Lace up for CHEO on June 2nd.

May 28, 2012 9:26 am
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Now that the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is over, runners and walkers alike may be feeling a bit lost now that all that excitement is over.  Looking for another race to get your fix? Here’s one for you. Next Saturday, June 2nd at 11:00 a.m., you can lace up your runners and head out to participate in the 5 km “Walk, Run or Sprint” for CHEO.  It is being organized by the Ottawa Health Group (www.ottawahealthgroup.com) and it will be an incredible day.

While not new to community involvement, (the Ottawa Health Group is directly involved in organizing annual fundraising golf tournaments and other events for CHEO and the Angels of Hope http://www.angelsofhope.ca), this is the first time the Ottawa Health Group is organizing and sponsoring a race.

Ottawa Health Group

For a mere $40, not only will you be helping CHEO, you will receive a charitable tax receipt, get a race t-shirt and entry to the post-run festivities that will include good grub and lots of fun.

Knowing the organizers, it will be a fantastic event. Ottawa Health Group (formerly Downtown Chiropractic) has the most dynamic team of health professionals.

Dr. Mark deGruchy heads up the team which offers services for patients and clients requiring help with everything from post-surgical recovery to whiplash injury care to joint pain/arthritic issues to sports injury rehab to chiro maintenance. He’s your guy. (Among his clients are the Ottawa Senators. You’re in good hands.)

And if you are a fitness fanatic looking to keep your body in tip-top shape or if you are dealing with injury, there is nothing better than a visit to Karen Zanet deGruchy. Her magical fingers, active release techniques, exuberant personality and endless encouragement will make the world a better place.

For a mere $40, not only will you be helping CHEO, you will receive a charitable tax receipt, get a race t-shirt and entry to the post-run festivities that will include good grub and lots of fun.

In fact, the whole Group exudes positive energy and support. With them in your corner, you will get you through whatever physical challenges you face.  They are all professionals and will help you meet your goals, be that recovery from an accident, dealing with chronic pain or trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. They will help get you to where you want to go.

Learn more at www.ottawahealthgroup.com or email them at wecare@ottawahealthgroup.com and more importantly, get out there to help them raise money for CHEO.  Good grub, good people, fresh air and exercise to boot. Sign up on their web site and join in the fun this Saturday.

Ottawa’s Urban Artists Connect at Ravenswing

May 23, 2012 9:12 am
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With summer rearing its head, Ottawans are getting excited for the multitude of community events coming up. For local art enthusiasts, Ravenswing is an event not to be missed.

Ravenswing is an urban artist market that features local artists, merchants and musicians. Referred as Ottawa’s D-I-Y fair, this annual event has an interdisciplinary focus in displaying Ottawa’s talent. The event is free of charge and will take place on May 27 in Centertown’s Minto Park.

The event will feature different types of vendors, including book binding and book repair, pottery, baked goods, soaps, t-shirts as well as various jewellery vendors. There will be a comic artist in attendance, who makes sketches of various Ottawa landmarks.  The Toronto Zine Library will also have a table at the event. “There’s something for everyone at Ravenswing,” said Sean Zio, co-founder of Ravenswing. “It’s a unique market of local talent for a reasonable price.”

This year’s event will feature 70 vendors. Photo by Sarah Lendore

This year’s event will feature 70 vendors. “For the first few years of Ravenswing, the event featured around 25 vendors, so the event has really grown,” said Zio. He explained that most of the vendors are returning vendors, but there are also new vendors that are attracted to the event. Over 60% of merchandise that is sold at Ravenswing  is priced $20 or less. The event last year drew between 2,000 and 3,000 people during the day.

One of the highlights of the event is Yoga in the park. Ravenswing will feature entertainment, including local bands and local DJ’s. In addition, patrons can participate in free skill-sharing, community-building workshops, organized by Les Ateliers. Ravenswing has also organized a silent art auction as a way to incorporate more visual art into the event. There will be a dozen pieces available for auction. Artists will get 50% of the proceeds and the other 50% will go back to Ravenswing in order to cover operational costs.

Ravenswing is an independently-run, self-funded artist fair, which is why it’s referred as Ottawa’s D-I-Y fair. The organization receives no government funding, which gives the coordinators more autonomy. “All the money we collect from vendors goes to paying the space, renting the tables, and covering other operational costs,” explained Zio.

