One of the unique cornerstones of the Guelph Jazz Festival is the academic study of improvisation, through its connection to the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, largely centered at the University of Guelph. We had a chance to visit the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium this month, where we dropped in on a morning concert (Jesse Stewart and Dong-Won Kim) and then one of the many panel discussions. The three-day Colloquium is a free part of the Festival and open to the public, in the beautiful spaces of the MacDonald Stewart Art Gallery at the corner of College and Gordon, in Guelph. The panel discussion (Jazz Beyond Humanity) ran the spectrum from Human-Equine Improvisation to the Extra-Normal Voice in Jazz to Visions of Jazz Automatons. The knowledgeable audience had no shortage of questions for all the panelists and in many cases, suggested more resources and lines of inquiry for the researchers to follow. It’s a unique platform for researchers to meet the public and for jazz musicians to follow the latest research in critical practice.
Last week, I was able to go to the opening of the Lest We Forget exhibition at the Lillian H. Smith Library on College Street, in Toronto. The Osborne is a special collection of children’s literature within the Toronto Public Library, and its collection is available to student groups, from the elementary school level to university programs. On the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of World War I, this exhibition brings together a stunning variety of children’s literature relating to war, spanning The Napoleonic Wars in 1805 to Afghanistan in 2012. The material not only presents the stories of children’s experience in wars and conflicts, but also illustrates the differing ways that wars and conflicts have been presented to children over time. The exhibition begins and ends with the tragic direct role of children in war, as drummers, buglers and young sailors in the Napoleonic Wars to the child soldiers in modern conflicts. Yet the theme throughout all the works is the ultimate yearning for peace.
The Chawkers Foundation helped with the costs for the beautiful catalogue, written by Elizabeth Derbecker, and many foundations helped with the other costs of the show. Publicity was very successfully planned and school groups are already booking tours and workshops. See http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/osborne/ for more information.
Last week we saw the Charlie’s Freewheels program in action. In conjunction with the Regent Park Community Health Centre, Charlie’s Freewheels runs a Queen Street storefront bike program for youth in Regent Park. There are programs six days a week for a wide spectrum of ages.
The winter term Build a Bike program was nearing completion, and last Wednesday, the guys were working on shifters and derailleurs. Bike frames are donated to the program, any parts that can be safely reused, are, and new tires, cables and brakeshoes are supplied. The young people keep the bike at the end of the program and are also given a free helmet and set of bike lights.
A lot of volunteer mechanics help the students through the whole process every week. The atmosphere in the storefront is so positive that the “alumni” keep dropping in, and many are learning skills in advocacy and doing presentations for bike events.
We had a chance to visit Everdale Environmental Learning Centre in July. Everdale has launched an urban farming facility in partnership with Toronto Regional Conservation Authority and other local agencies, on the Black Creek property near Jane and Steeles. Much of it will be modelled on the work done at the Hillsburgh property of Everdale:
Everdale runs programs in organic agriculture, including vegetables, crops and livestock. We had a chance to see the facilities that have been constructed over the past 25 years of their impressive history. Chawkers gave funds in 2013 for the exciting and progressive new venture at Black Creek.