Thanks & Good Night

Cherries on Top has been an amazing way to get to know Waterloo Region and the wonderful people and events that make the community such a special place. I bid a fond farewell to Cherries and to Kitchener-Waterloo and thank all for their support in making this blog a success.

Never fear, there are still WONDERFUL things happening in Waterloo Region and I am as big a fan as ever. The people, the events and the vibe continue in full force. I encourage you to explore my blog roll for other local blogs.

Connect with me on twitter @kirstiepaterson (all other accounts can be discovered via About.Me).

See you soon.

Kirstie

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@strollcity

Stroll City

via Akimbo

Talk about timing! With my current tweeting life taking on a “things I am discovering in TO” aura, Micaleff’s @strollcity project couldn’t come at a better time. Not only can my tweets enter into a larger conversation, I can take advantage of the collective knowlege of Toronto’s twiterati in real time. Very neat.

Read the full project statement here>

Stroll City on the TTC – about the city, for the city. An interactive discussion with author Shawn Micallef, from June 1 – 22.

For three weeks this June, Shawn Micallef (Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto) explores the city on foot and invites Torontonians to tweet their responses and discoveries, alongside his own @strollcity.

From June 1 – 22, Micallef will be tweeting his discoveries through the Twitter handle StrollCity. Torontonians are encouraged to walk the city, respond to his tweets with comments, and share their own discoveries @strollcity over the course of these three weeks.

Stroll City tweets will appear in an ever-changing spot that runs every 10 minutes on the Onestop TTC network of screens, visible to over 1 million subway commuters daily.

‘Shawn Micallef is one of the sharpest of this sharp-eyed breed of with-it young writers, architects and men and women about town who love big cities and see things in Toronto that most of us miss.’ – Globe and Mail

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Brain and Body Reunited

Yes, it has been a long, long time since we’ve last met and not a day has passed that my inner social media maven voice hasn’t screamed at me for ignoring my fledgling blog. Ironically, my absence has been more to do with having so many new experiences to write about, than lack of material.

Those of you who know me IRL know that I have made the move to Toronto where I have gleefully started as an online communications manager for one of my top “I’ll work there some day” companies. If our relationship is purely digital, I’ll also tell you that it was very hard to leave the Gallery and KW despite the allure of the city and the perfect fit of my new job.

KW really sucks you in if you allow it. It is a great community with people who really do care. It is very easy to get involved with the ongoing shaping, in fact it is mandated by peer pressure. These collective efforts will surly lead to KW becoming one of the best places anywhere to live – if not today, soon.

So it has taken a good two weeks to fully reunite 100% of my brain with my body – now sitting in Liberty Village. I do love it here and can’t wait to complete our move, the 5th in 5 years (yikes); that I hope will signal the start of a longer term relationship with our new home.

So far, I’ve been living in a tree lined enclave in Parkdale and heading back to KW on the weekends. We get the keys for our new place, in Port Credit, June 1st, which will necessitate another quasi move as THE move won’t happen until the 2nd weekend in June. It all makes me very tired.

So for now, I am wrapping my head around this new reality and working to commit some of my new experiences to paper in a timely fashion. So far this has involved “testing” many of the surrounding eateries (and the yoga and fitness studios in response) and exploring Toronto’s west side on foot. I’ve already RSVP’d for a dozen industry events (although I am brooding about missing MESH today) and look forward to meeting Toronto’s movers and shape’rs.

It’s going to be quite a ride.

Creative decorating on an electrical box in Parkdale.

Creative decorating on an electrical box in Parkdale.

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Mark your calendars.

A Certain Light Series
A Certain Light Series by Melissa Doherty

Two upcoming KW art happenings of note are Melissa Doherty’s Open Studio, April 29-30th, and Jennifer Gough’s FUEL on May 14th at 7:30 p.m.

Doherty’s Open Studio is a great opportunity to meet the artist and see the inner workings of her Tannery workspace. I am always amazed by the near photographic quality of her work and the gorgeous colors. The Open Studio at 121 Charles Street West, Studio 430 B,  runs from 10am-5pm on April 29 & 30th. Check out her website for more info on her work and studio.

Local artist Jennifer Gough of Minds Eye Studio Art is curating FUEL, a show that brings together nourishment for the mind and the tummy. In celebration of her studio’s 5th anniversary, Gough invited area artists to submit work for the group show which also benefits the Food Bank of Waterloo Region (exhibiting artists to be announced).  Sponsors are providing door prizes and attendees are invited to bring a donation for the food bank. Billed as an evening of “art, community and enlightenment” FUEL on May 14th at 7:30 pm should be a fantastic gathering of local artists and aficionados. Find out more here>

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Canadian Idenity

I’ve been thinking seriously about Canadian identity since I left the country in 2007. During my two years abroad, explaining Canada became a regular occurrence, and I didn’t and don’t find it an easy thing to do. After all, we have three coasts, a seriously diverse population and a political system that often throws me for a loop. I’ve always tried to shy away from bringing stereotypes into the mix, we are certainly more than maple syrup and mounties, but adequately defining Canada is a challenge that I’ve never quite mastered even though I’ve had a lot of experience.

Working on cruise ships I was often one of under four other Canadians. Ironically, it was often the American guests rather than my multi-cultural crew mates who had the least understanding of Canada, going so far as to asking if had a dog sled and how I dealt with the year round snow (seriously).  How others see Canada is a mixed bag at best.

