I helped meta-make this: Maker Expo 2016


It’s been almost two weeks since we delivered another Maker Expo for Waterloo Region. Even when the show was over, there was still a lot to be done like thanking sponsors, returning gear, capturing lessons-learned, submitting expenses, surveying everyone and more.

We had a solid turnout at Kitchener City Hall, our maker-grant program for funding installations went well (in part resulting in this wicked balloon sculpture above by Drew Ripley and his crew of Lisa McIntire and Derek Wong). We had a great raft of sponsors who really understand our mission of inspiring people to make things with their hands. The makers came through for the community, delivering a wide variety of hands-on stuff to do. There are many dozens of volunteers who give their time to the Expo and the City of Kitchener provided a home for us for a second year in a row. It was a success by any measure. Thanks to all.

Sometimes I think my community investment on big projects is fueled by a certain amount of selective self-delusion. “It should be *easier* this year, because…” is usually how it goes. Those who create/run events know exactly what I’m talking about. There were a thousand details to run down and a few hair-raising snags to surmount, but we got it done and that’s all credit to the team. Now that I’ve had some regular sleep and reintroduced myself to my family, I myself am thoroughly jacked to dive back into my own making. That’s why we do this.


What follows is a wholly unreasonable number of photos I shot through setup/event/teardown. I missed a bunch of stuff because there were a number of things that needed my attention through the day, but I caught a cross section.

I know I say this all the time: this is one of my favourite buildings in WR.

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1shot #263-Rejoice Waterloo: pavement markings on King St S

Construction - lines on King at Allen 006-Edit

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Pavement markings are sparkling in the morning light on King Street South at Allen. This makes me disproportionately happy. Excelsior!

Uptown, this is Waterloo.


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The key to Doors Open Waterloo Region

48 Ontario N - DTK 002

The TL;DR: Doors Open Waterloo Region is on tomorrow (Saturday, Sept 17) and you should check out some of the 48 locations around WR that are opening their doors for you. This time around 19 sites represent the 2016 theme “Into Science + Tech”. Visits are free-no-pay and run 10am to 5pm. Here’s how it works: you look at the map, go to the location, take a tour, repeat.

I had a chance to check out one of the locations in advance, so hopefully this photo set will get your feet on the street, because after all, that is the key. Silvia Di Donato and Emily Robson with Arts & Culture at the City of Kitchener made it possible to get inside the old Legion hall at 48 Ontario Street downtown.



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48 Ontario between King and Duke. The city owns this building. Silvia and Emily are interested to get some community input on an arts centre and this vacant building is a good conversation starter. I suspect that you’ll find more info around that on-location tomorrow.

Karl_Kessler  Jane_Snyder  


I’ve gotta give a shout to my good friends who work hard on Doors Open for you. Karl Kessler and Jane Snyder have been doing this for a long time and the work stretches around the calendar. While these two are typically happier to be behind the camera (or nowhere near a camera), I’ll suffer some gentle chastising to once again point out that nothing here happens by magic: there are always people doing the legwork, making the phone calls, sourcing volunteers, promoting the event and a whole lot more. Thank you.

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Lover of cover (band)

Heinz 57 and The Wailing Whippets at Strykerz 081

My Labour Day weekend included a fun fieldtrip to see a friend’s cover band: Heintz 57 & The Wailing Whippets. Here’s Chris Mintz, James Gilbrook and Steve Sattler turning out set after set on Saturday night. These guys are really entertaining: good sense of humour, a nice mix of tunes and an accordion. Set lists spanned Tom Petty, Aha, Neil Diamond, Duran Duran, the Theme to Cheers, Tiffany, lots of Hip and the Canadian classic: Log Driver’s Waltz. There was a lot of laughing and singing along.

The TL;DR: go drink yer beer somewhere your friends are playing music.

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My first time at Strykerz Kitchen & Bar down by the Aud on Ottawa. Great wait staff. Co-owner Rose Rollins gently relocated some family members so we could have a front row seat by the band. Later in the evening her husband and co-owner Mike came by our table to see if everything was ok with the food and drinks. I like that. I like to know whose place I’m in. Try this place.

Click through for a modestly unreasonable number of photos…

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Geek Week’n on the Tech Startup Podcast

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Geek Week is an umbrella under which a whack of upcoming events cooperate to encourage you to leave your sofas and hit the streets. Maker Expo (coming Sept 10), upon which I work, is always looking to partner and connect and cross-promote with other things happening in Waterloo Region. To that end, we’re happy to be in the Geek Week mix, figuring it all out as we go along.

