Preserved Stories Blog


Six Points Interchange Reconfiguration is now underway. Some notes, as well about a 1936 Berlin Olympics photo album.

View looking east toward Six Points Interchange Reconfiguration prpoject, July 15, 2017. Jaan Pill photo

View looking east toward Six Points Interchange Reconfiguration prpoject, July 15, 2017. Jaan Pill photo

I attended a public meeting – in the form of an open house – at a Lithuanian   church located east of the Six Points Interchange some time back. I was pleased to receive an email today (July 14, 2017), indicating that construction at the Interchange is now underway.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Click here for an update on Start of Construction >

I am impressed with everything I have heard about this project.

Some years ago I organized, with Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Peter Milczyn’s Office, a Jane’s Walk at the Six Points Interchange.

MPP Milczyn, who was closely involved with the development of the project starting many years ago when he was a City of Toronto Councillor, did a great job as the Walk Leader on that day.

At the public meeting that I attended more recently, one person was explaining, to small clusters of people, that the way that Dundas St. West is being configured is (and I am paraphrasing) “all wrong.” However, I later had the opportunity to speak, later at the same public meeting, with a planner, connected with the Six Points Configuration.

The detritus that emerges from the past has its own narrative of forms to share: Part 1. Jaan Pill photo

The detritus that emerges from the past has its own narrative of forms to share: Part 1. Jaan Pill photo

I asked her about the points that I had heard, from the person who as not impressed for the plans regarding Dundas St. West. The planner explained to me that there had been a thorough Environmental Assessment, as part of the planning of the project.

At that time, a broad range of options were considered, from a broad range of angles, in order to determine which configuration of roads would work the best, taking account of a wide range of goals and needs.

The planner also noted that all of the information, related to the Environmental Assessment, is available at the Six Points Reconfiguration website. I thought she gave a good answer. I was pleased that I had the opportunity, to first have a conversation with the critic, who was performing his civic duty in expressing his views and concerns, and then to have a conversation with one of the planners, who was there to answer questions at the public meeting.

IMG_5288

The detritus that emerges from the past has its own narrative of forms to share: Part 2. This image appeals to me, because of the manner in which a linear form has been folded upon itself, to create a spiral with gestural qualities. Jaan Pill photo

I’m pleased to know the project is now underway.

Detritus that emerges from the past

The passage that follows below is an additional text from July 15, 2017.

I have visited the Six Points construction site regularly in recent years. I recall there was a bird – it was a duck, as I recall – that had made its home at, had adopted as its habitat at, a body of water that was in place at the Six Points site for some time. The bird appeared to me to be contented, happy with its home. It lived there for weeks on end. The body of water is long gone, as is the bird. At that time there were sections of woods still in place in the area, as well. Now the woods are gone.

I am wondering what the rest of the story of the bird may be, as in: Where did it get its start in life, where did its parents go, and what were the next steps in the bird’s life, after the body of water was gone? The body of water may now be part of an underground, manufactured waterway. I do not have evidence regarding the matter, however.

My father had a love of nature, as some people do

I have long been pondering how to approach the writing of a post about my late father’s 1936 Berlin Olympics photo album.

Group portrait of athletes, from the University of Tartu in Estonia, who attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics as student observers. The photo was taken, I believe, at the University of Tartu in 1936. Source: Kaljo Pill

Group portrait of athletes, from the University of Tartu in Estonia, who attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics as student observers. The photo was taken, I believe, at the University of Tartu in 1936. Source: Kaljo Pill

I do not wish to approach the story of his life on the basis of my father’s personality, interesting as that aspect of a person might be. Describing character or personality, in the style or frame of a journalist or fiction writer, is but one of the many valuable ways, of all of the ways available to us, to say something valid about a person’s life.

Biographical details may explain a lot, or may explain very little, about a person’s life journey. The context in which a life is lived, and the logistics associated with the practical matters that are at the basis of everyday life, are equally important, albeit frequently ignored, when life stories – or stories, period – are narrated.

Kaljo Pill, at age about 21. Detail from 1936 group photo of athletes from Estonia, who attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics as student observers. Source: Kaljo Pill

Kaljo Pill, age about 21. Detail from 1936 group photo of young athletes from Estonia, who attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics as student observers. Source: Kaljo Pill

At this post, I will introduce my father by way of a detail from a University of Tartu photograph, which I believe was taken in Tartu in 1936. The photo, which is available online and is also featured in my father’s 1936 Berlin Olympics photo album, is of select group of male university athletes from Estonia, who attended the Berlin Olympics as student observers. Students from all or most of the countries that took part in the 1936 Olympics appear to have sent groups of university-age student observers to the event.

