Getting Ripped for the Apocalypse

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In a world gone wrong, laid to waste in violent waves of destruction, what will you do to survive?

Join us in cardiovascular glory as we run, kick and punch our way to a better future.

Getting Ripped for the Apocalypse teaches you workouts for each of the nightmare scenarios that are just around the corner; Nuclear, Zombies, Peak Oil, Climate Crisis, Magnetic Pole Reversal, and so much more.

What are you gonna do when the apocalypse comes for you?

Die in fear in the first days like the sluggish office worker and netflix addict you know you are? Or, you can get ready, get prepped, get ripped for the apocalypse!

COMING SUMMER 2019

 

PhD Books Folder

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book

I’ve been amassing lovely things to read, and while as my research evolves some of these are no longer directly relevant, many are still useful and interesting, particularly with regards to feminist and economic geographies. Feel free to peruse. This folder is updated monthly-ish.

Doreen Massey, Gillian Rose and Gibson-Graham make up the bulk of the books thus far.

PhD Books Folder (Google Drive link)

PhD Research Proposal

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Draft Research Proposal (2018) 

A person who experienced homelessness as a youth, still tenses their muscles in self-defense as they sleep every night, an embodied habit from sleeping outside for years. A young adult who grew up in multiple foster homes, feels restless in homes, jobs and relationships after a few months because that is the longest they have only ever lived in one place. This phenomenon is what I call the ‘embodiment of transience’, a manifestation of lingering displacement compressed over time and held in the body. I aim to develop this theory in my PhD research, a participant action research project with touring musicians. This work builds on my award-winning MA thesis at York, which examined the embodiment of transience with former youth in care.  

For my PhD research I want to understand what we can learn from musicians in two groups: the more intentionally hyper-mobile touring artist and the precariously transient (musicians struggling in the gig economy (Zendel, 2014)), with the understanding that there can be overlap between and significant differences within individual experiences in these groups. My analytical lens will be using mobilities (Cresswell, 2010), feminist economic geography (Massey, 2012) and critical health geographies (Atkinson, 2013). I am seeking to understand both the negative social, emotional, and physical implications of the long-term effects of transience and hyper-mobility, and ultimately, what can be learned from the hyper-mobile that is beneficial, resilient and innovative.

The primary population I intend to work with is working-class Canadian musicians on tour. As a former Vice-president of a music industry association, Music Yukon, and a musician myself, I understand the particular struggles of Canadian touring musicians in terms of spatiality, embodiment, and power relations. For example, American and European artists have much less distance to cover between venues on tour, while in Canada a 16-hour drive to the next show is just an average cross-country tour. Canadian geography thus produces more travel per show than almost anywhere else in the world.

I want to develop research about the embodiment of transience with musicians that can ultimately  benefit many others who experience transience. I will facilitate focus groups and interviews with co-researcher musicians in Ontario and the Yukon to learn how people care for themselves and their well-being within experiences of (dis)placement, precarity, touring and hyper-mobility. Building on the success of my MA (Merhar, 2017), I will continue to do participant action research, allowing the specific research questions to develop more fully in collaboration with those who have signed on to this project. Beginning with initial interviews, a series of focus groups will be developed, and additional analysis and data from musicians will be collected using audio diaries while on the road while on tour.

This research will be conducted in Whitehorse, Yukon and Toronto, Ontario. I choose these communities to work in as part of my positionality as a white researcher; moreover, these are communities I know, having lived in each city for over a decade. I firmly believe that Northern research must be done by Northerners and Whitehorse is my home. I seek to counter the extractive research industry of southerners entering the north, gaining data, then leaving weeks later with little benefit to struggling communities (Moffitt, Chetwynd & Todd 2015). Toronto is the music capital of Canada, with head offices for FACTOR, SOCAN and innovative arts health initiatives like Artists Health Alliance that can provide potential partnerships, insights, and resources. My goal in all my research is to leave co-researchers in a better place than when I first encountered them by working collaboratively with communities and the power of self-determination (Wilson, 2008).

I choose University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment to study at for a number of reasons. I found Dr. Nancy Worth’s research on youth, transitions and becoming theoretically useful in my MA, and contacted her in the summer of 2017 to talk about a potential PhD. Her Gen Y at Home project exploring precarity, autonomy, and housing among GTA millenials is an excellent recent exploration of themes that are very relevant to my framing and understanding of precarity. The Waterloo-Laurier Joint program in Geography also has a number of faculty exploring international migration, transportation, tourism and critical health geographies that can greatly assist in informing a broad and thorough literature review on the embodiment of transience. I appreciate the innovative atmosphere at University of Waterloo, and feel this environment can best support my innovative research.

