collectivehousing_coverLast fall, I wrote a story about a locally filmed documentary called Better Together, which looks at collective living as a solution to Vancouver’s housing crisis.

As most of us are aware, housing in Vancouver is not easy to come by – unless you’ve got cash to burn, don’t mind living in less-than-ideal rentals, or have all the time in the world to spend hunting down an available apartment. And if you have a pet? Good luck.

That’s where collective living comes in. Collective living is a return to community living, where people choose to live in a family setting and commit to spending quality time together. It’s not just your average roommate situation.

The documentary was pitched by local video journalist Jen Muranetz as an introduction to collective living and how it might be a viable alternative for the many folks in Vancouver searching for a home. The documentary was entered into the Storyhive competition and ended up being one of 30 finalists selected to receive a $10,000 Storyhive grant.

The documentary was released earlier this month and you can watch it below. Congrats to Jen and everyone else attached to the project!

You can read my original story about co-housing here and learn more about Jen’s documentary here.

Vancouver collective housing documentary wins Storyhive grant

It’s always nice to hear updates from people I’ve written stories about and to learn that things are going well.

I Interviewed Jen Muranetz last month about collective living. She’s a video journalist and had pitched a short documentary on collective housing to the Storyhive competition. She’s hoping the documentary will explain what co-housing is and how it might be a viable solution to Vancouver’s housing crisis.

Those who are skeptical would do well to hear her out. After spending a couple of hours interviewing Jen and her housemates at their home – affectionately called the Lounge – I was starting to think maybe I’d be ready to move in too. Even if it’s not for you, it’s a very interesting lifestyle and one that was fascinating to learn about.

Anyway. I received an email from Jen today, letting me know her project, titled Better Together, was one of 30 finalists who had been selected to receive a $10,000 Storyhive grant. Congratulations and I look forward to checking out the documentary when it’s completed.

You can read my original story about co-housing here and learn more about Jen’s documentary here.

Women’s softball team sues University of B.C.

STEPHANIE IP | The Province
April 16, 2014

The University of B.C.’s women’s softball team wants to play ball — in court.

Eighteen members of the former varsity team have collectively launched a lawsuit against the university, alleging gender discrimination and other claims, after the program was downgraded to a competitive club earlier this year following a controversial review of UBC’s sports teams.

The civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday seeks to void the results of the review, and to have the softball team’s varsity status restored, while also pushing for the university to follow through on its initial plans to construct a softball facility on campus.

Damages for distress and punitive damages, the totals of which are not listed, are also being sought.

“I think this focuses attention on the opinion of many that, despite what UBC has continued to say — that this was a transparent and open dialogue and review — it wasn’t,” said lawyer Kerri Farion, a UBC alum and former varsity ice hockey player, who is representing the team.

“People are angry, whether they’re students, athletes, alumni — relationships between university and alumni have become strained with many donors. I think this has huge implications for UBC.”

The season-long review wrapped up in February and looked at each of the Point Grey campus’s 29 varsity sports teams to see which would most benefit from school funds and resources, while others would have to rely on alternate funding.

The softball team claims that by downgrading the team’s status, the university and its athletics department are in contravention of gender-equality policies laid out by a number of national sports associations, including Canadian Interuniversity Sport, of which UBC is a member.

“The failure to include women’s softball as a UBC varsity sport is a violation of every woman’s right to the equal benefit under the law,” reads a section of the suit.

Additionally, the suit claims the downgrading of the softball program constitutes a breach of contract and misrepresentation, as student athletes were “induced to attend UBC on the representation that … a varsity softball team existed.”

Some had also turned down offers and “significant scholarships” from other schools in order to attend UBC and play for the softball team.

Dr. Stephen Toope, who is stepping down as UBC’s president this summer, and VP Students Louise Cowin are among the defendants named in the suit. Others include the school, its athletics department, UBC’s board of governors, and the provincial and federal Crown.

The defendants will have 21 days to respond to the civil claim.

“I think it’s important for people to recognize that university athletics provides students with important education to go beyond their academic years,” Farion said. “This isn’t just playing a game. It’s about getting to the next level professionally … and how people network these days.”

This story originally appeared in The Province on April 17, 2014 and on