Friday, November 16, 2018

Diverse-City


On Monday, October 22nd, I attended an issue of Live Magazine! - an ongoing multi-disciplinary series that features an evening of entertainment curated by different artists in the community. This particular issue was curated by Paul Power of Power Productions, and was titled 'Diverse-City' - celebrating diversity in our arts community. 

Paul David Power has spent the past 25 years working as a writer, actor, director and communications professional in various mediums including dramatic script for the stage. His most recent project, "Crippled" made its professional debut at the LSPU Hall this past February. Paul has worked with many national arts organizations including the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Arts Centre to examine and further the disability, Deaf and MAD arts sector. His company, Power Productions, is committed to creating and supporting diverse and accessible theatre projects, with a focus on the disability, Deaf and MAD arts sector.

What a stellar line-up of performers in one tiny show!

While most teenagers are into the Top 100 hits, 13 year old Brandon Bowen loves to jam out the traditional tunes on his accordion. Brandon has cerebral palsy but he doesn’t let his disability get in his way when it comes to his musical talent. He has been playing his accordion for 4 years and has played in many festivals including the NL Folk Festival, Eastport Accordion Festival, George Street Festival, Music and Friends Festival on Bell Island, the Janeway Telethon, O’Reilly’s Pub and he even had the opportunity to play with some popular Newfoundland bands such as Shanneyganock, Rum Ragged and the Masterless Men. Brandon has his own band – 'The Brandon Bowen Band' with his good buddies Russell Molloy and Dave Spurvey. They are always helping out with volunteering to play at events and senior homes. Brandon has also recently branched off into the acting industry, playing the role of Connor in the CBC show, Little Dog. He is also starring in the current NAPE commercial. Keep your eye out for it!


Kyle Saunders is a stand up comedian, improviser and actor who is currently studying Psychology at Memorial University. He has been volunteering and advocating for mental health since receiving his diagnoses of bi-polar disorder at the age of 14. He says that he has been on a "wild hilarious ride of manic mental mischief" that makes for an interesting life which wouldn't be possible without the incredible support and patience of his family and friends throughout the years. Kyle says that he enjoys including bits about his struggles with mental health into his comedy acts because it adds a voice and an opportunity for people to talk to him about their own mental health challenges. He is very open about his journey and says that while the jokes can be a coping mechanism, it is also a way to show people that he is capable of performing through the challenges and even making light of some of the hardships he has faced. You can see Kyle's story documented in this video for the Janeway HERE!


Anne Malone is a self-described Guide dog wrangler, bias-defiant writer, speaker, and creator who envisions and advocates freedom from disability for people who are blind or visually impaired. Her writing plumbs the depths of history, the classical arts, and popular culture to reveal the origins of deeply buried cultural beliefs about the abilities and characteristics of people who are blind, and the catastrophic consequences these misbeliefs have on blind and visually impaired people around the world. Anne opened her talk by explaining that she is on the "happy experience of vision loss" or as she likes to call it, "eyesight loss", because as she says, "vision is something that's inside, and there's nothing wrong with my vision!" I couldn't agree more, and I thoroughly enjoyed Anne's talk!


Diana Daly is a multi-instrumentalist, performer, storyteller and songwriter. She treated us to a couple of beautiful songs that she wrote for her own stage show, "If A Place Could Be Made", that she performs with her dear friends, Louise Moyes and Anne Troake as part of the Daly Family Collective. "If A Place Could Be Made" tells the story of Diana's own extraordinary family. Her great-grandparents had twelve children, six of whom were exceptionally tall and six had skeletal dysplasia, or what is currently known as persons of short stature, and had various disabilities. The production focuses on inclusion through songwriting, contemporary dance, and storytelling. It was wonderful to hear Diana describe her remarkable family, and talk about how much effort went into telling their story without exploiting their obvious physical differences. I haven't yet had the opportunity to see her show, but I am really looking forward to it!


To close the show, Brandon performed a set with Diana and in true Newfoundland style, they traded songs and tunes in what felt like a makeshift jam session that you just didn't want to end. What talent we have right here in our community, and such diversity among our performers!


