Sean Flinn 
Member since Feb 12, 2009


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Re: “The Corridor and Detention win at Fantasia

Fabulous news for Josh MacDonald. I really enjoyed The Corridor at last year's AFF. It showed the thoughtfulness and depth horror can and often does contain.

I thought the way the film told an imaginative story, and through that narrative examined male tropes, types and meanings of being a man, was original. I really think the film contributes to a broader discussion about male roles in practice and (mis)perception - symbolism. Plus it's just friggin' fun to watch.

Hopefully it gets some more screen time across Canada, or steady pick-up at the ol' rental shop.

Best,

Sean Flinn

Posted by Sean Flinn on 08/18/2011 at 1:21 PM

Re: “Tall tales

To Jennifer and Marlene,

I guess I wasn't clear in the way I related the explanation for size (the sentence starting "Ample residential...").

As it was explained to me, the number of proposed apartments is a response to a need for affordable seniors' housing on the peninsula; the more apartments there are the lower the rents may be, though they don't yet have rental amounts/ranges determine yet. That latter point (unavailability of rent amounts and ranges) was in an earlier draft and perhaps I should've ensured that stayed in the final draft. But that's how journalism works: different people read and edit a story and make decisions based on space and focus. And that's how it should be.

Is the need for seniors' housing on the peninsula perceived or proven? Does the building need to be the proposed size? Does the size adversely affect light, wind and traffic? The architects say the proposed structure doesn't adversely affect those conditions and shared models that illustrated that point. As I was told, some opponents don't believe the models, which is their right, of course, to hold that opinion.

But this is all back-and-forth, he-said/she-said occurrences. I couldn't possibly report it all in this story, along with the resignations, and reasons why, from the community liaison group.

My point here and in the article is that this debate can take place anywhere in the city, not just the recent and controversial zones.

Furthermore, it's to trigger questions as much as provide answers around development/design/architecture: who owns or holds the ultimate right to define a neighbourhood's character? How can it be defined through its architectural fabric, which includes houseowners and public buildings, such as churches, in a way that reflects the whole?

As I told folks on both sides, it's not my intention or role to resolve this dispute, only to describe it with the above questions in mind. These are questions of culture, or cultural identity, in a way and that precedes administrative and political matters.
I don't think they can be answered through disputes, case by case. I think they have to be addressed before the disputes arise (say, through education and art). But that's just me.

All best,

Sean Flinn

Posted by Sean Flinn on 10/28/2010 at 3:20 PM

Re: “Tall tales

To the person called "sk8tr,"

I think the deck-headline makes sense because this is another iteration of the debate about sites mainly downtown and on the waterfront, but across HRM really---across the country for that matter. The point of the deck is that it's not just happening in the high-traffic 'public' spaces.

Setting this story up as 'NIMBYs (not in my backyard) vs. developers' casts quick judgment. That's not my job.

It also assumes an authority I can't claim. NIMBY is an emotional response. One can't prove a group is NIMBY. I asked if their response to the proposal was coming from that impulse and they said 'no.' I could've kept asking and they would've kept saying 'no.' And that'd be boring to read. Plus, I trust readers, such as yourself, will make their own decision, whether or not they post a comment to express it.

As for the SPIRIT Place board, yes, they are requesting to (re)develop ---a verb---a site. Does that make them 'developers' (a noun) in the sense that the word is so often used now? Again, I prefer to leave that to readers to decide for and among themselves. But I avoid using it because, as journalist, the label 'developers' is easy and reactionary shorthand. The SPIRIT Place folks believe they're 'developing' this one site for good cause, just as the opponents think they have good reason to oppose it.

And that reason is, first and foremost, as they told me time and again in interviews, the height and volume of the proposed building.

Of course I asked them about materials, design concept, whether they could accept a building of that height and volume if it showed thought, imagination, creativity, including at "ground level" as I called it in the interview. In response they (through an appointed speaker, Liz Cunningham) returned to their one and main objection at this point in time: the height and attendant volume.

