Things Grow Together

There are ways to making Edmonton better, the art is in discovering and embracing the methods.

Taking advantage of what we have and who we are is an often-missed point in this new go-getter age in Edmonton, inspired both by social networking and organized discussion. There’s plenty of agreement we should somehow participate in the conversation about “making things better,” but the scale of ambition is often completely out of our individual reach, as much as we can rant about our grievances in Facebook groups or poop digital letters to editors. You and I can’t really affect much about a new museum north of City Hall, is the point.

Two examples I’d bring up of clearheaded community participation to seriously mimic are Stony Plain Road’s Storefront Cinema Nights, which happens in the fall, and the snuggly Heart of the City Music Festival down in Little Italy, which hits June 4 and 5 in Giovanni Caboto Park. Co-chair David Prodan quickly nails what’s great about HotC in a conversation about the way the micro-festival is put together, and its goals.

“Something we really value at the festival is that everyone is invited,” notes Prodan. “While there is a family focus — no beer gardens, lots of kids activities — free admission to the festival ensures that anyone can attend, and in the rich multicultural fabric of McCauley and surrounding downtown neighbourhoods. That means we see a very diverse crowd. Also, being based in the inner city, we also work closely with other not-for-profit groups like E4C, Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, iHuman and the Works, to ensure participation from sometimes marginalized populations.”

The morsel scale of the weekend means you’ll never see Bob Dylan under Ian Mulder’s mural, but this is hardly the point. It sounds hokey, but when you actually get down there and sit on the grass or mill about on the street you do feel like you’re in a different, perhaps friendlier city. There’s a sense people know each other. “The focus of the festival is local, independent and community driven,” Prodan continues. “Every year we get thousands of dollars in donations and sponsorship from local businesses. We also benefit from some significant in kind partners like the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, which helps us with tents and personnel at a fraction of their regular rental fees.”

Volunteers — including the musicians — keep costs down, and while the EAC and McCauley Revitilization kick in support, it’s also pleasantly free of major corporate sponsors.

The lineup of music and events are online at, just thought I’d give you a head’s up now.

Speaking of good discussions, two lectures are planned for Thursday: you’re just going to have to pick which if you don’t have all night, perhaps by consulting animal entrails or whatever it is you humans do. First, at 7 p.m., the Museum of Vancouver’s Nancy Noble will be discussing how MOV shifted its policies to be more relevant and interactive. That’s at Matrix (10640-100th Ave.). Then at the AGA, 9 p.m., UBC Prof. Charlotte Townsend-Gault will talk about how we use and abuse native imagery, including an examination of the gorgeous Haida show at the gallery and Emily Carr’s, whose career was largely enhanced by being a sort of cover artist of anonymous native work. Beloved Carr irks me, actually, but what’s art without a little controversy?

And on a real wildlife adios, have you noticed how our wild hares seem grouped in three this spring, one white, one brown, one in between? I love those bug-eyed goobers, and always feel bad for the ones who lose their winter coats too slowly for some reason. Ah well, plenty of dandelions for everybody.



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