Great art depends on great diversity, and thankfully, our ideas about what diversity means have expanded to include artists across the spectrum of class, sexuality, disability, gender and race backgrounds. Power Productions has been working to make theatre arts in Newfoundland and Labrador more inclusive and accessible, and is committed to removing barriers that prevent participation in the audience, backstage, and on the stage itself. This issue of Live Magazine! was the perfect showcase of diversity in the arts community, and a wonderful way to integrate the mainstream community into the world that we live in, which is made up of individuals with all sorts of unique abilities.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Our New Build

This post is long overdue! I've been threatening to post a home tour on my blog for months now, and I am almost ready to show you guys inside.. almost! While we are still working to complete a couple of interior projects, I have been sharing little sneak peeks on my Instagram recently, if you want to follow me there!

As you probably know, Andrew and I sold our home last year (see THIS post) because we had outgrown it's space and functionality. We knew that we needed more living space inside, but we also wanted more land and space around us outside. We craved privacy. Our previous neighbourhood was lovely, but the houses were so close together you could literally high-five the guy next door through the windows. Not ideal.

We didn't want to venture too far away from the city, and with the needs of our children, we need to be in close proximity to the hospital. We looked at a couple of building lots in different areas, but were drawn to the trees and the level of privacy we would have on this spacious lot on a quiet cul-de-sac in Logy Bay.

This photo was taken in May, 2017 when we purchased the land. (We were so excited!)


To create our house plan, we worked closely with home designer and Certified Housing Professional, Andrew Holley of Levis St. Design Group in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Andrew's education is grounded in the fundamentals of building science and universal design. He understood the needs of our family, and worked with us to design a space that is both beautiful and functional with well thought-out access for everyone in our home.

We took photos to document the entire process, and will eventually have them printed in a photo book, like we did for our last house. At the time of construction, it all felt like such a blur, and I was so caught up in the details - picking out lighting and flooring options, counters and cabinets, paint colours and trim designs. It was a busy few months, and admittedly a little overwhelming, but all well worth it in the end. I just love being able to look back at these photos and see how far we have come.


The team at York Construction did an incredible job of bringing our house to life, and we can't thank them enough. From the very start of this project, they worked with us to make every decision as seamless and painless as possible. It was a pleasure to have such a talented and dedicated team on our side! Of course, while I'm at it, I can't forget to thank our awesome realtor - Erica Coultas. Erica was my go-to person throughout this whole process, and she was a dream to work with! We are so happy to call her our friend!

Our house was completed in April of this year (2018), and we moved in on April 5th. It's taken a while to get organized, but we are very proud of the progress we've made in the past seven months. It's been fun and frustrating and everything in between, but it finally feels like we are getting settled and we are slowly but surely making this house our home. She is a beauty!


We are so happy here. I can't wait to show you the inside!


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Pumpkin Walk

I just love this time of year! Sweater weather is my favourite weather, and we get a lot of it here in Newfoundland. (Pretty soon it will be parka, hat, mitts, scarf and snow boot weather, so I am enjoying this while it lasts!)

On the morning of Halloween, Andrew and I spent some time together admiring the beauty of this season. We took a stroll through the grounds of Government House and then Bannerman Park, where the trees were actively shedding their leaves. We were like kids, carefully choosing our steps so not to trample them one minute, then running and loudly stomping through them the next.


Our lives are busy and stressful and there are times that we feel completely overwhelmed with little more to give. We know when we need a time out - a break from the daily challenges of raising three children with complex needs, and though we don't often get much of a break, we did manage to sneak a couple of hours to ourselves among the Halloween parties, trick-or-treating, medical appointments and haunted houses. It doesn't take much. I've said before that just an hour or two together, away from the demands of our busy family, makes a world of difference. We enjoyed the fresh air, the quiet, and the opportunity to focus on each other for a moment. We need days like this to remind us that no matter how challenging life gets, there is an abundance of little pleasures around us to bring us back home.


The following night, Andrew and the children and I returned to Bannerman Park, where the City was hosting its second annual Pumpkin Walk. Residents were encouraged to bring their carved pumpkins to display along the paths of the park, and glow sticks were provided to place inside each pumpkin to light the path. What a wonderful display it was! People really go all out with their pumpkin carving and decorating, and I just love that! To be honest, Halloween is not my favourite occasion, but I do appreciate the way that some people embrace it wholeheartedly and really get into the spirit of the holiday.


The Pumpkin Walk is an earth friendly event, and a great way to dispose of your pumpkin after Halloween as they will be composted for use in future landscaping projects. Our own pumpkin, which was carved a little too early this year and turned to mush on our front step, made its way into a landscaping project when we heaved it out into the woods behind our house about a week before Halloween.

Happy Haunting, everyone!