6th Annual Fahrenheit Fest

Artcite's Fahrenheit Festival 2008 in LaSalle

Last night was the 6th Annual Fahrenheit Festival, presented by Artcite Inc. and the town of Lasalle. It was incredible to see such a huge crowd, likely around 1200 people or more, out to see fire sculpture. The location was amazing, with 12 sculptures sitting on a little patch of land cutting through the middle of a very large pond, and a nice slope for the audience to sit with a great view of the entire show.

Along with the big burn itself were a series of talks and workshops on fire art, which really rounded out the festival, and for those that were able to make it, helped to give context to the wider ideas of fire art. The scale of an event like this is somewhat staggering, given that Artcite has just two extremely dedicated employees (but thankfully an amazing bunch of volunteers), though what impressed me most is that there is in fact a sizable audience for public creative activity in this area.

Note that this event happened in Lasalle and that Lasalle along with Artcite were successful in writing a Trillium grant to make this happen. I’m not sure of the history of the event, if it was ever attempted in the city of Windsor or not, but it’s inspiring to know that there are places in this region that view the arts as n opportunity for partnership.

Toronto Pedestrian Scramble

Toronto Pedestrian Scramble

On a pretty regular basis, I have to cross our infamous Huron Church Road intersection at College Avenue in order to get to LeBel. If I’m lucky, I’m coming from the West, and only have to cross College. However, there are many times that I have to cross Huron Church itself, fighting the timer (what is it, about 15 seconds?) and drivers making left-hand turns.

In Toronto, they unveiled a new set of pedestrian crossing signals, setup to create a crossing time of 57 seconds and an opportunity to cross in any direction (including diagonally). This change is happening at Yonge and Dundas and is being billed as one of Toronto’s initiatives to make the city more pedestrian-focused. While there are likely problems with this (traffic rerouting itself, many idling cars), I would welcome a change like this in Windsor.

That our city is clearly built around cars is one huge example of just how broken it is. Public transit here is rough (1/2 hour waits for buses after 6pm?), and I give anyone who bicycles on any major street a lot of credit, but how do we begin to look at a problem like the layout of a city on our terms and at our scale?

Image and details [via].

What To Do With Malls When They Die?

Devonshire Mall, Windsor, Ontario from Google Maps

WorldChanging recently wrote about some malls in the US that died (or are in the process of dying) and what was being done with the space afterwards. It seems that some malls are being redesigned as mixed-use developments, with arts/community centres and housing. Reusing existing spaces for this type of redevelopment and activity is surely positive, but it seems that some of these projects are being billed as new downtowns. As most malls are built away from other other development, and many are designed around (or rather within) fields of parking lots, should these spaces really be considered a new “downtown”?

If this happened in Windsor, what might be the results? Devonshire Mall is over 1,000,000 square feet. That’s a lot of space for apartments, studios, galleries, shopping, markets, even a school. However, would this type of development just take the focus away from fixing our downtown (or is it already a lost cause?) Also, more questions would certainly be raised about a private space functioning as public space, as even the sidewalks of a “street” would suddenly be under private ownership. Other spaces in the city like old factories, the Home Depot right beside the mall, and even shutdown churches all seem like they could foster a good type of growth by converting those spaces into (hopefully) accessible places for artists, community groups, and housing. How do we start?


Broken City Lab is Alive

Fuck You Windsor, I Tried - on a locker in LeBel

Welcome to Broken City Lab.

This website will exist as an ongoing discussion, brainstorm, collection of links, photos, video, ideas, and a record of our activities and endeavours.

I saw this on one of the lockers in LeBel, seemed appropriate to keep track of it.