Next Week’s Adventure: Martha Street Studio in Winnipeg

Next week, Justin, Michelle and Josh will be stationed at Martha Street Studio in Winnipeg to do a quick residency involving workshops, walks, and a lot of on-the-ground research leading up to an exhibition.

In Winnipeg? Check out the Martha Street Studio facebook page for more event information!

Here’s the details:

Martha Street Studio houses an exhibition gallery open to the public 5 days a week from 10–5pm. Martha Street Studio also has an inventory of artists’ work for sale and an archive of work produced at the studio since 1988.

“All the Stories We’re Not Telling About Winnipeg”

We know a city from the stories we tell about the city. But, we can also know something about a city from the stories we don’t tell about it. Winnipeg is no different. Some of these stories we tell are about celebrating everything the community has to offer, while others are about all of the things that make the city a difficult place to love. However, there are still other stories that fall somewhere between the two, based on the personal narratives we all chart as we live, work, play, and move throughout the city. These stories of our everyday experiences are the ones that we don’t hear enough about.

You are invited to participate in the creation of a sprawling series of posters featuring the titles of all the stories Winnipeg isn’t telling, written by you. Facilitated by Broken City Lab, this workshop will begin with shared story telling, community mapping, and DIY design tactics and culminate in an exhibition at Martha Street Studio, of all the posters.


Monday, November 21st, 6-9pm
Tuesday, November 22nd, 6-9pm
Each workshop costs $10.
Sign up now, space is limited!

“All the Stories We’re Not Telling About Winnipeg”
Broken City Lab Exhibition at Martha Street Studio
Opening November 23rd 5-8pm
Exhibition runs November 24th-January 5th


And, we’ll definitely be trying to blog as much as we can about the trip! More soon.

Urban Discovery in Calgary with Truck’s CAMPER

We’re in Calgary for 9 days as part of Truck Gallery’s CAMPER 2011 Urban Discovery Project.

Here’s what’s going to be keeping us busy for the next week:

July 21 (Thurs): CAMPER Day 1: Exploding Calgary (interviews & storytelling) (12pm-3pm) 222 8 Avenue SW

July 22 (Fri): CAMPER Day 2: Spatial & Temporal Narratives of Calgary (public mapping) (3pm-7pm) 222 8 Avenue SW

July 23 (Sat): CAMPER Day 3: DIY Publication Workshop, Planning & Making Day (10am-2:30pm) 222 8 Avenue SW

July 25 (Mon): Map Making & Distro (various small maps created and distributed)

July 26 (Tues): Projection Night (Tweets & Transcripts from Citywide encounters projected from CAMPER) (9:30pm-11pm) Central Memorial Park

July 27 (Wed): CAMPER Day 4: Finding “Urban sophistication and warm western hospitality” (10am-1pm) Central Memorial Park

July 28 (Thurs): “…and then the city” publication launch (7pm) Central Memorial Park

We’re basing all of this activity off an extension of our “…and then the city” project to unfold and uncover the multiple narratives that go into shaping locality and our experience of it.  If you’re in Calgary, stop by. If you’re not, check back each day, we’ll be making epic posts.

Outpost Journal: Art, Design, and Action from the Fringes

An interesting project to look into …

Outpost Journal is a biannual, non-profit print publication on innovative art, design and community action from cities that have been traditionally underexposed beyond their local contexts. Founded in 2010, Outpost aims to give wider exposure to artists and activists from smaller cities back in more recognized centers of artistic practice and commerce, such as New York and Los Angeles.

Outpost is a journey into the creative heart of a place. Via features like Secretly Famous (profiles of the most infamous artsy locals), guerrilla engagements with tourist attractions, historical explorations, mapping projects, and deep dives into artist collectives and organizations, Outpost plans to expose the myriad ways in which unique local communities arise through creative collaboration and production.

Support it over at their Kickstarter Campaign.

[via an email]

Rust Belt to Artist Belt III in Detroit

On Wednesday, April 6th I will be headed across the border to the College for Creative Studies, A. Alfred Taubman Centre for Design Education in Detroit for the Rust Belt to Artist Belt III conference to participate on a panel named Lab Culture: Hands on Think Tanks for Cities, with five other amazing individuals.

Conference participants will explore how economic and community development, entrepreneurialism, and land use in post-industrial Rust Belt cities are being shaped by creative individuals. Attendees will examine best practices for connecting creative practitioners with advanced manufacturers to establish a “Creative Supply Chain.”

Check out the jam-packed schedule and links to panelist and moderator bios here. With over 50 speakers in two days, this is going to be AMAZING.

Hope to see you there!


Two Countries, One Street

With our ongoing How to Forget the Border Completely research project in mind, I’m just about to sit down and watch Two, Countries, One Street on the National Film Board of Canada website.

Filmed in 1955, this short documentary visits the 3 Québec border towns of Rock Island, Stanstead and Beebe, and the Vermont town of Derby Line to see how residents and officials cope with a civic life that is cut down the middle by an international boundary.

It will be good to think about how residents and officials living in Windsor and Detroit might begin to cope with the reality of the border today and in the future, in relation to a similar situation in Québec circa 1955. Mind you, the wide river is what visually distances Windsor and Detroit from each other, and it seems that the communities of Rock Island, Stanstead, Beebe and Derby Line are not separated by a body of water.

It’s only 22 minutes, so check it out!

