This is an interview piece that was written a few months ago. It took me well outside of my writing comfort zone, but also opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on life, art, and community. If you’re in Edmonton, check out The Bleeding Heart Art Space.
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Located in the heart of Edmonton’s Alberta Avenue, the Bleeding Heart Art Space is surrounded by change in one of the city’s most diverse and dynamic neighbourhoods. It isn’t mere happenstance that brings BHAS to this area: Alberta Avenue has become an incubator for Edmonton’s art and culture scene. But ‘The Ave’, as it is colloquially known, is in the early stages of gentrification. Once a thriving and prosperous middle class residential neighbourhood, it is just emerging from a period of decay, rising crime, and plunging property values. The most immediate and tangible result of this is a neighbourhood with startling contrasts: a trendy ‘not-for-profit’ coffee shop, which features live local musicians to serenade patrons over their unpronounceable beverages, sits nestled between excellent restaurants offering everything from barbecue to Ethiopian cuisine. Small grocers offer hard-to-find items to the many immigrant families in the area, and interested shoppers can probably find a bakery from their continent of choice. Meanwhile on the same street, seedy bars and a pornographic video store compete with a community center and a playground.