bridge and on North on the 99. I had intended to call in at Ray and Shirley Spaxman (2144 Nelson Ave, West Vancouver) but I was running so late I concluded it must wait until the journey back. Wonderful views but there was nowhere to pull off to enjoy them. Finally exited at Lions Bay. Access to the water had been privatised by the wealthy.
Stopped at Porteau Provincial Park, Howe Sound, around 4pm, to just enjoy the sunshine and the logs washed up on the beach, bleached like bones in the sun, before heading away from tidal waters. Shannon Falls was in full flood, as were all the rivers in this area. It was 5.15pm. Murrin Provincial Park was little more than a lake which is a favourite spot for swimming.
A coffee and some food at Britannia Beach, looking at the old steamer in the foreground and the snowcapped mountains in the distance. The mining museum here is a magnificent old industrial building which cascades down the cliff for eight or ten stories.
Squamish. A signpost to Diamond Head up in Garibaldi National Park. Only 16km. Turned off to soon and ended up at a new university being built on a fantastic site overlooking the valley. It seemed like a dead end but then the correct road ended up back at the university and carried on up the hill. The metal road wound steadily up through the forest at a steep enough grade for my ears to pop. There was no view from the car park so I set out to walk a little. An hour later I was still walking but by then was well up into the snow. The elusive view remained just that and I was far beyond the time when I should have turned around. There were some glimpses of distant mountains and views down to Squamish, far below. The walk was exhilarating. After so long at the conference I needed to gulp in the mountain air.
I wished I had the time to watch the sun go down while looking at the glaciers from a lookout point at Cheakamus. It was in contrast not difficult driving past Whistler. Pemberton had changed so much that I feared I might not find Hugh and Jan, but the railway crossing over the river guided me to their gate. I then doubled back to town to find something to eat. Beef chow mein. It was just before their 10pm closing time. The service was quick and I was on my way again.
Jan had gone to sleep, but soon she was out of bed and we talked until almost midnight. A beer and other good things. I was quickly asleep in my basement room.
Tuesday 27 June
Pemberton - Vancouver
Hugh woke me early so that I could share breakfast with Jan before she headed off to work at the library.
Off with Hugh in his truck to head up the Darcy Road to the salmon hatchery which has been one of his passions over the years. He needed to be there before a school bus arrived with a class of children to plant trees. We need not have rushed. They were 45 minutes late. Hugh had hoped to convince them to plant in a different location, but failed. I yarned with parents and the bus-driver. Soon the trees were in, the trowels and spades back in their buckets, and the children back in the bus.
Hugh took me back down to the junction and then we went up to the summit of the road to Lillooet. An incredible spot even though the landscape is marred by bald patches where the forests have been clear felled. The scars will take many many years to heal. Back down to the lowest of the three lakes, which was only a short walk in from the road. On my next trip I must allow perhaps five hours return to go to the upper two lakes with views across to the glaciers. The sandflies and mosquitos reminded me of the South Island, but Hugh assured me that you can avoid them by canoeing out into the lake.
Down to the local farm to pick two big punnets of strawberries. The vines were loaded and sadly most of them would go off before anyone had a chance to pick them. They also had delicious spinach filled croissants and other delectable baking. The light timber trusses over their shed reminded me of John Lewis' tomato packing shed.
We called in to the library to look at their extensions and to meet the woman who will take over from Jan in another year and a half when she retires and the whole library moves to a new building. Then Jan came with us and we all sat outdoors under an umbrella to enjoy a smoothie and catch up on yet more news. Back at the library we sent an experimental e-mail as Jan wondered what happened to the one which went missing. They were both waiting for me when I got back to Karaka Bay.
Went up onto the dyke to cut my nails and found a bear munching away on the clover in the paddock between the river and me. Eventually we both concluded that we may as well get on with our own affairs.
Hugh then took me for a walk across the rail bridge over the river to explore the Bath Tub Trail. This is a walkway, and also a mountain-bike trail, which follows the river for a considerable distance to connect over the 99 bridge back to Pemberton. Hugh opened it up himself rather than face the bureaucratic minefield, and now it is self perpetuating due to intensive use. Hugh has also put in a pathway along the edge of their property and set the fence back so that the public can gain access to the river. A counter records around 90 trips a day along the path.
