THE FIELD NOTES COLLECTIVE

The Field Notes Collective is a collective of art professionals and scientists working in the Southern Alberta area who are bound by a shared set of social, environmental and cultural concerns. The mandate of the Collective is to foster dialogue and action through the staging of cross-disciplinary events, engaging with matters of local and regional interest.


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Launch of the Resilient City website

We are excited to announce the launch of The Resilient City website. This is an excerpt from the website describing the new site and the FNC involvement with this new project.

In 2014, the Musagetes Foundation challenged our group to consider what the term resilient meant in relation to our collective, our art and science practices, and to ourselves as citizens of our small southern Alberta city, Lethbridge.

Understanding our history, our environment and influences on our daily lives seemed to be a good starting point. One of the first things we agreed on was that our city included more than just what we found within the physical boundaries. Our water – and the threats to the water system – was something that very few of us understood. And how about our trees and shrubs – where did they come from, and who had the foresight to plant them? What kind of geology did our city sit on?

This site presents the first few investigations we undertook into understanding our city, and the resiliency that it represents. Please browse our past events to view the videos.  I’m looking forward to the next steps, and how our collective considers their own contributions.

http://www.theresilientcity.com

Leanne Elias,
Lethbridge, Alberta
February, 2015


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Ecotone at the Nickle Galleries

Ecotone Invitation SingleDavid Blatherwick, Dagmar Dahle, Miruna Dragan, Leanne Elias, Mandy Espezel, Denton Fredrickson, John Freeman, Jason de Haan, M.N. Hutchinson, Mary Kavanagh, Kris Lindskoog, Glen MacKinnon, Troy Nickle, Lyndal Osborne, Peter von Tiesenhausen

A project in conjunction with the Field Notes Collective and the Alberta Rural Development Network

In 2008 a group of scientists and artists recognizing the overlapping interests of their disciplines began meeting under the moniker of the Field Notes Collective. Intent to stimulate discussion, actions and ideas surrounding the complex relationships that exist between people and their local environment, a symposium was proposed – Ecotone. Designed as three stages, the project would see artists, scientists, local ranchers and others from the community meet to explore issues ranging from engagement with the land to responsible food production. The first segment of the project offered lectures, video presentations, a 100km dinner and a walking tour of one of Canada’s oldest agricultural research stations. The second segment invited participating artists to spend time at one of the ranches in the area to live, work and develop ideas for the third segment: an exhibition based on the experiences and dialogues that surfaced throughout the previous stages of the project.

Ecotone has been generated from distinctly local investigations and responses to ecological issues. It looks to the experiences of those artists encountering firsthand an environment in many ways unfamiliar, despite its proximity and our complicity in shaping its form, function, and consequently, it’s social, economic, political and environmental structures. In fact, this condition is succinctly reflected in the title of the project: ‘ecotone’ being defined as that liminal space where two communities meet and integrate – a grey zone where ecologies are in tension and as a result, more biologically rich and diverse.

The works in the exhibition employ a range of material, medium and form as diverse as the issues and ideas that these artists approach. Lyndal Osborne pairs a selection of prints with specimens of rough fescue shifting from the characteristically long roots of a healthy plant to those starved and stunted from practices of overgrazing. Mary Kavanagh considers the inter-species dialectic of abattoir workers and animal subjects while examining the mythological scope of meat production. Dagmar Dahle’s delicately expressive gouache drawings of invasive plant species in Lethbridge underscore the reality that these seemingly benign flora have dramatic and often irreversible impacts on our local environment. From urban encroachment to resource extraction, the multiplicity of responses offered by the many other artists included in this exhibition speak to the enormous complexities at play in our local environment. In light of this, one cannot help but consider the bewildering reality of these same problems magnified and multiplied on a global platform. And yet, as projects like Ecotone are increasingly cultivated in communities around the world – sharing stories, perspectives, ideas and actions – there is a renewed sense of optimism and the promise of a future more accountable than our past.

 


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Wildlife in the Wind Speaker Series

Lethbridge Coulees: Urban Parks and Wildlife Corridor

Mark Goettel and Troy Nickle

Date: March 5, 2013 between 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Location: Lethbridge Public Library – Community Meeting Room

Cost: Free – Everyone is Welcome!

Canada Geese cropped-7
Mark and Troy have been doing weekly walks in the Lethbridge coulees and river valley to document wildlife, plant growth, seasonal changes and biodiversity. The goal of these walks is to publish a book that communicates to the public the beauty that is at their doorstep as well as expressing their concerns about the potential misuse or loss of this natural wonderland. Mark and Troy will discuss their weekly adventures and the importance of the river valley and the coulees as a unique area for Lethbridge residents and importance as a wildlife corridor.

