Friday, June 18, 2010

A year of artificial turf

From a post I made on the Bowen Phorum last week about the artificial turf field.  This was made before Soccerfest (and before our coed team, The All Blacks, won the title!):

Having been a soccer player for the past year, I can say that there has been tremendous community built around what is happening at the field. It is intergenerational, active, fun and very popular. Literally hundreds of people have played on the field this year. There are all kinds of opportunities for people to come and play at every level from five years old and up, including a coed adult league that has been a blast, a women's program cooached by Canada's National Team Manager, a men's night on Tuesdays and some good sides for teenagers. There is a whole variety of competitive levels from rank beginner to pretty darn good. There are adult/kids pick up games on the weekend, and the field is open and available for people to play on when there are no scheduled events going on. For free.

The coed league cup final is on Friday evening, so perhaps folks could come out to watch that and see some of the community that has sprung up around the league.. Maybe one day it'll take on the character of the men's fast pitch league, which I love to watch, even though I don't play in it.

I think all of this activity could not have happened if we had not had the AT field. I was pretty mixed on the decision to use artificial turf, but when it went ahead, I chose to just roll with it. I have to admit, that plastic grass wasn't my idea of Bowen at first. When the infill material was discussed I was relieved to see what the final decision was (you can literally eat the infill material now - it's cork and coconut husks). But as long as we have this facility, I figured, let's use it/ Even though I travel a lot, almost every day I am here, I get some time at the field with my son, who is developing quite a taste for playing goal. We play on the field and if there are other kids and adults there, almost always a game gets started. It is a great surface to play on, and you'll forgive me if I tell you that it is of such a high quality that I often forget I'm not playing on grass.

I think we couldn't have done this on grass for a number of reasons. First of all, it's the sustained activity that builds community, not a couple of shoulder seasons when soccer is possible. Soccer is very hard on grass fields. Last summer while we were waiting for the new field to be built, we played our league games in Crippen Park. By the third week or so with only two games a week, the field was a mess. One or two good rains turned it to mud. You simply can't play that much on grass. In my mind a similar outlay on a grass field would have been a waste of money as we would have had to treat it too preciously for it to be of use.

I think the grass field at BICS, even with a massive investment to improve it would still be a problem because of the site and the amount of sun it gets and the kind of drainage that happens. The BICS field is like a bowl, and it is always under water after a rain, especially the south end. Playing on that field in the past has created some nasty injuries - hamstring pulls and sprained ankles, just from the lumpy grass.. One thing you have to do to manage a grass field is keep people off it for substantial periods of time while it reseeds and recovers. Not so with the AT field. It's open all the time and free for people to use. Rain or shine, snow or sun.

So my opinion is that we have built some really lovely community around what is happening with soccer on the island. Just like the community that has built up around the baseball field, and the community that has built up around the Gallery and the open mic coffee houses and kitchen junkets, and the community that will build around the CHAC. It might not be the community YOU choose to be a part of, but it's there.

And as for me, instead of being sad about the turf field, I just dove into using it, and I haven't regretted that decision at all. So this is my report of what it's like from inside the story. if you want to experience it for your self come on out and play with us. Soccerfest is coming up this weekend and there is almost always someone down there kicking a ball around that will play with you.

Now whether the development at the Cape will create community or not...that is another question.

Review the draft OCP!

The Bowen Island draft Official Community Plan is ready for review.  The first round of review will be done by July 5.  I am thinking of hosting an Open Space before then (probably the weekend of the 3rd or 4th) for people to come together and discuss feedback for the OCP Review team.  Readers...would you be interested in that?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Profiling Morgan

A lovely profile in this week's Undercurrent about my friend (and co-ed soccer team captain) Morgan Quarry.  On the eve of the World Cup it's cool to hear stories from him about what the Canadian National Team (the other team he manages) goes through.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A home for our collective creativity

John Dowler is a a generous genius.  He has launched Dreaming Island, a creative space for Bowen's artists, poets, musicians and bloggers, and it is a beautiful site.  If you want to see what a community arts portal can be, especially in the age of Web 2.0, this is it.

The site compliments the rich cultural landscape we have on Bowen.  Last night for example, Finn and I journeyed down to Gino's for the monthly BIMA open mic.  There was a plethora of talent and audience members last night which was fantastic.  It's a lovely thing this open mic, a place to come and drop some polished stuff and try out diamonds in the rough.  Poets, singers, songwriters, all offer a pearl or two and we get to hear them in their glory.  Young artists make their performing debut, and old hands bring new things.

Last night we were treated to at least six new compositions by Bowen songwriters, four new poems from Lisa Shatzkey and some new performance material from others.

