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Upcoming 24 September: How To Kickstart

How To Kickstart

Tuesday 24 September
6:00-8:00 pm
Elm Park field house
Admission is free, but limited: get your ticket here

Recently expanded to Canada, Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.

Join Kickstarter Art Program Director Stephanie Pereira for a primer on how to bring a Kickstarter project to life. We’ll take a look at some favourite projects from across the site and discuss how to structure an engaging campaign, what kind of rewards work best, how to spread the word about your project, and other helpful tips.

The workshop will be followed by one of League’s play events, in which participants modify and improvise games as a form of creative problem-solving.

In the news:

Other upcoming League activity:

  • Saturday August 24, noon-5pm: Celebrate! Stanley Park events. League will be playing at the Brockton Sports Fields
  • Sunday August 25, noon-3pm: League play day at Elm Park.
  • Sunday September 8, all day: The n Games, an innovative tournament of invented sports pitting existing sports- and business teams from different backgrounds.
  • Sunday September 29, noon-3pm: League play day at Elm Park.

Upcoming play — Sunday 28 July — walking the (Arbutus) line

Maple Community Garden

For the next League gathering, we will attempt different ways of pacing out, taking in, and exploring a unique urban space — the 11-km-long Arbutus rail corridor. The League challenge is to read a bit about the history below (or much more here), choose your tools, and find your own way to walk the line, with or without others in the group. How will you connect to the space? Will your expedition focus on length or duration, on the bodies of water that anchor the corridor, on the social histories the space embodies, on the things that might grow along the strip, on actions you could enact, or the objects you might find or bring?

When: Sunday 28 July 2013
Where:  Meet at the 1st and Fir Railway Garden at noon
Duration:  as long as it takes
Bring:  any tools you might need

The Arbutus rail corridor

Once upon a time a city gave itself away in order that a great railway might be induced to establish its terminus there.1

Arbutus Corridor, from D.C. Harris report

The Arbutus Corridor in Vancouver is an intact 11 km rail line running north-south between False Creek and the Fraser River. This 50-to-65-foot-wide strip of land condenses many of the histories and issues of land use in the city.

Part of the large parcel of provincial land granted in 1886 to the Canadian Pacific Railroad to induce the company to move its western terminus to Vancouver, it was used for freight and passenger service from 1902 to 1954, then freight only until 2001, when it was abandoned.2

As the CPR prepared to cease operations on the line, the City of Vancouver in 2000 developed an Official Development Plan for the land, protecting it from development and designating it as a multi-use transportation/greenway corridor. The validity of that plan was unsuccessfully challenged by CPR in the BC Court of Appeals.

The corridor passes through traditional First Nations territories: the Musqueam in the southern Fraser River portion, and the Squamish in the northern False Creek area. The northern end of the Arbutus Corridor was extended in 1886 as the CPR expropriated part of the Squamish Indian Reserve No. 6 (False Creek) in order to extend the rail line to English Bay. As directed by the courts in 2002, that portion has been returned to the reserve as it was no longer used for railway purposes. The False Creek Right-of-Way branching from the Arbutus Corridor was acquired by the city in 1996 after a small portion — where Starbucks now stands on 2nd Avenue under the Granville Bridge — was sold to a developer.

The corridor is now marked by growth of all kinds, ranging from several community gardens to overgrown brambles, while varying opinions and proposals about the fate of the strip continue to exist.


1.  W. Playfair, “Vancouver and the Railways,” (June 1911) British Columbia Magazine at 498, cited in Douglas C. Harris, “A Railway, a City, and the Public Regulation of Private Property: CPR v City of Vancouver,” 31 March 2011.
2.  Historical details rely on Douglas C. Harris, “A Railway, a City, and the Public Regulation of Private Property: CPR v City of Vancouver,” 31 March 2011. Link at http://www.law.ualberta.ca/plpr/2011/Harris_Constructive_Taking_2011.pdf.


Weekend play report: 15-16 June 2013

Vancouver Draw Down

For this city-wide drawing day, we had the idea of walking or running with the field-marking equipment to spray-chalk new fields for play, which would in turn suggest the games to be played. Many participants had not experienced drawing on that scale, or the seeming “responsibility” for configuring space themselves. But hesitations were quelled through encouragement, and more than a dozen drawings were laid out on the field, with the beginnings of games emerging from them.

