Archive for July, 2011

Skeleton Park gardens.

Posted for Julian Brown

Dear Skeleton Park,

After about 15 years of looking after the three garden beds in Skeleton Park, it is time to make a plan for the next 15 years so that the gardens can continue to be a source of enjoyment. This is not a crisis call, but a suggestion for renewal. What is needed is a person or a small group of people who like gardening to take over the maintenance of the gardens.

It is mostly a commitment of time during the spring, summer and autumn seasons. Most of the plants are donated cuttings, but some years I buy and add a plant that looks interesting. The main operating problem is a lack of easy watering facilities, but this handled on Darwinian principles: if a plant can’t survive a hot dry period, it will die and something else will take its place.

The garden is extraordinarily free of vandalism. Some flowers get stolen, which is great because they are usually from plants which are flowering prolifically. There is little theft of plants, though two seem to have been dug up and taken recently. In other words, despite some rowdyism in the park over the years, the work invested in the gardens is very rarely interfered with maliciously.

The greatest pleasure over the years has been talking to passers-by who stop to chat while I am working in the gardens. The plants I enjoy most are the peonies in early summer and, during the whole winter, the tall grass in the centre bed, which stays strong and defiant despite gales of wind and snow and even a coating of ice. There is an early lemon yellow daylily, and three adjacent bergamot plants with slight gradations of pink, both of which I look forward to seeing.
This is not a bad time to start to change over to new management. Is anyone interested? I can help with planning the work.

With best regards

Julian Brown

Photo, looking east, of one of the gardens tended by Julian.


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Kingston Hiroshima Day – Peace Lantern Ceremony

Posted for Susanne Cliff-Jungling

Click on image.

The annual Kingston commemoration of the first use of atomic weapons in the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan will be held at a new location at 7:30 pm on Saturday, August 6th, 2011 in McBurney Park (near York and Barrie at the end of Clergy St. East).

On this day, cities around the globe, including Kingston,mark the anniversary to commemorate not only those who died, but also to campaign for the abolishment of all nuclear weapons.

Everyone is welcome to attend the event to enjoy music,listen to guest speakers and make peace lanterns. Children will be helped to make their own lanterns.  At dusk dozens of the lighted lanterns will float in the wading pool. New this year, 1,000 Japanese origami paper cranes will be folded and sent to Hiroshima as a prayer for peace. (Instructions will be given to anyone who wishes to make a paper crane.)

“All over the world, August 6 is the day to remember the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the destruction it caused, and the suffering by the victims and the survivors,” says event organizer Susanne Cliff-Jungling. “Kingston has been part of these commemorations for over 25 years and we want to remind people that we live in a world where there are over 24thousand nuclear weapons, more than a thousand of them ready to launch at a moment’s notice. The recent meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, although on a smaller scale than the atomic bomb, is a grim reminder of the consequences of the spread of nuclear radiation.”

Sponsors for this year’s event: Kingston Hiroshima Day Coalition, Kingston branch of Amnesty International, Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, Physicians for Global Survival and Kingston Interval House.

For more information contact:
Susanne Cliff-Jungling, (daytime) 613.533.6000 ext. 75718



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Treat yourself and feed your community with Summer Lovin’ in August

Posted for Holly Platz

Click on image.

Throughout August four downtown restaurants will be donating a portion of sales from select menu items to Loving Spoonful, a Kingston organization working to make healthy food more accessible to the city’s low-income population.

Participating restaurants are Chien Noir, Olivea, Pan Chancho and Chez Piggy. Each restaurant has come up with its own way to contribute to Summer Lovin’, and servers will be able to give diners the details.

Summer Lovin’ is an opportunity to treat yourself, to support local downtown businesses and, importantly, to help others in the community who are less fortunate.  It is dining with a conscience in Kingston.

Holly Platz

Volunteer Coordinator/Community Gardens Network Coordinator 
Loving Spoonful

Telephone: 613-546-4291 ext. 1871


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Benefit concert!

Posted for Huw Davis

Metamorphic: Skeleton Park Neighborhood’s newest youth band have organized this benefit show with proceeds being split evenly between Camp Trillium and Next Church.

Camp Trillium provides Camp experiences to childhood cancer patients, survivors and their families. Sunday July 24, 7-9 PM at Next Church on Colborne Street.

Suggested $5.00 donation per adult. Kids free.

