Entries from July 2008

» Welcome Graham!

Entries from May 2008

» Burma benefit, short shorts and a fest on the Rock
» China in Africa, urban renewal in Baghdad, guilt about fish
» From the magazine: Shopdrop and roll
» From the magazine: Five charities that are worth it
» Cormorant carnage
» Weekend links: Posters from 68, dissecting a legendary magazine cover, talking to Moshe Safdie
» IJNR day 3: The Dead Zone

Entries from April 2008

» Does Lake Huron need a rubber bladder?
» Vancouver: City of Literature, presidential typography,
» The Northwest Passage has no more pomegranates
» The Road
» Obstructed View
» Limbless and liminal in Central America
» Catch me, I'm falling
» Mexican standoff
» Reporting the news, building the nation
» Danger is somebody's middle name
» Heavy hammer, bright sparks
» Documenting the documentaries
» Hot Docs coverage at Blog This
» Paul Watson: Hero or terrorist?
» One cool bookstore, the Chinese intelligentsia, best comedy ever
» Bidini: China's concrete welcome mat
» Nepal: shining future or end of the path?
» Instant cities, France fights to save the semi-colon, Obama big in Gaza

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Previous Entries

» Weekend links: Posters from 68, dissecting a legendary magazine cover, talking to Moshe Safdie
» IJNR day 3: The Dead Zone

May 31, 2008

Burma benefit, short shorts and a fest on the Rock

Posted by annette at 09:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

Yes, it really is June already. So go ahead, check out the June Film Club Newsletter.


If you're in the Toronto area, mark this coming Wednesday on your calendar: there's going to be a special benefit screening of Mystic Ball to support Burmese cyclone victims at 7pm at The Bloor Cinema. It's just $10, and director Greg Hamilton will be in attendance.

Other June film highlights include the Worldwide Short Film Festival (also in Toronto), a special screening of Regeneration (a project commissioned by the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre to mark its 40th anniversary) in Calgary, and the Nickel Independent Film Festival in St. John's.

More entries on: Film

May 18, 2008

China in Africa, urban renewal in Baghdad, guilt about fish

Posted by ron at 01:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

Forget the old colonial powers. The country with surging interests in Africa is China. Photographer Paolo Woods has this fascinating photo essay on Chinese experts who work in Africa.

That's a nice looking golf course... just watch out for the mortars, and the suicide bombers and the friendly fire. The U.S. has big plans for the Green Zone.

Montreal author Taras Grescoe talks about the coming fish crisis (some say it's already here).

Canada is a world leader in fancy-schmancy racing bikes. Who knew!

More entries on: Weekend Links

May 15, 2008

From the magazine: Shopdrop and roll

Posted by mason at 01:04 PM ET | Comments (0)

By Kalli Anderson

On a Saturday night, in a supermarket in Montreal, Natalie Reis picks up an 89-cent can of peas and carrots. She pulls one of her original drawings--a grey-and-red sketch of birds in flight--out of her purse and wraps it around the can. She secures the drawing with a single piece of transparent tape, places the can back on the shelf, steps back, snaps a photo with her digital camera and walks away.

Reis is part of a growing network of artists using stores as impromptu venues for their work. Shopdropping, shoplifting’s iconoclastic cousin, can be as overtly political as placing T-shirts of Karl Marx in a Wal-Mart or as self-serving as slipping your band's CD into the rack at Starbucks. For Reis, it's about creating a visual surprise in an otherwise familiar commercial space. "In the supermarket we are often on cruise control," she says. "I want to disrupt the routine, give people an image that isn't selling anything--a mental break from the brands and the advertising."

Reis doesn't mind if shoppers want to take her art home with them. "But I don't want them to try to buy it," she says. "I hope they steal it off the shelves."

Click here for more from the current issue, the charity issue.


Click here for more from our Arts & Ideas section.

