04 May 30Network Snapshots
Meet the 30Network, a team of 30 young influencers under 30 who love Vancouver, and want to stay. Over the past two months, the 30Network has brought their passion and perspectives on housing to co-create innovative solutions for an affordable future. These are not housing experts, but a diverse group of urban changemakers who have different experiences, backgrounds and understandings, but also a shared vision for an inclusive city. Here is just a snapshot of this kick-ass group of young leaders.
Meet Alice: The Systems-Thinker.
Alice has just graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology with a minor in Commerce. As a Wellness Peer during her time at UBC, her passions lie in health and wellbeing, as she enjoys interacting with people, promoting health, and providing resources to students when they are facing challenges. During her exchange in Sweden, Alice became fascinated with how the environment affects human health.
In Alice’s opinion, affordability and access to available housing is the biggest challenge currently facing millennials and housing in Vancouver. This is what drew Alice to the 30Network – the connection between housing and the surrounding environment with regards to accessibility to healthy housing for youth. This means housing that is close to active transportation, has access to resources, and that does not negatively impact the physical or mental health of the tenant. Alice believes that something that is extremely lacking in current tenant-landlord relationships is trust. She explains that the goal of her and her group’s project is to “rebuild this trust in order to form a positive foundation in the renting community” and therefore will increase accessibility to housing for more marginalized groups.
“Engagement leads to support, instead of barriers, for youth.” Every decision that happens in the city affects youth, whether immediately or in years to come. Alice thinks it is important for youth to be involved in this conversation by voicing their concerns and offering their ideas, as this will allow them to shape a city which they can see themselves in. Because of this, she believes there should be more youth-engaged organizations in Vancouver to foster engagement and generate change.
During her time in Lund, Sweden Alice appreciated how youth are able to be youth through government support for students in free tuition and stipends for living costs. Because of this, there is a different cultural understanding of what a student is. For example, most students do not have a part-time job while attending university, like many students in Vancouver have to do so in order to pay for living expenses. Unlike Vancouver, this erases the instability and uncertainty around access to housing and other resources.
Why is Alice Here To Stay? Not only is Vancouver home for Alice, but she also sees that “Vancouver is a beautiful city with lots of diversity- it has a lot of offer and deserves a thriving community”. She has come to realize how much communities have to offer in every section of Vancouver, and beyond in the lower mainland. “Vancouver is a space where people want to care, collaborate and support each other, and it deserves to thrive in the best way possible”, but this means we need to “foster a community where we are able to thrive in all aspects”.
What’s next for Alice? In the fall, Alice will be starting her Masters of Global Population Health at the London School of Economics. She is excited to explore health policy through systems-thinking, and how that can be utilized to better implement projects that will benefit the environment and human health. She is also looking forward to gaining new perspectives and growing in a new community.
Alice’s favourite spot in the city is the benches at Vanier Park that have a breathtaking 180+ degree view of the city.
Meet Sarah: The Changemaker.
After two years of travelling the world, Sarah has settled back in Vancouver where she is combining her education in history and political science from UVic with her Public Relations knowledge from BCIT in her new role at POP. The People Agency. Taking local action using a global perspective, Sarah is passionate about engaging and educating youth and other Vancouverites on the importance of voting, especially with our upcoming election.
In Sarah’s opinion, the biggest challenge currently facing millennials and housing in Vancouver is prices. There is a “lack of a safety net for younger generations in Canada”- once millennials leave university and enter a low-paying job, we end up spending most of our income on rent, resulting in unstable financial support. This means many millennials are stuck once they graduate, with an inability to accept opportunities which may help them grow, simply out of fear of not being able to afford rent.
The uniqueness of the 30Network is what drew Sarah to join. She is curious about the typically unhealthy relationship between landlords and tenants, and interested in giving tenants agency when it comes to housing. It can be frustrating when the talk of the town is all about housing and affordability, but the decision-makers are in fact missing representatives from those that are affected the most, and these voices need to be heard. Sarah was excited to join the 30Network because she sees the importance of engaging youth in city-shaping, particularly in the political realm. Politics at all levels changes the way our city is built, and because of this we need to exercise our democratic right. Sarah believes that by educating people around the basics of our political system, they then have the capacity to make informed decisions when it comes to voting. Sarah notices that our current parties are not engaging youth enough, and hopes to change this. In a political world that can often be overwhelming, we cannot alienate our youth, but instead engage them and incorporate them more in our democratic system.
Why is Sarah Here To Stay? Is Sarah here to stay? While her family and network revolves around this city, Sarah notices the constant struggle of affordability, and has thought about other Canadian cities such as Toronto. But for now, she is Here To Stay!
What’s next for Sarah? Aside from her new job, Sarah is busy politically engaging Vancouverites around the upcoming provincial election.
