How to Marry your Business Partner: Weaving a ritual container for right relationship in business

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By Alla Guelber

The bride and groom enter the room from opposite corners as the upbeat electro swing of the Formidable Vegetable Sound System’sGet Together” pipes in.

He nervously adjusts his large white and blue top hat while looking out on to the assembled room of fifty or so friends, family, colleagues and clients, takes a deep breath and approaches his bride. She is resplendent in a flowing green and blue gown, decorated with a profusion of flowers and sprigs of greenery, carrying curly Russian kale, plump golden beets, spry little radishes and more, assembled in an ambitious mid-winter bouquet of last fall’s bounty.

“We are gathered here tonight in the presence of Gaia and all of our relations on traditional Blackfoot Territory.  We are joining in ceremony similar to one celebrated by countless cultures around the world… gathered to witness and support the creation of a fruitful and symbiotic relationship,” says the officiant.

They approach the rest of their wedding party: the best man, dressed as a voluminous yellow chicken (this is, of course, longstanding friend and mentor Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture), and me, the mastermind and maid-of-honour for this most lovely and unusual of celebrations.

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The reGenerate Design business wedding party. Photo courtesy Chad Chudyk

And so, with great pomp and circumstance, Mike Unrau, in the guise of the Fantastic Mr. Fox, opened the Business Wedding Ceremony for reGenerate Design, represented by the business’s principal owners, Lindsay Meads and Adrian Buckley.

Thus begins a community ritual several months in the making to celebrate two friends and business partners committing to working together, not only in right relationship with each other as colleagues, but also in alignment with their shared values in ecology, permaculture, and community.

Ensconced in a warm community space in downtown Calgary as winter winds howl outside on the first Saturday in February, Lindsay, Adrian, and their friends, colleagues and family members set strong intentions for a business that not only creates right livelihood for its owners, but sends out wider ripples true to their business mandate of holistic design solutions and empowering people to be leaders for positive change.

Plant nerd jokes, permaculture theory, well-wishes and light-hearted humour all interweave in a tight circle of connectivity, creating a ritual container to hold the larger-than-life endeavour of the “Great Work” that permaculture designers like Lindsay and Adrian take on as their chosen meaningful work.

Mike continues: “Both Lindsay and Adrian deeply respect the earth-based traditions in their personal and professional lives; Lindsay comes with a rich history in urban design and environmental geology and Adrian comes with experience in botany and community design. Together, they share a deep passion for ecologically and socially regenerative systems.”

Weaving community
As friends, colleagues, and co-conspirators, Adrian and Lindsay arrived into my life at approximately the same time. I met Adrian at the inaugural Calgary Harvest pick in October 2009 (Calgary Harvest is an urban fruit recovery initiative). At the time, Adrian was also actively starting a new permaculture design company called Big Sky Permaculture. In the spring of 2010, Lindsay attended the first-ever Meaningful Work Retreat that I organized, where Adrian was a guest presenter.

Fast forward to 2015. As their business “matchmaker”, I reveled in the joy of their individual journeys toward meaningful work converging in such a momentous occasion.

“The wedding ritual is one of the most powerful rituals in Western society,” says Sarah Kerr, owner of Soul Passages and founding director of the Holistic Death Network in Calgary. Sarah is a death midwife, celebrant and facilitator who offers nature-based spiritual support to individuals and communities navigating illness, death and loss.

A week prior to the business wedding, we all had a sense of the importance and gravity of the words spoken during the ceremony, and it took Sarah’s deep experience and insight to ensure that we created an appropriate ritual container.

“By formalizing their business partnership in a community ceremony, Lindsay and Adrian honoured the sacred aspect of their work. The ritual invited their human community and the larger living world, to participate in and support their endeavour,” Sarah says.

Sarah’s teaching reminds us that as we move forward in the work of ensuring that humans are a regenerative force on the earth, it is important to remember to weave ourselves back into an intimate relationship with the earth that sustains us.

“As healers and visionaries for a new world, permaculture designers and change-makers of all kinds have an opportunity to create appropriate rituals. These ceremonies help to anchor us in the wisdom and tradition of the infinite healing powers of the Earth, and honour those who have come before us,” she adds.

