1shot #249-some sunny Sunday


“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…” –Dylan Thomas

On King Street uptown, this is Waterloo.


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I remember

Remembrance Day 2015 019 Remembrance Day 2015 020

Private J. Foster, World War I, 1914-15 Star

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Man of the cloth takin’ it to the streets


An ordained Anglican minister and a photographer walk into a coffee shop…

It’s not a joke; rather it was a great way to follow up a crack-of-dawn photo shoot a few blocks away down King Street. Further on my talking-with-strangers exploration, I had just briefly met Reverend Jonathan Massimi (above) on Wednesday morning at Cam Dearlove’s Community Developer Breakfast. Jonathan ping’d me for a Friday coffee chat.

I’ve got more for you here, but first, gotta give a shout out to my latest Patreon supporter, Mr. Night\Shift himself: Eric Owen Rumble. If you dig my community-building work, please support it with your pocket change. Ok, now more story.

Jon just started with United Way in Uptown Waterloo about four months ago, not in a role of clergyman, but as an engager of community. He moved on from his 5-year post with the Counterpoint Church in Brantford where he still lives with his wife and two young kids. Something I liked about this guy right away is that everything he talked about was action-oriented: as in action he had already done. As James Bastow says “ideas are free”, and what really stands out is GSD.


I also appreciate Jon’s guerrilla approach and sense of humour around community engagement. Who writes a piece called “Jesus is Italian and so am I”? This guy.

My own worship tends more towards the champs of science like Richard Feynman and gods of photography like Towell, Burtynsky, McCurry and Mark, but I give big points to anyone who is working hard at street level to make this a better place to live. The more Jon and I chatted the more overlap we found in our general unconventionality.

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Doctorow talked digital freedom at UW

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I first became aware of author/blogger/activist Cory Doctorow in the web comic xkcd some time in the previous decade. What a perfect way to learn about someone. I pulled on that thread which got me started reading (since lapsed) the blog Boing Boing where Doctorow writes along with Mark Frauenfelder et al. It really blew my hair back when Doctorow, walking his talk on sane copyright evolution, released his (then) next book on the net for free under Creative Commons with no DRM. I learned he had taken this approach from the beginning of his career. So I downloaded his book, and yeah, it was all there.

Doctorow dropped by UW on Friday night from his now-home in L.A. and I went to hear his talk. More on that in a moment, but first: if you like what you read here, please consider supporting this community-building work with your pocket change. I’m no book-writin’ author, but I’ve been putting out this work for you for six years for free. I’ve been operating under a vague notion that if I take care of the community, then the community will take care of me. That’s not yet covering the $300+/wk grocery bill, but it’s starting to work. My new Patreon supporters this week who decided to be awesome (as Jesse Brown says) are a hat-trick of J’s: Jon Johnson, James Bastow, John Collinson and my pal Agnes Niewiadomski. Big thanks! Ok, back to the story…

Honestly, my first simple-minded reason to attend this talk was “Holy shit, Doctorow is giving a free talk only 2km from my house.” Let’s call this the Famous Person Motive. Actually, the FPM is just the straw that kicks the camel loose from the corral. I’m less interested in fame and more interested in what someone has to say. In person. So, alone I went on a rainy fall Friday night fueled with optimism.

The meal-sized reason I went to this talk was because Doctorow is working on solutions to a phenomenon that is freaking me the hell out. Increasingly, you don’t own the stuff you buy, you’re renting it. Example: my Honda Accord has some woefully buggy software in it. It randomly dumps all my contacts, turns off Bluetooth and features a voice recognition system that apparently hasn’t improved since the early ‘90’s. N-number of service appointments and “software updates” later: same behaviour. And I can’t, as a maker, take control of this situation because
#1 I don’t have the source code for my car and
#2 there are intentional system locks in the car I paid for that prevent me from fixing my car and #3 there exists in many jurisdictions some nutty legislation that makes it criminal for me to even try to understand and share how my car works, let alone patch it. This is generally and somewhat euphemistically called Digital Rights Management or DRM.

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I’m increasingly sensing this disturbance in the make-o-sphere, the effect of which is putting a chilling damper on our ability to understand the world in which we live. We’re not legally allowed to understand how our electronics work. We may not refill cartridges for our inkjet printers. We may not fix our cars. The new business model is recurring revenue by shackling consumers to the corporate mothership under the pretense of offering them extra value and/or safety and under the threat of legal prosecution for going your own way. It’s whacked and it must change before we descend completely into maker atrophy.

