Family Lines

stories for you

Tag: This is My City

Being Human

A piece of art from the TMC exhibit Being Human. See works from TMC programs at Inn From the Cold and The Women's Centre of Calgary, and connect to related short docs by using QR codes and your smart phone. April 3 to April 20, Central Library Art Wall 616 Macleod Trail S.E.

A piece of art from the TMC exhibit Being Human. See works from TMC programs at Inn From the Cold and The Women’s Centre of Calgary, and connect to related short docs by using QR codes and your smart phone. April 3 to April 20, Central Library Art Wall 616 Macleod Trail S.E.

Exhibits, creating art, film screenings and songs circles are just a few events going on at a Calgary festival right now. The This is My City Festival takes place over the month of April. It’s free and there are many things to see and hear and do.

This is My City Calgary Art Society (TMC) is the organizer of the festival.  I’m a volunteer with TMC, a group that matches artists with people living at the margins of society. Together we write, dance, sing and create art.

You’re invited to take in the sights and sounds made by Calgarians from all over our city. Another event tomorrow is a book launch celebrating the second edition of Flood Stories. The book includes pieces of writing from the 2013 flood, from program participants at the Drop-In Centre, Alpha House and the Alex Youth Health Centre. That runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Shelf Life Books, 1302 4 St. S.W.

At the Being Human exhibit on the Central Library Art Wall, you’ll see selected artworks from This is My City  programs at Inn From the Cold and The Women’s Centre of Calgary. You’ll also be able to connect to related short docs by using QR codes and your smart phone.

For the full festival schedule, go here: http://bit.ly/2nMinwK.  It’s a great way to see, hear, read and listen about the people most of us have forgotten.

Festival Time

It’s April and the month full of festival events for This is My City Calgary (TMC). TMC has music, theatre, visual arts and stories for you to experience.

TMC is a volunteer-run, non-profit society that brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status. The festival is made up of different events taking place around the city. It’s a great opportunity for Calgarians to take a look and have listen at some of the projects from citizens we usually don’t hear or see. Click on the image below for the schedule. Come join us! This is our city.

2016_home_page_festival_marquee

Come to the festival!

Found poetry,.

TMC: Found Poetry. An 2015 festival exhibit at the library.

Since 2012, This is My City Calgary (TMC) holds a festival in April full of music, theatre, visual art and stories. TMC invites you to see what it has going on this year.

TMC is a volunteer-run, non-profit society that brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status. The festival is made up of different events taking place around the city. It’s a great opportunity for Calgarians to take a look and have listen at some of the projects from citizens we usually don’t hear or see. Here are two festival events that I’ve been involved with and will be involved in.

Stories from the River’s Edge

Tuesday, April 12 there’s a screening of Stories from the River’s Edge, a collaboration with TMC, ACAD, East Village Seniors Community Association, Loft 112 and the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre. The film captures tales from those who have lived in the East Village: past and present. I led a story-telling workshop for seniors on how to tell their stories. Many of their anecdotes are in the documentary.

Where: John Dutton Theatre Library (616 Macleod Trail SE)

Date: Tuesday, April 12

Time: Doors open at 6:15 p.m., screening starts at 6:30 p.m. followed by a short reception with film makers, participants and community.

Voices in the Wind

On Wednesday, April 13 there will be a book launch for Voices in the Wind. The authors of the stories and the creators of the illustrations are Calgarians who participated in TMC workshops. Contributors come from places like the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre, Alpha House, the Women’s Centre of Calgary and Inn From the Cold.

Where: Shelf Life Books (1302 4 St SW, Calgary)

Date: Wednesday, April 13

Time: 7 p.m.

Book sales are to support the ongoing programming of TMC. Bring a friend – and buy a book or two.

Come join TMC at the festival! Read the stories. Look at the art. Hear the people as they tell us in their own voices, “it doesn’t matter who we are, or where we are, once we get down to the heart of the matter, we’re all the same.”

Remembering our veterans

HMCS Calgary.

HMCS Calgary: Canadian Flower class corvette that was in service in the Second World War. Credit: Museum of Alberta

I’m wary of writing about my memoir writing participants from the Drop-In Centre because they are like you and me. Except these people have been hit a little harder by life and need a helping hand. I’m writing about them now because my writers last week wrote about Remembrance Day and I wanted to share their outlook on the day.