Zio explained his motivation behind the creation of Ravenswing. As a struggling artist, Zio was looking to sell his tote bags and zines (small, independent magazines). After searching for opportunities to sell his items, he discovered some cool events in other cities, but nothing in Ottawa. After attending a few craft fairs in Ottawa, Zio found that the vendors’ fees were too expensive.  “I really wanted to start a low-cost vendors’ fair, where I could sell my things,” continued Zio. After attending a zine event at the Ottawa Art Gallery, Zio met Ravenswing co-founder, Faye Estrella. Both of them had ideas of starting a zine and craft fair. “Within two weeks, we had booked the Jack Purcell centre, thought of the name Ravenswing, and created the idea behind the fair,” explained Zio. “From there, the event has kept growing.” When the event started seven years ago, it took place indoors at Jack Purcell Community Centre. After its inauguration, the event moved outdoors to Minto Park. Ravenswing has called Minto Park home ever since.

Ravenswing is an independently-run, self-funded artist fair, which is why it’s referred as Ottawa’s D-I-Y fair. Photo by Sarah Lendore

When asked the meaning behind the name Ravenswing, Zio explained that ravens are often considered a totem of Ottawa, especially because of the Carleton Ravens. In addition, the raven’s wing is black, a unified colour but in the light, the wing is like a rainbow, with many different colours, representing diversity. According to Zio, while the Raven’s wing is unified, it is also diverse. “The name really represents the event well,” he said.

All the volunteers who run Ravenswing are all artists, designers, musicians, which, according to Zio, brings authenticity to the event. “When Ravenswing began, there were two people running the event,” said Zio. “Now, there are a dozen volunteers who coordinate the event.”

Community Spirit and Collaboration

The idea behind Ravenswing is community spirit and collaboration. Zio and his team work in partnership with the Clothesline Project, an initiative that seeks to bring awareness to the issue of violence against women, for the past six years. Women and children survivors of violence paint t-shirts with their personal messages. The shirts are hung on a clothesline and are exhibited for the public.

The partnership began when both organizations were looking to book Minto Park on the same day for their respective events; they then decided to collaborate.  “It worked out very nicely and we’ve been partnering with them ever since,” said Zio. “Ravenswing allows the project to gain more exposure because of the foot traffic that our event brings.” Zio saw this as a great opportunity to help their cause and get some extra hands on board to help set up their event .

In addition, this year’s Ravenswing is being held at the same time as another community event: Ladyfest Ottawa’s Tarts’ n Crafts fair. Instead of holding competing events, both events are being promoted together, as a double-date bill. As Zio puts it, “the more, the merrier.”

Supporting Local Talent

It is important to provide local vendors with a market in Ottawa. Photo by Sarah Lendore

Zio believes that it is important to provide local vendors with a market in Ottawa. He explained that the craft market changed a lot in the last seven years. “Back in the day, there were only Christmas fairs and Art in the Park,” said Zio. “We wanted to do something different.” Ravenswing is not juried and does not have a limit on space for vendors, which, according to Zio, allows for more diversity. It distinguishes itself from other craft fairs with their large number of vendors, the skill-sharing workshops and the entertainment they offer.

People can expect many art-related events during the summer.  Now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the lovely weather and check out what Ottawa’s best have to offer.

Ravenswing takes place on May 27 from 11pm to 4pm at Minto Park, Elgin Street at Gilmour Street.

SOS Mayfair: Orleans Cinema Seeks More Support

May 16, 2012 5:53 pm
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Since opening on December 2nd back in 1932, the original Mayfair Theatre, located in Lower Town, has become a landmark in the community. A second location of the independent cinema opened on December 2, 2011 in Ottawa’s East end, near Place d’Orleans. Although the Mayfair Orleans is still in its early stage of operations, it is on the edge of calling it quits.

Lee Demarbre, Programmer at the Mayfair Theatre, grew up in Orleans. Growing up, Demarbre had to travel downtown anytime he wanted to catch a movie until a theatre finally opened in Orleans in the late 1980s. “I met my wife in high school and took her on many dates to that theatre,” says Demarbre. “That theatre meant something to me.”

Old Star Wars helmets on display are just one part of the old theatre's charm.

Initially owned by Cineplex Odeon, the cinema was then taken over by Empire Theatres and ultimately closed in 2009. After taking his son to the First Choice next to the former cinema, Demarbre found out that the space was vacant. “I hated seeing an abandoned movie theatre, especially one that meant so much to me” shared Demarbre. “Then I thought: Wouldn’t it be fun to open up another Mayfair in Orleans?” After calling the landlord, Demarbre found out that the theatre had all its seats, screens, speakers, and projectors ripped out. “The place was demolished so I spent a year rebuilding it from scratch,” explained Demarbre.  Finally, last December, the Mayfair Orleans opened its doors.

