Bacon makes everything better, even urban planning

Baconfest, a film festival focused on urban planning, which features Ed Bacon’s ‘Understanding Cities’ series, opened Monday evening at the Halifax Central Library.

Monday evening saw the opening of Baconfest at the Halifax Central Library’s Paul O’Regan Hall.

The festival focuses on Ed Bacon, famed city planner from Philadelphia and his Understanding Cities film series from the 1980s.

“It’s about educating and engaging the community … to get involved in what [the city] is doing,” said Rollin Stanley, the festival’s creator. “I thought the best way I could do that would be to have something fun like a film festival.”

Stanley, who is also Calgary’s general manager of planning, development and assessment, ran Baconfest for the first time in Calgary last year and is a guest speaker for Halifax’s edition.

“It’s a celebration of urban planning, recognizing it and I thought it would be a great fit for the new library,” said Hilary Skov-Nielsen, the library’s adult programs manager.

Despite the festival not being in honour of the salty pork strips, there were still bacon cupcakes and slices of prosciutto for audience members to enjoy on Monday.

“In Halifax, there’s a strong desire to learn about what’s being built,” said Natalie Irwin of Fusion Halifax, the festival’s host organization. “Since it’s such a small city … people see the developments that are going up. It’s not something that is going up city blocks away from you, it’s next door.”

Monday evening, Paul O’Regan Hall at the Halifax Central Library held Baconfest. (Photo: Francis Tessier-Burns)

“[The event] is also a testament to Halifax’s own commitment to urban and city planning,” said Skov-Nielsen.

Three of Bacon’s films – which focused on Rome, Paris and London’s architectural revolutions – were presented on Monday to an audience of approximately 100 people.

After the films, Stanley prompted the audience to yell out Halifax’s highlights. The Halifax Public Gardens, Citadel Hill, the ferry stop on the waterfront, and a few others were noted. “This building, I think, is the best example,” said Stanley, referring to the new library.

“When you start to think about your city’s icons and how you connect those spaces, what do they mean?” he said.

“All we want is people to go away and start thinking differently about their city,” said Stanley.

The festival continues Tuesday evening with Radiant City by Gary Burns and Wednesday with City of the Future by Ed Bacon, as well as Contested Streets by Stefan Schaefer.