Thursday, December 28, 2006

MacDonald needs to create murmurs on our streets

Longtime councillor Bill MacDonald needs to create a stir. More precisely a murmur on the streets of Cobourg this year. And, he can turned to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal for inspiration.
[murmur] is an archival audio project that collects and curates tories set in specific locations by the people living there. At each location, a [murmur] sign with a telephone number and location code marks where the stories are available. By using a mobile phone, users can listen to the story while experiencing being there. In some cases, the listener can walk around, following a certain path through a place, while others allow a person to wander. The locations are marked by a big green ear on a utility pole with the phone number on it and location code.
The project, which was initially developed with the assistance of the Canadian Film Centre, launched in Toronto's Kensington Market in 2003, with similar projects in Vancouver's Chinatown and St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal. It is now available in the Annex and The Drake Hotel as part of Toronto's Culture Capital program.
This is an incredible use of technology married with culture. For a place like Cobourg (or any of the historic towns in Northumberland), it is an amazing idea. Rather than having to organize walking tours, one is available at the push of a few buttons. Not only does it highlight the amazing architecture and history of our town, but the local stories being told by people would make it an archive of vital information that can be stored for future generations. Tourists would love it for the ease of use. The town may also choose to have a few extra cell phone to be used for a nominal fee for those who do not have the technology.
MacDonald needs to be more than a voice around a table and a town representative at cultural events. Cobourg is brimming with culture, but has no cultural master plan to perserve its history or maintain the existing resource, many who are left to fend for themselves. Little if any money is given to cultural organizations. It is often left up to them to raise enough money to survive. Municipal governments have a huge role to play in coordinating cultural activity. This kind of project is a natural.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Remember another kind of hero

It is not unusual to stand in Victoria Park in the cold to remember heros. Every November 11, members of Cobourg Legion gather around the cenotaph to respectfully honour those soldiers who died in battle to protect our freedoms.

Another group will be gathering in the same spirit on December 6 to honour their fallen friends. On the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, citizens from across Northumberland will come together at the Gathering Place on the east side of Church Street near the lake where a monument will soon be erected to honour women who have died at the hands of abusers.

And, while the cairn is yet to be built, it certainly exists in the hearts and minds of those particiating at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, as they remember how on December 6, 1989,  Marc Lepine entered the Ecole Polytechnique at the University of Montreal, gathered up a group of young women and shot 14 of them dead in cold blood.

This year, the remembrance ceremony will hold a special signficiance for people supporting the TAAP - The Abuse Awareness Project, a community-based group made up of colunteers. The mission is to increase awareness of abuse in NOrthumberland County. They hope to inspire courage in those trapped in teh cycle of abuse and to commemorate those who have died. But, they also wish to honour those who live with the motional and psycial scars of abuse.

The event will include a special drumming demonstration, including the Peaceful Arts Drummers.

"It is important today, Dec 6th, that we come together first to grieve and to mourn and also to heal.  Let us remember the galvanizing incident from 17 years ago, when mourning led to outrage and anger turned to action," said Ilona Kaltenhauser, the event's organizer.

So far this year, in Ontario alone 31 women and children
have been murdered by a partner or ex-partner.

It is ridiculous to think we can live in a world without violence. Yet, it can be our goal as a community. Our job each day is to speak out against any type of abusive behaviour we see from others or ourselves.

It is good to see Victoria Park is a place to play and be joyful. It is also a spot where we are serious and mindful when we remember those who give so much, only to lose their life. They are all heros.