Thursday, February 12, 2015
By Saira Peesker
Arts and wellness festival beginning of ‘larger conversation’ about living sustainably
The Cotton Factory, an artist loft complex at 270 Sherman Ave. N., is like a city unto itself, several converted factory buildings teeming with art studios, workshops and businesses big and small. This weekend, its largest room — the size of a small arena — will hold a city of its own, as two-day arts and wellness festival Heart and Soul takes over.
"I see this as a park or a city block and we'll build a little city in this block," explained Annette Paiement, the event's founder, as she walked through the cavernous space, pointing out which sections would have vendor booths and which would have workshops.
Her vision is for an outdoor festival, but inside — a break from the solitude that comes with winter. The room is certainly big enough.
"I'm asking people to bring their lawn chairs and blankets."
The event starts each day with 11 a.m. yoga, followed by a suite of workshops, talks and performances. Session titles include Mindfulness: Coping with Stress; Heartbeats and Native Storytelling; Elysium Tribal Dance Presentation; and Sustainable Food and You. Admission to the event is free, but some of the workshops charge a fee.
|TriciaCook courtesy Natalie Clewley|
Hamilton Aerial Group performs
La Nuit de Couer Cabaret at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"A lot of people will be set up to do mini-massages or other mini-treatments," she added.
The event serves as a launch for the Centre for Artistic Sustainable Lifestyles, a co-working space being built in the west end of the massive room. Paiement is CASL's executive director and envisions a communal office for people working in alternative wellness, non-profit ventures and the arts.
"Heart and Soul is like a soft launch for the kinds of things we want taking place at CASL year round," she said.
Paiement also plans to expand the event to other cities. She sees the event — and the co-working space — as ways to bring people together to change the world.
"I think about sustainability and the state of the world right now, and we are at a crossroads," she said. "The only thing that is going to save us is each person on an individual level being responsible for themselves. Looking at how they do everything: how they shop, how they cook, how they make money.
"It all has to inform the larger conversation."