Geometry of DTK yesterday

Oktoberfest_setup_2015 (2)


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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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1shot #246-rare drugs

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Friday on Spadina, I looked up.

This is Toronto.


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Seth says: do the work you want to do

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My good friend Jon Johnson of Bearface Design organized a Monday movie series at The Princess themed around design. Last week, he arranged to show the biographical documentary “Seth’s Dominion”. The eponymous Seth (above) is an extremely talented and thoughtful cartoonist who just happens to live in Guelph. Seth joined the crowd at The Original Princess to offer a few comments before the movie, and field a Q&A afterward. He also hung around for a long time afterward to sign books and chat.

Before I go on: there is now a way you can financially support makebright. I set up an account on Patreon to accept small contributions starting at $1 (which is $1.31 Canadian) per non-trivial blog post like this one. Click right here to open a tab to the makebright Patreon page and watch my mildly amusing video. If you want to chip in to help me continue building community through independent storytelling, you’ll need to create an account there. It’s pretty easy. Thanks for being awesome. Now back to the story.

Seth made a comment that it’s important to do the work that you want to do. The work that is important to you regardless of how it is evaluated by the world. I do that. A lot. In fact, that’s all the stories you see featured here on makebright. Sometimes self-doubt tries to creep in, subverting my momentum, particularly when story traffic is low. But I’m stubbornly resolved to keep telling these independent stories. The very practical challenge for me is how to derive some revenue for these stories because makebright is my sole income. In the past I’ve considered (briefly) ads or paid posts or a paywall. All of that doesn’t fit. In my ideal world, some well-heeled person would give me a bag of money for the year and say: Go! Keep finding and shooting and telling those stories that you love.

As I left the theatre, an acquaintance Jeremy Ladan said to me “I love your work. I wish you had a Patreon account so I could give you a little money.” Patreon, for the uninitiated, is a mechanism to support somebody’s work with (typically) small recurring payments. So a creator might choose to accept set monthly contributions or a per-podcast/post/video amount from his supporters. The funny thing is I’ve had a Patreon account for six months; I just haven’t switched it on until today. I was concerned about signing on supporters and then not delivering the stories. The reality over the past six months is that I keep putting the stories out and I *love* doing these stories. In large part, it’s all I think about. As you’ve already read, that is all hooked up now. It’s an experiment. We’ll see how it goes. Soft launch. Thanks to Daryl, Lisa, and Calder for feedback on my Patreon campaign.

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One more thing, it looks like the anticipated next movie “Drew” in Jon’s Art, Design & Architecture series got rescheduled to Nov 2.

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UTW bikes

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Found this sweet bike Uptown Waterloo as Brohemus and I wandered the evening last week.

Update 2015-10-05: John Johnson noted that this bike belongs to Andy Cox, co-owner with his wife Lori of King Street Cycles, who told me: “Your pic is of the 1967 Norton I built over the last 3 years. Great pic!” and when I asked what he most loved about it he said: “The thing I love most about that bike is that it’s finally finished, LOL! Really though, I’m pretty proud of the seat/tail section; was told many times by many people more experienced than myself that it “couldn’t be done”, and yet there it is. Also, pretty happy how the pipes turned out. I find building a bike often feels like an exercise of compromise, in that the vision in my head has to be slightly compromised to actually exist and function in the “real world”, and that tail section and those pipes are the closest I have come to representing what was in my mind’s eye.”

We are all makers.

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Alas, Andy’s Norton was not part of the BIKE SALE.

At King and Erb, this is Waterloo.


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Kitchener: can we keep this set at City Hall?

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Further on my sandwich search today, I popped by City Hall to peek in at Lauren Weinberg’s new place there in the old Carbon Computing space. Well, I got more than I bargained for. I was trying to figure out why there was this funky plywood structure going up around the stage and what the deal was with the giant wind machines parked out front.

Well, who should happen by but Cat Bischoff who filled me in that this is a set build for the TV series Heroes, which is apparently doing a bit of filming here. My only question now is: can we keep it?

More pics…

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Surveying the music landscape

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Navigating the construction chaos at the corner of Charles and Francis in Downtown Kitchener, on my wander to get a sandwich today, I saw a very familiar sticker.

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Your surveyor knows about The Jazz Room. Do you?

Didn’t know I loved jazz until Preece & Nagy and Co. turned me on to it. Right in Uptown Waterloo in the Heuther. Regular readers may recall when the music stage was built in the former strip bar, and when the grand piano was rebuilt, and when the doors opened with the most wicked music back in 2011.

Check out the lineup of acts at and then just go. A heads-up: they’re serious about the music, so you’ll be shushed if you’re talking during the sets. This is a great place to spend the winter.

In Kitchener, this is Waterloo.


