Monday, June 28, 2010

Spread The Words

The Edmonton Public Library recently rebranded with a new logo and slogan: Spread the Words. To help grow public recognition of the new brand, EPL launched a sticker photography contest. Low adhesive stickers were distributed to anyone who asked for them at any library branch. The stickers were in several different colours from the new logo and featured different sayings. The contest was to place the stickers anywhere around Edmonton (legally, of course) and take a picture of them. The pictures were uploaded to the EPL's website, where the public could vote for them on a scale of one to five (five being the highest). The top ten photos went on to the final round, where the public could vote once for their favourite photo. The top three photos with the largest number of votes would be the winners.

I submitted several photos to the first round, and of the almost 200 photos submitted, two of them made it to round two. I was very excited to learn last week that one of my photos made it into the top three! I won a Sony eReader - an ideal prize for someone who loves books, but has limited space to continue buying lots of hard copies. I Have already been reading eBooks on my iPod Touch using Kindle software - I am happy I have something with a larger screen!

My winning photo was taken outside of Giovanni Caboto Park. I placed the red sticker with the saying "We're Bigger Than Our Buildings" on a rail on the outside gate of the park. You can see my photo and the other two winning photos here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guitars, Bikes, Vegetarianism, and Me

I am going to refer to Saturday, June 19, as my Edmonton Mini-Tour. My afternoon started off at the Bikeology Festival in Beaver Hills House Park. Bikeology is an annual event that takes place during June (which is Bike Month) and features an equipment swap, cookies baked my solar power, smoothies created by the energy of riding a stationary bicycle, information tables from various organizations, and live music. I was the first act up, and played a five-song set that was solar-powered. I have attended the festival for several years now, but this was my first time performing there. The irony was that I could not ride my bike with guitar in tow, but I had a great time. Here are some photos and the video playlist from my set.

After I left Bikeology, I took a quick stroll through the City Centre farmer's market and also checked out some of the activities for Park(ed). 102 Avenue was shut down to cars for the day. It was great being able to walk right on the street and see the chalk art, spin class, games (I got hit by a water balloon!), and other such fun and frivolity. You can see some pictures in the same set as Bikeology.

Just slightly more than two hours after my Bikeology gig, I was on stage at the new location of Padmanadi for the grand opening of their second location. The place was packed full of people enjoying the delicious vegan buffet, which I also partook of after my set. The restaurant is located at 10740-101 Street and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys fine vegetarian cuisine. Here are some photos and the video playlist.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pride 2010

I really enjoy the annual Pride Parade. It's loud, fun, and colourful. It's about celebrating who you are in the face of discrimination. And, it's a great photo-op for those of us so inclined. Here is my photo set from the event. If you missed the parade, or would like to experience it again, I filmed the entire thing - it's around 22 minutes in length.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heart of the City 2010

The Heart of the City Music Festival took place on June 5 and 6. Expanded into a two-day festival, the free event in Giovanni Caboto Park featured non-stop live music, free art workshops, hula hoop demonstrations, an interactive art project (painting the letters making up the words "Heart of the City"), art and craft vendors, and more. This event is huge for the inner city, as it causes people from all over the city to visit the McCauley neighbourhood and come away with a more positive feeling about the area.

Here are some photos from day one and day two of the festival.

This was my fourth Heart of the City as a musician. Once again, I was part of the song circle. This is a video of me performing my song "The One Thing" and another of "Summer," a song about homelessness that was inspired by my work in the inner city.

I also filmed a number of the other acts. Here is the Playlist for Heart of the City 2010 on Boyle McCauley News' YouTube channel.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Boyle McCauley News: June 2010

The June 2010 issue of Boyle McCauley News is online! Here is a look at what you can find on the pages:

* Premier Primavera a Blooming Success
* Community Action Dash 2010
* Downtown Arena Thoughts
* Heart of the City Lineup
* Revitalization Update
* Soccer Update
* Creating Balance
* Is your garage easy pickings for thieves?
* Letters To The Editor
* Community League Updates
* Dining Out

To download the paper in PDF, click here.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Emergency Rally for the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

This week, cities around the world held emergency rallies concerning the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which has left around 20 activists dead and many more injured. Much of the outrage is directed at the fact that the flotilla was in international waters and was attempting to break through the siege on Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid in the form of food, medicine, and construction supplies.

There was a rally in Edmonton on June 1 at the Alberta Legislature. Around 500 people showed up. I sang two songs I wrote especially about the crisis in Israel and Palestine. Here is my photo set on Flickr. To watch footage from the rally, here is the playlist on YouTube.

Expressions of Hunger

What is hunger? Expressions of Hunger is an exhibit organized by Edmonton's Food Bank that seeks to start discussions on that very topic. Earlier in the year, creative people in Edmonton were invited to submit poetry and photographs depicting what hunger means to them in five categories: emotional, physical, mental, environmental, and physical. Entries were posted on the Food Bank's website, and the public voted for the top three entries in each category.

Expressions of Hunger was launched at City Hall on June 1. I was privileged to have four photographs and one poem included in the exhibit. The media launch included speakers from the Food Bank, Mayor Mandel presenting a proclamation for National Hunger Awareness Week (which kicked off also on June 1), and a delicious lunch provided by Denny's. I was also honoured by being asked to sing "Summer," a song I wrote about homelessness which won in the Emotional - Poetry category to get things started.

For me, homelessness and other issues surrounding poverty go hand in hand with the concept of hunger. I work in the inner city and "Summer" was inspired by people I have met, things I have seen, stories I have learned. The character in the song is fictional, but her story has become universal for too many people. Several of my photographs were also taken in the inner city area and deal with similar themes. Hunger, in many of these cases, means more than just needing food to eat. These people hunger for all of the basic necessities of life, from shelter to appropriate clothing to medical attention. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is also the hunger to be accepted - a hunger to make eye contact with others, to say hello, to be acknowledged as being human.

Another major aspect of "Expressions of Hunger" for me is the merging of art and activism. To raise awareness of a social issue using art as the method is a powerful way to get a message across.

Here is my photo set from the event. John also took some really spectacular photos. To watch the media launch, here is the playlist on YouTube.

Expressions of Hunger will be shown at The Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse (9351 118 Avenue) from June 7-23 and at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts (9225 118 Avenue) during the Works Festival of Art and Design from June 25-July 7.