After four days at our Extended Field Trip #001 in Peterborough at Artspace, we installed our work and presented our research findings in the main space at the gallery. After nearly 96 hours in the city, we came to realize that everything is ok in Peterborough.
Undoubtedly, we realized this by comparing our experiences in Windsor. Small things such as the fact that the parking meters in Peterborough accept change all the way down to nickels, or larger things such as the incredible number of people who either plan to stay in Peterborough or at least plan to come back eventually, make the city of Peterborough ok.
Though these four days have been only the very first opportunity we’ve had to spend a concentrated amount of time in another city in order to try to engage in some level of research, we felt like we learned a lot. There’s something about the entrepreneurial spirit in Peterborough, at all levels, that has seemed to encourage the right people to stay in the city, and it’s this sense at the very base of everything that we experienced that we need to begin to translate back to Windsor.
This translation, at the very least, will turn into more dialogue with more people back in Windsor. There’s so much to be done here and yet it seems like if more people can be convinced to try to stick it out here, just a little bit longer, that maybe we will be ok too, eventually.
This is a bit of spillover from Day 3, but it was too late to post. After having spent the afternoon building the sign, we set out to start lighting it.
We bought 85′ of Christmas lights.
And it got us close, but unfortunately not the entire way.
We resolved to buy some more lights in the morning, seeing as we wanted a bit more glow anyways, and finish up the letters V and E and then double back across the entire text.
After I finished putting on the second set of lights, Josh went through and stapled down any loose wires to try to get the lights to hug the shape of the letters a bit more.
Iga and Liz taking some pictures of our process.
The sign, finished.
After we finished the sign, we headed out to see some more of the city that everyone had recommended to us. We drove out of downtown and to the East City to the museum and the locks.
This is the view from the hill just past the museum.
This is a map of sorts that’s on the roof of a small shed that you can access to see even more of the surrounding area.
This is some graffiti from long, long ago.
The parking lot, notice the complete lack of any lights. This place is entirely secluded, and it’s just one of the many places around the city that seem somehow under-policed compared to what I might expect in Windsor. We also later heard that this place is accepted as the teenage make-out spot and the police don’t mind because it’s relegated to one specific area.
Another secluded make-out spot.
The landscaping at a Federal government tourist location.
A totally touristy thing to do, but given Josh’s and my interest in engineering marvels, we had to check it out.
This is how it works, and it was built in 1904!!!!
The view from atop the locks.
Some of the most detailed instructions I’ve ever seen for one of these lifesavers.
A weather station on top of the locks.
History of tourism.
And down below, the geese.
A small tunnel that leads to a road.
A road that passes underneath all that water and is a single lane.
The Art Gallery of Peterborough, built onto a house.
After our adventure in East City, we headed back downtown to ask some more people our survey questions on what they think about Peterborough. On the way, we saw this large, though illegible (?) text made of boards.
Then in a covered alley we saw this graffiti. Racism…
And this—we wondered how it is that messages like these are the standard for tagging and graffiti in Peterborough.
Also, here are those parking meters I mentioned above—you can use nickels to pay for parking!
To be fair, Peterborough isn’t all perfect parking meters and interesting tags—their public transit system only hits each stop every 40 minutes, however, the number of bikes we saw on the streets must help to make up for this gap.
All the while, we did more interviews.
And we spoke with a larger variety of people than this, at some point though, it’s better to have a real conversation with people and not change that connection by a request to take their picture.
Josh sorting through all of our surveys.
Back in the gallery, Josh hung a few sets of our posters.
A typical answer.
One of the greatest things we heard.
And the sign again.
On the other side of the gallery, Josh finishes hanging the posters above our mind maps and notes.
Josh hanging the posters—he used a level and everything!
The rest of our 100 posters for the taking.
The projection wall that we used for our artist talk later on in the evening.
The tech setup.
The sign aglow.
Some more shots of the gallery space.
This will remain up for another week or so in the space.
Our posters partway through the night.
The survey page in case anyone else wanted to add anything.
The grid of surveys.
The sign after the opening, left on throughout the night.
The huge windows are Artspace are great—so many people walked by and stopped to take a look at our sign.
The response we got after our artist talk was extremely encouraging, and we were so very grateful to have had the opportunity to work at Artspace and have such amazing support from Iga and Liz and Paul and nearly every single person we spoke to on the streets. Our summary, or our thesis depending on whether you’re leaving or staying in Peterborough I suppose, is that indeed everything is ok. The problems that the city faces are at such a different level than what we do here in Windsor—for example, concerns from the arts community in Peterborough surround the lack of honest criticism within the community itself, certainly valid, but much different than the funding crises so many of our art organizations here face—and it was in understanding the differences that we realized what has been happening in Windsor for so long, in short, apathy that comes from hitting walls so many times for so long.
So, while four days was such a short time, and while we were only able to get to know a fraction of what Peterborough is about, we did come away knowing that there is at least one city that works really well in a variety of capacities without the cachet and infrastructure of a place like Toronto. At the foundation of this stable city though, as I’ve already mentioned, is the general sense of “we can do this”—and by that I mean: it wasn’t the city council that decided to make Hunter Street the downtown arts district, it wasn’t the municipality’s branding initiative that convinced people to want to stay in the city, it wasn’t solely geography (though that helped), and it wasn’t just one bar or restaurant that made it all worthwhile—Peterborough works because people decide to do something and then wake up the next morning and do it. This isn’t to say the same thing doesn’t happen in Windsor, maybe just that it needs to happen more often.
It’s good to be back home, there’s a lot to do.