Things Worth Saving Recap

Though we’ve received a few of the postcards back because of a faulty address, for the most part, the 150 postcards sent out for Things Worth Saving, as part of our ongoing Save the City project, have likely now arrived to their destinations.

I must admit that when I first laid eyes on the stacks upon stacks of  postcards that we were fill and mail out that evening I yearned for my San Pellegrino to immaculately transform into Kentucky bourbon. Alas it did not, but thankfully that seemingly desperate moment revealed itself as fleeting as the lovely people who attended the event feverishly jot down their various anecdotes, love stories, musings and mini manifestos regarding Windsor. The writing was non stop – the sounds of the building and camera snaps were overpowered by the sounds of pencils, pens and markers scribbling effervescently.

Continue reading “Things Worth Saving Recap”

Creative Cities Summit: Using Art to Change Cities in Lexington, Kentucky

In just a couple days, Danielle and I will be headed down to Lexington, Kentucky, where I’ll be presenting at this year’s Creative Cities Summit as part of the Using Art to Change Cities panel. The summit runs from April 7 – 9, 2010, I’ll be presenting on Friday, April 9th.

Here’s the panel description (good fit, no?):

Most cities support traditional notions of arts and culture, the symphony, opera, ballet and museums. Beyond those traditional bastions of culture there are artists and entrepreneurs that are actively using art to change their communities for the better. Public art is more than just the statue in front of the building and can be beautifully integrated into projects for startling results. Guerrilla art interventions, some legal, some illegal, can provoke dialog and action where before there was gridlock. And art can be used to change our very notions of fundamental things like healthcare and education to astounding results. This eclectic panel will attack this issue from their unique perspectives and is not the traditional arts and cultural conversation.

I’m so excited to get to be a part of this conversation and Danielle and I are both anxious to hear more about other cities and how they’re responding (or not) to the idea of becoming a creative city. Complex and holistic problem-solving seems to be at the foundation of what this conference wants to address — we’re hoping to learn a lot.

Did you make it to Detroit’s edition back in 2008?

City Share Conference in Chattanooga

We’re packing up and heading down to Chattanooga, Tennessee tomorrow to attend CreateHere‘s City Share Mini Conference.

What the conference is all about:

“City Share is a conference for seeding innovative projects.We bring great minds from across disciplines together in Chattanooga, Tennessee to teach, share, plan, and change. The result? International knowledge-sharing; a growing network of change-makers; and organizations across the world better equipped to serve cities, for one, for all.”

We’re excited to catch up with our friends from CreateHere (who visited us back in November), and also to meet a ton of new people. I’m quite sure we’re going to be very inspired — just check out some of the other participants.

As we continue to work on our projects, our research, and our practice, it’s really great to continue to get to know other people who aren’t necessarily working as an arts collective, but are attempting to do some of the same things we are — namely, re-imagining creative activity in response to a place.

Field Report from St.Catharines

street banners

Danielle and I have been in St.Catharines at Brock University working with an Ecopsychology class on a public art project (details to follow in coming week(s). We’re only here for a few days to help get the class started, but it’s been incredibly fun working with a bunch of strangers. We’ve explored the campus and the downtown and what I offer you here is a brief report on our findings.

Above is one of many, many banners on streetlight poles, highlighting a number of community members. It would seem that some iteration of this in Windsor would be a no-brainer—and I know it’s been brought up before in conversations, but new banners and some input on the Christmas-themed light sculptures that adorn our streetlight poles in the winter would be a welcomed change.

community board

The downtown itself is a funny mix—it feels on the verge of being vibrant, but during the summer most places close early or don’t open at all. This is truly a university town, where the students seem to almost entirely drive the economy. There’s a rather large number of vacant storefronts, but there’s a decent mix of shopping and restaurants and bars, with apartments above all of them, to make it seem kind of livable. This community board above in particular caught my eye, again likely a sign of a dead place without students, though remnants of a drunken night are on the other side where a downtown map is under shattered glass.

public art

This is public art in St.Catharines, or rather, what public art from the 1980s looks like on the campus of Brock University. The campus itself is sprawling and hugs the Bruce Trail, which winds itself around the escarpment and a wondrous forest. Though much the architecture is what you’d expect for a small university campus—late 1960s/1970s modernist architecture, with confusing layouts, awful interior paints and a sort of assholish sensibility. It’s a nice enough place, the amount of green space really helps you feel a bit better in general, but I suppose we’re also missing a key ingredient in understanding how the place works on a regular basis, that is, a student body. It was encouraging to find out though that not only does Brock have an 8-month bus pass built into its tuition, but that students think it’s the best $150 they could possibly spend.

Shrink the City (Solutions for Flint)

in Flint, Michigan Photo from New York Times

An article on Flint, Michigan in the New York Times earlier this week discussed the proposal for the intensifying and speeding up of the city’s decline—and it might be genius. Don’t wait for houses to become abandoned before they get demolished, instead pull down entire neighbourhoods and move the population. Concentrate everyone remaining in the city to a few key areas, and build that density.

In short, planned shrinkage.

I don’t think Windsor is quite this bad; though this could very well be coming down the pipes sooner than we expect. The fallout of the current economic realities is slowly being realized across the city, but if you really want to imagine Windsor in 10 years if we don’t make some radical change, just go for a drive down Indian Road (or anywhere in the West end, really).

So, if you were offered a similar place to where you live now, but in a denser area, would you take it?