For my MA, I worked with 15 former youth in care as co-researchers ages 18-29, in Toronto and Whitehorse. The Moving Home Project exploring the embodiment of transience emerging from the child welfare system garnered significant public interest. Co-researchers were on Metro Morning on CBC in Toronto in June 2016, and the project had a total of 4 public art shows sharing the findings and artwork created during our explorations on what sort of people the child welfare system has inadvertently created through repeated moves of home and school. A mini plain-language version of my thesis was created in collaboration with 5 co-researchers, and 500 copies have been distributed, with a second printing forthcoming. I won the Paul Simpson-Housley MA York Geography Thesis Award, and was nominated for the York Thesis Award as well as the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies MA thesis award. I was the best-funded student in the department, having a SSHRC, NSTP, ACUNS Northern Resident Award and 27K in combined external project funding from the Ontario Child and Youth Advocate and Yukon Child and Youth Advocate, the bulk of which was to pay co-researchers an honoraria of $800 each for their contributions.

Climate change and its myriad effects, the gig economy, housing costs rising much faster than income, there are numerous reasons why precarity, movement, and displacement will be continuing in the future, and why understanding the internal lived experience impacts of long-term hypermobility is needed. My goal in this research is to write a book from my dissertation that can have relevance to other researchers and policy-makers. Many scholars study the effects and experiences of migration, and explore ideas and practices of travel, and better ways to move people through cities. There is a significant lack of research on the long-term consequences of frequent precarity and hyper-mobility at an emotional, relational and lived experience level. I hope to begin to address this gap through this project with my co-researchers. My opening statements in this proposal concerning the embodiment of transience as experienced by the formerly homeless and former youth in care were not just attention-grabbing literary devices. These are real people who struggle to stay in one place and trace this internal struggle to their multi-layered experiences of transience. I am fascinated by this question of how transience lingers and stays in the body, and I hope you see value in it as well. 

Moving Home – Podcast Episode!

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“Amelia Merhar discusses a participatory arts-based inquiry project she co-researched with young adults who have lived in Canada’s child welfare system. In her fun, engaging, and pointed way she talks about methodology, findings, outcomes and what art can do that other forms of research might not be able to. Amelia is an artist, researcher, facilitator, youth worker, policy analyst, and pretty amazing person”

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-armdt-8b68c3

Cartman Hartnett-Swayze’s Inspirational 2018 Calendar

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lifeisbeautiful

Cartman is a particularly special dog, and he wanted the world to know. He wanted the world to know that no matter what, life is beautiful. 2018 was Year of the Dog, and Cartman’s 12th year on the fine planet, so it was the perfect opportunity to share his well-traveled wisdom. Cartman has been to 33 U.S states, and across Canada from Newfoundland to Yellowknife.

In each photo for every month, Cartman got a lil older. Each month has it’s own special positive quote, handpicked (pawed?) by the mutt himself. (Naw, I’m lying, I made these on Vistaprint and the quotes were part of the template. Still fun though!)

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TL;DR A thesis in a zine!

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Wow! A 168 page MA thesis, transformed into something more people might actually want to read! TL;DR (Internet slang for Too Long; Didn’t Read) is in classic zine folded format (including embracing typos), full-colour, featuring work from five co-researchers from the Moving Home project which explored the embodiment of transience among former youth in care in Canada. It includes a two-page summary of my thesis without any citations, truly a joy to create.

What is the point of creating research that gets stuck behind paywalls, or in a language most people do not interact with? Everyone should make a zine version of their thesis, it honours the written and academic, but transgresses the world of academic publishing into something more community-minded.

This zine is intended mainly as a support for current youth in care, those who work with them, and those interested in arts-based research and creative and accessible research dissemination overall.  This work also makes a contribution to embodiment and mobilities scholarship, particularly with the idea of embodying transience itself. Essentially, considering work on space-time compression, and bringing it to scale of the body.

The TL;DR zine launched August 17, 2017 with a corresponding art show at Critical Distance Centre for Curators. 500 print copies were made, and already distributed freely. There was also a talk at the Ontario Advocate for Children and Youth’s office, who generously supported the printing costs of TL;DR, in addition to other financial support for co-researcher honorariums and art supplies.

Ezine version of TL;DR is here. 

Printable version of TL;DR is here 

For those that want more theory, the research was approached using a framework of the Mobilities Paradigm, Children’s Geographies, and Emotional Geographies. The methods were a combination of Arts-based, Participatory Action Research and Indigenous Methods. Half of youth in care in Canada are Indigenous, and half of co-researchers also self-identified as Indigenous in the Moving Home project. The racism of the child welfare system also shifts geographically across the country, as in Toronto, where co-researchers self-identified as with a statistically representative 40% Black over-representation of youth in care. This is an exploratory Canadian case study model, using Toronto to represent urban-suburban experiences, and Yukon to represent Northern/rural experiences. Colour-coded citations for the Moving Home Project Proposal (2016) are available here. 

