The Pulse: Nov. 22, 2023

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  • -4°C: Mainly cloudy with 30% chance of flurries. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 4. Wind chill near minus 10. (forecast)
  • Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit red for Light up the Night for 22q11.2. (details)
  • 5pm: The Edmonton Oilers (5-11-1) play the Carolina Hurricanes (10-7-0) at PNC Arena. (details)

A large crowd gathered at an indoor market filled with art-covered tables.

Royal Bison organizer moves into printer-hacking practice

By Colin Gallant

Having mentored a replacement market to sustain the legacy of the 16-year-old Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair, longtime lead organizer Vikki Wiercinski is transporting its community-building "DNA" into something called a risograph.

The final Royal Bison takes place over the next two weekends, from Nov. 24 to 26 and from Dec. 1 to 3. Its replacement, OddBird Art & Craft Fair, will debut next May. Wiercinski says the organizers of the new fair helped her plan Royal Bison during the pandemic and are prepared to take the reins.

"I really look forward to seeing how the younger generation sees things, and how they want to change it," Wiercinski, who has led organization of Royal Bison since 2010, told Taproot.

Wiercinski is the creator of Mezzaluna Studio, a stationery and design-goods firm, as well as a freelance graphic designer. In 2010, she inherited oversight of Royal Bison from creator and fellow print artist Raymond Biesinger, when he moved to Montreal.

She says she's now moving on from Royal Bison partly because 13 years "is a long time to do anything," but also because she believes the fair will benefit from change, and because she wants to focus on her own practice — including the newly founded Rabarbar Press.

"We just all agreed that it would be really nice to start something new, with Bison DNA," Wiercinski said of Rabarbar. "I think we can be guilty of maintaining things exactly the way they are for decades around here, or anywhere really."

Rabarbar is all about the risograph, a high volume, low cost printing machine originally created in Japan, which blends elements of photocopying and printmaking.

During a recent trip to Japan, Wiercinski says she fell madly in love with the risograph at Hand Saw Press. She documented the trip in vivid detail on Instagram.

In a small-world moment, Wiercinski met Hand Saw member Le Lin, who originally hails from Calgary, during her visit. "I was like, 'Why leave Alberta? I'm in the middle of Tokyo, and Alberta has followed me here. It's really funny.' We actually knew people in common, which is really wild."

Wiercinski says creatives are reimagining the once business-focused risograph. "Somewhere around 10 years ago, artists started realizing that these are incredible silkscreen machines," she said. "It's basically a repurposing and kind of a printer-hacking."

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Headlines: Nov. 22, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • City council began its debate over the 2024 budget adjustment and a proposed 7.09% property tax increase, which is about 2% higher than what councillors previously approved. The meeting on Nov. 21 began with a presentation by city administration outlining reasons for the proposed tax increase. Several organizations, including the Edmonton Public Library and Explore Edmonton, also made requests for additional funding. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said his priority is maintaining and improving public services, but noted during the meeting that this is "the most difficult" municipal budget he has worked on. Council has set aside five days for the deliberations, and is expected to finalize the budget on Nov. 29.
  • The Central, Bay/Enterprise Square, Corona, and Government Centre LRT stations will be closed on Nov. 25 and 26 because of planned maintenance work on the Capital Line. During the closure, trains won't run between Churchill and University LRT stations. Edmonton Transit Service will provide replacement bus service, which will run every seven to eight minutes. Capital Line trains will run every 15 minutes from Clareview to Churchill LRT stations, and from University to Century Park LRT stations. Metro Line will run at the same frequency from Churchill to NAIT LRT stations. Service on the Valley Line Southeast LRT won't be affected.
  • Alberta Health Services has brought back its Toys for Tickets campaign, which allows people to donate a new, unwrapped toy instead of paying for parking tickets received at AHS sites between Nov. 14 and Dec. 15. Last year, AHS collected 470 toys through the campaign. Recommended items include books, art supplies, and electronics. Donations must have a minimum value of $25 and can be dropped off at any AHS parking office until Dec. 15.
  • The Edmonton Artists' Trust Fund awarded 25 local artists $15,000 each during a ceremony at the Art Gallery of Alberta marking the fund's 25th anniversary. The award is a partnership between the Edmonton Community Foundation and the Edmonton Arts Council. Recipients included Cree singer-songwriter Cikwes and her daughter, multimedia visual artist Cheyenne Rain LeGrande.
  • The city's Why Edmonton site published a profile of Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and his journey since arriving in Edmonton as an 18-year-old immigrant in 1981. Edmonton has grown significantly since then, Sohi said, becoming a more vibrant and diverse big city while maintaining its spirit of community support. Sohi began his City of Edmonton career as an Edmonton Transit Service bus driver before transitioning to politics. "This community has lifted me up, and it continues to lift many people like me up so that they can live up to their full potential," he said.
  • The Opposition NDP criticized the UCP government for awarding more than $700,000 in sole-source contracts to political allies, including $253,000 to former Reform Party leader Preston Manning to lead a COVID-19 panel review. Premier Danielle Smith defended the contracts, saying the government followed all ethics rules and chose the "very best" for the jobs. However, the NDP accused the government of cronyism and raised concerns about the lack of open competition. Other contracts under the microscope were awarded to former Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw's firm Alberta Counsel, Smith's campaign manager Matthew Altheim, and former Wildrose president David Yager.
A newspaper clipping with the headline "Alberta Avenue centre planned

