Hello, Summer.

The city is buzzing.

It does this, every year. People always go a little haywire when spring is here, but by late June, the excitement in the air is palpable. People are losing their minds over summer by the time it arrives, and late June on the prairies is ultimate summer. Gorgeous, sunny days, not too many mosquitoes yet, not gross late summer heat. People here go nuts for summer, because they spend so many months of the year in cold darkness.

Looking back at the winter, it’s slightly difficult to imagine that it ever existed. It strikes me as dark, and quiet. A time of hibernation, and focusing inwards. I enjoy winter – even the outdoor stuff – but my winter is a time for school and lectures and theatre and learning.

Then, inevitably, comes warmth and light. The air is electric, this time of year. The seasons affect us on a deep level. Maybe a molecular level. Something changes in us, whatever that may be individually. I’m also excited to see this place blossom; there hasn’t always been this much going on.

Today, I worked a Save Edmonton’s Downtown Footbridge concert-on-the-footbridge as part of #DIYcity. I’ve joined the campaign team since my last post about the footbridge, and it was a great afternoon of talking to people about their senses of place. People are eager and willing to love their city. Issues are complex, of course, but connecting with people on a grassroots level is so satisfying.

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Vibrating from a day talking to people who love their city, I walked downtown toward the National Aboriginal Day celebrations when the concert was done. Approaching Churchill Square from the southeast, it struck me that there was stuff happening everywhere.

A ball hockey tournament was blasting music behind Churchill Square, a space long-underused. People were swarming downtown hotels, what with the women’s World Cup in town. The fountains in front of City Hall were packed with squealing kids and adults with their pants not-quite-rolled-up-high-enough-but-whatever-it’s-summer.

An ice cream dude was even selling Choco Tacos! You know you’ve hit it big when you can buy Choco Tacos. No joke: those tacos are legendary.

The Works (the art and design festival) is on right now, bringing with it all the arty infrastructure in Churchill Square. Food trucks line 99 Street, and now that 102A Ave is blocked off between 99 St and 100 St, it’s filled with a strange bean bag-plant-something seating area.

June 21st was National Aboriginal Day, and the city continued its festivities (which have been running throughout the week). I’m frankly hesitant about the fact that the city planned #DIYcity for the same day, but Churchill Square was packed. Families hung out in the grassy area. I hung out for a while, listened to the music, and enjoyed the atmosphere.

I then checked out the RISE Heart Garden. It was beautiful.

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Overall, it was a beautiful, perfect day interspersed with inspiring moments. From personal stories from visitors to the bridge, to the heavy subject matter that was being discussed on stage at National Aboriginal Day, to the RISE heart garden, it gave me a lot to think about.

Edmonton still has a ways to go, to compete with the sheer volume of events in bigger cities. Still, the city we have today has evolved from the city I try to capture in this blog. The city I saw today has nothing to apologize for. It is now a metropolis that retains a distinct community vibe, as demonstrated when the concert on the footbridge event wrapped up, and people just started jamming on the footbridge.

Happy summer, Edmonton.

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The Incomparable Chez Pierre Mural

One of the most significant challenges I’ve faced while rolling out this blog is the ability to consistently provide quality updates when the going gets… busy.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m totally jazzed about all the exciting happenings around Edmonton these days. So, I went and volunteered for everything, as well as am doing some work for organizations around town. This is all very fun and enjoyable (I’m pleased to say that I’m doing work I like! hooray!), but it is a balancing act.

While it has been a couple of weeks since my last post, rest assured that I’ve been trolling around town, taking photos every chance I get. I’ve prepared a fun backlog of adventures, and I’ll be sharing them with you in the next few days. To tide you over, I thought I’d share a slice of downtown that most Edmontonians will recognize.

Introducing: the Chez Pierre mural on 105 Street and 100 Avenue.

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Notably, this happened to be “IMG_0069” when I transferred the images onto my computer. Insert giggly twelve-year-old reaction here.

This mural has been kicking around downtown for what feels like forever. At least since the ’90s, although talking to friends, there are mixed opinions about when it went up.

I’ve made it as far as the doorway, and never further inside. Being naive and freshly adult, I did not realize – until the doorman informed us – that everyone has to buy a drink at a strip club. No freeloading, the way I was used to. But… but… I was broke! It makes sense now, to retain some control over the ogling, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. Due to my hurting financial situation, I left, and haven’t been back since. Partly because strip clubs aren’t really my thing, but mostly because I’m still broke.

The rest of the building is pretty interesting, too.

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During my early 20s, my roommate informed me that a guy we regularly saw wandering downtown was the real Chez Pierre. I doubt the validity of this claim, but interestingly enough, about two blocks before I got to the mural to take photos, guess who I passed in the street? The “real” Chez Pierre. I hadn’t seen him in years. Maybe it’s true. They do look very similar.


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Chez Pierre mural, you are one-of-a-kind.