Liz, Sam, Anneliese, and I attended the KMHS’s Inaugural Event tonight at the Lillian H. Smith Library. (In the basement, which is kind of like an underground cathedral – check it out sometime, it’s pretty cool.) It was really exciting and a full house – maybe 2 or 3 empty seats only! The speakers were really great and it just really inspired me to want to keep working on our project: getting photos for the website, fleshing out the history with details about groups, individuals, and events. It was a really great way to get more ideas for content. Listening to Jean Cochrane, author of one of the books we used (a lot), was just like reading her book. I really, really liked the second speaker, Rosemary Donegan, author of Spadina Avenue. She was a really good speaker and her talk was filled with really interesting anecdotes and micro-histories of buildings still standing today. For me, she provided a sense of other avenues* we could explore in order to create a fuller, richer picture of the Kensington area over time and as a part of a larger Toronto. Liz and I spoke to her afterwards and she had a lot of good ideas about where to look for images for our website. It seems to me like we are going to have to talk to the KMHS about having a copyright budget for photos – they aren’t going to be free.
We also were introduce to Sasha Knight who is a post graduate student at Willowbank School of Restoration Arts who is doing a project on Kensington Market for a class but through the KMHS. I really liked talking to him (and his program sounds super cool) because a lot of what he is studying is about the balance between conservation, restoration, and modernization: allowing for change. This is a tension that really interests me (exhibit A: my blog from 2 weeks ago) in general and particularly in terms of thinking about Kensington Market. For public history initiatives, I think this balance is a really important problem to consider. How can we preserve places of historical value, like neighbourhoods or even particular buildings, without eliminating or restricting the living element which demands the ability for change?
Moral of the Story: I just want to pour all of my energy into this project. It feels so much more real than all the things I am doing for my other classes. It doesn’t even feel like work.
Reality: I have two fairly important papers I need to be writing for other classes… ugh.
* Literally? This is a pretty great pun if you choose to read it that way… unintended but acknowledged.