Lisa, Esther and Gachery also known as Ciru, Essie and Cheche, met over two years ago in Calgary and connected based on our mutual Kenyan background and interest in giving back to our community. Lisa moved to Calgary to pursue a Master of Planning at the University of Calgary after several years in England and Kenya. Essie moved to Calgary to pursue a career in Oil and Gas after spending 10 years in Toronto working in the Information Technology industry. Gachery moved to Calgary from Denmark and Sweden after spending a decade and half to be closer to family and pursue a different trajectory in Art.
Gachery and Esther met at a Kenyan independence day celebration two years ago. Reconnected upon finding out that 20 years ago we went to the same elementary and high school. Shortly after, a mutual friend introduced Lisa to us and an instant friendship was formed. Our friendship continued to grow when we discovered that we all lived in the Beltline. Living close to each other in the Beltline allows us to still feel connected with Kenya because we often get together to cook, speak Kiswahili and reminisce about life in Kenya.
This year, we are particularly excited to be part of the Beltline Community Gardens. We're looking forward to meeting and spending time with our neighbours as we work side by side on our gardens. We are friends who motivate, challenge and encourage each other in every aspect of our lives. Our diversity unites and enhances our friendship.We are thankful to the people in the community who helped make this collaboration possible.
Special thanks to Kerri Singh and Joanne Kinya for taking time to make this project a success, Maryam of www.misemay.com for the traditional head wraps, Ena Harris the makeup artist, Clothing by Julia of Nyoluoch Designs www.nyoluoch.com and jewelry Cheche Couture by Gachery. "In Diversity there is Beauty and there is strength" Maya Angelou
View more images on flickr by clicking on the icon below.
Basically I began renting the main floor and basement of 1024 13 ave sw, in around 2008 or so, from some delightful people that had previously rented from at another location. I had a few roommates in the basement over the years, and we all enjoyed the gorgeous yard, patio and entire, very friendly neighbourhood! Kids would often pop by and grab popsicles, or try to start a water fight in summer...lots of fun! I became pals with the Stanfields next door at 1022, Mike, Lee and wee ones Jamey and Sammy...I taught Jamey at age 5, to throw snowballs at perfect strangers walking by, then look the other way as if she had not thrown anything...she thought that was pretty funny, and wrote / drew me a small booklet all about it.
I met my wife Melissa in 2013, at a birthday party for Jamey, where we were doing an interactive art project and Melissa was also house sitting for the Stanfields. She had just moved back to Calgary after 20 years in Toronto as a casting director. We connected straight away, began hanging out, and in a whirlwind of awesomeness, got married and had a fabulous honeymoon in Costa Rica. I had, around this time, also acquired a cool little tuxedo cat, we called Noodles, who quickly became a well known fixture on our portion of 13th avenue. In 2014 we also created a Little Free Library, that people enjoyed on a daily basis...it looks a bit ratty now, but it allowed us to meet a ton of cool kids and adults in the community!
Then BOOM, our awesome son Oliver came along in 2014, his bright orange hair was a bit of a surprise, and we could not be more thrilled with the little dude.
We were able to buy our first home, so in Jan. 2016, we moved out of the Beltline, into Southwood. We certainly miss the hood, and try to connect with our friends as often as possible. That street is certainly a gem in Calgary, and will hopefully stay as such.
We make the choice to live in Downtown West because we like the lifestyle that downtown offers to our family. We live on 6th Ave SW, our son attends Discovery Daycare on 8th Ave SW, our daughter attends Connaught School on 12th Ave SW and our office, Permit Masters and Citytrend, is in the Petro Fina building on 8th Ave SW. We call it the golden triangle of downtown. As a family, we leave the condo every morning and walk to daycare, school, and than to work. What a great way to start the day together!
People are always surprised when we say that we live right downtown as it is still uncommon for families in Calgary to make that choice. Inevitably, the next question is "When are you going to move?" There are certainly pros and cons to living where we live, but for now, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Over the years, we have created our own community where most people would say there is none. Our children know the diverse neighbours in our building. We have relationships with the small business owners in the area. We have found other families who share and enjoy this experience of urban living. We have easy access to the pathways and the parks all over the inner city. We spend our weekends exploring museums, malls, libraries, splash parks, and restaurants all within walking distance. Downtown is the place to be!
