Browsing articles in "Creative Discontent"


Sep 28, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Well, these last two weeks have been a rather unintentional mini-hiatus — I suppose I just wasn’t quite as on-the-ball as I should have been about getting entries ready for what I knew would be a busy few weeks! Read more >>

More than Sunday School

Sep 13, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, Ministry  //  1 Comment

I think that most people who grow up in a particular church and remain there as adults can relate to the process of breaking away from the image of the kid in Sunday School and starting to be seen as an adult. It can be even more pronounced when a) your family is involved in ministry and/or leadership throughout your life, and b) you end up in leadership roles within the church yourself. It may be the worst for PKs (Pastors’ Kids), but even for those of us whose families are in lay ministry, it gets kind of complicated at times.

That process is something that I’ve gone through, with varying degrees of angst, since I was in high school. There are people there who remember when my mom was pregnant with me, and there have been times, when I’ve been in a leadership role over certain people, that have been kind of difficult, but it’s part of the life cycle of ministry, and we all work through it in one way or another. We find our place, and in 20 years or so, the cycle will repeat itself.


Sweetness and light

Sep 9, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Movies, Reviews  //  No Comments

We saw The Ugly Truth last weekend — with friends; it was their choice of movie, not ours — and it was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. Lots of crude humor, lots of denigration of healthy relationships, and a very dim view of men.

Now, I don’t have a problem with most content in movies. Much to my mother’s consternation, I don’t filter my movie choices based on violence, language, sex, or other “objectionable” content. Those may, in the end, affect my enjoyment of a movie, but I rarely rule out a movie because I think that what I see, I won’t like. I’d rather base my enjoyment of the movie on its story, and those elements can all be used very effectively to tell the story and make a specific point. Often, the movies with the most disturbing content (think Monster’s Ball, Requiem for a Dream, or Pan’s Labyrinth) are the most beautifully crafted, well-told stories with the most to think about and take away.


It’s a birthday!

Sep 8, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Real Life  //  1 Comment

Someone’s something-ending-in-9th birthday is today.


The best thing about WorldSkills

Sep 6, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

The 40th WorldSkills competition has been held in Calgary this past week — basically, it’s like the Olympics of the trades. Over 900 competitors from over 45 countries competing in 45 categories, ranging from plumbing to cooking; confectionaries to floral design; robotics to landscaping; cabinet-making to HVAC; interior design to web design; health and beauty services to fashion design. We spent a few hours wandering through, and it was a very cool experience (even though we were there for the last 3 hours of the last of 4 competition days, so we only caught the tail end of competition or finished products on display, rather than seeing the competition in full swing).

It’s the largest non-Stampede event ever held at Stampede Park; the largest event that Calgary has hosted since the ’88 Winter Olympics, with 2/3 the total number of Olympic competitors in ’88; the largest international competition after the Olympics; and quite groundbreaking for the WorldSkills competition itself, with a rather long list of “firsts” happening this year.

And the thing I was most grateful for this week?

Good weather.

I want Calgary to be recognized as the world-class, internationally-renowned city that it can be, and unseasonally cold weather can overshadow those elements to the detriment of the city’s reputation. I feel like I’m the parent of a misbehaving child when guests come to Calgary and the stereotypes about cold Canadian weather (at least, cold weather that’s not, y’know, in winter) are confirmed. But this week, all the children have behaved, and instead of having 10-degree (Celsius, of course) weather or, worse yet, frost or skiffs of snow during the first week of September, we’ve had 30-degree weather and sunny skies all week. (And this weekend, it’s cooled off a bit, so it’s more seasonal, but still nowhere near the unseasonal early-September frost and/or snow that we sometimes get.)

Because isn’t it nice that the world can go back home saying, among all the other raves and accolades about Calgary that are sure to be shared, that — hey, guess what? — Canada isn’t always cold!


Weekly (ha!) Round-Up

Sep 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Weekly Round-up  //  4 Comments

This has been a good week to be working from home.

Calgary Arts Development is moving, so this week, everyone’s working elsewhere, since we have no office for a few days. It just so happens that I’ve been fighting a cold and sinus infection of some sort all week, so it’s been nice to be able to take it a little easier without actually taking time off work — and, more importantly for my co-workers, to not be sneezing and spreading germs all over them!

