Wednesday morning we set up for our last day of Urban Discovery with Truck Contemporary Art‘s CAMPER, this time stationed in Central Memorial Park. The theme for the day was “Finding Urban Sophistication and Warm Western Hospitality.”
What we wished to explore was the notion that Calgarians are on average a kinder population. We also were curious if there were any trends in the areas that these kind acts occur. Josh, Todd, Randy, and I handled on the day’s activities, while Justin took a break after a marathon work session on our upcoming publication (which we’ll be posting soon).
Before and after a visit from CBC Radio’s Karen Moxley, we cleaned off and re-used our blackboards from Day 4 with a new goal in mind: to find distinct examples of friendliness at street level. Although the park had far fewer pedestrians than Stephen Avenue, we were still able to get useful feedback from Calgarians, while at the same time allowing them to take a break from their busy day to recall previous acts of kindness.
With Randy and Todd helping out once again, we set up the CAMPER in a small pull-in service vehicle parking area in the park, close to the library. Although the forecast called for rain, we were fortunate enough to miss the bad weather that came later on in the day.
This area is at the cross-section of pedestrian walkways in the park and viewable from the many sitting areas located behind the library. It seems people generally use this area to enjoy their lunch.
We made sure to document the timelines from CAMPER Day 4 before erasing the blackboards in preparation for the day’s activity.
Todd uses water from one of the park’s restrooms to wipe down the boards.
…while Josh and I set up some blank …and then the city cards for passersby to fill out on a table underneath the tent.
Once the boards were cleaned off, we started to attach them back onto the CAMPER. Luckily most of the Velcro and epoxy remained from before, making this process a lot easier.
I write out the title square: tell us a story of friendliness at street level.
Todd climbs onto the CAMPER for another vantage point.
Michelle decided to write out the title panel of the day, “Tell Us a Story of Friendliness at Street Level.”
Our friend from Windsor who recently moved to Calgary, Jason Deary, stops by to help draw the title panel. He also gives us examples of his own experiences with western hospitality.
Jason’s story: “Three different people stopped in their cars to help me when I ran out of gas in my car at 16th Ave. NW and 19th St., only a few weeks after arriving to Calgary. It was a nice welcome to the city.”
I fill out some answers from a few people on their lunch break who were eager to tell their story, but didn’t have time to stop and fill out a post-it.
Meanwhile, Josh gets started on the second portion of the day: handing out ..and then the city business cards for people to complete. This information will feed into our publication and create a larger context for the billboards.
A passerby takes a more literal approach to completing the sentence.
Our epoxied velcro from Day 4 doesn’t stick well on one of our title signs, so we come up with a creative, if rudimentary solution.
We also were lucky enough to have CBC’s Karen Moxley stop by for a brief interview about our work here in Calgary.
She was quite the energetic interviewer and asked some good questions about our place in the art realm.
She also allowed Randy to share his thoughts about what we’ve been doing in Calgary and how it happened.
Before arriving in Calgary, we printed a selection of business cards with …and then the city fill-in-the-blank statements. Today we used them more prominently in our research gathering.
We also decided to get spatial again; we drew generic street corners which would allow participants to pinpoint the location of kind acts.
We asked participants to recall the intersection at which these small acts of kindness occurred.
Randy unknowingly demonstrates Calgarian kindness to someone in need of technical assistance.
Admittedly, it was tough to attract the attention we were used to on Stephen Ave., but we managed to kindly approach those who walked close to the CAMPER.
It was great to see people sharing memories that may have been forgotten otherwise.
Here is a good example of true honesty.
This one was from one of our first days in Calgary.
It’s endearing to know that people remember these small gestures of kindness.
Small things can go a long way in terms of brightening up someone’s day.
Here is a really good example of going the extra mile for someone in need.
We had to note Randy’s good deed on the board!
Kindness takes many forms, in some cases it is in the form of a donation.
Helping those in need
We stuck a few rows of our cards underneath the friendliness boards. These short statements help us understand what kind of active role a city can play when framed as an entity.
This card demonstrates a city which knows where it came from.
This series has been a very important one for us in Calgary as well as Windsor. Through the statements we imagine a sense of direction, choice, and accountability that may be overlooked or downplayed in both cities.