A public path on private land
By now it was after 5pm., Jan had arrived home and the day was fading fast. I could delay no longer. By 6pm I was on my way south. Close to Whistler I bought a coffee and pastries to take with me to the lookout. Thought seriously about trying to stay for another week. The weather was perfect.
There were road works hold ups, and then I ended up in a steady stream of traffic. There were almost no places to pull off and enjoy the view. I had intended to call on Ray and Shirley Spaxman on my way home but navigating in the dark is really treacherous and had to make the tough decision to press on. A pity.
At 4027 just before 10pm, and once oriented doubled back to the first pizza place I could find. They were closing and happy to give me all I could eat. Root beer for old times sake. There seemed to be no lights on, so let myself in my basement door. Tony Albang had flown off to Germany in the morning. Louise had left a note and some snacks. Packed up as quickly as I could ready for the morning.
Wednesday 28 June
Vancouver - San Francisco
I thought I had set my alarm for 4.45am. I thought I had failed to hear it. Suddenly I was awake, and there was daylight shining through the window. Panic. 5.15am. No time to think. Left a note and the key for Louise and on my way to the airport in my rental car. My alarm rang at 5.45am as I was driving down Crown. Deserted roads. An easy run to the airport. Clear directions. As I pulled up a Budget representative appeared from nowhere to take my keys, check the vehicle, check that the fuel tank was full and issue me with a receipt. Flawless.
A short walk to the check in counter. A friendly smile eased my tension and the Air Canada attendant assured me I was actually early. No problems with taking all my luggage as cabin baggage. The early morning flights are empty. Later the pressure builds up. A window seat. Through all the USA entry procedures on my way to the gate, which was both very efficient and quick. Right index finger, left index finger, and photograph. Take your shoes off. At the gate only Starbucks was open. Ate the banana and muesli bar which Louise had left me for breakfast, and the sardines which Sandra had left at UBC. Bought a juice to wash it all down. Rang Clive in case my cell-phone did not work in USA, but I could only leave a message.
The same Air Canada attendant was at the gate and he reminded me that I really was early. We taxied out at 7.30am on flight AC560 and then the pilot announced that San Francisco was too busy to allow us to land. We would need to park on the tarmac for another 45 minutes. We finally departed from Vancouver around 8.20am with brilliant views of the city as we flew away over Victoria. Right over the Olympic mountains with lots of snow, but it was hard to see the hanging valleys where I fell in love with wild-flowers in a Spring so many years ago. We followed down the coast of Oregan and slowly the cloud built up. Perhaps the brilliant weather was not going to last forever after all.
Great views of the San Mateo bridge and then we touched down in San Francisco around 10.30am. With having no checked luggage, and having completed all the Customs formalities back in Vancouver I was able to walk straight out into the sun. I was too tired to hire a rental car, and with all my books I now had too much luggage to cart around. One of the more significant aspects of the US "war on terror" is that there are now no lockers and nowhere where you leave luggage.
Turned on my cell phone. It thought for only a moment and then connected to the Cingular network. Rang Jan. She offered to come to the airport to collect me and we arranged a place to meet. It was very useful to be familiar with the layout of the various terminals. Traffic is light at the Departure Level.
In twenty minutes we were on our way back to Belmont. Her generosity fortunately had its reward. The phone rang with three people wanting to go on her November trip. Suddenly it was viable. Another probable would ring tomorrow. Lucky Tony. There was a lot of news to catch up on. Jan had been travelling around the South Island after the Tourism NZ Conference.
There is a 260 San Carlos bus which apparently ends up at Mission but the only one I saw was when I was between stops. Another time. I opted for Caltrain which runs every half hour. Walked to the railway station to get a feel for life in suburban vernacular USA. The stuff of TV. Footage of frig doors being opened because there is more life inside than in the living room. Iraq and Afghanistan do not even get on to the radar screen.
A train going south completely spray painted with a graffiti advertising some sporting event stopped. The doors opened. A conductor as black as the Ace of Spades with beaming white smile and polished peaked hat stood in the void. The perfect US image, but I was not quick enough to capture it. Like so many moments when travelling it would not come again. The train going north was dull aluminium and the people seemed to match the train. Mastered the automatic ticket machine with its touch screen array of choices and I was on my way. The carriages were double height but the upper level has only a single row of seats at the windows, a narrow passage and a void in the centre. No one seemed to be able to explain the inefficient use of space.
