December 19, 2022

Vancouver’s “Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels” (DAFFS) Way Ahead of Their Time

Years ago I was doing an event with Lord Selkirk Elementary (at 1750 East 22nd Avenue)  students and parents, and closed Commercial Street to vehicular traffic for the day.  This is also where the first permanent raised crosswalk was installed in the city of Vancouver.

Christopher Gaze and his company  from Bard on the Beach had worked with the students who performed part of Romeo and Juliet using a law office’s balcony on the street. The children in the performance actually rappelled from the balcony with climbing ropes.

It was a great performance-and at the end, there was a large costumed dinosaur that bicycled up to the crowd. The dinosaur did not speak, but waved to the children and then bicycled away.

Little did I know that that the dinosaur was part of Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels, Vancouver’s “infamous gang of bicycling veloraptors”,  who appear to have debuted in an event in 1999 cycling down the middle of traffic congested Robson Street “for the love of air”.

Their press release at the time quoted Rex Bicyclops, “Chainringleader” and “Spokesreptile” for the group.

Fossil burning vehicles spew out 75 percent of the crap that’s floating in Vancouver’s air. Cars are poisoning kids and changing the climate. There are better ways to get around-that’s why the Dinos ride bicycles. Vancouverites have to change their fossil-burning habits before it’s too late, because extinction stinks!”

That was 23 years ago.

That year T. Raax ran for Mayor against Mayor Philip Owen on a platform that included turning all SUVs into decorative planters, building bike lanes downtown, and increasing bus transit in the city. T. Raax wanted parks not parking a green Stanley Park causeway, traffic calming everywhere, pedestrian/bicycle friendly bridges, and a fossil-free Gastown and Granville Island.

The campaign was sponsored in part by the “Vancouver Civic Neo-Paleozoic” Association. (NPA.)

The Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels (DAFFS) were doing “critical mass” rides in 1999 “reclaiming the streets”. That year  the Dinosaurs spread their “fossilophy” at the World Petroleum Congress in Seattle and debuted a video titled “Extinction Stinks”. In 2000 the DAFFS went to the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary to “set the fossil record straight”. The dinosaurs were part of a peaceful rally of about 1,500 people in Calgary. Because they were in costume and wanted to use their dinosaur names they were not interviewed by North American press: but European press had no difficulty getting their story out about fossil fuels and the resultant pollution from their use.

The Globe and Mail featured an image of the dinosaurs on bikes placing “environmental tickets” on police cars around the conference site in Calgary.

Somehow the members of Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels managed to wrangle passes into the conference centre as their avatar dinosaurs. As the Calgary Sun reported “Sometime this morning Carbonosaurus Trix will try to pass through the cops and the fences of the Forbidden City and actually get into the conference convention centre”.

Surprisingly the Calgary press understood that the Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels were trying to give a complex message in a simple way with their costumed dinosaurs on bikes. As Michael Bowerman of the Calgary Herald stated these demonstrators “managed to poke a hole in the wall of silence around the oil industry’s failures and limitations…renewable energy could be a boon to the Alberta economy.Every dollar now spent on oil may one day be spent on solar and wind generated power, regardless of our choice to invest in that change or not”.

Twenty-two years later, I still don’t know the identity of the bicycling dinosaur that showed up at the Lord Selkirk Elementary School event. I have been privileged to know the identity of a few dinos. I can tell  you that the Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels later worked for TransLink and the City of Vancouver. One also became CEO of a communications company.

Looking back on the official archives of the Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels it has taken a quarter of a century for popular opinion to recognize the science of climate change and sustainability. The Dinosaurs were ahead of their time.

Another Dinosaur may be journalist and communications consultant  Chris Keam who has posted a copy of the “Extinction Stinks” video here.

For this post  I  am using the Adbusters video copy of the DAFF’s “Extinction Stinks” video from 2000 which is clearer. Remember this was produced decades ago as an art film.

Below the YouTube video of “Extinction Stinks”  is the Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels’ protest at the opening of the 2009 Golden Ears Bridge, which connects Langley to Maple Ridge in Metro Vancouver.

 

images:officialDAFFarchives

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Comments

  1. Thank you. That was a terrific bit of theatre. I’m watching it as the 100-150 SUVs descend on our local school, twice a day, in mad chaotic jockeying to get their exercise deprived offspring as close as possible. I recognize some as living 2 blocks away! Most sit in the vehicles, running, for 10-15 minutes ahead of time. Got to get that valued close up spot so Johnny doesn’t have to walk more that 20 feet.

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