There are so many things to do in our neighbourhood because that is what this is...a neighbourhood. It is really no different from any other part of the city. Many people drive in and out of the downtown on a daily basis and do not see it as a community, but for us, this our home and where we plan to stay as long as we can.
Rich Theroux is the inventor and creative driving force behind, first, Gorilla House and now Rumble House. He spoke last year at the TedX event, Truth(s), the talk is titled, " Stop making art and die". Now he is in the process of writing and illustrating a sort of artist survival guide, complete with tips on how to start your own art movement and gallery. It follows a narrative of our adventures of starting up and running both spaces. It is also titled "stop making art and die." Jessica Szabo is a co founder of the Rumble House and helped run Gorilla House prior. She is a fibre artist, painter and curator of the Rumble House gallery shows. Jessica is currently compiling and typewriting a collection of Rich's and Jessica's original poetry. It will be entitled: Rumble Son Rumble: an analogue catalogue of Rich Théroux's and Jessica Szabo's original poetry. Among other creative ventures, Rich Theroux and Jessica Szabo are both ACAD Alumni, and both teach junior high in the Calgary area.
"It's totally mind-blowing, the paths that are opening up for us, we've been cutting down thick, scratchy bramble for sometime, all that hard work is starting to pay off :) "- Jessica Szabo
Live: in the middle of the action, easy access to all parts of the city, walk/bike everywhere, we're so close to the river!! Rumble House: Our plan is to take over forgotten or forsaken buildings, bring them back to life, bring positive attention and spirit to the space and then move on. Our first venture ( Gorilla House) was inspiration for this plan. Instead of being gentrified and being kicked out of your space once you've brought positive attention to it, we're going in knowing we will only be there for a while and then move on. Consent is everything. As an open concept art space, it's important to be in the middle of the action, easy access to transit, luckily too, it's close to where we live.
Community is who we are. We are an inclusive community of over 3000. Rich Theroux coined the term "Inclusionism". We have a manifesto and we run our space based on inclusive practices. We are constantly looking for ways to make sure people feel safe and part of our movement. Our gallery space is based on showing everyone's work. If you want to show your artwork you have a space to show your art work- as long as it doesn't infringe on others involved in our space :) all are welcome.
Originally from the south of France, Kate was only supposed to be in Calgary for 3 months. It has now been over 8 years since she fell in love with the city, its communities and its people.
She moved to the Beltline area in 2013 and has been actively involved with her community ever since. She loves how vibrant and diverse the neighbour is; a true example of healthy urban living where you can walk, bike or take transit everywhere.
In her spare time, Kate enjoys being outdoors, cycling around the neighbourhood and taking in everything that the city has to offer. She loves connecting with people in the community though volunteering; she is particularly involved with the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association and Bike Calgary."
Kathy and I met in 1984 when we both attended the U of C. We married and rented a house in the Mission for about eight years. In 1995 our friend Karen was widowed and miserable, and we suggested she come and live with us for a while. She slowly recovered, over a number of months, became involved in life again, and started looking for a house to buy.
Karen didn't want to live in Calgary, so she started looking at houses for Kathy and I. One day she and her real estate agent dragged kathy and I out to look at houses. Most of them were decrepit and uninteresting. We agreed to look at one more, and fell in love immediately. It was big enough for us and our children, located near city centre, because we didn't want to live in the suburbs, and it was old and interesting. Twenty four hours after saying that we didn't want to buy a house we owned it. Our house came with a kitchen on every floor, antique plumbing and wiring, and neighbors who usually lasted for a year or two before moving to the suburbs. Many of them were in Calgary to work for a few years, or recent immigrants.
Over the next twenty years people started to stay in the neighborhood and we made friends with them. We're friends with most of the people on our street. We've talked to people in the high-rise condos and been told lots of times that they enjoy watching our children playing outside. Both of our daughters have been friends with people we've never met; I once dashed outside to help someone catch a lawn table and umbrella that was blowing away in a high wind. The owner said, "Are you Athena's father?" Of five people who'd come to help, four of them were Athena's friends. Now Loveday is older she's on first name terms with everyone up and down the street.
