YYJ: Onward City with Caste Projects and Guests (Part 1)

Onward City Poster

What is the contemporary? How do we build and inhabit our city in a way that gels with who we are, and who we’re becoming? How do we grow and work together as a community, without stepping on each others’ toes in haste, without getting slowed down and frustrated with red tape and liability?

Episode 15 of the Working Together Podcast is a special one! It’s a recording from an event held in Victoria, BC the city I currently hail from, called Onward City. The speakers are:

  • Whitney Davis – Arts Educator, Librarian
  • Jill Doucette – Founder, Synergy Enterprises
  • Craig Dykers – Architect & Co-Founder of Snøhetta
  • Helen Marzolf – Executive Director, Open Space
  • Jonathan Tinney –  Director of Sustainable Development & Community Planning, City of Victoria

This is part 1 of a wide ranging conversation about contemporary culture, public space and the forces that shape a city hosted by friend and collaborator Caleb Beyers of Caste Projects. (for part 2, listen here)

Have a listen to the episode and subscribe to The Working Together Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and other podcast directories.

Some Big Ideas Exchanged: contemporary architecture and design, family farms, amnesia, 400 square foot living, 80 ton slabs of stone, and so much more!

“We are all deaf and mute to the language of objects…” – Craig Dykers, Snøhetta


“When people say to me ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you have four kids, and you live in a 400 square foot house, and you have jobs, and your husband builds, and he’s doing this and that on the side, and you have one hot plate and a toaster oven to cook with right now for six people…’ I say ‘let me tell you about what my parents were doing at this time’…. Firsthand I know how little we need.” – Whitney Davis, Librarian


“Nowadays there’s all this structure to entrepreneurship: you do a business plan, there’s courses you can take, you get to an ‘incubator’, an ‘accelerator’, and mentors and coaches. But at [my parent’s time] you just make it happen if you can, and you face a lot of failure.” – Jill Doucette, Synergy Enterprises


“I remember once, when I was younger, the Gardener Dam was being built on the Saskatchewan river, and I remember going to this site where all the engineers lived… there was this suburb in the middle of the prairies, and I just thought ‘Oh maybe that’ll happen on our farm!'” It was so bizarre to see this. I mean, nothing was paved in those days and it had curves and sidewalks and houses… it was unreal.” – Helen Marzolf, Open Space


I see design working in the moment. And if it doesn’t work in the moment… and it’s either too much related to the past, or too much of an expression of the future, then it’s not about us, it’s about an intellectual exercise or theoretical understanding of who we are.” – Craig Dykers, Snøhetta


“The past I think is always with us, whether it’s the ghost at the side that effects how you might think about [art], because we all bring that to what we see in contemporary art, or experimental music, or performance art, or new dance, or whatever. I think it’s there and often unrecognized because we live in an amnesiac society… we forget and suppress.” – Helen Marzolf, Open Space


“What troubles me… is the editing of your life. The way that you can parse down the interactions that you have with the outside world to only those things that fit your particular viewpoint. I think that’s a challenge. We’re not getting the collective experience where we meet the next day at work and have a discussion about what happened on The National or on Hockey Night in Canada. So, it puts more emphasis on the real world to create collective experiences… When we think about the city and when we think about the way we design things and when we think about public spaces… and so opportunities, whether they are the big festival that happens every summer within your town that helps to bring people together or the little five minute, call them “urban bathroom breaks” where you can interact with other people and create a collective experience in a face-to-face situation… I think these just become more and more important.” – Jonathan Tinney, City of Victoria


“We don’t allow for too much professional judgement in the world, so if you’re an intelligent person, and you’ve studied engineering and you look at this thing and say “yeah this can work”, but you work inside the building department, you’re not allowed to say that because it’s not legally quantifiable.”  – Craig Dykers, Snøhetta

And so much more!

References, allusions, and mentions implied:

People mentioned:

Credit where credit is due:

This event and podcast were made possible with support from:

  • Gabriel Ross
  • Aryze
  • Purdey Pacific Properties
  • Category12 Brewing
  • Metalab
  • Study-Build

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