Goodbye (for now)

Thanks for reading everyone!

I made this blog for a class project, and now that class is over.

I like the idea of this blog, but it’ll take a couple years and a lot more time and dedication than I have available to make it what I want.

I hope you enjoyed anyways, and thanks again for stopping in.

Old becomes new becomes old again

Disclaimer: this post is an assignment for my Advertising class. Still super legit quality content. Just not a story from a stranger.

(Image from http://www.webanalyticsworld.net/2010/11/history-of-social-media-infographic)

Social media is new, right? I mean we’ve had Facebook for what, a decade? Twitter too? That’s pretty new, considering books have endured for hundreds of years and are still going strong.

With each new platform a new way to communicate, access, and gather information is born…

Facebook

To me, Facebook’s become one of the ultimate data-mining machines. Especially since Google bought it. People volunteer all sorts of information about themselves on Facebook, from where they live, to who they like, what they believe and where they eat. This is a dream for marketers. People volunteer the information, make it publicly available, and other people gather it to sell stuff. And I’m pretty sure it works!

Twitter

I lack some faith in Twitter. It’s a great short-form media for real time updates and economic interactions. Journalists love it. Companies love it. It calls for your thoughts and opinions more than facts about yourself. And it seems safe. But when I was growing up, Twitter was the place for your not-funny one liners. I miss that sometimes. Now it’s a literal newsfeed.

I still read the paper in the morning.

Instagram

Instagram does something different than Twitter and Facebook, and I think I love it. Visual expression makes most sense to me in this multimedial age. Plus I love photography. Plus it’s different enough from Twitter and Facebook that if someone’s posting about what they’re eating or where they’re sitting, it still has potential to be visually stimulating.

What’s next?

I’m sure there’s more social media platforms in the making as you read this. I’m wondering when the current ones will get old. When will people abandon Twitter? Facebook?

Personally I think it’ll be sooner than later. From what I can tell, people in my circles recognize these as sales tools — more ammunition in the belt of the “man”. And in my circles, the “man” is not always welcome. We’ve started to shun each other for being on our phones in mid-conversation. We’ve started to run away from the device glued to our hands when we want to have fun, relax, or enjoy some genuine human experience.

Will social media push people back to that old way of socializing? Or am I just an outsider with a bunch of weirdo friends?

As an aside: I have a firm understanding that language and information is how our brains shape reality. So having this constantly shifting landscape of ways to communicate and access information may be constantly shifting how our brains use words and knowledge to build our perception of reality… That’s the real interesting stuff. Will people move towards traditional methods for stability? Or will we embrace the amorphous blob of change?

I recommend Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows” on the neat neurological effects of technology on the brain.

Anonymous

Age 22. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Some names have been changed for safety’s sake.

I have known Anonymous personally for many years. We don’t spend a lot of time together anymore, but they’re quite a person to know.

We grew up on the same block. We parted ways during high school, though, and they found a community in the city I have yet to party with. They sure do party, though.

I think this was on Halloween of 2013. It started at Fame.

We’re at Fame, with the drag queens, partying, everyone’s passing around poppers and shit, and we ended up meeting up with Patricia Abney. 

Patricia was a popular drag queen with a touring drag show that happened to be in Winnipeg. We ended up going to this salon party, with Patricia, and everyone was doing cocaine. And it was pretty interesting. There was this really fucked up guy who was trying to sell everybody Ketamine. He kept telling people how you should always say “madam” on the phone… So that was my party with Patricia Abney.”

This was at a salon in the city.

“This wasn’t just a regular salon, this was a salon that was also a house where the people worked. Like they lived there, as well.

We didn’t leave that party till like 7 a.m.

There was this really weird drunk guy there who was filming us when we were sitting on the couch. He was hiding behind a doorframe filming us and we were like “what the fuck why’re you filming us?” and we confronted him about it and he’s just said “I’m not filming you…” and we’re like “yes you are, we can see you…”

That was weird.

There was another time there was a medium there. She said to this other woman that was there “Who’s got a baby in the bathroom?” and this woman starting crying, she was like middle aged. She knew this woman was a medium and apparently her baby had died. It was this ghost of this baby, and the woman who was the medium didn’t know and had said this because she was drunk or whatever. So then she’s like “Oh my God ooooh my God I’m soooo sorry.” and it was so awkward. It was the most awkward thing that has ever happened at a party.”

The salon sounded like a mixed back when it came to party favours. I mean, I never went to the salon, and I think I’m okay with that. But I don’t doubt it would be an exhilarating and probably welcoming experience, otherwise. Despite the potential for weird shit to happen.