It isn’t surprising then that I loved Shelly Ambrose’s, “The Importance of Conversation,” talk at the recent TEDxWaterloo. Ambrose is the co-publisher of The Walrus and spent three years in public affairs at the Canadian Consulate in New York, among other things. In her talk she relates the challenge of changing New Yorkers perceptions about Canada – I felt her pain- and defining for herself who and what Canada is.

It certainly is a big question and one that I may never fully answer. For now, I’m happy to watch Republic of Doyle and listen to Matt Galloway in the morning which at least makes me feel truly Canadian – even if I can’t explain why.

p.s- As I was writing this Globe and Mail columnist John Doyle published, “It’s our Republic and we like it,” which talks about his interview with the BBC about the Republic of Doyle and how the show is defining Canada for international audiences.

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Doers and Makers

Steel Rail Session 2010

Steel Rail Sessions 2010

 

This post is going to sound like a love fest, and it is. This week I have once again been struck by the sheer force that is the doers and makers of KW. They come in all forms and attack and create all manner of things. But they DO things that make this community what it is and what we want it to be – an exciting, interesting, welcoming, challenging, slightly bizarre and dynamic place.

In a recent conversation, I was, as I often seem to, defending KW’s honor. Someone was poking fun and I wasn’t having it. I started to list all of the amazing people and events that I had encountered since moving here a year ago. Had they heard of the Steel Rails Sessions? How about TEDxWaterloo? Could they take a great idea, and because of intense support from community players make it happen in a month or two? No. Well there you go. I can. And many do.

Gabrielle Clermont, who in addition to engaging in creative spacemaking via Treehaus, is a serious  serial doer. Hilary Abel of RQ Magazine and the Steel Rails Sessions (#2 coming soon) always seems to be plotting something amazing. Urbanely Urban’s Terre Chartrand is convening an Art Space Round Table discussion on April 14th. The KW Awesome Foundation just launched to support others who want to do cool things in the community. The Cute Gecko folks are involved all over town lending their expertise and time to numerous groups that do things for others. Jennifer Gough of Minds Eye Studio Art is organizing FUEL, an art show that melds local art with the Food Bank. Diane and Lisa AKA Those 2 Girls launch MeFest 2011 this Saturday and last month Ramy Nassar, Amy Vandenberg et al. ran a very big do, TEDxWaterloo. And that’s just a small sample of what’s “going on” in KW which is in addition to all of the other stuff that happens via organizations, municipalities, etc.

Bully for us KW. Anything is possible, if we really, really want to do it. Enough said.

 

UPDATE: More doers and makers that you should check out: Kwartz Lab an amazing hacker/maker space,  makebright a maker who writes about it all, MonsterFarm who is working with me on a serious “make” (details soon), THEMUSEUM who does and does and does, Little Mushroom Catering who does and makes a ton for the community on her own dime and BearfaceDesign that makes things that I love (have you met Bon Mot?).

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Something BIG

The Tannery, Kitchener

We realized that we’d become regulars when the barista asked us if we wanted “the usual”. Her question surprised us. We hadn’t thought that we’d been coming here often enough for her to remember us and our order. Perhaps we should have figured out that we were heading down this path earlier. We were, after all on a first name basis with Meaghan, our barista and days when we couldn’t get to Balzacs inspired a morning sulk that lasted through to lunch.

We tried to quantify what it is that draws us to this particular spot. We tended to not be creatures of habit, meaning that there was something beyond the coffee, no matter how great, that inspires our daily trek.

It could be our appreciation for old spaces finding new life – the past, present and future gelling.  Or perhaps it is the ethereal energy generated by the massive collection of creative brains inhabiting the Tannery that result in the feeling that “something”  BIG is in play, drawing us in.

It doesn’t hurt that BIG companies like Google and Desire to Learn have taken up residence here. Or that the Communitech Hub, a digital media accelerator, has opened 30,000 square feet for start-ups and their allies. They are all doing BIG things in a BIG way. However, arguably more exiting are the myriad of small BIG idea companies that have found their perch among the the creaky floors and open beamed ceilings.  Some have already achieved BIG status themselves or been bought by other BIG BIG companies. Some are just starting out, as evidenced by their Scandinavian-ly bare spaces. But all have come this far, amassing their dreams into a terra firma piece of office space, and that takes guts.

This week I visited a very BIG company that is doing VERY BIG things in Liberty Village, Toronto. They are and have been a very BIG part of shaping the Village and developing similar creative spaces in other communities. The energy of their space and their staff is virtually kinetic  – perhaps a natural result of the fact that they take the BIG risks that often accompany BIG ideas. Like the Tannery, a sense of awesomeness is a veritable part of the walls in Liberty Village and, despite the encroachment of the very shiny, new condos that are a result of the success of the  area’s revival, you can feel a mix of history and future-making emanating from every corner.

Walking through the adapted buildings, sipping my Balzacs Liberty Village latte, I felt the same sense of excitement – something on the cusp of happening – that draws me to the Tannery in Kitchener. Is it my brain finding telepathic purchase with a greater like minded community, or is it just the omnipotenet power of my Balzacs latte that makes my adrenalin kick into overdrive? Do BIG ideas produce an air borne by product that stimulates passers-by, or is it the idea alone – that people can create something BIG from something very small- that acts like a very effective drug?

So what brings us to the Tannery? Perhaps it is the combination of the vision, innovation, talent and the masses of raw guts it takes to turn all of this into something BIG permeating the place, which inexplicably drawing us there for our daily dose.

Liberty Village at sunrise

Liberty Village at sunrise

PS- We also love Mon Ami’s pizza and can’t wait for the pub (which is now hiring) to open its doors for another kind of daily dose.

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