At this challenging junction in human history, the work of earth repair and people care can be deeply supported by personal and community rituals that anchor and sustain us in this transformative work.

Spades in the soil
Returning to the community room, warmed with repeated peals of laughter, the Fantastic Mr. Fox continues with an effusive, even theatrical flourish:

“If the sun is the guiding light, then ethical protocol is the torch that holds the flame.  In the permaculture tradition, ethics are the greatest manifestation of principled action to benefit the planet and people.”

Partyguests-AG“I am to remind you of the serious nature of the relationship you are now about to enter.  Therefore, if any persons can show just and sufficient reason why these two businesses cannot be joined in a business merger, let them now declare reasons, or from this time forward, forever keep their spade in their own soil.”

Peals of laughter erupt from the room. A little girl in a bunny costume darts across the room. Bright eyes and red cheeks spread out amongst our brightly coloured guests donning various stages of earth-themed costume radiate warmth, love and support.

At that point, inspired by the Celtic ritual of the warming of the rings, we passed around the Unanimous Shareholders Agreement. The business partners asked each person in attendance bestow their wishes upon this agreement to help and support the business in moving forward.

Asking each business wedding guest to spend time offering their blessings and positive intentions into the Unanimous Shareholders Agreement created an additional layer of structure and support into the ceremony.

“Ritual provides a structure through which energy can flow. People aren’t very often given structures through which they can flow love and support – and this ritual was about sharing love and support. This energy is real, real and it matters. That’s why the community warming of the rings – or the business agreement in this case – is so powerful,” Sarah explains.

Sharing Vows
Adrian and Lindsay wrote their own business vows, and, at this point in the ceremony, they recited them in unison in front of their assembled guests:

“We engage in transparent communication based on mutual respect.

“By continually understanding each others’ gifts and talents, we balance and support each others’ professional growth.

“We maintain a healthy degree of separation between our professional and personal lives. The business creates meaningful, fulfilling and sustainable livelihoods for us.

“We are professional, organized and unrushed. Our approach to problem solving is solutions-oriented. We activate and inspire people to create positive change in the community.

“We have fun!”

Mike then continued: “I now call upon you both in the presence of family and friends, and in the presence of this land, to benefit future generations, and deepen our connection to Mother Earth, and commit to the important work of being a regenerative force on the great lands and waters of this abundant world. Please repeat after me…”

Lindsay repeated: “I commit to you in a business partnership / until such a point / when it is better for the both of us / and for the world / for each of us to move in our separate ways.”

Adrian followed, “I commit to you in a business partnership / until such a point / when it is better for the both of us / and for the world / for each of us to move in our separate ways.”

With this statement, the audience lets out a deep sigh.

And the final icing on the cake, Mike said, “Now, I shall ask you to exchange your business cards, to finalize this business merger.”

Adrian and Lindsay exchanged business cards, and Mike added:

“As life is not without death, with these cards, Big Sky Permaculture will now serve as business mulch and sprout anew as reGenerate Design through both of their mycelial networks.”

“In the name of Bill Mollison and Jane Jacobs and by the power vested in all of us collaboratively, I now proclaim reGenerate Design Ltd. to be a new business. I now pronounce you business partners in right relationship to each other and your business. You may pound your fists!”

Business bride and groom sign the Unanimous Shareholders Agreement

Business bride and groom sign the Unanimous Shareholders Agreement

And so, with some fist pounding and the signing of the Unanimous Shareholders Agreement, the deed was done.

After the ceremony, we enjoyed three sisters burritos, honouring the sacred New World triad of corn, beans and squash, and a lovely potluck, as well as local mead and beer. We doled out small potted plants as prizes for best costumes. Adrian, Mike and several other friends performed live music, and the evening concluded with a DJ.

The business wedding served as a memorable, meaningful and creative way to recognize a significant commitment and transition in the lives of two business partners.