Featuring: Metamorphic: They set up the show; so they get to be the headliner! Metamorphic is Sam Shore, Stuart Miller-Davis and Riley Miller-Davis. The trio play a set of original, hard rockin songs with catchy melodies and plenty o’ Jamming!  Haint Blues: The metamorphic boys are thrilled to have this band on the bill, made up of some of their High school aged Kingston musical idols. Haint Blues has recently earned themselves a spot in the Limestone City Blues Festival. Come hear them here first!  Trash Daddies: (we’re dads… we take out the trash…)a group of neighborhood Dads who meet once a week and play music for the joy of it. They play a Mix of folk, gospel, and bluegrass on Banjo, Mando and guitars. The “Dads” are thrilled to be the opener of this show.

Come on out and support your local musicians and two great causes!

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Empathic Maneuvers (dimensions not to scale). A live performance by Reena Katz.

Posted for Sunny Kerr by the MPNA Coordinator

WHEN: Thursday July 28, 2011 @ 6pm.
WHERE: AKA Autonomous Social Centre, 75 Queen St. Unit 1, Kingston, Ontario. A Co-presentation of Corridor Culture, radio613 and OPIRG Kingston

Empathic Maneuvers (dimensions not to scale) is an experiment in displaced global protest, renovating standard spaces into improvised recording studios for rabble-rousing. Katz invites the public to join her in selecting from an array of protest chants from the US/Mexico border wall, and the Apartheid Wall in Palestine. Participants then rehearse and mimic their chosen chants, learning their inflections and emotions as if they were song lyrics. This displaced duet becomes a lament against architectures of power, and a moment of empathic democratization. Through cover and spectacle, Empathic Maneuvers (dimensions not to scale) brings the passions, questions and concerns of civil societies across the planet to AKA Autonomous Social Centre. Q & A session with the artist to follow.

Reena Katz works at the intersection of sound, space and social engagement. Her interventionist projects explore technology and architecture as generators and artifacts of social and political relationships. By reconfiguring sound machines, circuits, and found materials from institutional and consumer-based contexts, she evokes histories of human aggression while simultaneously proposing their overthrow. Pairing installation with participatory performance, Katz’s projects invite audience interaction with utopian discourses of desire, discomfort and ultimate transformation. She is currently an MFA Candidate at the School for Art, Media and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design in New York. radio613 is a collective and radio broadcast dedicated to Jewish politics, culture, and religious life. Diasporic tones find auditory homes through featured interviews, music, readings, discussion, and documentaries.

radio613 presents Jewish perspectives on religious/spiritual thought and practice, race and racism, gender and feminisms, anti-semitism, identity politics, colonialism and resistance and more! radio613 is a working group of OPIRG Kingston and a show on CFRC 101.9 fm. We can be found online.

The Corridor Culture collective builds social connectivity in Kingston and region’s cultural sector; we do this by aiding cultural producers’ travel along Eastern Ontario’s rail corridors and connecting visiting scholars and artists with diverse audiences here and along the corridor. Between Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 we present six discrete projects: talks by artist, Reena Katz, and by the curator of the Havana Bienal, a performance by two Canadian aboriginal artists, and a sustainable art-making workshop for youth. We are supported by the Kingston Arts Council. Thanks also to Theatre Kingston.  You can find this event on Facebook or on CFRC.

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Trees, please.

Stump in the park.

Letter written by Melanie Dugan to the City (Kingston Public Works Supervisor).

Dear Darrin,

I am still waiting for a reply to my last e-mail to you, a reply to the one in which I asked whether you had any idea when the trees might be planted.

My question is a serious one. I have been involved in planting trees in Skeleton Park since immediately after the Ice Storm in 1998. I was one of the group of people who organized the first post-Ice Storm planting, and I contributed $400 to the second post-Ice Storm planting, and then waited and waited for the trees to be planted, only to be told we’d run into problems at City Hall. This was the first time those of us involved heard about The Archaeologist. I referred to The Archaeologist in my previous e-mail, and pointed out that when the basketball court and new lights went in two or so years ago I asked the Parks fellows on site why there wasn’t an archaeologist hanging around, since she had been so present previously and yet when the court and lights went in The Archaeologist was nearly invisible. As I reported in my last e-mail, I was told the rules regarding The Archaeologist had changed, they were less stringent and the cost had gone down as well.

By the way, when I contributed the $400 I was told $400 bought me two plaques; only one has been installed, in memory of my mother, Gwen Dugan. It is near the wading pool if you want to check. I have never complained about the lack of a second plaque; I am simply happy to have trees being planted in the park.