A moment in history: Nov. 22, 1979

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1979, plans were underway to build a new community centre on Alberta Avenue, one of Edmonton's oldest and most storied streets.

Alberta Avenue's origins date back to 1894, when a few lots were carved out of the bush on the outskirts of Edmonton. It started to go by the name of Norwood and remained mostly isolated. By 1906, it had a handful of residents and a small, three-room school. But in the next few years, two things would lead to explosive growth: meat and coal.

The railway was extended north of Edmonton, and industry started to spring up to take advantage of cheap land and rail access. The aptly named Village of North Edmonton was founded around 1908 in the vicinity of what is now 127 Avenue and 66 Street. The area was known as Packingtown because of the high number of meat-packing plants that opened there.

At the same time, the then-town of Beverly was growing to the west, fuelled by the coal mines dotting the river valley. The city extended its streetcar line to run through Norwood to deal with the increased travel between Edmonton and Beverly. Soon, bakers, grocers, and other business owners set up shop along the streetcar line. At the same time, workers from Packingtown were buying up the land and building homes in Norwood because of the short commute to the packing plants. The main thoroughfare would become Alberta Avenue, although it was officially renamed 118 Avenue in 1914, when Edmonton redid its street-naming system.

The avenue and the communities around it continued to grow. New industries such as the Norwood Foundry appeared. New commercial and retail found space along Alberta Avenue and nearby Norwood Boulevard. And new residents moved in. The Norwood and Alberta Avenue community leagues were both founded in 1922. The 1930s saw the development of more public space and recreational facilities. The Avenue Theatre, one of the street's most well-known buildings, first started screening shows in the 1950s.

The neighbourhood's fortunes, as well as its reputation, declined in the 1970s. Many buildings first constructed in the early part of the century required replacement or repair — including the community league centre.

By this time, the city had grown around the neighbourhood, which was now close to the core. People were moving out to the rapidly expanding edges of the city, leaving empty properties behind. The opening of the Yellowhead in 1984 also had a significant effect on the area. Commuter traffic along the avenue dropped, and businesses along the stretch closed.

Addiction, income inequality, and fear of crime had become major issues for the area. The 1990s saw dropping real estate prices, derelict properties, and increased crime. But it was also a time of community-led revitalization efforts and a focus on making Alberta Avenue a hub for the arts. The community league, businesses, and residents began working on programs and events to support artists living in the area as well as to reduce crime and disrepair.

The city government has also been involved, providing revitalization funds, coordination, and other support to the community. Today, the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood is once again in transformation, as it has been many times in its history. Serious issues remain, including recent concerns over the number of derelict properties. But it is also home to the popular Deep Freeze and Kaleido festivals, the upcoming Eats on 118 celebration, community gathering spots like the Carrot Coffee House, and the programs supported by the Alberta Avenue Community League.

This clipping was found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse of @VintageEdmonton.