In Store: Coda

In Store: Coda from Daragh Sankey on Vimeo.

Happy Long Weekend — the final part of the documentary web series on our Storefront Residences for Social Innovation.

From the director’s, Daragh Sankey, description…

This is the final film in the series and posting it makes me feel all sadhappy.

Sad because I have enjoyed doing this project and now its over and feels like saying goodbye to a lot of people I like who I was kind of creepily hanging out with without them being actually there (ok that sounded horrible but editors probably know what I mean). Happy because this has been a truckload of work, and it’s been really hard finding the time to do it, and now after two years I feel a great weight coming off my shoulders. Also, I’m really happy with how these turned out.

I want to thank all the artists who allowed me to film them and their work and make these films. It’s hugely appreciated. I shot many who didn’t appear in the final product, mainly because of time constraints. But I am very thankful of the experience with everyone involved.

Lastly I have to thank Broken City Lab. Without their time, interest, effort, openness and enthusiasm there is no way this would have been possible. I am honoured to have been involved with such a top-notch group of people. Here’s hoping we have poutines at Phog again before too long.

There, and I didn’t even thank my agent or the academy.

This site won’t see too many more updates, although if anything related to the films comes up I will post it here. To be safe, you can check in on my main blog or follow me on Twitter.

Day 4 at Eastern Edge

Yesterday, our walking tour adventure continued as we visited the last five stops on our list.

Rawlin’s Cross is known as St.John’s most confusion intersection. With traffic lights pointing in various angled directions, it’s no wonder people have made maps that specifically tell you how to navigate this crossing.

As we walked to our next stop, Josh noticed a sculpture of a little girl that seemed kind of bizarre to him, so he added the finishing touches to the piece. He calls it “Girl Texting” cast in bronze.

Bannerman Park appears on the Identity Collection as one of the biggest gathering spots in the city. If there isn’t a folk festival happening here, there’s some other type of festival or party brewing.  

In Bannerman Park is the Colonial Building. People see this building as one of the most important historic sites in St.John’s.

As we continued our walk, we stumbled across another street with a row of Jelly Bean houses. This road caught our attention particularly for the colour choices…we temporarily named it Broken City Lab Lane.

Speaking of Jelly Bean houses, the Battery was our second last stop on our tour and it is also the original spot for this style of housing. It stands as the true cultural roots for any Newfoundlander. Also, the view is beautiful.

The view.

Last stop is the infamous Signal hill.

Josh installs the last title card.

The best place to see the city aerial style.

Back at the home base, a video was put together compiling our adventure. We brought this video down to Eastern Edge and had it playing during the Art’s Marathon.

While that was happening, Josh headed over to Staples to pick up our Walking Tour pamphlets.

The map.

Installing our tent at the AM fest.

The pamphlets were laid out for festival dwellers to take.

The video loops.

By the end of the night, more than half of the pamphlets were gone.

Around the gallery, over 75 artists came to participate in the AM festival in various ways. Above, the Eastern Edge wall is taken over by graffiti artists.

The festival ran for 24 hours straight and was a really fun to be a part of. We want to send our biggest thank yous out to Eastern Edge for including us in the festival.

Day 2 & 3 at Eastern Edge

The last few days have been so busy here, at Eastern Edge. In anticipation of the 24 hour Art Marathon that is happening today, we have been keeping busy getting the Public Space Gallery installed and running. Here’s a recap.

On Thursday, we held our “Assembling the Public Space Gallery Workshop”. Before the workshop, Josh and I had gone around and photographed all the spaces we wanted to include in the gallery tour. We projected them back at our space at Eastern Edge and discussed them with our workshop participants.

With a fake title card, we tried to imagine how they could fit on the space in order to properly frame each stop on the tour.

Around the table, Kumi and Emmanuelle reference a map to get a sense of the route the tour would take.

Then Josh tries to locate one of the spots. A notable characteristic of St.John’s is how the streets work in the city. Google maps has mad multiple errors in helping us find the places we were searching for. The streets curve and take sharp direction changes without any indication of street signs, making it a challenge and adventure for any newcomer of the city to find their destination.

After the spots were finalized, we set out to buy all the appropriate materials for the task. Rick Page, who is our lovely house host, is also a carpenter and was really kind in finding us some scrap wood to turn into stakes.

Josh tests the stake in the ground.

And it stands!

Next, we got the title cards for the tour printed and began to mount them.

The method: glue all around and super glue for the edges.

A Josh touch.

We have 24 title cards in total, making this tour a 24 stop one.

