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Haligonians get ready for second annual 100 in 1 Day

On June 6, expect dozens of 'interventions' in public spaces

by Erica Butler

Volunteers created a temporary plaza at Queen and Morris for 100 in 1 Day 2014.  Volunteer Bill Campbell went on to form a pedestrian advocacy group. Photo credit: Yusraa Tadj
Volunteers created a temporary plaza at Queen and Morris for 100 in 1 Day 2014. Volunteer Bill Campbell went on to form a pedestrian advocacy group. Photo credit: Yusraa Tadj
Folks at Common Roots Urban Farm made and distributed seed bombs throughout the city. Photo: 100 in 1 Day Halifax
Folks at Common Roots Urban Farm made and distributed seed bombs throughout the city. Photo: 100 in 1 Day Halifax
A simple street side intervention for 100 in 1 Day 2014: book swap.  Photo credit: Julia Kemp
A simple street side intervention for 100 in 1 Day 2014: book swap. Photo credit: Julia Kemp
If Melissa Laverdure had her wish, our sidewalks and public spaces would be filled with unexpected surprises all year, but in the meantime, we have 100 in 1 Day.  
On June 6th, Halifax's many communities will be filled with citizen-led 'interventions' - mostly small, mostly temporary activities led by community members. From a colourful chalk-drawing campaign, to erecting a community notice board, to a community hike. In the case of the community surrounding Titus Park in Fairview where Laverdure lives, June 6th will be a veritable day-long festival of music, food, and activities.
 
"So much of our public space could use intervening," says Laverdure. "It's not being used. And when so little happens in that space it can sometimes feel that things can't happen," she says, "and that's not true." 
 
On June 6th Titus Park will kick off the day with soccer for kids in the morning, then feature local djs and a community playlist (sign up your favourite song at the local Y). There will be hair braiding and nails. There will be salsa, Zumba, Congalese drumming, a group of Indian Bollywood-style dancers, and maybe even a steel pan group. It's an impressive list of events to fill a lovely greenspace that could use a little more animation, according to Laverdure.  Titus Park can have a stigma, depending on who you talk to, says Laverdure. "It's definitely the park that Halifax forgot about."
 
100 in 1 Day was born in Bogota, Columbia, the same city that gave the world Ciclovia (known as Switch: Open Street Sundays here in Halifax). In 2012, Bogota saw 250 interventions in one day. Here in Halifax, the idea took flight last year with 53 interventions, including everything from a simple book swap on a sidewalk to the installation of red swings on trees throughout the city, many of which are still being used today.
 
This year, there's already 67 interventions registered, and the number grows daily. The official deadline to register is June 1st at 10pm to allow time for the production of a guidebook for the day, but last year interventions were being registered right up until the day before.
Laverdure says that one of the great things about the temporary nature of 100 in 1 Day is that it takes the pressure off. "Sometimes on these days, you can be a little wilder than you normally can dream, because you're so confined by society's parameters. This day gives you the opportunity to think a little bit outside of that." 
 
Although the interventions are mostly citizen-led from idea to execution, a team of 100 in 1 Day volunteers has been providing support for months, hosting workshops and coaching community members to help them bring their ideas to fruition.
 
"I'm really grateful for the opportunity for 100 in 1 to happen here," says Laverdure. Though she does "wonder about the other 364 days." Will the sense of community spirit endure? "I have high hopes," says Laverdure.
 
Although the focus of the event is June 6th, a lot of the "juicy stuff" happens in the months leading up the day, says organizer Julia Kemp.  Kemp works for sponsoring organization Evergreen, one of two part-time paid workers helping to make 100 in 1 day happen. The rest of the 21-person coordinating team are all volunteers. So far, there's 163 people involved in organizing and leading interventions. 
 
"If you're someone who comes along and joins in on June 6th, it may really appear to be a one day event," says Kemp. "But for those who've been participating, we've been working on this for months." And that building of citizen capacity and empowerment is where the real legacy of 100 in 1 Day lies, says Kemp. "For example there's a couple of youth that are leading the events here at Titus, they're maybe 14 years old or so. They've never really organized something before and they were just sort of waiting to be asked," says Kemp.
 
Events are happening all over the Halifax region: Spryfield, South End, North End, downtown, Dartmouth, Musquodoboit, Eastern Shore, Fairview. For a full list and map of events, and to include your own intervention in the list, check halifax.100in1day.ca
 

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