It’s also been a good week, weather-wise, to be working from home, finding excuses to take my computer outside and work from a park bench somewhere. Seriously, some absolutely gorgeous weather here.

And this is really a “Monthly Round-Up,” not weekly (as usual. When do I ever get this out every week?), but here’s the list of what I’ve been watching, listening to, reading, and doing over the past few weeks.


Create your own Culture Month

Aug 28, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Culture  //  1 Comment

Okay, my readers. I want you to do something for me. But I’m not going to tell you what quite yet. First, you need a little background and a lot of links.

I just came from a press conference where Mayor Dave Bronconnier declared September as Culture Month in Calgary. It’s pretty exciting stuff, coinciding with the fact that September 18-20 is the second annual Alberta Arts Days, with all kinds of free events taking place province-wide. September starts with the 2009 WorldSkills Competition in Calgary, which is kind of like the Olympics of the trades (and is actually the largest international competition after the Olympics themselves, and Colin and I are planning to watch some of the competition), and then leads into Alberta Arts Days, the Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts, and ends with the Calgary International Film Festival, which, this year, features the largest monetary prize in a North American competition.

And, of course, in between all of that, the arts season is kicking off in a big way, with theatre companies launching new seasons, galleries and museums bringing in new exhibits, community organizations auditioning for their 2009-2010 seasons, and way more. It’s an exciting time of year — the excitement and forward motion of a new academic year carries through even if you’re not in school. All the coolest stuff runs on a September start date, right? 🙂

I’ve been totally immersed in Culture Month this summer — it’s everything that my internship is leading up to. Half my time is spent on Culture Month initiatives themselves — things like helping with a magazine that’s just been released, highlighting the fall arts season in Calgary (which you can find here), pulling together other support material, and getting outside and handing out postcards and other marketing materials.

And, of course, getting the new arts and culture website, ready to launch. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few weeks inputting events and making sure that the calendar is as up-to-date as possible before we launched this week, and my inbox is full of emails of even more events that need to go into it. It’s an exciting site, and if you’re in Calgary, you should really bookmark it, sign up for the newsletter, and make sure you submit your own events to it. It already is — and will continue to become — the hub for arts and culture news in the city.

The other half of my time has been spent working on the Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts, an awards night that recognizes the partnerships between arts organizations and the businesses that support them, celebrating the fact that these two components are such a significant part of what makes any city what it is. It’s going to be a fun evening (and will really be the end of my internship — I leave for California two days after the event!), and I’ve had a lot of fun working on the steering committee, meeting people from across the arts sector.

So this is Culture Month. Calgary is the first city in Canada to designate an entire month to publicizing and advocating the arts. Several provinces have provincial arts days, and there are some long-term plans to create a national arts days, celebrating arts and culture across the country. We’ll see what happens with municipal arts days, and how other cities take up the challenge to put their arts and culture at the forefront of the city’s collective mind for 30 days.

The thing is, there’s all kinds of amazing work happening all year, and September is just the kickoff. It’s a city-wide celebration and a fantastic way to honor the creative industries that form the heart and soul of the city.

So here’s my challenge to you:


It’s the little things

Aug 25, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, The Arts, Theatre  //  No Comments

A few things that are disappointing me (just a little bit) right now:

Standing Ovations

We saw two shows this weekend. One of them deserved a standing ovation. The other was okay, but not brilliant. However, they both received ovations.

It’s sad that the power of a standing ovation has been lost — it’s expected, for the most part, that an adequate performance will receive a standing O, and the power of that collective moment of awe that drives the audience to its feet has been lost.

As an audience member, the automatic expectation of an ovation takes away my power to respond in some way to a performance that deeply moves me or is in some way excellent enough to be acknowledged beyond simple applause. As a performer, the ubiquity of standing ovations takes away that next level of connection with the audience. It removes the breathlessness of knowing that this show garnered a reaction above the ordinary.

When standing ovations lose that power, what’s left? Standing on the seats to elevate the praise to another level?

I don’t stand for every curtain call. I’m not letting the fact that everyone else is standing up take the power of my own reaction away from me. It does, however, mean that I don’t always get to see the curtain call, which kinda sucks.


