Category Archives: Community

St. Thomas Community Recycling Centre – PIC

What is a PIC? A Public Information Centre is a communication tool used to share information with the public, as a group in one place, regarding a specific topic.2015-05-06 17.08.58copy On Wednesday, May 6th, 2015, JMA presented and facilitated a PIC for the City of St. Thomas’ Community Recycling Centre held at the City Hall. The purpose of this PIC was to present the community with the proposed project design and to receive comments and concerns regarding the project. To accomplish the task at hand JMA produced the following:

  • 9 presentation boards to be displayed around the room, highlighting the facility design, operations and specific aspects of the project which were deemed important for design decisions;
  • comment sheets with specific questions for the public’s participation;
  • a presentation of the project’s development and proposed design to date.

Welcome The first section of the PIC was an ‘open house’ for the public to browse the presentation boards and converse with the design team one-on-one. The second section was the presentation, projected large on the wall and presented by the design team (John MacDonald, David Smith and Ashley Jardin). The third and last section was a question and answer period where the public had free range to lead the discussion. Site Design The project was well received and the public turn-out and participation was excellent.

Pre-Columbia Tropical American Potluck

Every year the friends and family of JMA gather to share in the holiday season with a themed potluck. Through this event the attendees taste buds travel the world. This year we not only visited South America but we also traveled through time, to the days before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. The name of this year’s event, “Pre-Columbian Tropical America”.

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As always our holiday potluck started with a traditional drink. At past events this has been tea, beer or liqueurs. This year we were treated to Pisco Sours, a cocktail originating in Peru. This sweet and sour beverage was a big hit among the potluck attendees, so much so that we ran out of the Pisco and lime juice. Get the recipe here: Pisco Sour.

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The dishes were placed on the table in preparation for dinner and before the meal began each dish was explained by its maker and the themed dishes were revealed. As you can see the table looked stunning with bright colours, and interesting textures topped with fresh garnishes.

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The pumpkin soup was served first. The warm purée was a nice way to awaken the palate in anticipation of the intense flavours of lime, hot peppers, cilantro and onion.  A roasted wild boar on a bed of sweet potatoes was one of the highlights of the event. The boar was purchased from a local farm outside Stratford and had a lovely mild taste and juicy meaty texture. Unfortunately we don’t have the recipe for this dish. It was more of an improvised creation inspired on readings of Pre-Columbian cooking culture.

It took us until dessert before we noticed that the Cuban rumba background music was on repeat, playing the same 3 minute song continuously all evening, a testament to the good food and good times. The desserts were no let down to the excitement of the mains. There were Alfajores, a sandwich like cookie with dulce de leche in the middle, and a tropical fruit salad in a light prickly pear juice. Sweet treats were not common in Pre-Columbian times, but we couldn’t go without dessert now, could we?

We encourage you to try some of these exciting dishes. Let us know how it works out!

JMA’s Pre-Columbian Potluck Recipes

Pisco Sour

Sikil-Pak Dip

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

Nopalitos Salad

Boiled Yuca with Mojo

Black Quinoa with Squash

Zic de Venado (pickled Venison)

Arepas

Alfajores cookies

Tropical Fruit Salad

Apparitions – Night/Shift 2014

Earlier this year, following the call for proposals for Night/Shift 2014, JMA and MT Space sat down to discuss a collaborative piece between our architectural practice and their theatrical one. Early on, John suggested we consider doing something that engaged the public space at Kitchener City Hall. We found that both parties were deeply interested in looking at issues of public space in relation to individual identity and community interaction. We wanted to do something provocative, fun and interactive, that would in turn create a dialogue between strangers, and thus Apparitions was born.

We came to the title Apparitions for our piece, with the thought that the installation and its actors were a temporary appearance that offered a reinterpretation of the way that people commonly interact with the public space at City Hall. Our actors were in a sense apparitions themselves; slipping in and out of the actor / audience role.

After months of development and discussion, the form of the physical installation was decided upon. Since there are two mirrored porticos in front of Kitchener City Hall, we decided to create an illuminated veil with a projection screen at each portico. This would enable audiences to see and talk to each other instantly. At each portico, actors from MT Space would invite festival participants to interact and play across the divide of the civic square.

Apparitions - John MacDonald Architect

Apparitions – John MacDonald Architect

Heedless of this year’s first snowfall, on Saturday, November 1st, an enthusiastic team of volunteers along with friends of JMA & MT Space, worked together, to assemble the installation for its one night performance. Several sponsors provided us with the materials needed to put on a great show. Although there were some technical difficulties to work through early in the evening, overall the installation was a great success.

At Night/Shift, people of all ages interacted with each other through the screens of Apparitions, sometimes singing songs, dancing, asking questions to strangers or mimicking actors. It was all great fun and at the same time, reflective of what public space is supposed to do; bring people together.

