March 22, 2016

How to prep for & enjoy a @JSadikKhan evening #Streetfight

Janette Sadik-Khan, former NYCDOT Commissioner and new author of Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, best known for making New York City’s Broadway car-free, will give a talk in Vancouver this evening at the Vancouver Playhouse.
For urbanist geeks this is the event of the year. Like a Blondie concert for Blondie fans or a Back Street Boys concert for BSB fans. You get the idea.
Some City of Vancouver staff will get a chance to have a private Q&A with her today. What will they ask without the eyes of the public on them? Chances are they’ll be inspired to take action.
Tickets are sold out. The last time she was here a venue of 350 free tickets sold out. This time, with tickets at $5 each and a venue of 668 seats, it’s still a sold out show. If you’re lucky enough to be going tonight, here’s how to seem cool about it.

  • Read a local review of her book by Yuri Artibise
  • Read the 6 strategic takeaways from her book by Melissa & Chris Bruntlett
  • Call her JSK when referring to her, assuming everyone knows who that is, like a true urbanist.
  • Dress urbane but without cultural appropriation. Wear a maximum of 1 scarf if you have a short neck.
  • Buy 2 tickets and arrive alone. Pick someone hovering hopefully at the event, ask them what mode they took to get there, and invite them to go with you regardless of their answer. It’s an easy way to seem super generous.
  • Be seen. Arrive early, grab a good seat, then stand to schmooze with others as they arrive. Totally ignore the SCARP student you gave a free ticket to. You’re from the Lost Generation and they don’t know how good they have it.
  • Use the following phrases and matching gestures: “This is not Amsterdam.” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge); “If you can remake it here, you can remake it anywhere.” (pistol wink nod); and “In G-d we trust, everyone else bring data.” (look serious but patient-with-others, adjust prescription glasses with one hand).
  • Know that the last phrase above was said by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Or everyone at the Mayor’s Office. Call him Mike Bloomberg.
  • Bring a list of 10 new projects, find any decision-maker or even minor influencer at the City and demand that all 10 be built before the end of 2018. Make sure Kingsway and Commercial Drive are on your list.
  • Go to the mic to ask a question but instead announce your Bike Rave. Explain it’s not the official Bike Rave and not the alternate bike rave but your own bike rave.
  • Bring your copy of JSK’s book. Wait for an hour after the talk to get it signed, while preparing an intelligent question. Get dragged out by security when they announce Ms. Sadik-Khan can’t sign any more books because her hand has cramped.
  • Have a drink with friends, comparing her last talk to this one. Say “last time her focus was on making it seem simple and doable – a lot of paint and planters. This time seemed more strategic”. Confess you’re jealous of her lack of public consultation.
  • Drunk on ideas and inspired with a vision of what you’d like your City to look like, send an email to to tell them to go ahead, do more. You support it. After all, jesting aside, a misspelled-slightly-incoherent note is better than no note at all.


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  1. Hilarious! And I’m going to adopt all of your “how to be cool” strategies. Thanks for lightening up all the dialogue going on.

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  2. I need some guidance here. Like the doofus I am, I shaved yesterday, so I cannot sport the required urbane length of designer stubble tonight. And I don’t own a scarf. Should I just wear a paper bag on my head? Preferably from Nordstrom?

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      Well, scruff works for otters and silver foxes but smooth face is good, too. I have a photo of an outfit from a certain department store I could suggest but I’m saving it for a future post.
      If your photo is anything to go by, a plaid shirt is apropos. I believe it’s part of a look called Metrosexual Lumberjack, minus the beard I guess. See you there!

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