Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A home away from home. The Third Place and boy we'll miss The Edwards

So what? A building burnt down.

But it wasn’t just a building. It was a place. It was somewhere that friends gathered, hosted by the friendliest staff who were focussed on service, fun and conviviality. That word – ‘host’ – is the key to describing what we lost when The Edwards burnt down. You can’t just have a building and say “let’s meet here”.

It needs someone in charge, someone who invites others to be a part of a space, to be a part of a feeling. This is so much what we need today – places that are focussed on community, on bringing people together; and that means ‘place-making’.

But they don’t just get ‘made’ - it is key people who give them their life, who create living vibrant welcoming spaces for others to enjoy. Chris Johnson and Chris Joannau did that with The Edwards, and this is what we lost. Jacqui Lappin does the same at the Carrington Bowling Club. Welcoming visionary individuals are critical to creating welcoming spaces.

We seem to do the same with the ukulele - Come together and play! Make friends! Be a part of a community. That is our job. We’ve had a great synergistic relationship with The Edwards for over a year now. We’ve felt welcomed and invited by the different spaces. We’ve even felt inspired to come up with new ideas, like the One Song Sing. It is the spaces, and the combination of people that have inspired us, and that is what we have lost.
A One Song Sing at The Edwards
We do so hope that The Edwards can rise phoenix-like. We really do, and we hope that we can recreate that good Edwards feeling that so many felt in our ukestra there.

Toby, pup and chef at The Hop
Meanwhile we are making a new home for Thursday nights at The Hop (still, I believe, called The Hop Factory), in Darby St. It has the right vibe, but most importantly, it has the right host. Toby Wilson was the first person to invite us to The Edwards and to say – Hey! Pull up a chair! Relax! Why don’t you play some uke here? In some ways he started it at The Edwards for us. But in April he left The Edwards and took over at The Hop Factory. Toby and family (yes, ukestra teacher/leader Kathy Wilson is his mum) pulled out all stops at the last minute two weeks in a row in June to make us welcome at The Hop. So we reckon it will be a good substitute for The Edwards. Here’s hoping all the ingredients are there to sound good and feel snuggly.

I’ve written this somewhere above the bloody North Pole, on the Great Circle Route from Edmonton, Canada, to London, England. Strange.

Both Jane and I look forward to returning to Thursday nights at The Hop in mid July, after our ukestration sojourn in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you are wondering why we are so passionate about these things, we’ve just written about it in our Ukestration Manual. This is one of the key things that drives us. For the curious, here is an extract from Page 11 of The Ukestration Manual.

Vale The Edwards. Rise again! Long Live The Edwards!

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Creating a ‘Third Place’

We all have two main places in our lives. The first is home, the second is work. These two places are very specific in their roles, and in what they expose us to. The rules of engagement are relatively well defined and the expectations of opinions and behaviours are equally regulated.

Third places are different. In his 1989 book The Great Good Place: Caf├ęs, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community, Ray Oldenburg describes third places as essential to a vital community life. These are places and venues where social equality is promoted and informal supports are provided to the individuals and communities that form there. Unfortunately modern society has lost many third places – churches, community halls and clubs, for example – places that were once the heart of a community’s social vitality.

Third places need two principal features to work well – a physical venue and social interaction. The venue is important for the comfort and familiarity it provides. However, a catalyst, activity, ritual or habit is essential to ‘activate’ a space. Therefore, if a weekly ukulele session can be the catalyst for coming together, this is a positive legacy of the work of a community musician. But we still need a tangible space for this ukulele-focused third place.

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If you are a uke teacher/leader, we are certain that your teaching and leadership would benefit from having a copy of The Ukestration Manual, available now for electronic download from www.ukestration.com

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Ukulele – a catalyst for engineering and climate changing fun.

The Coquihalla Highway hums every now and then in the distan... …aargghhhHHHHHh NO! It’s another damn mosquito. It’s not the Coquihalla at all. It is, instead, the #1 Mosquito TransCanada Highway that seems to have its final destination in our bedroom.

Take a ticket mozzies, there's a queue
The romantic lives of the gratefully hospitalitalised ukulele teacher. (Hospitalitalised? That’s the right word? No? Where people generously give you hospitality whilst you are on the road? Diminishing your costs and increasing your friendship networks?).

We are at (WHACK!) peace by Lac Le Jeune for a cuppla days, the bedroom (THWACK!) views are exquisite, the piles of food veritably (THUMP) cornucopian. We don’t know where the (OOMPH!) bastards are (BANG!) coming from but they continue un (OOMPH!) a (F&*^%&^&%G) bated (BASTARDS!) with the glorious dawn (that started at 3:30am in our south facing bedroom).

Dawn starts at 3:30am - here is a... 
....series of photos at different times...
But we aren’t the only ones blessed with this bounty of gnat sized bird food. The pine trees here were blessed some 10-15 years ago with the warm temperatures of climate change. The pine beetle needs (or more correctly doesn’t need!) beetle killing temperatures of -40deg Fahrenheit for a full week to keep them in check. Those winter temperatures are long gone, thanks to my home town and the unfilled coal-mining voids of the Hunter Valley. One year the beetles came in great armageddon-like proportions and wiped out vast swathes of pine forest across British Columbia. Whole forests just gone.

which are directly out of our bedroom window
Pine beetle remnants
Speaking of -40degF. This house is built on two concrete slabs, each one heated in winter hydronically from the lake. That means that, when the lake is frozen over, water from beneath the ice is what they call ‘warm’. This ‘warm’ water is pumped into the house then warmed further by compression (whatever that means, something like how an air conditioner works). Now at 90degF it keeps the house (via the slabs) warmer than the -40degF outside. They had it turned off during May because of the
Packing, drying, leaving, sad face...
‘unseasonable heat wave’, but turned it back on last weekend because an Arctic Front returned to snow on the area. Ye old circumpolar vortex (the winds that generally keep the really cold stuff up at the North Pole) is a tad sick at the moment, swinging more wildly as the arctic warms more quickly than the rest of the planet. Hence, last winter, iguanas were falling frozen out of trees in Florida -  that’s never happened before.
Portable head mozzie nets - happy face!

How do I know all this climate and house engineering type stuff? Because Dal, the Fahrenheit-speaking husband of our host, is a retired mining engineer, his wife is a ukulele nut, and that’s how we came to be here. And so the ukulele brings us more interesting experiences each day.