Urbanity Open Air

UrbanityIf you happen to be downtown Thursday you might want to stop by this event which is being held from 5:30-9 p.m. It’s being co-presented by the Queen City Hub, Regina Advocates for Design (RAD), OPEN, the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, and the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID) and will take place in the alley running between 18 block Scarth and Cornwall St. between 11th and 12th Ave.

The event is subtitled “Building Safe & Welcoming Spaces”, and the plan is to have a variety of art installations and presentations addressing ideas of public safety in the downtown and how we can create engaging urban spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Above is a photo of one installation that is being planned. It’s called “Orange Crush” — and no, it’s not intended as an endorsement of the NDP in any way. Instead, it’s a portable, immersive space made out of foam noodles. As part of the proceedings, RDBID will also reveal the results of its Imagine Regina survey.

Beating The Bush

Sample work from Dagmara Genda's Beating the Bush
Sample work from Dagmara Genda’s Beating the Bush

Yet another option for recreation and general enlightenment on the long weekend. This takes the form of an artist talk and reception for the exhibition Beating the Bush by artist Dagmara Genda. The exhibition is being presented by the Dunlop Gallery at its Sherwood Village location, and the talk/reception goes Saturday Sept. 5 at 1 p.m.

The inspiration for the show occurred when Genda was doing a Canada Council International Residency in London. While there, she took hundreds of photographs of a laurel hedge in Regent’s Park that had been painstakingly trimmed into a rectangular shape.

Genda photographed the hedge under a variety of light conditions, then manipulated the images and cut them into pieces which she subsequently used to create collages that reference the early 20th century art movements of Constructivism and Suprematism.

Those movements had a degree of utopian thought attached to them, curator Jennifer Matotek notes in a gallery publicity release, that finds an echo in the English practice of shaping/civilizing nature into elaborate gardens.

Genda’s artist talk and reception are at Sherwood Village Gallery on Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. The exhibition runs until Nov. 4.

Happy Belated “I Love Regina Day”

I Love Regina Day IIOn Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the City of Regina hosted its annual “I Love Regina Day” in beautiful Victoria Park in downtown Regina. Included was a free BBQ, children’s activities, giveaways and other treats.

If you missed it, don’t despair, as of Sunday night at 8:30 p.m., cake was still available at the central Scarth St. entrance to the park (photo above) — although to grab a piece you might have to engage in a squawking match with the seagulls first to shoo them away.

The BBQs had long been put away, unfortunately, but as a second late Sunday evening photo after the jump shows, you could still sort of bask in the general atmosphere of the day if you happened to be passing by the Cenotaph. Continue reading “Happy Belated “I Love Regina Day””

Ness Creek Music Festival

If you feel like a road trip up to Big River, the Ness Creek Music Festival is running July 16-19. It’s the 25th anniversary of the festival, which got its start when a bunch of tree planters who were in the area for the summer decided to celebrate their boreal surroundings with some eco-friendly music.

Because of the distance involved, this is a camping type festival, where people hunker down for the weekend to enjoy some great music and hopefully good company in a wilderness setting.

You can find out more about Ness Creek on the festival website. Headliners this year include Buck 65, Bocephus King Orchestra Familia, Slocan Ramblers, the Moondoggies and Los Texmaniacs.

Last November, Buck 65 was in town to play a Regina Folk Festival gig. I did a pre-show interview with him about his new album Neverlove that essentially chronicled the demise of his marriage. Here’s a tune off that disc called “Love Will Fuck You Up”

Smokin’ Hot Regina

Downtown Regina looking south from Dewdney Ave
Downtown Regina looking south from Dewdney Ave

I’m not sure if the above photo does the smoke from northern forest fires justice, but it’s definitely thick out there this afternoon. (click to enlarge the photo)

According to this CBC report, Environment Canada has issued air quality warnings for most of the province except for the southwest corner.

Pigeons Left Homeless By Closure Of Downtown Landmark?

Travellers BuildingI went for a walk in the downtown last night. When I was on the west side of 18 block Broad St. around 8:15 p.m. I noticed a fair bit of commotion across the street at the pigeon condo a.k.a. the Travellers Building.

Pigeons were flying around and landing, then taking off and landing again, and making that weird warbly sound that they make. I took a closer look and ended up taking the above snap.

