ALT+SPACE+CONTROL: Vancouver Housing Stories
ALT+SPACE+CONTROL: Vancouver Housing Stories was a 15-week podcasting mentorship in 2019 in which a team of young artists produced stories reflecting on Vancouver’s current moment of large-scale housing insecurity.
The series, Vancouver Housing Stories, is available on:
Working with oral histories and recorded tenant interviews, the team examined notions of home, the right to belong, and community tenure. Participants received training in shaping stories, working with voices, recording and editing audio, and more. They engaged local history, news, and policy about land and housing. The participants were Maddi Dellplain, Jamie-Leigh Gonzales, Susan Lu, Tiffany Muñoz, Victoria Spooner, Melissa Roach, and Yijia Zhang.
This mentorship was guided by media artist Helena Krobath, as well as guest mentors, including housing and anti-poverty organizer Kell Gerlings; rapper-poet and media educator Kim Villagante (a.k.a., Kimmortal), journalist and radio producers Alex de Boer, Madeline Taylor, and Alexander Kim, and sound designer Pietro Sammarco. Information and oral history support came from Vancouver Tenants Union. Read full mentor bios below.
The project culminated in a free public listening party at VIVO Media Arts Centre on Sept 13, 2019, and the stories are circulated online, aired over community radio shows on CFRO 100.5FM and CiTR 101.9FM, and played at the Vancouver Podcast Festival’s Podfair. Participants received a full artist fee for presenting their final stories and broadcasting them. This mentorship was free for participants, with primary funding generously provided by the BC Arts Council, and additional funding by Frédérik Lesage of SFU’s School of Communication. Equipment, facilities, and technical support provided by VIVO. This mentorship was coordinated by Pietro Sammarco.
Interviews with participants about their experience of this mentorship.
Helena Krobath (krobath.ca) is the lead mentor for this mentorship. Helena studies spatial narratives and sensory experience through research-creation. She received a Master’s in Media Arts from Concordia University in Montreal, where she was awarded funding by SSHRC, Hexagram, and the Mobile Media Lab to complete a thesis which combined sound studies, art-making, and historical research to examine socio-spatial relations in BC’s north Fraser Valley forest parks. She has taught several workshops on sound, sensory observation, and field recording, including Audio Story-crafting and Poetics for VIVO in 2017, and assisting in VIVO’s 2018 mentorship, Still Creek Salmon Sounds. Her sound art is featured in New Adventures in Sound Art’s 2019 compilation and she is currently one of CRES Media Arts Committee’s sound artists in residence.
Over the past few years, Helena has designed interactive sound and field recording workshops for the Milieux Institute and the Simone de Beauvoir Institute in Montreal; has led soundwalks with Vancouver New Music; and has taught audio production labs at Concordia University, covering production skills including recording, editing, processing and narrative techniques. She participated in a sound-mapping exchange between Montreal and Morecambe, programmed by the Centre for Mobilities Research at Lancaster University and has presented methodology and media work at conferences and symposia, including the Feminist Media Studio and the American Association of Geographers Annual Conference.
Helena’s excellence was recognized with a Convocation Medal Award for her studies at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Art Communication and Technology, where she also worked with the organizing team for Media Democracy Days Vancouver for several years. She currently volunteers with the Vancouver Tenants Union and co-hosts the Soundscape Show on Vancouver Co-op Radio.
Kim Bince Villagante (she/they) also known as Kimmortal is a queer filipinx artist based on unceded coast salish territory, a lyrical emcee, songwriter and visual artist known for her beautiful political music full of love and hope, exploring identity and community, and tackling subject matter like racism and homophobia. Kim has toured their music from Toronto to California, rocking festivals like Queer Women of Colour film festival, Kultura Filipino Arts, Junofest, and SXSW, opening for Ruby Ibarra, Shad K, and Saul Williams, and just released their second album X marks the Swirl on Coax Records in 2019.
Kim has extensive experience as an arts educator, youth-mentor, and community organizer through many organizations, including Access to Media Education Society, the Mosaic Institute, S.U.C.C.E.S.S Vancouver, UBC Learning Exchange in the Downtown Eastside, Boldskool Hip Hop workshops, Philippine Women Center, and many more. Recently, she led rap and art therapy based workshops via “Reframing Relations” a program by Community Arts Council of Vancouver that looks at the history of Canadian residential schools. She facilitates workshops that utilize the arts as tools for healing, decolonization, and resistance.
In addition to holding a BA in Visual Art and Art History from UBC, Kim’s education is from poets, rappers, activists, community members, and many artists who identify as queer/trans/black/indigenous/people of colour. Kim was awarded the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in Community-Engaged Arts in 2013, and their single “I’m Blue” was ranked in the top 20 music videos in Canada.
Alex de Boer is a journalist and nonfiction storyteller based in Vancouver. Alex is the Podcast Coordinator at UBC Radio CiTR 101.9FM where she heads the station’s Spoken Word Department. She is a reporter and producer on CiTR’s weekly news show, Democracy Watch and the Vancouver current affairs podcast, At-Large (formerly Seeking Office). Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History and a Master’s of Journalism from the University of British Columbia. She won the 2017 Norman Lidster Prize in Documentary Filmmaking, received the 2018 award for Best in News Programming at the National Community Radio Awards for a radio piece, “The Controversy Over Temporary Modular Housing in Marpole” and an honourable mention for her audio documentary “Lhamo & the Princess” at the same ceremony. She regularly teaches the popular podcasting workshops at VIVO Media Arts Centre, and hosted a workshop on Politics and Podcasts at the 2018 Vancouver Podcast Festival presented by DOXA.
Madeline Taylor is a radio/podcast producer from Vancouver, British Columbia, with a passion for social commentary. She has worked in Campus and Community radio since 2013, is the current Programming Director at UBC Radio CiTR 101.9FM, and sits on the Board of Directors for the National Campus/Community Radio Association. Her credits include ABC, the BBC, and various community radio stations. She organized and ran the Intravenus Women’s Collective at SFU’s Campus Radio CJSF 90.1FM, and mentored the Museum of Anthropology’s Native Youth Program in podcast production. Madeline graduated from Simon Fraser University with Honours in History, focusing on the Oral History of women in Vancouver’s early punk movement. Madeline lives and works on unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh territory in Vancouver.
Alexander Kim (alexanderbkim.wordpress.com) is a journalist and radio producer based in Vancouver. He is a producer for Cited and Crackdown. He has reported for CBC Aboriginal, Arctic Deeply, Discourse Media, and The Georgia Straight. He made a show called Theoretically Speaking, a podcast about absurd science. Before becoming a journalist, he studied neuroscience at the University of Calgary.
Pietro Sammarco (pipposound.com) records bands, produces music and sound for film, DJ’s karaoke, and is co-editor of Spoox Audiozine. He graduated from the School of Communication Master’s program at Simon Fraser University, combining the fields of soundscape composition and media education. Currently Education Coordinator at VIVO, Pietro has also served as a director with The Safe Amplification Site Society, a non-profit venue dedicated to music for people of all ages; was a member of local performance art group Norma; played in Balinese-style orchestra Gamelan Bike Bike; toured extensively as trombonist with They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?; and was Resident Audio Expert with the VPL Inspiration Lab. He completed the Audio Engineer Work-Study program at the Banff Centre, and holds a Bachelor’s in Media Arts from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.
The Vancouver Tenants Union (vancouvertenantsunion.ca) was formed by a group of tenants in 2017 in response to rising rents and evictions across the city and region. Now, with rising membership and chapters in other cities, the Tenants Union continues to help tenants advocate for themselves and build interventions from the ground up.