More entries on: Activism | From the magazine | Visual art

May 14, 2008

From the magazine: Five charities that are worth it

Posted by mason at 01:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

By Lindsay Kneteman

It's a tough world out there for a charity. In Canada, you're competing against some 80,000 other organizations, and if you don't have the budget for a big, slick campaign it's easy to be overlooked. So we've decided to help the little guys out by spotlighting five registered Canadian charities that are all doing some great work, despite their lack of TV ads.

1. Justice for Girls
This Vancouver-based organization works to end homelessness, poverty and violence among girls by working with young women who have lived through those experiences. It offers paid internships and runs a number of campaigns, including one that monitors criminal cases involving girls.

2. Probe International
With the goal of exposing the downside of Canada's foreign trade and aid policies, Probe International demands accountability from everyone from the World Bank to the Canadian government. Currently, it's lobbying the feds to fund legal aid for those affected by China's environmentally disastrous Three Gorges dam, a project that received Canadian financing.

3. The Marquis Project
In addition to assisting community organizations in East Africa and Central America with clean energy and tree-planting projects, the Marquis Project connects Manitobans with the developing world via presentations to churches and service clubs, its youth committee and Worldly Goods, the fair-trade store it runs in Brandon.

4. Ecojustice
Formerly known as the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Ecojustice uses the court system to conduct battles to preserve Canada's environment. Past victories include preventing seismic testing that could negatively affect humpback whales and preserving habitat for the endangered piping plover shorebird.

5. Walk Bravely Forward
Reintegrating federal convicts into the community is this B.C. agency's mission. While it primarily works with those of Metis or Aboriginal descent, Walk Bravely Forward is willing to assist all offenders who want to become productive citizens.

Click here for more from the current issue, the charity issue.
Click here for more from our This & That section.

More entries on: From the magazine

May 04, 2008

Cormorant carnage

Posted by craig at 03:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Cormorants are black, oily-looking birds. Some people find them beautiful. To others they're an ugly scourge. I'm rather fond of them, having grown up on Lake Ontario where you see the odd few on rocky bars in Hamilton Harbour.

But on Lake Erie, their population seems to have exploded and now may be causing some serious ecological damage. Estimates peg the population at well over 100,000 nesting pairs. And some 8000 of these live on Middle Island, a limestone outcrop that is Canada's southernmost point.

It is here, on an island reputed to have been owned by gangsters and visited by Al Capone, that Parks Canada is embarking on one of its most controversial wildlife management projects. Last week, they shot about 70 of the birds. In five years, when the cull is completed, the island's cormorant population will have been decimated. Only about 800 will remain.

I spent a good portion of last week meeting with ornithologists, anglers, wildlife experts and park staff from both sides of the border. And I met Marian Stranak, the superintendent of Point Pelee National Park, which is responsible for Middle Island. To cormorant lovers and deep ecologists, she is the harbinger of death.

It's clearly a role that makes her uncomfortable. When I ask how it feels to be in this position, as the person who makes the call for the cull, the strain is clearly visible in her eyes. There are some dark days, she says, and that's clearly an understatement. She can't even bring herself to use terms such as "shoot" or "kill," instead repeating the phrase "actively manage."

I couldn't go to Middle Island to witness the beginning of the carnage. Shooting for the day was over when I got to Pelee Island, and the "active management" program gives the island a day of rest. There are egrets and herons nesting on the island, and nobody wants the stress to get to them. It's not their fault.

Instead, we sail out to East Sister Island. It's owned by the province and I'm accompanied by a researcher from the Ministry of Natural Resources. East Sister shares Middle Island’s Carolinian forest environment. The Carolinian is a southern deciduous forest area with hackberry and black oak. It never covered a wide swath of Canada, and very little remains intact today. This forest, not the complaints of the commercial fishing industry, is the reason why the cormorants shall die.

Cormorants here nest in trees. And they're killing the trees. And their poop and vomit, which hit the forest floor in alarming and legendary quantities, are turning the soil acid and killing off the undergrowth.

East Sister used to be lush, I am told by the charter boat captain who has ferried us here. He used to bring people out for picnics. Today, nobody comes. The island has a post-holocaust look to it. The ground is white with guano. The trees are bare and will remain so despite the coming of summer. Walking among the trees, the landscape is unreal. Doctor Who has never been anywhere like this.

