Archive for the ‘Community Engagement’ Category

Binners Unconference on Oct 20, 2014 in Vancouver

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

A conference on binning is one way UBC’s Learning Exchange, now in its 15th year, is connecting with Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Ken Lyotier says dumpster diving is a lot like treasure hunting except the loot involved is bottles and cans that can be returned for a refund. “They’re the gold and silver of street recycling,” he says.

And while bottles and cans may be disposable, he knows people aren’t.

As the co-leader of the Binners’ Project, a working group for waste pickers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Lyotier is on a mission to improve working conditions for binning, an often-invisible job performed by many of the city’s homeless.

For the past several months, the group has met inside the carport at the UBC Learning Exchange, a community engagement initiative in the DTES, to talk shop.

“Binners spend most of their waking hours picking through garbage,” says Lyotier, a former binner and longtime partner of the Learning Exchange. “They help keep the city clean and should have a voice in waste management policy.”

A nickel for your thoughts

With this in mind, Lyotier’s group is inviting UBC students and the wider community to the UBC Learning Exchange for a binner’s conference – or unconference, as they prefer to call it – on October 20, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The unconference – a more participatory approach to group meetings – will address the issues binners face, like locked dumpsters, and explore the idea of building a national network of street recyclers across Canada.




Coffee Cup Revolution in Vancouver

October 9, 2014 Leave a comment



Oct, 6th, 2014, Victory Square, Vancouver, Canada

The Coffee Cup Revolution is a demonstration depot event being planned for Victory Square in downtown Vancouver on Monday, October 6th, 2014.  

Vancouver binners are carrying out a street-level environmental action, reminiscent of United We Can’s efforts in the early 1990’s. That work helped shift social behavior and responsibility and resulted in the expansion of the deposit laws for beverage containers.

The ignition key for this event will be a “pop-up” depot in Victory Square that will pay binners 5¢ for each of those ubiquitous used paper cups that we see strewn across the urban landscape every day.

The spark behind this action is an exploratory venture, The Binners Project which is being supported under Cities for People, an experimental program for advancing urban innovation.

For its première event, the Binners Project has intentionally identified the “disposable” cup as the symbolic evidence of a conspicuous shift in consumer habits over the past several decades. Binners get up close and personal with our urban waste every day so they see first hand, the effects of this shift. Some older binners recall a time when people used to sit together in cafés chatting over steaming pottery cups of hot coffee. Today, in a busy wireless age, with paper cup in hand, we pursue our goals on the go; leaving a trail of cups, lids, stir sticks, and maybe even some of our values behind us in the dust.

A symbol of our times, but so much more, paper coffee cups have become a serious environmental problem. They litter the highways and byways of our cities, each one of them, an aesthetic assault to our collective unconscious. While it is difficult to estimate with absolute accuracy just how many of these cups we go through every year, the most recent statistics we could find suggest that conservatively, it’s well past the 1.5 billion mark. And that represents more than half a million trees, thousands of tons of garbage, and millions of liters of the fossil fuel needed to move this waste to our landfills and incinerators.

Event sponsors and partners: BC Housing, City of Vancouver, Vancity Community Foundation, Central City Foundation, Vancity Community Investment, Haebler Construction, UBC Learning Exchange, The Dugout Drop-in Centre Society, Recycling Alternative, United We Can, DTES Street Market, and other anonymous supporters.

What is a binner?
binner \`bin-ner\ – noun
Canadian west coast colloquialism
1. A person who collects bottles and cans and other objects of value from garbage (in bins); a dumpster diver; The binner pushed a shopping cart full of empties to the bottle depot.
Origin: Attributed to Robert Sarti (Vancouver Sun journalist) – 1990


0 Coffee Cup Revolution of the Binners Project

DTES Street Market Celebrates the Grand Opening of our Greenway Gallery

September 17, 2014 Leave a comment

invitation greenway gallery

DTES Street Market Celebrates the Grand Opening of our Greenway Gallery

Where: Downtown Eastside, Pigeon Park (300 Carrall St.)
When: Sunday, September 21st between 12noon and 3pm

The DTES Street Market proudly announces the unveiling of ten (10) large (10ft x 6ft) works of art created by local artists from the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver.

These works will be displayed along Carrall St. during market hours (noon to 3pm) on September 21st, 2014.

Each hand painted piece represents a different facet of the DTES culture, and the spirit of the commissioned artist. There will be five (5) pieces painted by Coast Salish and First Nations artists, representing stories from their ancestral home, and their proud cultural heritage. Two pieces on display will celebrate female empowerment and an unwavering celebration of our community. Two more pieces feature Chinese Tibetan Buddha scenes and traditional Chinese dancers. A final piece takes us to the stars with a cosmic ballet captured on canvas.

The DTES Street Market currently provides vending space for over 150 low income residents of the DTES every Sunday, and has been operating continuously since June 2010. We estimate that over $10,000 in commerce is transacted on an average Sunday, delivering over $500,000 into the hands of residents of one of the poorest postal codes in Canada. Over 20 tonnes of waste is removed from landfills every year by the efforts of hundreds of low income binners.