We've slowly remodeled the house, although we're only about 30% finished. An old house is an ongoing project. I also get called over to the neighbors' houses to fix emergencies. The children are good at getting cats out of tight places and off roofs, and I have a big electric fan that's good for drying out flooded basements. Our children mind houses, rake leaves, house-sit, walk dogs, and mow lawns. Kathy says, "We're kind of the concierge service for the street." I think this is a good thing, because it keeps everyone on the street in touch, and friendly. Kim across the street phoned and said, "I came home and my back door is open! I think there's someone in the house!" I was looking for a baseball bat, but my cavalry sabre was standing by the front door. Her latch had given way in the wind. I untied a rope the roofers had left tied to her balcony and came home, victorious.
I can't see moving out of downtown and to some homogenous suburb where you have to drive to everything. We have two grocery stores, three liquor stores, a library, the bike path, and Seventeenth Avenue within easy walking distance, and walking to work saves at least an hour a day. We know people who have done that, but everyone on the street talks about them as though they went crazy.
We sometimes talk about moving to Victoria or somewhere warm, until someone says, "But we'd have to leave Thirteenth Avenue." I don't see that happening.
We have lived in Calgary for 9 years. The Stanfields include a mom, a dad, 2 kids, a dog, a cat and 2 african dwarf frogs. We are a busy family, and we love to travel as much as we love to stay in town! Both girls are active in Girl Guides, as well as locally-run sports. We like to hike in the mountains, take city dog walks, and support our community. Both kids attend Connaught School, at the end of our block.
We moved to the Beltline 5 1/2 years ago, mainly to allow us to get out of our cars and walk! We love having a school, groceries, a library, shops and restaurants nearby. We take advantage of the arts scene downtown, like the Calgary International Children's Festival, the Calgary International Film Festival, Theatre Calgary, Alberta BAllet and other great events that are easy to get to!
To us, community means a place where we can raise our kids, knowing that they are safe, learning new things, and accepting of other cultures, visions and views.
Gordon and I have both been long time Beltline residents. In 1999, we were invited separately to join the board of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Association (now Calgary Outlink). We met in the Old Y Common Room at their AGM in March and started dating that December. We were married one year after the law changed permitting same-sex marriages in 2006.
We are big fans of urban living, and since I don't have a car, getting around on foot or by bike (and occasionally Car2Go) requires living close by to everything we need.
Community is very central to our lives and we both have volunteered extensively for a number of non-profit organizations. Community service, I feel, improves one's own quality of life by becoming part of something larger than yourself.
My Name is Marianne Calabio. I have been living in downtown Calgary since 2008, when I travelled from the Philippines on a work contract. I started as a guest service agent at a few downtown hotels and have been in the hospitality industry for 8 years. I have learned to build great relationships with customers; I am energized by challenges and problems; I am a person who values others people's qualities and contributions .I do whatever it takes to get the job done. I have a very loving and kind son, who (impatiently) waited for me to obtain permanent resident status so he could join me in Calgary. Leaving my family was a tough and, at times, heartbreaking decision, but I knew it would be worth it in the end.
I choose to live on the beltline because most things I need on a daily basis are within walking distance, or at the very least a quick bus ride away. I can even walk my son to school or to a park. As a newcomer to Canada, I found it was easy to cope with being away from home because of all the cultural diversity around me and the ability to explore the neighborhood to take my mind off of being homesick. I feel a strong sense of community here. To me, a community is a group of people with diverse minds, different cultural backgrounds and diverse economic conditions. They share success as well as each other's sorrows. It is a mark of appreciation and a symbol of sharing.
My name is Ratika Mittal. I was born and raised in New Delhi, India finally moving to Calgary in 2007. Beltline became my home since arriving. I am a software Engineer by profession and enjoy the simple pleasures in life, spending time with family and friends and getting involved in church activities in my free time.
I choose to live in Beltline because living Downtown provides convenient, walkable access to the city's best restaurants, entertainment, parks and most importantly to my work. With so much happening in the heart of the city, Downtown has become the hotspot to live.
A community is a group of people we lean on when times are tough; our friends, family, and neighbours who are there for us when we need love, support and encouragement. It bring us together to help each other and it is a great way to build relationships.