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We’d like to take a moment to thank our sponsors who made this possible: Canadian Tire, Kitchener Wilmot Hydro, CRS Contractors Rental Supply, Form & Build Supply, City of Kitchener, Christie Digital and Sherwood Systems.

Also to our volunteers, who laboured tirelessly, giving generously of their time and muscle – Thank you for your hard work. This would not have been a success without you.

A Jane’s Walk to Remember

logo1_lLooking to get out this weekend? Want to connect with your community? It’s as easy as a walk in the park. Jane’s Walk is happening in our community and around the world this weekend. Jane’s Walks are free walking tours held annually, to celebrate the ideas and legacy of urbanist Jane Jacobs. Now in over 75 cities worldwide, more then 511 walks will take place this weekend and there is one happing near by.

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Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an activist and writer who took a community-based approach to city building and planning. She was not formally trained as a planner, but none the less she introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities should function. Many of her ideas are now seen as “common sense” to generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists. To honour Jacobs achievements and ideas Jane’s Walk is organized on the first weekend of May to coincide with her birthday.

Jane’s Walks are led by individuals and small groups. Some are focused around historical themes, geographical areas, or even popular hangouts, for instance, some strolls have been built around ideas like the urban forestry, gay and lesbian history, places of relevance to the homeless, teen hangouts, and urgent planning matters facing certain neighbourhoods. The walks offer a more personal take on local culture and issues. They are not a tourist driven initiative but an insider tour of a neighbourhood that helps open up a friendly, engaged discussion amongst interested participants.” (JanesWalk.net)

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This year local architect John MacDonald will host a Jane’s Walk through the St. Mary’s Heritage Conservation District. The walk will highlight early suburban planning and architectural ideas which formed the neighbourhood today. The walk will include a tour of a newly renovated Victory home. John will explaining the architectural ideas behind updating this home to accommodate for today’s family, while maintaing it’s historic character and significance. The Walk will also be sprinkled with local anecdotes about the neighbourhood’s history and what life was like in this area through development. All are welcome to bring their local stories to share with the group. This Walk starts at 2:30 on Saturday May 4, 2013. More about the St. Mary’s Heritage Conservation District: Stories & History Walk can be found here: http://janeswalk.net/index.php/walks/canada/kitchener/st-marys-heritage-conservation-district-stories-history/ 

See a booklet on the history St. Mary’s neighbourhood here: St. Mary’s Heritage Conservation District- A Walking Tour (Booklet) This booklet was never published, but has great descriptions and photos of the neighbourhood. 

DSC_0017Copy There are lots of Walks happening this weekend throughout Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. Details on all Jane’s Walks can be found here: http://www.janeswalk.net/index.php/walks/canada/kitchener/ So get the family together, and enjoy what your neighbourhood has to offer. 

 

Neighbours Who Come Together Win Together

The Festival of Neighbourhoods is now 20 years old. As the new Festival year begins, we are feeling the pride of having been involved with this initiative since its inception.

The Festival of Neighbourhoods encourages people in Kitchener to come together with their neighbours. It is led by the City of Kitchener, the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo and us, John MacDonald Architect.

The rules are simple: We ask people to think of their neighbourhood. Is it one or several streets, a few blocks, or a multi-residential building or complex? They must invite everyone within the neighbourhood to participate in community activities such as a potlucks, games, garbage pick-ups, barbecues, book or plant exchanges, weekly walks and anything else they can think of.

We ask the organizers to register their activities with the Festival of Neighbourhoods, and on the Festival Finale in October their neighbourhood could win a $10,000 capital improvement grant. In the past, these grants have been used to upgrade playgrounds, parks and streets. At the Festival Finale, neighbourhoods are also recognized for their efforts and awards are given for activities with values and features that make a stronger community.

John MacDonald and his firm became involved with this initiative when he became interested in the dynamics of healthy communities. As architects, our firm is interested in all aspects of what our cities are made of. This includes not just the roads and buildings, but also the relationships between people and the built environment, and finally, the relationships forged among people as they live in their community. The Festival of Neighbourhoods nourishes this last aspect of our community, encouraging people to get to know those who live around them by introducing fun and creative ways to break the ice and meet the neighbours. Over the past 20 year,  the Festival has shown us that connecting with our community creates a much greater sense of well-being, safety and belonging.

Over the years of involvement with the Festival, we have heard countless stories from participants who feel more welcome and involved within the community, enjoy seeing familiar faces on the street and watching their kids play together. This all seems small and ordinary, and yet these are huge success stories. These participants seek to create a better life for those who live in their community, and they do this themselves, right in their neighbourhood. A great example of a community gathering is Soupstock hosted by the Dekay St. neighbourhood. Watch this fun video here.

