8:30am ghost stories at The Grand! This theatre is a lively place with some super smart women at the helm. We were thrilled to talk The Tale of a Town with them and hear their spin on what is turning around downtown. Here they are – Susan, Andrea and Deb – the leaders of the pack!
Next, we took off to the marked. HOLY MOLY THIS MARKET IS SOOOOO COOL! I can’t believe we haven’t been inside yet and Charles literally had to drag me out later. While inside, we met with the unofficial mayor of the market, Ian Greasley - owner of BLOOMERS in the Market. Ian is a man who knows how to tell a story. The best one was about when the rolled up sleeves of his leather jacket caused a dozen glasses to break at Birks Jewelry in the 70’s. The manager came over and told the long haired, misfit seeming young man, not to worry about it – “these things happen”… and that is why Ian, to this day, has never held anyone up in his store for breakage. But Ian told us that once you've heard the story, you don’t get off the hook so easily if you break something... so we were still careful weaving through his delicate goods on our way out.
Next, we rushed over to City Hall to meet Judy Bryant, the city councilor for downtown London. She took us up onto the top floor where we could overlook the entire city. Judy does lots of her thinking and planning from up here, she told us. She sees more density and high-rise buildings in the future. Here’s the view of downtown from above today:
The afternoon took us to The Sentimentalist where we met with rad Miranda in her vintage clothing shop. Miranda gave us the goods on the punk scene, the new wave styles and the Brunswick, or “The 'Wick”, as it was called to those who frequented it. We heard about the sadness that surrounded the tearing down of the Talbot block and other indie cornerstones of downtown. It was a real treat to talk to Miranda, and it was really difficult not to buy everything in this wicked shop…
Later, we had our long awaited tour with the one and only Kathy McLauglin. She took us on an in-depth walk through downtown pointing out almost every building to tell us its story - the dreams of the business owners, the desires of the landlords, the history, the architecture, the revitalization plans… While walking with Kathy we felt somewhat like celebrities, because she knew so many people along the way – and always introduced our project and us. It is so key to us to have people like Kathy ready and willing to make space and time for artists and new ideas…. And we highly recommend her tour. You’ll never see the downtown the same way again!
And, if that’s not enough – as I type this, Charles is out with Doug Allen – a former owner of a downtown theatre and a known storyteller. Hearing Doug's rendition of certain key events that we are following from the past will certainly be a treat because I hear Doug has a few great tales to tell about downtown London… I look forward to listening to this interview when we start logging all of this material next week!!