The Greenway Gallery is an important project of the DTES Street Market in its efforts to activate, diversify and beautify the neighbourhood. These large works of art show the personality and talent that is waiting to be unleashed all over our neighbourhood, as well as allowing us to change and improve the types of items that are sold at the market and thus improve the perception of the market itself. The DTES Street Market strongly believes in listening and learning from all voices in our diverse community, for the betterment of all.

Each 10ft x 6ft painting will presented for auction in the coming months to raise money for the DTES Street Market, help subsidize vending space for low income residents, and to facilitate our move from Pigeon Park to 58 West Hastings.

The initial funding for this project, including art supplies and stipends for artists, and the activation of 62 East Hastings as a maker space for art work was supplied by the Great Beginnings program of the City of Vancouver.

For more information, please contact the DTES Street Market Coordinator:
Roland Clarke: 778-323-5415,,

DTEs st mkt puzzle photo

Street Vending + DTES Street Market Open House + Community Forum

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Street Vending and DTES Street Market forum 2 600



220th DTES Street Market

August 25, 2014 Leave a comment

220th DTES Street Market and 35th Street Market of 2014

Roland Clarke, Coordinator of the DTES Street Market says:

It was the second day of our “juggernaut” master plan to control the vending area and to restrict vending at the market to only vendors with membership tags. We have printed out about 216 memberships so far, so there should be more than enough vendors to fill the market.

The volunteers showed up at 8am today, and the washing crew showed up a little earlier at 7:30.

We had three security guards on duty during the day, so this helped quite a bit.

In the time between 8am and 10am we actually managed to hold the perimeter. Here are a few photos…



This was an amazing achievement for our volunteers.
The only people that we let into the area before 10am were vendors with proper membership cards, or people that could prove that they lived in the DTES.

The result was a much more orderly market, and a lot of vendors that realized that we are serious about the membership system.

This will also make it a lot easier in our move to 58 West Hastings St.

Only properly registered vendors will be allowed to vend in this space, and only in areas designated with tents and tables.

It shows that with the right funding we can run a controlled market… something that the whole of Vancouver can be proud of.

This was also (hopefully) the last Sunday where the park will be cut off by fencing. We were assured that a scaffolding would be going up around the Merchant bank, and that the fence would be taken down, allowing us access again to the water tap in the grassy area.

We also signed up a record number of new vendors this Sunday. We had over 65 people show proof of residency in the DTES and get their picture taken for their membership. We are about to run out of the original batch of vendor tags that we ordered. Time to order more…

Sometimes “Cheese” just means cheese

A final funny story that I have to share happened at the market this Sunday.

Quite often we get people running around the market selling cheese. This causes problems for us for a number of reasons. 1) cheese needs to be refrigerated, so someone could be selling spoiled cheese and cause people to get sick. 2) the cheese is likely stolen, since it is frequently sold way below the cost you would see in the store. Likely cheese is a really easy thing to hide, who knows…

So, during the day, there are probably at least half a dozen radio calls about “Cheese at the Market” or “another guy spotted with Cheese”.

Sometime in the afternoon, a VPD officer walked up to our guard at the North End of Carrall St.
He was quite friendly, and asked the guard “So… what does ‘Cheese’ mean?”.

The guard didn’t know what to say, so he said “Cheese just means Cheese – you know…. people walking around with stolen cheese trying to sell it”.

We had a good laugh about this after the guard told the story. I guess it makes sense that there was a suspicion from the VPD that “Cheese” was a code word for something else like “Bread” meaning money, or “Smack” or any other euphemism for drugs. Considering that a good portion of our radio broadcasts during the day are about the “Cheese at the Market”, it would stand to reason that they would be confused.

So, after that story, just let me confirm the basic rule: “No selling cheese (and any dairy product) at the Market!”.

0 220th DTES Street Market

219th DTES Street Market

August 20, 2014 Leave a comment

219th DTES Street Market and 34rd Street Market of 2014

Roland Clarke, Coordinator of the DTES Street Market says:

This was the first day of an experimental procedure.

We got all of the volunteers to come in early, and enforce a perimeter around the market.

We used the water hoses to clean the park, and then tried to only let in vendors that had valid membership IDs.

It sort of worked.

The clean up crew came at 7:30am
The RPICs, Greeters, Security guards, and tent crew all came early at 8:00am and got a small bonus for the trouble.

The main issue is that vendors were not prepared for the fact that they would have to move out of the area, and resisted. They were also quite surprised when we restricted access to those that had vendor membership tags. This is despite the fact that we had been postering the area consistently for a month.

We will try again next week.

The tragic collapse of the Merchant Bank building put a damper on our operations.
The fence went around the grassy area, thus denying us access to power. This prevents our use of the freezer, and thus dampens our profits somewhat…

On the whole, a fully successful market with lots of activity and happy vendors and customers.


0 219th DTES Street Market on Sun Aug 17 2014

218th DTES Street Market

August 11, 2014 Leave a comment

218th DTES Street Market and 33rd Street Market of 2014

Roland Clarke, Coordinator of the DTES Street Market says:

It was another exhausting hot day.
The heat was hard to take, but again, there were no major incidents at the market.

Another banner day of sales, though, with our freezer in action we were able to sell a lot of freezies and ice creams.

The security guards did a great job. Next week we will try and restrict vending to only vendors with valid membership tags.

0 218th DTES Street Market


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