Category Archives: cool whip

@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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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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An interview with artist David Hoover

Late Nights and Blue Collar Mornings

Local artist David Hoover´s February 19th show Late Nights and Blue Collar Mornings is just around the corner (check out the details and invite here). He was game to answer a couple of my questions via email.

Why Late Nights and Blue Collar Mornings?
The title is a reflection of what i’m going through. The show is not just about me but friends, co-workers and really anyone in general who works a 9-5 job then goes home and works another x amount of hours on their passion (not subject to just painting). So the “late nights” is a mix of working on passion and balancing a social life (friends, relationships, straight enjoying life). And the realization that if you wanna take “it” somewhere… you’ll never get anywhere without giving some sacrifice. So for example while my friends go out to party friday night im painting… legal or illegal then hooking up with my girlfriend at 2 in the a.m. to keep all that in check.

Then the “blue collars” comes when my alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m. To remind me that i either have to go to work to pay the bills… or that i have more painting to do.

Kosta v.s David? Two entirely different people or one and the same?
Painting graffiti you have to come up with an alias. However there is also an element of creating a personality/identity. Kinda abstract but look at Peter Parker vs. Spider man. During the day he gets pushed around by his boss, kinda nerdy, has trouble with the girls, etc. However at night, when the mask goes one and it gets dark out he becomes a super hero. Know what i’m saying?

You use letters and words often in your work, how did this come about?
The goal with painting graffiti is to come up with your own style of font. Tagging is the most basic element of creating that font. I started doing canvas work to practice/develop my personal font. The stencil/block letters is there to create contrast against my font.

What would your perfect day entail?
ha ha ha this question is great. My perfect day? Oh man it would start at 4:30 a.m.  with black coffee, three eggs over easy with sriracha hot sauce and pumpernickel bread. Followed by a back pack full of paint and a date with a freight train,  finishing my piece just in time for the sunrise. This would follow with a morning back yard mini ramp session (skateboarding) and a nice lunch of sandwiches (any kind i’m not a picky eater) and a big salad of fresh greens followed by a honey dew melon for desert. A quick nap. Then hitting up the underworld (can’t give specific locations) again to paint another piece. After that was done and i was finished hanging out with the crew. I’d call up my girl and we would go have a nice dinner (preferably indian) of chole with rice, naan and mango pickle. To finish the evening drinks (beer, tea or wine) on a patio somewhere under the stars, urban setting but somewhat secluded. Teamed up with a hookah session.
After that i would fall asleep content, knowing that my day wasn’t wasted.

Yup, he is a cool guy.

Find out more about the show and RSVP on Facebook>

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Vlogging 101

Video Blogging

Video rules as a powerful communications tool. There is nothing like being able to express your of the moment experience with your audience, or experiencing someone else´s. And as it turns out, voyeuristic tendencies are more widespread than we´d ever thought. In 2010 YouTube exceeded 2 billion views a day with more video uploaded in 60 days than all 3 major US Networks created in 60 years. We´re using YouTube to connect to all sort of information and, in addition to cute cat videos, we´re learning from other´s expertise, showing off what we´re doing and experiencing reality as it exists on the other side of the globe.  Making  the jump from video consumer to maker is easier than ever with the advent of low-cost digital cameras of the stand alone and even mobile phone variety.

In my communications role at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (a non-profit) I find great value in video, although given my budget and time constraints vlogging is my only option – highly produced and expensive video productions are out. Vlogging or video blogging, roughly defined as the capturing of an experience, if done with energy, passion and clear message can be powerful content, populating your social media properties like Twitter, Facebook and blogs. As I rely heavily on free communications channels like these to get our message out, video is a cost and time effective way to engage and connect with a wide audience.

All you need to get started with vlogging is a message, some basic equipment and real energy and passion.

What´s your message?
Great video turns your message into something people can relate to. When real energy, passion and enthusiasm comes together on camera your audience gets caught up in it. One of the best´organisational videos I´ve seen is Craig Kielburger´s well digging video for Free the Children. He not only demonstrates the organisation´s message, he literally shows you why you should support them. (Check out my own of the moment plea). When it comes to message the keys are easy to navigate: keep it simple, concise and real. Get out the essential information, tell people where to find out more and provide a call to action like donate now or come to our event. If you are not comfy in front of a camera find someone who is, but make sure they share your passion. And do it all in under 3 min.