Mark Goettel is a retired Insect Pathologist from the Lethbridge Research Centre. Troy Nickle is a local artist whose practice involves creating ephemeral earthworks, sculpture and photography that center on the conceptual associations made between nature, culture and place.

 


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Ecotone at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery

SAAG_Ecotone_Invite-7February 9, 2013 – April 14, 2013
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 9 at 8 PM
Reception Sponsored by KPMG

David Blatherwick, Dagmar Dahle, Miruna Dragan, Leanne Elias, Mandy Espezel, Denton Fredrickson, John Freeman, Jason de Haan, M.N. Hutchinson, Mary Kavanagh, Kris Lindskoog, Glen MacKinnon, Troy Nickle, Lyndal Osborne, Peter von Tiesenhausen

A project in conjunction with the Field Notes Collective and the Alberta Rural Development Network

In 2008 a group of scientists and artists recognizing the overlapping interests of their disciplines began meeting under the moniker of the Field Notes Collective. Intent to stimulate discussion, actions and ideas surrounding the complex relationships that exist between people and their local environment, a symposium was proposed – Ecotone. Designed as three stages, the project would see artists, scientists, local ranchers and others from the community meet to explore issues ranging from engagement with the land to responsible food production. The first segment of the project offered lectures, video presentations, a 100km dinner and a walking tour of one of Canada’s oldest agricultural research stations. The second segment invited participating artists to spend time at one of the ranches in the area to live, work and develop ideas for the third segment: an exhibition based on the experiences and dialogues that surfaced throughout the previous stages of the project.

Ecotone has been generated from distinctly local investigations and responses to ecological issues. It looks to the experiences of those artists encountering firsthand an environment in many ways unfamiliar, despite its proximity and our complicity in shaping its form, function, and consequently, it’s social, economic, political and environmental structures. In fact, this condition is succinctly reflected in the title of the project: ‘ecotone’ being defined as that liminal space where two communities meet and integrate – a grey zone where ecologies are in tension and as a result, more biologically rich and diverse.

The works in the exhibition employ a range of material, medium and form as diverse as the issues and ideas that these artists approach. Lyndal Osborne pairs a selection of prints with specimens of rough fescue shifting from the characteristically long roots of a healthy plant to those starved and stunted from practices of overgrazing. Mary Kavanagh considers the inter-species dialectic of abattoir workers and animal subjects while examining the mythological scope of meat production. Dagmar Dahle’s delicately expressive gouache drawings of invasive plant species in Lethbridge underscore the reality that these seemingly benign flora have dramatic and often irreversible impacts on our local environment. From urban encroachment to resource extraction, the multiplicity of responses offered by the many other artists included in this exhibition speak to the enormous complexities at play in our local environment. In light of this, one cannot help but consider the bewildering reality of these same problems magnified and multiplied on a global platform. And yet, as projects like Ecotone are increasingly cultivated in communities around the world – sharing stories, perspectives, ideas and actions – there is a renewed sense of optimism and the promise of a future more accountable than our past.


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News on Environment Lethbridge

Field Notes Collective Members:
Further to an email I sent you on November 19, the proposal to create Environment Lethbridge will be presented to Lethbridge City Council on Monday, January 14. You can show your support by attending the Jan 14th afternoon meeting at City Hall (agenda tbd) or by sending a letter to City Council. An article by Braum Barber providing further information on Environment Lethbridge follows.
Best wishes for 2013.
Cheryl Bradley

Environment Lethbridge Goes to Council
(Article by Braum Barber from SAGE Newsletter Jan 2013 at: http://sage-environment.org/ )
For the past two years, a steering group representing business, education, and NGOs have collaborated with the City of Lethbridge to create Environment Lethbridge.
The organization has been designed to address the principles of the Municipal Development Plan / Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (MDP/ICSP) which states as its Mission: “We will continue to work together to ensure that Lethbridge is a leader in environmental stewardship, innovation and active leadership.”
The MDP/ICSP goes on to say: “The City is committed to taking a responsible leadership role in the efficient use of resources and land. Resources include water, renewable and non-renewable energy sources, air quality and municipal waste. The conservation and reuse of resources can bring long-term cost savings and demonstrate the City’s leadership in managing its resources responsibly.” Balancing social, economic and environmental needs through good policy development, education, and community initiatives is precisely the support Environment Lethbridge can provide to individuals and business, and towards good governance.
In other words, Environment Lethbridge will provide a service to the community by providing region-specific best practices for water conservation, energy micro-generation and efficiency, optimizing home design and operation, supporting food security, and reducing waste. Not only can Environment Lethbridge promote opportunities for cost savings, the organization may provide consultation and research for environmental innovation in Lethbridge and thereby help improve the economic climate for future prosperity: a greener Lethbridge may attract new business and retain existing businesses through the development of sustainability oriented infrastructure and operations.
For $1.50 per year for each citizen in the city, Environment Lethbridge will make Lethbridge a more resilient community – both economically and socially – and it will help secure the prosperity of our children and their children. To abet this important organization, a Community Interests Committee meeting will be held on January 14th at City Hall. Check the City’s website for the Agenda (www.lethbridge.ca). The proposal will then be presented to City Council on January 21st for budget approval.
Please join us at both events, and show your support for a better Lethbridge.


