Staying afloat: Former environmental engineer to open the first flotation centre in Halifax

Lindsay MacPhee, former environmental engineer, hopes to share the benefits of meditation through her new flotation centre.

Wires hang and pipes poke out from the unfinished ceiling. Pieces of plaster, insulation, tubes and tools are scattered around the space. Several workers tinker away in separate rooms. The space will soon become a sea of meditation and tranquility with decorations inspired by Wes Anderson. When the job is done, this will be the first flotation centre in Halifax.

An environmental engineer for five years, Lindsay MacPhee, 32, did not plan on opening her own business. However, after an environmental consulting job fell through, MacPhee decided to open her own flotation centre on King Street, in the north end of Halifax.

“It was definitely a blessing. I had known for awhile that it really wasn’t how I saw myself living my life,” says MacPhee. “I wanted to do something very fulfilling.”

What is flotation therapy?

Developed by Dr. John C. Lilly in 1954, flotation therapy is used as a form of sensory deprivation, detoxification and meditation to decrease stress and anxiety. MacPhee says flotation therapy can relieve chronic pain, such as whiplash and muscle recovery, due to the amount of magnesium sulphate in the solution.

“The health benefits are amazing,” says MacPhee.

In a flotation session, a person enters a tank filled with 10 inches of water and 800 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts. Denser than the Dead Sea, those who enter the tank will become buoyant and float. The temperature of the water is approximately 34.2 C, which is warmer than a public swimming pool. The tank is closed during the session to reduce sights, sounds and smells.

“When you get into that meditative state, which floating assists with, some pretty profound changes can happen,” says MacPhee.

From environmental engineer to flotation therapy

MacPhee got into floating in May 2013 in Vancouver, where she was finishing her degree in chemical and environmental engineering. She returned home to Nova Scotia six months later. Over the years, she never lost her interest in floating.

“I’ve been waiting for years for someone in Halifax to do this,” says MacPhee.

“We have such an amazing and creative community who are into meditation and the arts,” she says. “I think this can help and assist with that.”

Through the Self-Employment Benefits program and Employment Insurance, MacPhee was accepted into the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development program, which helps entrepreneurs start their own small business with government funding.

MacPhee says that the main challenge of opening her own business was having confidence and educating others about floating.

“I had lived in a world where I worked a nine-to-five job as an engineer. It was such a major shift to what I’m doing now,” she says.

MacPhee says there has been an overwhelming response to her business idea. She says she has received numerous phone calls and emails from as far as Cape Breton and New Brunswick.

“It’s been general excitement,” says MacPhee. “That provides a bit of a push. On the days that are very difficult and I’m experiencing challenges, just knowing that provides a lot of support.”

In addition to flotation sessions, the centre will have a wellness co-ordinator, who is a trained naturopathic doctor, as well as a massage therapist and dietician.

MacPhee originally hoped to open The Floatation Centre by April 1. She expects to open the centre within the next few weeks.

“If I can just help people recognize their positive potential within the universe, whether it’s enhance their creativity, to decrease their stress levels … then I think that I’m doing a pretty great job,” says MacPhee.

Halifax restaurant enVie hopes to spark healthy revolution through grant contest

Owners of vegan restaurant would spend $10,000 on new kitchen and more.

Hoping to expand their business, the owners of enVie – A Vegan Kitchen have entered a small business grant contest to win $10,000.

Diandra Phipps and her husband, Cory Urquhart, launched enVie in 2013. Initially a to-go food service, enVie has grown into a restaurant and offers cooking classes, juice cleanses, nutritional consulting and catering.

Located on Charles Street in Halifax’s north end, Phipps says there isn’t enough room at their space to accommodate their many services.

“Our kitchen is quite small. We’re just being forced into a bigger space,” said Phipps.  “It’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing.”

In order to expand their business, enVie entered in the ADP small business grant contest. The winners will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize and a year of waived payroll fees.

The contest runs Nov. 1 – April 30. People are encouraged to vote for the small business they would like to see win the contest. The winners will be selected from a panel of judges. In total, six small businesses will win the prize.

“It gets the community involved, so it’s really nice to see the community supporting us in something like this,” said Phipps.

With more than 1,400 votes cast for enVie, Phipps said there has been incredible support from the community.

“People believe in what we do,” she said. “They see the value of it and they want to help.”

For Diandra Phipps, co-owner enVie, the main objective of her business is to “create health in our community and inspire people to eat and live better.” (Photo by Jessica Hirtle)
For Diandra Phipps, co-owner of enVie, the main objective of her business is to “create health in our community and inspire people to eat and live better.” (Photo by Jessica Hirtle)

If enVie wins the contest, Phipps said the money would go towards the startup costs of a new kitchen at a second location, kitchen equipment and educational workshops for the community.

“We would be so excited. It would mean a lot,” said Phipps. “It would definitely show that not only our community but the people that are judging this see the value in what we are doing.”

Phipps says she believes that winning the contest would also benefit the people of Halifax.

“There’s so much that our community needs to learn about healthy eating,” she said. “We really want to be a part of that healthy revolution.”

If enVie does not win the contest, Phipps said they would apply for other grants or start their own campaign to raise funds.

“The restaurant is just the start for us. There’s a lot more to come,” said Phipps. “I think that we really have an opportunity to impact a lot of people.”

Video games showcased on a major scale by Symphony Nova Scotia

For the first time in Halifax, Symphony Nova Scotia performed Video Games Live, a concert featuring songs from popular video games, at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

The conductor raises her baton, signalling to the musicians seated in front of her to ready their instruments. With a flick of the conductor’s wrist, the symphony and choir begin to play an upbeat and lively song from the popular video game Tetris. With bright lights illuminating the stage, images of colourful geometric shapes are projected onto three screens behind the orchestra to amplify the performance.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday people flocked to the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium at the Dalhousie Arts Centre to witness Video Games Live.

Performed by Symphony Nova Scotia, Video Games Live showcases segments of songs from popular video games such as Kingdom Hearts, Tetris, Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid.

Colourful lighting, special effects and interactive elements, such as a Guitar Hero competition, are also incorporated into the shows.

Alongside vocalist, Jillian Aversa, and conductor, Eimear Noone, Symphony Nova Scotia performs “Tetris Opera” from Video Games Live. (Video by Jessica Hirtle)

“I kind of like to describe it as having all the power and emotion of an orchestra combined with the energy of a rock concert,” said Tommy Tallarico, co-creator, executive producer and host of Video Games Live.

Sold out for almost every show, Heidi MacPhee, director of communications and marketing at Symphony Nova Scotia, said Video Games Live has received rave reviews from spectators.

“It’s been amazing. People love it. They are just so happy,” said MacPhee.

MacPhee said that Symphony Nova Scotia has wanted to collaborate with Video Games Live for years. This is the first time Video Games Live has performed in Nova Scotia.

“We get requests for it all the time,” said MacPhee. “They’ve performed all over the world and it’s just really exciting to have this calibre of show here in Halifax.”

Tallarico and Jack Wall created Video Games Live more than 13 years ago. Touring since 2005, the concert series has performed around the globe in over 35 countries, including China, Brazil, Mexico, France and Portugal.

A video game composer, Tallarico has contributed to approximately 300 video games in his career. He said he created Video Games Live to demonstrate the artistry of video games, while promoting the arts among young people.

Not only can video game lovers appreciate the show, but Tallarico said non-gamers equally benefit from watching Video Games Live.

“When parents come and bring their kids or grandparents bring their grandkids, they are the ones that are most blown away,” said Tallarico. “They are like, ‘I never knew video games were this incredible. I never knew the music was so powerful and emotional.’”