Two Tales Of A City: Hamilton History Hunters


Michelle and I headed up to Hamilton to continue the research portion of Two Tales Of A City. The three and a half hour car ride  gave us plenty of time to develop a working plan of exactly what we wanted to accomplish for the next two days in Hamilton, Ontario. To get a better understanding of the history of Hamilton, we thought that making a community timeline would be a great start. Along with that, we would pass out photocopied newspaper articles pertaining to the steel, textile and francophone history of Hamilton for people to highlight and circle the most important parts.

But first, we needed the right tools.

At Staples, we stopped to buy a clipboard, some markers, post-it notes and some kind of paper/board/foam that was long enough to build a time-line.

After some discussion and selection of this awesome yellow clipboard, we decided that for a time-line, it would be much more suiting to use fabric! We thought that playing on the textile history of Hamilton would make for some interesting discussions and story-sharing.

Next, we headed off to the textile district on Ottawa Street to seek out a fabric markers and of course, fabric.

Michelle noticed that all the street names in the textile district had little buttons on them. Neat find!

Inside Fabricland, we sorted through to find the colours to use on the timeline.

Then went on to find the perfect fabric.

Found it.



After gathering our supplies, we headed to the upper part of Hamilton, where Irene lives, to start making our timeline. Above: the escarpment.

At Irene’s, we started the construction of the timeline. Here’s Michelle testing out the fabric markers.

The black worked out really well. Sadly, the colours shown above, barely showed up.

We decided that we would return the colours and look for a different alternative. Michelle thought that pinning post-it notes with text written on them would look better than writing on the timeline itself, similarly to what was done in Calgary.

Cutting straight lines.

Since the timeline is made out of fabric, we had to consider how we could hold it up and keep it sturdy enough to resemble a sign. Michelle took some scrap fabric and started braided it as an example for some kind of reinforcement to place on the back of the timeline. The discussion led us to believe that adding wooden dowels as support would be the answer.

Close up of the timeline.

Marking the date of “yesterday”.

Using black fabric marker to create some thick lines.

Since the fabric had the quilt squares on them, it made it a lot easier for us to measure across and mark the lines.

Mock up sketch of the timeline.

Inserting key words.


After that section of the day was done, we wrote out a schedule that dictated how we would spend the rest of our night. We decided that there were some new materials to buy and that we should visit the sites in the textile and steel districts where we would want to set up our timeline.

Michelle with the timeline.

We drove through and around the steel district that is located along the bay area in Hamilton. By car, we encircled the factories and felt how empty this part of the city was compared to the rest.

A lot of the places we drove by were heavily fenced off with multi signs reading “No Unauthorized Entry”.


We realized that the steel district would not work very well for gathering information because there were nearly no pedestrians walking and no way we could gain access to the factories.

Industrial steel factories.

Next, we stopped at Lowe to pick up some wooden dowels.

Glue gun, glue sticks, to-do list.

Our stack of supplies.

We bought 2 dowels that were 3 feet long each. We decided to glue them together so that they would span the width of the timeline.

As we worked through the evening, we discussed how best to approach the people of Hamilton. We decided that the more friendly and harmless we seemed, the more willing people would be to talk.

We came up with the “Official Hamilton History Hunters” as a badge to wear on our jackets, stating our intentions as we take to the streets.

Running the dowels through the back of the timeline.

Above: Back patch as well as front “Broken City Lab” badge.

We head out into the city tomorrow! Stay tuned for more.




Halifax: Bikes, Projectors and Maquettes

I spent my Sunday afternoon trying to work through how the bike/projector project for Eye Level can function and look. I went to the dollar store and bought some pretty random supplies in the hopes of developing an awesome maquette.

At first, I started sketching some really rough drawings of what size this thing could be. My thinking thus far is that it should be no taller than the bike tire. If we do make it out of wood and load it with extension cords, it will be super heavy and hard to manoeuvre.

I think the way that this contraption straps on to the bike is really important as well. Bolts? I can’t really think of anything else. I wonder if it’s necessary for the strap to move? Or should it be static to give the bike more control on how the projector box moves?

I started building this maquette with weight in mind. My thinking is that if we build a really simple frame and then surround it with fabric or something, would that make it easier to push on a bike.

Close up. Yes, those are mini skateboard wheels. Dollarama is awesome.

Had a little fun with this one. But in all seriousness, canvas could be something cool to wrap it in. I like the DIY aesthetic of it.

The second maquette I made has more of a treasure chest feel to it. The top of it has a window that looks into the box, with a hole at the front for the projector to seep through.

These are just my thoughts! I know we’ll be able to work out more things when we start building tomorrow. I feel like this piece has a fair amount of flexibility so I’m not too worried about it not working out. I’m excited to start building!



198 Methods of Nonviolent Action

an example of some of the 198 methods

Over the last month, I’ve become rather interested in the work of Gene Sharp. He has published numerous books and journals that discuss, analyze and present realistic alternatives to violent action.

One of the most fascinating documents in his work is a list of 198 methods of non-violent action. The document breaks down the methods into three categories: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation (social, economic, and political), and nonviolent intervention.

In the last 30 year span of protest and revolution, many of these tactics have been proven worthy and effective by people putting them to practice.

In terms of our practice, I can’t help but reflect on how many of these tactics we’ve used in the past and even more interestingly, which ones we can use in future.

Check out the methods here.

Homework: Folder Frenzy

As I promised on Friday’s meeting, I went out in search for the perfect folder to distribute to our guests, who will be attending Homework: Infrastructures and Collaboration at the end of this month.

My first stop was Dollarama. There, I arguably found the worst selection of folders I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t even worth taking pictures. I quickly moved on to Staples where I was much more successful. Below are quick phone photos of folders I thought to be appropriate for the conference.

Posting everything on here is probably the best way for us to collectively choose the best fitting folder.

Continue reading “Homework: Folder Frenzy”

Windsor Airport: Slim Future

While researching different spaces for our Make This Better project, I’ve become more and more drawn to the Windsor Airport. This space has been so neglected that major talk for shutting it down is now on the table.

As of 2007, Serco Aviation Services Inc. terminated its contract regarding airport management from the City of Windsor because they’ve been losing money by being there. Now the City of Windsor operates the airport at an alarming deficit. I found all this information by simply typing “Windsor Airport” into Google for a brief history on it. Everything that came up was so negative and discouraging.

It seems, however, that the issue is more heavily connected with our next door neighbours.

With the Detroit Airport as a more internationally known landing area, Windsor Airport’s airspace is controlled from Detroit. This makes me wonder if having an airport in Windsor is even necessary? With the few that I’ve had the chance to discuss this with, their responses have been quite interesting, with the majority of them asking: “Where is the Windsor Airport?”.

Everything that I have been learning and researching about the airport in Windsor makes me feel like it would be a perfect site for Make This Better.

What do you guys think?