Unlike BART Caltrain does not dive below the ground so that there are excellent views from the top level all the way in to the city. It would be possible to catch the train from the BART station adjacent to the airport and then walk to Jan's,
The station was at 3rd and King. At first this seemed to be some distance from the centre of town, but in fact it was only a couple of blocks to walk to the new Moscone Civic Centre. Most of the buildings are rather bland, but it was SF MOMA, by Mario Botta I had come to see, only to find that it was closed on Wednesdays. Such is life.
Went in search of a good architectural bookstore. It seemed that nothing existed. My enquires at numerous bookstores were met with blank stares. I thought of Jeffrey. Eventually I found a reasonable architectural section in Staceys, the oldest book shop in San Francisco. By good luck they had one copy of "Built by Hand", so I stuffed that into my bag as a present to myself in memory of the trip.
A photographic museum. An African indigenous museum. I made my way down Market to the waterfront, and then slowly drifted north to explore old haunts. Surprisingly, very little has changed. Only the buskers were different at the Ferry Building. Telegraph Hill made me think of the parrots, and I gather they are still there. The piers are still working wharfs although most of the work has gone. Tourists off a cruise ship walked through the shed. The marina still has real boats, of all shapes and sizes. Not like Vancouver or Auckland. A woman was rebuilding and painting her "Sausalito houseboat". Pier 39 was a little more tacky as it continued the down hill slide from that early sustainable low cost approach. The clam chowder however was as good as ever. The seals lounged on the marina as they always did. No more, no less. The fishing fleet was a vivid reminder of what Auckland has lost. Fort Mason has settled into respectability. The Youth Hostel, which I still think of as 'four days to get organised'.
I had forgotten to ask Jan which part of town her meeting was in, so assumed it was central, joined the queue, and jumped on the cable car to the corner of Powell and Market. A great ride, and also a tour of the central city. If only Auckland had kept the trams.
Rang Jan on my global roaming cell phone. We agreed to meet in five minutes at the corner of 4th and Market. I was expecting her to be in a car and did not notice her standing on the footpath, with Perry Kennan. We all walked back to the car. An unexpected treat was a visit to the Basque Club on the way home for a coffee and a Basque liquor. Soon I was in a very deep sleep.
Thursday 29 June
San Francisco - 777
A fantastic sleep which left me feeling like a new person. Breakfast with Jan. Perry Kenney drove over at 7.30am and was serious about his offer to be my chauffeur for the day. Rang Orlene and she was expecting Ivan to be in shortly. We drove north along the freeway, talking about Uzbekistan along the way, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and found Orlene, but Ivan had needed to go on to the office for a conference call. We arranged to meet him half way by the Ferry Terminal.
Perry found the spot and with some difficulty we found Starbucks and Ivan. We talked of many things and then as I was thinking of heading on the conversation drifted around to the University. We moved next door to the restaurant which is part of a boutique brewery. They had a good stout to go with my "bangers and mash" as I allowed the locals to suggest what I ought to be having. Stuart McCutchen, Vice Chancellor, had been to SF and met with Ivan at an Alumni gathering. He had asked Ivan to meet Sharman Pretty. Ivan had been across to New Zealand, had spent an hour with Stuart McCutchen who had then walked across campus to Sharman's office and Ivan had spent an hour talking to Sharman without really discovering what it was all about. Ivan expected me to know, and he was keen for me to explain the agenda.
Clues lay in Stuart's decision to concentrate on Alumni in the USA rather than the UK "because the US has a culture of giving generously to support your Alma Mater, while the UK does not." Money not people is the focus oif Auckland University. Sharman was probably fishing for a chair in Urban Design, after being turned down by Auckland City Council.
Time was running away. Perry took me north to San Rafael and across the Richmond Bridge to Richmond. Point Richmond was close by but I had no way of knowing if Scott Diamond was about and I knew he would be hard to find. We headed south to Berkeley, and Perry very generously took me for a walk through the centre to look at Peoples Park. It was just sad. The bureaucrats and the military had killed the initiative of the people but the vacuum they had created had left a void with no soul. Some children kicked a ball around. A few vegetables grew idly in a little corner. Vietnam had gone, only to be replaced by Iraq. The war on terror here left the feeling that people destroy the environment only so that other people might not enjoy it.