To learn more about the Festival of Neighbourhoods, go to www.kitchener.ca/fon, or even better, invite all your neighbours to do something together, and tell us all about it. Your story will undoubtedly inspire others to do the same.

From the Office to the Barn

It was cold and a bit muddy, but it was the most fun we have had at the office all year, okay maybe not exactly “at” the office. JMA closed up shop for a day last week and headed to the International Plowing Match 2012 in Roseville. Our team volunteered our time and muscles to assist the Mennonite Disaster Service in a demonstration of an “old fashion” barn raising, which took place over the course of the Plowing Match within the antique section of the event. The barn was brought in from Paris Ontario for the demonstration and was assembled and disassembled at the event before being transported to it’s final resting place at a private residence in Collingwood.

Our day started out with a very appropriate tractor ride from the parking area to the event grounds, once we where able to find the barn raising site we grabbed our hardhats and waited for instruction among the other volunteers (about 40 in total). Most of us being first time barn raisers listened carefully as we where explained the process. Come 10am it was show time and people begin to gather in the bleachers to watch our efforts. It started with most of us lifting the first positioned frame by hand as high as our arms would let us, yelling “Yo-He” which means hold on “Yo” and lift on “He” (trust me, you do not what to mix that up). A few people pulled on ropes on the opposite side, guided the frame as the rest of us lifted it.

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Once our arms couldn’t push the frame any higher assigned people put the pikes (long piece of timber with a spike in one end) in place, butting them up against the frame.  Once the pikes where set everyone moved out from holding the frame and helped either on the ropes or on pushing the pikes moving the frame up to its vertical position. Once the frame was up and resting on the prepared foundations, the ropes where tied off and nails where hammered into the legs of the frame where they met the foundation.

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This process was continued for the second and third frames, then support beams where raisin by ropes, these beams secured the frames together and where fixed in place with pegs and braces. Over the course of the day we rose 3 frames including their supports, but our work stopped there, since this demonstration was to be completed over the week, we had to leave the rest of other volunteers to complete in the days to come.

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JMA had a great day learning the traditional way to raise a barn. I only wish we could have been there the rest of the week to help finished what we started.

Moving Back to the City; The Urban Living Trend

The suburbs became the epitome of the ‘Canadian Dream’ following World War 2, as couples desired settling down,  more privacy, and raising children in safe, quite neighbourhoods. Then came the Baby Boomers; wanting to create much of the same lifestyle as their parents, the suburbs thrived through the 60’s and 70’s as large homes and modern cars became status symbols. Today things are starting to change, with raising gas prices, long commute times and a growing awareness of environmental issues, people are saying no to suburbia and are moving back to the city.

Echo Boomers, Generation Y, Millennials, or whatever you like to call them; the children of the Baby Boomers have historically tried to separate themselves from their parents and their new lifestyle choice is no different. Moving to the cities Echo Boomers are a major contributor to this migration trend and are helping create this new lifestyle norm. Growing up in the suburbs this generation is opting to live close to work, restaurants and entertainment; abandoning the car and saving on time and gas costs. This urban lifestyle is about walking, biking and public transit (they aren’t call Echo Boomers for nothing). This generation doesn’t see the need for large half empty homes, lawns that need constant maintenance, or having to drive to the corner store, instead the desire is to be centrally located. According to Statistics Canada the density in large Canadian cities grew an average of 126.26 people per square kilometer from 2006 to 2011, topping the charts where Vancouver who’s density increased by 210 people per square kilometer and Toronto, increasing by 177.1 people p/ sq.km. It’s all about location and the most sought after are becoming those within the city.

Despite Generation Y’s quest to separate themselves from their parents, Baby Boomers are following the initiative of their children and making the move  themselves. As Baby Boomers approach retirement they are realizing their large, empty homes require too much maintenance, and the family vehicle continues to cost more and more to drive. Many Baby Boomers are seeking homes that better suite their lifestyle; hunting for smaller home which require little or no maintenance, are in close proximity to all amenities, contain a sense of community and can easily be locked up when traveling. Downtown condos are becoming a popular choice, offering Baby Boomers the lifestyle they are looking for. With so many people now competing for the same properties, prices are on the raise.

Together these two large groups are creating quite a lifestyle tend, raising property values in cities and increasing the number of high rise condos being building. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing annual report; a record of 27,504 new condo unites where under construction in the city of Toronto at the end of 2011, increasing the city’s total number of condo units to 199,000. Will this urban living trend redefine the ‘Canadian Dream’? What does this mean for our cities, suburbs, transportation modes, property values, and environment? Change is inevitable and it seems we are about to whiteness the next big lifestyle shift; what the outcome will be, only time will tell.

Future Toronto Condo sites. Photo from condo-living-west.com