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Phog Walks Detroit

I have put out a Facebook invite for an incredible walk taking place in Detroit.
Bob Goldsmith of Detroit Tour Connections is hosting the two-hour tour.
The tour will be in the area of Cass Corridor…a richly interesting space, which will lead us to the Dally in the Alley festival.

Here’s the details of the walk, according to Bob:
“I think we should meet at the main branch of theDetroit Public Library. The address is 5201 Woodward. Let’s meet at the rear (west) entrance, which is on Cass. People can park on Cass, or on Kirby. “Midtown” is a pretty large area of Detroit that includes the Cass Corridor, Brush Park, the Detroit Medical Center, the large campus of WSU, and the Cultural Center area.

We’re mostly going to tour the Cultural Center area. Our two hour tour will include: Hecker mansion and other homes from the late 1800s; the DPL, DIA, Park-Shelton and Maccabees Bldgs from the 1920s; the Historical Museum; the Detroit Science Center; the Charles H. Wright Museum; the Scarab Club; the College for Creative Studies; and a few of the buildings on WSU’s campus.

The Dally has a website — http://www.dallyinthealley.com. It includes a map and directions … but the best bet is probably to mapquest 5201 Woodward if we are going to meet at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. People can take I-75 north to Warren, and then take Warren west to Woodward or to Cass,
or they can just take Woodward from downtown Detroit to the Cultural Center area.”

We will meet initially at Phog Lounge at 9:45am. We will leave by 10am on our way to the Detroit Public Library. If you want to come, you must e-mail me at phoglounge@gmail.com or message me on Facebook (Tom Lucier). If you can drive…good…if you can’t, we still have room in some cars heading over. And you need your Passport to attend.

THIS SATURDAY!!! We already have over 20 people coming, so there will be tons of opportunities to make friends from Windsor along with the endless opportunities to meet your American reflections during the walk. I think it’s going to be an important first step in creating a very important community that is almost non-existent…the cross-border cultural community.

Personally, I feel that this is a KEY and CRUCIAL event for community leaders to be a part of, in order to initialize, strengthen, and solidify our relationships and understanding of our American brethren.
If you find yourself to be a leader here in Windsor, I really think it’s a good time to start thinking about sharing your strengths with people across the way, who know little or nothing about this community of artists, musicians, and doers.

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Awesome NIMBY this week…Dennis K. Smith

picture-6Who’s Dennis K. Smith?
You might know already, but I didn’t have a clue.

Dennis is a painter, teacher, and quite simply…one of the most fantastic people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Not In My Backyard required another interview this week. February being Black History Month finds the city alive with events and shows highlighting the local black community and their history. With these events prevalent and in the greater-public eye, I stumbled across this event called Threads Through Time, presented by The Artists of Colour.
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It takes place at Mackenzie Hall and The Common Ground Galler (same building) from February 6th until the 17th. Friday the 6th is the date of the opening party. I am, without a doubt, going to this, and I’m bringing my father, his wife Eileen, and possibly some other family member.

This exhibit will be hosting WORLD-CLASS artifacts from the underground railroad. To be more specific, they are quilts that were used to signal to the holder of the quilt details about the underground railroad…ensuring safe passage to Canada.

Apart from these quilts, there will be several works of art from Dennis K. Smith, his daughter Nicole Talbot, and several other professional and amateur artists of colour. And having been into Dennis K. Smith’s studio, I can tell you the quality of work he is producing is phenomenal.

Trained in fine art, Smith’s painting are all about stories. His affinity for history, personal and otherwise, is infectious and unavoidable when experiencing his work. A certain piece that he’s done, which was unfinished at the time of our interview is a mural of famous local and Canadian people of colour. The first black doctor, lawyer, The Real McCoy, and his own father are all featured prominently in this piece. It’s gorgeous. A who’s who of pioneering black Windsorites and Canadians is a patchwork of pride unmatched in any other painting I’ve seen.

Sitting with Dennis in his studio (gorgeous teaching space, by the way), drinking a fresh cup of coffee that he brewed up for us, we made an instant connection and spoke about the black community, the Artists of Colour community, and the importance of these showcases.

Here’s a HUGE video of the conversation I had with Smith, in his studio. TO see some of his unfinished works, and studio space, skip to the last two minutes of the video.
[blip.tv ?posts_id=1748473&dest=-1]

In the meantime, have a listen to our show from yesterday by CLICKING THIS LINK.
Our show is, as usual, 30 minutes long.
Did I mention that Adam’s interview was stellar as well?
Enjoy.

Rare Crossover: CBC Radio 3’s Contest – Best Live Music Venue in Canada


Just click the above panel to go VOTE!

When I asked this group to go forth and let the country know how you feel about Phog Lounge…tell CBC Radio 3 and Searchlight that you love this place…you did, emphatically!

