Two Tales of a City opens in Hamilton!

As February wrapped up, we prepared our bunting and banner components to be shipped up to Hamilton for the install. Sara and I went to Canadian Tire to buy Scotch Guard to weather-seal and water-proof the work.

We bought two different kinds, both sealed the fabric adequately after setting to dry for a few hours.

Next, we stopped off at Jodi‘s studio in The House to help her finish cutting and sewing the rest of the Helvetica text letters.

The letters are black with a backing and a layer of Heat N Bond Ultra adhesive in between, for mass and stiffness.

Jodi had mentioned that she was fortunate her surger hadn’t had any problems throughout the project. Shortly thereafter, a needle bent and we had to switch to her other machine to complete the remaining letters.

Once all materials were in one place, we counted, folded, and packaged everything up to fit neatly in this tiny little box. (Amazing!) This was sent off earlier on in the week to Hamilton Artist’s Inc so that Julie could start the install before we arrived on the 9th.

Once in Hamilton on March 9th, we headed to Hamilton Artist’s Inc to check out how the install was going. The bunting looked awesome on the front of the building!

Another shot from James Street.

Pieces of this bunting will be distributed to various individuals and organizations in the final stages of the project.

The banner along Cannon Street, an unforseen frosty wind tunnel, wasn’t fully installed yet. We helped Julie measure and install for a few hours.

The install was a lot more slow-moving than expected, mainly due to the wind.  We were able to get a few letters up before heading over to the Farmer’s Market to set up for the workshop.

This space, called the Community Kitchen, is for rent by the hour in the Hamilton Farmer’s Market.

A white board wall? Pretty awesome. Wish we had one of these on hand at all times!

The workshop began with a discussion about headline stories that the rest of the country hears about Hamilton, then we started talking about the local stories, both published and passed on orally, specific to the city and city residents.

We ran the workshop in both French and English, as we had both French and English speaking people in attendance. Julie was on-hand to help translate. I wrote attendee’s comments and answers  on board-meeting-sized sheets of paper lined up on the wall.

We then moved the conversation toward places in Hamilton, favourite places, places you avoid, places you go to speak/hear french.

Julie helped out with writing when a lot of good things were being said and I couldn’t keep up!

Everyone had a lot of good insights, as most were originally from Hamilton, or just generally curious and good observers of their city surroundings.

Stories of development for buildings previously sitting vacant in the downtown core, tales of infrastructures designed to keep people moving, failed and forgotten industries, rumours of neighbourhoods with bad reputations and stories of missed and seized opportunities were all shared.

This woman, a francophone, had a lot of insights into local francophone culture. She also told some amazing personal stories about her experiences as a francophone in Hamilton.


Some favourite places in Hamilton: James St N, Bibliothèque central, Musée sea beaux-arts de Hamilton, The Starlite, among others.

We then passed along a big sheet of paper and re-wrote an exquisite corpse-style history of Hamilton, in Franglais. Starting with the past, the story moved through to the present and then the future with each participant’s additions.

As the story was being passed around, we began work on our collaged maps. Using scraps of fabric, card stock, glue and sharpies, participants made artistic maps of a site, place or space in Hamilton discussed previously.

I used these strips of arrows to show one-way roads in the downtown core, namely Main St, and King St.

There were lots of fun materials and patterns to pick from.

Here a participant is adding to the Hamilton narrative while another is making their map.

Finished brainstorm sheets; What stories is Hamilton telling the country?

What are the local stories that nobody else gets to hear?

Where was the first place you visited in Hamilton?

What is your favourite place in Hamilton?

What places/things/people do you avoid in Hamilton and why?

Where can you hear people speaking French in Hamilton?

And finally, where is the heart of the city? The general consensus is that Jackson Square, the multi-use complex that hosts the Farmer’s Market, the public library and  a mall in the downtown core, is the heart of the city. Also, the monthly Art Crawls that happen the first Friday of every month were also considered to be a driving force in the city. We decided this question needed to be asked to more people, so we took it back to Hamilton Artist’s Inc to ask Art Crawl attendees.

Back at HAI, we set up a table in the lobby for Art Crawl perusers to interact and participate.