Admission at the Mayfair Orleans is $9 for non-members, which is a dollar cheaper than the downtown location. Members of the Mayfair Theatre can see a movie for $5. An individual membership is priced at $10, while a family membership costs $20. The programming at the Orleans cinema is quite diverse. The cinema has done well with some international and independent films. The Mayfair Orleans also plays a second-run of Hollywood films. In the Orleans cinema, Demarbre explained that the movie choices are a bit on the safer side. The cinema is more family-oriented, so family films are always incorporated into the matinee week-end schedule. “The downtown location doesn’t usually draw the family crowds for matinees,” continued Demarbre. “Our programming downtown is a mixture of Bytowne-like movies and we attract a young, hip, cool, late-night university crowd.”

The downtown location hosts more social and corporate events, including weddings and private functions.

Because of its large space, Demarbre displays a lot of his various memorabilia, including Star Wars figurines, Hans Solo and Darth Vader cut-outs and a nine foot statue from the Alien movie. These items add life to the theatre and make the space fun. In addition to showing films, the Mayfair Orleans hosts birthday parties and also offers video gaming on the big screen. The downtown location hosts more social and corporate events, including weddings and private functions. In addition, some Writer’s fest events have been housed at the Mayfair.

Reaching Out for Support

On May 1st, a “Save the Mayfair Orleans” poster was put up in the building. Management decided to release the poster because business was slow. “April was a bad month in terms of attendance,” explained Demarbre. Since it was released, the poster was circulated widely through social media. The story was also featured in various media outlets.

Since it opened its doors in December, the Mayfair Orleans has sold 2,500 memberships. However, if the overall attendance does not increase, the theatre will not be able to remain open. According to Demarbre, there are still not enough people in Orleans who know about the new Mayfair theatre. Seeing as the building was closed for so long, most people in the area assume that it is still closed. “Since the poster came out, a lot of people from downtown have come to support us, but we need Orleans to support us,” added Demarbre. “The longer we stay open, the more the people in the community will know about us.”

If attendance does not increase, the Mayfair Orleans will be forced to shut its doors by the end of the month.

Management is optimistic and determined to stay open, despite its current situation. “We thought that we could either close our doors and then everyone would wake up one morning and find out we are closed forever,” says Demarbre, “or we could let them know leading up our closure, and maybe they can come support and help us keep the doors open for a little longer.”

If attendance does not increase, the Mayfair Orleans will be forced to shut its doors by the end of the month. “If everyone in Orleans knows we are here and they still don’t come, then I don’t mind closing,” shared Demarbre. “I hate the idea of closing and realizing that not enough people knew we were here.” Demarbre believes that if the Mayfair Orleans remains open for a full year, they will be better prepared to manage the theatre for years to come. “I would love to stay open long enough for everyone in Orleans to know that we are here.”

For more information, visit the Mayfair Orleans website.

The Tympanic: Beat Goes On

May 11, 2012 9:37 am
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For six years, Ottawa groove-rock band Tympanic has been rocking stages across the country and at home in the Capital. The band loves jamming and according to lead vocalist and self-proclaimed wild child Troy Lajambe, Tympanic has set its sights on a life filled with bigger gigs, never-ending “boombastic” beats and a new recording within the next two months.

“We really believe in the product that we’ve been producing and in our own potential,” says Lajambe. He added, “It would be great to be able to tour and play so much that I don’t need a real job.”

Eric Eggleston, the production wizard behind their most recent five-tune recording, took 13 demo songs and stripped them down to bigger beat-heavy, worldly tracks which the band’s boogying fan base can “really get into.” During the recording process, Eggleston could pinpoint two obvious qualities about the group that set it apart from other bands and offer a glimpse into what fuels Tympanic’s relentless six-year party in the Capital.

Photo by Jen File

“I’ve been in bands so I get how it can work, with the drama and opinions – but these guys have camaraderie,” Eggleston says. “They really enjoy spending time together. Also, even in pre-production of this record, you can see that they’re good musicians – whether it’s the vocals, horns honking or world beats – they really give ‘er.”

Often the reality of most Ottawa bands is that the moonlight dance parties follow a demanding daytime routine – and such is still the case for Tympanic. Although spurring bouts of bopping, eclectic Dave Matthews Band-meets-Earth Wind & Fire-style funk across the province, at local hot spots like Live Lounge and Rainbow Room, and securing radio and live TV gigs around town – their day jobs range from youth minister to farmer to parent.

Charity Corbett, the woman behind the roaring saxophone and only girl within the goofy Tympanic “boys’ locker room,” points to the sea of Carleton frosh bouncing to their uppity jams year after year or the East Coast tour-goers mouthing Tympanic lyrics as affirmations that if they play their cards right, this gig could last a lifetime for all of them.

“Our best experiences are when a crowd is just very open to hearing what we have to play,” she says.

It looks like six years later – more energized than their first groove onstage and with a new recording in the works – Tympanic will most certainly play on.

Gypsy “Now Playing” in Cornwall

May 4, 2012 2:56 pm
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Are you into rock, soul and some blues?