The built-in Community Action part of the Participatory Action Research project included four art public shows, two in the Yukon and two in Toronto in 2016 and 2017. These public art shows were all voluntary, with the ability to identify using artist names, First Nation names, initials, anonymous (whatever the co-researchers decided worked best for them). There were ten co-researchers with lived experience in displacing systems such as child welfare, (often overlapping with justice, and shelters) in the Toronto project, and five co-researchers with similar experiences in the Yukon. All art remains the property of the artist co-researchers, digital copies of photos, videos, songs remain in a Moving Home archive. Interesting fact: 80% of the the Toronto co-researchers priced their work for sale, and only 20% initially priced their work for sale in the Yukon (more were made as gifts). The urban hustle is real.

Zine credits: A Merhar, N Ridiculous, X Vautour-Binnette, E M, S N, Meek

Select press on the Moving Home project:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/youth-in-care-art-1.3639421

https://whatsupyukon.com/family-learning/how-foster-care-shapes-lives/

see also https://ameliamerhar.ca/2018/03/01/moving-home-podcast-episode/

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Home Project

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Moving Home: The Art and Embodiment of Transience Among Youth Emerging from Canada’s Child Welfare System is my MA thesis in Human Geography at York University.

Working with 15 co-researcher artists ages 18-29 with lived experience in care in Toronto and Whitehorse, this project questioned what sort of people is the child welfare system inadvertently creating through multiple placements. Subsections include a focus on emotions, relations and movement depicted in the art, and a chapter on the emergent theme of resilience and resistance, and the urge to give back and create a community for former youth in care.

The research had public talk August 17th at Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, and another talk TBD in Whitehorse. A zine version of the thesis will been launched as well as an art show presented Critical Distance Centre for Curators August 17 to 26.

Here is a link to copy of my thesis on Google Drive, as well as a copy of the zine. I’m happy to say I successfully defended, and my thesis was nominated for two thesis awards at York University!

 

 

LiveJournal

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Audio Intro via YouTube

Artist Statement: The internet is about connection. Data connection, human connection, intellectual and dating connection and a myriad of more. The anonymity of it allows us to be ourselves in ways we might not feel comfortable in person, and this can be manifested in both positive and negative ways.

performancescript-page-001performancescript-page-002Back in 2000, when dial-up connected us to the World Wide Web, along with aol, chat rooms, and that annoying dancing hamster, LiveJournal emerged as an early social networking site, before that was even a term. LiveJournal is an anonymous and public journal platform, where strangers can comment and discuss your posts.

I will be reading aloud 5 unedited sequential posts from my LiveJournal in the winter of 2001-2002. The journal as an archive is a way to explore, express, and in this case seek support. The issues and struggles of being a daughter and sibling of people with mental illness are performed verbatim. In between each reading of an entry, I will interact with the participant/audience members who have taken the name badges and roles; Social Worker, Family Doctor, Psychiatrist, & Guidance Counsellor, by asking the question, “What should I do?”

Each discipline within the mental health system had different advice. And the truth is, 14 years later I am still asking the same question, along with thousands of other people struggling to support their loved ones with Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.

By reliving these questions I asked as a teen, I take comfort in the fact that this feeling of not knowing what to do is cyclical, just like mental illness. That time moves at different paces. I see that at present with our societal view of mental illness, there are simultaneously no answers to my questions, and too many that do nothing.

This performance was a final work for a Cultural Production Class, ENVS 6348 at York University, December 2015.

Rejection Collage

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Artist Statement: This piece represents the majority of art in the Yukon, and an innovative way to continue working with and through rejection. Using my last rejection letter from the Advanced Artist Award, and mixed paper acquired at the Visitor’s Centre, this project was created onsite, and speaks for the 70% of Yukon artists whose work does not get funded. Caught in a cycle of paperwork, some projects reapply, and some never end up materializing. Every artist, every human experiences the disappointment of rejection. But we must move forward. This piece meditates on this, simultaneously highlighting all the work that goes on behind the scenes to be order to live and create, and acknowledging all those which do not develop further. By creating this work that is valued at the exact original amount I applied for, this piece becomes conceptual and transforms, exploring the intersection of grants and the creative process, and embodying art’s ability to respond and represent.

This work is priced at $5000, the amount of the grant I was rejected for, and will be submitted yearly to the Yukon Permanent Art Collection Acquisition Call, as the price is part of the concept and life of the work. This piece was originally created in July 2015, as part of the En Pleine Air Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon, put on my Yukon Artists at Work.