One woman wrote about how Remembrance Day was the only holiday that didn’t need gifts or a large meal, just remembering. She added how glad she is that the poem In Flanders Fields was written by a Canadian, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. She said the sombre yet powerful words can be shared with our U.S. neighbours, not not claimed by them.

Another writer in my class wrote a story about soldiers marching off to war and never coming home. He wrote about how the sacrifice of those in the First World War, Second World War, Korean War and subsequent peacekeeping missions, have made it possible for him to live in a free Canada today.

I looked around at where we were. Our desk was a bulletin board laid on top of a big blue garbage can. It was a makeshift office in a half kitchen, half storage room that smelled of chocolate and disinfectant. The hum of the fridge smoothed out some of the edges cutting in from the DI seniors’ centre: laughing and coughing and blaring TV ads. Despite the invading commotion, there was a peacefulness in our little writing space. Here, we all shared something in common: remembering our veterans.

Note: My memoir writing workshops are organized through This is My City (TMC). TMC brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status. I have been volunteering with TMC for a few years and facilitate four-week, life writing workshops at the Calgary Drop-In Centre and Alpha House.

Giving back

detail-pen-photography-Favim.com-5198291Capital Ideas Calgary asked businesses: “How does your business give back to the community?”

Here’s my answer published in the Calgary Herald on July 23, 2015: http://bit.ly/1MaJcig

How does your business give back to the community?

Everyone has a story but not everyone has the chance to share his or her stories. This especially true of people living on the streets or dealing with addictions. As the owner of a writing business, I’ve been giving back to the community by teaching memoir writing workshops at homeless shelters and detox centres.

I’ve been volunteering through a Calgary organization called This is My City (TMC) for a few years. TMC brings art and people together no matter what their social status. In my workshop, Write YOUR Story, participants learn to tell their tales in their own words. They can write happy stories or sad stories or scary stories or inspirational stories. Positive or negative, these anecdotes give a voice to people whose words might never be heard.

Come out to the festival

Me at the podium.

At the podium for Friends and Mentors: Sharing Experiences. A behind-the-scenes look at TMC.

Yesterday I was at the Calgary library talking about my experiences teaching memoir writing workshops to participants from the Drop-In Centre, Alpha House and Women’s Centre. My presentation was one of five and part of the This Is My City Festival 2015.

I’m a volunteer with This is My City (TMC). TMC matches artists with people living at the margins of society and together we write, dance, sing and create art. I run memoir writing sessions and get to hear many different anecdotes from the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.

The festival is free and there are many things to see and hear and do this upcoming week. From art exhibits to found poetry to a photo walk, you’re invited to join us: http://bit.ly/1FN3j1R. It’s a great way to see, hear, read and listen about the people most of us have forgotten.

Found poetry,.

TMC: Found Poetry.

Dressing like a “gangsta”

pen.For the past four weeks I’ve been spending some time at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre teaching a memoir writing workshop. Every Wednesday morning for about an hour a few people write around a table in the midst of a busy room buzzing with conversation and movement and a movie blaring on the TV in the corner. It’s not hard to block out the distractions: my participants are keen on learning how to craft their stories and ask a lot of questions.

The workshop is offered through This is My City (TMC). TMC is a non-profit society that brings art and people together no matter their income bracket or social status. As a TMC volunteer I’ve been offering my four-week memoir session to homeless and detox shelters for about two years now. Last week was my last trip to the Drop-In this fall.

We talked about using description, show: don’t tell, in our stories. For example: Janice was very angry. That’s telling. Janice was waving her fists in the air and her face was very red. That’s showing. Description paints the scene for the reader by proving details that appeal to the senses using the senses. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? How do you feel? These bring a world to life in your story instead of just telling a reader what he or she should be experiencing.

I asked my Drop-In participants to describe something. One man decided to illustrate himself with words. Here is his piece:

I am a large teddy bear on steroids with long curly hair, a weathered looking face with an unwanted belly that travels in front, defying my efforts at reduction. This belly laughs at me, “Hah, hah!” it says. “Try and lose me, my friend.”

“I will lose you,” I retort, “one day.”