As mentioned above, Google Maps had a tough time helping us find the places we were looking for and so, the map above is one we collaborated with Google on to find the exact coordinates of the places we wanted to caption in the city.

Before we headed out on our “Installation/Walking Tour Workshop” we tested out a scrap piece of foam board to see how it held up on the stake.

Friday was all about install. We decided it would be interested to take our last workshop to the streets and take the first “official” tour of the Public Space Gallery, but also give the workshop participants the chance to have an input on where the title cards would be installed. So we set off with Caley, an Eastern Edge volunteer, as well as the designated tool assistant on this workshop walk.

First stop on the tour is Eastern Edge. Discussion on where title card should be installed ensues.

First title card up.

Eastern Edge.

Some of the installation spots required a sign to be installed infront of it in order for it to be properly framed. Emmanuelle created a tape handle for easy transport.

Caley follows her lead and makes a handle for the axe.

Second stop on the tour is the view from the harbour of Signal Hill. This place came up in conversation so many times during the workshops and other discussions we’ve had during our stay in St.John’s. It seems to almost be like the beacon of the city.

The view’s not bad either.

Similarly to Signal Hill, the Habour acts as a distinct characteristic of the city, as well as a gateway, both literally and metaphorically in understanding this place a little better.

If you’re here, you’re somewhere.

47.565, -52.705 are the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates of this exact spot. We decided to include them on the title card as a fun play on the normal gallery artwork measurements.

Stop 4 is a parking garage located on Harbour Drive. What stood out as worth noting of this place is that it was the spot people mentioned when asked where the best view to watch the sunrise/sunset was. Signal Hill was a definite contender but the parking garage made us curious about what spaces are meant to be used for versus what they can or maybe should be used for.

The group consulting.

Another great part of the “Installation Walking Tour” was being able to face the challenges of installing title cards in an urban space that isn’t exactly designed for this type of project. Emmanuelle is an artist from Quebec and is participating in the Art Marathon alongside us. She came on the tour and was really good at problem solving ways of installing the title cards in trickier spots.

Her idea was to make a looping mechanism with the tape so that it can be wrapped around the pole and stand more securely.


Google was having a tough time in St.John’s and thought that this tiny shoe boutique was Bay Roberts, which is actually a whole district of its own.

Erin’s Pub is a place of identity for a lot of people in St.John’s. While most visitors and tourists go to George Street for their pub experience, the residents of St.John’s find this pub to be a more accurate representation of their culture and heritage.

As we searched for a good spot to install, a gentleman that worked at the pub asked what we were doing. When we explained to him the project, he told us that we could put it wherever we wanted and that his boss will be happy to see it.

Discussing the spot.

Urchin Art Materials and Papery was another spot Google misread, but still worked for our Recently Changed Collection because this store just opened a month ago.

They gave us rubber suctions to hang our sign and also gave us some for the road. Thanks Urchin!

Susan Shiner was another participant that came with us on the walk but had to leave half way through. Before we parted ways, she pointed out to us that on her shopping bag, it said “changing perspectives”, which she said was what she felt she experienced on our walk. I was really glad to hear that because Susan has lived in St.John’s her whole life and have her say that our walk helped her point out things in the city she had never noticed before made all the work of this project worth it.

Next on our tour was the Rocket Bakery.

While this place may appear to be a normal bakery, we’ve experienced it as a real gathering spot in the city. Some people come here to eat a meal while others stop in on a grocery run. Josh and I had a few meals here and noticed the range of customers from men in business suits having meetings to grandparents taking their grandchildren out for a treat.


Josh marks off the places as we go.

As a part of the Fancy Artist Talks presentation on Wednesday night, a collective known as Noxious Sector discussed the project they were doing in St.John’s called The Haunting of George Street. The premise of the project is pretty playful and funny but stems from their genuine curiosity revolving around ghosts and whether or not you can actually haunt someone or something. While George Street is known as the partying district of St.John’s, it was more interesting to note something happening below the surface that the majority of people on this street didn’t know was happening.

This two block street has the most bar and pubs per square foot of any street in North America.

As we were installing the title card, the members of Noxious Sector showed up on site. Maybe they’re haunting us?

This spot was deemed as a place that is irreplaceable.

Holdsworth Court.

Reading funny posters.

Anna Templeton Centre is keeping the textiles alive.

This building used to be a bank before it was taking over by this centre.

Hiding in one of the alley pathways, The Ship Inn was talked about as the best music venue in town. People from St. John’s are always willing to talk about music, as its the biggest scene out here. The amount of music festivals and shows always going on is quite amazing.

