London, Ontario

Life in London, Ontario is a pretty sweet thing. We have a thriving arts community, plenty of places to take in theatre and sporting events, plus we are surrounded by nature everywhere you look. There is lots of housing available and several large companies that offer a chance for employment to our growing community. Add to that our proximity to other larger city centres, like Toronto, Detroit and Buffalo, plus a link to the outside world via our International airport, and I think anyone that lives in London can say that they are blessed to live in the Forest City with all that it has to offer.

Sadly, that doesn’t mean that London is exempt from some of the ills of the world though. The London Food Bank helps more than 2,800 families every month. That represents the elderly, single-parent families, low-income individuals and families, First Nations groups, and even two-parent families that struggle to make ends meet. You would be surprised by who walks in the door there or to some of the other aid organizations located around the city.

Now counter that with the fact that we also have a culture of consumerism, where the accumulation of stuff is prized by many. Keeping up with the Joneses is a rampant affliction that affects plenty of people intent on having the next big electronics gadget, bigger and better vehicle or flashier home to show off to friends and neighbours. Pride is one thing, but where is the balance?

This weekend, London has two events that recognize these dichotomies in our community; our haves and have-nots.

The first event recognizes the need for accessible food for those in need, and is stepping up to do something about it with an Empty Bowls fundraising event. On Friday March 1st, 2013 the London Potters Guild will be sponsoring this fundraising initiative at the Goodwill Centre at 255 Horton St. Lunch will be served from 12-1:30 pm and dinner will run from 6:30-8:30 pm, with tickets available for $25. If you are not familiar with an Empty Bowls event, the concept behind these innovative occurrences is simple; potters make bowls, chefs make soups and guests get a bowl of the soup and bread, along with the bowl to take home with them. The bowl is a reminder that there are too many “empty bowls” in the world, but you can do your part to fill some. Proceeds from this event go to Ark Aid Mission on Dundas St, where volunteers do their part to feed and clothe the hungry and downtrodden, plus offer space for other agencies, as well as operate counselling services for those in need.

If you have ever felt the pinch of hunger, then you can understand how much this helps those in need. Perhaps a bowl of soup would be just the thing to fill your stomach, and a bigger need, that of eradicating a more widespread hunger, this Friday.

Secret Stash: Accumulation, Hoarding and the Love of Stuff

The other side of the coin to hunger is of course gluttony and Secret Stash: Accumulation, Hoarding and the Love of Stuff certainly addresses our culture of over-consumption. The McIntosh Gallery is pleased to present Secret Stash, curated by Kirsty Robertson and featuring work by Germaine Koh, Allyson Mitchell, Payton Turner and Kelly Wood, beginning February 28th and running through til April 6th, 2013. This multi-media presentation looks at it thus;

“There is no doubt that North Americans consume at breathtaking rates, often amassing mountains of goods that produce contradictory feelings of guilt, comfort and greed. Secret Stash looks at this drive to collect and hoard, and our deeply conflicted relationship to such accumulation.” (from McIntoshgallery.ca)

After walking through the exhibit, I suspect that you just might go home and think a little differently about whether you need another pair of shoes or the new iPhone that just hit the market. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 am-5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm and Saturday noon to 4 pm. Admission is by donation. The Gallery is located on the Western University campus, between University College and Physics and Astronomy. Opening night is February 28th at 8pm. Be sure not to miss this exhibit!

How will you make a difference in your community this weekend?

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