posted on behalf of Great City Volunteer Cheryl dos Remedios

aLIVe: a Low Impact Vehicle exhibition
Awards: Creativity & Vision, and People’s Choice Awards

Selection Process: Open to all artists, designers and inventors throughout the United States and Canada

Media: Functional mechanical prototypes, design drawings, or digital renderings of low-impact vehicles. Artwork in any media that uses metaphor to challenge our ideas about vehicles and transportation. Innovative safety gear and outerwear for LIV users. Products already widely marketed are not eligible.
The goal of this exhibition is to present new ideas. You are not required to have every detail resolved.

Registration Deadline: Friday, August 7, 2009

Exhibition Date: Saturday, August 22, 2009

Exhibition Location: Seward Park, Seattle, Washington, USA


Seattle Great City Initiative has already begun the work of educating the general public and elected officials about innovative transportation options through their “STREETS for PEOPLE” campaign. The purpose of this companion exhibition, aLIVe, is to launch the LIV Project, a multi-phase effort to re-think our transportation system.

aLIVe seeks existing prototypes or self-funded Low Impact Vehicle (LIV) projects for a one-day, outdoor exhibition at Seward Park in Seattle on August 22, 2009. Anyone can exhibit. Projects will not be reviewed in advance of the exhibition date, but the organizers request that Participants carefully adhere to the project goals and guidelines described in this Call.

This exhibition will take place in an urban park with a paved path so that exhibitors can both display and demonstrate their projects. Judges will present Creativity & Vision awards, and attendees will be asked to vote for People’s Choice awards. Artist-made trophies will be presented to the winners.


The multi-phase Low-Impact Vehicle (LIV) Project seeks to address the scale of our transportation system. Our built environment is increasingly defined by and designed around high-impact vehicles such as cars, trucks, semis, and even motorcycles. As the scale of our built environment has increased, so has its impact on our economic, environmental and cultural health. Vehicles must be designed to withstand high-speed collisions, which significantly increases their cost and the resources required to manufacture, operate and store them. They rely on fossil fuels, they pollute, and they require extensive transportation infrastructure and economic subsidies to be effective.

The LIV project is looking for new ways to reduce the impact of transportation on air and water quality, in terms of vehicular emissions and land use. Our hope is that by creating low-impact alternatives to existing modes of transportation, we can decrease our use of fossil fuels, reduce vehicular emissions, and prevent unchecked growth of the transportation network. In Seattle, for example, 40% of the city’s total land mass is used to move and store private vehicles on roadways and in parking lots, garages and alleys. Of that, 26% of Seattle’s land is in the public’s “right-of-way,” which is, with the exception of transit and freight, primarily given over to single occupancy vehicles. These paved surfaces contribute to climate change in several ways: they radiate heat; they eliminate portions of the tree canopy; and they increase storm water runoff, which is the largest source of pollutants flowing into Puget Sound, annually flushing 22,580 tons of oil and pollutants into its waters. A greater diversity of transportation options would allow us to re-examine land use both locally and nationally, which is key to improving air, climate and water quality.

How do we define a low-impact vehicle (LIV)? The simplest example of a LIV is a bicycle. Bicycles are designed to be easily propelled by the rider. They offer a low-cost alternative to cars, and they require fewer resources to manufacture, operate and store. They contribute minimally to pollution. For safety, a cyclist relies on specially designed protective gear, which also requires fewer resources to manufacture and purchase, and offers greater flexibility than features built into the vehicle itself. Bike-only or bike-friendly routes are typically also pedestrian-friendly, and do not adversely affect the air quality, tree canopy, or sensitive habitat areas.

In general, a LIV:

  • is designed around the human body.
  • has minimal impact in case of collision.
  • has a standard operating speed of 20 mph or less.
  • has a small carbon footprint to manufacture and operate.
  • has a small land-use footprint—it does not take up much space to drive or store.
  • promotes the use of mass transit by providing an effective way to complete trips (In Seattle, for example, Sound Transit light rail stations are being placed 2½ miles apart on a north/south grid—the perfect setup for a commuter solution that involves LIVs.)

What do we mean when we talk about designing LIVs around the human body? Research shows that humans are designed to travel at a top sprinting speed of 20 miles per hour. After that, the risk of fatality increases exponentially, which is why designing cars, trucks, semis and motorcycles to be on the road together consumes so many resources. Designing vehicles to run at lower speeds and creating specialized gear for user protection allows LIVs to have smaller footprints and to be lighter and easier to propel. A LIV could even be collapsible. Ultimately, the LIV project proposes we repurpose portions of the existing street grid for LIVs so they can be used safely. This will also reduce the amount of pavement needed, allowing us to reduce carbon emissions, reclaim space for the tree canopy, and preserve watersheds.

