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Philanthropy for the community?

Community foundations leaders from across Canada gathered at The Banff Centre recently to connect and engage in conversation about leadership opportunities, social innovation and what’s next for community philanthropy. The gatherings were the beginning of a new relationship with The Banff Centre to develop the kind of smart and caring leaders that our communities need.

Gabriel Kasper detailing his ideas on philanthropy and the community

Gabriel Kasper detailing his ideas on philanthropy and the community.

In this podcast, Gabriel Kasper from the Monitor Institute shares stories from across the philanthropic sector,  unpacks the future of community philanthropy and addresses how we might re-imagine the charitable landscape leading up to Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 and beyond.

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Around Banff: Hogarth Lakes Trail

Our photography workstudy, Meghan Krauss, spends a lot of time taking beautiful pictures in and around Banff, so we thought we’d share some of her stories and images with you.

The Hogarth Lakes Snowshoe Trail is a 4.5km loop along flat terrain through dense forest in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and follows a route that includes great views of surrounding mountains from the shoreline of a series of frozen lakes. It’s a perfect trail for beginner snowshoe users, as avalanche gear is not a necessity. The trail starts at the Burstall day use area, which is about 41.5 km South of the Nordic Centre in Canmore along the Smith Dorrien/Spray Trail.

It was a weekend in early January that I headed out on the Hogarth Snowshoe Loop. There had been some fresh snowfall the week prior, so the snow was deep, which added to the quiet natural surroundings of the wooded trails.

After finishing the loop, we began the trip back to Banff. The Smith-Dorrien Spray Trail is a gravel-road that gives “backdoor” access to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and Spray Lakes Provincial Park, for ice fishing, skating, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and boating. The drive is long, but has its own great views, such as this one of Mount Nestor.

While driving down the Smith-Dorrien Spray Trail in Spray Lakes Provincial Park, we spotted something moving out on the frozen lake. Pulling into the nearby parking lot, it became obvious that it was a group out on a local dog-sled tour. Along with a couple of ice fishers, we watched as the groups finished up their excursion.

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On to Sochi, via Banff!

Last week, CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos helped host the Molson Canadian Block Party to send off Canadian athletes to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

During the event, The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled its 2014 “lucky loonie”, a circulation coin designed by artist Emily S. Damstra that features the loon and the logo of the Canadian Olympic team, a maple leaf and the Olympic rings. Five million lucky loonies have been produced and will enter into circulation on Jan. 20. Those who attended the event in Banff were able to trade in an old loonie for a “lucky loonie” ahead of this release date.

The tradition of creating a lucky loonie began in 2002 at the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, when a dollar coin was buried at centre ice on the rink where the Canadian men’s and women’s ice hockey teams would play ahead of the games. Both teams won gold that year.  Since then, the Mint has produced a lucky loonie for every Games as a symbolic good luck charm for Canada’s Olympic athletes.

The Canadian Olympic Committee has reached out and selected a moose as the official moose-cot… Errr, I mean… mascot for Canada’s Olympic team heading into the Sochi games in February. Meet Komak, posing with Banff Centre employee Trevor Duke.

The Arkells opened the Block Party, and during the performance, lead singer Max Kerman took off his leather jacket to reveal a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey. The Arkells (Hamilton Tigercats) and The Sheepdogs (Saskatchewan Roughriders) had a bet on who would win the Grey Cup in 2013, and the losing band would wear the winning jersey the next time the two bands played together. Go Green!

Banff Avenue was shut down to traffic during the event, and about 30 Sochi Olympians mingled with the crowd.

Well-wishers were encouraged to sign a flag that will be displayed in Sochi’s Olympic Village, with plenty of comments like “go for gold” and “we’re behind you!” People signing the flag came from as far away as Poland and New Zealand. My personal contribution read “Good Luck from Banff!”

The Sheepdogs (who won Rolling Stone’s “choose the cover” competition in 2011) closed the event, delighting the crowd with an encore at the end of their set.

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Tuesday Night Fever in the spin studio

Inside the newly renovated spin studio in the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre. Photo: Rita Taylor.

Inside the newly renovated spin studio in the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre. Photo: Rita Taylor.

The sport of spinning at the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre has undergone a major revamp, with the addition of the Bow Valley’s first specialized spin studio. A motorized disco ball has been installed (just for the heck of it), a large TV has been fitted (where excerpts from the Banff Mountain Film competition will be shown), and spin bikes have been lined up. Installed in a renovated squash court, the new studio takes spinning out of the main gym, where it had become one of the Sally B.’s most popular community classes. It also gave the recreation team a chance to stretch their design creativity. “We were looking at different spin studios to see what was out there, and we came across the disco ball, which we can use to make different themed classes with music from 70’s or 80’s, ” says Sally Borden manager Andrea Vaughan. “It just makes it more fun.”

