Brainstorming Community Gardens

Community Garden mockup for the Sandwich community in Windsor, Ontario

Darren, Josh, and I met with some folks from the Sandwich Community Health Centre and Maya from FedUp to start discussing community gardens. The meeting went well, serving as a good starting point to start figuring out what we might be able to do in Sandwich. The SCHC is working on a site on Prince Road, so trying to get something at the riverfront shouldn’t overlap with their efforts.

After the meeting we did a site visit to start brainstorming, taking some photos and making some notes. Josh and I did some sketches and really rough mockups to try to start imaging some potentials for the garden. We liked the idea of circular planters, similar to the Victory Gardens, I’ve posted on previously, so that’s what you’re seeing in the aerial photo above, with the  planters being those 12 small dots near the windmill. Though, the planters would probably vary in size, and in general would  be larger than what’s mocked-up above. 

Ideally, a garden that we initiate can act as a pilot project for the rest of the city. There’s a long way to go with this project, but I wanted to make this first post to mark the start.

Talk20 / Pecha Kucha

Talk20 in Windsor, Ontario at Artcite

Organized by local artist Jodi Green, the Windsor iteration of Talk20 happens on Thursday, February 19th, and will feature six-minute presentations by Mita Williams, Rod Strickland, Tom Lucier, Pina and Adriano Ciotoli, Andrew Foot, and Justin Langlois.

“Talk20 is not a lecture but a gathering, an open forum for the dissemination of ideas in art, architecture and design.  Produced in cities around the world talk20 has emerged as a live catalogue of contemporary creative production that seeks to instigate a conversation within and without the design community.”

The presentations start at 7:30pm at Artcite. See you there!

Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens, a community art project that encourages people to grow their own food

Victory Gardens is a new project by Amy Franceschini. The project recalls the WWII victory gardens project that encouraged citizens to grow their own food as a tactic to keep them calm over the war and support their troops. Franceschini, the daughter of an organic farmer and an industrial farmer, takes the project back to where it began—in front of the city hall buidling in San Fransisco, where they planted a large garden and since introduced a pilot project to disseminate the skills and tools needed to do urban-scale gardening across 15 households throughout San Fransisco.

There’s also a write-up on the SF Victory Gardens 2007 project in the previously mentioned JoAP.

I know FedUp is working really hard in this city, and that Tom Lucier proposed planting a garden for the downtown mission, and that Scaledown once (maybe) suggested the old Greyhound station downtown is turned into some kind of market, and that there’s rumours of a symposium surrounding urban activism that may discuss some of these very things… so (since this is what BCL does) I have to suggest that we move forward with the planning for a large-scale urban/community gardening plan, something like turning 10% of the riverfront into a community garden (maybe on the slopes that lead up to University Ave). Anyone interested?


Psychogeography Walk in Windsor

Pedestrian scramble time-lapse by Sam Javanrouh, from Spacing Magazine

Tomorrow night, December 28th, at 8pm, Spacing Magazine‘s Shawn Micallef  (in conjunction with and will be hosting a Psychogeographic Walk through Windsor. The walk will start and end at Phog and will consist of a simple algorithm to get people moving through the city. After everyone comes back, the routes will get mapped, highlighting discovered details and personal landmarks. 

For more information and to hear the PSA running on CJAM, check out the post on ScaleDown.

PS. The image above has nothing to do with Windsor or psychogeography, but is a still from a Pedestrian Scramble time-lapse video made by Sam Javanrouh that I saw (and liked) on Spacing Magazine’s website.

Power House Detroit

PowerHouse Detroit

I’m still trying to understand the relationship between Detroit UnReal Estate Agency and Power House (and maybe they’re the same thing and there’s no other relationship to understand), but at any rate, the Power House project is an incredible idea. In short, “The house is to act as cultural catalyst and opportunity for cultural exchanges through workshops and residencies. It will also provide lessons in wind, solar, and sustainable strategies by implementing these systems and introducing them to the community.”

Basically, there’s a neighbourhood in Detroit that has been informally adopted as a site for this cultural catalyst. Many homes in the area have been foreclosed or set on fire, or both. Empty lots are going for $500, while homes are going for $2000. So, the Power House group proposes to purchase these lots and homes and flip the area from a drain on the tax base, bank holdings, and the local economics to a community asset.

I think this could be an excellent group to connect with.

TVO’s the Agenda Camp in Windsor

TVO's the Agenda Camp in Windsor, Ontario

I spent the day at AgendaCamp, which is part of The Agenda’s series on the manufacturing economy. The idea was to get a bunch of people in the community together and create discussions around the manufacturing economy, the city, and the future of both. From there, the discussions were summarized, photographed, twiettered, video(ed), and uploaded to a wiki, where hopefully the discussion continues. 

The question I asked in my session was, “Why should I stay in Windsor after I graduate?” I was hoping to provoke not only discussion, but some real things that could happen in this city to encourage me and people like me to stick around after graduation. This is a question I really want to ask the city council and mayor, but that’s another project down the road. A lot of people were receptive to what I briefly described at BCL’s activities and I think we made some new connections with like-minded people in the community.

Tomorrow night there will be a live broadcast of The Agenda in its regular roundtable discussion format, and I’ve been asked to reiterate my question on live television.

6th Annual Fahrenheit Fest

Artcite's Fahrenheit Festival 2008 in LaSalle

Last night was the 6th Annual Fahrenheit Festival, presented by Artcite Inc. and the town of Lasalle. It was incredible to see such a huge crowd, likely around 1200 people or more, out to see fire sculpture. The location was amazing, with 12 sculptures sitting on a little patch of land cutting through the middle of a very large pond, and a nice slope for the audience to sit with a great view of the entire show.

Along with the big burn itself were a series of talks and workshops on fire art, which really rounded out the festival, and for those that were able to make it, helped to give context to the wider ideas of fire art. The scale of an event like this is somewhat staggering, given that Artcite has just two extremely dedicated employees (but thankfully an amazing bunch of volunteers), though what impressed me most is that there is in fact a sizable audience for public creative activity in this area.

Note that this event happened in Lasalle and that Lasalle along with Artcite were successful in writing a Trillium grant to make this happen. I’m not sure of the history of the event, if it was ever attempted in the city of Windsor or not, but it’s inspiring to know that there are places in this region that view the arts as n opportunity for partnership.

Jennifer Marsh's Gas Station Cozy

Jennifer Marsh's Gas Station Cozy

Jennifer Marsh’s International Fiber Collaborative gathered 3,000 fiber panels to cover an abandoned Citgo gas station in central New York state. The panels were collected from students and artists spread across 15 countries. Very exciting potential for a collaborative public art project. On top of organizing the project, Marsh also gave workshops on how to crochet and make the panels to a number of students in New York and Virginia.