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Time and Change, Field Notes from the Coulees

I have been involved in the Field Notes Collective since it began in 2009; when Rose De Clerk Floate felt motivated and inspired to initiate a meeting of artists and scientists to explore the overlapping interests between the two disciplines.

One of our projects as a collective involved pairing an artist with a scientist to create mapped response for an experience had in Lethbridge. The work would be part of an exhibition held at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery initiated and curated by Don Gill, also a member of the Field Notes Collective. I became partners for this project with Mark Goettel a retired entimologist who worked at the Lethbridge Agriculture and Agri-Food Research Centre . The exhibition covered a range of critical lenses from cartography and sociology to urban design, architecture and place. The show was entitled, “Mapping a Prairie City: Lethbridge and it’s Suburbs.” Our project evolved into a form of weekly walks in the coulees of Lethbridge that would culminate into a bookwork. We decided we would document the changing landscape over the course of three months and walk the same 6km route once a week. Our walks involved documenting and mapping  weather patterns, wildlife movement, the mating patterns of birds, vegetation growth, insect activity, and human activity. The book was entitled, “Time and Change, Field Notes from the Coulees.”

Our project started on March 4, 2011 and we created the book in only three and a half months, in time for the exhibition which was on June 24, 2011. The book was being created bit by bit after every hike. We used an online print on demand publisher so we could print the book in time for the exhibition. The cost of one book was a staggering $127. After the exhibition Mark and I decided to continue the hikes over the course of the year. Our decision was based on the fact that we both enjoyed the walking, we were learning so much about the landscape and were motivated to create a comprehensive book encompassing an entire year of our walks and to self publish a book in order for it to be more affordable to sell and better quality.

We finished our year of hiking on March 10, 2012. We each hiked over 200km over the course of the year. We have yet to start work on the new book due to our busy schedules but hope to slowly proceed toward accomplishing our goal.

Today, December 9, 2012, Mark and I walked our 6km route. We heard coyotes howling along the Oldman River, saw hundreds of Canada Geese resting on the ice along the river, watched Pintail ducks swimming in the open water, saw a juvenile two adult Bald Eagles, and watched a porcupine feed on the shoots of a thorny buffaloberry shrub along Six Mile creek.

Troy Nickle

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Ecotone and the ripple effect

Now that we are into the lovely, warm, sunny days of late summer/early fall, I want to share and revive the amazing experience we had last September on the foothills rangeland of Stavely. This event called “Ecotone” was the coming together and intermingling of communities; artists, scientists and ranchers in this case, but also the urban and rural communities we were representing. None of us really knew what would happen that day, but in the simple process of sharing knowledge on sustainable cattle grazing practices, including an appreciation of native grassland plants, animals and earth, we made deep connections and bridged understanding and communication gaps. There was an energy, lightness and joy that I will never forget that lasted into late evening as we shared a locally produced meal together at the Stavely Hall. I hope we can recapture that day in spirit. Close your eyes and smell the earth and sun-warmed vegetation of that day, and recall what it was like just slowing down to listen to our surroundings and each other.

And the experiences still ripple forth from Ecotone. Several artist residencies were created this summer through the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, where the artists returned to the prairie environment to take up residence on working, foothills ranches (thanks to the lodging and knowledge offerings of eight ranching families). I encourage any of the artists who were part of the residencies to share there experiences on our blog.

Also see http://www.cowsandfish.org/photos/DigitalStories.aspx?category=beef for an example of what was experienced during Ecotone, through the eyes and creativity of artist, Leanne Elias (video “Just Walk”). And while you are visiting the Cows and Fish digital storytelling site, sample the other short videos that were screened last spring at another Field Notes Collective partnered project.

http://originals.farm.tv//post/138/ecotone.html

http://www.uleth.ca/finearts/news/2011/09/arts-and-science-come-together-ecotone-sept-9-10

http://twodressesstudio.blogspot.ca/2011/10/ecotones-8×8-inch-digital-illustration.html