At Duke we recharge our batteries and flex our muscles as an engine for positive change by doing things we don’t have to do, just because we want to do them.
BUY LOCAL/12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
In 2012, we decided instead of mailing out Christmas cards, we’d make a “Shop local” 12 Days of Christmas video using illustrated merchandise from Saint John retailers. We rejigged the words to the popular carol, and the Saint John Chorale sang it for us in Tim Davidson’s studio.
Lyrics and concept: Katie Bowden
Illustrations: Lindsay Vautour
Animation and editing: Andrey Blanco and Kevin Schyf
Music: Saint John Chorale
Audio: Tim Davidson
In 2017 we decided Valentine’s Day needed a rework. We enlisted the help of Kaiya Hemmings (of Heart Fun fame) and The Feel Good Store, and asked Saint John to write the name of a person or organization working to make Saint John a better place on a foam heart, pin it to the pink fence on Germain Street, and then tell the story of their valentine on social media. Despite three storms in one week, the fence filled up, and warm fuzzies went a little bit viral.
Thank you to Heart Fun by Kaiya and Anne McShane for your help!
PARTRIDGE ISLAND PROJECT
In 2015 we started thinking about legacies, and pretty quickly landed on the idea that Partridge Island, in the mouth of the Saint John Harbour, is an historic treasure that should be sensitively developed so it can be appreciated by locals and visitors alike. In particular, the island holds a place in Canada’s immigration history that cannot be denied.
We wanted to bring New Brunswick artists to the island to capture it in its wild state, creating art that would not only capture its beauty today, but point to the real future potential of the island, if it were developed as a tourist destination.
Getting there was a challenge, to be sure. We couldn’t have done it without the permission and help of Kent MacIntyre at Saint John Waterfront Development.
We brought 10 New Brunswick artists to the island, specializing in painting, sketching, writing, photography, multimedia and textile arts.
They survived to tell the tale, and created works we displayed and sold at our 2015 Christmas Party. All proceeds went back to the artists.
When the snow melted off the hillside opposite our office in 2016, Christianne decided what she saw wasn’t all that great.
So she called in the city’s mobile Green Machine. The city dropped it off on a Saturday morning, and with the help of Steve Horgan, Katie Bowden and Quinn McElman, all the junk and litter and dead branches came off that hillside.
Then she called the city and poof! It was gone, leaving us with a much nicer view.
NATIONAL SWEATER DAY
In 2014 we decided we couldn’t wait anymore. Something was getting yarn bombed.
So we built a campaign around the idea, partnering with Donna Walsh at Cricket Cove to sell knitted flowers at her Brunswick Square location as a fundraiser in support of the World Wildlife Foundation’s National Sweater Day initiative.
As a big attention-getter, we yarn-bombed the trees and lamp-post outside the King Street entrance of the mall.
In 2015 we designed a set of Acadian-inspired temporary tattoos and made the drive to Caraquet for Quinze-Aout – walking in our first tintamarre with thousands of others. What an experience!
We came home, added a set of New Brunswick-inspired temporary tattoos to the collection, set up our first bilingual Shopify website, and distributed them to retailers around town.
Get a little New Brunswick on you!
Like many cities across Canada, Saint John welcomed a large group of refugees to our community in 2017/2018, and we read with concern the newspaper coverage of the challenges they face when moving to a new country.
So for 2018 we decided to put a new twist on our #GiveLoveFeelGood project, creating postcards, and asking Saint Johners to send a short and sweet note to members of our newcomer population.
We partnered again with Anne McShane at the Feel Good Store, and with her help distributed the cards far and wide. The cards were even embraced by a local school that had challenged their students to complete a hundred acts of kindness!
We dropped off the completed cards to our friends at the YMCA Newcomer Connections program. They shared the cards with their clients, and used them as teaching tools in their English language training classes.