Whether or not this year to add more Baker Street Xmas-hoopla to last year's takes-up more time/energy in the Regular Council Meeting, 7. July, than any other item in recent memory. The claws are out! In an entertaining embarrassment! Finally - life in the Council Chamber!
If someone were to raise the bottom-line question: what is the purpose of this particular kind of lighting, the silliness of the topic quickly could be established - that incidentally leaving councillors more time/energy to reflect on their here once again displayed habitual thoughtless disregard for the attending electorate in meetings. But - no reflection here!
Usually just talking to each other - often inaudible to the "audience" - or referring to topics which already had been addressed outside the Council Chamber - while not necessarily in camera - thus often not cohesively explored in front of the interested/concerned. Being very inside - and very not!
While the effort of the recent Xmas-elves is to be commended - the result is predictable: predictable fake pine-garlands, predictable cardboard bows, predictable fake candy-canes, predictable electric twinkle: all adding-up to a
Festival of Lights!
Predictable holiday-cheer in a predictable smallish-thinking town.
Purpose? Xmas is when downtown/mall-merchants make more money than at any other time during the year - money then the name of the game: spending it and making it. This is the time when Xmas-addicts will indeed shop local and lots, without needing to be prompted with fake mall-cheer up-and-down trees.
As bizarre as can get: with some of the Spurwood Fund possibly in there but who knows - an ultimately again-and-again taxpayer-funded Xmas decor is really only to set the mood for the Nelson Business Association's (NBA) walk to the bank laughing, with the same taxpayers' irrationally spent money - what with the NBA only taking but never giving.
The Spurwood Fund - a substantial privately donated amount, ostensibly to be used for lighting-up Baker - sitting around somewhere at City Hall for ages: is never mentioned anywhere. Not in Council, not in The Nelson Daily/Nelson Star, not on Google, not on the City's website. Who knows? Colin McClure, CFO, knows, and he's on vacation.
Back to irrational shopping - encouraged generously with taxpayer-funding for the NBA's benefit only. More rationally - any Xmas decor should be initiated and paid-for only by the NBA, possibly supplemented by the mythical Spurwood Fund.
There could be a competition among its members for the most original winter-wonderland shop-windows and building-facade displays. This would lure shoppers and their children directly into particular stores - sort of like Hansel and Gretel - and stop Nelson Hydro's senseless spiking, screwing and nailing into trees, with sad-dusty Xmas-lights still up in July.
Blinded by the light!
(Councillor Adams - arguing for more twinkle with Councillor Kiss against in the above-mentioned RCM teacup-tempest - is so fanatic about Xmas that after my presentation of this topic to the Committee of the Whole (COW), 21. July - above and below here - he sends me an e-mail during! the COW - 7:50pm - masquerading as his wife - Lynn Adams - with It is my opinion that more residents are inspired by the Festival of Lights than not. Signed: Lynn. Who is not present at the COW.)
Back at the RCM the plot thickens. Kevin Cormack, CAO, in passing reminds Council of the need for considering general lighting - Xmas-lights possibly included - benches, banners and what-not as a whole Baker revamp and a consultant soon to be engaged for all this. Therefore the City holding-off on additional Xmas-lighting for now. Councillor Macdonald - the Cultural Development Committee's (COW) de facto hub - nods smiling agreement. This making the Adams/Kiss argument not only a waste of their energy and everybody's time but also pointless. With neither announcing nor moving on this idea Cormack's job - clearly all this was decided among "them" prior and elsewhere.
The idea of doing something about Baker - for long stretches of the year a drab affair - is long overdue, but bringing in a consultant yet another sign of how little awareness there is at City Hall generally and the CDC specifically: still not having a naturally homegrown vision of Nelson, and once again expecting an expensive, generic, outsider-generated study to provide it. This vision then promptly to be filed-away and forgotten - alongside others from before.
What with the Spurwood Fund not meant for a general overhaul but what do "we" know: here surely again comes the hapless taxpayer! Financing the next consultant in line and this project-to-be is not divulged in this meeting.
Seeing that the tenor of both - Council and the CDC - is bound to be significantly different after the election in November: decisions of this range had better be left to the next generation at City Hall - with the current lame ducks focusing on fixing the present rather than the future. And Cormack implementing directives from instead of originating them for Council
The above - with minor changes for clarity - is the material I present to the COW, 21. July, based on lights-or-not and consultant-for-sure, RCM, 7. July.
Let there be light!
Two dominant points here: City Hall's/CDC's lack of a vision, despite their all-overriding artsy/cultchuh/heritage-pretensions plus the City ready unquestioning to buy a vision off-the-rack.
Some years ago a consultant tells us about art and economics. Then we have one for the cultural tourist. Then there's Roger Brooks telling us pretty much what Cormack/Council/CDC want to be told again now. More recently - almost again Brooks - to label Nelson. Sooooo - will this be Brooks-shtick again?
Always at the taxpayers' expense - never real because never ours: never to be applied!
We don't need consultants, googling what's similar to our perceived needs - then tweaking that as theirs for a hefty fee. We can do that on our own: all we need is willingness, focus and a computer!
I will provide a reasonable plan - free of charge - here now just like that totally doable. Not that I'm an expert consultant - I walk and simply pay attention with intention. I also actually care about Nelson - unfettered by a political, economic, social agenda.
It all starts with Heritage - rather only the anal-WASP kind our previous heritage watchdog - the CHC - formalizes and the CDC - its successor - still lives with in a snug box. Those WASPs aren't into color beyond the faded burgundy of tassled plush in the colonial drawing-room. While bright colors are lived (but frowned upon by the repressed masters) among Eastern-Europeans and Asians within the community - but then: they don't count tut-tut what can you expect from them!
When various paint-manufacturers more recently come-up with heritage-colors - a contrived concept to up their profits and cultural diversity/multi-culturalism only going so far I mean really! - their palettes predictably come from mud-puddles.
With Nelson today rather faux heritage and proud of it - still in the same snug box. Little life and only dim light to be found in there. No vision possible without the boundless exuberance of multicolored joy! With the City's so-called cultural development an insult to all cultures having made a contribution to Nelson with their heritage of values - like hard work!
But surprise, surprise - a spark! - when pictures now are taken of Baker to showcase local vibrancy and what-not - even in tourist-lit - the most photographed buildings are the ones with the Dominion Cafe and Kootenay Exchange next door. Because they are colorful! A very recent further step: covering even heritage-stone - gasp! - with total totally irreverent bright paint - the former King's Restaurant.
Color does liven/lighten(!)-up the environment - thus the people inhabiting it, passing through it. Color-therapy! Ultimately - in a commercial setting - prompting them to spend more money. The reality of these dots yet to be acknowledged, then connected by the NBA, CDC and City Hall - all of the same pursed-lips lot.
Whether stone- or wood-buildings: painting them in different colors and/or subtly varying shades of one color brings out architectural detail, easily overlooked in monochrome treatment. Have an attentive look at the old King's from across the street!
And then there's painting with light!
You light-up my life!
Victoria BC - heritage mother of them all - saw that along with cities all over the world and now has the candy-colored Old-Town strip at Johnson Street's harbour end showing the early colonial city isn't all about Earl Grey and crumpets. As in Westworld.
All pictures in this post are of LoJO - Lower Johnson - in Victoria.
Take it from there and find all the light(s) you need in post
Nelson in Living Colour
1. December, 2011
way below, along with over 20 posts in between dealing with aspects of Baker-Street as-are/as-could-be. And their current/projected influence on Nelson's growth.
The light fantastic!