LIVs may encourage the use of alternative energies for propulsion and offer more human-powered options, for significant environmental and public health benefits. LIVs may also dovetail with the goals of green business development. The LIV project aims to foster the design of production systems that can be replicated across regions to stimulate the economy through locally sourced materials and the creation of local green jobs.

Right now, a bike is the only LIV that is permitted on our roadways. Not everyone can ride a bicycle, and most people can’t use a bike as their only form of transportation. We need more LIV options to make low-impact mobility available to all.

aLIVe focuses on new thinking about LIVs—what is possible when we design around the human body? For this exhibition, we’re asking artists, inventors and designers to create their vision of LIVable vehicles and LIVable communities that will enthrall, amaze, amuse and inspire.

As much as our transportation system is a physical reality, it’s also a metaphor for our way of life. As a culture, we’ve internalized the myth of freedom on our freeways and failed to recognize the economic burden and environmental damage incurred. We fail to see the inherent paradox of a “faster, safer” vehicle. Worse, subsidizing our vast transportation networks shifts resources away from the things most central to preserving our culture and way of life, such as education, health care and the arts.

To paraphrase the essayist Rebecca Solnit, as we risk losing our natural world to pavement, we also risk losing the world of our imagination. In Greek, “metaphor” means to travel, and as humans, we need to travel outside our immediate experience and out into the natural world to free our imaginations. If we only experience manmade environments, we begin to lose touch with our cultural language.

aLIVe aims to repurpose existing resources and redefine the basic unit by which we design our communities. aLIVe is a chance to begin establishing a vision for systemic change. Imagine LIVs driving down LIVable streets, where the right-of-way extends to children playing beneath a LIVing infrastructure of shade trees.
With LIV’s the opportunities for LIVable communities truly come aLIVe.

Please join us at aLIVe in Seattle on August 22, to show the world what the future of transportation looks like!


The purpose of this exhibition is to present new ideas. Refined is good. Rough is good. Goofy is good. Pie-in-the-sky is good. To qualify for aLIVe, a LIV isn’t required to be a fully functional transportation solution—it may be a metaphorical invitation to change our thinking and explore other options. At its essence, a human body is aLIVe—so motion of all types is welcome—dance, poetry, music…

What can be exhibited?

  • Fully functional LIV prototypes
  • LIV works-in-progress
  • LIV design only
  • LIV metaphor-based art
  • Bicycles—but only if they are new or rare designs that are not widely marketed.
  • Outerwear to protect LIV users from weather and accidents – but again, only if it is an innovative, unusual design that is not already on the market. Fashionistas, hear our call!
  • What does not qualify as a LIV?

A vehicle that is designed around the traditional parameters—high speed, steel-to-steel collisions—is not a LIV, even if they are micro vehicles using alternative fuel sources. While these vehicles have benefits, they could still cause significant injury to a pedestrian. A motorized scooter is also not a LIV for the same reason, but mobility scooters probably would qualify, and push scooters are a LIV.

  • The Peraves Ecomobile is not a LIV, because it reaches a top speed of 202 mph.
  • The Mitka Trike is a LIV because in electric mode it is capable of 15 mph, and the rider can increase this speed slightly by pedaling.
  • The Venturi Eclectic is probably a LIV. It uses wind, solar and electric power. It has a top speed of 31 mph, but the driver could reduce this to 20 mph. The question is whether the bulk of the vehicle would harm a pedestrian during a crash.
  • The Buscycle ethos is definitely LIV: “redefining how we move as a culture.”

About the exhibition site

Located in south Seattle, Seward Park offers extraordinary views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. Along the water’s edge, a 2.4 mile path circumnavigates this 277-acre peninsula, providing an excellent demonstration space for aLIVe. Seward Park is composed of a range of habitats that include forests, savannas, grasslands, and lakeshore. The park includes a remarkable stand of old-growth forest, two active bald eagle nests, and a wide array of flora and fauna. Cultural facilities include the Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center, the Seward Park Clay Studio and an outdoor amphitheater. In the summer, there are lifeguards at the beach. This is a great place to take your summer vacation!

This exhibition will take place during the Healthy Parks/Healthy You event hosted by Seattle Parks & Recreation, which attracts about 500 people. There may also be a “Bicycle Saturday” happening, which would attract an additional 2,000 people. On Bicycle Days, the city closes four miles of Lake Washington Boulevard to vehicular traffic between Seward Park and Mt. Baker Park. The 2009 schedule will be set in the spring.

