Another year, another Winnipeg Folk Festival. Here is a smattering of moments from a long weekend full of experiences and memories – one digital postcard chosen to represent each day.
(continued from Part 1: Solo in the Canadian Rockies)
The Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) is remote set of islands off the northwest coast of British Columbia. As is a region that I’d been intending to visit for ages, the difficulty in getting there made it elusive despite many years of good intentions, but as they say: good things come to those who wait. This whole bicycle tour arose around the idea of exploring the ancient forests of the islands by bicycle with a friend from Vancouver. The before and after fell into place as a way to make the most of the energy spent getting to these places, thereby extending the tour into a loop that contained a little bit of everything. And so it was here at Canada’s west coast that I went from being solo to meeting my smiling friend who flew up with her bicycle.
With its sparse population, the Haida Gwaii has few services, never mind roads. Graham Island in the north, the largest and most populous of the archipelago, is the only island with a paved road. With the exception of a few rogue logging roads and the ferry connected Sandspit Airport, it’s actually the only island in the region with roads, period. For obvious reasons, this is where I aimed my bike tires. With only 109km of paved road from Queen Charlotte City in the south to Masset in the north, the scale of things is a lot more accessible to travel by bicycle than in some other places. However, that so-called accessibility is provided by a network of rough, challenging logging roads cutting through the wild and dense forest. Over two weeks, we logged 579km of pedal powered exploration that took us to all four corners of this remote part of the world – not bad for an island with only 109km of paved roadway.
Ah, the Winnipeg Folk Festival: a gathering around music, art, and community that pops up in a prairie field for five days every year. Exactly two weeks from today the 2016 festival begins with the Crooked Brothers kicking things off on the main stage. Spending time with good friends (both old and new), discovering new music, and happening by chance upon unexpected joys…I’m looking forward to another year barefoot in these fields as an official festival photographer.
Last year, when the festival ended with a bang (everyone remember the huge thunderstorm that hit the stage at the same time as Wilco?), I had to quickly process my photographic work for the higher ups as I was soon leaving on a bike tour out west. That also meant that I didn’t have time to post a recap of the festival through my eyes here like I’ve done previously for 2013 and 2014. I’ve received several messages via email and social media asking about the 2015 photoessay, and so I thought to myself: it’s never too late! Why not put together a retrospective of last year to get us all excited for this year?
The Winnipeg Folk Festival is large and multifaceted; a choose-your-own-adventure meandering through fields and friends. People who attend can have vastly different experiences from one another and the same is the case for myself: year by year, the focus of my photographs changes. As I age, the festival is more about the little moments rather than the big ones…and so I spend less time at the main stage than I used to. The workshops are the heart of the festival for me – throwing musicians together on stage to collectively make music that is fleeting and will likely never be again. It is here that I love watching these artists in their element. The subtle gestures between each other, the crowd, and their instruments…it is truly beautiful to watch them share their passion.
Enjoy this view of last year’s festival through my eyes and my lens. I hope to see you out in the same fields in a mere two weeks!
I am excited to announce a project I have been working at developing behind-the-scenes since January: Contemplative Creative.
For a while now the idea of turning a philosophical lens on the field of creativity has been percolating in my mind. Given how I tend to navigate through life, it has been a natural part of my daily musings and activities, whether through my struggles and successes in the multimedia industry, or chats with friends and colleagues over warm cups of coffee (or, being perfectly honest, a few beers).
A foundation of philosophical study laid in university, mishmashed with my awareness practice of meditation, has brought me to seeing things in a different way than others, as I rise up to meet the challenges of creative entrepreneurship. I don’t claim to be entirely original, just to speak from my heart rather than regurgitate other people’s ideas. As C.S. Lewis put it so well:
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
Since I have been doing a fair amount of work with audio lately (working with musicians, interviews, and live event coverage), I decided that a great way to push my musings out into the world would be as a podcast. As an avid podcast listener, I don’t know why I didn’t hop into the podcast world sooner – well, turning the mic around on myself is certainly outside of my comfort zone – but I think the questions, thoughts and critiques that fill my brain and conversations with others are worth putting out into the wider community.
Questions of ethics, creative responsibility, and trying to understand how everyday actions fit into the bigger picture of things – these have all come up naturally in my life as I refine what I do as a creative professional and continue to strive to do my work better. I know that I am not alone; this podcast project is where I hope to open up these ideas beyond myself and share them with fellow creatives in a way that is accessible and still meaningful. Even if you don’t define yourself as a classical artist (“photographer,” “painter,” etc.) we all have moments where we get to be creative, whether it is figuring out what to make for dinner or how to solve a dispute at work. The creative life applies to us all, and I hope the ideas put forth can help us to live more intentional, satisfying, and conscious lives.
I begin this project not knowing exactly how it will evolve, but I know that it will: nothing ever stays the same and in this I always see potential.
This dream began in January of 2015: that is, to travel western Canada by bicycle. I didn’t know where it came from; I had always been into cycling, but never like this. The ultimate destination was one that has been on my radar for a while: the remote island of the Haida Gwaii (previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands). Travelling this way however is so much more than a destination – it is a serious journey, and filling in the route there and back makes the trip so much more. And so I began Bike Tour Preparations, and on July 27th, 2015, I finally rolled out the door with everything I would need for the next two months.
On the road, I regularly checked in via Instagram and the #pedalpoweredtothewest hashtag – if you missed it and find this post interesting, please check it out for a glimpse into the mind of a cycling tourist on the road. Thanks to all of you who followed along, met me along the way, and offered your hospitality in so many ways. Even the smallest gesture meant so much to me on this challenging trip.
I’ve written quite a bit about this journey, but I’m planning to publish those articles with other publications down the road (pun intended). Here on my own website, I’ll share my story with visuals and captions following my usual photoessay style.
This is part one (of three) of the journey: Solo in the Canadian Rockies.