handy girl

Changing tires, changing diapers and changing minds all over town...

Saturday

chalk it up to common ground

it was a full harvest moon when we all met on common ground, armed with sidewalk chalk, packing ten pounds of intention into five pound bags. the core group of the underground common ground sidewalk chalk experiment would set the tone for the hours and days that followed, and would initialize new plans for future displays of temporary public art.
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my intention was to bless the space following the aftermath of the rolling stones concert. a family friend had the intention of using up the bucket of sidewalk chalk she had found on garbage night. a sculpture student at nscad intended on finding something within the group dynamic. a young buddhist woman, who stayed up all night dancing the night before and then went to an all day conference she had forgotton about while shaking her groove thang, had the intention of not letting me down.
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we began by preparing the pavement. we talked about how we wanted to remain positive and to have no rules, except to remain positive. i liked the idea of lower case letters but wouldn't dictate that to anyone. we knew there would be others walking through the commons on a saturday night and agreed to hand out chalk to anyone who wanted to participate. by the end of the night, more than twenty strangers had added their flavour to the mix.
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we chalked and chalked. we followed our individual paths which led back to each other for momentary verbal and non-verbal exchanges. it seemed to us like a timeless event; we were in the zone of intention, we were driven to put out only the best of such, and the whole experience was strangely surreal, a massive output of energy for the common good.
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my family friend brought beach rocks, chalked them with huge lips and words like 'you rock' and positioned them in the giant tire tracks of mud. she was a trooper, a good newfoundland girl who wouldn't leave until the job was done. while bent over to pack up the supplies, a guy came running across the commons because he thought someone was dying. we told him that we were very much living, and happy to know that someone would come running at three in the morning in the middle of the commons should we have been hurt.
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the sculpture student went on to digest the process of chalking covertly at night, of creating temporary positive and happy graffiti in a public place. the buddhist, whose initial intention kick-started her into showing up, gained much more from the experience on a personal level. it really was to the benefit of the chalkers and to those who would walk on common ground.
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i went over the next day and sat across the street from the commons. i watched as people slowed down to read the pavement. some people stopped walking altogether and started talking to each other. my intention was to bless the space, and right before my eyes, people were smiling at each other and strangers were chinwagging all over the place.
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we didn't go over with spray cans and ski masks, yet we remained somewhat anonymous, which gave us the chance to be flies on walls. i heard some people talking about how good they felt walking to work the next day when they read the words on the pavement.
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eventually, my ears would hear, 'oh no, it's raining! i guess that's the end of the happy commons'. this is the way of temporary chalk art. once the rain comes, it disappears into nothingness.
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worry not, haligonians! handy girl is planning on creating more temporary public art and is waiting by the fire for the first snowfall of winter (yes, that's a clue)...stay tuned, there is just so very much more....

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