1shot #240-word on the street

Summer Street 2015-1

As seen at Harmony Lunch on King in UTW. I love sidewalk chalk signs. By the nature of their impermanence, they are Evidence of Human Life.

At King and Young, this is Waterloo.


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Signs of distress

Summer Street 2015-3

Recently I was asked why I photograph things that disturb me. I don’t entirely know how to answer that, but I’d start by saying it’s part of my process for making sense of the world. It’s a record. And in those images I look for patterns or the absence of pattern. Human perception and memory, being subjective and often unreliable, can benefit from some stills captured. Today, two weeks after shooting this half-eaten macaroni dinner discarded at the side of Charles Street in DTK, I go back to that photo and notice that the fork left in the box is metal flatware and not disposable plastic. What does that mean?

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past six years photographing and primarily sharing good things that otherwise have limited visibility in the community. They’re just below the waterline. That was part of the original ethos of makebright: focus on the positive. It’s not that I didn’t see the problems within the community. Those seem to fill the bulk of coverage in traditional media, so there seemed little benefit to anyone for me to jump in. What I’ve begun to realize in my travels are two things:

1. Focusing exclusively on the positive makes me a contributor to a potential reality distortion field here in Waterloo Region. “Everything is awesome!” Cheerleading in moderation makes everyone feel good. Too much of it leads to self-delusion. Gotta shoot for balance and some objective understanding of our ecosystem.

2. For us to robustly prosper as a community, we’ve really got to put a hand out to those most in need. The problems are complex and difficult, but if we can’t help the most vulnerable within our community then all the economic prosperity of tech companies and reinvention of manufacturing and world-leading scientific research in WR won’t make us whole.

So what’s with this discarded macaroni? Maybe just someone with the munchies heading out to the bars. Or maybe it’s someone with neither roof overhead, nor kitchen table on which to eat dinner. Or what about this one…

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Google’s Steve Woods talks diversity

Steven Woods speaks at Women In Tech - Communitech 020

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to catch a talk by Google’s Senior Engineering Director and Country Product Lead for Canada, Steve Woods. It was a talk on diversity in the context of Communitech’s Women in Technology Peer2Peer group.

My motivation for going was twofold. First, I’ve been working pretty hard with a talented crew on lighting up Maker Expo, which explains the dearth of posts here on makebright as most of my output has been diverted to the Maker Expo Blog. For that event we’ve put a lot of effort and thought into an honest attempt at diversity along the six dimensions of affluence, ethnicity, age, gender, locale, and makerly domain. Spoiler: in agreement with Woods, I can tell you diversity is difficult and necessary.

On the second count, I’m very curious about this giant and somewhat inaccessible force within our community called Google. I have a number of friends who work there, though like seasoned tech professionals we don’t talk about what we work on. I enviously watch the progress of the Google-hired mobile tire service on Joseph St. seasonally swapping employee tires twice a year. And I’ve even been upstairs for lunch in the Google cafeteria where I caught a glimpse of Myke Predko(!) demo’ing edu-bots for googlers (hey, I bought his Microchip PIC book back in the day and distantly shared organizational orbits of IBM Canada and RIM with him through my career). Yet still Google in its local instantiation at Victoria and Charles Streets is a mystery.

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1shot #239-captive wagon wheel


You know how sometimes when parking your bicycle you forget to lock up more than just the wheel…

At Victoria and Oak, this is Kitchener.


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1shot #238-lawn tennis


At the Grand Porch Party a couple of weeks ago, I found more than one kind of string.

On Euclid Ave, this is Waterloo.


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1shot #237-CAT chillin’


As I was marveling at what must be the biggest excavator that could possibly fit on Charles Street, I saw the operator’s boots. He was chillin’, waiting for the guys down in the hole to do their thing. The juxtaposition (and I rarely use that word) of the relaxed feet with the awesome power of the machine was very compelling. There are images I cannot not shoot. This is one of them.

Again, at Charles and Gaukel, this is Kitchener.


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1shot #236-skate lane


I got my first board, probably in 1978. My mom took a whole crew of sunburnt cut-off-wearing boys out to Canadian Tire in Sarnia so Brohemus and I could join the neighbourhood in this new phenomenon.

On Charles Street in Kitchener: skate!


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Hub Haps #018-INGU ice cream hello

INGU ice cream at the Hub 099

Been a while since we had a Hub Haps post. Not for a lack of haps, mind you, but just for all the effort going into the whole other blog I’ve been filling with original content every day: Maker Expo!

Lots going on at the Communitech Hub, all the time, every day, and Friday was no different and especially tasty. INGU Solutions recently moved in as a tenant and said hello to everyone by serving up many gallons of Marble Slab ice cream complete with a counter full of toppings. at lunch. At left, on the scoop, is INGU’s CEO John van Pol. Beside him is Communitech’s Client Services Manager, Susan Brockhus-Strickler, doubling the ice cream delivery bandwidth.

Thanks for the ice cream and welcome to the neighbourhood.


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1shot #235-puttin’ the ION in construction


When construction isn’t preventing me from getting to a meeting on time, I love it.

After a great meeting with Dave Thomas from The Working Centre on Friday, walking back to my car on Joseph, I stopped for 20 minutes in front of the bus station to watch this loader/excavator combo.

On Charles Street, this is Kitchener.


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Open Ears this weekend

Open Ears - Supercollider at Communitech 230

Montreal’s Lori Freedman stretched our minds today at Communitech, collaborating in a performance piece with dancer Marc Boivin. My friend Ben Grossman from Guelph opened this Open Ears gig called Supercollider with his haunting hurdy gurdy. Composer James Harley was in the mix tweaking sounds. This kicks off a weekend of music and sound gigs called Between The Ears. Check out the Open Ears site for deets.

I’m excited to be pitching in some storytelling for Open Ears coming up in the next while.

Open Ears - Supercollider at Communitech 206

Summer Lights Festival is on Saturday in DTK where you’ll be able to catch more wicked sound and music and a whole lot more. I’ll be hanging with the Maker Expo posse at 179 King St W (the old Entertaining Elements) and signing people up for that on the spot, so drop by and say hello. I’ll be lending a hand to Agnes who is ready to get you making a cool LED-lit badge. Come early ‘cause when the 200 kits are gone, they’re gone. And I’m ducking out after 9:30pm to… yes, shoot some photos.

Leave the sofa, find the others.


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