The photo above of an electronics tear-down? That’s how I partied the night before this talk. I salvaged that 1980’s-era cash register from a local dumpster ten years ago (no smiling, TDL, and thanks for catching it as I pushed it over the wall from the inside). The kids loved playing with it when they were younger and now before it goes back into the river of e-waste, I want to salvage and repurpose two parts of this: the receipt printer and the vacuum fluorescent display. That requires the very skills and curiosity that are being snuffed out by this prevailing and ill-advised prohibition on tinkering (and I rarely use that word). Last year I reverse engineered some CNC machine shop tools at our local high school to reanimate them after a decade of stasis. The manufacturer had gone out of business leaving the tools like alien technology: looks cool, but how to make it go? There’s a lot of value in being capable and resourceful in this domain, not just at the individual and community level, but as a country. So here’s the bigger problem…

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Talking with strangers and shooting film

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One of the most interesting ways I meet people is “friend referrals” out of the blue. That’s how I recently met teacher/photographer/furniture maker/synth hardware designer Matt Borland (above). My friend Rob Gorbet who chairs the Department of Knowledge Integration at UW said: “I wanted to introduce the two of you as I feel you should (get to) know each other.”

I’m going to tell you more about the benefits of talking with strangers, but I’ve got two things for you before that:
#1 If you like what you see/read here, please consider supporting this community-building work with your pocket change through Patreon. New contributors this week who decided to be awesome: Karen Scian, Jeremy Ladan and John Wynen.
#2 Matt will be delivering a collaborative piece Fri Oct 23 1-2pm at Felt Lab in St Jacobs. The Lab partnered with an engineer, a writer, a composer, and two artists from Inter Arts Matrix to create A Sense of Place. I know, it’s the middle of a workday, but register here for a free lunch and shift your hours so you can check it out in person and meet the makers. Ok, now more story…

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You’re going to see some photos here of cameras (meta!), but that’s really just a MacGuffin so we can talk about people coming together. Matt and I decided to meet for coffee in early September before my schedule got really nuts with Maker Expo stuff. I rolled in to Coffee Culture at King and Dupont uptown carrying my DroneBox project, which is a cardboard box with wires, motors, batteries, and an Arduino hanging off of it. Matt brought a portfolio of his photos. Talking With Strangers Pro-tip #1: conversation is easy when you start with “tell me about what you love to do.”

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1shot #248-three D


First game of the season.

On Father David Bauer Drive, this is Waterloo.


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Eisenstein meets Hitchcock at the Rec Complex

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Having watched far too many movies, I couldn’t help thinking of Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin crossed with Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds when I saw this scene on Saturday morning. But these are not the Odessa Steps…

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but rather the back entrance to the Waterloo Memorial Rec Complex. I’m not really a film geek; I just play one on the interwebs.

Everything is a mystery.


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Laurier Library LIFT Launch

Laurier Library LIFT Launch 045

Alliteration win! And cultural win for us all as the Laurier Library backing on to Albert Street lights up some micro-gallery space amid the stacks in cooperation with the Robert Langen Art Gallery: the LIFT Series. This is said to be a first step in finding a more permanent home for the Langen Gallery within the library and based on what I saw this is going to be a great fusion. Curator Suzanne Luke brought library chief Gohar Ashoughian and crew down to Maker Expo a few weeks ago to see what we were up to. I was glad to get up to their LIFT gig on Thursday last week.

I’ve got more story below, but want to take a quick second and give a shout out to my supporters who help make makebright stories possible. My first week on Patreon and here’s who stepped up to be awesome: Brent Wettlaufer, Vince Marcovecchio, Dinah Davis, Daryl Dore, and Cam Turner. I’ve been cranking out free work for six years here. If you’ve found something of value, something interesting here, please consider supporting my community-building mission with your pocket change. You’ll be investing in your community. Now more story and a completely unreasonable number of photos…

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Miss K, aka Kristen Moss, talked about her sixth floor piece Out of the Cannon (above x 2).

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Geometry of DTK yesterday

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1shot #247-some days all you see is the fence…

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Heading for coffee with Cathy Farwell last week, I spotted these chairs and pots looking like a domestic echo of chrome and vinyl from my childhood.

On Dupont, this is Waterloo.


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