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Gene Miller

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  1. Image: Artist's rendering of a development proposal in Vancouver designed by the British architecture firm Heatherwick Studio. As the cold-faced high-rises multiply around the city centre, we are opening the door to alienation and disruption. Go to story
  2. As the cold-faced high-rises multiply around the city centre, we are opening the door to alienation and disruption. If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow… Why oh why can’t I? I’M LOSING TRACK OF HISTORY, but didn’t we, back in the dim past, 20 years ago, look forward to a soon-arriving age when all work would be done by smart machines and robots, liberating humanity from drudgery and tedium? Yes, “liberated” was the word, and I’m trying to remember what, freed from labour, we imagined we were going to do every day, all day long. Think great t
  3. Photo: One of several new residential highrises under construction in Victoria's downtown area. The tower trash on Downtown’s east and north shoulders adds urgency to understanding the relationship between community values and urban design. Go to story
  4. The tower trash on Downtown’s east and north shoulders adds urgency to understanding the relationship between community values and urban design. I RECENTLY SAW A SWEATSHIRT for sale bearing the message: “I’m not arguing. I’m explaining why I’m right.” Considering the prevailing political weather south of us, the durable social chaos surrounding the US presidential transition, and the now-deep-stirring threats to American democracy, such graffiti seems overly polite. Wade Davis, in a penetrating August, 2020 Rolling Stone essay, wrote: “Fluidity of memory and a capacity to forg
  5. Posted January 10, 2021 Image: High Point Community Church in Victoria West Why don’t we still make communities and cities that give us a feeling of identity and heart’s ease? Go to story
  6. Why don’t we still make communities and cities that give us a feeling of identity and heart’s ease? “BALANCE IN ALL THINGS” we say, wisely. The embrace of such wisdom makes us hopeful, and even near-certain, like well-behaved children, that God, always conning for signs of decency and right thought, is taking note, keeping score. And while we’re here, compare the expressive calm of the Latin equilibrium with buh-heavy balance—buh, as in but, bother, bellow, the double-b bomb and, in spite of beauty and bliss, sounding less like balance itself and more like forces grimly tethe
  7. Posted December 20, 2020 Image: An artist's rendering of the Starlight proposal for Harris Green. Starlight Developments' mega-plan for a block in Harris Green suggests we’re not all in this together. Go to story
  8. Starlight Developments' mega-plan for a block in Harris Green suggests we’re not all in this together. An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance JOIN ME: we’re going on a tunnelled journey deep into a corporate psyche; probably, actually, the psyche—the structure and joinery of ideas and values—of an individual corporate executive, since it seems so often to come down to that. But I promise, when we emerge, you will recognize that the whole time it has been a rollercoaster ride around your own sensibilities and values—
  9. Posted November 12, 2020 Can the social messaging inherent in Victoria’s buildings help us render current reality legible in these destabilized times? Go to story
  10. Can the social messaging inherent in Victoria’s buildings help us render current reality legible in these destabilized times? A note to readers of this column: Founding Editor of Focus, Leslie Campbell (you old-timers will remember that Focus began its life as a “women’s magazine” titled Ironing And Brats), has invited me to centre my future contributions generally on urban design and architecture themes, noting that the recorded readership levels of my recent “meaning of life” columns suggest that nobody reads that shit. This, of course, is not true. I know for a fact th
  11. Posted October 15, 2020 Image: Tourists boat by scrap metal pile on Victoria's Selkirk Waters. The project of civic renewal needs us to bring our many gifts to the table—and set an example for the world. Go to story
  12. The project of civic renewal needs us to bring our many gifts to the table—and set an example for the world. SWOONING. Do people still swoon? Informative and very entertaining liner notes with a CD of Charles-Valentin Alkan’s piano music comment that “by the mid-1830’s, Alkan had taken up residence in Paris’s fashionable Square d’Orleans, with the younger Dumas, the ballerina Taglioni, and later, Chopin and George Sand as neighbours,” and friend of the admiring Liszt “whose pianistic style in concerts was capped with such histrionic gestures as swooning at the pia
  13. Posted August 19, 2020 Photo: Park visitors discuss the tents in Beacon Hill Park The vast resources invested in Victoria’s homeless—without apparent success—provide incentive and the means to fashion a new narrative about this city. Go to story
  14. The vast resources invested in Victoria’s homeless—without apparent success—provide incentive and the means to fashion a new narrative about this city. All these beauties will already be familiar to the visitor, who has seen them also in other cities. But the special quality of this city for the man who arrives there on a September evening, when the days are growing shorter, is that he feels envy toward those who now believe they have once before lived an evening identical to this and who think they were happy, that time. —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities I BEGIN WITH THI
  15. Posted August 11, 2020 Image: Bay Centre Food Court in September 2019, before the pandemic arrived. It’s only when normal takes a holiday that we get an intuitive glimpse of the vast, unseen social and environmental forces that sustain normal. Go to story
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