Category Archives: waterloo

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?).



Filed under cherries, Kitchener-Waterloo, kwawesome, waterloo

Rally 4 Rails

Dec 5th Rally 4 Rails

My husband and I arrived back in Canada in 2009 after two years in Europe and quite a few more in BC. I’ll admit we didn’t choose the area, it chose us with a fantastic opportunity for my husband. Hoping to continue our sans car, public transit life we’d had in Europe, we selected Guelph’s Ward 1 for its proximity to Via Rail (I commuted into TO) and our ability to walk to the Market and the downtown core. After a year we decided to move on to KW, and again chose a house that allowed me to walk to work and downtown. We were surprised to find that there was no commutable transit between Kitchener and Guelph, which left my hubby tethered to our car everyday. After living in Madrid, with one of the world’s best metro systems, this was and is a shock.

You can imagine that we were thrilled to hear about the arrival of GO Train and the seemingly aligned Regional plan for LRT; and our dismay at hearing the advocates start to dismiss it as unnecessary, too expensive and not “for us” during the recent election. Enter tritag, the Tri-Cities Transport Action Group and Wonderful Waterloo with December 5th’s Rally for Rails: Don’t Derail Our Future. A strong showing of supporters (in freezing weather) plus a really good offering of speakers including Region, City, university and even arts representatives showed that there are others like us out there – people who want to tread lightly on our planet’s resources, plan for long term sustainability and who believe in what Waterloo Region is and what it can be.

Like every rally of this type, you have your naysayers. An older gentleman circulated through the crowd with flyers that deemed the LRT plan as too expensive. We gave him a polite no-thank-you, and when he asked if our minds were already made up, we said heck yes. After all sir, not only do we pay taxes now, we will be paying them long after you are not. We´re planning for the future, are you? And as one sign so well put it – “Roads aren’t free.”

If you want more on what is happening with LRT planning, what you can do to help or just to see what the arguments are, I would encourage you to visit tritag’s website. You can find ready to print flyers, how to get involved (from sending an email to volunteering your time) and links to all sorts of resources like an intercity transportation guide. You can also join the conversation on Wonderful Waterloo.

We aren’t Toronto and we certainly don’t have the bulk of a major city like Madrid, most likely we don’t want to be either. R4R drove home the message that systems like LRTs are not just for mega cities, they are for communities that are planning for substantial growth, that take initiative for greening their backyard and others and understand that sustainable planning isn’t always the easiest route to take.

My favorite sentiment of R4R came from Martin de Groot who said (I’m paraphrasing here) that wasn’t it crazy that a city that has been deemed one of the most intelligent and innovative in the world, feels that it can’t do an LRT because it is too difficult. Yes I agree Martin, LRT may be hard, but it is right.

Thanks to Wonderful Waterloo and TRITAG for this opportunity to show our support and connect with others who think it’s as good an idea as we do.

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Filed under cherries, waterloo

Bon Mot

My Bon Mott shopping bag with an original drawing.

I happened upon Bon Mot by chance. A response to my tweet about a retailer that carried upside-down plant pots had identified the store as a carrier, but as I had never heard of it, I wrote down the name to investigate later.  I’d fallen in love with these particular pots at the Michelle Kaufman Smart Home on a recent trip to Chicago and have been searching for one ever since. On Tuesday, work dropped me at the Princess Cinemas. Looking across the street, there it was. (When fate and a good parking spot intertwine, you don’t mess with it.) My timing was perfect, the store had opened the day before.

Bon Mot literally means good word, but is also used to mean a clever remark or witticism. I don’t think the owners – the Jane Bond folks – could have chosen a better name. Loosely filled with interesting and design fused stuff, including my coveted pot, my small purchase quickly grew (it’s Christmas).

Some of my finds.

Hand screen-printed cotton handkerchiefs sporting vintage bikes, which I may re purpose for use as napkins as they are so lovely. They are the creation of Jon Johnson, aka Bearface, a local designer.

It was love at first glance with Serrote’s notebooks which are created in Lisbon with letterpress. Like last year, I had been seeking something unusual and beautiful for my mother-in-law (who is an artist and Portuguese). These are perfect.

“By the end of 2004, we began our search in Lisbon, Portugal, for old printery houses. The idea was to create a notebook printed in letterpress, with moveable type, like Gutenberg did. Many traditional printeries had allready closed their doors, but we found one that helped us.
Deep inside old drawers and cases (some of them allready half eatened by the woodworm), we found old lead and type ornaments, used decades ago to print invoices and business cards. – Serrote

I did remember to pick up what I had originally come in for, my aptly named Sky Planter, which I  will fill with basil and hang in the kitchen. Boskke is a New Zealand company with an “evolved gardening tag”. The jury is out regarding what my cat will do with it – pinata or landing pad – but with such a fantastic concept I’ve got to give it a go. I was also told that larger sizes may be on the way.

I love this store and will be back soon. Find them at 47 King St. N.  in Uptown Waterloo beneath the Starlight.


Filed under design, waterloo