Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Media Release: National Day of Action on September 25

For Immediate Release

Edmonton Peace Activists Join in National Day of Action to End the War in Afghanistan
"Don't extend it. End it. Bring the Troops Home Now!"

Edmonton peace activists will be gathering at Gazebo Park (83 Avenue and 104 Street) at 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 25 to add their voices to the National Day of Action to End the War in Afghanistan.

The federal Harper government has been vague about its intentions towards Canada's role in Afghanistan beyond 2011, which is likely to be debated in the House of Commons very soon. Canada's peace movement wants to send a clear message to the government to bring the troops home now. September 25 is the first Saturday after Parliament resumes and the perfect time to demand that this costly war (which has already reached $28.5 billion - not to mention the human costs) providing legitimacy and support for a corrupt, warlord-led government end and not be extended.

The Day of Action was called by the Canadian Peace Alliance. Similar demonstrations will be taking place in cities across Canada. Edmonton's rally was organized by the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism (ECAWAR). It will feature speakers, music, and spoken word presentations. Funds will also be collected towards the legal fund for the G8 political prisoners.

For More Information:
Paula E. Kirman, ECAWAR
(780) 905-6094

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Media Release: Five Years of Visual Activism

Five Years of Raising Her Voice
Independent Photographer/Filmmaker Celebrates Five Years of Documenting Edmonton’s Activist Scene

In the summer of 2005, Paula E. Kirman was scouring the Internet, looking for a place to connect with Edmonton’s activist community with the goal of putting her lifelong interest in issues concerning peace and human rights into practical action. “I knew there was a scene going on, but it was difficult to find where they were or information about what they were doing,” she explains.

Kirman was able to connect with a few groups and started to showing up that fall to rallies, marches, speakers, and other events, with her camera. She began posting her pictures and videos online, just as a matter of personal interest to share with other activists. The demand for her work by the community was so strong that she began, an internet portal to her work that features thousands of photos and videos from almost every major activist event and group in the city.

“I started posting my photos online on a free service. After my first peace march, the download rate was so high it crashed the site,” Kirman says. “I purchased a domain and hosting package, and put together a quick and dirty website, just to get my work out there.” celebrates five years this month, and has expanded to include the use of social media. Most of the photos are now hosted on associated sites on Flickr and the videos on YouTube. The YouTube videos have received almost 700,000 views and feature not only clips of rallies and marches, but entire speaker presentations. The Flickr site has grown into a photo blog not only of Edmonton’s activist scene, but the almost 12,000 photos are also of festivals, events, and general photos from Kirman’s artistic perspective.

Kirman is an avid organizer in the activist community in the areas of peace, community media, poverty/housing, and labour issues. She maintains the Twitter account @yegactivist to send out announcements of local activist events and links to her work, as well as doing the same with her own account @livingsanctuary and active Facebook presence. In the last couple of years, she has also emerged as a political singer/songwriter, often performing her original songs at protests and rallies. She continues to work at her activist photography and film making completely independently, putting in “an uncountable number of hours” without any funding or monetary support.

“What is happening in the activist community is part of our history as a city,” says Kirman, who works as a freelance writer, editor, and photographer. “No one has been documenting it, until now. Whether they agree or disagree, people are fascinated by it and it prompts a lot of discussions of the various issues at hand. It helps activists in Edmonton share what we are doing with the rest of the activist world, and gives those from outside our community a real education into what some of the issues are and what our events are all about.”

For more information/interview requests:
Paula E. Kirman
paula at
(780) 905-6094

Monday, September 06, 2010

Stones (or, The Way Things Fit Together)

A stranger handed me two polished stones today. One was in the shape of an arrow; the other, a heart.

When I was a child I used to collect rocks. I would walk in the river valley and local parks and pick up rocks that looked colourful or had an interesting shape. Sometimes I would rub a small stone or two against sandpaper to smooth it out. These mementos of my childhood are somewhere in a rusting tin can in the garage.

Today was like any other day. I had to go take some photos for work and grab something to eat, then ended up spending time with several different groups of friends along the way while visiting some river valley parks. At the last minute, I remembered I needed to grab a few things at a drugstore. I told my friend who was driving which store I wanted. Instead of going to the one closer to our homes, we went to a different one about halfway between the park we were coming from and our neighbourhood.

I picked out the items I wanted and followed my friend into the magazine aisle. Let me add that I rarely check the books and magazines in this particular store, but today I decided I wanted to buy a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and this was where I was going to get it.

While I was browsing, and older gentleman asked me about the sticks I had dangling from my backpack. I explained that they were juggling sticks, how they are used, and how I entertain kids with them at parks and parties. Seeming amused by my juggling exploits, he reached into his pocket and pulled out several polished stones. He invited me and my friend to pick one each. I picked a limestone and quartz composite that is white with black flecks, and is in a shape resembling an arrow.

The man went into detail about how he collects stones and showed us other specimens from his pockets and around his neck, both from the river valley and beyond, in other parts of Canada. Some were actual semi-precious gemstones like amethyst and jade. He gave us tips where to find some good rocks when the river gets lower.

I commented that some of his stones looked like worry stones, and he said that was how he used them at times. I told him how I broke a worry stone once (and it was true - my anxiety-ridden self rubbed that poor stone until it was translucent and snapped). He gave me another stone that he said won't do that. Flat on one side, rounded on the other, when I took a closer look at it later I noticed it looks like a heart.

An arrow and a heart, slightly misshapen, given to me by someone who would only reluctantly tell me his first name. As I held those stones, I was taken back to those more innocent days of collecting rocks when I was a kid. And I ponder how these shapes and textures and the objects they represent reflect my life now. Finally, I look back at the day and how every event and every choice that was made, directly or indirectly put me in the path of this unexpected gift - a profound moment in my life that has left me with something tangible to ponder.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Boyle McCauley News: September 2010

The September issue of Boyle McCauley News is now online. Here is a look at what's inside:

* Peas Be With You Garden is Now With Us
* BMHC Celebrates 30 Years
* Farewell to Berezans
* Fab Flowers
* Front Yard Finalist in McCauley
* Adult Learners to Lose Valuable Tool
* Our Reunion: A Learning Experience
* Cop’s Corner: Theft From Vehicles
* McCauley Revitalization Update
* Letters To The Editor
* Community League Updates
* Dining Out

To download the issue in PDF format, click here.