Signs in both English and French were displayed, asking Art Crawl-goers to draw us a map of the heart of the city.

With super-sized post-its and some bright coloured sharpies, we thought this activity would be fun and quick for people of all ages and abilities attending the Art Crawl.

I drew an example, a rough interpretation of Jackson Square.

Everyone was having so much fun drawing maps during the Art Crawl!

We had to leave before the night was over, but we are looking forward to having a look at these maps, and possibly including them in the forthcoming Two Tales of a City publication.

The first iteration of text of the banner on Cannon Street; NEW TALE NO EXCUSE

Watch out for more messages over the next two months! Want to participate? Fill out our Hamilton form, aussi en Français.



First Friday of 2011: Back in Action!!!

Our first Friday back was great. Unfortunately, Rosina couldn’t make it, but everyone else was around the table for the first time in almost a month. We’ve learned some things about how we work together over the last two and a half years, and we’re set to make more things happen this year than ever before.

There are some major production projects on our to-do list in 2011, but we’re also going to be undertaking a large research-based project in the first half of the year. So, to try to keep track of all of this activity, we’re going to be trying to shift more of our ongoing conversations onto our blog, likely filed under the Notes section. It’s going to act as our collective sketchbook, messaging system, and basically catch-all. Having tried Google Wave last year around this time, Google Docs, and plain old email, we’re hoping that this will keep things flowing back and forth between everyone at a much faster pace. Meeting all together for a two or three hours once a week makes it tough to get through much more than just figuring out what we should be doing.

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The Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation: Launching June 11, 2010

For 30 days, this project will call on over 25 different artists, writers, designers, restauranteurs, musicians, architects, archivists, and other interested parties to occupy a space in downtown Windsor for up to one month in June and July 2010 to attempt to intervene with the everyday realities of skyrocketing vacancy rates, failing economic strategies, and a place in need of new imagination.

We’ve been planning this for months, and we’re incredibly excited to see it finally launch this Friday, June 11, 2010.

Michelle will be posting constantly for the next month, and we’ll be noting the open and close times for each day soon. In the meantime,  feel free to download the entire schedule in PDF.

The Schedule: All projects take place in either 406, 410 or 424 Pelissier Street in downtown Windsor.



Project Description

Daragh Sankey
(Toronto, ON)

June 10 – 13

June 17 – 20

June 25 – July 11

How To Make a Documentary: Live documentation of the residency in its entirety/video editing workshops.

Jolie Inthavong
(Windsor, ON)

June 11 –17

The Breakroom: A Profit-Free Cafe and Lunch.

Eric Cheung
(Toronto, ON)

June 11 – 21

Creation of an interior urban green park.

Andrea Carvalho
(Montreal, QC)

June 11 – 21

A series of actions and tactics challenging Windsor-specific Non-Places.

Julie René de Cotret & Jefferson Campbell-Cooper
(Guelph, ON)

June 11 – 23

The Peoples Museum & Fabulations de Windsor: Bilingual community-based story telling and story gathering.

Sara French
(Vancouver, BC)

June 11 – July 8

Norman Eberstein: An interactive, live performance involving surveillance cameras and a security guard at work.

Nicole Grinstead
(Montreal, QC)

June 13 – 19

Swap Shop.

Jodi Green
(Windsor, ON)

June 14 – 25

The Sweater Factory: process-based performance involving the unraveling and re-assembly of sweaters.

(Department of Unusual Certainties)
(Toronto, ON)

June 15 – July 11

Storefront Success Stories: Based on admiration for the local shopkeeper, the project aims to create new connections, knowledge, and theories between Windsor’s different businesses, people, and sites of productivity.

Kero (Windsor, ON / Detroit, MI)

June 17 – 20

An interactive motion-sensored installation engaging outside pedestrians and interior viewers.

Leesa Bringas (Windsor, ON)

June 18 – 30

Collaborative letter-writing campaign to vacant homes on Indian Road.

Stephen Surlin (Windsor, ON

June 20 – 29

An experimenting / prototyping / recording research phase for the collecting of urban sounds through contact microphones.

