Posted tagged ‘inner city’

Pictures from the Heart


The Art in the heART of the City Visual Arts Exhibit. Not just a fun name to say, it’s the name of the new art exhibit on at City Hall in Edmonton through 18 December. 12 inner-city artists with 40 pieces, the exhibit has paintings, drawings, soapstone carvings, and photographs.

All 4 photographs in the exhibit were taken by William Neis.

4 photos

One of these photos was taken in Churchill Square in winter. Another shot is from the river valley, of geese going south. The third is a view of the clouds from his apartment window, and the fourth of his roommate Fred (who also happens to be a cat).

William started taking pictures in 2009 when his brother gave him a camera. Since then, he’s used it to take photos all over Edmonton. For William, taking photo is a way to express himself, and a form of self-therapy.

Encouraged by mentors in the community, he’s taken over 30,000 photos within the city. Nevermind the number and the quality of his work, however. As William relates: “I’m not a photographer, I’m a guy who takes pictures.”

Despite this opinion, at the opening of the exhibit, William was approached by a professional photographer of more than 30 years. He told William his photos were some of the nicest he’d seen, and that one in particular was a very difficult shot.

William credits the Inner City Recreation and Wellness Program and the Boyle McCauley Health Clinic for supporting him, and he supports others in the community by sharing his photos.

Although he rarely takes pictures of people, most of William’s photos are of nature and animals. Part of the reason for the focus? It’s so that folks “who can’t get outdoors for themselves can still enjoy,” he says, “the beauty, and see that’s there still good in the world.”

As such, William shares his photos online with people all over the planet. It is also an opportunity for someone in a different place, like Texas, to “see what a jackrabbit looks like in the snow.”

Although you’ll often see him hiking through the river valley with his camera, he never plans to take pictures ahead of time. As he says, “it just happens. Nature presents itself. The next photo is a hop, skip, and stumble over the next bank.”


See William’s photos at the Art in the heART of the City Exhibit on at City Hall, and check out more of his work at Bill Neis Photography.

Bird photo



Celebrating Inner City Talent


From 2-18 December, the visual art of inner-city community members will be on display at City Hall in Edmonton. This exhibit showcases the talent of folks who flourish creatively even while under difficult circumstances. It may also make some more privileged people question why they aren’t able to draw anything better than a stick-man.

Please stay tuned to the blog for posts on different artists while the exhibit is on! And on head down to our municipal center of governance to see the free exhibit firsthand for yourself!

Art in the heART of the City

Streetball Showdown IV


Streetball Showdown IV

Music in the Heart of the City!


Heart of the CityThis weekend, the Heart of the City Music Festival is helping the inner-city community celebrate the end of winter!

Two concerts will be held showcasing the talents of musicians hoping to perform at the festival on June 7 and 8 in Giovanni Caboto Park. In previous years, concert auditions for the Heart of the City were held privately, but this time they’ll be held at Boyle Street Community Services and Bissell Centre!

The first show with be at Boyle Street Community Services (10116-105 Avenue NW) on Saturday April 26th, from 1-4PM. Just come through the front doors. On Sunday, April 27th, the second show will be at Bissell Centre (10527-96 Street) on the first floor of the west building.

Everyone is welcome to join the fun at both concerts!

If you have any questions, call Rylan at 780-860-6154. And check out the Heart of the City website,!


Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week: Fasting with Fast Food


I like eating.

Anyone who knows me, knows how true this statement is. Whether they’ve made the mistake of looking away from their dinner for more than two seconds, or accidentally tell me they’ve ordered pizza, one of my best skills is making food disappear.

See what I mean?

So, when the Mustard Seed put out a challenge for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, I thought the most difficult of all the Awareness Adventures would be to cut down on how much I eat everyday. By a lot. So for the last week:

1– I haven’t eaten breakfast.
2– I haven’t snacked.
3– I have eaten lunch and dinner at specific times. No eating outside those two meal windows.
4- Meals I do eat are smaller portions than normal. No food comas allowed. 
– All the meals have been inexpensive, high calorie, and accessible to the inner city community.

I’ve tried to adopt the routine that directs life on the street: organizing your day around when you can eat. If you aren’t at an inner city community agency when food is served, it means you’ve missed a meal, or maybe even having food that entire day. This danger causes a lot of stress, and put limits on health, well-being, and happiness.

Aside from my 5 point eating plan, I tried to keep everything else in my schedule the same. This meant working full-time, exercising 1 to 2 hours a day, and going to the social events I’d promised Facebook I’d be attending. At first, it was kind of fun not to eat any vegetables, but after a few days I was actually craving broccoli. And carrots. When all of a sudden the foods you’re used to having when you’re hungry (or just feel like eating because you’re bored), are out of reach, it changes your daily frame of mind.

Food becomes the main priority. Going to bed with your stomach grumbling becomes the new norm. After a few days, my energy levels dropped, exercising became harder, and it took my body longer to recover. Sleeping more seemed like a sneaky way of countering this, but since homeless people don’t have that option, I instead started sleeping less every night – from 7-8 hours to 5-6. Focusing on tasks was more difficult, and articulating ideas was harder than usual.

Then, 5 days in, I started getting a sore throat, which soon turned into a harsh cough. Normally, when I get run-down and feeling sick, I eat lots of good food, and get lots of rest. Unfortunately, homeless folks don’t have that option either, and so I stuck to my diet plan. There’s vitamin C in cheap bologna, right?

On the last day of the fasting challenge, an awful feeling in my stomach was added to my symptoms. My body was starting to get really mad at me. It was my final indication of what it’s like to be homeless everyday. To set your routine around eating. To be worried about going hungry. To be tired. To have your body feeling sore. To get sick, and not have an easy way of getting better.  And then, while facing these problems on a daily basis, the homeless have to confront other issues, like finding work, shelter, and staying warm.

Good food goes a long way to giving folks a foundation to take on these other problems. To contrast a week of eating meals people in the inner city have access to, for the next week I’m going to do the reverse: eat balanced, healthy meals which are unavailable to the homeless.  It’ll be more expensive, but I’m guessing the benefits will outweigh the monetary cost.


Blurring the lines between the inner city and the wider community.

Edmonton’s Streetball Showdown


When I first started working in Edmonton’s inner city a few months ago, I heard about a young musician named Lance. He wanted to organize an event celebrating the great things happening in the community.

Of course, putting together any kind of event can be a tall order, even if it’s just a Tuesday night poker game…which this is not. Lance’s idea certainly involved a lot more work and creativity than getting a deck of cards. His vision was for something as inclusive as possible – bringing people together in a public space for a fun, clean, community event.

And it looks like Lance has done it. With lots of support, time, and effort, Edmonton’s Streetball Showdown will be taking place this Saturday, August 4th in Centennial Plaza from 2:00-7:00.

There’s going to be food.

There’s going to be streetball.

And there’s going to be tons of local music.

$20 will get you into the 4 on 4 streetball tournament, and if your team wins – you take the pot. If you prefer playing music to ball, sign up to perform. You’ll join a stacked bill including Ambiguous  and Shawn “Feenix” Bernard.

Lance wants to recognize the positive things going on in the downtown community, and the event this Saturday will show this in spades. It’s all-ages, and everyone is welcome to stop by. If you want to participate in the tournament or the music, get there around 1:00.

Come see what youth can do when they’re given independence and the opportunity to thrive – and the positive impact this has on the community as a whole.

click here for the Streetball Showdown Facebook event