Sarah’s favourite neighbourhood in the city is around Commercial drive: “It is an inclusive community where everyone knows their neighbours”, which can sometimes be hard to find in Vancouver.
Meet Gabe: The Youth Voice.
Gabe has only lived in Vancouver for 8 months, and has enjoyed exploring the exciting neighbourhoods and events that Vancouver has to offer, but also immediately recognized the barriers that youth are facing in the city. In Gabe’s opinion, the biggest challenge currently facing millennials is the price of housing, but the root of the problem is housing supply: “To address the housing affordability crisis, we need to increase supply, which isn’t so simple. There are many steps that can be taken.”
As a recent graduate from the Regional and Urban Planning program at the University of Saskatchewan, Gabe is “a huge policy wonk, with an interest in urban specific issues”. This is what drew Gabe to the 30Network- “I like how it gave me the opportunity to talk to other young people about issues I’m passionate about, while talking about ways to improve the situation and take action”.
Gave believes it is important to engage youth in city-shaping, as youth are going to be the ones to inherit this world. “The nature of urban infrastructure is that it lasts for a really long time, and we continue to build on the same urban patterns that were made a generation ago. I think we should listen to the generation of people that have to live with the decisions that we make today, because new generations have different preferences and views on what they want to see. We should have a future oriented vision while building our cities. I also feel like we are not doing enough to engage our youth and the age range of people that attend policy meetings and town halls skew older, even as youth are being affected by policy.”
As an advocate for amplifying the youth voice on important issues, Gabe looks to Generation Squeeze for their work around youth engagement. With the goal of reorienting our policy and political culture to accommodate the changing needs of anyone under 40 today, Gabe sees Generation Squeeze as an organization that successfully engages youth.
Why is Gabe Here To Stay? “I have been in Vancouver for 8 months, and I really like living here, but I don’t know where I’m going to be in the future. One factor that might prevent me from staying here is housing. I grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan and I have friends there who have purchased homes at 24 years old, and it’s really compelling for me. However I would prefer staying in the city, but it’s hard due to high rent.”
What’s next for Gabe? Gabe is a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council. The youth council is a body of young Canadians aged 16 to 24, who provide non-partisan advice to the Prime Minister on national issues such as employment, access to education, building stronger communities as well as climate change and clean growth, among others. “Political culture is dominated by people who are older, and youth do not have a lot of influence as our proportion of the population would suggest. It is important to speak out so that youth are listened to and not ignored.”
Gabe’s favourite neighbourhood in the city is Olympic village and False Creek, particularly the modern urban design of this area.
Meet Clinton: The Sustainability Strategist.
As a recent graduate from the Chemical and Biological Engineering program at UBC, Clinton is used to sweating the details involved in taking on complex problems and creating solutions, but also brings a broader perspective in terms of sustainability and inclusivity. In Clinton’s opinion, the biggest challenge currently facing millennials and housing in Vancouver is that “the voices of young people are not being heard. It’s almost become accepted that Vancouver is expensive, and that students and young people will find it hard to find housing.”
Clinton was drawn to the 30Network because he wants to be a part of the answers for housing and affordability in Vancouver: “My family lives here, and I want to be part of the solution that will allow me to stay near them in the future”. Clinton hopes to see more support for students on the affordability issue: “It’s a problem that crappy basement suites are endemic and that student housing is so expensive. Students already deal with a lot of debt, and a good first step would be to address this issue to make life more affordable for young people”. Clinton appreciated how the 30Network allowed the team to work within the structure of the system to create solutions for housing affordability: “It allowed people from all walks of life to have input into the issue, without having to be an expert on housing. We need both policy change and grassroots solutions like the 30Network to be able to get through the housing crisis together.”
Clinton believes that it is important to engage youth in city-shaping in order to create a city that they can stay in, and not be forced to leave. Young professionals are forced the leave Vancouver for more affordable cities, and this has serious implications on our local economy. To put it simply: “The city needs young people to thrive.”
Why is Clinton Here To Stay? Clinton hopes to do some travelling in the future, but eventually wants to come back and settle down in the city he grew up in.
What’s next for Clinton? In addition to working on a stroke rehab device this summer and promoting gender diversity in engineering, Clinton is currently working on a project where food and human waste is turned into fuel for a cruise ship through natural bioreactions.
Clinton’s favourite area in the city is Broadway. While Clinton loves a jog in the Endowment Lands, he is attracted to the unique buzz of Broadway: “it’s not as busy as Downtown but it has it’s own vibe.”
You’ve met the 30Network, now it’s time for you to witness their solutions at our event on May 10th: Here To Stay. RSVP here.
Special thanks to Vancity Credit Union, Cities4People, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, Generation Squeeze, the Real Estate Foundation of BC, LandlordBC, Embark SFU, and RADIUS for their generous support in making the 30Network possible.
This post was written by Claire Crowther of CityHive.