“Salon parties happened a lot.”

It’s worth noting that Fame offers a safe, inclusive space for all LGBTTQ* community members, and friends of who want to enjoy spending time in a welcoming and fun environment. The stuff at the salon stays at the salon — and enjoyment, fun, meeting new people and finding a community that suits more individual or unique identities can happen at Fame.

Check out the website for events http://www.famenightclubwinnipeg.com/

“Reservations”

An accurate depiction of conflicting perspectives.

fyi: This week’s blog post is a journalism assignment.

It seems watching a play almost entirely of dialogue can feel a bit more like education than entertainment. Reservations, a Theatre Projects Manitoba production I saw on Tuesday, managed to pack a number of current social issues into a neat couplet of mini plays. It apparently lacked a traditional story arch, disappointing some in the audience, but it still managed to explore a number of narratives in about two hours.

The first act, called Pete’s Reserve, told the story of an old Mennonite farmer in Northern Alberta choosing to give his daughter’s inheritance — his land — to the local Siksika people. He felt morally obligated to make a real gesture towards decolonization in his community. His daughter, who otherwise would have shared the 640 acre inheritance with her brother, begged him not to. She couldn’t understand why this now, wondering if it had to do with his Cree girlfriend. I would say something happened, but nothing really did, other than moral and ethical debate and some personal bonding.

The second act, called Standing Reserve, is named after Heidegger’s philosophy on  the essence of technology. The play shows a middle class white foster family navigating the devolution of Child and Family Services. (Note that devolution here means creating CFS agencies run by Indigenous people.) The father is a philosophy professor at the University of Manitoba, and the mother appeared to not have a job, or if she did, it did not appear in the story. Both the CFS worker and the wife are former students of the professor. Some time after a heated discussion between the couple and the worker, the audience is thrown into a university lecture given by the CFS worker that links Heidegger philosophy to indigenous ways of knowing.

Both acts lasted about an hour. Each had three characters, played by the same three actors. Despite lacking a story arch and any kind of conclusion, the performance demonstrated a very timely narrative on the role of settlers in today’s society. The visuals and sounds of the play seemed to act as cues to the audience for shifts in the scene. Though I didn’t understand how it affected me, I found it stimulating and artistic.

Despite the name, Reservations is a play about the experiences of white settlers in Canada coping with history, society and personal morality. Steven Ratzlaff wrote and performed the play, continuing the theme of social issues in his work. He said during the talkback that evening that he consulted with many people from the indigenous community while writing the play. Tracey Nepinak, the indigenous performer of the trio, commended Theatre Projects Manitoba for taking on this piece in the talkback. My classmates later questioned the ability of a white male playwright to write a play about indigenous issues, but the play clearly exposed interpersonal conflict from the settler perspective.

As an activist in Winnipeg’s inner-city, I really enjoyed the play. Ratzlaff managed to neatly elaborate the different perspectives of people in Winnipeg at this time, including those feeling at odds with settler colonialism, those actively earning back their sovereignty, and those experiencing great discomfort at the shifting social climate. I especially enjoyed what struck me as the sad irony of the situation. In the first act, this irony came across in the daughter’s line exclaiming “I feel dispossessed!” as she tried to stop her father from giving the land away. In the second act, it came from the wife in a line towards the end, exclaiming she cannot get over the loss of her foster children.

Through both plays, each actor plays a different character playing the same role. The white woman role is rooted in an perspective of entitlement. In the first act, she says would make best use of the land. In the second, she says could do the best for her children. She can’t seem to understand why another group of people (who have experienced exactly what she’s going through on a grand scale) getting the things she can most suitably use in her life would be okay.

The male actor played the role of the morally conflicted seeking the most immediate path to alleviating his internal conflict. Like his girlfriend said in the play, it wouldn’t make a difference outside of himself, indicating that his decision is based on how it affects him.

The only drawback to what was otherwise a very accurate depiction of general settler perspectives was a noticeably flat representation of gender. The women experienced emotions and engaged with each other based on these emotions (or at least the white woman – the indigenous woman spoke from a place of detached wisdom) and the man orchestrated every interaction by intervening with his complacency and lack of emotion.

There’s lots to talk about with this play, as reflected by all the dialogue in the play. Personally I think art — theatre especially — is a realm for creation pushing past the norm. The play lacked essential storytelling elements, like a protagonist and action. It sacrificed entertainment value for accurate (if not flattened) depictions of personal experiences and roles in Canadian society. It’s worthwhile to have these perspectives shared and understood, but if Ratzlaff wants non-theatre fans to ingest his work with personal interest and desire, he needs to use familiar storytelling form.