One of the games — Petri — offers something potentially new to the pantheon of bocce-like games. It began with Danita spraying a number of circles with the radius of her reach. Through various iterations of tossing balls and other objects, we eventually developed a coherent narrative for the game: the circles as petri dishes and the balls as viral agents. In order to score, your circle(s) must be pure, containing only one type of ball particle. If it becomes inoculated/contaminated by another agent, it does not count. Scoring is also viral, through multiplication of the numbers in each player’s pure circles. For example, if one player ends with two circles, each containing two particles, she scores 4 (2 x 2). If the other player ends with one ball in each of five different circles, she only scores 1 (1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1). The potential for exponential, runaway scoring opens up a lot of strategic possibilities.

Play building at the Western Front

Coinciding with Main Street Car-Free Day, pioneering artist-run centre Western Front was celebrating its 40th anniversary with an open house featuring interactive projects in and around the building. League dove into the Front’s stocks of old construction materials to build improvised play tools and structures, including:

  • Cross-country drawing skis, aka Rube Drawberg, aka the most impractical drawing implement imaginable, using scraps of gypsum as the mark-making brakes
  • A cross between teeter-totter and physiotherapy plank, borrowing a beautiful length of old fir
  • “Skaters of the Cross”, a skateboard with 2×4 yoke
  • A drawing wheel chair using a borrowed garden chair, gypsum, surgical tubing, skateboard wheels, and metal beading
  • An elaborate snow-cone holder that grew from an idea to make stairs using stringers cut randomly by different people
  • A drinking machine for misanthropes, which creates an inhospitable zone around the drinker
  • Manual nose manual plank: a single skateboard truck on the end of a 2×8.

Bean Race 2013 progress

Bean Race 2013 report: as of mid-June, the Team Gropp’s is far ahead in terms of sheer volume of plant material, but the kids of League have a slight edge in altitude. Insects or other plant-munchers are proving to be an issue for the sprouts that haven’t yet reached escape velocity.


Upcoming play — 15 June Field Lines + 16 June Play Building

League is participating in a couple of the events that are helping to make this city a place for playful action. Join us to make your own playing field or help build improvised play structures.

Field Lines for Vancouver Draw Down

Vancouver Draw Down

Saturday 15 June

Field Lines at Elm Park, 10am – noon

Now in its fourth year, Vancouver Draw Down is a celebration of drawing in everyday life that aims to reconnect everyone with the power and pleasure of making marks. “This day-long, city wide celebration focuses on the process, pleasure and diversity of drawing, rather than on skill and technical ability.” Draw Down events are led by artists at venues across the city. The full schedule is here.

From 10am to noon in Elm Park, we’ll play with marking the field and work together to invent a game to fit the lines. Here drawing will involve full-body motion, running and walking with the field-marking equipment.

Play Building at the Western Front

Sunday 16 June

Noon – 5pm
Western Front, 303 East 8th Ave (map)

Pioneering Vancouver artist-run centre the Western Front is celebrating its 40th anniversary with an open house on Main Street Car-Free Day. Playful, interactive art projects will be unfolding all around the Front building.

For 40 years, the Western Front has been a presenting challenging art, new music, performance, and new media in a building that was formerly the Knights of Pythias lodge. For this anniversary day, League will mine the building’s storage for construction materials left over the past decades. For the first part of the day we will use these materials to build structures for play, and the rest of the afternoon everyone is welcome to drop in to improvise ways of using these structures for play.


Played 25-26 May 2013 — League Easy + B.Y.O.Bocce

League Easy

League collaborated with The Everything Company to host a small event at the Bomford Studios, a temporary building in which Cedric, Nathan and Jim Bomford are constructing their monumental artwork Dead Head from recuperated building materials. The Everything Company is a project of the artists Chris Dahl, Jason Gowans, and Michael Love, who see art-making as a playful process of work, and have been hosting a series of speakeasies in interesting locations around Vancouver.

The main event of the night was a bicycle delivery service to Vancouver. For 45 minutes, we received texts from individuals around the city, requesting free bottles of gin, and for the next two hours, teams of cyclists raced around the city to deliver bottles. The game was a mimicry of the Hell’s Angels “Midnight Express,” an after-hours alcohol delivery service that operates in Vancouver. The courier teams’ progress was tracked using a smart phone app, and the team that delivered the most bottles received a special prize.

Apart from the delivery service, we played games around the Bomfords’ skeletal building-within-a-building. (Look for it to be launched on a barge in Burrard Inlet in 2014.)