As Rachel Carson famously wrote in Silent Spring, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

And this well-intentioned, at-times silly, at times immensely deep ritual in the dark time of winter served to anchor in a new awareness for valuing age-old ritual. It planted seeds of structure, intention and support to lend energy and direction for the business’s continuous thriving. The partners in reGenerate Design and others like them engage in meaningful work that is far more than drafting and landscape design. Through their concerted efforts, they are contributing to the healing of our world, and the more that they and others are supported by community, as well as ritual process, the stronger their work will become.

This article is also posted at: http://regeneratedesign.ca/archives/787

Grief and Cultural Transformation

Acknowledging the distance between vision and a more beautiful world

By Alla Guelber

As I sat in a session at Living the New Economy, a five-day gathering of leaders in articulating and developing the emerging new economy, hot crocodile tears streamed down my face.

All of a sudden, everything that I had been feeling hit me like a raging torrent.

During this exciting, inspiring conference, my dear mentor and friend Mark Lakeman, architect and permaculture designer, as well as founder of the City Repair Project shared not only his vision for the “more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” (to borrow a phrase from Charles Eisenstein), but the reality that he experiences in his day-to-day life in Portland, Oregon.

As Mark spoke, in the inspiring overtones of a great orator, he took us all on a journey like a raft on a river, coming across magical and inspiring possibilities for a different way of being in our modern, industrialized cities, stopping for a brief interlude at the world’s first 24-hour solar-powered T-Station, then perhaps over to the Cat Palace, a little meander to the chicken coop shaped like a lovely, giant red-beaked chicken, and back over to the beautiful mandala painted in the middle of his neighbourhood intersection, acting as the universal cross-roads where people meet, interact, and foster strong community ties.

The Block Repair activity looks at ways to create more connectivity and connection on the neighbourhood level. Mark Lakeman is in front. (Taken at the Living the New Economy, 2014)

The Block Repair activity looks at ways to create more connectivity and connection on the neighbourhood level. Mark Lakeman is in front. (Taken at the Living the New Economy, 2014)

These brightly-painted amenities are not merely interesting art installations or functional public infrastructure. Through the dialogues that lead to their creation and ongoing upkeep, the development of these interventions have resulted in tangible improvements to quality of life, safety, and community integration in the neighbourhoods where they were created, and expanded to influence the overall culture in Portland and beyond. Find out more about the Planet Repair Institute in Portland.

This time, as I absorbed Mark’s stories and reflected on my own experiences with community building, it hit me, with ever-increasing intensity: the wide chasm between my reality and the world that I yearn to live in.

I took in the presentation with two other dear friends – Lindsay Meads of reGenerate Design and Kym Chi of Giggling Chi Tree. Earlier in 2014, along with urban designer Natalia Zoldak, the four of us had hosted Mark in our home city, Calgary, for five days of inspiring workshops on urban placemaking and permaculture through a grassroots project, City Repair Calgary.

The poster from all of the learning engagements that City Repair Calgary hosted in July 2014

The poster from all of the learning engagements that City Repair Calgary hosted in July 2014

All this to say, I had already been deeply steeped in exploring alternative possibilities for urban living and in many ways had my finger on the pulse of creating this more beautiful world that my heart knows is possible.

And yet, there is still a chasm between my day-to-day reality and the world I want to live in.

As I say this, I’m quick to try to minimize my pain, to reframe this experience and start listing all of the people, opportunities and amazing examples of community that I have been truly blessed to experience in my life (for a few links, see below). The opportunities to travel and study in Oregon, work directly with a visionary like Mark Lakeman and bring him to teach in Calgary, have all been life-changing opportunities.

To have the time, opportunity and access to information that allows me to imagine this different future is an immense privilege, and I constantly remind myself of the many gifts I have received in my life. But that is not the point in this instant.

When grief comes, there is a reason.

This way of life that I envision emerges from what we know in our hearts, in our bones, in our cellular memories – or in many of the great ancient cities that we fly to visit on vacation. This is the way people are supposed to live. This is the way we have lived for millennia in towns and villages across the world. Where neighbours know each other, where families live in close proximity, where the wellbeing of each individual is a crucial contributor to the wellbeing of the entire community.