My name is Samah Elzahaby. I came from Egypt last June with my son. I like Calgary with all the diversity in cultures and thoughts. I lived in the South for 2 months, and then we decided to move to downtown to be closer to everything. What I love about downtown is that it's a lively neighborhood. Whenever we come out of our building, we find people walking and driving their cars. It's close to everything and there are lots of means of transportation available. I must mention Prince's Island Park and the Bow River as well. It reminds me of the River Nile in my country. I love walking in Prince's Island Park and my son likes to ride his bike there.
Downtown might seems crowded and noisy to most of Calgarians. However for us who used to live in Cairo, one of the most crowded cities, Downtown Calgary is just a moderately crowded city in a positive way!
From India, to the Utopian life of Dubai, to Canada has been more than just a change of +40.C to -20.C! We moved to Toronto in 2001 and to Calgary in September 2008 following the siren call of Oil Company Jobs. We moved from various locations in downtown finally settling into the close knit community of Connaught/Beltline west.
The Beltline community charmed us from our first day in Calgary. Easy access to Parks, transit, good schools from Elementary to High school, easy commute to downtown, access to grocery stores, libraries, piano class, cycle routes, riverfront and Olympic Plaza make life enjoyable. Most importantly we thrive in the vibrancy of cultures that surround us. From a little library to a community garden, the residents work to find ways to make it a fun neighbourhood!
View more images on flickr by clicking on the icon below
I am UN. UN as in the Prefix UN. UN Known, UN Named, UN Noticed, UN Seen, UN Acknowledged, UN Sure. I am UN and I am here UN Ashamed. This is my UN Deniably my city and my beltline.
Its UN Limited energy, people and their UN Failing kindness sustains me. UN Abated I say I am proud to be part of this great city. I am UN
Sigrid is one of a kind with a certain flare and elegance hard to find. Having been born and raised in Austria, she lived through World War II as a young adult. Near the end of the war she would pick berries and mushrooms in the black forest because there was so little for food. All throughout she has had a striking personality and always had a love for red hair like her mother. In her early years she needed permission to dye her hair red. Working at a newspaper she would often go to the movies in the afternoon. Moving to Calgary later is where she would meet her late husband and become a business owner in partnership with him. She worked at Twigs for 8 years.
"On the days that I know I'm going to work at Twigs & Co. on Stephen Avenue I wake up happy knowing that I'm going Downtown. I feel like I have an extra bounce in my step. There is always a vibrancy in the core - that I don't find anywhere else! I have a Smile on my face and my lipstick is a little bit brighter. I put on my best jewellery and sparkle just in case something good happens to me today!
I'm a sucker for a handsome man in a suit, polished shoes and there is always an abundance of them on a weekday downtown."
October 8, 1933 - January 6 2017
Born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, my parents and I moved to Calgary on 16th Avenue between 14th and 13th Street SW when my Father retired as a steam engineer. I attended school at St Mary's Girls for Grades 11 and 12.
We lived in northwest Calgary for a few years, and when my Daughter graduated from SAIT, my heart followed me back to the Beltline/Connaught area to live. I have one Daughter, Jocelyn, Son-in-law, Frank and 4 grandchildren, three girls and one boy.
I worked in the Oil and Gas industry for 50+ years in Calgary and relocated to The City of Medicine Hat, Petroleum and Natural Resources Division. The City had purchased the oil and gas company I was working with and thus I remained for 6 years retiring end of 2010. It was the end of an important era in my life cycle to end my career where I was born.
Moving back to Calgary in 2010 where my Brother, Daughter and family reside was important new beginning in my retirement years. My late Brother and Sister both resided in the Beltline Community. Msgr. Joseph Lefort (brother) was the parish priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on 14th Street until his retirement.
Volunteering has enriched my life for over 40 years. A special memory was President of the Banff Trail Community Association where I made numerous friends. I attended their 50th Anniversary Barbecue in the summer of 2015. Another special memory was being a volunteer with the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.
The Beltline Community brings me close to so many entities that I cherish and I feel at home here in this stage of my life. Friends, walking, dining. Church, Kerby Centre, library, arts, parks, and transportation are so convenient. Did I mention bakeries!