Terre Chartrand, Garth Rennie, Zoey Heath, Phil Beaudoin
(Windsor, ON & Kitchener / Waterloo, ON)

June 20 – 27

A visual exchange between Kitchener-Waterloo and Windsor: a ride down the highway dialog through photographic and sound experience.

Lea Bucknell
(BC/London, ON)

June 22 – July 1

June 30, 7pm (opening)

Community-shaped, Interactive Interior garden space.

Thea Jones
(Montreal, QC)

June 23 – 26

Multimedia installation using process-based research of the Detroit-Windsor bridge and tunnel which cross the Detroit River.

Thom Provost
(Windsor, ON)

June 24 – 30

Storefront projection installation using Google Street View stills of Windsor.

Denise St Marie
(Toronto, ON)

June 25 – 27

Talk To Strangers: a text-based outdoor window installation.

Ayesha Drouillard & Nicolette Westfall
(Windsor, ON)

June 27, 28, July 4, 5 (workshops), July 7-8 (show)

IMAGINATION LAB: walk-in art workshops for kids accompanied by their caregivers.

Merry Ellen Scully Mosna
(Windsor, ON)

June 28 – 29

Portraits, Pies and Peace: Sunday afternoon discussions, and sharing of homemade pie, plus some drawing and painting.

Logan Davis
(Windsor, ON)

June 28 – July 1

Interactive Light Board Window Installation.

Robin Fitzsimons
(Toronto, ON)

June 28 – July 2

Donation-based in-store training to improve gambling skills – geared towards subverting the economy in Windsor.

Doodle Heads: Elizabeth Prosser & Nicolette Westfall
(Windsor, ON)

June 29, 30 (workshops),

July 1-July 3 (show)

Graffiti Workshops and Showing.

Joshua Babcock
(Windsor, ON)

June 29 – July 11

Invention and Solution Hub (ISH): ongoing brainstorming and mapping activity.

Brad Tinmouth
(Toronto, ON)

June 30 – July 2

Pro-Click Factory: digital, interactive open-mic nights. An evening lecture and their techniques for cultivating the best YouTube videos.

Laura Paolini
(Toronto, ON)

July 1 – 11

Bell Payphone Labs: PL1999 and GMBLL. Payphone intervention workshops.

And And Collective
(Waterloo, ON)

July 3 – 11

The Amalgamated City of W: Imagined merging of Windsor and Waterloo through campaign office meetings, consultations and presentations.

Lee Rodney
(Windsor, ON)

July 5 – 8

Border Bookmobile: A reading station.

Emily Colombo
(Sault Ste. Marie, ON)

July 5 – 10

Multiple public Interventions based on analysis of debt-accumulation, poverty, city-beautification, and community engagement.

This project is generously supported by the City of Windsor: Cultural Affairs Office, Arts Council Windsor & Region, Windsor Pride, and the Ontario Arts Council.

New Project Soon (Keep Your July Open)

Not that we don’t already have our hands full, but seeing as it’s nearly March, we’re starting to look ahead to summer time activities. These activities might be somewhat related to this ongoing conversation we’ve been having on the blog.

We’ll be posting more information soon, but for now, just know that if you’ve been planning on visiting Windsor, you should try to keep your calendars open in July.

And, hope to see you SUNDAY, February 28th – 1pm at 362 California!

Oh, Paperwork in the New HQ

working at night

We spent the better part of the evening at our new headquarters located at the edge of campus. It’s exceptionally great to be in a place that we can use as a work space / office space that we’ll be able to leave setup. Working in Lebel for the past year was good for a number of reasons, but was also difficult as we shared the space with the Green Corridor class, so we always had to pack up everything at the end of the night. Now, we’ll be able to spread out and have a better space to work together.

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Being Productive Again: Day 3

plastic bag planter

Another great day in 406 Pelissier. We got lots of brainstorming done and continued our planning and work with plastic bag recycling projects.

It’s been a fantastic three days, and being able to work in such a concentrated way in just one week has been really helpful in pushing forward on some new ideas. We came up with a good plan for some “must do” things over the next few months, more details soon!

Continue reading “Being Productive Again: Day 3”