In this series, we catch-up with CityStudio Vancouver alumni to find out where they are now, what they’ve been up to and how CityStudio helped them get there.
NAME: Veronika Bylicki
Co-Founder and Co-Director, CityHive
BSc in Global Resource Systems, Specialization in Urban Sustainability and Policy, University of British Columbia (UBC), 2017
When did you participate in CityStudio?
SFU Semester at CityStudio, Fall 2015
Tell us about your CityStudio project?
The Lighter Footprint Project exists to achieve the Greenest City Goal of reducing Vancouver’s ecological footprint by 33% by 2020, while creating stronger community connections. Using an ambassador model, the project appoints motivated community leaders to be the Lighter Footprint Ambassador for their block, high rise building or complex. These leaders then teach their neighbours about their ecological footprint, how to lower it, and guide them in measuring their footprint pre- and post- project. They also lead hands-on workshops and a community-based project, such as bike repair workshops or a garden or mural, to bring their community together while achieving this goal. We piloted the project in a co-op complex in Marpole. The project, initially inspired by Project Green Bloc, is now in a larger pilot phase with Evergreen and the City of Vancouver, happening in a few neighbourhoods around Vancouver.
How has your experience at CityStudio impacted you and/or your career?
My time at CityStudio had a huge impact on me and where I’m at now, and of course was a highlight of my undergrad. Learning in such a small community was very special, particularly in the middle of a degree that otherwise features large lecture halls. One of the key lessons I learned was the importance and beauty of experimentation; a project or product doesn’t have to be fully refined or perfect to launch it into the world. What’s important is that it’s out there. I gained a sense of fearlessness in trying and learned to refine along the way. At the same time, a big takeaway for me was the importance of ‘going slow to go fast’ as well as intentionality in community.
Those three lessons and takeaways were huge for me in launching CityHive. We took time and went slow in having conversations and building something really intentionally, while also being fearless in launching a project that was still a bit of an experiment. Everything I do and we do as CityHive is also rooted in growing a community.
What do you think Vancouver needs more of?
As a lifelong Vancouverite and someone who works in the space of making Vancouver better, I think about this a lot. In addition to core essentials – like affordability – there are two things that I think Vancouver needs more of: spontaneity and community ownership over spaces.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust the process. Explore, be open, try things you think you might not enjoy, and take advantage of all the opportunities around you to learn!
Where will we find you in the coming year?
Since finishing at UBC, I’ve jumped into CityHive full time, so you’ll find me working on building that! We are in the midst of planning another 30Network on Civic Engagement, set to launch in early 2018, as well as Youth Hubs so that urban sustainability nerds (I’m looking at you, CityStudio alum!) can convene and continually work on projects together to make our city better. I’m especially looking forward to building more opportunities to get involved – so stay tuned!