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Hack The North 2015–in brief… sort of


I was jammed with Maker Expo organization this year so I wasn’t available to cover Hack The North in depth. Still I was happy to hear Kartik confirm that I was on the guest list. It’s a pretty damned cool event only a couple of clicks down the road from my house. So after wrapping up Maker Expo Saturday evening, I woke up late Sunday morning, jammed a pot of coffee, and set out for Engineering 5 at The University of Waterloo for the closing ceremony.

This hacker above came up on stage from an impromptu call by Val for anyone with special talents they were willing to show off. This, my friends, is what opera singing looks like at a hackathon. Not. Even. Kidding. It was the most beautiful sound and it sent chills down my back and transported the entire audience of hundreds of exhausted hackers to a higher plane. No mic required. Her voice just filled that room and you could hear a pin drop. Bravo.


E5, temporary home of HTN again this year. For last year’s HTN here, Communitech hired me to cover the event end to end. I was flattered to hear from the HTN crew that they refer everyone who wants to know about their event to that post I did.

Click through for an unreasonable number of photos and very few words…

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More local makers-Etsy Made in Canada WR v2.0

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Chalk up another makerly weekend in Waterloo Region! After a breakfast meeting with my pal Stephen Preece at Mel’s, I said hey I’m going to this thing called Etsy: Made in Canada. I shot it last year when it was at the Walper. You should come with me and see the power of the micro-economy. So away we went.

Before I get into the story along with an unreasonable number of photos, let me say that this right here is my business. Just like all the makers featured here who attempt to make a profitable business out of candles and crocheting, I’m trying to make a business out of storytelling. If I had been hired to do this job, I would have quoted $700+HST. That would include the travel, the shoot, the post-processing, the story, and the linking. Been doing this for 6 years now and one variant of my product looks exactly like this post. Please consider hiring me. Ok, on with the story.

Above, is marker Maria Walcott of Nerdifacts who crochets these awesome cuffs, here she models the Wonder Woman edition. Check out her Etsy store here.

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Picking up on the dream I pitched to 120 Laurier entrepreneurship students a couple weeks ago, to increase the Region’s collective creative capacity, and fueled by an unwise amount of coffee, I turned the discussion to micro-economies. This Etsy event seemed like a great place to start looking at how makers can make their stuff and then also make money. It is interesting to think about why an online marketplace like Etsy would support a second meet-up-in-real-life market of Etsy makers in dozens of regions across Canada. New readers may be inclined to ask two questions: Q1. Who are these makers among us who sell stuff? Q2. Is anyone in Waterloo Region interested in purchasing unique merch from local makers?

I’ll get to the first question in the course of this post, covering a small subset of the 65 Etsy makers who were in this show. On the second question, check out the queue of people patiently lined up out of the parking lot, down the laneway all the way to Weber Street. Emanuel Village, the venue, is like most venues capped for occupancy due to fire regulations. I thought I heard 250 were allowed inside at any given time, which left a lot of eager shoppers in line for a bit. It also really shows the demand within the Region.


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Maker Expo delivered—now I need work

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Few times in my life have I been prouder than I was of the Maker Expo event that our team delivered to Waterloo Region on Saturday. We connected you with 100+ makers across a diverse range of disciplines who absolutely love to share what they make. You brought us 7500 visitors who were super-keen to roll up their sleeves and make with us. An outstanding success for a brand new event.

The saying goes that “nothing is free” and that’s true of the Expo. While we didn’t charge admission, there were a lot of expenses to cover like t-shirts for volunteers and crowd barriers to protect you from fighting robots. We also wanted to support some larger maker projects like the geodesic yarn dome and the collaborative painting. Our sponsors generously stepped up to cover those costs and we are deeply grateful to them.

What goes unpaid is the volunteer time put into Maker Expo (hence “volunteer”). I’m a one-man business at makebright. I made a decision to push Pause on the 150% effort a startup business requires in order to put almost all of my horsepower into the Expo. For me personally that means over the course of 22 weeks I invested about 900 hours in Maker Expo work. That’s a full-time job. With no revenue. Nobody asked me to contribute that much, but I so believed in the project that I went all in. Whether that was wise or not remains to be seen. It is a test of my core belief that if I take care of the community, then the community will help me take care of my business.

I’m going to elaborate a bit more here about my role in making Maker Expo, but here’s the gist of it: I’m a storyteller. My toolbox includes photography, videography, writing, a ton of curiosity, a background in art and 20 years in tech and the maker movement. Most importantly it includes years of social investments I’ve made and a pretty substantial network of people with whom I have connected. Please consider hiring me to help you tell your story. It can all start with a chat over coffee. Reach me here

Click through for some Maker Expo behind the scenes…

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