Participant Responsibilities

  • Participants are responsible for delivering their project to and from the exhibition, including all related costs, seen and unforeseen.
  • Participants should plan on demonstrating their project to the general public.
  • If a Participant wants to allow the general public to operate their LIV, they will need to secure liability insurance with Seattle Great City Initiative and the City of Seattle as additional insured. All decisions regarding insurance are the sole responsibility of the Participant.
  • Participants should focus their efforts on the free exchange of ideas. No salescan take place at the park, but your name and exhibit title will be printed on an exhibition brochure and your contact information will be included on our website.
  • Participants retain all intellectual property, including copyright.
  • Participants should be in attendance for the full day. More day-of-the-show information will be provided upon registration.
  • Participants should understand that this is a community-led project that requires peace, love and understanding.

Organizer Responsibilities

Organizers will promote the exhibition to the community and the press.

  • Organizers will include each Participant’s name and project title on the exhibition brochure with a corresponding number. This number will be printed on flags and given to the Participant, so that event-goers will be able to identify each project, even when the project is in motion.
  • Organizers will provide each Participant an opportunity to meet with a team of Judges. Awards for Creativity & Vision and People’s Choice will be presented at the end of the day.
  • Documentation of the exhibition will be hosted online, with a list of the Participants and their contact information. All images will be credited as follows: © Name, date of creation.


Jen Graves, Art Critic for The Stranger and adjunct faculty at Cornish College of the Arts

Lorna Jordan, Environmental Artist

Brice Maryman, Co-Founder of Open Space Seattle 2100, SvR Design Company

Buster Simpson, Environmental Artist, Activist

Jackie White, Environmental Steward, Seattle Art Museum


Sam Bower, Founding Director of, San Francisco

Heather Dwyer, 4Culture Program Manager, King County

Marisa Sánchez, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seattle Art Museum
Cath Brunner, 4Culture Public Art Director, King County

Nancy Rottle, University of Washington, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, University of Washington

Karen Tsao, Seattle Parks & Recreation


Seattle Great City Initiative

4 Culture

Anne McDuffie

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs

Seattle Parks & Recreation


Please register as early as possible. We will be promoting aLIVe on an ongoing basis, and we will add your name to our marketing materials as soon as you register.

You may register at Brown Paper Tickets here:

There are several categories for registration. We ask that you self-select the category that best fits your situation. We’ve tried to keep the entry fees low for all Participants. We understand that it’s not easy in this economy and that there will be costs associated with developing a project, but please consider an additional donation if it’s within your range. All funds go towards the LIV Project.


This is a multi-phased project, and seeing it through from idea to implementation will require significant funding. If you’d like to be involved, but are not interested in exhibiting at aLIVe, please consider a donation of any amount. We will thank you personally and tell you how we plan to spend your donation, and we will acknowledge you in our exhibition brochure.

GOLD (SPONSOR): $250 and above

Registering at the Exhibition Sponsor level allows many opportunities for visibility. Please call the exhibition organizer to discuss promotional ideas. Registration includes 2 sets of flags for project identification (if needed), listing in exhibition brochure and your company’s contact information posted on our website. Some opportunities for in-kind donation are available.

Please consider sponsoring a project and/or providing a travel stipend for an exhibitor who must travel a significant distance to Seattle.

SILVER (PARTNER): $100 and above

Registering at the Exhibition Partner level tells the community that you support the LIV concept. Registration includes 2 sets of flags for project identification (if needed), listing in exhibition brochure and your company’s contact information posted on our website. Some opportunities for in-kind donation are available.

Please consider sponsoring a project and/or providing a travel stipend for an exhibitor who must travel a significant distance to Seattle.

Small businesses, non-profits and government agencies can register at the Organizational level.

Please plan to participate in the exhibition. Include your organization’s name and logo on your prototype or work-in-progress. Registration includes 2 sets of flags for project identification, listing in exhibition brochure and online contact information.


Self-funded projects should register at the Individual & Team level. Display a prototype or work-in-progress.

Registration includes 1 set of flags for project identification, listing in exhibition brochure and online contact information.


Concept entries are welcome. Bring your notebook and your own chair.

Registration includes 1 set of flags for project identification, listing in exhibition brochure and online contact information.


We encourage participation from forward-thinking artists, designers and inventors. Please send your materials electronically, and these will be judged alongside other entries. Attendance not required.
We will need volunteers to prepare for the exhibition and help us with the People’s Choice Award on August 22, 2009.

Registration includes official volunteer gear.

Questions? Please contact Cheryl dos Remédios, exhibition organizer at This is a volunteer position, so please anticipate a response within 1-3 business days.