Working with Health and Fitness coordinator Jeanette Earl and a team from Physical Facilities on the month-long reno project, they built and painted the decorative sound baffles, and added a wall of mirrors. Now they’re looking at using the studio’s TV screen as a platform for virtual cycling tours of local riding hot spots ( Jasper, Invermere and Radium) via the use of high definition Go Pro camera footage. “If people feel they’re going somewhere it gives them more of a sense of achievement. We wanted to give people every reason to be inspired to spin.”

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Del Hillier’s industrial park walkabout

It’s frighteningly easy to let Banff Avenue’s tourist gauntlet engulf you. And it’s even easier to find multiple reasons to never leave the artistic utopia that is The Banff Centre. But as residents of the world’s most famous mountain town, it’s harder than expected to explain what makes Banff, well…Banff. The Banff Centre artist and work study Del Hillier is working on it. He’s curated walking tours of Banff’s industrial park, delving into the history and development of an area of town sight-seers usually skip over.

“I’m just as preoccupied with my life as everyone else and don’t always see the things which actually interest me,” Hillier says. “One afternoon, I was hanging out in the industrial park with my friend and I was pretending to be a tour guide. It was entertaining and funny and that’s how the idea was born. The next thing you know, my number-one goal is to become a Banff Industrial Park expert so I’d feel comfortable enough to lead a walking tour. I trained myself.”

As an artist, Hillier was already working in immersive environments: repurposing an abandoned building in the Yukon to establish a trading post, and photographing salvaged hubcaps, gift-wrapped and placed next to vehicles on the streets of Prague.

“I’m not sure if I have an artistic practice in the way I consider how others pursue their work,” he says. “Since art school I’ve been dabbling and trying to figure out what’s going to sustain my interest in the so-called ‘real world.’ Anything that even remotely begins to take off as a project, I’ve grabbed onto right away with the hopes something worthy will come of it.”

The idea of immersion in the “real world” hinges upon a sense of openness and curiosity that inevitably leads to new perspectives on existing surroundings. And this is what Del’s tour — combining facts, historical accounts and anecdotes, and personal experience — accomplishes. On my second tour, I found myself noticing things I had previously missed, like the spinal column of an animal resting next to a barrel, and some pallets by the entrance of the industrial park’s wildlife research laboratory.

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“Never take your eye off the bull”

During rutting and calving seasons in the Fall and Spring, the number of elk sightings increases around The Banff Centre. Open spaces like the green space in front of the music building allow them to see potential predators coming from a distance while keeping their backs to a wall to minimize surprise attacks. It’s a good place to be.

This is no joke. Illustration by Kristy Davison.

This is no joke. Illustration by Kristy Davison.

Twenty years ago, the elk invasion had become so serious that a TBC Elk Action Plan was hatched. Options discussed with wardens included removing large trees to prevent pedestrians from being surprised by hidden elk, installing temporary electric fences, and placing canisters of artificial wolf scent in the woods surrounding the Leighton Studios.  Security at the time offered to ferry nervous staff or visitors through elk herds to other buildings on campus.

Things have calmed down since then, but I had caught a hot tip that our campus cowboys were wrangling the herds using only a hockey stick with a garbage bag tied to it and I felt compelled to investigate what sounded too good to be true. Crossing my fingers, I called up Alasdair “Grif” Griffith and Chris Furlan from Security who were prepared to divulge some of their tried-and-true tactics for cajoling the creatures off campus.


The Security team was quick to correct my misconception about the hockey stick.

“It’s a rake we use, not a hockey stick,” Grif said as he pulled said tool out of the back of the security van. The rake, a remnant pilfered from grounds crew’s throw-away pile, has half of its tines missing and handle sawed or broken off, and is wrapped in a green garbage bag. The handle is covered in duct tape for added grip and greater protection from splinters.

“I mean, the [park] wardens use a hockey stick and it’s the same principle. It’s just that the rake, it’s got more area. And so you can sometimes make a bigger or a louder noise with it,” Chris explained.

“So you think the rake is better than the hockey stick?” I asked.

“In my opinion, anyways.”

“I think it is, yeah,” Grif chimed in.

Wardens, take note.

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