If you compare it to a shot of the building I took in April 2014, it does seem that the windows on the second floor that had been open previously are now closed so the pigeons are no longer able to roost there at night as I believe they were in the habit of doing.

Judging by the confusion I observed in the pigeon community, this is a relatively recent development. But I don’t have any other confirmation of that beyond the pigeons. Both photos can be enlarged by clicking on them to see the pigeons in better detail.

Insects, Flowers & Food

RoyalSask (Pollination)Last winter, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum set up a temporary exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. The exhibit served as a springboard for a broader examination of mass extinctions that have occurred previously in Earth’s distant past, plus also as an opportunity to reflect on the current struggles of many plant and animal species to survive in the face of humanity’s relentless manipulation and destruction of the habitat they need to thrive.

A few weeks ago, the RSM debuted another temporary exhibit focusing on pollination. An article on Insects, Flowers & Food ran in the May 28 issue of Prairie Dog. In it, we spoke with two of the show’s three curators, and talked about pollination in relation to the emergence of gymnosperms and angiosperms 450 million and 150 million years ago, and how the latter’s use of direct insect vectors to spread pollen and reproduce proved more effective than the airborne method gymnosperms had long relied on.

We also spoke about current concerns about the health of pollinator populations, and the vital role they play in the production of food both in a wilderness and agricultural setting.

The exhibit runs throughout the summer, so if you get a chance, check it out.

Not So Exciting Goings On In Victoria Park

VictoriaPark(BBQ Festival)I don’t want to slag anyone involved in the BBQ event that’s been going on since Friday night in City Square Plaza and Victoria Park. But somebody somewhere is dropping the ball here. Whether it’s the festival organizers or the city, when you have a special event on involving food you have to make arrangements to ensure that the residue of said event doesn’t get out of hand.

This photo was taken around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night, but even in the afternoon the garbage can was overflowing. And as might be expected, with the wind we had yesterday the mess wasn’t confined to this particular spot.

Infill Housing and You

If only all infill housing paid this kind of attention to scale.

If you spend any time taking notice of your surroundings in this city, you’ve probably remarked on all the infill housing that has cropped up in recent years. In theory, infill is a good way to retain density in neighbourhoods by developing housing in areas otherwise occupied by vacant lots. At its best, it’s well designed and affordable. In practice, however (particularly in Regina, it seems), “infill” is too often used as short hand for “ugly and cheap”, and those who call out its objectionable design are frequently (and unfairly) accused of NIMBYism. But why should this be? We’ve built beautiful, well considered, modest housing in the past, and we can do it again, right?

In any case, the City of Regina is holding two public engagement sessions to address the issue of infill housing and how it works within Design Regina’s Official Community Plan.

The first session, an “Infill and Intensification Kick-Off Meeting and Public Workshop” will be held on Monday June 8, (6 – 9pm). The second session, “Introduction to Laneway and Garden Suites Guidelines” will be on Tuesday June 23 (6-9pm). Both sessions will be held at Knox-Metropolitan Church (2340 Victoria Avenue).
Now you know.


Queen City Catch Up: Chris Kailing On Engaging With Your City (Podcast)

Recently, Regina Advocates For Design wrapped up their Urbanity 101 discussion series about how people can shape their city.

Urbanity 101 was one of the things I was most annoyed to have missed while away so it was really important to me to get someone from RAD on this podcast. Fortunately, RAD’s Chris Kailing was willing to make the trek over to my place and endure my nerd-boy questions.

Now I’m just hoping RAD will put together an Urbanity 201 series this fall. And maybe even an Urbanity 222: Special Topics In Automobile Mitigation workshop.

Music for this podcast is from Malta’s Lost Voices, a collection of Maltese recordings from the early 1930s. You can get your own copy at filflarecords.com.

In the next episode of Queen City Catch Up, I’ll be speaking with Belle Plaine about what’s been happening in the local music scene. That will go up on Wednesday.

Exciting Goings On In Victoria Park

Victoria ParkHere’s a shot of the north-east quadrant of Victoria Park. Last week, the city announced that it would be doing some work in the park this summer to improve the drainage after years of activity had caused soil in parts of the park to compact and water from snow melt and rain to pool. That was especially noticeable last summer when we had regular rain showers that left standing water in the park all season long.

The city announcement also noted that some trees would be removed and others planted to replace them. After work is done in the NE corner the city will turn its attention to the SW corner. If the weather is favourable work should be done by the end of June so well in advance of the Regina Folk Festival in August.

