Let’s talk British Columbia tourism for a moment, where one day can consist of hiking in the mountains, another of lazing on the beach and followed perhaps by eating at a foodie hot-spot. There is also the possibility of seeing a whale (depending on where you are). What it really comes down to however, for native Vancouverites and those who have visited I’m sure, is the appropriate adage: West is Best. This love of our coast, more specifically Vancouver, is exactly what Sarah Shandl – founder of the project Vancouver, We Love You is promoting, or better yet, celebrating.
I had the opportunity to meet with the lovely Sarah for coffee at Starbucks and to talk about the project. Now, this scene is appropriate for two reasons. First off its Starbucks, and we all know Vancouver is about as famous for having Starbucks on every corner as it is for the Rocky Mountains. This one at the corner of Denman and Robson is not just any Starbucks though. This is the place where the idea began, Sarah tells me.
The project is simple: buy their t-shirt that says Vancouver (in some awesome typography, naturally), wear it in your favorite Vancouver location, take a picture and send it in to the project. No need to refrain from being trigger happy with your DSLR, point&shoots, lonography cameras, or instagram apps. Hipsters, yes, you’re in heaven now. The shirts cost $24.99, with 10% going to Covenant House (a local organization helping homeless youth) and the rest goes back into creating more shirts.
After being away from Vancouver on tour, Sarah realized just how much she appreciated the city she calls home – “When you grow up in Vancouver you don’t appreciate everything as much as when you go away and come back. You see things you didn’t notice before.” This new perspective coincided with the end of the Olympics and sparked Vancouver, We Love You. “After seeing the excitement of people during the Olympics, I wanted something that would continue the spirit Vancouver felt.”
The shirts, sourced from American Apparel and ethically made, are much more than just promotional Vancouver shirts; they are a “declaration of love” as Sarah calls it. “Vancouver is such a diverse city, whenever you ask someone where their favorite spot is they always stop and think, because there are so many,” to which Sarah asked me where my favorite spot was, only to prove her theory right as I stopped and pondered the many spots in Vancouver I love to visit. As for Sarah? Hailing from North Vancouver she listed off a few spots on the North Shore, including Deep Cove.
The project extends further than just purchasing and photographing yourself in a shirt, there is also a community surrounding it. Organizing different events (much like meet-ups), posted on their website – people have the chance to get together and meet new people all in an attempt to “encourage the spirit of adventure and spontaneity”, which is also what the concept is all about; “I’m a networker, a collaborator” Sarah says. It is this attitude that gives Vancouver it’s much needed push for community and the project its endearment factor.
With so many beautiful places around Vancouver, I couldn’t help but ask what the coolest location has been for a photograph. Surprisingly there was no one particular location, but all across the world. Much like a more patriotic and way more awesome version of a traveling gnome photograph collection, people are celebrating Vancouver by taking photos of themselves wearing the shirts all over the globe. How’s that for community?
What next? Sarah hopes to start selling the shirts locally in stores. I suggest you check them out online, buy a shirt and take part in the community that is Vancouver. After meeting Sarah who was sporting her own bright green Vancouver shirt, I realized just how cool this initiative really is.