When I am in decent shape I dress “gangsta.” I dress in Ray-Ban, True Religion, FUBU. I look good, sexy. I’ve been taught to do that. I like the look.

Flooded with memories: new book shares homeless perspective

Rushing river over bridge.

Bow River on Saturday, June 22, 2013. For a link to see the video of the rushing river, click here.

It has been a year since the waters of southern Alberta rose, gained speed and rushed over the land. The floods destroyed lives, property and deluged downtown Calgary. Friends were told to leave their homes and watched while the river took over their possessions. Others came home from vacations to find they had nothing left other than what they had packed in their suitcases. It was a terrible time and everyone experienced it, including those who were homeless before the flood. Now a book, Flood Stories 2013, is telling the tales of the people without four walls pre and post the surge of the rivers.

The flood stories and photos were collected by Calgary organization, This is My City (TMC). TMC brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status. I have been volunteering with TMC for over a year and facilitate four-week, life writing workshops at the Calgary Drop-In Centre and Alpha House. These two agencies are part of the book and some of my participants wrote about their experiences with the rising waters.

This Wednesday evening, June 25, Shelf Life Books (1302 4 St SW, Calgary) will be featuring the book as well as a performance at 7:00 p.m. Flood Stories is a limited edition, hand-printed book and is on sale for $75.00. Proceeds are in support of TMC programs.

Monsters into words

Building.

Alpha House. Photo credit: http://2.beltline.ca/community/social-environment/expansion-calgary-alpha-house-society-cahs

“Write the hard stuff,” suggests the last line of a story in a writer’s magazine. That’s easy when the hard stuff is just basic hard stuff, like what to make for supper. But what if it’s like the hard stuff the people living at Alpha House are dealing with – the stuff that turns lives upside down and inside out and lures leviathans into battle.

I had just finished reading the writing tip after wrapping up a memoir writing workshop at Alpha House. Alpha House is a shelter in the city that gives those whose lives are affected by alcohol and other drug dependencies a safe and caring home. I volunteer seminars there through a Calgary organization: This is My City (TMC). TMC brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status because art builds bridges and lessens differences.

On Tuesday I started teaching a class called “Write YOUR own story” at Alpha House. The participants were a lively bunch and seven people sat down with me at a table to write. There was a lot of talking and I had to start my class several times. I was expecting distractions and there were many but people were interested in what I was teaching and wrote down what I was saying.

Then, one by one, people began to leave. They needed a coffee. They needed a smoke. They needed a break.

A couple participants rejoined me and picked up their pens. In the end four people stayed to finish the class. With these four I had two writing exercises for them.

The first one was writing a legacy letter to themselves, a kind of note to remember a moment or an accomplishment. It’s meant to connect the person today with an experience or happy memory from yesterday. Participants were supposed to start the note with Dear Past Me but one man said he couldn’t write the letter.

He couldn’t write it because his past was too riddled by addiction. He had no recollections of joy and could only remember having a habit. Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to release unwanted and bad memories but he didn’t want to use the writing exercise as catharsis.

Another one of my writing exercises was aimed at helping people use description in their pieces. I asked the participants to illustrate themselves in words.What colour is your hair? What are you wearing? How do you talk?

But one woman told me she couldn’t do it. She had just had surgery and wasn’t looking her best. I suggested she write about a friend or the dog she had told us about in another story, or even her mother.

“That’s bad,” she said. “I don’t want to ever go there.”

She ended up writing about someone else. Someone who wasn’t too terrible to remember.

So the hard stuff is out there. But it’s a lot easier for some of us to put down the words on paper. It’s a lot tougher when you’ve had a lifetime of the hard stuff. Especially when it means turning the monsters into words and releasing them.
 

Forming Voices Out of the Noise

My new blog post for This is My City: http://bit.ly/10sakOg

For the past few weeks, I’ve been volunteering with a Calgary organization: This is My City (TMC). TMC brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status because art builds bridges and lessens differences.

Currently I’m part of a TMC initiative that puts visual and theatre artists, musicians and writers as instructors at homeless centres around the Calgary. I’m teaching a four-week workshop at the Calgary Drop-In Centre called Write YOUR Story. Participants learn to tell their tales in their own words.

Part of my volunteer work is to write blog posts for TMC. Here is my first one: http://bit.ly/13ot60D

© 2017 Family Lines

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