The right camera for you.
Finding the equipment that fits your needs and budget can still be tricky. There is a lot to choose from, and with the rapid advancement of digital film, I´m always hesitant to pay any more than I have to. I choose the Kodak Zi8 HD Pocket Video Camera ($168) for the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery for a couple of reasons. It had built-in usb arm that allows one click uploads to YouTube, eliminating the need for a double upload (once to the computer, then to YouTube). The reviews also gave it a thumbs up when it came to sound, and as one of the only cameras under $350 with an external mic jack (an additional $25 at The Source) I felt confident that I could capture both candid and more formal moments. Best of all it is easy to use, can be strapped to a tripod (perfect for solo recordings), is HD and has a decent editing software package included.

Harnessing knowledge and passion.
I recently tagged along on a Gallery tour looking for a photo op. Kate, the tour leader completely blew me away, she made the exhibitions come alive with her insight and commentary. The next week we filmed a mini version of that tour to provide a virtual intro to the exhibitions. I think she´s as good on camera as off because her knowledge (the accessible expert voice), energy and passion are very clear. If you´ve got it – share it.

So you´ve filmed and uploaded your video, now what? Spread the word – use your social media and in person networks to let people know that it is there. Post a link on Facebook, tweet about it, include it in your eNews, put it on your blog or website, get your friends to post it on their sites. Videos go viral because word of mouth passes them around. You may not get a million views, but those that watch it will not only know who you are, they will “feel” it, making them more likely to engage with your organisation or brand again.

Creating video can seem daunting, but once you´ve done it a couple of times  it becomes a lot of fun.

I want to hear about your experiences vlogging, the good – the bad – and the ugly. Suggestions, ideas?

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Epic Dog Walk

From last Sunday’s EPIC, and very snowy, dog walk at Snyder’s Flats with @commonthreadnat @Paddy_Mack @benjaminbach @Mindseyestudio @ScienceSteph @kirstiepaterson @those2girls @kwsarah plus doggies.

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Blue collars and coffee beans

Yes it is a jumbled title – but reflective of life as of late. Between my professional project, The Groundhog Day Meet Up at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (more about that tomorrow) and keeping up with the amazing opportunities that friends are creating within our arts community, I am running low on words and energy! Here are a couple that I hope will steer you in the right direction during February.

Self Portrait by Jennifer Gough

Local artist  Jennifer Gough has opened a month long show at Kava Bean Commons “From the inside, Out”. I’m certainly an unabashed fan of her and her work  and recently helped celebrate her birthday at her Kitchener studio, which is evocative of a really cool martini lounge hung with great art. Anyone is welcome to visit the studio, just book with her in advance  – don’t forget your check book though, it is hard to walk out without something in hand. Of her current show Jennifer says:

” Most of my work is inspired by life experience and human emotion.  Taking those feelings and expressing them through art, I examine and depict a range of attributes and emotions that I think we all experience and strive to achieve.  The result I believe is a collection of pieces that people can relate to in their own lives and experiences.”

I always love to tell people that I’ve met almost everyone I know in Kitchener on Twitter, and Jennifer (@MindsEyeStudio) is no exception. Her social media involvement is a great example of local artists using Twitter, Facebook and blogs to really build themselves as a brand. “From the inside, Out, will culminate with a Gala Dinner on March 5th. Connect with Jennifer on Twitter or via her website for more information. BTW, Jennifer is also responsible for the great windows at THEMUSEUM  and she covers the Searching for Tom opening here.

So that covers the title “coffee beans,” how about the “blue collars”? Another highly anticipated show.

Late Nights and Blue Collar Mornings

Late Nights and Blue Collar Mornings Invite

I met David, aka Kosta, at one of Hilary Abel’s Cinq a Septs (@angrycelery). Local social media icon and super connector Lisa McDonald introduced us and I spend an enjoyable night talking to him about his work. His passion and energy really is contagious and I very much look forward to his show on Saturday, February 19 from 6:30pm – 11:30pm at 51 Borden Ave South in Kitchener. You can RSVP on his Facebook event page here. It think that David’s invite on the event page really says it all. He is a seriously cool guy.

“hey everyone,
i dont know about yourselves but in the depth of the winter i dont like to be outside for extended periods of time. so if you share the same, or perhaps you like art, or perhaps you hate art but like having a chill drink with friends you havent seen in a while, or perhaps you just like having a drink? either way this is an invitation to come check out what ive been working on in my top secret laboratory. i miss you all very much and hope to see you in the very near future. much love.
your boy kosta”

Yup so beans and collars with a dose of social media love thrown in. Sounds like a post to me.

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