The next day was League’s regularly-scheduled play date, unfolding for this day only in two locations. Participants were asked to B.Y.O.Bocce: that is, bring objects that were lobbable, pitchable, or tossable, with the idea of using them as the starting-point for games of precision.

The starting-point was thinking that games such as bocce, bowling, curling, golf, and marbles all use objects and terrain that have peculiar characteristics which must be taken into account in order to really master the game. The locations have uneven surfaces and friction, or the objects are wobbly, for example. We imagined that any of these games would be quite different if played using objects with other unexpected tendencies, such as softness, size, bounciness, fragility, lightness, permeability, etc..

We played versions of bocce using different targets selected by participants, expecting that the various objects we tossed, rolled, put, or kicked towards it would have not only different flight patterns, but also different potential for displacing the jack or other objects. In addition, one of the park locations was uneven and slanted, and the in the other the grass had been uncut for some time. Our strategic choice of weapons was affected by the factors such as distance, wind, and terrain, not to mention individuals’ different throwing or kicking skills.

Upcoming League activities

  • Vancouver Draw Down: Saturday 15 June, 10 am to noon at Elm Park.
    For this city-wide drawing day, we’ll play with marking the field at Elm Park. Our version of drawing will involve full-body motion: running and walking with the field-marking equipment, and working together to invent a game to match the lines.
  • Western Front 40th Anniversary: Sunday 16 June, noon to 5pm at the Western Front, 303 East 8th Ave, Vancouver [map].
    As part of the Western Front’s anniversary celebrations, we will mine the building’s storage for leftover construction materials accumulated over the past decades. The first part of the day (12-2), League group and drop-in participants will build structures for play, and the rest of the day everyone is welcome to drop in for improvised play using these structures.

Upcoming play — Sunday 26 May — B.Y.O.Bocce

For the next League play date on Sunday 26 May, you’re asked to B.Y.O.B: Bring Your Own Bocce.

Bocce, Pétanque, Bowls and Bowling, Curling, Golf, Croquet, Marbles — all are games of precision and strategic positioning. Each uses objects and settings that have peculiar characteristics to be tamed and mastered. Imagine any of these games played using objects with quite different tendencies: softness, size, bounciness, fragility or lightness, unpredictability, permeability, etc. For B.Y.O.Bocce our starting point will be bocce-like games played with different materials brought by participants. Bring your own rollable, pitchable, puttable, or lobbable objects.

This League play day will unfold in two locations:

  • 11:00am-1:00pm special appearance at Memorial Park West, for Dunbar’s Salmonberry Days Festival
  • 1:00-3:00pm at our regular location, Elm Park in Kerrisdale.

League is an open gathering for playing invented games and sports, to practice improvisation, strategy, performance, and critical thinking as play. Everyone is welcome to drop in; bring both body and mind.

Other League news

Planning is underway for The n Games, an innovative tournament for teams from different backgrounds. It asks: what kind of team would be best prepared for unexpected challenges? On 8 September 2013, different sports-, creative- and business teams from across Vancouver will convene at Elm Park to test their teamwork, strategic skills, and adaptability, competing against each other to play invented sports they do not know. Participating teams include Roadhouse Interactive game studio, Double Rainbow Dodgeball League, Rethink advertising agency, Theatre Replacement, and the Daughters of Beer. A Toronto edition of The n Games will also take place as part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, overnight on 5 October 2013.

Contact us with sponsorship and registration enquiries for The n Games.

Also look out for League at the following events:

  • Saturday 15 June, 10am-noon: Vancouver Draw Down, a one-day city-wide drawing event. At Elm Park, “drawing will involve full-body motion, running and walking with the field-marking equipment, and participants will work together to invent a game to match the lines.”
  • Sunday 16 June: Western Front‘s 40th Anniversary Open House.


Bean Race 2013

1… 2… 3… grow.

Bean Race 2013 is now on in the field house yard. A meandering, but dramatic, race to new heights, the Bean Race is a test of patience and care.

Your competitors are:


Verena Kaminiarz and Cedric Bomford are Vancouver-based artists who garden when they can. Their Bean Tower, realized in the Skulpturenpark in Mitte (Berlin) in the bean growing season of 2010, inspired this contest. Kaminiarz and Bomford will be growing runner beans with seeds from the original Bean Tower.


The host of the race, League is an open group that gathers to play invented games and sports. We have no particular expertise at growing anything, and will be growing Scarlet Runner beans from the kids’ section of the hardware store.


