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July 2010
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September 2010

Ottawa Urban Arts - positive light in the SUN

The Ottawa Sun came last weekend and talked with us (Ottawa Urban Arts) about our work. We were a little cautious after some of the negative spin we'd received, but they showed a balanced understanding of some of the issues, and a desire to learn more. The reporter, Tony Spears,  wanted to talk about the Paint It Up! program and what projects we had done so far, and their impact. He spent a while with us at the Jules Morin field house wall, part of the Lowertown project we are doing, also was a photographer there for some shots of artists at work. He made a short video too, all here on the article.

It was as a good article, focusing mainly on the positive work we were doing, and of course attracted comments - many negative, some positive. And apparently attracted a few letters to the editor - trash talking us and our past. 

We've decided that debating our history is time consuming and a losing battle - our detractors don't seem that interested in facts or any possible positive effects. What is relevant to us - and the program - is the positive impact we know our work is having on the community groups and youth we work with - and we know this from comments in the sessions as well as written feedback after the events. I added a comment to the Sun article to that effect, as follows:

Thanks for the positive coverage of this program. The $50,000, compared to a total police budget of $300 million, is money well spent, spent mainly on supplies by the way, plus a modest youth fee - ee won't get rich from this.
We have had positive feedback from community members, youth program coordinators, and youth themselves. They like both the collaborative design process and the finished murals. In the workshops the youth have learned to express themselves better on their own issues, via the various media we use, and have demonstrated some positive behavioural changes to the concepts and role models we have shown them.
And that's what is really relevant here - positive changes to communities and youth via art.
That's our passion. 


Downsizing - via Kijiji

I'm moving next week - from my house in S'Norleans to a rental apartment in Parkdale area. Time for my accommodation to catch up with my urban lifestyle.

It's been a challenge getting rid of things - it helps to have a friend do it with you, as they are a little more objective. Also helps for packing, as they just fill the boxes rather than reminiscing over ever single item.

I've been using Kijiji to sell things, it's a great way, easy to use and free. I'm wondering, does anyone use the hard copy classified's anymore? Part of the new lean and mean paradigm for print newspapers I guess. Here's the stuff I have currently:

Please check it out, need it all gone by Aug 29th.

Sept 16th update - mixed results with Kijiji - decided to keep TV and kitchen table for now, no good offers on air conditioner so just left it in the window. Nothing on the coffee mill, maybe I need to bring it to a consignment store. 

More negative vibes on our mural work with youth - a new fan?

The Citizen published a positive article last weekend on a mural on the wall of the Ottawa Mission. It's one of several walls being done by our group, Ottawa Urban Arts. It's part of the city's Paint It Up! program, sponsored by Crime Prevention Ottawa, designed to prevent tagging, redirect "youth at risk", and also beautify the city.

I was called yesterday about a couple of emails the Citizen had received, one anonymous, one from a Peter Lamar. Content was similar to ones we saw last year-alleges our artists are all currently active graffiti vandals, a selection of photos from the past few years of various tags - most of the photos taken illegally from on-line sites, and a warning to prospective customers not to hire us.

We have tried to get these people to see the positive side of what we do - not interested. They focus on the past, missing the point that often a person's past helps them relate better to current issues - and to others in similar situations.

Here's the article the Citizen published today - could have been more supportive I think, too bad they gave a voice to this vocal minority.

And here's what I sent in today as a Letter to the Editor.

Note - I found out later they did check Lamar's background, and what they found was not relevant to the story. So I asked myself, what did they find? I did a Googlefor the words Peter Lamar Ottawa, and found several entries for that name and location, one about helping in a rescue, and several describing charges in 2005 of 27 Criminal Code offenses, including trafficking in firearms. I've no idea if that is the same person, no idea if the charges stuck. I would hope that whomever this was, they were given the opportunity to reform their ways and the support to do so, and also to learn to help others heading down the same path.

Just as our artists do with the youth we work with. 

Anyways - the letter to the Editor...

Continue reading "More negative vibes on our mural work with youth - a new fan?" »

Sparkly things - moving on

Article for a local newsletter -

We sometimes get stuck in life. And perhaps it's just that we can't tell the difference from being stuck and being too comfortable - but that's a topic for another day. Aside from that, even when we realize we're stuck, when we see the potential change, when we want the change, we still may need a nudge.

I'd been living in the suburbs for years, but gradually realized that it was time for me to move downtown. Kids all grown up and gone, no more pets, no more garden, tired of mowing and shovelling and repairing, odd man out on a quiet crescent of couples and kids. Many of my friends were urban folk, and I was downtown several times a week for various events and adventures.

For me, the nudge, the kick, was that I decided it was time for the financial security of a long term plan. I found an adviser whose plan recommended that I sell my little house in S'nOrleans, invest the proceeds for a steady predictable income, and rent downtown. Sounded good to me. Once I got started I realized this was not that big a change, it was more of a change in location than lifestyle, as I'd been living an urban life for years.

Continue reading "Sparkly things - moving on" »