Rally to save home mail delivery draws seniors, NDP crowd

Canada Post plans to eliminate home mail delivery in Dartmouth beginning June 13 and move to community mailboxes instead.

On the second floor of the Halifax Central Library, the Lindsay Children’s Room is packed with nearly 50 people from all around the Halifax Regional Municipality. A large banner is taped up at the front wall of the room, which reads “Save Canada Post.”

Canada Post is eliminating home mail delivery in Dartmouth beginning June 13 and in other parts of HRM (excluding the peninsula) on July 20, opting for community mailboxes instead. The corporation is phasing out home delivery in an attempt to dramatically cut costs.

Megan Leslie, the NDP MP for Halifax, organized Monday’s town hall at the library and two previous events. The NDP is the only party that has publicly opposed the changes proposed by Canada Post.

“Why all of a sudden are we being forced into having this discussion about whether or not Canada Post is profitable? Maybe postal service is just a public service. Maybe it’s something we’re willing to pay for as a community,” said Leslie.

The featured speakers included Scott Domenie, with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Michael Keefe, vice-president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers – Nova Local (CUPW) and Bill VanGorder, chair of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP NS).

Keefe, a postal worker for 30 years in HRM, gave a detailed overview of Canada Post’s plan, which was introduced on Dec. 11, 2013. He said the consultation process was poor and that switching to community mailboxes results in problems related to theft, vandalism and accessibility.

“When you have people slipping and falling and breaking their legs at mailbox sites in HRM, it’s a municipal and federal issue,” said Keefe.

Alexa McDonough, former federal NDP leader, speaks during the Q&A period of the town hall, showing off a campaign poster.
Alexa McDonough, holding up some of the campaign posters,  said “everybody take it and post it somewhere,” during the Q&A period of the town hall. (Photo: Allie Graham)

VanGorder said many seniors have mobility issues. He said CARP has about 7,000 members province-wide, with approximately 4,000 in Metro Halifax, and that CARP has not been consulted by Canada Post.

“Sometimes the only person [seniors] see on a regular basis is their home mail delivery provider,” VanGorder said. “They’re the ones being hit.”

CARP is encouraging both members and non-members to sign a petition to save door-to-door services. “We [won’t] take this lying down, sitting down, or slipping on the ice,” said VanGorder to the crowd, consisting primarily of seniors.

The representatives and other residents left on a hopeful note that they’ll save door-to-door delivery.

“When people ask me if we can win this, [I say] absolutely we can, but it’s going to take all of us,” said Keefe.

Pride Week at the University of King’s College celebrates queer students

March 2 – 6, 2015 is King’s Pride Week, featuring engaging events celebrating sexual and gender identity.

Bryson Morris, a third-year student studying the history of science and technology (HOST) and philosophy at the University of King’s College, is the vice president of communications for the King’s P.R.I.D.E. Society. Morris has been at the heart of organizing this week’s Pride festivities.

Though this is their first year of involvement in the P.R.I.D.E. society, Morris says they have attended society events throughout their time at King’s and has appreciated the presence of the society as a queer student.

“A goal of P.R.I.D.E. society in general is to be as inclusive as possible… at the same time, we’re a queer organization, our events are queer and you have to be respectful of the queer people at the events. It’s for us, but anyone can come,” said Morris.

Jake Norris, a third-year early modern studies and philosophy student at King’s, says he hopes to make it out to a couple of the week’s events.

“I think [Pride Week] is important in the way that any other event for equality is… I don’t like when events are esteemed as something unique. I feel like one of the most important and beautiful ways these events can be included is… in the same it’s Christmas, this is Pride Week. We’re not questioning why we’re celebrating it, we’re just celebrating it,” said Norris.

All students, no matter their gender or sexual orientation are welcome to participate in the week’s events.

Morris spoke to the panel discussion and workshop being hosted on Friday evening, saying “sexual and gender identity affects our professors and our staff, and the way we do things at King’s,” in addition to students. They also spoke of issues pertaining to access to gender neutral washrooms and respecting pronouns.

Morris shows off their Pride bracelet and society pins.
Morris shows off their Pride bracelet and society pins.

In their experience as a queer student, King’s has been an open and welcoming community to be a part of, Morris said.

“There’s still a lot of work we can do to be more inclusive and work with pronouns has not been as ideal as it could have been… not all people know how to talk about these issues. I think it’s largely a problem with assumptions,” said Morris.

Morris also notes important strides taken recently at the university, citing the Wall of Women and recent pronoun training done for the Wardroom’s staff orientation.

Reflecting on their experience with Pride Week last year, Morris says the visual support and presence of the society means a lot.

“We have tried to balance being politically involved and being a celebration of queer identity and diverse identities and all its forms.”

Morris hopes the week will be both informative as well as fun for all students at King’s.

A full list of the 2015 King’s Pride Week’s events can be found here.