All of the student athletes from Estonia, who attended the Games as observers, were male, so far as I know. However, the album does include photos featuring young women, who appear to (possibly) be Estonian and who may have had some kind of relationship to the University of Tartu athletes who attended the 1936 Berlin Games as student observers.

Also featured prominently, in my father’s photo album, is a photo of Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. The album also includes an autograph from the latter athlete.

I have read extensively about the life of Jesse Owens, over the past several months, when I was reading about the Berlin Olympics. All such reading is in the past, for now. What remains are my notes, and the pages I have scanned for further study. After a decade of incessant reading of books from the Toronto and Mississauga library systems, I have taken a break from taking out library books.

Jesse Owens. Source: Kaljo Pill

Jesse Owens. Source: Kaljo Pill

This post will conclude with my reflections about my connection to my father, about my connection to the memory of my father, through our shared love of nature.

The first reflection is that it’s fascinating to see, and to closely study, photos of my father from a decade prior to my birth. One senses that one has entered into a time machine. It’s a source of fascination to be able to look around, and to ponder. Among other things, so much can be learned from a close study of body language, and of context, in the photos in the album. Even with body language, however, what is perceived, or “read,” depends upon the frame of reference that one brings, to the task of perception.

What role does framing play, in the interpretation of body language, when a person views a given photo or set of photos? What factors are at play, when we seek to determine the “meaning” of what we see, in a photograph? These are questions, that may naturally occur to a person. The study of the use of photography, as it relates to the history of anthropology, by way of example, underlines that meaning, and interpretation, as it applies to photography, and to filmmaking can be heavily frame-dependent. A colonial view of what a photograph or work of art entails will, again by way of example, differ markedly from the view of the Indigenous subject of a photograph.

A person’s relationship with nature, in the era of Climate Change

The other thing that I think about is my father’s relationship to nature – in particular, to nature largely, or to a great extent, untouched by human civilization, During his lifetime, he encountered a fair amount of relatively unspoiled nature, as I did myself in the 1960s and 1970s in my travels, from time to time, occasionally for extended periods, in the Canadian wilderness especially in Western Canada.

Many people love nature, and many people act in ways that indicate that their love of nature does not go very far.

Some people, including Nazi spokespersons from the 1930s, expressed a deep love of nature but that love mattered not a whit in the larger scheme of things.

Detail from tree stump, July 15, 2007. Jaan Pill photo

Detail from tree stump, July 15, 2007. Jaan Pill photo

My father, who graduated with a degree in forestry from the University of Tartu, loved nature as a source of support, in the face of life’s tribulations. That was a relationship with nature that worked really well for him. Particularly in my own younger years, I too found that nature could serve as a great source of strength and support, under circumstances that otherwise were difficult.

New foliage going profusely from tree stump, July 15, 2017. Jaan Pill photo

New foliage growing profusely from tree stump, July 15, 2017. Jaan Pill photo

At the Six Points Interchange construction site, which I visited on July 15, 2017, I came across a clearcut along an embankment alongside Dundas St. West. The view reminded me of times when I worked in the interior and coast of British Columbia in the early 1970s. When you see a clearcut anywhere, if you’ve had experience in the bush, the memories of past clearings come to mind at once. That’s what the photos, at the end of this post, are about.

Six Points site, July 15, 2017. Jaan Pill photo

Six Points site, July 15, 2017. Jaan Pill photo

One of the things that I noticed, on my recent visit to the Six Points site, was a bursting forth of leaves emerging from a tree stump. A person’s interest in such an image – of leaves bursting profusely out of a stump – can be viewed as corny, or sentimental, or poignant. It can be viewed in any of a number of ways, that is to say, depending on the frame of reference that a person brings to such an image.

I had seen this stump some weeks earlier. I did not recall much in the way of growth on top of the stump, on that occasion. Now, I saw that new growth was bursting forth, in a spectacular fashion. I saw that as a straightforward expression of, and illustration of, the intrinsic enthusiasm of nature. We can frame the image, that is to say, as each of us does please to frame it.

Updates

Of relevance regarding the above-noted 1936 Berlin photo album project is the work of August Sander:

August Sander: People of the Twentieth Century. A Photographic Portrait of Germany

Also of relevance is the work of Thomas Struth:

On Thomas Struth’s “Museum Photographs”

A July 24, 2017 New York Times article is entitled: “Exposing Life Behind the Berlin Wall.”

An Aug. 2, 2017 Guardian article is entitled: “Igor Golomstock obituary: Cultural historian who explored the use of similar art to promote differing totalitarian regimes.”

 

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