And it was in this remembering, and in the grief that comes with a sense of alienation and disconnect, that I broke down and let the torrent of tears cleanse my heart.

“Grief is an act of transformation.” This was one of the key ideas that emerged on a panel of strong, inspiring women on the Remembrance Day panel hosted at that same conference in 2015.

On that panel, four visionary women from across British Columbia shared the different ways that they have experienced the need to move through the powerful emotions we experience as we go through the storm of sociocultural transition.

Mark and his colleagues, friends, and collaborators have instigated a powerful cultural transformation in their city. The oft-parodied experience of Portlandia isn’t just about pickling strange objects or ironically putting birds on things.

The underlying reality is that there is a major experiment going on with a radically different way to engage with communities and neighbours in all manner of life interaction. And no, Portland (or Victoria, or Vancouver) isn’t some magical fairyland, but there are many things they are getting right in those cities. Not solely based on the quirkiness of the city’s residents, but by design. And, increasingly, major transformations are starting to take place in Calgary’s urban landscape as well, creating more opportunities for community interaction and citizen empowerment.

As we move from the old economy and the new, we experience periods of grief and we need to create opportunities to let ourselves feel those feelings. It is not a smooth, linear process. There are set-backs, confusion, reflection, regrouping, and an eventual re-inspiration to head back out into the fray. DSC_0483

As I started to process my experiences and posted about them on Facebook, comments started coming in from my friends and colleagues.

“All the words and facts in the world won’t change a thing until people move from guilt to grief to gratitude. Cultural transformation will have to happen out of love and compassion not guilt and fear,” added one friend.

“Grief is necessary to keep people humble and remind them of things that cannot be changed and remind them of things that can,” expanded another.

Grieving Rituals

One person who has helped me learn about the transformative power of grief is Sarah Kerr, of Soul Passages, a death midwife and ceremonialist.

Sarah has great gifts in helping people who are ill or near death prepare for crossing over, and creating the appropriate rituals and ceremonies that help both the individuals who are dying or experiencing a major loss and their families to be able to embrace the change they are going through with grace and humility.

While I have not experienced Sarah’s rituals in the context of death, I regularly attend her New Moon Rituals and recently joined the Community Healers’ Council.

Sarah teaches that the more we are able to transition gracefully between all of the smaller starts and ends to the cycles of life, the more gracefully we will be able to handle the ‘big ones.’

Attending the New Moon Ritual is about letting go of the previous month, and any challenges or impediments might have arisen, grounding in the experience of the present moment, and setting intentions for what might happen in the coming cycle.

Grief and gratitude come from the same place.

Only when we truly experience the deep grief of human experience can we return back into our hearts to experience the emotion that sits on the other end of that spectrum.

As the heart breaks, the heart breaks open.

Joanna Macy is an elder in the movement to create a space for grief as part of the essential process for reconnection and “coming back to life”. She calls her process The Work that Reconnects. Writing, teaching and facilitating extensively over the past 50 years, Macy has created a powerful framework for moving through personal and societal transition. (More on her revolutionary work in future blog posts). She writes:

“In owning this pain, and daring to experience it, we learn that our capacity to suffer with is the true meaning of compassion. We begin to know the immensity of our heart-mind, and how it helps us to move beyond fear. What had isolated us in private anguish now opens outward and delivers us into wider reaches of our world as lover, world as self.”  Find out more about The Work that Reconnects.

Back to the day-to-day

Gratitude for the beauty and abudance of nature is important in the process of recovery.

Gratitude for the beauty and abundance of nature is important in the process of recovery.

I experience chronic pain and fatigue on a daily basis. Some days are better than others. Some days I feel far too tired to go on and I am mired in a fog of sadness and despondency about the difficulty of this physical existence. My mind can leap and run far beyond the constraints of my challenged body, and I am often at odds between the thoughts, ideas, plans and projects that my mind cooks up and the very real constraints imposed on me by my physical limitations.

Other days, my heart brims with gratitude for even the shortest experience of vitality and energy. I am able to connect to the infinite source of energy and love that exists in this universe, and step outside of the false perception that my physical experience of this reality can limit me in any way.

