"For the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate while we still can." —President Obama at the U.N. Climate Change Summit
Breaking: Today, at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, President Obama announced a new set of tools to harness the unique scientific and technological capabilities of the United States to help vulnerable populations around the world strengthen their climate resilience.
Hayley Todesco’s, Waste to Water: Google Science Fair Entry video does a great job of explaining her amazing research.
Calgary teen Hayley Todesco has won a $25,000 scholarship from Google for her science project about speeding up the detoxification of oilsands tailings ponds. This is really important area of research for Canada’s growing oil industry and for the environment. Way to go Hayley!
Photographer Garth Lenz’s aerial images of sites impacted by tar sand mining are great at demonstrating the scale of this industrial project.
On Saturday the Tar Sands Exploration Station found itself parked in the heart of Yonge and Dundas square at the Intersection festival for contemporary music. Beautiful and complex contemporary/experimental music served as the perfect backdrop for the cacophony of sounds and experiences that dominated the day.
Modeled after Time Square in New York, Yonge and Dundas Square is a privately owed “public space” located across the street from Toronto’s largest shopping mall, the Eaton Centre. When I first moved to Toronto in 2002, the square was non-existent. It was a regular urban intersection with a few sketchy stores, some nicer chain operations and $1 hot dog stands. Today the square is a carefully crafted attempt at a park that is actually just a frame for an inordinate amount of advertising. TVs, billboards, flashing signage, promo teens and flyers fill the area with impossible amounts of imagery. It feels a little bit like Vegas without the camp, like an Adam Smith dream sequence in a 50s era movie about the of a capitalist future. The public programming in the space is often invigorated but consumed by the advertising which surrounds it.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of the square is the combination of people who are present on any given day. Tourists are dropped off every 20 minutes by a flashy “hop on, hop off” tour bus. They are eager to see, to pose and to document, but few stay more than the obligatory 20 minutes, jumping onto the next bus that rolls in. They are entertained by street performers located just outside the square, careful not to cross into the closely monitored space where uninvited performances are strictly forbidden and often shut down by security.People who are in the space specifically for the programming of the day are also present, usually congregated near the stage, awaiting the action. Aside from a few weary shoppers the vast majority of other people in the square are transient and under housed adults. Many of them appeared to be regulars, greeting each other and settling into familiar seats, some even calling to security guards by name. Of this population at least half presented as though they were in an altered state, many more of them exhibited outwards signs of mental health issues.
During the most interesting moments of the day, the multiple actors in the space came together, narrated by the complex music, on an endless backdrop of advertisements. The conversations we had that day were quite different than those we have is most places we open our doors. Though most discussions began by addressing tar sand, they last longer and drifted onto other topics. We discussed hunger, transit, addiction, the real, comedy and Indigenous history. We spent a lot of time listening to people who seemed to need much more support than our brief chat could provide. The tones of the music shifted with each performance, creating a whole new atmosphere, scoring our conversations with staccato insistence, peaceful meandering soundscapes and dozens of other technical and trippy sounds that our uneducated ears cannot describe. The changing music mimicked the unpredictable turns our discussions kept taking. The day was challenging, informative and amazing.
Are you in Toronto tomorrow? Come out to Yonge and Dundas Square where the Tar Sands Exploration Station will be participating in the Intersection music festival. Bands will be playing throughout the day and performances and installations will be scattered throughout the square. Hope to see you there
Protesters blockaded the pipeline construction site in North York for nine hours, protesting plans to boost and reverse the flow of controversial Line 9.