Category Archives: Community

The next chapter: moving rural (2)

Community in Carrying Place

We have stepped into the pages of a novel filled with richly drawn characters – more than a hint of Stephen Leacock, but giving life too to my reading of Mary Lawson (writing about a more northerly Ontario rural community), Robertson Davies’ Salterton Trilogy, Monique Proulx’s Laurentian forest folk. I think perhaps it is easier to live in an unconstrainedly authentic way outside a city. Whether this is because of the people this life attracts, the grounding effect of an ever-present awareness of the natural world, less pressure from the tyranny of ‘nomal’ or something I do not yet understand I am not sure.

I love that there are farming families who have been here for generations, with a deep knowledge of and love for the land. There are those who left but felt the tug of their roots and returned, those who came thirty or twenty years ago, those who drive five hours each way every summer weekend from Pennsylvania or western Ontario, and newcomers like us – a healthy mix that includes at least a little multicultural leavening. It is good to know that about 60% of us are permanent residents.

The community is drawn from all walks of life; as well as the farming families we have so far met a lawyer, a civil servant fresh from a posting as Consul General, the published author of a fantasy novel, a forensic psychologist, a tech entrepreneur, a lawyer, a physiotherapist, a wonderful character with many stories to tell who described starting adult life as a ‘huckster’[1], the Chinese owner of a local fishing lodge and his wife who runs an LED import business, a couple with a tech background who have a smallholding with a straw-bale home, and more.

One eighty-year-old neighbor settled here with her ex-naval husband after travelling the seas on a schooner he built. She is on intimate terms with the raccoons, as well as the ubiquitous chipmunks and squirrels, and has this summer permitted the construction of the Groundhog Hilton in her rockery, though she plans a forced resettlement of the young engineer next Spring.

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The pot of honey and card that arrived on our doorstep between our pre-closing inspection and our return from the lawyer with the ‘keys to the kingdom’ were no one-off. There is a genuine kindness and warmth that seems to characterize our new ‘hood; people take care of each other. There will always be someone willing to share their knowledge or who can help with the things that need doing. And there is something pretty awesome about setting out for an evening paddle and ending up getting to know new neighbours over a beer on their island party deck!

[1] Dictionary definition of huckster: retailer of small articles, especially a peddler of fruits and vegetables; hawker.

Zoomer TV Debut on CARP Infomercial

A couple of months ago we attended a recording for CARP of an informercial featuring Matt Dusk. As part of the deal, each attendee was asked to contribute a soundbite relating to their interest in CARP – and they used mine! You can view this on YouTube (I haven’t yet watched the whole piece, which is heavy on advertising, but this links to my few seconds!)

CARP is the Canadian Association of Retired Persons,with a remit that covers issues of concern to those over 45 and no bottom limit for membership. It is  based around advocacy, benefits and community, though as a non-profit, its close connections with the commercial agenda of Zoomer (magazine and broadcasting, headed up by Moses Znaimer) sometimes feels a little uncomfortable.

My interest is a real sense of passion for changing the way our society perceives and responds to aging and a return to a recognition of the value and wisdom that older people can contribute. So CARP is quite a key organization for me to have connections into as I move forward and find my place in the next stage of my life.

Idea City 2010

IdeaCity is an awesome three day event, bringing together an assortment of thinkers and entertainers from the broadest spectrum of backgrounds imaginable.

I’m not sure I’ll every afford to be there as an attendee (door price was $4000 this year), but I grabbed the opportunity to volunteer this year. I was fortunate enough to be put on ‘usher’ duty on the afternoon/evening shift. This meant that I got myself in for the morning sessions each day (8:45) as a member of the audience. Then, from 1:30 until anywhere between 8 and 9pm, I was on duty but able to give at least part of my attention to the stage. Each night, there was then a party, which was open to volunteers as well as to attendees and speakers.

The Danforth in Art

‘What is this place?’ This was the question posed by Art of the Danforth during the last week of April.

Organized by an independent group of locally based individuals, this new community art walk between Greenwood and Woodbine is rooted in a belief in the power of art to cut across divisions and draw people together.

East Danforth’s population includes an above average percentage of artists and Art of the Danforth certainly showcased some amazing talent. But it also provided a potent reminder that creativity and art belong to all of us.

(Excerpt from an article I have just written for Local Magazine)

We have both been very involved in Art of the Danforth as volunteers since November – it’s been fabulous to be part of something like this that really is conducive to neighbourhood regeneration through the arts. And we’ve met so many amazing people!

Here are my photos from the event that I uploaded to Flickr  – you can see more on the Art of the Danforth Group Flickr page or read about specific artists and installations on the Art of the Danforth website.

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Art of the Danforth

With the art walk looming at the end of the month, we seem to have fingers in lots of lovely pies! Looking at the Art of the Danforth site, I’m increasingly excited at being involved in what I think is going to be a wonderful coming together of creativity and community.

Yellow on the DanforthWe have both contributed a set of photos for the photo mosaic. This was a great excuse to change the lens through which we were viewing our surroundings, focusing most on colour (we were asked for sets of predominantly red, blue, green and yellow shots).  We spent an absorbing sunny morning drifting down the Danforth, welcoming the warmth after an earlier chilly sunset session the night before.  Paul hasn’t got around to this yet, but I have uploaded some of my shots to Flickr. Tonight we are going to help sort and trim the mounds of photos submitted in preparation for assembling the mosaic.

On Sunday I’m going to take notes from the history group to go alongside some wonderful old photos – what a great way to become rooted in our new surroundings! We are so lucky to be part of this.

UPDATE (April 27):

The speeches from the formal launch of the first Art of the Danforth on Saturday April 24, 2010 – all the indications are that the event really is creating a sense of energy and enthusiasm along the strip! (I’ll post a proper report after the event).

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Part 1

Part 2