Then, to be fair and accurate, I included the explanation from the architect about how they responded to that one and chief concern, the height and volume.

You assume a point was "missed" because this single story didn't deal with what you see as "quality." But part of the quality is the height and volume of a building. If a group feels (again, an emotional response) a building is too big, who am I (and how can I) to decide that feeling is valid or not.

I have material on architectural materials and responses from the architect to questions about design at ground/street level, which came in part out of concerns expressed by area residents and I'm planning with the editor to make it the focus of a follow-up story (probably to run online). So, I guess I can count on you as a reader.

I think you make a great point in saying "how the development interacts with the neighborhood at street level, and whether quality design and materials went into it" but I'd be interested in how you back that up. What developments might you have in mind that show good architecture at ground/street level? What ones fail in that regard? You can reach me through the paper by email. Perhaps we should talk for the follow-up story.

All best,

Sean Flinn

Posted by Sean Flinn on 10/28/2010 at 1:44 PM

Re: “No local news is bad news

Hi Bruce,

As always, I enjoy and am engaged by your contributions to The Coast. With respect, of course, I want to point out a perhaps unintended implication of your argument.

Before I do, a couple disclosures: I'm a freelance contributor to The Coast, having first written for the paper back in 1995, during an extended stay in Halifax; also, married to the arts editor, Sue Carter Flinn, though we more often than not disagree on everything from story choice, tone/voice, angles taken, attention paid and not - so, okay, pretty much everything.

By defining "local news" the way you do, you imply that arts journalism in The Coast, and broadly speaking, somehow does not belong in this category.

This is an unfortunate and, I gotta say, tiresome partition. For the 16 or so years I've been writing arts stories, I've heard how they're 'soft,' 'fluff pieces,' 'not real or hard news.'

Using your father's personal interest in local news really helped illustrate your argument and its flaw in this regard. My father, an avid (we joke in my family, obsessive) newspaper reader. While he may rarely, if ever, go out to respond to some form of artistic and cultural expression, he reads those pages with the same attention and interest as anything else. I know because he often wants to discuss it with Sue and myself when we visit them.

My father was also, for just over 40 years, in hospital/healthcare administration. Your examples of adequate and sustained bed availability for the elderly and patients struggling with addiction would resonate with him. And he'd likely bring them up for discussion.

My own interest in newspapers, as a reader and writer, has been modelled on, fashioned after, my father. And part of that was remaining aware of a reader's personal interests, free choice.

More to the point, people may value stories, or define local news, by placing arts at the top and then the kind of thing you're talking about after that. Arts, for people like this, are where conventional thinking and practices are challenged; ideas and issues explored; a city or community evoked. Arts coverage is not just provocation and entertainment. Just like the very activities - people doing things - arts journalists cover, arts writers, like me (I can't speak for Sue but I can hear her saying 'oh what's he on about now...') use analysis, research, critical thinking and draw on a civic spirit.

The stories may not always elicit many readers' comments, letters to the editors; they may not involve spreadsheets and numbers and fixations on dollars. But they don't in any less amount ask people to account. (Try getting an author or musician to give you a response that's not from the message script or track - that gets them to show what and why they're doing something. It's way more difficult than many realize in this business. Though of course there's a lot of crap out there that gets produced where none of this concern is considered.)

In closing, it's my gut feeling that people still come to The Coast mainly for arts coverage and see it as a 'cultural weekly,' first and foremost. Just as it is my intuition that tells me that people get and stay involved in a city, move or leave a city, based on how they can engage with it - not only how it handles issues or problems of institutions, facilities and municipal politics.

With respect, I'd just ask for everyone, my colleagues in this business, to start holding all things equal - in other words, hold on to each other as the ship goes down...I mean, as we enjoy a prosperous future.

All the best Bruce,

Sean Flinn

Posted by Sean on 02/12/2009 at 5:46 PM

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