These polarities exist within my own body, and they exist within our shifting world.

We all carry the grief of what we have lost and the grief of what’s broken in our world. We also all carry the deep propensity for love, hope, healing and interconnectedness.

Whether it’s the shooting pain in my hip, or the deep pain of witnessing polluted waterways and overloaded landfills, there is palpable sadness in the ways that so much does not work or flow in my – and our shared global – present reality.

And this sadness, this indescribably deep grief, needs to be felt.

I have learned, when working through my chronic pain, that in the body, physical and emotional pain is not separate.

Emotions, when not expressed as feelings, can become lodged in the body in the form of physical pain.

Could it be that all of the immense and senseless ugliness that we see in our external environment is an outward manifestation of all this unexpressed, unprocessed inner grief?

It is only through truly deeply feeling the grief of the world can we start to transform these intense emotions into tangible actions that lead to larger-scale change.

Deepening the understanding of grief as a process of transformation
Books

Active Hope: How to Face the Mess we’re in Without Going Crazy By Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible, and other works by Charles Eisenstein

The Smell of Rain on Dust by Martin Prechtel

Inspiring people and organizations

Mark Lakeman, Planet Repair Institute and The City Repair Project (Based in Portland, Oregon)

Joanna Macy and her work (Based in Berkeley, California)

Living the New Economy Conference (Based in Victoria, BC)

Healing Cities Institute (Based in Vancouver, BC)

reGenerate Design (Based in Calgary, AB)

Giggling Chi Tree (Based in Roberts Creek, BC)

Living the New Economy: A Learning Journey

The City Repair Calgary guild of 2014, (l-r): Alla Guelber (Meaningful Work Project); Lindsay Meads (reGenerate Design); Kym Chi (Giggling Chi Tree); Natalia Zoldak (Great Public Spaces).

The City Repair Calgary guild of 2014, (l-r): Alla Guelber (Meaningful Work Project); Lindsay Meads (reGenerate Design); Kym Chi (Giggling Chi Tree); Natalia Zoldak (Great Public Spaces).

Living the New Economy: A Learning Journey to Victoria and beyond

Every once in a while, there comes a time and a necessity to break away from the day-to-day and step into a space of wandering in the halls of creativity and inspiration. As we take in the gallery of ideas and possibilities, rub shoulders, share hugs and open our hearts to the wide spectrum of social, cultural and economic transformation, we let go of the reality as we know it, and can dream a new world into being.

Every couple of months, I feel the need to slide out my routine of feet-on-the-pavement, doing-the-work to yet again step back into the space of visioning and exploring.

This summer, by creating a new guild with my friends and colleagues coming with our own projects and organizations, but all sharing the dream of engaging Calgarians in a creative re-imagining of public space, we planted the seeds for new projects to spur on the culture of innovation and creativity that is rapidly taking shape in Calgary by revitalizing the group City Repair Calgary.

DSC_0214 DSC_0219From July 17-20, 2014, City Repair Calgary hosted four separate learning events that brought out more than 400 Calgarians with hands-on, interactive learning opportunities with Mark Lakeman and Mighk Simpson, and linking that with current initiatives and future opportunities in Calgary. Mark is a visionary architect and permaculture teacher and instigator of City Repair Project and Communitecture in Portland, Oregon who we had the honour of hosting along with Mighk for five intensive days of teaching and presentations in Calgary this past July.

Following the  successes of our summer engagements, we had to take some much needed time to rest, regroup and focus on other things moving forward…but now it’s time to dive in again!

For the next two weeks, Lindsay Meads, founder of the urban design, permaculture, and placemaking firm reGenerate Design and I are stepping out of our day-to-day to tour around the West Coast, meet with friends and colleagues, share ideas and document the inspirations we encounter along the way. We will continue to build on the various projects we have spear-headed and continue to envision what is our place within this emerging new economy that we so eagerly want to contribute to.

