Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope

The details: Sunday, February 28, 2010 (1pm) at 362 California Ave, Windsor

As part of the Broken City Lab: Save the City project, and to better understand the city and its rich and failed history, Broken City Lab researchers will host an open community event on Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 1pm to map and invent two distinct community tours—Sites of Apology and Sites of Hope.

Throughout the first part of the event, Broken City Lab will lead community participants in brainstorming the numerous sites deemed to be worthy of apology—these could include failed strip malls, roads without sidewalks, or former auto factories—along with the numerous sites that give community participants hope for the city—these could include an especially great bike trail, sites of architectural significance, or places that can be imagined as being easily improved.

Immediately following the creation of these lists, Broken City Lab will set out to demarcate and officially designate each Site of Apology and Site of Hope. At each site, a short ceremony will be held and community members are welcomed to come along to help recognize each and every site.

A map demarcating each of the designated Sites of Apology and Sites of Hope will be made available online to encourage the ongoing investigation of these sites by community members.

Broken City Lab: Save the City is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

Snow, LEDs, Flights, Fill-in-the-blanks, Proofs, and Postcards

Meeting twice in a week is awesome. I can’t say that enough. So much time makes us way more productive and makes it a lot easier to be OK with not having everyone there all the time.

First on the list, doing some really, really quick tests of the potential of embedding LEDs in ice or snow. We know, it’ll probably kill the battery and potentially the LEDs themselves, but we have some ideas that might make that worthwhile.

Continue reading “Snow, LEDs, Flights, Fill-in-the-blanks, Proofs, and Postcards”

For Windsor, Realistic Expectations and Imaginative Solutions

Read Tom Lucier’s recent blog post. He spells out nearly everything he does in this city, for free. He draws on examples of other talented people in this city who continue to try to stick it out for who knows what reasons. He makes a compelling case for having to give up some of these things he does as labours of love.

It was upsetting and it was terrifying.

That there remains any talented creative people in this city (and I suppose I’m being slightly narrow in my definition, thinking of artists, musicians, actors, writers) is kind of incredible. As much as I believe in this city, I really don’t believe we are giving enough people enough reasons to stay.

So, I have to suggest some ridiculous and likely impossible ways to get people to stay, because that’s what we do — we look at problems, invent solutions, and then sometimes we even try to act on those solutions.

We need to establish a social innovation fund. This will supply micro-grants (up to $2500) for people who want to do something creative and amazing here in Windsor.

We need to identify and make accessible studio spaces that can be shared, are safe, up to code, and very reasonably priced. This will create a place for people to work out of should we be lucky enough to entice them to stay.

We need to figure out how to convince the huge number of people who graduate and leave every year to stay just a little while longer. This will give us ample opportunity to get those talented people invested enough in this place to want to stay.

We need to figure out how to convince more people to pay more money to retain the talent we have in this city, or we probably need to figure out how to find value in what we already do. This will provide a base level of income to keep people like Tom writing and reporting instead of having to do something like take up a paper route.

We need to put Windsor on the map, the world map, as a place in which to do more than just pass through. This will enable all of the above things to happen, and happen sooner rather than later.

We needed to do this yesterday. Realistically though, it’s already too late.

A Collection of Art Collectives

Though not necessarily an exhaustive list, but definitely worth your perusal and bookmarking, Shawn Moore over at has created a “loose history of art collectives.”

It’s a pretty quick read and helpful to contextualize what we do here at Broken City Lab, as we locate ourselves as a part of this lineage. I’m always wanting to spend more time thinking about the context in which we place ourselves … we’ve had the opportunity to do this in small bursts on a number of occasions (one of my favourites being our trek to New York back in September), but I also think this is where the talk around generating some kind of larger text (dare I say, self-published book) keeps hanging around in the back of my mind.

Ultimately for the sake of thinking through the larger discussion that we continually have around our practice and to counter the limits that this blog format seems to present, I’d love to say that we’ll write a book this year, but don’t hold us to that.

[image of the architecture collective, Ant Farm’s Media Burn from Make]

Planning (in and) For the Future


Monday night at BCL HQ, going over plans for moving forward on our recently OAC funded project starting in January 2010, Broken City Lab: Save the City (details to follow), using good ol’ fashioned lists and future technologies—it was amazing, in every sense of the word.

Not sure how many more times we’ll be meeting over the break, but we’re all excited for what the new year has in store … so many projects, it will be excellent!

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Monday Night Research: Lightbulbs & Lists


We spent another Monday night at BCL HQ planning out this Windsor-Detroit hyper-local tourism idea and doing some basic research for another upcoming project.

We all have some homework to do, but things are moving along nicely on a number of projects, and with the semester winding down, things should be able to push ahead soon!

More pictures of research involving lightbulbs and lists after the jump.

Continue reading “Monday Night Research: Lightbulbs & Lists”

100 Ways to Save the City Projection

Broken City Lab light projection in Windsor

As part of FAM Fest 09, we did a projection performance on the roof of Metro Cleaners accessed from Empire Lounge in downtown Windsor.

For about an hour and a half, we presented our 100 Ways to Save the City and then asked for ideas from the folks on the ground, at Phog, and on the Twitterverse.

After the jump, there’s 160-something photos from all the ideas that were projected on Saturday night.

Continue reading “100 Ways to Save the City Projection”

Prepping for FAM Fest Projection


Last night out a window in the county, the new projector at night.


Today, finishing our list of 100 ways to save the city.


It’s going to run as a presentation in Keynote, the easiest failsafe solution. Though, we might try to open it up on Twitter somehow later tonight.

Screen shot 2009-10-03 at 2.26.18 PM

And, speaking of tonight, the weather is looking good. No rain!!!! We’ll be projecting across from Phog, look up above Empire Lounge and you’ll see us. Tonight is marks Day 2 of FAM Fest, hope to see you out and about.

Reading List

some books on my bookshelf

Thinking about a good collaborative weekend project, the idea of starting a reading list came up. I have a fair collection of books and blogs in my reader that touch on a number of things that seem pertinent to Broken City Lab, but I wondered what’s out there that I’m missing. 

I’ll make a quick list of some of the best things I’ve read lately that deal with social practice, activism, cities, and art, but if you have anything that you think other people (like us) should be reading, or watching, or listening to,  post it in the comments (preferably with a link to where we might be able to find it). 

Here’s my list of good things I’ve recently read:

It’s a short, and likely too narrow list, so let me know what I’m missing out on in the comments!