Monday, March 25, 2013

Junk Food | About Face Installation at Gladstone Grow Op

First rendering of Junk Food: An Urban Foodscape

 In an email exchange last week, one of our project partners appropriately opened with the sentiment that she'd "usually say something about the awesome spring weather and the beginning of garden prep" but that she would refrain, sad face. On that cold, windy, grey day, we felt a little sad face-y too. Looking out the window, it was hard to imagine containers overflowing with ripe veggies any time soon.

We've got our happy faces on with this sunshine today, but we've actually been prepping to plant for weeks (well, for months really, but seedlings are in at the greenhouse!). We've got all sorts of exciting plans for this season to tell you about soon enough (one big exciting one in particular!) but let's start with the first: Gladstone Grow Op.

We're really, very excited to be working with the Gladstone on an installation piece for their inaugural four-day show, Grow Op: Exploring landscape and place. If you've ever been to the Gladstone's amazing, annual Come Up to My Room event, you'll have a rough idea of what to expect. Grow Op follows a similar format, inviting artists and designers to realize their visions within the walls of the historic hotel. The show "will facilitate a cross-disciplinary forum for landscape, garden design, art and place making within the vibrant setting of Toronto’s West Queen West neighbourhood".

The Gladstone's contribution to local art and their commitment to sustainability made fans of us long ago. Now that we've had a few planning sessions with the Grow Op crew, we're even more smitten.

Our installation, Junk Food is a collaboration between illustrator, artist and About Face art director, Lauren Pirie, multi-disciplinary artist and designer, Mahmood Popal, our own garden coordinator, Natalie Boustead, and SKETCH. It touches on themes of urban food production, food security, sustainable design and Toronto heritage and identity. The "urban foodscape"  is being built using salvaged materials, and home-made milk paint and will grow crops like lettuce and peas.

Watch our blog and the Gladstone Bag for more progress shots and join us from April 25 - 28 at the Grow Op!
Natalie and Mahmood disassembling salvaged materials at HUNTCLUB Studio

Translating the design digitally

Natalie whipping up some milk paint

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy Women's Day! Everyone Should Be This Lucky

We shared this video from Miss Representation last year on International Women's Day and we think it's worthy of showing again... and again and again. Notwithstanding all the achievements and progresses we have made — we're much closer to parity in education and workforce — there is still a major disparity in the number of women we see in leadership roles. Because of this, we here at About Face are especially thankful for our situation.

Cause and Effect: How the Media You Consume Can Change Your Life from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

Though the numbers in the Non-profit sector are slightly more favorable (sadly, we're calling 21% more favorable [based on US stats]) there's still a long, long way to go to achieve equal representation. So, we'd like to take a moment to call out and thank our mentors at SKETCH and Centre For Social Innovation, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of whom happen to be women. How 'bout them stats?

Tonya Surman, CEO and Karine Jaouich, Director of Operations at CSI; and Phyllis Novack, Artistic Director and Founder, Rudy Ruttiman, Executive Director and Rose Gutierrez, Program Director at SKETCH, and a shout-out to Jessica Hazen, former Director of Stakeholder Engagements at CSI: you are awesome. Thank you for believing in and supporting us, for being amazing role models and all-round powerhouses, and for doing good and important things. We only wish that our situation were more common. The positive impact of seeing more women in leadership ripples out in so many ways. Check this report by FEMinc and Take The Lead.

We'd also like to thank every other incredible, talented and hard-working woman and girl who has supported us over the years, but we'll call out a couple of particularly influential ones: our strong and loving moms. One last, important thank-you: to all the men who support women. We sure have a lot of great ones in our lives. They know that empowering women makes life better for us all.