LivingNewEconomyThe Itinerary

To start our trip, we will arrive to Victoria, BC, where we’ll be reconnecting with our dear friend Mighk Simpson. Following five years of living and learning in Portland at the Planet Repair Institute, Mighk recently started a PhD at the University of Victoria. He makes his new home at Mason Street Farm, where their motto is “education through cultivation.”

Starting on Monday morning, we’ll be joining in to Living the New Economy (the LNE), a week-long gathering focused on breathing the new economy into life.

“LNE Global Live is your access point to creating a new economic reality. It’s a conversation and exploration of new ideas, new ways of living to create abundance, equality and sustainability.”

Mark Lakeman will be presenting on the final “Integration” day of the conference while Edmonton-based Tad Hargrave, owner of Marketing for Hippies, will offer a full day of interactive workshops on Marketing the New Economy.

Tad has been innovating in the domain of ethical marketing and communications, and we’ve learned a great deal from his practical yet deeply thoughtful and intuitive approach. Finally, we are excitedly looking forward to finally meeting and hearing from Charles Eisenstein, one of North America’s leading authors and philosophers who is helping shape the vision for the “More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.”

That’s just part 1. Following our time in Victoria, we will venture to the charming village of Roberts Creek to spend time with our colleague, permaculture educator and artist Kym Chi, founder of education company Giggling Chi Tree, as we dive deeper into strategic planning and visioning on future projects into 2015.

Finally, we’ll end our trip in Vancouver, visiting innovative places such as the Hive, Sole Food Street Farms , the Vancouver Tool Library and City Commons, and interacting with our community-change counterparts.

Follow our adventures through the Meaningful Work Project Blog, on Facebook through City Repair Calgary, The Meaningful Work Project and reGenerate Design, and through Twitter: @MeaningfulWkPrj and @reGenerateDesgn.

Committing to Place: Re-making the Urban Landscape (pt. 2)

Part 2: Re-making the Urban Landscape

(Read Part 1 of this article, Committing to Place: Intentional Rural Living)

By Alla Guelber

After five rejuvenating days off-grid at Breitenbush Hot Springs, my friend Lindsay and I – and five of our new friends from the course – loaded into a white van for the two hour ride into Portland to get dropped off at our next destination. DSC_1309

We arrived in South East Portland, where a remarkable gem of community living can be found innocuously concealed on a quiet city block. Our host, Jordan Fink, himself one of the original founders of City Repair, eagerly welcomed us to Fosterville.

Prior to arriving at Fosterville, I’d learned from their fundraising video (as well as online discussions with Jordan), that this was an urban eco-village of three houses, 12 people, 10 chickens, four ducks, two bee hives, and more than 100 species of plants and trees. With two combined lots, the ecovillage takes up nearly 1/3 acre of land. Started 10 years ago as one house situated on a gravel lot, it has grown through their collaborative efforts into a food forest, a resource for neighbors and other people in the community on sustainable living practices, a habitat for migrating birds, the home of the first fully permitted straw bale house in Portland, a gathering place for community and much more.

Welcome to Fosterville

Welcome to Fosterville

Lindsay and I were welcomed with open arms, as we were invited to join in for shared community meals, philosophical conversations, sight-seeing, a political organizing potluck, as well as to share our own work in community economic development and social permaculture.

Several days after we arrived, we hosted a Sunday afternoon workshop on meaningful work in the Purple ‘Art house’s living room, called Meaningful Work: Creating Opportunities in the New Economy. We had connected with our hosts initially through the Meaningful Work Project (an initiative that I founded in 2009, and Lindsay has been involved with consistently since she attended the first Meaningful Work Retreat in 2010).

Throughout the rest of the week, Jordan graciously toured us throughout the 20 year history of Portland’s urban revitalization. We visited the place that began it all, Share-it Square, where neighbours have gathered every year to host a block party and re-paint their intersection. In addition, they have created shared bulletin boards, the longest running free public tea station in the world, and an outdoor, covered play space for the neighbourhood’s children.

We stumbled onto Oak’s Bottom Forge, an urban forge, located in a visible storefront, where patrons can purchase hand-forged knives or take hands-on classes to learn how to do their own blacksmithing work.

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A community-run playhouse at Share-It Square in Portland.