And we’re very thankful.
Here’s the tricky part.
That was just to get us nominated.

NOW, they have the voting taking place.
It’s been running (so we’re behind) and it will continue for a few weeks. Each person can vote every 24 hours.
You know how it is. I don’t quite agree with this method, but that’s how it is being tallied. It calls for great attention from voters. From you.

But I will ask anyway.
Please vote for us on the cbcradio3.com website.
There’s a an ad panel (usually on the bottom left) that says, “Vote Now For Your Favourite Music Venue” with a Searchlight logo on it too. It’s black with yellow lettering. Click on that, find Phog Lounge in the list, and simply click our name and click the vote button at the bottom.

The more you do this, the more realistic the chances are of us winning.
WE’RE VERY FAR BEHIND. Here’s the timeline:
Wednesday, January 28: Searchlight long list announced and voting begins at http://www.cbcradio3.com
Tuesday, February 3: Top 50 will be announced
Wednesday, February 11: Top 20 will be announced
Wednesday, February 18: Top 10 will be announced
Wednesday, February 25: Final winner will be announced

You see, when you made your voices heard earlier, you shocked the CBC Radio 3 people. Shocked them. And now they’re telling me to tell you, THIS is what counts. You want to see Phog win this thing from the cliche behemoths that are always mentioned in live music? Vote now. Vote often.
Maybe I’ll try reminding you without being annoying.

Thanks again.

Winners get to SAY they are the best live music venue in Canada, which is pretty outstanding , a live concert will be presented by CBC Radio 3 in the winning venue, a Sirius satellite radio plus subscription gets installed, CBC Radio 3 clothing, etc for staff along with the hardware – a winning plaque and trophy – are delivered.
Please make this happen.

You can’t do that.

picture-41I just read something nice.
It simply proved something I thought true, but that I was told is impossible.
You see, being at Phog, it’s not uncommon to wax futuristic and wonder what the world might hold for us (or vice versa).
When the topic got to cars, and how we’re making vehicles in Windsor that few consumers want anymore, even the artists (lefties) at the bar were nagging, “Well, what the hell can they do to them? Huh? Nothing!”
“Well guys, what if Windsor was a city that decided they didn’t like the status quo. What if people ditched their cookie-cutter cars for older cars, the ones they used to make with steel…and had them retro-fit with eco-friendly parts, making them not only road-safe, but more environmental than ever…maybe even making them electrical? Imagine what the streets would LOOK like! You wouldn’t look out of a window and see what EVERY North American sees. You’d see something unique! And it would all be in part to the engineering and manufacturing prowess in this city!”
Bucky, a local enviro-guy, brilliant guy, was the actual person who hatched this idea some weeks and weeks earlier. I loved his idea. Preserving the past, but doing one better and making something new and refreshing to the eye while blowing a kiss to Mother Nature at the same time.
The people at the bar, most times I reintroduce Bucky’s idea for the sake of dreaming, almost always get out of sorts and try to think of all the ways this idea can’t work.
As a matter of habit, this is how my community OFTEN approaches new ideas and concepts about absolutely anything. They think of all the ways it can’t work before they think of all the ways it can. I can’t be sure, but I wonder if they are just talking themselves out of participating if it ever DOES happen.
This frustration has guided me to some new groups of folks who foster and develop new ideas. Thanks to you, you know who you are…

But back to this article I read at the beginning of this post.
HERE’S THE LINK TO IT.
Apparently, there is a company in the US who is way ahead of us, and WAY ahead of the naysayers I lock eyes and wits with almost every shift.

They take gas guzzlers, and make them more acceptable vehicles. Old, new, whatever.
The working class in Windsor could do this in their sleep. I wish the creative spirit drove someone to these lengths. I don’t feel it’s my obligation to “find” the right people and get them fired up to start a company doing this, because SO MANY people in this city could do this work. It would be wonderful if they’d just emerge on their own, and shock this motor city under their own volition, like the company currently doing so in the United States.

I really never listen to anyone who tells me, “You can’t do that,” anymore.

Local food, local business, and how you can get mad.

picture-54It was a breath of fresh air to read Rino’s recent post about local support, and how frustrating it can be when it’s being used as a buzzword instead of a genuine way of doing business.

He also started a new blog for his business, Black Kettle Bistro, which he’s using as a soapbox for all things related to the business, and community in general. You should be checking it out anyway.

It’s tough a a business to do truly local business without some sort of infrastructure of locality being fostered by other business owners. Yes, there’s a paradox. Chicken or the egg.

Rino sounds like he’s more than willing to investigate where we can spend our money, as business owners, in the local economy, keeping our money here, avoiding the chains, rewarding our neighbours’ efforts to keep money within the community. We need more of this.

I encourage you to click on the link in the first sentence of this post to read Rino’s rant about local food, and the hypocrisy of myopic “buy local cars” sentiments by people who couldn’t find a local business in a phone book.

