Every summer, the town of Banff and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies host Doors Open Banff, which gives visitors a chance to peek inside heritage buildings throughout the town. All photos by Meghan Krauss.
The Crossmedia Banff event is an opportunity for cross-pollination between the most innovative companies and creators in motion, mobile, marketing, publishing and games. The strength of this event is the broad learning and sharing that is created between globally influential groups and individuals. And it’s my belief that the beauty of an event like this taking place in Banff is that the mountains themselves actually become one of those influencers.
I observed multiple presenters and audience members express their thoughts on the inspiration they were feeling in their surroundings here. And it got me thinking - could the mountainous setting really influence bigger-picture thinking about how we interact with our communities and technologies online? Can the natural environment be an influential player in the growing online conversation, bringing a sense of grounding, a natural human connection to some of these very big ideas?
The mountains are an integral and instrumental part of The Banff Centre experience and it is motivating to think that their voice might actually have a subtle influence on the direction we humans take with our new technologies, perhaps moving us closer towards more natural sustainable systems and behaviours.
During the course of Crossmedia, there were many references to the sense of awe felt being in the mountainous surroundings; how it puts the purpose of our work into perspective and reminds us of how small we are. But I thought Erik Martin, General Manager of Reddit expressed it best when he looked out the window and admitted:
“These mountains make me wonder if all this social media stuff is completely insignificant.”
He later went on to share, half-jokingly, that as an internet-based entertainment company Reddit’s main source of competition is “work, study and the outdoors.”
Again, I wondered, is this the direction we hope to go with our communications technologies? Moving away from time spent in the outdoors, in particular? Looking upwards at the mountains as we do each day at the Centre, who could argue that they don’t have an affect on us by putting things into perspective?
Do you think you have a busy schedule?
Glen Koenig of Glen’s Fresh Picked Fruit works seven days a week between two provinces from June 15 until October 7. You might know Glen as the guy with the massive truck and the overflowing tables of produce at the Banff Farmers Market. Or maybe you know him from Canmore, Cochrane, Vernon, Salmon Arm, or places in between. And if you see a tanned 29-year old wearing sunglasses and passing out fruit samples, that’s Glen’s son, Thor.
If you don’t know them, you might want to introduce yourself and try a raspberry, blueberry, peach, apricot, or cherry. You might have to line up though. When Glen is in Banff, he serves between 3000 and 4000 people in ten hours.
Here’s the weekly summer circuit for Glen and Thor:
Sunday: work the orchard (Koenig has 23 acres of fruit trees to look after)
Monday: load the truck
Tuesday: keep loading and drive
Saturday: Millarville and driving
Repeat, in one variation or another, for 25 years.
Get into the spirit of summer with this lively, two and a half minute introduciton to Glen’s world of fresh fruit and veggies:
Produced by Jennifer Kingsley. Music by Corwin Fox: “Sweet Caffeine” from the album Cloud Seating.
When Heidi Erismann and her meeting partner thought about ways to bring a strong focus to a planned conference at The Banff Centre last year, they decided they wanted to find a way to physically demonstrate the idea of focused attention, to begin the conference with a signal that the team was leaving their day-to-day work behind for a few days to concentrate on the purpose of the meeting.
The senior executive assistant at the Calgarybased office for engineering firm EBA, Erismann has had eight years of experience in planning annual conferences, and occasionally takes on the role for EBA’s parent company, Tetra Tech, with Canadian conferences as well. For five of those years, she has been bringing the executive group to The Banff Centre.
For her, it’s become an enjoyable personal challenge to build conference sessions around innovative and creative ideas, and her work has set the experiences apart from a standard meeting setup. “Once we decide on a theme for our conference, the summit lead and I have a brainstorming session to come up with unique and interesting activities,” she says, “always keeping the theme in mind.” Continue Reading →
Have you noticed how beautiful The Banff Centre grounds are these days? It can’t be easy to make 43 acres of property, 20 per cent of which is groomed, look so good. Even the remaining naturalized 80 per cent of the campus requires some maintenance, such as weeding, dangerous tree falling, and basic grooming. I met with groundsperson Laura LeBreton to hear firsthand what’s involved in keeping this place looking its best. LeBreton is one of our year-round groundspeople: she’s the one responsible for maintaining the hanging flower baskets you see around campus that always look so impressive. Those flower baskets alone take about three days a week to maintain, but if it was up to LeBreton she’d spend all day, every day with those baskets.
The flowers are brought in from a greenhouse in Pincher Creek. “We drop off the boxes mid-March and they start them from seed. We get them looking pretty good but when they arrive here they need to adapt to the cold weather,” LeBreton tells me. The flower baskets are an exception – most of the plants you’ll see around our grounds are native species. “We have wolf willow, alpine currant, juniper, and potentilla,” she says. “Also our trees are all native pines, poplars, and birch. People come to The Banff Centre for the natural aspect of it, and the landscape continues that feeling of really being in the mountains, being in nature.”
On May 25, a large group of musicians assembled on the stage of the Eric Harvie Theatre, surrounded by music stands and a sizeable array of percussion equipment. At far stage right, the bassist, vocalist, and Grammy Award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding watched as they arranged themselves at the front of the stage with their instruments, then introduced them. She sang a few bars of the first song with them before quietly stepping back into the wings and the 11 musicians carried on with the first piece.
Later, Spalding would be back on stage with two accompanists, pianist Leo Genevese and percussionist Francisco Mela, and later with musicians including flutist Nicole Mitchell, trumpet player Wadada Leo Smith, and pianist Vijay Iyer. Audiences at the following Saturday concert would have seen Iyer onstage with another group of jazz greats, including percussionist Dafnis Prieto, bassist Linda Oh, and vocalist Theo Bleckmann.
These were the first in a series of three mainstage concerts, featuring everyone involved in the 2013 Banff International Jazz and Creative Workshop, in its first year under the directorship of Vijay Iyer, after ten years led by trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas. The concerts, a mix of emerging and established musicians, participants and faculty, bright, Cuban-inflected beats and outthere experimental sounds, underscore everything the workshop is trying to achieve. Continue Reading →