This is a great spot to see where the city and nature meet. Sadly, the infrastructure being built is starting to block the view.

Down on Prescott and Water, the view is really cool.

An onlooker engages with the project.

St.John’s has Jelly Bean houses everywhere. It is definitely one of the first things you notice about the city.

The corner of Prescott and Gower is a great example of the brilliantly playful homes found throughout the city.

The mailboxes too.

The scary storm approaches.

Tucked away in a residential district, the Resource Centre for the Arts is where a lot of the local musicians, dancers, artists and actors spend their days.

Just below the LSPU hall is this staircase that leads to the next street block. These staircases are so common throughout the city because of how steep some of the streets are.

Similarly to most downtowns, parking in St. John’s is hard to come about. Older generations complain about this a lot because it has caused the downtown scenery to change a lot. This used to be a place only ever experienced on foot but has now become an urban center dominated by the automobile. However, one thing that is delightfully different from downtown St.John’s to other cities is how local businesses occupy 95% of the storefronts. All the big box stores are pushed to the outskirts of town, about a 25 minute drive away.

Huge church right in the downtown.

A part of the Where am I? Collection.

There’s a on going joke in St.John’s that because the Basilica and the Rooms are only a few blocks from one another, the Rooms was actually the box the Basilica was delivered in . The Rooms is a massive gallery and museum that over shadows any other architectural structure in the downtown.

After the install at The Rooms, a massive storm swept through and rained us out. While the title cards are fine, we weren’t able to finish our tour in its entirety. With four more spots to visit, we’re heading out this morning before the marathon begins.

More soon.

A Proposal for Making It Easier to Stay Here: On Economic Development, Tax Policy, and Youth Retention

I sat down with a couple of different people over the last few weeks to discuss the possibility to rethink how we collectively address youth retention in Windsor. It’s an incredibly pressing (and yet somehow invisible) emergency. As a faculty member and collaborator with many recent graduates, it’s a professional and personal challenge to see people move away from Windsor. And yet, it’s so rare that recent grads do stick it out that it’s impossible to imagine how huge of an impact they could have on the city.

And, of course, it also begs the question — why do people move?

The draw of a bigger city, their experiences here in Windsor, and job prospects are all often cited for packing up at the end of an undergraduate degree, and for good reason. These things can weigh heavily on a decision of staying in Windsor after graduation, as the city itself cannot offer much in lieu of them. However, I have to wonder what ‘the thing’ is that might help recent graduates decide not to move away. What about this city might be able to draw people to stay and even bring people back?

It started with cheerleaders. Or more specifically, an idea for a guerrilla cheerleading squad. that went something like this: What if we paid unemployed recent graduates to show up to political events — city council, funding announcements, town hall meetings — to advocate for more resources being put towards youth retention? The guerrilla cheerleading squad would show up, make some noise, and hopefully draw attention to the lack of ambition and absence of real work being put towards keeping young and creative talent in this city.

But, that conversation led to an honest assessment of potential impact. A cheerleading squad might make the paper once, it might draw some attention to the issue, but ultimately, we wouldn’t be arming ourselves to have a conversation about what should be done, or what could be done with some imagination, to address the issue. The long-term impact would evaporate.

So, that led to another conversation. How could we enact a kind of long-term impact towards addressing the lack of initiative put towards youth retention at the regional level? It’s a conversation that I’ve been having for two years (and probably even longer), and yet it feels like the exact same conversation over that entire time.

There’s a reality here in Windsor that always seems to surprise people from away when we tell them about it. First, commercial property taxes are really, really high. But that’s not the surprising part. Second, there’s a lot of vacant commercial spaces and a lot of need for affordable space. But, that’s not surprising either. The third and surprising part is that if you own a commercial property, and it’s vacant, you can fill out a two-page form and get a property tax rebate. So, naturally, there’s little incentive to reduce the rent to reflect the realities of the market and economy here. And in turn, there are few opportunities for a young start-up of any kind to get into a space and get to work doing whatever great thing they might want to do.