I know that the point is to be positive and move forward…but often, from the ground-level (the business-owner point of view) the awakening often begins from a spark of anger, feeling disrespected and forgotten. The concentration of that vitriol toward education of others, and varied business practice is the best we can do for now, without a strong, convenient local-business (food particularly) infrastructure.

Windsor Star reject

Okay, this is something I wrote for the Star.
I wrote it last week in the hopes that it would bring to light the group FedUp! They’re Windsor’s Community Gardening Network.
They had a WICKED veggie chili cook-off at the Windsor Workers Action Centre this Thursday that went by. The chili was so dynamic and different! Espresso veggie chili, raw (uncooked) veggie chili, blonde-with-mangoes veggie chili, and other wonderful tasting chili was showcased.
AND Jhoan won a raffle prize! Here’s a picture of her victory sticker! So awesome! These things, as posters, are selling for $500 right now.
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Here’s the story that was late for the Monday paper. I just didn’t think to write it early enough, but I wanted to share it nonetheless.

FedUp!
By Tom Lucier

I have almost no idea where my food comes from. If I said that 75 years ago, people would think I was insane. Today, most people are clueless of not only what they put in their mouths, but where it was grown.

FedUp! Windsor’s Community Gardening Network is on the opposite end of this knowledge spectrum. They are part of a locavore movement, bringing together local food growers, gardeners, and those concerned about food-health.

According to co-creator of FedUp!, Maya Ruggles, the group has four mandates, “To strengthen the local food system…to start gardens collectively and democratically…to reclaim the urban landscape (to start gardens)…and to re-skill people in all the things going into local food production and consumption.”

This enormous uphill project is remarkably appealing because it looks to remind Windsor-folk of just how verdant this area’s land can be. I was scratching my head as to why I have to buy a tomato from California (4800 kilometers away) when Heinz, located in the tomato capital of Canada (Leamington) is exactly 48 kilometers away from my front door.

FedUp! seeks to ratify these incongruent arrangements in several ways. But the group is young, and small. “Right now it’s totally volunteer run,” said Ruggles. FedUp! is two and a half years old, operating on a very small budget while donations, especially from OPIRG (Windsor’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group) have been instrumental in keeping the group afloat.

FedUp! is most concerned about getting members, who can sit on committees. Volunteers are needed on an event-to-event basis, which will have a higher demand in this new year as they begin hosting more and more events

Currently, the group hosts movie nights, potlucks, creates gardens for places including the Citizens Environment Alliance, Ecohouse, and Iris House, and hosts workshops on composting, urban foraging, and cook-off competitions.

Currently, there’s a mapping project on the horizon which aims to, “map out un-harvested sources of food…fruit trees that aren’t harvested, or edible bushes,” said Ruggles. They hope to map un-harvested edibles on public and private land.
Ruggles added, “The next step would be to coordinate people…to actually do the harvesting and distribute the food, or use it in some way.”

The mapping project, which would be immense, could also help network gardeners and locavores. Another positive spin-off, according to Ruggles, would be, “connecting people that garden who don’t have land with people who do have land that don’t garden it.”

Judging by my gardening woes, my wife and I will both be paying more attention to this group’s happenings. We’re similarly fed up with getting food from places we’ve never visited when we’re sitting on underused, underappreciated, concrete-covered land when the food that could sustain us is waiting to be grown in our own backyards.

NIMBY on CJAM for January 13th, 2009

picture-71Adam and I had a great show today.
I had to record my interview very last minute (yesterday), and edit it very late last night.
Maya Ruggles from FedUp Windsor Community Gardening, came to Phog last night so I could interview her, as she had knee surgery this morning, when I might have been able to do a phone interview. She was game for a phone interview, from home, no less than two hours after her surgery, but having had two knee surgeries (including something very similar to her procedure today) there is no way I would expect ANYONE to talk to me for 10 minutes after that gruesomeness.

The piece was maybe one of the best I’ve done since Adam and I started recording Not In My Backyard. I just got a real sense of groundbreaking, up-and-coming buzz around the work that Maya and FedUp is doing. It was great to talk with her and to get a greater appreciation for what they’ve done and for what lies ahead. I think I see some volunteering in Jhoan’s and my future with FedUp.

Adam interviewed Chris Mangin of Artcite over the phone, and discussed Art’s Birthday. No, not the dude, Art…but art, the expression. It’s having its 1,000,046th birthday this year, and is being celebrated at Phog Lounge. During the interview, I was surprised to learn that The Situationists (Socialist Parisian artists in the 60s) had a hand in how this event is celebrated. For those of you paying extra-close attention, The Situationists were the “originators” of psychogeography, something I’ve been involved in locally a bit, and would often travel through Paris with a map of London, TRYING to get lost in order to see the city from different eyes.

If you missed the show and you want to listen, go OVER HERE!!