Queen City Catch Up: Florence Stratton On Military Education And Pipelines In Harbour Landing (Podcast)

So I get back from Malta and I’m thinking, I was gone the better part of a year, how the hell am I going to get back up to speed on Regina? And it hits me that the easiest thing would be to just ask people what I missed.

And then I thought, hey, I could record the conversations and get a podcast series out of them. It’d be like multi-tasking.

Here’s the first of those conversations: I talk with peace and justice activist, Florence Stratton, about housing, military education in high schools and an oil pipeline for Harbour Landing.

Incidentally, I got the music for this podcast from Malta’s Lost Voices, a compilation of Maltese music from the 1930s. Thanks to Filfla Records for giving me permission to use the tracks. (You can check them out at filflarecords.com.)

The next episode of Queen City Catch Up will be available on Thursday. In it, I chat with cycling and alternative-transportation aficionado, John Klein.

In total, I’ll be posting eight interviews over the next several days — one for each month I was away.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that you don’t have to stream the podcast. There’s a download link in the Soundcloud window in the top right corner. It’s the little down arrow.

Introduction To Backyard Beekeeping

There’s been a lot of talk lately about declining bee populations in North America, and the important role bees and other pollinators play in the life cycle of flowers, fruit trees, berries and other plants.

On Thursday May 7 Regina Public Library is hosting a presentation by a local beekeeper on how to raise bees as a hobby. Teens and children are welcome at the presentation, which goes at Central Library (Public Meeting Room 1) from 7-8:30 p.m.

You’re asked to register in advance on the RPL website. And here’s a link to an interview with the beekeeper that appeared in our April 30-May 13 issue.

Breaking News: Alberta Premier Unveils New Pipeline Plan

DRILLING FOR DOLLARS Giant middle finger extended to Earth during press conference
DRILLING FOR DOLLARS Giant middle finger extended to Earth during press conference

Frustrated with roadblocks erected by other provinces, environmental groups, First Nations, and the Obama administration in the U.S., to three existing pipeline proposals to deliver Alberta bitumen to market, Premier Jim Prantice announced today that his government had had enough.

Flanked by industry officials at an outdoor press conference at a science park, Prantice said that Alberta would begin construction soon on a pipeline that would drill straight through the Earth to deliver bitumen from the province direct to China.

“The idea came to me when I was watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon the other day,” Prantice recalled. “Elmer Fudd was hunting Bugs  with his shotgun, and to escape Bugs dug a deep hole. Like he said after, ‘I knew I shoulda taken that left toin at Albuquerque.’ But he didn’t, and he ended up in China instead.

“After I’d finished wiping away the tears from laughing so hard, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, maybe that Wascally Wabbit is on to something.’”

The next morning, Prantice revealed his idea to cabinet. “They all thought it was a no-brainer. So I had Frank [Oberlay, Alberta’s Energy Minister] contact our partners in the oil patch to arrange a meeting.

“Oil’s in the crapper now price-wise,” Prantice admitted. “But boom times will return. And we intend to be ready.”

Alberta has long argued that to maximize its oil wealth it needs access to global markets — especially energy-hungry southeast Asia. But proposed pipelines heading west to the Pacific (Northern Gateway), south to the Gulf of Mexico (Keystone) and east to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick (Energy East), are all stuck in regulatory limbo. As a result, analysts say, the Alberta government and oil industry are missing out on billions in revenue.

Responding to reporters’ questions about the project, which would require drilling through 12,000 km of solid rock comprising Earth’s crust and mantle, Prantice admitted they were still figuring out the exact angle they’ll need to drill at to reach China. But he insisted the project, which he declined to give a cost estimate on, was doable.

“Remember, we’ll be able to use Earth’s gravity to move bitumen to the core. We’re also examining the feasibility of using the intense heat and pressure there to refine the bitumen into light crude that would be easier to pump the rest of the way to China.”

It would be a huge undertaking, the premier admitted. “But once the oil’s flowing there’s sweet F.A. all the tree-huggers and anti-Alberta types will be able to do about it. As Porky Pig would say, ‘Th-Th-That’s all folks!’”

Tricia Middleton

TriciaMiddletonOn Saturday, Feb. 14 a companion exhibition to Material Girls opens at the Dunlop Gallery’s Sherwood Village location. It’s by Montreal artist Tricia Middleton, and the title is Joy Is Really Just Melancholy With a Really Strong Sense of Purpose.

