My experience of the Living City Forum was very positive. It was most interesting to have artists and scientists communicating on the same topic and to experience firsthand the critical relevance to our society of both ways of 'knowing' about and understanding natural phenomena. I was fascinated to see the connections that became evident and learned much from both groups. It was also fascinating to see the mix of expert/professional knowledge and local/community based knowledge…
Dr. Freda Pagani
Director, Sustainability, University of British Columbia – Presenter, Living City Forum

Related links: Pets and Birds, Birds and Windows, and Bird Friendly Coffee

For additional info on the 1999 Living City Forum see the Schedule and the presenter Bios.

A part of the SongBird mandate was to promote an awareness of nature within the city, and the city within nature. We developed a series of events to encourage an awareness of human culture and habitations as embedded within our environing world - presenting opportunities to turn our ideas of human separation on their heads. THE LIVING CITY was one of these. We believe - and this was born out again and again in experience - that the arts in particular can embody this way of being in the world and so both remind us, and provide an experience of, connection.

The Living City was a community forum/symposium created to promote this vision, and to encourage practical steps towards realising this goal. We brought together artists, scientists, architects, activists and others with the general community for a series of presentations and conversations on habitat, relationship to place and possiblities for how to better dwell within our environing world.

The emphasis was on providing possibilities and models for individual action and stewardship, together creating a vision for a "Living City".

The model for the Living City forum was non-heirarchical. Presenters were invited to speak, as members of the community, with specialised knowledge to share. This is where discussion, and action, begins.

The first Living City forum was held on Sept. 5th & 6th 1998 at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver. In addition to presentations and community discussions in the Roundhouse Performance Centre, the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall housed an installation by community organisations actively engaged in programs of conservation & habitat renewal.

The Forum also promoted an integration of arts, science, and the humanities, with presentations by biologists, landscape architects, environmental youth groups and urban planners as well as poets, singers, actors, and choreographers.

Groups represented in the exhibition hall outside included the Barefoot Cartographers, Co-Development Canada, Community Gardens, Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust, Environmental Youth Alliance, Friends of False Creek, Finn Slough Living Society, Friends of Boundary Bay, Friends of the Environment Foundation, the Outdoor Council of B.C., VanCity Savings Credit Union and Wild Birds Unlimited.

Introduction from the second (1999) Living City Forum - Sept. 25th & 26th at the Roundhouse Performance Centre:

Welcome to the Living City Forum. This is our second forum and this year we've chosen to explore ways that individuals and communities can contribute to the vitality and sustainability of our city. While almost everyone recognises that the lifestyle choices of modern or Western culture are a massive draw on the world's energy and ecology, we are often unaware of how our perceptions and daily choices can have a profound positive as well as negative effect on our region.

Because we do not live in this world alone, but are related within a community of air, water, earth and billions of other species, how we act within this community forms the relationship that we, our children and our children's children, have and will have in the future.

We've invited a diverse group of presenters, and you, the larger community, to share knowledge, insights, and ways of being in and perceiving the world, in the hopes that we can begin to re-imagine our city, not as a concrete island, but as an intricately connected expression of the ecology that nurtures & sustains it. We hope you enjoy this year's forum and that together we help Vancouver move towards being a city with an active consciousness of its place
- a Living City.

Beth Carruthers & Nelson Gray, SongBird Co-Directors