Gropp’s Gallery Collective operate studios and residencies in their micro-Utopia off Main Street in Vancouver. They will be growing a variety of pole beans.

About the Bean Race

League plays with unexpected objects and spaces, pursues unconventional approaches to procedures, and tackles situations with both mind and body. One approach is to consider slowness, patience, and cultivation as a strategy.

The Bean Race is inspired by the Bean Tower built by artists Verena Kaminiarz and Cedric Bomford in the Skulpturenpark Berliner Mauer (Berlin Sculpture Park), which re-imagined an industrial structure such as Vladimir Tatlin’s “Monument to the Third International” as organic and pragmatic.

Workshops: play and process

Reminder: next League play day is this Sunday, 22 April, noon to 3pm at Elm Park. We’re going to slow things down in recognition of Slow Art Day.

League is available to facilitate workshops on topics such as play and creative processes, strategy, collaboration, and team-building.

Here are some images from recent workshops exploring games and process, with the teen scholarship program from Arts Umbrella.

After an introduction to the notion of creative problem-solving as a kind of play and to the game-like structure of much artwork, the students embarked on game-design exercises involving existing games or conventional materials. The objective was to find some productive ground between convention and invention.

The groups displayed quite different problem-solving patterns:

  1. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink brainstorming approach, in which a proliferation of ideas was unleashed before being reined in towards something coherent
  2. A methodical step-by-step form of process that stays more or less on track, but might produce fewer unexpected surprises
  3. A wild zig-zag following an ever-changing idea.

Of course there are other forms and patterns, and habits can be trained and changed. What are your own team’s habits?

Upcoming play – 21 and 28 April 2013

Spring has arrived, and that calls for two play dates this month:

  • Sunday 21 April, 3-5 pm — with special guests from Arts Umbrella Teen Scholarship Program
  • Sunday 28 April, noon-3pm — regularly-scheduled League gathering


21 April

League recently visited the Arts Umbrella teen program to talk about artworks as games and about play and the art-making process. The students will be bringing some game ideas to workshop. Contact Chess, anyone?

28 April – Ready…Set…Slow

Our next regularly-schedule play date falls the day after Slow Art Day, an annual event promoting unhurried looking. We’ll make up our own version of slowness, bring the body into play. How slow can we go?

Special guests this day will be artists from one of the other Park Board field house residencies, the Field House Ensemble based in Strathcona Park. Their project is all about slow culture.

We can also prepare the field house yard for the League Bean Race, a contest cultivating patience and care. Three teams will be building structures and nurturing beans to grow to unknown heights.

Upcoming at League

League has a busy few months ahead. We’re currently planning The n Games for Sunday 8 September 2013. The n Games is an innovative tournament for teams from diverse backgrounds, playing sports they do not know. It asks: what kind of team would be best prepared for unexpected challenges? A youth football team or wily senior hockey players? A finely-tuned business team or a pick-up team of elite runners? Backpackers or dancers? A theatre troupe or a group of yoga teachers? There are still a few spots available in the tournament, so please contact us if you’d like to secure one.

Upcoming play 31 March

Next League play date is Sunday March 31, noon to 3pm at Elm Park in Kerrisdale.

This gathering will turn around hiding and finding, one of the most basic game mechanisms. As League regular and electronic game designer Ian Verchere says, “The #1 rule of games is this:  good things are always found inside other things.”

Secret room in Super Nintendo Zelda game. Click to read “Gaming’s Top 10 Easter Eggs” on IGN.com.

Illustration for “The Purloined Letter,” a short detective story by Edgar Allan Poe, that turns around a stolen letter. Image source: wikimedia.


Hiding relies on the unforeseen. Placing ‘easter eggs’ (secret messages or inside jokes) in games and computer programs has a long and cultish history. Found objects — objects turned to unexpected uses — have made their way into many a work of art. Scavenger hunts turn lived space into a source of bounty. Through Geocaching.com there are some two million treasure boxes hidden around the world, many in plain sight. In this vein, the participants in the collaborative game SF0 have set out all kinds of practical tasks for unexpected actions in city space, many of which involve finding or placing objects.

About League

League is an open gathering for inventing and playing games and sports invented by members of the community, as a practice of creative thinking. Each game, its equipment, its playing field, and its strategies evolve through trial and improvisation. Everyone is welcome to drop in for problem-solving as play.