I have seen a couple other plays this year, and one called Chimerica comes to mind as an artful merging of story, personal narrative and global political and social experience into an entertaining three-hour performance.

To learn more about the people behind the local production, visit http://www.theatreprojectsmanitoba.ca/wp/shows/reservations/

Mary

Age undisclosed. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Mary’s been a friendly face for me to see around town since the start of the year. I don’t know her well, but she’s always kind to me and has a warm, welcoming presence.

She was born in Saskatchewan, but moved to Winnipeg when she was four. She loves Winnipeg.

No wonder she finds this type of thing happens to her often:

“Winnipeg… being somewhere and just starting to talk with somebody. Like There was a guy that got on the bus with his seeing eye dog and it’s this humongous thing, like it was part rottweiler and lab I guess. But it looked like a mastiff. And he put it under the chair and we started talking about the squirrels from the summer and everything. For me that’s a typical Winnipeg experience, where people just easily connect and talk with each other.”

This can be one of the nicest parts of living in Winnipeg. It can also be a bit intimidating, depending how you’re feeling that day.

But mostly people are nice and awesome, like Mary.

friendly manitoba

Maybe because “Friendly Manitoba”?

 

Matthew

Age 33. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Matt’s lived in Winnipeg his entire life. He says he likes it here, mostly because of the people, but also because it’s cheap. But there are other cities he loves to visit.

“Berlin is my all-time favourite city. Been there three times. London I’m quite fond of. Been there twice. And New York is pretty cool.” 

I asked why Berlin?

“I did my degree in history and there as a big degree of German history in that, so I just love the history. On top of that, it’s just a really cool city. It’s got this great juxtaposition of like old and modern architecture. Yet it works. Usually when you try to contrast two eras and styles it kinda looks ugly, but in Berlin for some reason it works. The people are really nice in Germany.” 

But even during his travels, Winnipeg snuck up on him.

I took a film course with Guy Madden, who is famous for making a film called My Winnipeg, and he’s a much more critically acclaimed director than a lot of people think. Roger Ebert, most famous film critic of all time put My Winnipeg on his top 10 movies of the decade list. Anyway I took a course with him, got to know Guy Madden, and then when I was in Paris there was actually a museum holding an exhibit about My Winnipeg. So when I was in Paris I went to this exhibit to learn about Winnipeg, which I thought was kind of funny.

It was kind of emotional, but only because I had been away for a couple months at that point. But it was also neat to just say to the exhibitors, “I’m from Winnipeg.” They were like, “holy smokes, we have barely seen any of you. Sounds like such a cool place.””

So it’s like, I leave Winnipeg, go to Paris, France, and go to an exhibit about Winnipeg.”

My Winnipeg has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomotoes. Ebert gave it a 4/4. I guess I will have to watch it.

Matthew said he was proud to turn up as a Winnipegger in this museum in Paris, the same city as the Mona Lisa, at an exhibit on his home city. He recognizes Winnipeg’s unique art scene.

I love Winnipeg film culture and I love Winnipeg arts culture in general. I feel like I need to get more involved in it, to tell you the truth. There really is a very thick and dense arts world.”

Matthew’s currently branching out into writers groups and the local creative scene here. He also knows a lot of local bands. He attends the Winnipeg Writers Festival each year, linked here:

https://thinairwinnipeg.ca/

We also have a writers guild in town:

http://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/

And collective (which has a cash prize contest up right now!):

http://thewriterscollective.org/

Myself

Age 21. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

I hope you don’t mind the interruption in usual programming. Last week my class was given a photojournalism assignment for Festival du Voyageur.

This week I’m incapacitated with a flu. So I haven’t left the house (or my bed) in nearly two days now. I figured interviewing someone in this state would not only require some legwork I’d struggle with, but would also put someone’s health at risk.

Plus, I look sort of terrifyingly disheveled. Instead, here’s a story from myself.

When I was in grade 11, my best friend Kira was dating this guy named Alex. He was a couple years older than us, and definitely seemed cooler. He trades vintage clothes for a living. During their relationship, Kira invited me to come hang out with them a couple times. We went to his place and did a variety of things high school kids enjoyed, like play Soul Caliber and smoke pot.

Alex lived with three other guys in the top two floors of a duplex. I met two of them: Paul and Boreal. We had some interesting times in that house. I also met guys named Levi, Annachie and Noah there.

