by Tia Will
During this time when Davis is clearly in need of additional funding for maintenance of city infrastructure and discussion will be heating up on the proposals for “innovation parks” I had my summer vacation. We went to my hometown in the Pacific Northwest and on to Vancouver. There we visited Granville Island a favored spot of my partner, but previously unknown to me.
Granville Island is a unique tourist destination in Vancouver, but it is much more than that. From its beginning as the home of a single machine shop on a sand bar separated by a bridge from the city of Vancouver, by 1923 it was occupied by secondary industries such as roofing shingles, chain, barrels, wire rope, nails, paint, cement, rivets, and boilers in service of the regions primary businesses of foresting, mining, construction and shipping.
Having survived the depression, Granville Island eventually fell into decline and many of the structures, abandoned by those whose industries has been replaced by newer technologies and means of transport were destroyed by fire. The site languished until 1970 when the Canadian government stepped in and transformed the site into a multi- purpose space that has continued to thrive ever since.
The Granville Island of today is a unique combination of industry, a huge public market, a wide variety of maker spaces for artisans, the home of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a number of performing arts venues and groups.
Anchoring the industrial section is a fully working concrete plant and a machine shop. Maker spaces that we visited included a hand carver of totem poles, a broom maker, and a maker of one of a kind scarves and accessories. In this section were also glassblowers, printmakers, a master sake maker, jewelry makers, a potters guild, boat builders, and a wood working co-op. There is also the home of the Granville Island Brewery which has since moved its main facility but retains a presence on Granville.*
If you are still reading, you may wonder what this has to do with Davis. Davis is not, and never will be a huge city and tourist destination like Vancouver. But, when considering what vision we prefer for our city, we are, at least in the visioning stages, limited only by our imaginations. Some of the difficulties that I can see with the presentations so far on the “innovation parks” are:
- They lack a true sense of “innovation”. At the two presentations to date, they sound more like re workings of any business park, but dressed up by the allure of “high tech”. In 2014, the ideas that are being presented are based on models that were in their “imagining stages” decades ago.
- They lack a sense of inclusivity. One of the major problems that I see is in a city with many diverse interests and active vocal groups all attempting to promote their own interests, these “innovation park” proposals speak to a very narrow group, those who have “high tech” interests. But Davis has a wealth of other very creative people including those whose interests involve everything from the fine arts , artisanal crafts, medicine ( both human and animal) , agriculture, biking and transportation, athletics of all sorts and I am sure, many others.
We also have a very engaged community with a wide variety of opinions on the necessity and desirability of growth at all. These would include the Vanguard’s “One through Four” groupings, with the “ones” being the “grow as fast as possible” group, to the “fours” which would be the “no growth, no how” group. On this spectrum, I am a reluctant 3. I recognize the need for and some benefits of economic growth. I also recognize that with economic growth will come increased pressures for population growth and increasing costs for the ongoing maintenance for support for that growth.
My thought is that perhaps the best strategy to shift some of the fours and certainly some of the three’s towards economic development would be to take another look at the one dimensional strategy that has been presented by the developers so far .
Perhaps if we could shift to a more inclusive, truly innovative paradigm that would engage many more interests within our community ,we might encounter a true win-win situation in which the draw is not just “we need this to generate more money” but rather “our community will benefit from this proposal in as many ways as there are people who would like to contribute.”
In response to multiple posts of mine on Vanguard articles, I have falsely been represented as an opponent to all change. This is inaccurate. I am offering, with Granville Island, just one example, an alternative way at looking at the future of Davis and how we might choose to grow as a community in an inclusive, integrative way continuing to leverage the strengths of our university while meeting the aspirations of a far broader segment of our community and creating a truly innovative space unique to Davis the university and Davis the community.
*Historical information on Granville Island is from Wikipedia and conversations with some of the artisans and shopkeepers.