Last week my friend and fellow geek-weeker Sam Trieu and I joined Amaris Gerson and Stephen Campbell on their weekly jam: The Tech Startup Podcast, now 104 iterations in.
The TL;DR: listen here.

Happily, this segment was recorded just downstairs from my co-working desk in Distillery Labs uptown. And y’all know I can’t resist getting a little meta, even first thing in the morning, so here are a few behind-the-scenes shots of TSP. Above, there’s Brandon Hardy (right) and Dave Hiff (second from right) of Oak & Rumble Media setting up.

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Gear. Box.

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So street in Cambridge

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I got down to Cambridge Saturday morning to catch a short burst of street art before reluctantly getting on with my other weekend travels. This is the inaugural spin of the Cambridge International Street Art Festival and I like everything about it.

The TL;DR: show continues Sunday 10am-6pm and the weather looks perfect, so check it out.

Above, Shalak Attack, billed from Chile/Toronto, throwing some great design and technique on the banks of the Grand River. Good to see such talent coming in from beyond our borders.

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Over on the east bank, eight artists still enjoying the morning shade of the buildings. Hot day.

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1shot #262-pouring on King Street

King Street concrete pour for ION 038

Light rail transit construction at King and Allen. This is Waterloo.


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Flying-camera envy

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I thought I was immune to that common pathology that befalls many photogs: Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Meeting up last week with my old friend and long-time photog Marc Dease in Point Edward led me into the perilous calculations assessing if I could rationalize buying a flying photography platform.

This is Marc’s DJI Phantom 3 Advanced aircraft…

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and this is Marc. Out behind him is Lake Huron at the source of the St. Clair River. In this neck of the woods, Marc and my Dad shot thousands of photos of passing lake freighters over several decades. Back then, one of their favourite angles was high up from the middle of the Bluewater Bridge, which connects Point Edward to Michigan. Now, with a camera that flies, Marc is capturing great shots of upbound freighters pushing a bow wave with the bridge in the background for scale, plying the deep blue water I remember so well.

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Sarah Granskou: art felt in DTK


A couple weeks back, I found myself wandering the Kitchener Market while on a break from The Summer Institute program at The Working Centre. Serendipity connected me with fibre artist Sarah Granskou who I previously only knew from a phone chat. Sarah is the current City of Kitchener artist in residence and she was busily felting a cave (yeah!) over a couple of days at the Market, along with her crew of helpers. The whole process of felting to the uninitiated like me seems equal parts making and magic. All these sources of fibre go in and sculptural things come out.

I was particularly delighted to meet Sarah as she’ll be joining us Sept 10 for Maker Expo at Kitchener City Hall (and BTW: volunteers wanted!). Felting, as Sarah practises it, is a first-principles undertaking. As I understand it, Sarah grows some of the plants that she later harvests to create the dyes to dye the fibres that get coaxed together into some form or figure.


This was the biggest felting project I’ve seen.

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RAMBATAM I–Newtonian musics in DTK

RAMBATAM - June 2016 012

A couple weeks back I finally got myself to an Ian Newton jam. Over the years, fortune has repeatedly conspired against me, preventing attendance at Ian’s legendary Blue Dot parties and Kabelsalat series. But not this time, friends. This time I made it all the way to the red planet of Café Pyrus in DTK to catch Ian (as spooloops) delivering his electronic music in a small-audience setting under the moniker RAMBATAM I.

Interlude: if you dig my community-building work through these stories, please support it with your pocket change through Patreon. I currently have 17 supporters. If 2000 of Waterloo Region’s half million kicked in a buck or two per post, I would deliver 50 stories per year.  Ok, back to the story.

I’m not entirely sure how I first met Ian. Probably by reputation and probably from photos of a Blue Dot party in the pre-tech Tannery building. Particularly interesting to me is Ian’s mashup of place, performance, music and art in all that he does. A lot of that work is grounded in Ian’s Zero to One studios in downtown Kitchener above Ye’s Sushi. Lots of friends like Melissa Doherty, Sarah Kernohan and Gareth Lichty have had studio space there. That’s the first place I ever saw an LED clock by Bernie Rohde.

The TL;DR: Ian is an instigator of something completely different. He’s right here in Kitchener. He wants to connect. I want five more Ian Newton’s here to catalyze change in the local scene. About RAMBATAM, Ian said:
”Floating somewhere between art and a social experience, RAMBATAMs are conscious, near-future spaces from a parallel universe. We are always seeking new collaborators, participants, ideas and connections. Reach us at bluedotkw@gmail.com’

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For the uninitiated, Café Pyrus is across Charles Street from the bus station…

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