So I’ve spent the last two weekends trying my poor husband’s patience (he was my driver on this project so I could quickly hop out of the car and take my photos and not worry about parking/blocking traffic and so on). We covered the middle – higher income neighbourhoods where I live (North Vancouver city & district), the lower income neighbourhoods on the other side of the harbour (Vancouver Eastside) and the high income neighbourhoods of West Vancouver. Now while I do refer to the low-middle-high income neighbourhoods, the reality of the housing market in Vancouver, Canada is that there is no cheap, affordable area to live in, unless one ventures out into the rural areas. The average house price in my neighbourhood (North Vancouver) is CAD $1.8 million, while the average house price in (West Vancouver) is CAD $2.7 million and the overall median house price throughout the Greater Vancouver district (all the municipalities) is just a little over CAD $1.0 million.
After scouring the alleys and streets of West Vancouver the last two weekends I was so disappointed to come across absolutely no furniture or other items in the alleys. I guess the by-laws in that municipality are extremely strict, or else the rich people pay to have their throw-away furniture removed for them.
The most common item that is thrown out is chairs (by that I am including sofas as well), followed by appliances. That being said, I’ve gone through my images and come up with two scenarios that I can present: 1) chairs/seating in any condition or 2) items that could still be useful with a repair or slight makeover (based on my quick inspection when I photographed the items). So I’m putting this out to my peers to see which theme chimes best with them – chairs or usefulness?
Metro Vancouver sees fewer home sales and more listings in July [online] Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Available at: http://creastats.crea.ca/vanc/ [Accessed 20 August, 2017]
I just want to jot down a further exploration idea for my assignment 5 in relation to found objects in alleys, before I lose my train of thought. I am wondering what the difference or quality of discarded items would be in different socio-economic neighbourhoods. Would the discarded items in a predominately high/upper income suburb be in better quality than those in a middle class or low income neighbourhood? What kind of “scrap” would I find there? Where would be the most proliferation of junk? Where would the owners place the items?
I’m pondering this because on the two days that I have spent driving around I have come across most of the items in the alleyways behind the houses, but have also come across some items on the pavement in front of the houses and this seems to convey a sense of desperation that that owner really wants to get rid of the item as there is obviously more passing traffic in the roads than in the alleys. But yesterday on the way to work, at an extremely busy intersection near my home, I came across, from what I could see from the car, a good sofa that had been dumped in the park between two bus stops. So now there might be another factor to consider – people driving their junk to some public place to dispose of it. The sofa might have been owned by someone living across the road, but then why wouldn’t they put it on the sidewalk outside their house, or in their alley?
One of the profs at the university where I work was quite interested to see the photos that I had taken so far and she remarked that it would be really interesting to write a story about each piece of furniture (she is a creative writer), so maybe we can collaborate down the line on this later.
Just a quick posting for some feedback on a possible idea for Assignment 5. I am amazed at the way our society just throws stuff out – sometimes perfectly serviceable items. What further amazes me and has for the twenty years I’ve been living here is that no much effort is made to sell on the unwanted item. Yes, there are garage sales here, but it seems that whatever is left over on that day is relegated to the sidewalk ‘free for the taking’. Behind the houses in the alleys even more items appear and there is an unwritten rule here that if the thing is in the alley you can take it if you want it.
Yesterday I drove around for only an hour and took photos of found objects in the alleys (see contact sheets below). Before I get too involved in this project I would like to hear back from my peers to see if this has some potential. If I go forward with this as my assignment, I will obviously flesh out the notions of the throw-away society that we have become and the resultant consequences.
Well it seems that the fates have conspired against me! I have now been forced to go back to the drawing board for my assignment 5. Mother Nature has intervened! At the moment there are about 138 forest fires burning in British Columbia and the location of these fires range anything from 300 to 600 kms distance from Vancouver. You’d think that wouldn’t affect me right? Not so – the winds have changed, and a high pressure belt is sitting tucked in tight and all that smoke has now blanketed Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. It is unbelievable just how thick it is. I live at the foot of one of the local ski slopes and I cannot even see the mountain anymore. There is no way I can try my original ideas under these conditions.
As you can see from the photo on the right the mountain is no longer visible. If I was doing the Landscape module now this would be perfect for the sublime exercises :-). The sun is also completely blanketed and appears as a small fuzzy orange blob in the sky – barely visible. Its all very apocalyptic and extremely eerie. Any night photography renders the sky orange, as I found out last night. I’m not even going to mention the respiratory dangers this smoke is causing. Our air quality index is currently standing at 7 which is extremely high.
I have just read a news article that the substation that supplies power to Vancouver and Vancouver Island could be in danger as well. I’m not going to think about those repercussions just yet … but if I do go silent you’ll all know why.