Alas the open mic in this form won't be continuing.  Ron Wall has bought the space from Gino for the new Corner Gallery, which is exhibiting Ron and Bill Hoopes' brilliant work.  Ron wants to keep the open mics going, but on Saturday afternoons, with a kind of competition format.  The winners will get a showcase at the Gallery.

Saturday afternoons are a tough time to get people out for an open mic, and the competition format runs really counter to what the open mics have been about.  Over the past year or so these evenings have fostered a lovely sense of community among Bowen's performing artists.  Young artists especially have benefitted not only from the experience but from sharing the camaraderie of established performers.  To pit us against each other seems unwise, and isn't in the spirit of the kind of music making I do.  So I wish Ron all the best with his efforts, and I appreciate the sentiment, but I probably won't be out for these kinds of gigs.

We still have the odd session at the Snug for Irish music, and the junkets are still going, although probably entering a break for the summer.  Perhaps I'll get involved with BIMA to set up a less frequent but more open format for emerging artists to try out their work.

The biggest regret I have about travelling so much in my work is that I don't have time to make music at home with others.  It is the greatest pleasure in my life outside of my family.  Playing with friends and neighbours is my highest ideal of community.  Perhaps here is a moment to make space for that to happen more.

Anyone want to start a band?


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Two deaths that make the heart tender

Two of our Elders passed these last few days: Joan Knight and Jeanne Robinson.

My rememberances:

Second verse of "Our Island's Ours Again:"

Their money spent, the continent 
Will accept them in its fold 
The beaches are available 
Though the water's freezing cold 
We can finally find our favourite seats 
On a barstool down at Doc's 
And the women who run VONIGO 
Can replenish all their stock. 

I wrote that line for Joan, who was the dearest of business operators in the Cove. She loved music, used to come to the Evensong chorale when I sang their and always said nice things about her voice. When she hurt herself a few years ago and wasn't able to get out, I'd poke my head in the door of VONIGO and chant a Kyrie for her. Sho loved Our Island's Ours Again, and was tickled about Sue having to restock the place after the tourists left in the fall.

Joan was full of story and and was cheeky as hell. Once I picked her up from Bowen Court to take her down to Evensong at the Little Red Church and she came in on my arm crowing about how she'd just been cruising around with her boyfriend (me!). She cracked everyone up. She'd tease you on the one hand and then express some genuine appreciation on the other. When VONIGO moved up the hill from it's location next to the Snug, I missed her outside sunning herself whenever she could, always remarking on how good it felt to be sitting outside.


Jeanne was a remarkable woman, still remains that way in my mind. What a treat to know her as a dancer, a neighbour a meditator and a singer of Beatles tunes. Seeing photos of her, remembering the performance she gave at her fundraiser last year, it was impossible for me to believe that this woman was dying. She seemed to grow stronger in spirit as her body grew weaker.

And her relationship with Spider was nothing short of inspiring in the depth of love they shared and the breadth of creative output they produced. My goodness, what a blessing it was to know her and be known by her, and what a gift it must have been to be loved deeply by her. I hardly ever saw them apart.

Spider's latest triumph was his collaboration with Robert Heinlein, who has long since departed. Hearing him talk about that work was incredible, as he seemed to bring his hero's presence into the room with him to sit at his shoulder and write. Having done that, I imagine it will be another step up to bring Jeanne's weightless presence down to inspire and comfort him.

And he could probably do with a pot of chicken soup as well.

Love to you Spider. You are in our hearts, which strive to be as big as yours, holding you in this time of deepest transition, transformation and grief.

An asterisk in the record book

Ball season is well underway down at Sung Cove field and Finn has become entranced again with the prospect of making 50 cents on every foul ball he retrieves for the umpire.  He's pretty keen to spend his evenings down at the field, so we headed down again tonight in a light drizzle to watch the Celtics play against the Shakers.  The Shakers are having an incredible season.  They are top of the league, which is shocking to me.  I think they equalled last year's win total on opening day this year.

At any rate, pitching is their thing and they have a pretty solid hitting squad too.  So it was going to prove to be a tough slog for the Celtics who, in addition to being short on pitching, played last night two, and got drubbed by the Firemen.  To make matters worse, The Celtics catcher Scott Miller was running late and they only had eight guys in the dugout.  Some swift thinking on Marcus Hondro's part mean that I suddenly went from spectator to substitute right fielder.  For two innings I watched the game from inside the fences, for the first time ever, with a glove on my hand, clad in my street clothes with my Blundstone boots on, awaiting the fly ball that never came.  But it was enough to see the Celtics through until Scott showed up.

So put an asterisk in the record book.  My stats read 1 GP 0AB 0H 0R 0RBI 0E.  Not bad.  Not good.

The Celts on the other hand - ouch.  It was a tough game from any angle.