Truck Stop: Boyle Renaissance on July 25, 2013

It isn’t by accident that our What the Truck?! events have taken place only in centrally-located, mature neighbourhoods. We knew early on, for a grassroots festival like ours, we needed to choose areas of high residential density and ideally, areas which also boasted high levels of foot traffic. Given we had a promotional budget of $0, we needed to encourage the chance that visitors could stumble upon the festival.

Of course, our secondary reasoning for the venues we have chosen in the past relate to our desire to animate underutilized spaces by showcasing their potential, and encouraging the use of alternative modes of transportation by ensuring pedestrian and transit accessibility.

This is why our upcoming event The Quarters is so exciting. The area has fallen into disrepair over the years, but the City has a grand vision to breathe life back into the area, which will include parks, a direct connection to the river valley, and new commercial and residential developments. One development, the Boyle Renaissance, is well underway, and can be seen as the herald of change in this neighbourhood.

Boyle Renaissance

Boyle Renaissance

Located just east of downtown, the completed first phase not only includes both affordable and market housing in the Welcome Village, but also a community centre. Mack and I toured through the facility in March, and were really impressed by what we saw. The building houses the Boyle Street Community League and also functions as its multi-function community hall – a gym, meeting rooms and even a kitchen can be rented through the league. We’ve been told that certain choice times in the gym have already been fully booked for the year by sports teams.

Boyle Renaissance
Welcome Village

The YMCA occupies the second floor of the building, and runs several programs out of the facility, including a family resource centre, child care centre and a collective kitchen.

We also appreciated some of the aesthetic features, including built-in projection equipment to allow art or films to be showcased just behind the glass walls, and a communal table that will be installed in the outdoor courtyard.

Boyle Renaissance
Community centre

When the City approached us earlier this year about organizing a Truck Stop event at the Boyle Renaissance, we knew it was the perfect fit. Though it may not have the foot traffic of Downtown, Oliver or Old Strathcona, we hope that through events like this, more Edmontonians will be exposed to up-and-coming neighbourhoods like The Quarters.

Join us on July 25, 2013 for our next Truck Stop in The Quarters!

What: Truck Stop: Boyle Renaissance
Where: Boyle Renaissance Plaza, 103A Avenue & 95 Street
When: Thursday, July 25, 2013
Time: 5-8p.m.

Expect children’s activities, music, a movie projection and tours of the new facility. And of course, food!

We are thrilled that four of the food trucks that debuted this year will be joining us that night. This will be one of the best opportunities to try food from several of the newest trucks in town, all in one place!

Menus will be posted at the What the Truck?! website on July 18, so check back then. Hope to see you there!

City Market Report: Week 11 (and Dirt City, Dream City)

By the time we got downstairs to the City Market, it was later in the day and the rain had started to come down.

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Rainy market afternoon

In some ways, this was good for us, because the selection of fresh produce was still quite good, but I acknowledge that the weather wasn’t what vendors were hoping for.

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Sweetheart plums from Steve & Dan’s

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Pattypan squash from Kuhlmann’s

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Zucchini and summer squash from Kuhlmann’s

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Cauliflower from Riverbend Gardens

Thankfully, the rain cleared up that afternoon, and Mack and I took the opportunity to explore Dirt City, Dream City in The Quarters.

Dirt City, Dream City

Examining Crow’s Advice by Holly Newman

Dirt City, Dream City encompasses 17 different art installations spread across the neighbourhood. We weren’t entirely sure how we would locate all of them without a paper guide, but the “scavenger hunt”-like experience turned out to be fun, and the map printed on the descriptive boxes beside each piece was really all we needed. The pedestrian nature of the exhibit was fitting given it is closely tied to how most residents of the neighbourhood get around, and encouraged us down streets we probably wouldn’t have travelled on our own accord.

Dirt City, Dream City

Accompanying artists’ statements and biographies

Along the way, we encountered many different manifestations of art – from Adam Waldron-Blain’s live performance on a construction-ridden street to billboard canvases to an entire community garden.

Dirt City, Dream City

In Performance by Adam Waldron-Blain

The underlying message behind the installations was an expression of the dichotomy between the current reality of The Quarters and the optimistic future plans propagated by the City. Without question, there is progress being made (the YMCA Welcome Village set to open later this year is the first in a series of planned improvements), but after walking past too many derelict buildings and gravel parking lots it’s easy to see why residents would be frustrated.

Dirt City, Dream City

Simulacrum by Carly Greene

Unlike most gallery art we come across, I loved the open air nature of this exhibit, and how they interacted with the natural elements. One good example was Aaron Paquette’s Everyone is Welcome, which was so welcoming that we saw a rabbit settled comfortably in the centre of the piece.

Dirt City, Dream City

Aaron Paquette’s Everyone is Welcome

The Quarters Community Garden by Tiffany Shaw-Collinge also appealed to me because it was a living example of a piece larger than life, engaging residents in tangible art.

Dirt City, Dream City

Quarters Community Garden

The piece that resonated the most with me was The Placebo Effect by Emily van Driesum.

Dirt City, Dream City

The Placebo Effect

I couldn’t agree with her accompanying art statement more:

“A tree encompasses the strength, growth and enduring qualities of The Quarters Downtown, while reflecting Edmonton’s goal of bringing people and greenery back into an urban setting. In The Placebo Effect, stitching implies an attempted healing. However, by removing the root system of the tree, the stitching may not be enough to sustain healing. The Placebo Effect illustrates a potential revitalization of the Quarters community. Without the root system, the attempted healing process may have a beneficial result or no result at all.”

Dirt City, Dream City closes on July 30, 2012. Check it out if you can!