‘Swipe’ exhibit makes art out of Tinder photos

Carley Mullally’s art is inspired by men she’s seen on Tinder, a popular dating app.

Carley Mullally hovers over the long wooden table of the empty textile dyes and print studio of NSCAD’s Seeds Building in Halifax, patiently stitching up long cloth portraits under the buzzing florescent lights, putting the final touches on the pieces for her upcoming exhibition. As she leans over to adjust the music on her cellphone she checks her messages on Tinder, the source of much more than meeting possible companions for Mullally.

Mullally, 22, is a NSCAD student from New Glasgow, N.S., in her last year studying textiles and fashion. “Swipe,” her senior exhibition, will feature portraits of men in their early to mid-20s from the popular dating application Tinder. Mullally’s exhibition runs Feb. 2-7 at the Anna Leonowens Gallery.

Mullally got the idea for her exhibition last summer while visiting her cottage in New Brunswick with her grandparents. Bored and without Internet connection, Mullally took out her sketchbook to pass the time.

“I didn’t know what to draw, and that’s when it clicked that I could draw Tinder people. So I started painting [them],” she says.

Mullally, who has always enjoyed drawing portraits, realized that Tinder was the ultimate repertoire of “free faces.”

“I started screenshotting anyone who I thought had a cool or interesting-looking face…. I have a stockpile on my phone, so I hope I never lose [it] because someone will think I’m a stalker or something,” she says with a laugh.

The exhibition is meant to be positive and playful, according to Mullally, as she attempts to portray the fleeting nature of online dating through the featured portraits.

She found that Tinder users, especially men, often take face-on pictures for their dating profiles, making them perfect for portrait-drawing.

Mullally prefers to paint portraits of people she doesn’t know. “When I know somebody, I try to paint them the way they want to be seen…. If it’s a complete stranger, I’m just painting what I see.”

Mullally says she told her advisor, Frances Dorsey, associate professor of textiles at NSCAD, about the quirky hobby and Dorsey urged her to continue to hone the portraits and develop the concept into a series.

Since Mullally is not using the names or Tinder bios of the men, Dorsey says she does not see the exhibition as malicious or ill-intentioned.

“I don’t think their privacy was taken advantage of,” Dorsey says. “They chose to put themselves in that arena.”

She echoes that Mullally’s intention is not to expose or identify these people but to engage with the concept of strangers through her work.

Throughout the project Mullally has brought the portraits to life; taking images through numerous layers of translations and processes, yet rendering them identifiable to the original image “because of her skill,” Dorsey says.

“It’s a portrait series of strangers,” Mullally says. “They’re strangers to me, so I want them to be strangers to other people, too.”

To ensure this, Mullally uses two levels of distortion, paint and polychromatic screen printing with dyes to create the portraits. All of the portraits featured in “Swipe” are what she considers to be the most successful in terms of colour and representation, translating the paintings onto fabric.

Mullally’s artistic process from chosen profile photo to completed portrait is rigorous. Once a picture has been chosen, she begins a portrait by recreating the image using a watercolour and pencil in her sketchbook, followed by scanning in order to print it onto a transparency film page for screenprinting.

Using a silk screen printing frame, Mullally then paints directly onto the screen using dyes. Once the portrait painting is completed she leaves it to dry completely.

“It takes about five hours on average to paint one of the portraits. You have to wait for each colour to dry completely, so they don’t bleed into each other,” she says.

She then lays out the fabric and does the measurements to print from right to left, giving the effect of swiping away the image. She lays the screen down onto the fabric, printing the image three times, the first being clear and the following two fading. The process is called polychromatic screenprinting.

Immediately after printing Mullally wraps the fresh screenprint in plastic and places it in direct sunlight to allow the dye to set into the fabric. She often lets it sit for 24 to 48 hours depending on the climate. Upon unwrapping the screenprint Mullally washes and dries the portrait, in preparation for final details and stitching.

These eight portraits, along with learning and perfecting of the processes, has taken Mullally an entire semester to produce and refine.

Mullally on Tinder while working on a portrait for “Swipe.” (photo: Allie Graham)

Mullally has only matched with and made contact with one of the men originally featured in the show. He has since requested to have his portrait removed from “Swipe,” which Mullally has respected.

She has only taken screenshots while on the app to recreate the portraits, having had no interaction with the subjects. Mullally has not reached out to any of the other men to inform them of their participation; however she says that, “If I met them, I’d like for them to see.”

“I don’t think I’m doing anything negative. I’m not representing them as ugly or unattractive…. They’re just faces with really cool colours and shapes,” says Mullally.

Mullally has met up with a few people through Tinder and describes it as a nice way to “put yourself out there” and make friends.

“I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of to be on a dating website. I hope people aren’t ashamed,” she says.

Mullally says this project has helped her overcome the stigma of being on dating sites like Tinder, and she hopes that her exhibit will inspire others to be more open and honest.

She has begun to paint a series of women on Tinder as a side project.