On that point, the part of the park where the three trees have come down in the last two to three years is/was the Catholic section of the cemetery and it’s our (the local people who are interested in the park, and also those of us who have read the charming plaque in the planter in the middle of the park) understanding that the Catholic church removed the people buried in that part of the park and transferred them to the cemetery near QECVI, which means – theoretically – no one is buried there, so there is no need for an archaeologist, or much less need for one, if that is, in fact, the reason for the delay in planting.

City Hall made various promises to improve Skeleton Park. I believe planting trees and maintaining the canopy of the park – the shade from which makes it such a nice place to spend time – and the character of the park is imperative. I will point out to you that while many of the promised improvements to Skeleton Park have not occurred, a whole lot of money has been spent upgrading the park around the Memorial Centre. I have learned that it now costs $8 a person to use the pool there, effectively putting use of the pool out of reach of many low income people and families in the north end. That’s a whole other issue, however, the (comparatively) minimal cost to replant trees will ensure that Skeleton Park, which costs nothing (as yet) for citizens to use will insure it continues to be appealing and will continue to enjoy the high level of use it currently does (just pop by any sunny, warm day and count how many people are in the park; it also serves as a destination for the residents of Providence Manor when they need to get out for a change).

In closing, I am in the park three, four, sometimes five times a day, depending on my dog’s needs. It’s a great park. Kids in the neighborhood play there, small folks paddle at the wading pool, people from Providence Manor use the park, events happen regularly (Solstice Festival, Skeleton Park Music Festival, as well as ad hoc, spontaneous events such as birthday parties – people come from far away to have these in the park – and neighborhood baseball games, frisbee). There is skating in the winter. Trees are an integral part of the park. I believe we need to have the three trees which have fallen and/or been removed in the last two years replaced as soon as possible, and further that we need a clear replacement policy regarding Skeleton Park since the remaining silver maples have at best 30 years left and we can’t have their replacement dependent on the whims of those at City Hall, who may not understand the history of the issue, and may not be invested in maintaining the park’s character.  Please let me know when you think the replacement planting may take place.  Thank you for your attention.


Melanie Dugan


Urban gardening to attract wildlife.

Written (or being written and edited) by Steve Lougheed

Prickly pear cactus flowering.

I have been interested in nature for as long as I can remember, that is to say well over four decades. For example, encouraged by my mother and maternal grandmother, as a boy of perhaps 13 or 14 I had a bedroom filled with all manner of creatures from garter snakes and snapping turtles to hermit crabs and African waxbills. As I grew older this interest did not flicker but was gradually transmogrified into a professional interest in evolutionary genetics and field biology (my vocation) but also into various hobbies, including gardening. My partner Anne and I have a significant downtown city lot in Kingston and we have created a series of gardens (we tend towards complex profusions of plants rather than the organized and regular Victorian designs). Importantly we have tried to plant our gardens both to provide an ever-changing aesthetic backdrop to our spring and summer activities (witness the prickly pear flowers to the left blooming today, July 10 2011!) and to sustain various wildlife species.

Providing cover year round. Birds, bats, amphibians and reptiles, and indeed all organisms, require protection from predators and the elements.

For birds: While deciduous trees afford protection from predators and inclement weather part of the year, coniferous trees like eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), black spruce (Picea mariana) or eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) provide protection year round. In fact, without such cover in your yard you will have trouble attracting any but the most intrepid and robust birds ( introduced species like the house sparrow, Passer domesticus, for example) even with a feeder. Of course ANY tree with loose bark or crevasses and cavities may be used throughout the annual cycle of many species and on some level one may wish to leave a few dead branches for woodpeckers or nuthatches and their ecological kin.

Cedar waxwing. This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons Description A Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) perched in the branches of a Weeping Holly tree. From Wiki. Photo by Ken Thompson.

Providing food. Among the most popular trees for smaller yards and gardens are serviceberries (genus: Amelanchier) typical of north temperate climes. A number of species is native to North America and may be purchased from local nurseries along with some hybrids as well. Serviceberries grow to a maximum height of 10-12 metres They flower in spring and early summer depending on the species, and provide  fruit in summer, which may attract frugivorous bird species like the lovely cedar waxwing (Bombicilla cedorum)

More to come … must get back to work.

Here is a wonderful site describing the the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, an initiative of the Ontario Field Naturalists, that provides details on native species that will help attract wildlife particularly birds.

Here is another excellent resource from the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

One final point. Our neighbourhood has many cats. Attracting birds and other wildlife to gardens which may be the hunting grounds for domestic cats, I’d suggest, is not particularly ethical. Bells on cat collars do not work particularly well, save for assuaging owner guilt perhaps, as many birds simply do not associate the sound of a tinkling bell with impending doom. See this article by the American Bird Conservancy.

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