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All In Hand


Miss Vicky Thu Apr 20, 2006

The asparagus is coming up! Hooray!

Positive Collaboration

Miss Vicky Wed Apr 19, 2006

We had a first meeting with the city's planning department to discuss the terms of reference for the Community Design Plan for the Wellington St. West mainstreet. By "we" I am referring to Creative Neighbourhoods, the Hintonburg, Civic Hospital, Laroche Park and West Wellington Community Associations, the Wellington Village Business Association, and Hintonburg Economic Development Committee. I felt it was a pretty good start to what seems to be a poorly-defined, make-it-up-as-you-go process. The lack of clarity on what exactly a CDP is supposed to accomplish is not necessarily a bad thing, because it leaves room for an engaged community to help define the process. And this is an engaged community. There is certainly diversity of opinion (don't get them talking about parking meters, for example!), but there is plenty of time in the next year to find the points of consensus and build a common vision.

The good news: the reconstruction of Wellington Street is on hold until the CDP is completed.... which only makes sense. So we have some time to imagine the streetscape we want before they start ripping up the street and replacing the sewers. What is not entirely clear is how much leeway we have to do different things - will we have to raise our own money for upgraded streetlights, or more interesting bike racks, for example? Or whether we will be able to get the city to incorporate the one percent for art program into this reconstruction. And we could get no clear answers from city staff regarding the implementation of the CDP - how can we be sure the recommendations will be honoured when development proposals come to the city? Of course, it's difficult for staff to answer that because it depends so much on politics. There are no guarantees, apparently. But my view is that an engaged community that is committed to a long-term plan for development, built on consensus and collaboration, can have a significant impact on the politics of any development decision. All the more reason to get involved in the CDP process.

They like us... they really like us

Miss Vicky Wed Apr 19, 2006

Ottawa Start has updated their list of Ottawa blogs, and plugged Miss Vicky's Offhand Remarks as one of their favourites. Aw, shucks!

Long weekends

Miss Vicky Mon Apr 17, 2006

Oh boy, do I love long weekends. Especially long weekends devoid of commitments, meetings and other work-like activities. It's been so nice to get out and enjoy the weather, take Winston for some long strolls, spend time with family and even get in a rare date-like moment with the Webgeek. On Friday I spent several hours removing debris from the front garden, and was rewarded with a single blooming crocus. It was fun to hang out in the yard - lots of neighbours were out and about, so we were able to chat a bit with folks (the minister across the street asked when his election lawn sign was coming, which was kind of nice!). That is one of the real benefits of gardening - it's a great conversation-starter, gets you outside, and (strained hamstrings aside) is good exercise as well! Friday night WG and I saw V for Vendetta, which was highly enjoyable (interesting political message - and 'splosions! What could be better?). Saturday we puttered around the house, had a lovely BBQ'd bison steak for dinner, checked out the improv games and spent a rare moment with some friends I don't get to see much these days. Sunday we took Winston to the Arboretum, where he chased balls and treated himself to a nice wallow in the brackish mud puddle (our horror was quickly replaced by uncontrollable laughter, because he was clearly enjoying it so much. It may take the back of the car a while to recover, however). We had a great easter supper with Mom, SABLE, my brother and his family. And today, I'm having lunch and a shopping date with my Mom. Sounds packed with activity, but I feel great.

In Loving Competition

The Webgeek Sun Apr 16, 2006

The Canadian Improv Games
Last night I dragged Miss Vicky (well, not exactly dragged -- she was happy to attend) off to the National Finals of the Canadian Improv Games. For those not in the know, this is a national High School Imrov tournament that is one year shy of its 30 year anniversary. It's also the organization that got me started into web-geekdom. After competing back in 85 through to 90, I volunteered for another 15 years. Doing many things, including setting up and maintaining their first web site. Career and other comitments took me away from it, and I hadn't been to an event in a few years. So last night was a bit of a reunion for me. It was nice to see that it had thrived in my absence -- growing by leaps and bounds in its reach and scope and finally picking up much needed corporate sponsorshiup in the form of ING.

It was also neat to see how much had stayed the same. The same audience rituals. The same quirky "What's in the box?!?!" intermission raffle. I used to be in charge of filling the box, and it was kind nice to see it's "quality" hadn't changed much -- nor had the audience's enthusiasm in reveling over each tacky item as they were revealed. Even a lot of the same faces, though some were now judges and coaches and teachers instead of players. It was especially nice to see that the camaraderie and mutual respect between all the teams -- those on stage and those in the audience who performed earlier in the week -- was as strong and vibrant as ever. Two groups of students in front and behind us got up and cheered equally loudly (and eventually horsely) for each team as they performed. The whole audience chanted out "Every-One! Every-One" during the reading of scores -- The last occurance was started by the first place team just as they got their trophy. Yes, it was a competion, and yes, there were winners -- but there certainly waren't any losers. Each and every kid on that stage walked away happy. Each and every kid was a winner the moment they walked onto that stage and even though they competed one last time, they all walked off of it winners too.

