A 1W3KND Update

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We’re almost halfway through the 1W3KND Writing Residencies and the pile of writing is growing! Here’s an update on the last  four residents.

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Mike DiRisio and Nathan Stevens collaborated through the weekend and left us with an awesome collection of notes,  brainstorms, fun posters, and essays. Above: one of their posters.

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Another great surprise: a series of back and fourth anonymous letters.

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Please create responsibly.

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Some more notes.

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As the residency goes on, I’ve found that there’s something really interesting about coming in to work on Mondays and finding cues of an activated space from the weekend passed.

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A more light-hearted piece: “8 Commonly-held Myths, Misconceptions, and Erroneous Ideas about Socially Engaged Creative Practice”.

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Letters among collaborators.

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More notes!

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Before the holiday break, 1W3KND residents Jason Deary and Mary Tremonte spent the weekend collaborating on a set of essays.

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Reflections.

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The collection of work has been really great so far and we’re excited to see how the residency will progress.

This weekend Siobhan Rigg and Amber Ginsburg will be the writing residents. Can’t wait to see what they come up with!!

Mailbox Prototypes and Organizational Systems for Civic Maintenance

We’re in the preparation stages for an upcoming project called Civic Maintenance. The project will be based around the writing and distributing of a thousand letters (give or take) to residents of Windsor, thanking them for staying in the city, or contributing to it, or somehow having an impact on it, or maybe all of those things. The idea of maintenance (in a ‘civic’ sense, or city sense, maybe) is normally attributed to specific acts on infrastructure and the built environment, towards their preservation in a longer-term. It focuses on an cyclical act, a process that takes significant investment, and most often in a preventative capacity. We think that these kinds of acts could do well to be more closely connected to the people who make up this city, towards preserving a sense of belonging, and investment in this place, and in the largest and most symbolic sense, towards convincing people not to pack up and leave.

These early stages begin with an attempt to narrow down the list of people to receive our letters. Initially, we considered doing a random selection from the phone book, but we soon turned towards a more explicit selection. We still worked from the phone book, but instead started to pull last names that might act as a descriptor for the city, in one way or another. This is still developing, and we’ll be working to translate more last names as well..

Alongside the letter writing itself will be the exhibition design — a way of keeping track and organizing our process. We began to piece together some very crude ‘mailboxes’ from cardstock and cardboard.

And popsicle sticks.

And boxes with coloured paper.

The mailboxes will be attached to the walls and provide a way to organize the letters — perhaps by last name, or sentiment, or geography, or quality of handwriting, or time, or something else.

Intending to embark on an ambitious process to make cardboard mailboxes, we started to put together some templates.

These mailboxes would be not unlike what we might see in a more rural setting.

The form of these mailboxes seemed enticing, as a way to pull things away from being tacked on the walls.

Hiba broke the corrugation to make the cardboard flexible to bend.

She used a pencil.

This gives the cardboard a lot more flexibility, but retains the outside finish.

Rough mailbox design from cardboard.

Two envelopes wide.

More of an exploratory design process than a movement towards any finished idea, this kind of mailbox might work at a smaler scale.

And then, there were these. Simple folder-like design created from 9×12″ cardstock with the edges of pushpins holding it together.

If we’re to make 30 or 40 or 50 of the mailboxes, these basic foldable designs might work best.

They also seem to make the envelopes more accessible in a way — rather than hiding them in the mailbox itself, the sizing of these folder-type mailboxes would make the envelopes more easily legible and would give us an opportunity to look an organization code more readily. That is, we need to figure out not only how to keep track of what letters are sent out, but what kind of data we create based on our last name selection system. We’re not sure where it goes yet, but it’s where we’re at by midweek.

More maintenance soon.

IN STORE: DEAR INDIAN ROAD

Dear Indian Road is near the very top of my list of favourites from Daragh Sankey‘s nearly complete documentary series on our Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation project. It’s kind of unreal to think about the things that have changed (and haven’t) around Indian Road, the border crossing, and the fallout from this ongoing political and infrastructural battle.

Here’s Daragh’s background on the video:

I was quite impressed by Leesa’s project. The visual impact, the collective participation, the subtlety of its activism – it all came together beautifully.