We immigrated to Calgary from Novi Sad, Serbia, in 2000, for mainly economic reasons. At that time, there were only 3 of us. Now we're a family of 5 and our three kids go to the three schools in this neighborhood: Connaught, Mount Royal and Western Canada. Being able to walk to their schools gives them not only an opportunity to get to know their way around the neighborhood, but also develop a sense of independence and be more active.
We've been living in Beltline on a couple of different locations ever since we came and it's been so convenient that we never really wanted to move anywhere else. Seeing that people in this neighborhood came from all over the world, we didn't feel like 'outsiders' and 'different from everybody else', and that made it easier for us to settle down. To us, what makes a community is the interaction among the people that live together and their appreciation of diversity.
Chantal and Sandi have been together for 26 lonnnnng years – all of them in this fine city! Chantal's a singer-songwriter and is the Artistic Associate at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Sandi is a filmmaker and theatre designer, and educator.
They love living downtown where they can walk or bike to cafés, work, shops, parks, and friends. They love living in a great community where they are friends with neighbours who look out for each and actively work to make this city a better place.
Born and raised in Calgary I lived all over as a kid beginning at 2-12ave sw Calgary. Then as teen until I turned 18, I always thought of myself as a NE kid. I was raised, the most part, by a single parent.
The main reason I work and live in the Downtown/Beltline communities, and that most of my salons are inner city, is because Downtown is becoming more metropolitan while evolving great culturally. Opening my first Redbloom in the designer district has been fruitful but also been part of the communities. I am excited to be opening my East Village location very soon.
Being Downtown for 18 yrs I've seen the city become more user friendly and vibrant. When I was a kid or young adult to be Downtown on a Saturday or Sunday was nothing. The sense of community, the festivals and restaurants and most of all the diversity of the people was so strong. Since the city began moving in the direction of building up vs out we've seen a more vibrant community. Working in the restaurant industry, for 10 yrs then switching to beauty industry I have met all walks of life. We aren't cowboys and rednecks, we are a very young innovative community that is entrepreneurial and vivacious and dynamic.
My name is Vanessa Stiffarm and I'm the 2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. I'm from the Blood Tribe/Kainai Nation of southern Alberta and am an ambassador for the Calgary Stampede and Calgary Stampede Indian Village.
I chose to run for the Indian Princess program this year because of my youngest sister. I wanted her to have a good role model and someone to look up to. I wanted her to know that no matter what you choose in life, you can accomplish it. She's the reason I try my best every day and do my best as the Indian Princess.
Community means to me that we work together to better ourselves and each other towards a goal. It means we can lean on one another when times are good or bad. It's a family you build over time and work together to make your home amazing.
(The blanket - This was a gift I received the day I got crowned as the 2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. I hold it dear to my heart because that's the day I knew all my hard work and sacrifices paid off.
The belt - My grandmother gave me this belt a few years ago as a gift. It encouraged me to work harder so I could powwow dance again. She's one of my biggest supports and has always encouraged me to do whatever I put my mind to, and that it will happen one day. )
Stampede Indian Princess (2016)
KUGEKAI LION DANCE TEAM (CHINATOWN)ALEX LAM
My brother and I are the first generation from our family born in Canada. We grew up following traditional Chinese culture and values living with our grandparents until they moved to a Chinese elderly building in Chinatown. I remember spending every weekend going for Dim Sum with my grandparents, attending Chinese school and Karate in Chinatown. Over the summer, my brother and I would sleep over at my grandparents' apartment and attend Chinese summer school. Growing up, we dreaded going to Chinese school, and is not until we got older did we value the importance of learning our Chinese history and heritage.
My familiarity and comfort with downtown Calgary was a great influence when deciding where to live and work. Today, I definitely enjoy the convenience of living within the downtown Beltline and walking to my office and exploring the various restaurants and shops around me.
My parents immigrated to Canada by way of Hong Kong. Winnipeg is where they spent their early years to further their education. Then they made their way to Toronto and eventually settled in Calgary where I was born. My siblings and I are part of a special group: we're the first generation in our family tree born in Canada! We are very proud waving the Maple Leaf, but also grateful to keep close ties with our Chinese heritage. I also consider myself lucky to be a homegrown Calgarian because I have witnessed the growth of Calgary from the 80's until today. My family spent much time in downtown Calgary (Chinatown), where I attended Chinese language school and practiced Karate and Lion Dance.
