Listen to the City: an Overview

Back in January, we asked nearly 40 people two questions: Why did you first come to Windsor? and Why are you still here? We asked those questions at an event called, Listen to the City, which was the first part of the five-month long project, Save the City. It was an incredible night.

The answers we got over the hour and a half we spent together at Phog Lounge in downtown Windsor presented not just answers to those two questions, but sprawling conversations about what it means to live in Windsor, how we’ve shaped this city, and how it’s shaped us.

The five-minute edit you can listen to below is just a slice of everything that was talked about that night. Initially, we thought we might be able to cut a lengthier audio documentary together, but there were pragmatic implications that kept us from doing that. Hours of audio with conversations that covered more ground than we could have ever imagined meant that it was a lot more difficult to piece something much larger together.

There were many voices that we unfortunately couldn’t include in the edit below, but only because of the amazing conversations those folks had, which in turn didn’t offer the kind of brief samples similar to those that we cut together. We added some music and tried to capture a general direction of conversation that we gathered from gradually listening to all of the conversations (Danielle took on the considerable task of doing just that and creating the assembly edit of this excerpt– hours and hours and hours of work, but we’re so excited to finally be able to share this).

So, while this excerpt in no way does justice to the range of conversations that we had that night, we hope it might be a good introduction, or a good marker in time, of what a group of 40 Windsorites thought about this city at the start of 2010.

Listen to the five-minute excerpt: (updated – thanks to Stephen Surlin for finessing our mix)


Or you can also download the MP3 of Listen to the City.

For good measure, we can also provide the original recordings in their entirety in a zip file if you’re interested. We make no promises about the audibility/legibility of every minute of these recordings, but if you have the time, they’re worth listening to as a whole. However, the zip file is over 700mb and so not easily uploaded to our servers. However, as promised, we will be officially handing over a copy of the five-minute excerpt and the raw audio files to the Windsor Archives soon.

We need to sincerely thank everyone who came out that night and shared with us.

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

Maps + Final Cut

I’ll be spending most of the week finishing up a couple lingering parts of Save the City: assembling the maps for Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope and putting the final touches on the edit from Listen to the City that Danielle assembled.

The audio documentary is going to be an overview, or maybe like a trailer — it’s about 5 or 6 minutes long and will only sample bits and pieces of conversations from the hours of recorded audio from Listen to the City. However, we’ll be posting the unedited clips for download alongside the trailer as well as submitting the trailer and unedited clips on CD to the Windsor Archives.

As well, some very preliminary test maps for Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope. These will actually be 22″ x 17″, but also made available for download. Above are just some sketches, but I showed some of these to Danielle and Cristina — they liked the red map, but I think we’ll go with something like numbered dots to demarcate the sites. Or, potentially, there will be two maps.

Work like this is fun, but a bit of a long road. I suppose I’m being overly cautious to make sure that these are moving in the right direction before committing and doing a complete version, but ultimately, patience now will make it worthwhile not having to redo it later.

Drawdio: Audio Made by Drawing

Drawdio is a DIY music project by designer jay silver that let’s users draw the instrument of their choice on a piece of paper and play it with their finger.

While possible to use in a variety of  objects, when used with a pencil, the graphite acts as a circuit on the paper, transmitting the electric signal across the drawing to produce a different sound based on the specific form.


If you can get past the sort of hilarious / awkward editing in the video, it’s a very cool and simple design. It makes me curious about the potential for creating some kind of traceable sound-map, what sounds would Detroit’s streets make versus Windsor’s streets? What would happen if you added new roads or buildings — what sound could that make?

[via Designboom]

Save the City: Listen to the City

The details: Sunday, January 24, 2010 (8pm) at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave W, Windsor)

As part of the Broken City Lab: Save the City project, Broken City Lab researchers will facilitate a community workshop to brainstorm, uncover, and share personal histories of Windsor, inviting a range of community members to participate in the process. The workshop will begin with a discussion about the importance in personal histories alongside official histories of a city, and then lead to the opportunity for community participants to share their own stories about Windsor.

Throughout this part of workshop, we are going to help you to record one another’s stories on portable MP3 audio recorders and encourage the retelling of stories throughout the workshop. After the workshop, the recorded audio stories will be uploaded to the Broken City Lab website and offered for streaming and downloading. As well, a copy of the edited collection of the stories will be donated to the Windsor Archives.

We think that the best way to start understanding this city is to hear the stories from the people who live here.

With that in mind, we’re going to ask you two questions about the city:

What brought you here? and Why are you still here?

See you on the 24th!!!!

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