How to bang a pot and change the world

Pandemic, COVID 19, novel corona virus, respirators, PPE, lockdown, self-isolation, hand washing protocol … everyday words now in spring 2020. 

These days I reach out and grab hold of any moment of intimacy – no matter how small – because this pandemic has not changed the fact that our lives on earth are fully intertwined.

Staying at home rubs agains the grain. We want to bust out – spend time with friends on the patio; make a special dinner for our kids; get in the car and drive 10 hours to sleep in the guest room; hug our special people.

When my wife suggested I make a video about the daily pot-banging ritual on our street, I thought it would be a balm for my mind rubbed raw by the day-to-day, but it became much more. Each evening as I made my way to the front yard of a neighbour’s house to safely set up my gear, a new perspective was revealed. Each household drew from their life experiences to infuse the daily ritual with their unique meaning, the meaning passed from person to person and then united in the clanging. I felt a closeness to humanity I hadn’t experienced in weeks.

So, when we raise an arm to bang a pot with a wooden spoon, wave to an neighbour or blow kisses to the camera with our 3-year-old we tug on the threads connecting us – one to the other.

We are not only honouring the frontline and essential workers who risk there lives daily to keep us safe and care for the sick, but we are also remembering the importance of caring for each other.

If you like this video I urge you to seek out opportunities in your own community to connect safely and care for others. The story of our lives unfolds moment by moment. Each choice we make echoes around the world.

How to choose a carpet … Lingwood style

Anyone who – in their adolescent years – wanted to paint their bedroom walls black knows that putting your mark on a space makes it your own. 

Former president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Paul Motz, had much more to play with when in 1970 his father assigned him to managing the interior details of the new Record building at 225 Fairway Road South.

One of his jobs was selecting the carpet for the space – not measured square yards, but measured in acres.

Although this clip didn’t make it into “Finding John Lingwood”, Paul’s detailed account of the process always fascinates me. Watch it below.

Watch “Road Hockey Stories: Episode Two – Mitch” First Goal

Here’s Episode 2 in a series of teasers for Lost & Found Theatre’s new play “Pocket Rocket” by Waterloo Region playwrights Lea Daniel and Gary Kirkham.
We will be showing all the stories we’ve collected as a pre-show treat at performances of the play April 20 to 30 at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.
For more information and a peek behind the scenes visit the Lost & Found Theatre’s blog.

Watch “Road Hockey Stories: Episode One – Paul”

I’m having a great time talking to people in Waterloo Region about their memories of playing road hockey
I volunteered  to start this series of short videos to help Lost and Found Theatre promote the world premiere of Pocket Rocket a new play by Lea Daniel and Gary Kirkham.
Checkout the Lost and Found Theatre blog to get a peek behind the scenes of the video series and the play.
Here’s Episode 1.

Career change … finally!

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After years of dabbling in art – everything from sculpture to play writing – and three years of tentative practice as a digital media artist, I’ve made the leap.

With the writing of my first artist statement for a grant application, it’s official.

I AM AN ARTIST.

For the seasoned artists among you I’m sure this seems naive – maybe pretentious. Why would anyone want or need to make such a declaration? For me it is a more personal than public acknowledgement of a new direction in my life … a career change. It comes at a time when one might be planning to rest on one’s laurels.

This is a frightening idea, but in the creative life work comes to us with a need to be realized.

Over the past three years my emerging career has been nurtured by the generous spirits of other artists, friends and community partners; so, I offer this in recognition of their encouragement, patience and faith.

Artist Statement

My art is centred around the personal narrative and its resonance within the large societal narrative.

Using all forms of media – still images, audio and video – combined into video, I strive to bring people’s personal stories to light and cast them as players within a community space. Videos can take the form of the traditional documentary, narrated slideshows, video installations or low fi pieces created by the storytellers using simple media tools.

Most often I work in partnership with community-based organizations to establish a project framework and recruit co-creators. I seek out partnerships that help me explore issues of social justice, human dignity and scarcity-versus-plenty. I prefer to work with groups of 3 to 10 people.

Projects follow a narrative arch beginning with story exploration, followed by media creation and/or collection, and then sharing of stories. I aim to honour people’s personal stories while bringing a new perspective to the work through curatorial practices of collection, relationship making and interpretation.

The resulting videos continue to resonate throughout the community with each viewing. The creation process is embedded in the personal narrative of each co-creator – including me.

What it means to be a friend

Social media has changed forever the meaning of the word friend, but when I think of friends I don’t picture the list in my Facebook profile. I picture the faces of people I’ve met, people with whom I’ve shared time and common purpose. These are the faces of people I know actual give a damn about me and the world we live in.

This is not to say my friends care more than others’; your friends care for you in the same way.

Physical proximity is a fundamental part of friendship and for that matter human relationships in general. When I sit across the table from someone, pass them in the street, redirect mis-delivered mail or feed their cat when they are on vacation, I’m more likely to listen to, care for, protect or share with them, simply because they are … near to me.

And that is the whole point.

The more I connect with people who are close by, the easier I find it is to understand the gap that separates me from those who are far away – the gap created by war, poverty, hunger, injustice … lack friendship.

I recently shot and produced a promotional video for the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. It is part their Friends of Crime Prevention campaign, created to help recognize and mobilize those who are making the place where we live safer and more secure by building community – parents, teachers, researchers, community activists and police officers. I met six new “friends” with whom I’ve shared time, purpose and values through this project.

Shortly after finishing the video I spent an evening with another group of friends and artists from the MT Space, where I sit on the board of directors. We spent the evening preparing food for our annual donor appreciation dinner. I sliced onions, chopped parsley, drank wine and sang shoulder-to-shoulder with people who share a belief that theatre and art are essential to a vibrant community life.

Both this videos are under 2 minutes. If you take the time to watch them I’m sure you’ll see the connection between the people who stand next to you and the well being of your community and your world.

It is these friends that make up the fabric of our lives and this place we call home.