CBC Radio Doc “Who Is Allan” airs July 1 and 2.

Who is Allan, a radio documentary I produced for CBC Radio kicked off the summer season a couple years ago on Canada Day. It tells the story of the stories people made up about a man they didn’t understand: Allan, a seemingly educated, sophisticated man who appears homeless, well-known to many in his community of Guelph, Ontario. What’s his real story? And what are all the myths?
“Since fear and social norms often forbid us to ask a stranger questions, people have made up stories to try to understand how Allan came to be. Often great big dramatic stories! In this doc, I seek out those stories, then ask Allen himself for his ‘real’ story.”

Listen here:

And Here’s a little blurb the local paper wrote:

CBC Radio to feature Guelph producer’s documentary on Canada Day
Guelph Mercury
By Mercury staff

GUELPH — A radio documentary by multimedia journalist Dawn Matheson will bring a story about Guelph to people across the country on Canada Day.

The story of a longtime Guelph character known as Allen will kick off CBC’s national Summer Radio Season on Canada Day as part of a new program called The Doc Project.

Matheson’s radio documentary, titled “Who is Allen?,” will air on Canada Day, July 1 at 7:30 p.m. and be repeated Thursday at 9:30 a.m. on CBC Radio One.

Matheson was one of about 20 producers chosen in a countrywide call to create radio documentary for CBC in a ‘boot camp’ held in Toronto over the past winter.

The documentary, featuring dozens of Guelph residents and Allen himself, explores the nature of story creation, Matheson says.

“Allen is a well-known figure on Guelph’s streets for the past 35 years, but most don’t really know him,” she says. “He appears to be a lonely mystery with a long tangled beard and torn clothing happily reading the New York Times at Guelph’s Welcome In drop-in centre, park benches throughout downtown and many cafes.

“Many Guelphites assume he is homeless, or that a tragedy has struck him to put him out on the streets. Others say the very literate Allen is a professor performing an elaborate social experiment. Nonetheless, he has fascinated the townsfolk for years, including me,” Matheson says.

“Since fear and social norms often forbid us to ask a stranger questions, people have made up stories to try to understand how Allen came to be. Often great big dramatic stories! In this doc, I seek out those stories, then ask Allen himself for his ‘real’ story.”

So Much Depends Upon

Below is an old blog post from a site for a larger project called One Mile Square. It tells the story of my contributions to a a community art project run by the Musagetes Foundation. I was an artist commissioned to create a local project. I chose to work with Cheryl Turner, a great Guelph woman whom I met at Action Read Literacy where she was learning reading skills.
Cheryl lives with a health condition that affects her day-to-day life in the community and in her own body. Her mom has the same condition.
Together, we decided to explore what makes Cheryl’s day-to-day livable. What does she depend upon for happiness?
Turned out squirrels were a big factor.
We created a video together. Then we created an event to share the video.
Since many of Cheryl’s contacts were through Action Read, we included the gang there in a live ‘bedtime slumber party’ where her colleagues read bedtime stories to children in the community in a public place (we picked the Via Train Station so we could have lots of traffic coming through and new people to engage). We decided to have everyone bring sleeping bags and lie on the floor so they could watch projections of the book pages above on the ceiling as the stories were read to them by adult learners.
Then we screened our video!
See below for the long version of this story originally shared in a blog post on Musagetes home page!

slumber party TrainStation july2011 026-1SLUMBER PARTY at the TRAIN STATION / September 1, 2011

Continue reading “So Much Depends Upon”