When it came to the issue of representing Indian Road on film, I couldn’t get it out of my head that the ideal technique was a single tracking shot. The road is patrolled by private security hired by the bridge company, so I wasn’t about to go lay down track or get a steadicam rig and walk the length of it. The answer was a surreptitious car mount. I found a cheap suction mount and stuck it on there. This was about a year after the residencies. My lady friend and I rented a car and drove up to Windsor to get this and a few other shots (there was some car mount footage in this one too), but unfortunately the car rental place I used didn’t let you specify what model you wanted, so we wound up trying to sneak up Indian Road in a bright orange jeep with a camera mounted on it. Like the ninja! But somehow we stayed out of trouble, and I’m very happy with how the footage looks.

This is the semi-final film. Next will be a brief coda wrapping up the series. I still have tons of great stuff dealing more specifically with Broken City Lab themselves, but I’m not promising that any time soon.

There’s more here on the rest of the In Store series. ')}

Planning for Civic Maintenance

While some of us were away last week in North Bay, Sara and Kevin caught up to talk through some ideas around the next project we’ll be hosting out of CIVIC SPACE. It was an excellent welcome home to walk into a wall of notes from their conversation. Anxious to keep talking through these ideas later on this week.

Civic Maintenance is the working title of this next project, and it’s moving towards the direction of a letter-writing campaign to thousands of citizens of Windsor. We’re thinking about what it means to maintain relationships and connections in the city and how simple gestures might reframe the ways in which we feel connected (or don’t) to the city.

Sara drafted a potential design on the chalkboard.

If we’re going to be able to write a couple thousand letters, we’re also going to be looking for ways to open up the project for other community members to participate.

Sending letters to city hall.

Funny question around planning for a potential exhibition of the letters and letter writing process — “is this too art?”

Exhibition planning.

BCL mailbox!

Letter design templates.

This drawing opened up the idea of having a series of mailboxes on the walls (at least for me!)

Fill in the blanks to generate content?

Outdoor mailbox.

Submitting writing and letter drafts through a web form.

The wall and caption. More soon.

This is Happening: Installing our sign at CIVIC SPACE

Props to Hiba for wrapping up what we started last night. Most time spent on the ladder.

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The day before our launch. Rosina paints with Kiki.

The table of letters, ever-changing as each layer dries.

The letters that remain to be painted as of this afternoon.

Josh and Kevin’s project for the day…

Sara and Rosina headed out to do a bunch of short installs and photograph them.

The single-use camera Hiba brought. Later Sara bought another 15 or so of these.

Looking like this is exactly what they’re supposed to be doing here.

Sara reaches.

The letter H. Can’t wait to see these photos.

Meanwhile, back at the space, Kevin and Hiba take a rotation on the paint.

Josh begins to assemble their invention.

Hiba and I picked up the special occasion permit for tomorrow!

Kevin and Josh. Heading back to the space now … more later.

 

Installing the sign for CIVIC SPACE, take 1

Installing some signage on the exterior wall of CIVIC SPACE (10)

Installing some signage on the exterior wall of CIVIC SPACE (13)

Last night, Hiba, Sara, and Justin tackled some initial planning for the installation of the CIVIC SPACE / Letter Library sign. The Letter Library idea came out of trying to think through how we might make our own sign for the space, so it’s really great to finally see the letters going up.

Installing some signage on the exterior wall of CIVIC SPACE (12)

Hiba got on the ladder first, installing the letters with some tape, while Sara helped to position from the vantage point across the road.

Installing some signage on the exterior wall of CIVIC SPACE (1)

Then Justin made some attempts as well.

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We did some photoshop mock-ups earlier, but we still wanted to be able to play a bit.

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The sign will read something like, “CIVIC SPACE PRESENTS THE LETTER LIBRARY.”

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The title might bleed down into the window where we’ll likely have our return pile of letters.

Installing some signage on the exterior wall of CIVIC SPACE (6)

We tried the letters up high and hugging the window. We’ll do some more tests later today. We used a pole to remove our well-taped letters.

Installing some signage on the exterior wall of CIVIC SPACE (7)

As an aside, this is the nicely designed new water meter cover in front of our building.