As I grew older, it seemed like a natural fit for me to both work and live downtown. It allows me to stay close to my martial arts club (karate) and provides a wealth of activities and dining experiences. As a huge Flames fan, it also made the commute to and from games much more convenient!
The strength of a community comes from the people connecting within it. Our Karate and Lion Dance club helped us develop long lasting friendships that continue to this day. Much credit goes to the Chinatown community for fostering a space for people to learn, share and grow. As an integral part of downtown, Chinatown is more than just a landmark, but an identity. It provides a wonderful place to gather, to remember the past and to celebrate the future.
My name is Ian Newman and I have lived in the Beltline since 2004. I am a bachelor who enjoys working and playing in equal portions. I am an avid traveler (backpacker), and as I write this brief passage I am sitting at the Santo Domingo Metro Cable Station overlooking the beautiful city of Medellin, Columbia.
Defining community in an urban setting is difficult as most people are primarily invested in growing their careers and families in a direction that has traditionally led them out of the city's core, and into the suburbs. For me, as a self proclaimed Urbanite, the core of Calgary with all its diversities matches perfectly with my lifestyle.
However, if my travels have taught me anything, they have taught me that the key to creating a happy and healthy community with in an urban environment lay in public spaces. Spaces that bring like minded people together to enjoy an activity, a passion, or an idea.
That is why I became involved with the community garden at St. Stephens, and as the garden goes into its 3rd year I can say I have met some great people all wanting and eager to grow their community. We have created a space with the assistance of the City, St. Stephens Anglican Church, and various community members at large. It is a space that leans towards conversations and ideas about our city and our community.
So if you are walking by the garden and see me playing in the dirt – don't be shy and please say hello.
Vipul visited Calgary for the first time in Winter 2005 for a short deputation from India and fell in love with this city. He moved by end of Fall 2005 followed by his family in Spring 2006. Calgary Beltline has a special place in our life. We have been living here for almost a decade and we love this area because of it's historical surroundings and lush greenery, the convenience of shopping & proximity to trendy 17 avenue, short walks to work and transit connections throughout the city makes it the community of choice. During spring and summer we enjoy walking and cycling while visiting the Bow river pathways, Princess Island park, East village and the surrounding communities and in fall and winter we enjoy ice skating in Olympic plaza ice rink and tobogganing in nearby hills.
Beltline is one of the best areas to live in having the advantages of being near to downtown cultural activities, festivals, entertainment, stampede and much more. Our daughter, Vrushti, loves to go to Air cadets program which is within walking distance as well she studies in one of the best high schools in Canada known for its academics and music program. She plays the trumpet and enjoys volunteering at Calgary Public Library. We love to volunteer in the city with intentions to giving back to community. Vipul is associated with almost 50 not for profit association/groups since the last 10 years and has actively been involved with music, arts, history, community and social causes. Chaitali is professional Henna artist as well as an expert candle designer and she has participated in several City of Calgary events in the Beltline community over the years. We love Calgary and our Beltline west community for it's rich cultural diversity and its best urban infrastructure.
Kerri Singh, of Irish and Danish ancestry, was born and raised in southern Alberta. Married and with a nearly ten year old son, she is the Founder and Photographer behind 2Create Photography, a childhood passion which she turned into a professional practise. Her clientele and commissions are global and with many noteworthy corporations and individuals, including Indian Royalty.
A cancer survivor Kerri Singh is truly a multifaceted artist. She uses the medium of photography to manifest her artistic expression. Early experimentations with the use of mixed media, watercolor, pastels, charcoals & drawing taught her that art has many detailed layers. She uses this knowledge with her photographic skills to create art, using the camera as her brush and the world as her inspiration.
In her quest to capture the beauty that she envisions in people, places and nature she has extensively travelled across Europe, Indian subcontinent and North America. The energy of a person or place and its emotional and spiritual vibrations are always important to her. Her work consists of balancing environmental portraiture and personal perspective. She captures the essence of her vision in documentary, theatrical or editorial styles then applies the metaphorical lens to create a spectacular memory, a moment in time.
She is currently working on art projects illustrating Women & Children of the streets in India, 'Life in a Shopping Cart' ( A documentary of homelessness in Canada) and Exotic Tastes of India.