It seemed in Berkeley as though nothing had changed in twenty years. The same people on the same streets selling the same jewellery. Tacky. Non-descript. The University still telling the world how good it was, while the environment told a different story. The Fraternities and Sororities up on the hill, with a culture as difficult for the stranger to understand as Grid-Iron. Perry had had a shop here in Berkeley and found difficulty rising above the intellectual mediocrity.
We visited the house where Perry had lived and relished the views across the Bay. A great site for a city. On South and over the San Mateo Bridge, where we were exempt from the toll because we had two people in the car. It is almost all a causeway rather than a bridge. When you do a circuit in the way that we had done you can avoid all tolls as they are only collected in one direction. Perry had given me a wonderful overview of the whole of the San Francisco environment.
It was luxury to be driven to the airport for my 9.30pm non-stop flight back to Auckland. I was rather amazed to find that a fingerprint was enough to bring my name up on the screen as they checked to see just who was leaving the USA. The terminal was civilised with a display of Scandanavian silverware to enjoy rather than shops. An excellent Mexican restaurant close to the gate.
Flight AC008 on an Air New Zealand 777. Soon I had settled in to watch movies on my personal screen. "Chunuk Bair" and "Kombi Nation". I finally mastered the skill of putting a film on hold but never did work out how to fast forward. Someone should run training programmes while you are waiting at the gate.
Friday 30 June
We crossed the date line and lost this day.
Saturday 1 July
777 - Karaka Bay
For first class passengers with one of the new beds the scheduling of this flight would be perfect. The luxury of going off to sleep and waking up on the other side of the world.
An announcement was made that breakfast was on its way. Outside it was still pitch black with a few stars. A little triumph was having no request to pull the window shades down. I had not realised that Matariki for Maori is Subaru for the Japanese and the stars on the back of the car are the Seven Sisters or Plaides.
I had thought there would be time for another film so began watching "Eight Below" which did not require any sound to follow the story. The huskies had been left for 50 days "on the ice" as we say in Aotearoa, but I ran out of time to discover how they were rescued.
The night was clear as we circled across the city lights to come in from the west. We touched down around 5.10am, five minutes ahead of schedule. After years of writing letters there is now a courtesy phone with free local calls so rang Helen, but she was already on her way to meet me. Some duty free film as it was becoming apparent that soon film will be a thing of the past.
By now the Canadian crowd had passed me by and I had been overtaken by the flight from Samoa. Not a palangi in sight as I went through customs. Auckland is indeed the capital of Polynesia. Caught up with the Canadians however at the baggage claim and it was not too long before my bundle of books came through. Big queues and long delays at the biosecurity check. A courtesy cup of coffee made the wait more tolerable.
Helen had been waiting an hour before I finally emerged. We drove off into a perfect dawn in Lisa. Delivered everyone's Heralds, embraced the wonderful ambience of the Bay, and collapsed into bed. Woke with the sun streaming through the pohutukawas and decided that Akio was right. Lucky Tony. Out to sit on the beach for the afternoon. It was too beautiful to do anything else. Began browsing through "Built by Hand". Yoshio Komatsu, who took the photographs, lives in Tokyo. It was a perfect sunset with the sky a kaleidoscope of mauve. pink and purple as the long shadows stretched out across Motukorea. Perhaps some other places are more spectacular than Karaka Bay but nowhere has the beauty and magic which constantly surround me in my daily life.
Sunday 2 July
Anton lit a bonfire on the beach. Joan and Carl joined us. We sat around the fire drinking good wine, feasting and toasting marshmallows. Anton and Simon had become involved in predator control at Tahuna Torea and this had led them to adopting my idea of a predator-free fence. The way in which ideas take root is endlessly interesting. I explained the proposal for Churchill Park, which Anton knew nothing about. We drifted off back to our own lives leaving Carl to care for the pile of embers. A perfect cooking fire.
Sometimes the most wonderful thing about going away is the joy of coming home again.