Installing some signage on the exterior wall of CIVIC SPACE (10)

Danielle came by for inspection — and approved.

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End of the night clean-up.

Sara demonstrating the letter removal technique.

Letter Library Card & Stamp Test, Example, etc.

From yesterday afternoon — testing the stamp that Rosina set up and the cards we just got back from the printers.

We also got a fun package from Hamilton Artist Inc. that included some of the “questionnaires” we did from the last art crawl.

These will eventually make their way into our forthcoming publication.

Detail, stamp test.

Yesterday afternoon, Kevin and I tackled painting the letters, while Hiba cut some more. Into the evening, news came that Kevin had finished cutting all the letters!

Make sure you pick some of these up on Thursday, ok?

Nothing like being thorough: how we make decisions, slowly

Last night Hiba, Danielle and I met to do some more prep work on the letters for the Letter Library launch on June 21st. We painted another test letter E a different shade of grey and started to populate a wall with some more of the tests. It was excellent to see more than a few letters up at once to start to get a sense of the scale of the cluster.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (1)

Danielle tried her hand at cutting the letters for a little while, but we quickly shifted over to more tests, while also playing catch up and talking through some other projects we want to kick off later this summer.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (2)

We head out with a grey letter E and a two-tone S.

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This was around 9pm or later … so we didn’t get a read of this shade of grey in the harsher sunlight. There’s something interesting about the grey — certainly it doesn’t pop like the white (or the black really for that matter), but it feels a bit more anchored.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (4)

We also put up a white letter Y. It’s no surprise it stands out the most, outside.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (5)

Danielle moves the letters around to other locations.

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YES, more often.

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Hiba, Lucy, and I returned earlier this morning. Hiba installed some rows of white letters to get a better sense of how they’ll look on the walls.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (8)

We also figured it might make them easier to paint and not take up every square inch of walking space while we continue to prep.

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Taping the letters.

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Meanwhile, Lucy takes on the jig saw.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (11)

We’re going to play a lot with the lighting.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (12)

Letters temporarily installed on a couple of the walls. We’ll end up putting them a lot closer together on the final install.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (14)

We’re still planning to paint the faces white to remove the black lines left over from tracing.

The effects are interesting — about what I expected where they feel more a part of the wall than objects to take out and distribute. Of course, getting closer to the letters easily reveals that they’re styrofoam, but we’ll have to work out a really straight-forward set of instructions to carry out the project.

The plan going forward — finish cutting the letters today and Monday, start (and hopefully finish) painting Monday, start clean-up and install Tuesday, and do all the other prep by Thursday morning, giving us the better part of the day for contingency.

Grey Paint Test, Tattoos, and Talk of Homework II

This afternoon at CIVIC SPACE started out with a video chat with Jason Sturgill from Portland about a really awesome project we’ll be collaborating with him on in the spring of next year.

There is also talk of Homework II happening this fall…stayed tuned for more info on this.

Also, our Akimbo ad was released today! Cool.

On the production side of things, we decided to do the final letter paint test for the Letter Library. While both white and black paint tests have had their pros and cons, we agreed on a final test of the colour grey to see if we can find a happy middle.

Word of the day today is: HAVE

Pre-paint.

Before coming to the space, Hiba went to Michaels to grab some grey paint. All the grey paint was sold out (weird), so we resorted to making our own by mixing our black and white paint remnants.

Painting…

Waiting…

After the letters dried, we hung them up in the space to see how they fit.

The grey definitely pops more than the white did in the space … and we do need to decide soon …

We took to the streets shortly after to take some install shots on different wall surfaces to compare with the white and black tests we did previously.

The grey has a nice pop, even on muted walls like this one.

While white had a really great pop on brick walls, the grey letters have a very interesting presence.

Almost looks like concrete on concrete!

The shadows cast on the grey letters give them more depth, while the black letters got lost in their own shadows.

The grey as the middle ground (in every sense) might win the day. It stands well on our white walls and looks interesting among the different textures of the buildings outside. Maybe we should sleep on it.

Remember, June 21st at 7pm, you’re invited to our Letter Library launch!