Browsing articles tagged with " Culture"

Crème and Caramel

Dec 5, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  1 Comment

This cracks me up:

I work at Starbucks, and you may have seen that our new Christmas drink this year is a Caramel Brulée. Spelled that way. At least, in the U.S. it’s spelled that way.

I was looking through the signage for it a few days ago and discovered that the spelling on Canadian signs is “Caramel Brûlé,” which is actually correct. “Caramel,” in French, is masculine, and the past participle of “to burn” (brûler) is brûlé. If the noun was feminine (as in “Crème Brûlée”), there would be the additional “E” on the end, but because it’s masculine, there isn’t.

So… what’s up with that, Starbucks? Is it because Canadians would be more likely to recognize the error? Because Americans are used to the spelling of Crème Brûlée (with less understanding of the actual origin of the dessert name) and wouldn’t notice the difference (and they’ve even omitted the accent circonflexe over the U!) — or would think that it was misspelled because it’s not what they’re used to?

All I know is that when I pointed it out to my co-workers, they were insulted that Starbucks didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt to name the drink correctly. They may not have known the conjugation of the verb, but they were rather insulted that Starbucks assumed they would rather have the misspelling as the name of the drink than have it named properly across the continent.

Take the Name

Nov 25, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Faith, School, Theatre  //  No Comments

I can’t think of that ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” without my mind jumping to “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.” Two separate commandments, but they go hand in hand, to me.

More than just an admonition against swearing, particularly blasphemous utterances, that third commandment is a reminder that, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, we literally take the name. Whether it’s identifying as God’s Chosen People or as Christians, something about our very identity invokes God’s presence. Read more >>

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Oct 7, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Culture  //  No Comments

Earlier this summer, I wrote about why I love producing and how I got to the place where I knew I wanted to be a producer.

One thing that I didn’t mention in that entry, however, is my surprise at realizing that I have an interest in municipal public policy as it relates to the arts. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I realized that the interplay between a city and its arts and artists is a fascinating dynamic. They have such a symbiotic relationship — most cities are defined, in some way, by their arts; and at the same time, the arts in that city are shaped by the city’s treatment of them. They impact each other in all kinds of crazy, wonderful, frustrating ways, and neither can really thrive without the other. Read more >>

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:


Parading through tradition

Jul 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  2 Comments

The Stampede parade is tomorrow, kicking off 10 days of free pancakes, fireworks, and free concerts. And, of course, we’re going to the parade on Friday morning and to the grounds. Twice.

A lot of Calgarians have a love-hate relationship with the Stampede, but we love it, cowboy cliches and all. Colin and I are both third-generation Calgarians, which is increasingly rare in this booming, diverse city, and my great-grandfather was at the first Stampede in 1912. We’re looking forward to the 2012 Stampede — I’m not sure if there has been a member of either of our families at every single Stampede in the last 100 years, but I’m sure it’s close, and barring any extreme circumstances, we’ll be well-represented at the centennial.


Culture gets personal

Jul 1, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  1 Comment

On the surface, I’m a Canadian who moved to the U.S. in August, 2005 and has been splitting my time between both countries since then — about 18 months (plus vacations) of the last 4 years have been spent in Canada. Culturally and definitively, I’m Canadian, having spent the first 24 years of my life north of the 49th parallel in a time when Canadian identity was going through phases of being defined as, “Well, I’m not sure what we are, but we’re not American!”, but it’s still a bit more complicated than just being an ex-pat or an immigrant. (Side note: As a kid, I always thought it was so funny that my mom was an immigrant, because to me, immigrants came on ships in the 1800s and early 1900s, had to learn a new language, and travelled in steerage.) Growing up with a dual citizenship and choosing to relocate as an adult have put me somewhere on the scale of Canadian-ish and American-ish, and where I fit on the scale completely depends on the day.

It’s a dance

Jun 18, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, Ministry, Real Life  //  3 Comments

Man, it’s been quite the week around here. Changes, opportunities, losses, gains, answered prayers, an inconsistent internet connection at home (putting at least three entries on hold while I contemplated throwing my laptop across the room to see if that would speed things up), and a fainting spell on the train, and it’s not even the weekend yet! There’ll be a post coming about all of that eventually (except the fainting; that was just a Monday morning anomaly), but in the meantime, it’s been on the forefront of my mind.

There are few posts coming down the line that relate to it in some way, but for the moment, I want to re-post something that was on my other blog a few months ago. For reasons that are related to everything I mentioned above (except maybe the internet connection), I’ve been thinking about the way that Colin and I work together, and the fact that in the very early months of our relationship, we each placed ourselves in situations where we were under the artistic direction and ministry leadership of the other.

That decision has set the tone for our professional relationship, but it also allowed each of us a glimpse into the other’s character as a leader, which was so important when we were making those early decisions in our relationship.

This post isn’t as much about the arts as most of this blog is and will be, but it’s one of the foundational ways that my faith has manifested itself in the way I work and live, and because of that, it impacts my art and the choices I make. If nothing else, it’s something that still makes me think — and I wrote it! Seriously, though, this is something that I live in the midst of every day, and it’s on my mind right now, so if you don’t mind a re-run (if you happen to be one of those who reads my other blog), here it goes:

Culture at critical mass

Jun 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith  //  2 Comments

I love the city. By which I mean both “The City,” as in any of the cities that I have lived in and many that I have visited; and “the city,” as opposed to “the small town” or “the country.” (But not “The City” as a spinoff of “The Hills.” Can’t say that I’ve ever watched either show.) I just don’t thrive in a small town, and Calgary (at a million people) is just about the smallest place that Colin and I can see ourselves living.

I grew up on a farm, went to school in a small town, and had most of my social life in the city, and the city was where I have always connected and resonated best. Of course, I have a connection to both the farm and the small town, and there are things about both that were very influential during my formative years, but when it comes down to it, cities have always been my personal preference. (In fact, I can remember a family vacation when I was about 14 where I begged my dad not to take the back highways that avoided the cities, because I needed to see a few skyscrapers along the way.)

There’s just something about the convergence of nature, culture, the arts, creativity, technology, innovation, business, busy-ness, vibrancy, dynamism, and diversity that’s exciting and energizing. If God’s greatest creation is mankind, and if our greatest fulfillment and achievements happen when we work in the image of the Creator, then it makes sense that we see God’s creativity and beauty so clearly in the places where it’s shown through the creativity of people. I see God’s fingerprints as much in architecture as I do in mountains. A gorgeous building, an active crowd, street art, a bustling city — these are all things that reinforce my awareness of God’s creativity and greatness, just as much as seeing the majesty of the natural world.

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