The two of us formed Modacity in May 2014 out of a desire to tell compelling stories about the people and ideas that were shaping our cities for the better. Positive, inspiring stories the traditional media outlets didn’t appear interested in telling, but we were experiencing first- and secondhand, as our own home of Vancouver swiftly moved towards a multi-modal future. With 2015 coming to a close, we wanted to take a moment to review the year that was for Modacity, and take a brief look at the people, places, and projects that made it a special one.
Our Story. Our Future.
In December 2014, when it became clear that Metro Vancouver was headed for a monumental and divisive referendum on transportation funding, our colleague and friend Gordon Price approached us to collaborate on a short film that would put this decision into context, and stress the key role that smart planning and quality transit have played in shaping one of the most livable regions in the world. Written, shot, and edited with a small budget and an accelerated four week schedule, the resulting four minutes of video – also sponsored by the David Suzuki Foundation, Better Transit and Transportation Coalition, and British Columbia Cycling Coalition – received widespread acclaim and viewership, but was sadly not enough to affect a process that appeared designed to fail by the provincial government.
When BikeArlington contacted us in late 2014 about commissioning a series of short films designed to promote cycling in their County, we didn't hesitate for a second. This was an incredible opportunity to apply the skills and style we had developed while independtly producing the Vancouver Cycle Chic Films, but on a much larger scale. The logistics of casting, scouting, and shooting on the other side of the continent was admittedly a little daunting, but with a talented and dedicated crew of close friends, we managed to plan and execute everything (rather) smoothly, and spent two weeks filming "on location" in the DC metropolitan area in early May. After a September premiere screening in Arlington, the films were released on YouTube, and continue to keep us busy on the film festival circuit.
CBC: The National
In July 2015, we were approached by a producer at the CBC to appear in an upcoming documentary for The National, their flagship nightly news and current affairs program. The concept was a simple one: “What if a Canadian city such as Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal invested hundreds of millions of dollars into bicycle infrastructure?” A film crew followed our family around for three days in July as we went about our daily routine and illustrated that very scenario to viewers: What would that investment look like “on the ground” for regular Canadian families? The finished piece - which included an interview with our friend, UBC Professor Kay Teschke - generated a great deal of attention and discussion about building better bike lanes, and even landed us on the cover of the Vancouver Courier for an article we wrote about the experience.
Cargo Bike Championship
Motivated by a distinct lack of availability on the local retail market, we decided to organize Vancouver's very first Cargo Bike Championship (or Svajerløb, as it is known in Copenhagen) in May 2015. Working in partnership with our friends at HUB Cycling and Urban Systems, we had an amazing response to our call for contestants: ending up with 37 participants on longjohns and longtails of all shapes, sizes, and budgets, competing for prizes, and demonstrating the endless possibilities of a cargo bike. Thanks to Two Wheel Gear, Grin Technologies, Postmark Brewing, Urban Systems, Bomber Brewing, and Cycle City Tours for their generous prize donations. We had a tremendous amount of fun that afternoon, and are already making plans to return with an even bigger and better event in 2016.
We were privileged to take the Modacity roadshow to a number of North American cities in 2015, speaking on a variety of topics to audiences of all shapes and sizes. In May we managed to coincide our filming schedule in Arlington to speak about Vancouver’s evolution as a cycling city. The Arlington Passages series took us to Philadelphia and Los Angeles, as we gave talks sponsored by The 5th Square and StreetsblogLA, respectively. We were also invited to speak at North Vancouver City Hall about the car-lite lifestyle, and kicked off the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place speaker series with a talk about the future of shared spaces in Vancouver. We also had the honour of travelling to Kelowna, as guests of Urban Systems, to participate in a community discussion about “The End of Bikes vs. Cars”.
The task of writing stories is what keeps us busiest at Modacity, and 2015 was definitely the year were we kicked it up a notch. When it was all said and done, we completed an amazing 68 different pieces for various international publications, including Grist, Momentum Magazine, as well as regular columns in local publications such as Vancity Buzz and the Vancouver Courier. It continues to pleasantly surprise us how well many of our pieces are received, and amaze us when we see them graciously being shared by urbanist rock stars like Janette Sadik-Khan, Taras Grescoe, Jen Keesmat, Richard Florida, Brent Toderian, Gil Penalosa, Mikael Colville-Andersen, and Charles Montgomery. So based on your response, and injecting our own personal opinion, we decided to rank our top ten print stories from 2015:
Coming Soon in 2016
In eighteen short months, the two of us have built something of which we are immensely proud. Something we believe is genuinely having a positive impact on the world, and has taken us places we couldn't ever have imagined. 2016 promises to be even bigger and brighter year for Modacity, as we delve into the exciting world of podcasting for another project with Gordon Price in the spring, and spend five weeks travelling and writing about The Netherlands in the summer. More on the latter will be revealed in due time, but please stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds for periodic updates and behind-the-scenes glimpses. Thank you for your continued and unwavering support as we aim to inspire healthier, happier, simpler forms of mobility. We couldn’t do this without you.