Long-term impact will be driven by some radical short-term changes here in the city. These changes need to be developed specifically for Windsor, they should try to solve a couple of parallel problems (but not attempt to solve every problem), and they should be something that might be able to make national headlines. With that in mind, there’s a preliminary plan. It’s early, it’s naive, but it’s going to be further developed and researched. And, it goes something like this:

Instead of a tax rebate just for vacant space, that same rebate should be extended to allow (actually, to encourage) landlords to make their space available free of charge for new businesses, artists, and non-profits operating in their first year and still access the rebate. Businesses, sole proprietors (artists), and non-profits would all register to verify that they were indeed a new startup and they would find the appropriate vacant space and interested landlord — perhaps in collaboration with the area’s BIA. The landlord would fill out a very similar to what already exists two-page form, while noting their request for exemption of the necessity for 100% vacancy for supplying space to one of these startups, and ultimately receive the same tax rebate while supplying vital and incredibly necessary space for young creative people. In the second year of such an arrangement, the startup renting the space could pay a graduated fee (perhaps 50% market value in year 2, 75% market value in year three, and full market value in year four if they could stick it out), or perhaps they would just enter into a normal lease agreement. The bottom line is that the vacant space is filled, there is wealth and job creation, and most importantly, a young creative person sticks it out in the city. And, hopefully, we can tell the world that the city is doing this.

As I noted, research on this is really, really preliminary. There might be a huge number of hurdles or there might already be plans underway to do this, there could be a thousand examples of similar programs elsewhere or it might be a truly unique take on municipal action on youth retention and economic development. We’ll find out as time goes on.

In the meantime, if you have any links, resources, or research to share, please post it in the comments. More soon.

Day 1 at Eastern Edge

Our first day at Eastern Edge was very eventful and filled with lots of adventures and new discoveries. The main take away from today is that St. Johns, Newfoundland has such a rich history and culture.

The Art Marathon Festival that Eastern Edge annually hosts was already in full swing when we arrived, with local and national artists doing really interesting work all around the city. Everything from performance works to mapping out the city with an intricate stamping systems was happening and we were about to get thrown into this exciting mix with our Public Space Gallery project.

With some of our tools from home, we quickly got to work and began putting together the details for our first workshop.

Josh working in our giving space.

We compiled a list of questions to discuss with the participants that act as entry points to larger questions and discussions that we’re interested in exploring while here.

The goal of the first workshop was to assemble the Public Gallery Collection by discovering the overlooked and under-appreciated parts of St.Johns. Everything from the place that’s most confusing in the city to a place you cannot live without was talked about and the stories shared were fascinating.

On our cab ride from the St.John’s airport to Eastern Edge, we were introduced to Newfoundland’s famous hospitality when our seemingly normal cab ride was turned into a full-fledged tour of the city. The gentlemen driving us down to the gallery was so helpful and excited for us to be visiting that he equipped us with maps, guides, and personally showed us around to all the great spots we need to check out in order to fully understand St.Johns. He even waited to make sure we got into the gallery okay before driving off. Newfoundland hospitality is most definitely not a myth; people here are extremely generous and kind.

The handful of people that showed up for the workshop today were great! They had so many stories to share and really took ownership of the project.

We decided to do a round table discussion of the topics which seemed to pay off. We were able to bounce ideas and experiences off one another, both by locals and visitors.


As the discussions went on, more people became curious and took a seat at the table to give their input.

Jen, an Eastern Edge staff member, referred to a map when trying to remember where a specific site of cultural importance was located.

Josh writes while Charlotte recalls a memory from her childhood.

New topic question.

Around the table.

Josh takes notes and starts to find links.

I switch with Josh to take a stab at the story collecting.

The story wall grows.

By the end of the 2 hour workshop, Josh and I have learnt so many new things about St.Johns, we can’t wait to take to the streets and document all the special nooks and crannies that the participants have shared with us.

The view from outside of Eastern Edge is of Signal Hill. This spot was brought up many different instances during the workshop and will be appearing in our walking tour.

During the workshop, all the places that came up multiple times were compiled into a list and then placed into a google map. It became a preliminary guide for us as we began to walk and photograph these sites.

Above, Josh takes notes on each site.

At every place we visited, we made sure to plot its exact coordinates on our map so that we can transfer them to our walking tour pamphlets.

One of the questions asked during the workshop was, “What is the best place to watch the sunrise/sunset?”, and someone replied by saying on top of this parking garage, so Josh and I went to check it out.

Here’s what we found.

The back of the parking garage shows an interesting view of the downtown area. The topography of this place is pretty awesome.

A screen shot of our map thus far. More soon.

The Day’s Summary

Last night was Nadja’s Skills for Good(s) on Dressmaking for Any Body. Here’s a diagram leftover from the workshop. There’s a lot of upcoming Skills for Good(s) at CIVIC SPACE that Lucy is putting together in the fall, very excited to see the line-up!

