Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Website

The crew here at Boyle McCauley News is very excited to announce that we have a new website! Visit bmcnews.org for an electronic version of the paper, searchable archive of all of the papers from our 32-year history, photo galleries, and more!

Part of the reason we started this blog was to keep the community informed of when a new issue was out, and what was going on in between issues. The new website now fills that roll, so we really won't be posting here all that often anymore. However, we will still be posting on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, February 11, 2011

February 2011 Online

Our first issue of 2011 is now online. Here is a look at just some of what's inside:

* Mary Burlie Park May Go
* Open East Edmonton Health Centre
* Seeking McCauley Balance
* McCauley Connect Coffeehouse Premiers
* Our Volunteers - Alistair Henning
* McCauley Cup and Family Day Celebrations
* Grand Manor Open House
* Cop’s Corner: Vacation Preparation
* Getting Animated About McCauley
* The Aging Brain
* Escape to Morocco
* Letters To The Editor
* Community League Updates

You can download the entire February 2011 issue as a PDF here.

A McCauley Winter Wonderland

Last Saturday, I realized that my snow boots are not waterproof as I slogged through the slushy mess that was Chinatown and Giovanni Caboto Park. I endured hours of wet socks tormenting my cold, cramping feet (no doubt a leading factor in the flu that hit me this week).

But it was worth it (although I could definitely have lived without the flu part). The Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown were spectacular as always - loud and colourful. I especially enjoy the dragon and lion dances, and once again, my eardrums popped when the firecrackers were set off (I keep forgetting to bring earplugs). There were other Lunar New Year celebrations at indoor locations in Edmonton, but there is nothing like being outside in the winter right in Chinatown watching the community celebrate. Here are photos that I took as well as videos of the dragon dance, lion dance, and a business being blessed (listen to those loud firecrackers!).

Then, after a bowl of pho to warm up, it was over a few blocks to Giovanni Caboto Park to take in Common Ground. Common Ground was part of the Winter Light Festival, and featured a transformation of the park. Most of the snow was cleared away into huge windrows (which were being used as sled hills by children), with a Heritage Village with teepees, snowshoeing, African drumming, and more. In the evening, the park was alight with coloured lights and lanterns, and finished off with a community feast. Common Ground celebrated the different cultures represented in the McCauley area - Chinese, Italian, Aboriginal, and African - and demonstrated how much we have to learn from each other. Here are some photos.

So, last Saturday I indeed felt as though I walked through a winter wonderland. However, next time I think I will bring galoshes and a change of socks.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Animated About McCauley

Group Shot
Originally uploaded by raise my voice
From September to the end of December 2010, I was contracted by Action for Healthy Communities (AHC) as a Community Animator in McCauley. AHC is a non-profit organization that supports community development by equipping community members to develop Community Initiatives. Through this process, leadership and capacity amongst community members is developed, leading to initiatives that enhance the overall health of the community.

My role as a Community Animator included working directly with a small group of community members to develop initiatives; serve as a facilitator to connect people with resources and information; and, to foster discussions and dialogues about issues of concern.

The first month of my contract was spent mostly doing research and fact-finding, including meeting with several community members individually as well as Jane Molstad, McCauley’s Revitalization Coordinator. An email list was established as an easy way to send out announcements and gather information. As well, a Facebook page for McCauley Community Animation was created also to disseminate information and act as a discussion forum.

Early in October, myself and two other representatives from AHC met with three community members: Gary Garrison, Wendy Aasen, and Anna Bubel. The purpose of this community dialogue was to identify areas of concern for residents, discuss possible initiatives, and clarify AHC’s role in the process.

One of the first initiatives stemmed from conversations I had with Gary Garrison, who was looking to organize a coffeehouse that would connect artists, writers, poets, and musicians. The challenges were the general organization of the event and finding a suitable space. A preliminary meeting using the Boyle McCauley News office was not successful. However, after connecting community members with Revitalization as well as people involved with the Heart of the City Festival, the first McCauley Connect Coffeehouse was born.

The McCauley Connect Coffeehouse took place on December 4 at McCauley Centre (formerly McCauley School). The evening featured live music performances on a professional sound stage, beautifully decorated tables with a winter theme, and free snacks courtesy of Multicultural Health Brokers. Gary Garrison served as MC. It was a modest start of what will hopefully be more coffeehouses in the future. In fact, two more are scheduled for February 19 and March 19, with the tentative location of the school. The long-term goal is for a permanent facility for artists to mingle over coffee, have live performances, and showcase their work akin to The Carrot on Alberta Avenue.