That’s a mouthful, admittedly, and the show itself offers an equally jam-packed experience from both a visual and intellectual perspective.

Consistent with the overall theme of Material Girls, Middleton uses a ton of found and fabricated objects and materials to construct large-scale immersive installations (that’s a studio shot at left).

Because many of the materials she’s working with are remnants and cast-offs from our consumer-driven society, there’s plenty to think about related to ideas of growth, prosperity, wealth and sustainability.

The exhibition opens with a talk and reception at the Sherwood Village Gallery on Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. The show will run until April 2.

Oh, and if you’re looking for something to do tonight, the Dunlop and its partners are hosting the second installment of its Independent Visions film series. The program is tied to Material Girls as well, and is titled Bad Feminism: Short Films and Videos by Feminists. It screens at the RPL Theatre tonight at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Forward Together Lecture

Tonight at the University of Regina, Dr. Wade Davis will be speaking at a lecture co-hosted by the university and its federated colleges. Davis is a graduate of Harvard University, and for 30 years now has specialized in anthropology and ethnobotany.

As an explorer in residence at National Geographic, he has authored around 20 books recounting his time spent visiting and studying indigenous cultures in exotic locales such as East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Nunuvut, Greenland and more.

Tonight’s lecture is titled “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in a Modern World”. It goes at the Education Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and more information can be found on the university’s website.

Two T-Shirts In January

T-shirt in January
I’M OUTSIDE IN JANUARY ONLY WEARING TWO T-SHIRTS AND I’M NOT COLD This weather is not normal. Also, I have a banana.

Working late tonight, needed a coffee. Figured I’d just walk across the pedestrian mall to The Good Earth because I didn’t wanna trot all the way to Atlantis (though I like Atlantis coffee better).

But a funny thing happened on the way to the caffeine.

Since this is a 20-second walk and it’s a relatively not-cold day, I don’t put on my coat. When I get to Good Earth, though, it’s closed. So I can either head to The Second Cup in the Cornwall Centre, or walk a few blocks to Atlantis (and the best coffee).

Even though I’m only wearing two thin American Apparel 50-50 shirts and I’m outside in January, I settle on Atlantis.

It was a painless walk.

Yeah, I like food and beer, so I’m well padded and I’m sure that helps me stay warm. Still, there’s no way ANYONE should be able to be outdoors in January for any length of time without shivering their skin off.

I got my coffee and I walked back to the office. Stopped to talk to a pal on the O’Hanlon’s patio, then bumped into Beatty and asked him to take the picture in this blog post.

Total time outside in T-shirts: probably 25 minutes. Total frostbite: none.

Continue reading “Two T-Shirts In January”

Exciting Goings On On 11th Ave.

Bus ShelterAbove is a photo of one of four heated bus shelters that the City of Regina is in the process of rolling out on 11th Ave. Not all are operational yet, but the plan is to have them up and running by February.

I didn’t make it out for the gala announcement this morning, but according to a City of Regina press release the shelters are electrically powered. As it grows dark each night, lights will come on to illuminate the shelter interiors. There’s also a radiant heater in the ceiling that can be activated with a push of a button. Once activated, it will stay on for around five minutes.

Two shelters — one on 11th Ave between Lorne and Cornwall St. (pictured) and the other between Cornwall and Scarth by the Bank of Montreal — will service east-bound transit users. West-bound transit users will be serviced by shelters located between Scarth and Lorne by the transit office and the SGI building.

The plan is to test them for a year and see how they work out. If they are deemed useful, heated shelters could be installed at other high-traffic transit stops.

Regina Transit also announced the launch of a new transit planning tool tied to Google maps. It’s meant to complement the Transit Live app which shows the location of buses on routes. The Google maps app will help transit users plan trips to different areas of the city. You can find out more about Transit Live and the trip planner here.

The Effects of Oil Development On Grasslands Songbirds

We did a cover story on this lecture by Jason Unruh in our Jan. 8 issue.

Unruh’s a M.Sc. candidate at the University of Regina, and he’s been studying the impact of oil exploration on wildlife in Saskatchewan’s dwindling grasslands habitat.

The free lecture is Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Saskatchewan Science Centre. It’s being held as part of the Native Prairie Speaker Series.