Started the day with some sketches for a proposal, then scanned them in with our Epson DS-30… Very nice little feed-through scanner.

Then, the afternoon with Rosina, as she prepared for her zine night, I cut and then weeded vinyl. Tiny letters.

The result … a test for our Emergency Kits for North Bay … not finalized, but fun to push these parts forward.

Also, almost lost a file for the Hamilton publication. Not sure how it disappeared from Dropbox (and really not sure how I didn’t find it when looking through the deleted files section on the web version of dropbox), but nonetheless, Time Machine saved the day.

The Public Space Gallery At Eastern Edge

On Monday, some of us will be heading off to St.John’s Newfoundland to participate in Eastern Edge’s annual AM Festival!

While there, we’ll be creating a project called the Public Space Gallery. This project combines traditional elements found in a gallery space and places them outside in more untraditional public locations. Through a series of workshops, we’ll be collecting stories to interprete and curate into a public gallery. The gallery will contain different collections that will be summed up in a “walking tour” map that festival visitors can choose to experience on their own or take the gallery tour with the Broken City Lab art interpretors and tour guides.

Josh works on the walking tour pamphlet.

An example test shot of how the gallery cards would look outside.

It’s interesting to try and put these up outside and properly frame the space the card pertains to.

The 11 x 17 inch cards definitely have a better presence than the 8.5 x 11. It’s kind of interesting to me that from a distance, it just looks like a white disruption of space.

From a distance.

There are still a lot to decide on and more to create/design before we leave! Back to work. More soon.

Great Things You Should know about in Detroit & Beyond

Just a copy & paste, but there’s too much to try to condense. Upcoming in Windsor and an opportunity for artists and food lovers from friends…

Please let m know if there’s anything I can do to assist you with editorial coverage and/or attendance (very affordable $5 rates are available — just ask!) For tickets and information:

For more info, watch this video:


Friday, August 17, 2012

6:30 p.m. – Opening at Art Effect (420 E. Fisher Fwy., Detroit, MI 48207;

7 p.m. – Rogue HAA Panel: Art and Development in Detroit “Art, the Avant-garde and the Realities of Resurrecting an America City” with Philip Lauri (Detroit Lives!), Mike Han (Street Culture Mash), Jela Ellefson (Eastern Market) and Oya Amakisi (film/us social forum) (

9 p.m. – Detroit Performances including: Monica Blaire, Hardcore Detroit (, Ryan Meyers-Johnson, Invincible (

Saturday, August 18, 2012

9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Community Tour Tracks (three options)

Track A – Southwest Detroit: Art Impacting a Neighborhood. Matrix (, The Alley Project (

Track B – The Urban Network: Art Impacting the Justice System (5740 Grand River Detroit, MI 48208). Yusef Shakur (, Prison Creative Arts (, 4TheatrSake (

Track C – College for Creative Studies: Art Impacting Redevelopment. Bus tour led by Mikel Bresee, Director of CAP/CPAD and Vince Carducci, Assistant Dean/author (

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch (bring cash)

Track A – In Mexican Town

Track B – The Urban Network

Track C – WSU reVITALunch (Pine and Huron Streets, Detroit, MI 48216)

Saturday, August 18, 2012 (continued)

2 – 3:30 p.m. – Art Impacting Youth Workshops
Detroit Summer Workshop (
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit (

3:45 – 4:45 p.m. – National Plenary

5:30 – 7 p.m. – Detroit Soup project-funding dinner (2051 Rosa Parks Blvd, Detroit, MI 48216). (

7:30 p.m. – The Hinterlands with Design 99: (3346 Lawley St. Detroit, MI 48212) ( and (

9:30 p.m. – African World Festival at the Charles Wright Museum (315 East Warren Avenue, Detroit 48201) (

Sunday August 19, 2012

9 – 10 a.m. – Invincible with Complex Movements

10 – 10:30 a.m. – Brunch provided at the Hilberry Theater (Cass Avenue Detroit, MI 48201)

10:30 a.m. – noon – Town Hall Discussion “How do you know the work is having impact?”

noon – 12:30 p.m. – Closing

The Design Studio has extended their commission for an artist/culinary team interested in designing a week-long open Public Kitchen in September or October.  The new deadline for applications is August 16th.

The commissioned team will get:

  • $4,000 commission, plus $1000 budget
  • A space near Uphams Corner for their installation of the Public Kitchen
  • A built brick stove from Bread Oven
  • Free fruits and vegtables from Fair Foods

Interested? Learn more about the Public Kitchen and the art commission here.