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D.I.Y. culture is alive and well in Calgary!

by Tomas Jonsson - 0 Comment(s)

Artist Trading Cards How To

The Calgary Public Library will be hosting a workshop about artist trading cards at our Village Square Branch on July 9-10 (Registration opens on April 24!). This 2-day workshop will introduce you to some basic techniques using different materials to explore in creating your own Artist Trading Cards.

For those who don’t know, Artist Trading cards are miniature works of art, about the size of a hockey card, that are traded freely between creators. The process is deceptively simple. On the last Saturday of the month, artists meet and trade cards they’ve produced. The only firm rules being that cards must be 2 ½ x 3 ½ in size, and can only be traded one for one. Beyond that, the sky's the limit! You can also take part in regularly scheduled trading sessions at The New Gallery, one of calgary’s original Artist-Run Centres.
Artist Trading cards are just one example of a number of local initiatives that are guided by a common ethos of generosity and exchange. Here are other examples of the rich diversity of Do It Yourself (DIY) culture the city has to offer:


I’m sure most people have had the opportunity to read, if not write a zine. If not, the Zine Tree Collective is a great place to start! The Zine Tree Collective aims to encourage expression and the sharing of ideas through self published, DIY zines. The collective defines zines as “self-published magazines or pamphlets made outside of mainstream press and professional media, by all kinds of people about all kinds of things… Zines are an empowering way to communicate a person's experiences or thoughts, as well as to learn about other people's opinions.” The zine library, recently found a new home at the Old Y Centre for Community Organizations, and offers access to thousands of zines written by people in Calgary, in Canada, and all over the world. The space functions both as a library and a workshop, with information and the equipment necessary to make your very own zine!

The Good Life Community Bicycle Shop is a non-profit community bicycle repair shop, resource center, and community space. The Good Life is a place where people can come in to learn how to fix their own bikes, build bikes from recycled materials, get a hand doing so, and use this space to facilitate some much needed community building. Check out their new space at the former Ant Hill Fabrics space in Kensington (148 10 Street NW).

Dorkbot Calgary is the local chapter of a worldwide network of people who get together to do strange things with electricity. Each dorkbot is different and is driven by the needs and interests of people in the local community. Meet ups are informal, friendly environments in which people can talk about the work they're doing and get inspired for new projects. Dorkbot get-togethers generally take place on the third Thursday of the month, with additional meetings for special guests and topics. Everyone is welcome, and can find out more about past and upcoming meetups here.

Protospace is a hackerspace – sometimes called a maker or make space, where inventors, artists, geeks can come together to make or ‘break’ anything involving science, technology, digital and electronic arts. Meetings and workshops are held every Tuesday evening, guided by a desire to promote creativity and community in Calgary and around the world… the more diverse the group, the more interesting it gets!

The Local Library is a place where people can come and experiment with new ideas, mediums and equipment in a space that's supportive and accessible, as well as learn from practicing members of the arts community in Calgary. All of their programs are open to your involvement, not just as a spectator but as an active participant! The Local Library hosts a variety of activities including regular all-ages shows, a visual arts gallery, open studios, workshops and more! Under "more", you can file Choose yer Own Festival, a do-it-yourself collaborative festival affiliated with the Local Library, but spilling out into all corners of the city.

And let's not forget about the 'other' local Library... The Living Library works exactly like your local Calgary Public Library - readers can borrow a "book". The difference is, books in the Living Library are human beings: "living books", with whom the reader can have a conversation. The Living Library uses volunteers as “living books” that can be “checked out” by “readers”. This unique program enables readers to ask the questions they have always wanted to ask; while "books" are given the opportunity to share stories about their personal experiences in a safe and welcoming environment. This enables individuals to actively contribute to building inclusive communities of understanding. As a Living Book, all you need is yourself - no more, no less. By being available to answer questions about your life, you will help readers understand you and your experiences better.

Just like these real-life, in-town examples, there are virtually tons of websites that cater to collaboration and skill sharing groups. Instructables is a web-based platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others. Want to learn how to make something? Do you have a skill you want to share? Check out this site! Similar to Instructables, Howtoons is a site that combines instructions with comic-book style storytelling.


This list is just the tip of the iceberg of DIY culture in Calgary. Anything else you want to add? Just do it ... yourself!

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