Monday, September 26, 2005

Dr. Daisy Peterson Sweeney

Last Sunday, (September 18, 2005) I had the pleasure of attending a concert held in honour of my foster mom, Daisy Peterson Sweeney, at Église Saint-Charles in the South-West section of the City of Montréal.

This was the final of four concerts in homage to this remarkable woman, a classical pianist extraordinaire, and piano teacher who taught internationally-known musicians such as her brother Oscar Peterson, and Oliver Jones.

Mrs. Sweeney also taught hundreds of children from the St. Henri area of Montréal, in the 60's and 70's, where she charged only 25 cents per lesson. She instilled in these young people a deep appreciation for music, learning and piano playing --many of whom still enjoy the benefits of her teaching.

Mom, in addition to her own children, fostered and adopted other children, bringing them into her home and treating them as her own --a testament to her generosity of spirit.

A proud woman, she never-the-less worked as a domestic as she earned an associate degree in music from McGill University, not an easy accomplishment for a woman of colour in the 1940's. But she overcame the racism and prejudice she experienced with her focused determination and a personal desire for excellence.

When I went into the church, I was overwelmed by the over 2,000 people in attendance. As my 85 year old Mom was ushered (in a wheelchair) into the church and everyone started applauding enthusiastically, I felt my eyes moisten with pride for this simply amazing individual who is often over-shadowed by her famous brother.

Congrats Mom!

Footnote: These concerts were part of the 18oth anniversary celebration of the Lachine Canal which featured women, from the area, who have made a significant contribution to the community and Montréal at large. The summer-long festival was organized by the Société de promotion du canal de Lachine.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Centre Lifeline Chabad Project Pride

Yesterday, Rabbi Ronnie Fine, of Chabad Queen Mary, asked me if I could help in creating a Chabad Project Pride Centre Lifeline newsletter. I was glad to help because this worthy organization genuinely helps people.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of attending a fund-raising launch where I met clients and heard stories of what Centre Lifeline Chabad Project Pride means to them. For some, it is a place for recovery, healing, understanding and a good cup of coffee. For others, Centre Lifeline becomes a refuge as they realize that the addiction they suffered from distorted their senses and way of thinking. They rely on the Centre's able staff to help them solve legal, financial, administrative and other issues which were created under the influence of their addiction.

Centre Lifeline Chabad Project Pride offers a variety of outreach programs for prisoners, employers and the community-at-large. They also provide youth one-on-one counseling, groups sessions and activities. As their Web site states, "It's not enough to get young people out of a bad place, but they need to be led to a good one. In tandem with counseling and therapy, Lifeline provides clients with healthy lifestyle activities."

Last month alone, the Centre gave out 280 individually-wrapped sandwiches to clients and served 1600 cups of coffee. Six clients were represent in court and 65 clients came in to talk, unload...feel better. Eleven clients received Welfare assistance. Another 14 clients received financial aid to tie them over to the end of the month. The list goes on as they are helping, and have helped many, people to become whole again.

Shabbot Shalom

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Inside a Web

Last month a spider made a huge web underneath a Catalpa tree in the backyard. I recently had a chance to look at some of the images I took, and began to experiment --taking sections of images and re-combining them into a new image. I created "Inside a Web" with its ghostlike human figures.

Today, I had a chance to begin reading this month's Harper's Magazine. I always read "Findings" first and then proceed to the "Harper's Index."

Perhaps it was my working with spider webs that forced my eye to the following listing in the Index:

"Amount the U.S. spent last year on mosquito nets to fight malaria in Africa: $4,000,000."

I thought, " isn't that great." Then, I read the following entry:

"Amount it paid a consultancy to conduct 'social marketing' of mosquito nets: $7,600,000."

There is not much more one can add to this information. The mathematics speaks definitively.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Discovering Montreal

Kenneth Hemmerick nuMontreal Visual Mashup Series - Explorers at the Chalet

Explorers and Skyline at the St. Lawrence RiverIn the Chalet on top of Montreal's "The Mountain," there is a series of paintings depicting the discovery of the city.

I thought that these works could be used in mynuMontreal Visual Mashup series, a body of work that encourages the viewer to look at and see Montreal public landmarks, locations and public works of art with new eyes.

What I find interesting about these two images, "Explorers at the Chalet" and "Explorers and Skyline at the St. Lawrence River," is that not only do they visually mashup Montreal, but there is also a 350-year temporal mashup of the city.

The early discoverers and settlers could not foresee how "Mont Royal" would eventually evolve into the cultural and cosmopolitan centre Montreal has become.

I found an interesting resource that offers Montreal History Links, compiled by teacher Eric Squire. Browse to discover his "Virtual Tour of Old McGill."

I wonder what Montreal will be like 350 years into the future.