Kids Are Dreaming Bigger Than Ever Thanks to Dream Streets!

With support from the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, The Dream Factory recently launched Dream Streets – their new annual initiative which will run throughout the month of September.

Led by Fools + Horses co-owner Kendra Magnus-Johnston, and U of M Landscape Architecture student Emily Sinclair, Dream Streets brings together the creative minds of designers, the enthusiasm of local business owners, and the generous spirit of volunteers in Manitoba. Through the construction of temporary dream-inspired installations, each life-size 10’ by 10’ interactive pop up showcases the dreams of Manitoba children suffering from life-threatening illnesses, while also raising awareness and funds for The Dream Factory.

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The Dream Factory is a locally-based non-profit charitable organization dedicated to making once in a lifetime dreams come true for these children to help make their lives a little brighter. The organization is recruiting Dream Team volunteers and sponsors throughout the entire month of September to help raise online donations to bring these dreams to reality for Manitoba kids who could really use them. Getting involved is easy! All participants have to do is login online, donate, and share the cause on social media. 100% of online donations are going towards the kids!

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This first year is an exciting experiment The Dream Factory is hoping to build on in years to come. It’s made possible in large part by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Host It  program, in tandem with on-site support from ManyFest and the Winnipeg Design Festival, and the support of some incredible local businesses.

The installations popped up during ManyFest and will be back again during Nuit Blanche, effectively book-ending the month of September at two of Winnipeg’s biggest end-of summer occasions. On Nuit Blanche, the organizers will remount the installations at the Forks in collaboration with the Winnipeg Design Festival. There will be QR codes available so folks scan their phones at each installation and donate directly to The Dream Factory.

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The four installations debuted at ManyFest included a Lego adventure from a child who dreams of going to a Legoland theme park, and a popup where kids received princess makeovers.

For more information on the Dream Streets project and how you can get involved, visit www.dreamstreets.ca.

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From parking spaces to parking lots

There seems to be all kinds of temporary transformation going on this month in parking places downtown. During the Design Festival, it was Park(ing) Day, where spaces for cars were changed into places to sit and have a coffee, do some work, or enjoy art.

This past weekend, it was at Nuit Blanche. Now Nuit Blanche doesn’t actually have anything to do with parking lots – it’s an all-night celebration of contemporary art. Exhibits pop up for an evening and are gone by morning, galleries stay open all night, and parties break out in unexpected spots! And this year, two of the events that really stood out to me were in – of all places – parking lots.

Normally I spend a lot of my time on here letting you guys know about cool events, restaurants, and news – but I’m going to get on my soapbox for a minute here if that’s OK.

We’ve got a LOT of surface parking lots downtown – in my opinion, way more than we need or should have. Check this out – a handy map of them that architect Brent Bellamy created a while ago.

Red = surface parking lots
Red = surface parking lots

Everything red is a surface parking lot – spaces that are basically dead zones. There’s no activity beyond people pulling their cars in and out, no pedestrian activity at all. To me, they’re basically giant mood-killers to walk by.

Except last Saturday – two of my very favourite exhibits of Nuit Blanche turned them into places jammed with people. First, glow in the park(ing) lot. I was excited to see if before, and it didn’t disappoint – there were kids, adults, at one point a party on wheels of 300 cyclists with a portable sound system, all out and enjoying a space that’s normally a sea of empty concrete and cars! People were walking and cycling to and from it – you could really imagine what it would be like if this was a space that was meant for people instead of parking. photo2

And then there was this fabulous madness – called electric kool-aid almond test (because why not).

photoSeriously, can you believe this is a parking lot? It’s the lot behind the Deer + Almond – and for one night, it was also a concert venue, an art gallery, and a gathering place.

So, how can we change some of these lots into places for people permanently? Cause now that I’ve seen what they CAN be, I don’t want to go back. /end soapbox

No sleep, only art this weekend!

It’s Culture Days all this weekend, and Nuit Blanche this Saturday night! If you’ve never been to either, what that means for you is a) you’ve been missing out and b) I’ve got your weekend planned for you.

From Friday to Sunday, all around the downtown and other parts of the city, and even all over the province there are going to be free celebrations of culture everywhere! That means music performances, craft classes, chances to see behind the scenes at major cultural venues, martial arts workshops – seriously, ALL kinds of culture for you to get out and sample!

But my favourite part of the weekend has to be Saturday night for Nuit Blanche – what can I say, I love nightlife! On the night of the 28th only, there are going to be art exhibits popping up all over the downtown, Exchange, and St Boniface – they go up at dark, and are gone by sunrise like magic!

There are more than 60 events at Nuit Blanche this year, so I’ve been scoping them out to see what my must-sees are – so far, I’ve got:

  1.  A forge! Matt Jenkins and his team are setting up a forge at Old Market Square – I’ve never seen one in person and can’t wait to check it out. photoby_J-Gaune_ForgingbyNight_MattJenkins_NBW-2012-200x300
  2. The whole night sky under your feet – this one sounds pretty epic. The entire surface parking lot behind the MTS Centre is going to be taken over and transformed into a glowing space that looks like the stars just landed all around you! Love the name too – Glow in the Park(in Lot)!tumblr_inline_miy0p6vlVG1qz4rgp
  3. The Museum of New Ideas – this one’s mobile, so I’m going to have to try catching it! It’s a fabulously old-timey looking truck that’s going to be showing films and travelling around from place to place at Nuit Blanche:
  4. kgm- museum of new ideas- from FB - Saskatoon - June 13 2013The events at the WAG! This one is always amazing – I’ve never seen lineups at 2AM at the art gallery on any other night! And this year, they’re going big – just a FEW of the things their doing include the opening of a new exhibit, Mama Cutsworth DJ’ing at midnight, and reconstructing the Parthenon on the roof. Because why not.
  5. Electric Kool-Aid Almond Test. The name alone is worth going for, right? But the event is just as awesome – live music on the rooftop, art, and street food all night long at the Deer & Almond, including nibbles from chefs from Bistro 7 1/4, Peasant Cookery, Diversity and of course Deer & Almond themselves. Love!

And there’s seriously lots, lots more. Basically every blue dot on that map is a one-night-only art experience! If you’re worried you won’t make them all, that’s what those pink trolley markers are for – the Winnipeg Trolley is going to be shuttling around offering free transport that night so you can cover as much ground as possible!

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So don’t just take my shortlist – go to culturedays.ca and NuitBlancheWInnipeg.ca and check out all the events going on and make your own! See you there (bring your coffee!)