It is crystal clear what is happening on this island. I start to understand why Marian Stranak feels she has no choice but to make her difficult decisions. It certainly does look as though the island's ecosystem has already been destroyed, and that only ridding it of much of the cormorant population would bring it back. I start to understand why some people detest cormorants.

Then one of them drops a load of guano directly into the hood of a fellow journalist. And I start to appreciate these fishy birds all over again.

More entries on: Planet Earth

Weekend links: Posters from 68, dissecting a legendary magazine cover, talking to Moshe Safdie

Posted by ron at 11:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

This edition of weekend links is an homage to everyone's favourite decade: the 1960s (Blame the Boomers and their mythmaking machine)

The Hayward Gallery in London (that's UK sadly, not Ont.) is showing this great exhibit of posters from the 1968 student movement in France. Further proof that revolutions, failed or not, need good graphics. Click on the red gallery tab for a bunch of posters.

While we're on the topic of 1968, the New Yorker writes about a copyright fight over a board game by French theorist Guy Debord, one of the key figures in the 68 uprising.

The Post-car culture blog talks to architect Moshe Safdie (he of Habitat 67) about the rise of carsharing and the possibilities for a post-car city.

Finally, Design Observer magazine profiles George Lois designer of some of the most iconic covers of the 1960s. Like this one:

More entries on: Weekend Links

May 01, 2008

IJNR day 3: The Dead Zone

Posted by craig at 12:49 AM ET | Comments (0)

It's my third day on this circumnavigation of Lake Erie's environmental challenges, and once again I'm on a boat and wishing for a decent cup of coffee. Which I won't have for some time.

This time, it's a trawler among islands around in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, where the Americans decimated the British fleet in 1813. There are no canons on this particular boat. The biggest gun is Jeff Reutter, director of the Stone Lab, which is housed on one of the islands. Picture an elfin Chuck Norris, and you've got some idea of what Jeff looks like. We're within sight of Pelee Island in Ontario, and Middle Island where later in the week we might see sharpshooters picking off 7000 cormorants. It's a drizzly, cold day, just seven degrees Celsius

We're on the trawler to study invasive species (the lab is part of Ohio State University). Bottom sediments yield a few zebra mussel shells, some mayfly larvae and a worm or two, but little else. The bottom is thick silt, washed out of the Maumee River near Toledo. The lake bottom is where all of Ohio's rich agricultural land ends up, thanks to tiling and lousy land management.

Once upon a time, Erie was declared a dead lake. Yesterday I was walking atop an old landfill near Toledo, one of many that have been cleaned up. The Maumee watershed has a long way to go, but is one place chock full of environmental success stories. "You could see red leachate coming out of the Dura landfill," Tom Henry remarks. He’s the environmental reporter at the Toledo Blade, a dedicated reporter and very generous font of knowledge.

Out on the boat, as two reporters struggle to haul in a net, Jeff is talking about the Lake Erie "dead zone." The lake recovered and is now home to a thriving freshwater fishery. The contents of the net confirm this, yielding a half-dozen fish species including yellow perch and the invasive round goby (which probably came in with the ballast water of a ship, just as the zebra mussel did). There's a layer of the lake with no oxygen, a "dead zone" in which nothing can live. It's been of concern for a long time, but, Jeff tells us, what we need to deal with is the runoff problem.

The lake is plagued by blue-green algae blooms. On shore he showed us a picture of an algal plume spreading outward from the Maumee, miles into the lake. These blooms are the result of high levels of nutrients – silt and fertilizer runoff – washing out into the lake, which is shallow and warm. The blooms can be toxic. And they block out light to the lake bottom, contributing to the anoxic zone. And when they die, they use up oxygen as they decompose.

To solve the dead zone problem, we have to deal with the silt and fertilizers flowing into the lake, he says.

After releasing the fish we head back to the lab. There will be coffee, he promises. And there is. Not good coffee, but at least it's hot.

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