The other initiative stems from the fact that Church Street was recently designated a historical resource by the City. What better way to celebrate than having a street dance and moveable feast/potluck along 96 Street. Colleen Chapman (BMC News' other Volunteer Coordinator) is organizing this event which is tentatively anticipated to take place in July. She already has several of the major churches on board and a DJ for the dance. If you are interested in helping out, you can contact Colleen care of the paper.

All of the Community Animators with AHC periodically met together as a group. At our final meeting, we discussed what we learned the most personally from our experience as Community Animators. I said that my knowledge was reinforced of how much capacity, ideas, and talent there is in McCauley. I also said that I did my very best to actually listen to what people were telling me and do the best I could to answer people's questions and take seriously their concerns, even if there was nothing I could immediately do about these particular issues or requests. This is the kind of respect McCauley needs from all parties who do consultations and development activities in the community, otherwise it just becomes a top-down, empty exercise.

Being a Community Animator was also a great networking opportunity for my work with Boyle McCauley News. I met Clara Gladue, another Animator in McCauley, who now writes the Aboriginal-themes column Drum Beats. I also met an Animator from the local Salvadoran community who lives in Boyle Street, who may also be interested in contributing to the paper.

My contract ended at the end of December, but obviously the initiatives and discussions that got rolling during my time as Community Animator will continue. I will still occasionally send out notices of news and events via the email list, so if you would like to get on that you can send me your email address at editor@bmcnews.org. As well, the Facebook page is going to remain online.

I want to thank everyone who took part in the animation process, whether it was providing feedback online, taking part in one of our initiatives, or just providing encouraging words.

Part Two: Seeking McCauley Balance

A dialogue with a community member raised the following questions that she felt had never been addressed as a neighbourhood. These questions were presented online and answers are being gathered and organized for information and interest. If you would like to take part, please send your responses care of the paper to editor@bmcnews.org.

McCauley needs to strive for balance, especially a balance of the things that are important to people in the area, such as less concentration of social housing, a better spread of demographics, and the improvement of safety issues.

1) What does balance in McCauley look like?

2) What would have to change in order for us to get there? It would be interesting to see the points of agreement and disagreement, and to see what the variance is depending on how long someone has lived here.

3) What is “McCauley normal” (as compared to “normal” for other areas)?

4) There needs to be indicators of positive change and a way keep track of such information. What is the current direction of change in McCauley and is it the change we want?

5) We also need to gather success stories. Can you tell a success story from your McCauley experience?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December-January 2010/2011 Issue

Our December-January 2010/2011 issue is now online. This is our annual "Holidays" issue. Here is a look at what's inside:

* Church Street Awarded Plaque
* Twenty Years of Artspace Housing Co-op
* Christmas Cooking
* Grand Manor: Five Years of Support
* Homefest: About Music AND a Message
* Chanukah: Let There Be Light
* An “Enlightening” Holiday Gift!
* Cop’s Corner: ‘Tis the Season for Crime Prevention Tips
* Around the Rink
* McCauley Revitalization Update
* Letters To The Editor
* Community League Updates

Download the entire issue as a PDF here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homefest 2010

Homefest is an annual event presented by the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness featuring music, poetry, art, and speakers to raise funds for and awareness of homelessness and housing issues. This year's event featured a fun and interactive children's area with storytelling, crafts, and clowns, as well as panels speaking about the experiences of homelessness from a variety of perspectives.

This year's art exhibit was expanded and included visual art (particularly photography, paintings, and mixed-media) that dealt with different aspects of housing issues. Photos from the late Leonard Martial were there (he was homeless and documented the streets), work from inner city youths and adults, and even a few of my pieces that were featured in Edmonton's Food Bank's Expressions of Hunger earlier this year.

As for music, a number of Edmonton's best folk and roots artists performed on three stages. The performance that stood out the most for me (and for others, as I gleaned afterwards from discussions) was "One Room," which featured singer/songwriters Bob Jahrig, Jessica Heine, Maria Dunn, and Joe Nolan performing songs they wrote to narrate photos taken 25 years ago by Sharon Nolan. Nolan photographed elderly residents of a downtown rooming house.

This was my first year attending Homefest, and I thought the connection between art/music and working on solving an important social issue was important. Here are my photos from Homefest.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 2010 Online

The November issue is now online! You can download a complete copy in PDF form here. Below is a look at what is inside:

* BMHC Celebrates 30 Years
* Iris Court Squashed
* Community Walkabout Highlights Issues
* Help Through the Seasons
* New Manager for McCauley Apartments
* Unique Solar Electric System in McCauley
* Where’s Our Shack?
* Cop’s Corner: Avoid Unwelcome Visitors
* Plans for Boyle Street Community Garden
* McCauley Revitalization Update
* Letters To The Editor
* Community League Updates
* Dining Out: The Noodle Maker