Then you have to be at Gypsy’s new CD release party this Saturday at the Lola’s Pub in Cornwall.

The Cornwall based band is releasing “Now Playing” – their second album. Gypsy members: Camil Lapointe (guitar), Christine Hickey (cello), Bobby Tessier (bass) and Jim Sharp (drums) will play 12 songs from their new album.

The songs will appeal to anyone who is juggling a daily job, has a family, relationship and or is facing any number of the challenges that come up in Eastern Ontario.

Drummer, Jim Sharp says inspiration for their music came from people and life around them.

“There are a lot of stories that come from observing and listening to those around us; conversations about the stories of our lives and our friends,” Mr. Sharp says.

Saturday’s performance promises a fusion of different styles.

“If I were to try and describe our style, I think I’d say we’re eclectic, and proud of it,” Mr. Sharp says.

Gypsy

Gypsy also takes pride in Cornwall – a town just one-hour away from Ottawa – where the band was formed in 2007. Three years later, they released their first album dubbed “Smalltown Fables.”

As in their first album, in “Now Playing” the band has embraced the local all the way, engaging a Cornwall production team in their recordings. For example, for their CD cover, local photographer Jason MacNamara took a picture of the band in front of the Port Theater – a heritage and cultural landmark of the town.

All four members live and work in Cornwall. Because of their daily jobs, they haven’t done much touring. They meet only in their  free time usually in the dining room of one of the members, in order to write music and practice. But Mr. Sharp says for them music is not a job but a pleasure.

“We consider being a “musician” is a time for relaxation and friendship – a chance to share and jam with other musicians and evoke a response from our audiences. We are reminded of the old joke, “Mommy, when I grow up, I want to be a musician.” To which Mommy replies, “You can’t be both!”

In the Cornwall community, the band is known as organizers and fundraisers of various charities. Bob Peters, a senior development officer with the City of Cornwall, says that simply through their music,  local bands like Gypsy help change people’s perception of Cornwall as a mere manufacturing town.

“That might have been true 20 years ago, but today we are a modern city. We have a really thriving art and culture scene.” Mr. Peters says.

It is a second CD produced in Cornwall, four more are scheduled in the near future. Mr. Peters says he hopes that one day Cornwall will be known as a hub for music talent.

Gypsy will perform on Saturday, May 5th at 9:30pm at Lola’s Pub 616 Pitt Street, Cornwall, Ontario. Admission is free.

Dalai Lama Visits Ottawa

May 1, 2012 5:34 pm
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The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet may have come with a serious message, but His Holiness started his public address to the City of Ottawa last Saturday with characteristic humor. With a twinkle in his eye and placing a red baseball cap upon his head before an audience of 7,000 people at the Ottawa Civic Centre at Landsdowne Park, the Dalai Lama began his much awaited address.

“I am very happy once more to be here in Canada because I am an honorary citizen of this country.” said the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. “Of course I am not a taxpayer so I come here and enjoy myself so thank you.”

The purpose of the Dalai Lama’s visit to the nation’s capital - to send the message about China’s occupation of Tibet . Photo: Claire Tremblay

The lighthearted quip however, belied the important purpose of the Dalai Lama’s visit to the nation’s capital -to send the message about China’s occupation of Tibet and to attend the 6th World’s Parliamentarian’s Convention on Tibet to decide how to deal with it. Protest over Chinese rule prompted at least 33 Tibetans to self-immolated or set them selves on fire since 2011.  At the convention, the Dalai Lama, in exile since the occupation began in 1951 said Tibet faces tremendous difficulties. “The situation locally is one ancient nation, with very rich ancient cultural heritage, is actually dying.”

Also speaking at the conference, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Canada encouraged the Chinese authorities to resume talks with the Dalai Lama. The Government had also responded to the Dalai Lama’s request to allow 1,000 Tibetans to immigrate to Canada. The resettlement of the Tibetans to be overseen by the Canada Tibet Committee and the Project Tibet Society will take place over a five year period. While in Ottawa, the Dalai Lama also met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the nature of which, His Holiness stated was “top secret.”

Dalai Lama. Photo: Claire Tremblay

Despite the dire situation in Tibet, the Dalai Lama urged his supporters not to “feel hopeless or feel discouraged. The more suppression, the stronger the Tibetan spirit.” He also referenced what he called the “private sympathy” many Chinese intellectuals felt toward Tibet and concern for the region by open-minded government leaders. Hard line suppression by the Chinese would not according to the Dalai Lama win the day.

“I think they believe every problem can be solved by force, by guns. That’s old thinking. During civil war, or revolutionary movements, maybe. In peacetime, I think that kind of thinking is out of date.”

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