Sunday, April 29, 2012

Experiencing the “Culture” of my city of Peterborough

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Today’s Blog Post
Experiencing the “Culture” of my city of Peterborough
My wife and I started our Saturday by attending our adopted grandson’s support breakfast for his baseball team at a local restaurant. The young boys on the team served us. What fun.

From there we moved quickly over to the Home Depot, the Temple of Saturday Morning home worship.

From there I went over to a local Hockey Arena to take part on an afternoon of discussion about the promotion and development of culture in our community.  It was a three hour, Saturday afternoon meeting.

It is at this point I will try to bring you into the spot next to me at the table.

The room had approximately 60 people from the creative community of Peterborough and area.   A number of great artists, actors, with crafts of all kinds, as well as several guilds being represented.  Together with these folks was a mix of the City of Peterborough staff from a few different departments.

And finally there were two City of Peterborough Councilors, the political people.

Not to say that everyone else around the table was not political in some way or other!  You should have heard the comments in the discussion groups!!

I had heard about this meeting only hours before and thought that it would be a good time to get a closer to look at the Creative Community of Peterborough.

Slipping into the seat that I occupied was like putting on an old shoe. I had been involved in the arts communities of different cities we have lived in.  I was back at the discussion again of how we might better bring awareness to our community as a whole of the “cultural” things that we know. How we might better share our individual creations or talent/ability with a world that doesn’t know about the “culture” of our city and area.

What does that word “culture” really mean anyway?

In our setting yesterday it meant acting, drama, music of all kinds, concerts, art shows and artists and anything to do with the finer kinds of artistic things.

Having said that I cannot begin to really explain what the unusual collection of people around my table alone was like.  But let’s try…

There were two or three dramatic artists at the table.  One had been involved in the theatre promotional end of things for a number of years.  Others were actors and/or producers.

One lady was from the Fiber Arts group, a spinner and weaver I think. 

A nice lady beside her sang in a church choir and was a knitter.

One fellow is a major musician, promoter and a newspaper editor of newspaper he started when other newspapers wouldn’t help promote the upcoming concerts in the area.

There was an Anthropologist sitting across from me that had lived all around the world doing anthropological things in about 25 different countries… but now retired he has become a sculptor.

The Choir lady was on my right. To my left was a young lady from the National Gallery of Canada that is in our city to study this summer. And beside her was another young lady that does fine art with her stitchery.

Our group was led by the Peterborough Art Gallery’s Director.

Whoa! That was just one table of six tables in the room that were set abuzz with the discussion that followed.

What an afternoon of words.

One thing that came from the discussion was the fact that we live in a Hockey Town. It is a place where on the “Holy Night” is Thursday when the “Peterborough Petes” play their home game.  About 3000 or less people attend the hockey game at the Memorial Arena and that fact shuts down many activities. As the Choir lady stated, “You can’t have Choir Practice on Thursday nights!”

As I left the meeting I was sure of one thing, that much work and effort would be needed to put into the effort to be given by the newly formed culture committee.

The brain storming session of the afternoon was quite stimulating to say the least.

But it was not as stimulating as the walk home from the arena!

Remembering again this is Saturday afternoon. And also pointing out that in this “culture promotion meeting” I have a hundred million thoughts in my head about what has been said.

I walked down a small street that is kind of tucked back into an area that few people travel on. In fact it is like a dead end place with a number of small business plugged into old buildings.  This is just across the railway tracks behind the hockey arena.

It was Saturday afternoon, but the streets were full of vehicles of all sorts!  Something big was happening somewhere in the complex of the buildings. What could it be?

In the lower level there seemed to be something major taking place.  Some folks were outside for their smoke breaks. Others were pouring in and out of the one door on the lower level.  Something inside was noisy and action packed, filled with powerful music that sounded like thunder from the street.

It couldn’t be a wedding!?  It couldn’t be an auction? What was it? I had lived in this small part of our community for 14 years. I had walked by this place dozens of times… but had never noticed what was taking place.

Are you ready for what was taking place inside? I wasn’t!

There in the middle of the room was a Boxing Ring and in the ring were two young men pounding the daylights out of each other.  The bright lights on the ring together with the low ceiling and the seats packed with screaming (and I mean SCREAMING) fans, was like a wall of horror that hit me!!!!

At the same time my ears were assaulted by the music that filled the room with the deep beat… between bouts!

I was like a bug drawn to the light. I couldn’t move. I was standing near the main pole ring side… just behind the Red Corner… with the audience packed into very full chairs to my left.  The person ringing the bell for the start and finish to each round was to my right.

Blood was flowing from the nostrils of one fighter as solid punches were landed by the other dude. Pop. Thud. Umph. Ugh. Ohhh… came from the ring.  Screams from the ladies in the audience were profuse… giving instructions to their sons, boyfriends, friends in the ring how to better kill the other guy!

These words will not convey the sense of utter amazement that I felt at that moment!

I had just come from the “culture” meeting of fine artists, actors, drama type people, the Choir lady, the weavers and knitters, the musical people which included the symphony to rock and roll dudes… to the Peterborough Boxing Club’s major fight afternoon… with young men from all over the area taking part to pound the crap out of each other.

By 5 PM my brain was feeling like I had been in the ring. I was over stimulated emotionally, physically and mentally.

I write this to try and unload some of what I saw and felt and experienced at the deepest level of my life – all one day of retirement.

I had been overloaded with the “culture” of my Peterborough.

One of the ladies in the afternoon meeting had complained that the word “culture” has no meaning. It should be more like, arts, creativity, or talents and abilities – she had suggested.

As I walked away from the Boxing arena I wondered how this culture would ever meet or understand the culture just across the railway tracks – less than 200 feet away.

Oh boy! Culture is alive in my city!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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