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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Reasons Why We Love Detroit

In preparation for our upcoming contribution to the We Like Music Festival happening at The Magic Stick in Detroit, we are brainstorming a running list of reasons why we like Detroit. This blog post will be the spot where we can bounce ideas back and fourth through comments to use in our projection of text on Saturday, September 18th.

Let me get things started here.

Reasons why we like Detroit:

-The monorail is only 50 cents

-Windsor gets to enjoy a gorgeous skyline

-Mexican Town monday nights Canadian money at par

-St. Andrew’s Hall

-The Magestic

-Red Wings fans

-Faintly hearing festivals at Hart Plaza from the Windsor riverfront

-Russell Industrial Centre

-Guerrilla Gardening

-Constant inspiration

-Windsor doesn’t seem like such a bad place in comparison

Let’s hear it dudes!

…and then the city…

Though we’re still very much in the middle of thinking about, beginning to write about, and generally talk about all of the amazing things that we learned as part of Save the City, these billboards are the last part of the project to be launched.

These two statements are among the many, many, many that we came up with after thinking through the experiences that we had and the people that we got to meet with Save the City, and maybe in particular, our final event, How to Save a City.

I think we wanted to suggest the end of one part of a conversation and the beginning of another. In terms of our own research, I think we’re ready to start looking at problems in different ways, as a kind of continuum of ideas, rather than points from which to react.

So, you can see these billboards in Windsor. The first, “…and then the city knew it wasn’t alone.” is at University and Church, visible when traveling west.

And the second, “…and then the city started to feel better.” is at Wyandotte and Parent, visible when traveling west.

More ahead, and in the meantime, SRSI.

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

Later Nights, since it’s summer now

Michelle and I spent hours and hours together yesterday. With everyone’s schedules fairly ridiculous at the moment, we’re trying to steal what little time we can to keep working. Lately, the time that we’ve all spent together has been framed exclusively almost exclusively by planning for Save the City or organizing the Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation, and so we’re usually burned out after a couple hours of that. Last night though, we pushed past the moment of getting burned out, and I think we got somewhere because of it.

We started our Friday night with a Skype call to Chris from the Department of Unusual Certainties regarding their project as part of the Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation (they are very enthusiastic, and their projects is going to be really, really great), had some dinner, tried to imagine what will come after SRSI, and then moved on to sorting out the billboards for the last part of Save the City.

We had a lot of bad ideas. Had we stopped earlier on, today and tomorrow would have been filled with some scrambling efforts to find the finish the design, emailing it out to everyone, trying to integrate everyone’s suggestions (and likely failing to do it well), sending it out again, getting more input, etc., etc., etc. Not entirely effective, nor can that process really capture the really great sparking moments of working together in the same room (the reason, I love collaborative work).

We really want these billboards to not just cap off Save the City, not just describe or some how summarize what we’ve learned, but continue with this conversation that we’ve been having. So, we had some terrible ideas for a long while, but we moved through them, we wrote them all down, then crossed them all out eventually, and it was the process of doing that, of really talking about where we were trying to go without knowing where we were going that was entirely worth it. I think we started the billboard brainstorming around 7:30pm were ready to give up around 9pm and we were there until 11pm still finalizing things. And, they’re still not finalized yet, but they’re close.

And we didn’t just brainstorm, we did the preliminary layout(s) together, we critiqued as we went, and it was so completely worth the exhaustion. Danielle called, thankfully, so we could check our work with someone outside of that room to make sure we hadn’t missed anything obvious, and then we were done, and we’re very, very excited to see these go up.

I hope the summer allows more opportunities for this — a lot of time spent together doing things, working through problems together, in the same room, until we get somewhere better than where we started.

The artwork goes out Monday, and I think the billboards launch mid-month.

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

A Toolkit for Saving a City

Though we have a lot more to say about Save the City than I’ll attempt right now, you should know that we put together a toolkit that describes the processes we figured out throughout the last five months. We put together a nice one-page fold up list of instructions, so to speak, for how one might take on similar tactics in (re)discovering their city, neighbourhood, block, or apartment building.

Cristina wrote about the process a while back, and the toolkits turned out really, really, really well. Soon, we’ll be posting a downloadable PDF.

The event last Friday was awesome. We had a really good turn out, we got to talk about and see (really for the first time) everything we’ve been doing so far this year all lined up together. Have we come to any conclusions? I’m not sure, but I know that we’ve begun to articulate some of the questions we’ve had for a long time, a little bit better.

We’re hoping to put together a book by the end of the summer about all of this (and by all of this, I mean Save the City). We need to devote some time to really digging into discussing what the project has been and how it unfolded. In the meantime, we still have some billboard space to fill, expect to see some photos of those in the coming weeks. As well, we still need to put together a map for Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope. So, lots to do, and all while we prepare for the Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation!!!

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

Playing Catch Up on Save the City

So, we’ve been busy working on the final parts of some of the Save the City projects, in particular, pulling together the postcards for this month’s Things Worth Saving (April 27th, remember?!)

We wound up with around 65 photographs submitted by some fellow Windsorites of the things that they think are worth saving in the city. We’re planning to write a lot of short letters on the back of these postcards and then sending them out to cities across the country (p.s. you’re invited to help!!!)

Danielle and I have also been out finishing up documenting and officially recognizing the Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope across the city.

You should expect a massive post on this soon… visiting 50 sites across the city takes a lot longer than we anticipated! We’re also trying to figure out where to host our final event of the Save the City project in May — any suggestions?

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

Making Lists: Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope (Part 1)

Just a quick update from Sunday’s Save the City event: Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope … Thanks to the amazing group of people who turned out, we have nearly 50 sites between the two lists (which you can see in progress, above).

A part of this project involves us going around to each and every site on these lists and officially recognizing it as either a site of apology or a site of hope. Since we have 50 sites on our lists, we were beginning to run out of daylight on Sunday afternoon. That means that we only managed to visit about half of those sites, so we’re trying to find a second day to continue with our adventure.

We’ll post all of the photos from the event and a photo of every site we visit as soon as we finish!

The next Save the City event happens on March 20th, 2010 — more details soon.

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