This week's Craftsperson of the Week, Karen McLean is an active participant in the Uptown “web scene”, if your on Twitter or in the Blogosphere you recognize Karen as frequent contributer in relation to a variety of topics . Her latest project “The View from the Market”, finds her reporting from a perch high in the City Market. Here are a few questions with Karen:
Where were you born?
– St. Joseph's Hospital, here in Saint John.
Can you give us some background on your current project “The View from the Market”?
– Between growing up in Saint John, being a history buff, and working in the tourism sector for many years, I have long appreciated the Saint John City Market for the gem that it is. It's such an integral part of Saint John, and the uptown in particular. Because it's always evolving, it's a living, breathing entity in and of itself, and I want to try to capture that. I write my blog, “The View From the Market,” (www.viewfromthemarket.ca) with three audiences in mind: Saint Johners who now live far away, visitors who may be coming to the area, and locals who may not have been to the market recently.
How did you get interested in the blogging and web media?
– I've been writing since I was eight years old, had my own column in the short-lived weekly newspaper The Citizen when I was 16, and wrote for The Brunswick Business Journal when I was in my mid-twenties. Writing is as natural as breathing to me. I was online early (in 1994), and after a series of web pages, I began actively blogging in 2005. My personal blog (www.mycreatedlife.com) is a place where I share my art, writing, discoveries, experiments and experiences, good and bad. The idea for “The View From the Market,” which is much more subject-specific, came to me as I was sitting at Java Moose one morning, watching the Market wake up for the day.
– Blogging is one of the most exciting things to come out of the whole Internet phenomenon. It completely knocks the wind out of the argument that computers are causing people to become more isolated, as it puts the power of publishing directly into the hands of the individual. Like every form of communication, one has to consider the source, but besides individuals sharing their daily lives, there is a tremendous amount of information out there, being written by people who are passionate about their areas of expertise. Unlike television, you can't turn on your computer and complain that “there's nothing on.”
Do you have any formal training? How do you stay up to date on the latest technology trends?
– I have an arts degree in English, but that's where the formal training ends. I'm a complete “mouse-potato,” and I love to learn, so between the two, I pick things up as I go along. Blog platforms such as Blogger and WordPress (which I use) make blogging easy from the outset for the beginner, but I really enjoy customizing my blogs by designing my own graphics and templates. I don't actively seek out the latest technology trends. Staying up-to-date is usually a matter of hearing about something, becoming intrigued, and jumping in.
What do you like best about uptown Saint John?
– The sense of history and tradition, combined with the colour and energy of a friendly, lively community. There are wonderful things happening here — and an undercurrent of great things yet to come.
Where is the most interesting place youve ever been in the world?
– In 1999 I took a train trip across the country. Because I really wanted to do “sea-unto-sea,” I got on the train in Halifax on Thursday and got off in Vancouver the following Tuesday. That trip really brought home to me just how vast, diverse, and breathtakingly beautiful this country of ours really is. And I'd do the trip again in a heartbeat.
Who's playing in your iPod or car stereo?
– Michael Buble, Leonard Cohen, The Puppini Sisters, INXS, Dido, Shirley Bassey, Lady Gaga, and, of course, Duran Duran. I'm a little eclectic. (grin)
What do you like to eat for breakfast?
– Cold pizza.
Do you have any pets?
– We have a Border Collie Mystery Mix named Piper, and a Maine Coon Cat named Zaphod Beeblebrox.
Do you have a favorite restaurant uptown?
– It's difficult to pick a favourite, but I really like Urban Deli, and I'm looking forward to Relish opening in a couple of months.
Any other Uptown favorites you'd like to share?
– Well, the City Market, of course! And Barbour's General Store will always have a specal place in my heart. I love what they've done with its new location, and it's funny to see how the view out the windows has changed since I worked there.
Describe yourself in three words.
– Curious, creative, and contemplative.