Or rather, what Facebook tells me about people. The Lion King has been on tour in Calgary and Edmonton this summer, and a lot of people have gone to see it. We saw it on Sunday, and it was fantastic. Truly. I’d been wanting to see it for years, but when I lived in New York, I didn’t have the opportunity, so it was finally time. Definitely worth it, and it’s the kind of show that it’s been great to hear people talking about, knowing that so many people are going (and taking their kids) to the theatre.

However, all summer, I’ve been seeing people’s Facebook statuses updated about how amazing Lion King is — which it is — but those updates seem to be at the expense of seeing the Fringe Festival or Shakespeare in the Park or the Folk Fest or the cultural festivals or any of the other — local — shows and events that are going on. I’ve seen exponentially fewer updates about those events, even though there have been a summer’s worth of festivals and things to see, than I have about one show. It’s a sad day when it’s a tour, as opposed to local work, that gets the most attention.

Broadway Tours

More specifically, the fact that Calgary is a place where things are seen on tour, 10 years after they’ve been something cutting-edge and on the cusp of what’s big and groundbreaking. I love this city, but there’s something to be said for living in a place where you can see those shows when they’re a) just opening, or b) (and even better) being developed and still just outside the realm of really being big. By the time they’re on tour, there’s really no more street cred to them. They’re just part of the mainstream culture, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but I like being ahead of the game.

That’s it. Nothing earth-shattering. Just a few little things I wanted to get off my chest.

Tasting heaven

Aug 13, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith  //  No Comments

Colin pointed out to me last night that I’m “not a small-church kind of girl.”

No, really?

Heh. I’ve been saying that for years. Just like I’m not a small-town kind of girl, I’m also not a small-church kind of girl. The thing is, though, it’s not about being big for the sake of being big; it’s about having the capacity to use so many more people’s gifts and to serve more people in varied and high-quality ways.

I’ve been involved in small churches, and there are things about them that are pretty great, but when it comes down to it, I’m a big-church girl. Foothills, with somewhere around 2000 people who call it their church home, is a church that’s on the small side of big. It’s not a huge mega-church, but it’s a fairly large church, and its size and commitment to growth is one of the things I love about it.

Strange, then, that while this was on my mind, I came across this today: The Fruit of a Large/High-Impact Church. It’s a good read—7 things that are significant about the large church.

So… go read it.

Yeah, that’s it. I just wanted to point you in that direction. I don’t really have a commentary on it—except to say that his point #7 is a fantastic counterpoint to this post about creativity and the city. Big churches and big cities: Both of them preparing us for and giving us a taste of heaven. I think that deserves some more thought and contemplation.

Creative Discontent: The Explanation

Aug 11, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, Real Life  //  No Comments

A few weeks ago, I changed the title of my blog from “Thoughts on Art and Faith” to “Creative Discontent”. “Thoughts on Art and Faith” was never intended to be the permanent title—I mean, come on, it’s a little too obviously descriptive, and while that may be what the blog is intended to be about, I’ve never wanted to make it that unimaginative. If this thing ever starts getting serious traffic (and if, somewhere down the line, I make the jump to being a professional blogger), I don’t want that to be the title I’m saddled with.

My favorite titles are short, sweet, and come from quotes or have some sort of non-obvious significance. They reflect something of the writer by being something other than “This is a Blog About My Life.”

The title I’ve used for my personal blog for several years has been “commas and ampersands,” and my blogroll/friends page title has been “they are like emeralds”. Both of those come from the song “I Hear the Bells” by Mike Doughty, and they both grabbed my imagination in very specific ways. I like the idea of describing the events of my life and the thoughts I’m mulling over as the “commas and ampersands” of my day-to-day life. It’s a way of punctuating life—finding the moments that both separate things and join them, and realizing some of the big before-and-after effects in retrospect. As for “they are like emeralds,” the phrase brings to mind the snowflake/individuality image (at least, to my mind), as well as the priceless/diamond image.

In any case, that’s the kind of thought process that goes into my blog titles, and “Thoughts on Art and Faith” was absolutely not right for me. It’s the kind of blog title that I’d skim over. I needed something else.

So I went digging for quotes. Partly, I was looking for some more to add to the quote rotator on the right-hand sidebar, but partly, I was looking for a phrase that stuck out to me. Something descriptive and enigmatic, all at the same time.



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