Old Friend, New Conversation

I was recently invited to appear on West End Dumplings: The Radio Edition to chat with fellow blogger, Christian Cassidy.  It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.https://middlecitybigheart.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/old-friend-new-conversation/

Christian is an old friend and the man behind West End Dumplings — declared Winnipeg’s Favourite Local Blog in this year’s Uniter 30.

Christian’s historical knowledge of the city – coupled with his passion for this place – is incredible.

In addition to the blog and the radio show, Christian is a regular contributor to the Winnipeg Free Press and holds community workshops teaching people how to research the history of their homes.  Want to get to know him better? Tune in to West End Dumplings: The Radio Edition every Sunday at 7 PM on 101.5 UMFM.

On last week’s show, Christian and I got to talking about re-conceptualizing downtown — an idea discussed in a recent Planetizen article that argues a great downtown isn’t one central location but a collection of unique urban neighborhoods well-connected by public transit.  We agreed this idea could (and does) work for a place like Winnipeg.

Keen to hear more?  You can listen to the podcast of the show here — or check out “Secret Weapon to Revitalize Downtown; New Group Sees Hope in Redefining Urban Core with Historic Neighborhoods” or “Experts Define Downtown, But Not Every Great Neighborhood Is a Business District“.

Old Friend, New Conversation

5 Lessons for Making Cold Cities Even Cooler

https://middlecitybigheart.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/5-lessons-for-…es-even-cooler/Winter arrived in Winnipeg this weekend and the new season has changed more than the weather, it’s changed the city — the way it looks, the way it functions, and the way we interact with it.

Winter is defined by most Winnipeggers as the unpleasant obstacle standing between us and summer — or more specifically — the four-to-five month dead zone between November and March where complaining passes for conversation and activities range from drying wet socks to purchasing chap stick.

The new season has changed more than the weather, it’s changed the city — the way it looks, the way it functions, and the way we interact with it.

Although there is no question winter is uncomfortable, it is also a fundamental part of living here.  If we can accept that, we are better able to recognize the incredible efforts and activities that have sprung up in recent years and that are transforming what has traditionally been understood as our greatness weakness into a very real strength.

Activities like:

to name a few.

These initiatives reflect a growing interest in embracing, not escaping, winter.   As Anton Chekhov once said: “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy. https://middlecitybigheart.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/5-lessons-for-…es-even-cooler/ ‎

We’re not alone in feeling good about being so chill.  The top seven states in the 2014 Gallup Healthways Well-being Index enjoy long stretches of real winter weather and there is a growing list of cities having fun in the cold, both in Canada and abroad.

how do we create cool winter events for a cold winter city?  


The Project for Public Spaces* article, “Winter Cities Show Cold Weather Can Be Cool”, sets out the following lessons:

Make it Last

Winter events should last preferably more than a week and are best tied to an ongoing winter activity, like skating or sledding.  Singing carols around a lit tree is a pleasant activity, but has a much shorter shelf life and smaller demographic than a skating rink with a great playlist.  To create a cumulative effect, winter events and activities should overlap where possible and span the entire 4 to 5 month period.

Bundle it up

Activities and events should be combined, allowing smaller events to create a larger impact and enticing visitors to make a day of it.  The warming huts competition at the Forks and Red River Mutual Trail is a great example of this, providing visitors with a skating rink, walking path, wood fire shack, indoor market, and public art display all in one place.

Keep it Local

Local elements are the key to a great looking city, as well as meaningful winter activities.  Local elements encourage citizens to participate by highlighting what is unique about the city, providing warm food and drink, and showcasing locally made items. Festival du Voyageur is a great example.

Light it

The right lighting makes all the difference, creating ambience and “the feeling that winter activities and events are much bigger than they really are”.

Manage it

Management is essential. Without management of a city’s spaces, no winter activities would occur. Competent and ambitious management leads to great results.

*Project for Public Spaces is an incredible
non-profit planning, design and educational organization
that aims to transform public space through rejuvenation, capitalizing on
local assets, and serving common needs. PFPS was founded in 1975 to
expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, author of the insightful and
essential book “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” and its 55-minute
companion film.  Check out their list of projects here.

Whether it’s large local events bringing people together and creating public spaces with impact – or the fact that only my backyard stands between me and a world of crunchy, winding, wind-sheltered paths along the Seine River – I think there are plenty of reasons to look forward to this new season in our city.

The question is how to create more of them.

With four months to fill with winter fun, I would love to hear from you.

What is your favourite thing about Winnipeg’s winter? 

Any recommendations or secret spots to check out? 

Ideas for community events Winnipeg could add to its annual calendar?

5 Lessons for Making Cold Cities Even Cooler

Welcome Home

I love a good city.

I love the smell of a city, riding its transit, visiting its venues, admiring its infrastructure, meeting its people, hearing its stories, fearing its rumours, electing its officials and trying to pinpoint what makes it tick.

Blog Assignment 1 PictureCities are where life happens.  

Cities are not just about roads and taxes and snow clearing, they are also a reflection of our values.  They affect the way we interact and how we choose to engage.  Cities are where life happens.

This blog is a space for encouraging and investigating ideas about cities – big and little, ours and others – that captivate the imagination and motivate us to consider who we are, how we live and where we are going.   Ideas like: what makes a city greatBike or carWho’s in charge?

Welcome and hello.  My name is Katie My preoccupation with city life has found me living and working in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, enjoying brief sojourns in Adelaide (Australia) and Wellington (New Zealand), and travelling to cities throughout Central and South America.

I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of moving and settling into a new city – taking the leap, the awkward first day of a new job, the exploration of new haunts and hang-outs, the first moments of connection with new friends, the plagues of loneliness, and the self-satisfaction of figuring out new routines through good ol’ fashioned trial and error.  Ah. My feet itch just thinking about it.

Then, just last year, this thirty-something moss-free stone got a different kind of itch.  I’m not sure whether the itch was biological, ambitious, nostalgic, or just plain curious – but it needed a scratch.  I took another leap, backwards, to where it all began.  Winnipeg.

With my worldly possessions packed into a 10′ uHaul and a playlist worthy of Winnipeg including Neil Young, Chic Gamine, the Weakerthans, and Springsteen’s “Born to Run” (natch), I set off for Winnipeg.  I was excited to be home, and following a hectic couple of months as the campaign manager for a young, energetic municipal political candidate, I took a little time to stop and reflect on my decision and consider what brought me here and made me want to stay.

I would like to note that this period of reflection also resulted in the realization that the idea of saving money by living in my parent’s basement was far better than the reality of living in my parent’s basement.   But I digress.

Winnipeg is a middle city.  Like me, it often finds itself somewhere between where it is and where it wants to go. 

Winnipeg is a middle city.  Like me, it often finds itself somewhere between where it is and where it wants to go.  What some call a culture of complaint, I see as a desire for change.  We are our own biggest fans.  We celebrate what we have and we embrace new things.  When what we have doesn’t work, we look for ways to do it better.  We love this city, after all.

I love this city, too. That’s why I’m really looking forward to posting and discussing ideas about cities with you.  Ideas we can use to make this city great. Whether you just got here, returned home or never left – I want to hear from you.  What brings you to the city?  What keeps you here?  What brought you back?  Leave a comment to join the conversation.

Welcome Home