Edmonton Heroes: Christy Morin Has Been Building Up 118 Avenue For 22 Years
Before there was Make Something Edmonton, there was ‘maker’ Christy Morin.
The Alberta Avenue resident calls herself ‘just a mom’, but she has helped more than just her kids grow up, she has helped a community mature.
Founder and executive director of the grassroots Arts on the Ave, Morin and company welcomed 60,000 visitors to Kaleido Family Arts Fest and 32,000 to last year’s Deep Freeze Byzantine Winter Festival, among a host of other events that have helped to make the community a place to go.
“This all evolved organically. We were attracted to the affordable, historic homes of the area, and we planned to buy, flip it and move. That was 22 years ago,” said Morin. “Back then there was drugs, crime and three girls on every corner of Alberta Avenue I remember saying to my husband Darcy that the area just needed more artists, a pottery wheel, a women’s clothing boutique—places that stayed open past six.”
Finding other like-minded artists buying homes around hers, the University of Alberta drama and French grad was soon hosting coffee dates and brainstorming ways to improve the area through arts.
The transformation of Alberta Avenue started in earnest after that — akin to a barn-raising — Morin said, when an empty old building on the avenue became available.
After hours of door knocking, begging and borrowing for materials and expertise to build a theatre space, countertops followed from locals who were eager to help.
Morin tapped the city’s avenue Initiative for Neighbourhood Revitalization and scored new street lighting, wider sidewalks and more community policing.
The Carrot Community Arts Coffee House was the missing piece of the puzzle, Morin figures, “but we got a $3,800 City grant for an espresso machine, vacuum cleaner and first month’s rent. People thought we were crazy, but we had it up and running in six weeks.”
Today, that ‘third space’—one beyond home or office, serves as the heart of the community, hosting singer/songwriter nights and open jams--a showcase for local musicians and visual artists and the go-to spot for a good cup of coffee or business meeting.
“I think Christy is a champion of the avenue,” said artist Wesley Andreas, who moved to Alberta Avenue from Calgary after hearing about the community and arts scene. “Christy has an endless passion for making things better, not just for the arts, but for the community in general.”
“I’m proud that my kids and their friends are invested in this neighbourhood too,” Morin said. “We’d like to see Alberta Avenue be an incubator space for the next generation.”
Full Article Available at: Edmonton Metro News