I’ve watched this short film more times than I can count. Warning: adult language… the only language… and only for about 2 seconds.

It was shot by friends Jono Hunter and Darcy Campbell, and stars friends Ian MacDougall and Victor Tomiczek.

It’s 2 minutes of cinematic referential perfection.

The crooked, Crumb-esque telephone polls. The desolate, Burton-esque trees. The too-white, Gollum-esque hands(?!). The Trailer Park Boys meets French indie film piano music at the end.

The reflection in the ditch water. The glaze on the wet sidewalk. The ATV tracks in the mud. The car lights blurring in the fog. The reverse-backward gait of the actors.

(By the way, it was only after I watched it a bazillion times that I noticed that Victor’s character seems to strike an outstretched-arm SUPER MAN pose, as he walks away from the camera, after having encountered Ian’s original SUPER MAN. It’s contagious.)

How I Met Your Mom: for Zadie, Shepard & Felix

vcecU1y - Imgur

CBRM district 5 candidates panel

CBC Information Morning held a debate with the candidates for district 5. Listen here:

Municipal Candidates’ Panel – District 5

Here are some of the issues that we discussed:

Creating a vibrant downtown core

Marketing our world-class artistic talent

Debt and equalization

Port development

Community Engagement

Kids and their families

Cape Breton and the Creative Economy

Interest in the arts as an economic engine is growing (especially interest from the provincial government1). So continuing on the theme of economic diversity, CBRM should develop policies to address emerging opportunities in the creative economy.

Here’s how the creative industries contribute to our collective prosperity (directly, through economic growth; and indirectly by improving quality of life).

The Ripple Effect

Investing in “core creative fields” (such as music, visual arts, and literature) creates a ripple effect:

At the centre, artists create original works.

The cultural industries then turn these original works into mass-produced goods such as books, recordings, and video games.

This in turn creates opportunities in the creative industries — for example graphic designers, industrial designers, and software developers — to make new and innovative ways to distribute creative goods.

And, lastly, the broader manufacturing and service sector develops new and innovative ways to consume, interpret, and enjoy culture. Think for example of how the Apple iPod is the result of industrial design and manufacturing, software design, the publishing industry, and ultimately musicians who are at the core of the process.

The Cultural Ecosystem

Artists are inspired by, build upon, and even re-use, elements of the existing cultural landscape. This means organizations that preserve cultural artifacts (such as libraries, museums, and heritage collections) are key to the creative process.

In a report titled “Building the Creative Economy in Nova Scotia”, the Nova Scotia Cultural Action Network (NSCAN) says:

“Creativity can be envisioned as a cycle that begins with core creation and moves through production, distribution, consumption and conservation of the creative product.”

It concludes, “successful creative economies require significant investment at all points in the creative cycle.”

Art and quality of life

Cape Breton is a world-class arts centre, with a growing innovation/tech sector, all set amidst some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. It’s a compelling “value proposition” for retaining and attracting the types of creative people who will make unique contributions to the culture — through their music, art, literature, theatre, and food, as well as in the built environment: dwellings, streets, heritage buildings, public spaces. These can’t be thought of solely in economic terms. They are part of what makes the quality of life in Cape Breton so attractive. Just look at some of the success stories in district 5 alone:

Plus the Greenlink trail system, Wentworth Park, and the new Louisa gardens in the North End; and the potential for a new downtown location for the Cape Breton Farmers’ Market, a new multi-purpose regional library, and downtown loft living for international students, artists, young families and recently retired entrepreneurs.

1 “Building the Creative Economy in Nova Scotia”.

Alex Sheppard – “How Cape Breton Attitudes Shape the Decisions of our Youth”

Alex Sheppard is my wife’s 18 year old cousin. He’s currently attending Dalhousie.

Here’s the introductory remarks I wrote for his “Ideas Powered By Passion” talk:

Alex’s volunteer work — with Junior Achievement, all-ages shows, and most recently Lumiere — is a testament to the saying: “Do what you love, and try to find ways to make it matter more.” When Alex started playing in bands — often as the only under-age bass player in a band full of 19+’s — he needed adult accompaniment when playing at Bunkers. Rather than accept this as an inconvenience, or even allow it to become an impediment, he saw it as an injustice that there weren’t more all-ages venues and all-ages shows. So he started organizing some, combining his passion for the arts with the guts to take a risk. Rather than complaining about the youth out-migration problem — or simply saying “This town sucks” and moving on — he looks for ways to make music matter more, treating music and the arts in general as a downtown revitalization effort, a community development initiative, and a youth retention and attraction strategy.

In his talk, Alex identifies a tension in the life of Cape Breton youth — one which has far-reaching implications for both youth “retention” & outmigration, as well as immigration in general. Young people are brought up believing their only hope is to leave… but when they do leave (even if only to attend university elsewhere) they’re characterized as traitors. What a conflict! (“Should I stay or should I go?“)

Young people should be encouraged to pursue their dreams, wherever in the world those dreams take them. And they should be encouraged to return, with their degrees, their experiences, their expectations, and their entitlements.

We have a responsibility and obligation to make it a viable place to live, work, raise a family, and retire. So that when faced with the decision of where to set down roots, that Cape Breton is on the list.

Cape Breton in Munich

Uli Schaarschmidt is an artist who visits Cape Breton every so often to paint sunshiney portraits of fishermen, miners, musicians and wild horses. Some of his Cape Breton paintings were recently featured at this gallery in his hometown Munich.

Here’s what Onni Nordman says about Uli’s work:

“To round out the Expressionist century, Uli Schaarschmidt arrives in Cape Breton from Munich with his emotionally charged gestural art. He takes the things of the world, the things of the mind, and the things of heaven — which are also the things of Cape Breton Island — and he makes of these things bold pictorial fireworks of emotional depth and power.”

Uli’s own website has more images, including a photo gallery titled “Celtic Colours” which includes some images from his 2008 show at the CBU Art Gallery. (Plus one of Uli with us.)

While in Cape Breton, he also spoke at a philosophy cafe where Uli described the events leading up to his arrest, and subsequent 5-year prison term, for his role in the East Germany 1968/69 uprising which was crushed by the Soviet Army.