At the time, Kira was the only person I really knew. Only person I really felt comfortable with. I enjoyed Alex too, but I guess my stoned high school self was kind of shy?

They broke up after about a year.

I took Kira to our high school grad. Her and I had spent every lunch hour together through my 5 years at Grant Park. We went to my cabin, to concerts, to meet boys and to the bar together. Until the fall of 2013.

I moved to Ottawa to attend Carleton University. She moved to Israel to attend a dance school. She lived with her aunt and uncle out there. Last time she spent a couple months in Israel, she brought back home made peach jam for me. They owned a peach farm.

This time, we expected to be separated for good. Over the summer, she had bailed on our plans a fair bit. I figured she didn’t like my new boyfriend.

About a week into living in Ottawa, I tried to reach out to her on Skype. See how she was, how the flights were, if she was excited to be in Israel for the year. When she finally messaged me back, I cried. She dumped me. She listed off reasons for why we couldn’t be friends anymore. There was no hint of forgiveness in her words. She called me out on any — or all — of my flaws.

About a year later, we were both back in Winnipeg. I haven’t hung out with her since, other than running into her at an occasional party.

But I see Paul almost every week. I see Boreal and Levi on a monthly basis. They play in one of my favourite local bands. I see Alex regularly too, and every time, he expresses some gratitude that we’ve stayed friends.

It was strange — I had met Paul and Levi, hung out with them those couple times, then never thought of them much. Hardly saw them. I stayed friends with Boreal because of mutual interests and a natural connection (we can talk. For hours.) but Paul and Levi and Alex sort of fell off my social map.

Now I see Paul every week and he’s hilarious!

The social circles in this city seem to range from totally connected and shared, to strung together by a thin strand of individuals. I still see Kira sometimes. I see Annichie occasionally, and Noah goes to my school. Maybe it’s just the size of this city that makes everyone feel so close.

I usually see Levi and Boreal at gigs like Big Fun or Real Love Thursdays at the Handsome Daughter.

http://thehandsomedaughter.com/?post_type=tribe_events

Keep an eye out for sweet local bands, like their band Umami.

https://www.facebook.com/plsnocaps/?fref=ts

 

 

 

Défilé sur glace (Fashion on Ice)

On Sunday this past weekend, my partner and I attended Festival du Voyageur to see a fashion show on ice.

An incredible group of Winnipeggers, including people who work as architects, lawyers, nurses, fitness coaches, filmmakers, and many more, modelled a variety of designs. The runway reached along the log fence of Rendez-vous on Ice, the free meeting place for food, drinks and hot chocolate where the Red River and Assiniboine River meet.

The show was set to begin at three p.m. By 3:05 p.m., a large crowd filled half of The Red River Mutual Trail to watch the display of artistry and typical Winnipeg toughness.

Some outfits suited the cold temperature, while others revealed a little more. Regardless, each model walked with bright smiles and a hint of attitude in each pose.

At the end, they gathered together for a final photo while shouting “Hého!”

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The crowd watches for the next model to walk, wearing fashion as art, from The Red River Mutual Trail at Festival du Voyageur on Sunday./Jennifer Doerksen
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Joelle Pastora-Sala strikes a pose for cameras near the start of the runway last Sunday./Jennifer Doerksen

 

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Angel Bhathal shares a big smile with the onlooking crowd as she walks back to the dressing tent at the start of the runway./Jennifer Doerksen
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Producer Liliane Lavack directs the show from a spot in the crowd through a walkie-talkie./Jennifer Doerksen
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Jennifer Ashley smiles to herself as she begins her strut down the catwalk last Sunday for Défilé sur glace./Jennifer Doerksen
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The cast of models gather in front of a crowd of photographers for a final shot after the 20-minute fashion show./Jennifer Doerksen
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Close-up of gold detail makeup on Julia Lim after the fashion show. Every model had some form of gold detail on their face to unify the style of the show./Jennifer Doerksen

 

Sadie

Age 22. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Sadie moved to Winnipeg when she was fifteen. Her true home is Sagkeeng First Nation, but she’s here for school and to gain as much understanding as she can.

Sadie has a complicated relationship with Winnipeg. But there are aspects that she loves — namely working in the Village, a community within the North End that is creating a cultural revolution.