We visited a number of other sites, showing the true power of community when neighbours feel empowered to gather and act toward a common goal.

Eager to create functional public spaces as well as experiment with green building techologies, Portlanders built benches and green roofs on neighbourhood notice boards until technology regulations caught up to allow for larger-scale projects that now pepper the Pacific North West.

A community message board helps neighbours connect

A pac-mac inspired Little Library offers up VHS for anyone interested in retro videos.

They are all examples of placemaking, one of the most effective tools available for community building that brings neighbours together as part of the project planning, consultation and construction processes. These projects have successfully made neighbourhoods safer by slowing traffic and lowering crime rates and helped to create resiliency through continued community engagement.

(left-right): Jordan Fink, Alla Guelber, Mark Lakeman and Lindsay Meads.

(left-right): Jordan Fink, Alla Guelber, Mark Lakeman and Lindsay Meads.

DSC_1453

Students at Oaks Bottom Forge learn how to work with metal

There is more to share on the many outstanding examples of community collaboration in Portland, but the question remained: what could be glean from all of this inspiration, and return back to our burgeoning city on the other side of the Rocky Mountains?

Inspired by our experiences in Oregon, we decided to partner with Kym Chi of Giggling Chi Tree, an artist and permaculture teacher as well as urban designer Natalia Zoldak to bring Mark Lakeman to Calgary.

We wanted to offer Calgarians an opportunity to hear firsthand about the way communities can gather to create long-lasting, tangible change on the neighbourhood level. Community bookshelves, impromptu street tea parties in the street, neighbourhood “water coolers”, community gardens, and more helped shape Portland’s vibrant, village culture. These smaller projects gave way to major changes in the public right of way, leading to ever-greater support for citizen-led projects from the municipal government. Eventually, changes to public ordinances and bylaws dramatically shifted what was possible in Portland, and led to the creation of the innovative green city we see today.

For the City Repair Calgary team, it’s realizing a long-time dream to bring Mark back to Calgary to share his unique brand of urban revitalization.

Please join us for two exciting learning experiences:

Cracks in the Pavement: Placemaking and the Remaking of a Modern City with Mark Lakeman

Thursday July 17, 7pm – 9pm | Doors: 6:30 pm
John Dutton Theatre, Calgary Public Library. 616 Macleod Trail SE
Advance Tickets: $20 Regular, $15 Student | Door Tickets: $25 Regular, $20 Student 100% Calgary Dollars Accepted

This presentation will provide an overview of how North American communities are retrofitting their neighborhoods through grassroots involvement. By gathering and discussing how they experience and feel about their own communities, residents are able to identify both strengths and places for improvement in the environments where they live. In short, we will look at how we can create the sense of living in a village in the city. This presentation will also illustrate detailed examples of new forms of shared community amenities, including urban agriculture, community gathering places, alternative transport amenities, youth-involvement projects and more.

More info and registration:http://cracksinthepavement.brownpapertickets.com

Weekend Workshop: Placemaking Nuts and Bolts with Mark Lakeman and Friends

July 18, Meet and Greet, 6pm – 9pm | Blank Page Studio | 1221 B Kensington RD NW
July 19 & 20, 9am – 5pm | ContainR in Sunnyside

Full Price: $250 | Student/Low Income: $150 | Scholarships available | Calgary Dollars accepted up to 25%

Portland’s Mark Lakeman and Mighk Simpson host a 2.5 day workshop together with local community experts. Over the weekend, we will learn:

-The foundations and theory of placemaking
-How to build more functional and creative relationships on the neighbourhood level
-How to assess the needs and wants of the neighbourhoods we live in
-To create our own placemaking activities or initiatives
-Ways to overcome and work with City bylaws and ordinances

To close our time together we will put our skills into action and facilitate a public placemaking festival at the ContainR site, in conjunction with the Sun and Salsa Festival in Kensington. This adventure has been designed for individuals or groups who want to make change at a grassroots level with the participation of neighbours and friends and through the deepening of relationships where they live.

More info and registration: http://nutsandboltsofplacemaking.brownpapertickets.com    

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