Vancouver was on the cusp of change with a new mayor, new council and a vision to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020. The City was looking for bold and ambitious ideas in which to make this dream a reality. Our big idea envisioned a Vancouver that is sustainable, joyful and inclusive with youth – their hopes, energy and creativity – at the heart of city building. And so CityStudio Vancouver was born 10 years ago as an innovation hub.
In these ten years, we’ve expanded our reach from a dozen to 1,000 students each term. More importantly, as is the CityStudio way, we’ve learned by doing, by following an idea and experimenting. We’ve seen for ourselves that good projects are the result of good relationships and that working together is the only way forward. We know from experience that small projects – like CityStudio started – can add up to big changes in our community, our city, and in ourselves (I invite you to learn more here). And we’ve also failed forward fast and learned to adapt and thrive in a pandemic that pushed us to do things differently, while maintaining connections and inspiration for our participants and colleagues. Unfortunately, the future still needs CityStudio as the social and environmental challenges we face are more complex and urgent.
As Director, I am really proud to continue this legacy, and to share with you the thoughts and wishes from our Founders, Chair, and partner institutions’ leaders. They remind us of the great need and value of innovating, and engaging youth to make Vancouver more sustainable, equitable, and joyful.
Thank you to all our past collaborators, innovators, and changemakers especially to the students, City staff and faculty that have participated and created projects, to our City and academic liaisons saying YES continuously, and to the remarkable coordinators behind all these “matches.” We can only imagine where we’ll be in the next ten years.
Onwards to the next decade of innovation with the City,
– Miriam Esquitín, Director
Duane Elverum, Executive Director and Co-Founder
What a decade! This anniversary is a truly special time to reflect on 10 years at CityStudio from an evolving array of roles ranging from Co-Founder, Instructor, Director, and Executive Director. What started as a very simple idea of engaging Vancouver students more deeply in their own education has evolved into a decade-long, systems transformation project in three countries helping municipal governments, post-secondaries, and local communities work together. At the heart of this system’s change effort is the need for young student-citizens to feel that they belong at the table, learning about and shaping their cities.
This dream started with Janet and I working with 14 students and a few City staff under the Cambie bridge. Now, 10 years later, we teach other cities how to launch their own CityStudio, so that together, as a Network, we can have a collective impact towards more liveable, joyful, sustainable and inclusive cities. Looking to that horizon, this journey has only begun. Thank you to all of our staff, board members, partners, and funders for making this dream possible.
Dr. Janet Moore, Co-Founder
“Happy 10th anniversary CityStudio! You are growing up to be a strong, thoughtful and consistent organization – it’s great to see CityStudio become mainstream and accepted by the folks who questioned what we were doing all those years ago. This anniversary reminds me of the folks who got together in 2005 with students from four different universities and set out to imagine sustainability in a classroom – we wandered the city, found sticky problems and rode our bikes through alleys and fields on what was proposed to be the Central Valley Greenway. It felt amazing to be co-learning with the students and co-imagining a different way of being together while in university.
We invited the City of Vancouver to our classroom and it was thrilling to blend student ideas with City staff and community members. I remember the students saying they wanted bike jumps on their commute and we still live in a city with very few bike jumps! I have such fond memories of the early cohorts at CityStudio – the campfire project, the frame, the events in the rain and under the bridge. I hope that the students who get to have a voice as a result of this program can find a way to continue to challenge decision makers and ensure that Vancouver and all the other cities involved become more equitable, playful and sustainable. Onwards to more radical solutions for city building – keep challenging the status quo CityStudio!”
Bill Dow, Board Chair
“I am excited and humbled to be a part of the 10th anniversary celebration of CityStudio Vancouver. However, as we celebrate, we recognize the efforts of CityStudio Vancouver are more crucial than ever. Cities around the world face significant challenges on many fronts. To confront these challenges our youth are keen to participate through creative solutions and energy. Over the last decade, CityStudio Vancouver has been playing a unique role in fostering this next generation of changemakers, inspiring action and innovation in Vancouver. It’s no wonder the CityStudio model is in demand across the country and beyond.
This 10-year milestone is the result of collective efforts and trusting relationships. Thank you to each participating student, faculty, and City staff for their contributions in tackling complex urban challenges. Thank you to the ongoing trust and support from the City of Vancouver, our four post-secondary partner institutions, and to our staff for their devotion and talent. Cheers to 10 more years of sustainability, equity and joy!”
We are deeply honoured and thankful by the support and engagement from the City of Vancouver and our post-secondary partners. Without their openness to learn by doing, experimenting and collaboration, we would not be where we are today. To another ten years of innovating the city!
Here are messages of inspiration from the Mayor of Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart, and Post-secondary Presidents from Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, Langara College, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
Closed captions are available on all the videos below. To show, select the cc in the bottom, right-hand corner of the video window.
City of Vancouver Mayor, Kennedy Stewart
SFU President, Joy Johnson
Langara College President, Dr. Paula Burns
BCIT President, (Former) Kathy Kinloch