Kids get it

Miss Vicky Fri Apr 14, 2006

Yesterday Creative Neighbouhoods led a workshop with Connaught School's after-school club. We wanted the kids to learn a little bit about what makes a neighbourhood, and find out what they think about the area here. We divided them into three groups to talk about three different issues: the Mainstreet, Parks, and Construction/Development. I took on the Mainstreet Group. I showed them some images of Wellington West to get them talking about their experience of the mainstreet, what they like or don't like about it, and how it could be better.

Man, do these kids get it. They had the usual kid approach to things - identified the candy store right away, of course (actually, it's Malham's smoke shop, but to them it's the candy store). One kid thought it would be great to have a special zone on the sidewalk for skateboarding. But they zeroed in right away on some of the problems - litter and cigarette butts, rundown properties, homelessness, the need for diversity in the commercial area, nowhere to sit, people not talking to each other on the steet, and so on. One boy observed that not enough people come here to shop, and maybe that's because the surroundings outside the shops are not attractive. Another said there should be more housing so we wouldn't have panhandlers on the street. They suggested improved lighting, more colour, and more activities for people (especially kids) would help make the street more lively and inviting. One girl pointed out that none of the parks have fields for playing soccer or other games, or basketball courts. Apparently swings just don't cut it.

The best part of the workshop was their enthusiasm. They had so much to say, and we only scratched the surface. Everyone participated (I wish this had been the case when I taught freshman English!) and they seemed to really enjoy the discussion. These kids know their neighbourhood, they know the problems and they have ideas about how it could be better.

Now, how can we get them together with the Planning Department?

Community Garden?

Miss Vicky Thu Apr 13, 2006

Finally! There's a meeting to discuss the possibility of a community garden in Hintonburg. This is something I've been hoping would happen for quite some time. Here are the details:

Meet with the Community Garden Network to discuss starting a community garden in Hintonburg!
Hintonburg Community Centre
1064 Wellington Street
Tuesday, April 25, 7pm
for more info contact: The Community Garden Network

Good signs for West Wellington Community Association

Miss Vicky Wed Apr 12, 2006

I sat in on the Annual General Meeting for the West Wellington Community Association today, mostly to plug Wellington Street Works and the party on the 27th. The association has been relatively inactive the last couple of years and they are trying to get people in that neighbourhood re-engaged and active so they can participate effectively in the Community Design Plan, among other things. There was a pretty good turnout tonight - about 15 people , some new to the association and some returning. And everyone there seemed enthusiastic about helping revitalize the association, positive about their neighbourhood and their mainstreet. Bodes well for the future, I think!

Upcoming Events and sundry items

Miss Vicky Wed Apr 12, 2006

There is so much going on it's hard to keep track. But here are some highlights....

TONIGHT: West Wellington Community Association Annual General Meeting
Fisher Park Community Centre (Room 112)
250 Holland Ave.

Thursday, April 13: Meeting for Hintonburg Businesses
8am, Character Salon
We'll be discussing the upcoming reconstruction of Wellington Street West and the city's Community Design Plan process

April 26: A Taste For Life Fundraiser for HIV/AIDS support programs in Ottawa.
Participating Kitchissippi Restaurants include: Absinthe, Allium, Amber Garden, Juniper, Newport, Siam Bistro (it's open!), the Urban Element (which is full, apparently) and Thyme and Again. Just make a reservation, enjoy a great meal and the restaurant will give 25% of your meal cost to Bruce House and the Snowy Owl Foundation!

April 27: Wellington Street Works launch party at the CUBE Gallery! 7-10pm.


Miss Vicky Sun Apr 9, 2006

So we went to Cozy's today with Chefgeek and Special Patrol Group. I figured I'd have my usual french toast or blueberry pancakes (did I mention they're HUGE?), but I was sucked in by the sandwich board outside advertising their new waffles with fresh fruit. How could I resist? Well, I'm glad I didn't, because they were AMAZING. Light and fluffy and covered in blueberries, kiwi, banana and strawberries. Served with whipped cream and syrup, of course... Breakfast lovers must check it out!

Then we did a mini-shuffle to A Fine Thing, June's and the new bookstore on Somerset and Irving. Lots to see in that place, that's for sure! I feel I just scratched the surface.

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