I remember the feeling I had going to those events. Even just going to the flashmob round dance at Polo Park. That was a big one for me. I remember just looking up and there’s native people everywhere. You know? You never see that other than like treaty days at the res or something. But going there and there’s singing, there’s drumming and people are round dancing… Just the energy in the room  was just like holy fuck. This is amazing. I love this. I ended up getting addicted to that feeling, of getting involved and being in that space. It was just a safe space, for neechi people. I don’t know how to explain it… you kinda get a high from it. That kind of drove me to do more community stuff, immerse myself in the books of indigenous scholars, and learning all about that and about politics — you start getting frustrated with all the bullshit. So that was that… I remember distinctly that feeling. Being at that flash mob. It was a life changer for me.”

The flash mob was a part of Idle No More, one of the inaugural events that started Sadie’s  dedication to learning about the current situation, and applying her knowledge to village work.

“We totally de-capitalized that space. Capitalism, that’s what it’s ultimately about, like consumerism and we halted that for however long. We totally indigenized that space, it was so cool. Everyone was like “what’s happening?”. It blew peoples minds. that was the cool part.”

Since then, events have begun happening regularly. When talking to Sadie, she seemed astounded at the amount of stuff going on this weekend alone.

“We’re trying to revitalize here. I’m pretty amazed that I’m living in this time of history of cultural resurgence. Language revitalization, we’re trying to get our clan systems going, i feel like this is the perfect time to be living in Winnipeg. Especially when it has the highest Aboriginal population and the fasted growing population.”

Some of the organizations that have sprung up to take on the challenges include:

http://www.ayomovement.com/

Welcome

http://thunderbirdhouse.com/wordpress/

Anny

Age 31. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Anny loves Winnipeg. She moved here when she was four.

I moved to the West End of Winnipeg, which is where I live now. I live a block south of where I grew up. I guess i have moved around a lot. I was born in Fort St. John, then we moved to the south mainland. When I moved to Winnipeg we lived on Agnes for a really really long time. But then I guess my mom and dad were ready to break off as a nuclear unit, so we went from living of a house of 14 people to just the four of us living in the Maples in Winnipeg.” 

She knows that Winnipeg isn’t as bad as some would make it seem.

I think that Winnipeggers are really self deprecating, and especially in the 90’s and 2000’s it was very “in” to hate Winnipeg. But I think that as many people moved away, and then experienced life in other cities and then came back, I think there’s a resurgence of people returning to Winnipeg in their 30s and bringing home the things that they love and making a space here. So you see tons of great initiatives starting up like little shops and coffee shops and pop-up stores and all that stuff happening now here. I think that people are starting to love Winnipeg in the way that I’ve always loved Winnipeg.”

Anny’s lived in other parts of Canada, for grad school and volunteer programs. But Winnipeg has something different going on than other Canadian cities. Sounds to me like something personal.

A few years ago, I started hanging out on this forum on line for photography. Winnipeg photographers. Because I was just getting into photography, and I wanted to find a community to do photography with. So I met a few people on there, made friends. You would never think that our circles would overlap. But one day, he [a friend] invited me out to a concert in a place called The Cyrk. I had never been there before so it was a completely new venue, a house concert, and I thought he would be the only person in the room that I knew. But when I got there I knew like five people in the room. As big as our city is —  like we’re not a small city, we’re  a fair sized city — there’s a very small town kind of experience in that your social circles are very very likely to overlap. 

So in that room was my high school vice principal, my friend from my undergrad degree, and people form different areas of my life — convened in this one room. I think that’s a really typical Winnipeg experience. And they shouldn’t have been in the same room either, that’s the thing.”

She was laughing by the end of the story.

“That kind of speaks to a different theory that I have, in that people see Winnipeg when they come in visit, and depending on where you’re located in social circles and culture, you either think Winnipeg is really boring and dead, or you think Winnipeg is really lively. Like alive and rich and exciting and I think it’s the division between whether your looking for a street of clubs or you’re looking for a subculture of different small venues and house concerts and artist’s lofts. You’re not going to find a big party scene in Winnipeg right out in the public. What you need to have are friendships and connections and get invited to The Cyrk for a house concert where you apparently know half the people in the room.”

As Anny told me this story, I thought of the house shows, underground shows and small music festivals I’ve been to. There are definitely some tight-knit communities surrounding music in Winnipeg, and a lot of them connect in weird ways.

Personally, I love spending time with Gil Carrol and the Real Love Winnipeg crowd. They host local shows year round, and a beautiful summer festival. They also overlap with the crowds at The Good Will Social Club. Check it out for ways to find an “in” in Winnipeg:

http://reallovewpg.com/

http://thegoodwill.ca/