Top Ten by Savanah Sewell
Where to begin. Where to end. In a lot of ways, this is just getting ready for the next adventure. So many people to thank and not enough time to do it properly. So I will try my best. As the days creep closer I’m finding myself more overwhelmed than anything. I’m proud of the work and what we’ve produced over the past ten years. I love hearing about people’s memories of the festival and I hope they continue as the days and years pass by. Here are my top ten moments with a sprinkle of grickle history. Thank you for reading, thank you for lugging gear, taking pictures, watching bands and most importantly showing up. Support your community, it’s what keeps us all going. Here’s to the next ten.
#10 The Grickle Baby
It might have been year two, I was sitting in Amada’s office (who at the time was the Dir of Visitor Experience and is NOW the Executive Director) with the door open and suddenly a women shows up at the door. She calmly asked if I had a pad. I didn’t, mostly because it wasn’t even my office and I wouldn’t even know where to look. Even more calmly she said, “I’m pretty sure my water just broke” … my mouth dropped. ‘Ummm, what do you need, should I call someone?” “No, it’s ok, I’m going to grab my husband” and off she went. Later we would find out the baby had arrived safely and Andrew Fleet (Executive Dir of Growing Chefs) pulls up a picture on his flip phone and passes it around. We all cheered. It was a good moment. Where is that baby now??
#9 Zaki Ibrahim
It was 2013 and I was obsessed with the album Every Opposite by Zaki Ibrahim. It was on repeat in my Dodge Stratus (for those who knew that car, more lovingly as White Snake). I couldn’t get enough of her political lyrics and dynamic vocals. When it was time to book our 2014 festival, she was at the top of my list. She was booked and I was pumped. We got a call 2 weeks before the show that her dad passed away and she’d be travelling to South Africa but she didn’t want to cancel. So we sent our regards and hoped she’d be able to make it. She was coming. Zaki arrived 30 minutes before her set, with her backup dancers and got to the stage immediately. It was one of the more stressful moments for me. A quick line check and she started. The entire room was mesmerized, the moves were perfect, vocals on point and the energy was palpable. In a sparkly onesie, very pregnant, Zaki put on a show that I will never forget.
#8 My Parents
My mum shared her version of this story earlier in the week so let’s thank Lorraine for the refresher here. In our inaugural year all my parents came. I have a couple sets, there are some divorces and new marriages in there; and they all get along. I asked if they would bbq corn and asparagus for our guests in the evening after a long night of dancing and indulging in some pops. They obliged. I can’t confirm if there were some beverages involved on their end, but we can leave that one up to you. Basically my mum and step mum (yes, they’re friends I promise) snuck out the doors on the second floor that lead into the yard. The big yellow ones that were once the girls entrance when the building was a school. No alarm, so they thought they had made it out scott free. But once they got back to their bbq post, heard the sirens blaring down Wharncliffe road; the fire trucks where en route. Luckily they explained their mistake to the firefighters and all was ok. So let this be a lesson to you out there - DON’T EXIT OUT THOSE YELLOW DOORS. Unless there is a real emergency. Honourable mention to my dad to came for the first 3 years and ran a bike tune up workshop during the day cleverly called “Bikes with Mike.
#7 The Mustache
You might recognize the yellow moustache from a few of our posters. This was created in collaboration and after LOTS and LOTS of back and forth between Kyle Pullin and the rest of our opinionated team. We ended up with this concept once we came up with the name and started playing around. You could say that’s the moustache of the Lorax but we couldn’t agree on a font we all liked, so I drew out grickle grass. We worked in other artists’ take on the moustache but just like us, the festival evolved and over the years the moustache came in and out. And that’s ok. In the end, I still love it and love what it represents.
#6 The Posters
WOW. What a roster of artists. The posters have been such a fun thing to work on. Each year we chat about who to ask next. We will post all the archives digitally on our website. But during the festival you’ll be able to see blown up versions of years 4 - 10! Unfortunately I couldn’t get digital files of years 1-3 BUT here’s a list of the artists we’ve worked with in chronological order: 2010 + 2011 Kyle Pullin, 2012 Trevor Richie + Katie Wilhelm, 2013 Antony Hare + Lucas Stenning, 2014 Jenna Powell, 2015 Blake Stevenson, 2016 Sherry Garcia, 2017 Jesse Jacobs, 2018 Billy Burt Young, 2019 Megan Arnold + Alex Bast. Thank you for being apart of this project and telling the story of Grickle Grass with your work.
#5 Button Making
Watching the pure joy a button brings to a kid is pretty magical. Especially if it’s one they’ve made. The button making extravaganza is synonymous with Grickle at this point. There will be a mess, there will be a line and you know there will parents trying to get their kids to move along to the next station. Knowing there are hundreds of kids cruising around London with buttons from our fest is a pretty cool thought. They will be real keepsakes! Someday maybe even considered vintage!
#4 The Lorax
Maybe it’s no surprise I’m a huge fan of Dr Seuss. The quote that really stood out of us while we sat around my living room brainstorming was ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better, it’s not’. These words still ring true to me today. In a lot of ways, this is the foundation for the daytime programming and our interactions with the kids. Which of course translates into our night time fun too. Coming together as a community to think about the future through the eyes of our kids is crucial. Even if it seems like planting a garden is a small gesture, this can be the spark for someone that changes everything. We need to give kids more credit, they’re just amazing. I’d like to think the Lorax would be dancing alongside us in the Space Room.
#3 Our Partners
The London Regional Children’s Museum + Growing Chefs! Ontario BOTH are exceptional organizations in our city. Did you know this museum was the first Children’s Museum in Canada? Did you know London was the first home outside of BC for the Growing Chefs program? It’s been a pleasure to watch both organizations evolve and kick ass. The Children’s Museum is moving into a new home, which is going to be bananas! And GCO is providing lunch programs, gardening workshops and important food sovereignty programming to kids across London + the region. We’re proud that over ten years our little festival that could has donated $45,000 to them. <3
#2 The Team
There has been an eclectic rotating cast of characters who’ve helped us make this thing happen for the past decade. It’s truly remarkable. There are not enough thank you cards or Blackfly coolers a girl could send around to thank everyone for their work along the way. We’ve learned so many lessons together. We’ve tried things and said, ya we’re never doing that again OR yes, that’s exactly what needed to happen. I’ve made panic phone calls (Deanne, you truly did take the brunt of these) and talked out my wild ideas and come out with a solution by the end. We’ve called in favours and put bands on people’s couches and floors. We’ve watched kids grow up in front of us, and shared delicious food together. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people (and you know who you are) to make Grickle Grass the most important project I’ve worked on thus far. Thank you. From the bottom of my (albeit sometimes short) but mostly full heart.
#1 Becoming a Mum
Children’s programming has become a pretty big part my work over the past ten years. From booking the Family Area at Home County or working on London Girls Rock Camp; advocating for kids is something I’ve always been passionate about. I could go even further back to my work at summer camps, reffing kids’ soccer or taking care of all the neighbourhood kids. It’s always been my thing. But it wasn’t until we welcomed our own person into the world in 2017 that I fully understood what all this work was about. It’s a fragile place out there right now and it’s never been more critical that we show up and participate; if nothing else, for the ones behind us. The ones that are coming next. We also need to make space for the voices that aren’t heard enough and empower the ones that have lost theirs. Organizers, arts administrators, musicians and everyone else in between, don’t let them get you down. If I can leave one thing behind it’s knowing that in ten years we’ve created a positive, welcoming environment for as many people that we can squeeze into the Children’s Museum as possible. Thank you.
See you in a couple days,