Community Fellowship: Sounds Of My City By Katie Needs

Community Fellowship: Sounds Of My City By Katie Needs

This is a guest post by one of the SoundCloud Community Fellows, Katie Needs.

I pay attention to the sounds in my environment with the same focus and awareness that I use to listen to music. The act of focusing on that moment, that place and time, leads me to hear that place differently, to understand it in new ways.” – Andra McCartney

Who am I?

Hi everyone! My name is Katie, and I’m very excited to be a part of SoundCloud’s first class of Community Fellows!

I am a proud Canadian, born and raised just north of Toronto. I moved to the big city 6 years ago to study at the University of Toronto, where I did my Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s in Information. I care a lot about information literacy and global literacy issues, and recently traveled to Guatemala with Librarians Without Borders to work at a not-for-profit school where we helped re-organize and establish great programs for their new library. I also love food – cooking, baking, eating, and blogging about it – music (all sorts), and traveling. In fact I love traveling so much that I’m moving to Berlin in September!

For a while now, it has been a big goal of mine to get out and explore the parts of Toronto that I’ve never visited during my time here. If you didn’t already know, Toronto is the largest city in Canada, it houses over 2.5 million people residing in over 240 distinct neighborhoods, with about 90 of them found in the Downtown area. With that much sprawl it’s no wonder I haven’t seen it all!

As I started exploring, I began noticing the sounds around me. I began to think that maybe instead of focusing my attention only on the “Kodak moments” – and don’t get me wrong, I take a lot of photos – perhaps using the SoundCloud mobile app to isolate and feature my “sonic experiences” would be another really cool way to map and document my Toronto travels. And thus, the Sounds of My City project was born!

My Fellowship project:

Sounds of My City is basically a collaborative, community-oriented exploration of the many sounds found in and around Toronto. An audio ethnography, if you will. With so many distinct neighbourhoods to visit in the Downtown area alone, Toronto provides the perfect environment to explore, experience and record the sounds that define and make each one familiar and unique. Especially in the summertime, with all the great and culturally diverse events and festivals that happen almost every day!  The thing is, I don’t want to do this alone.

So, why not engage with my fellow Torontonians, and encourage them to collect sounds from their adventures, daily commutes, or neighbourhoods? The best part about Toronto is that it is different things for different people – the idea of my Toronto really resonates – and I think that’s what can make this project really interesting! As such, I’m calling on my fellow citizens, and even visitors to the city to help me out! I want us to capture the best, most unique, and even worst parts of Toronto’s sonic landscape, collaboratively. I hope that you’ll join me in acoustically mapping our great city, and that together we can get out and explore Toronto and document all its wonderful heritage, culture, voices and eccentricities, one sound at a time.

The best part about this project, I think, is that it’s got a global reach, too! Every city, town, backyard across the world has its own unique acoustic ecology! What does your city sound like?

Get involved!

So, do you want to participate? It’s easy! You can check the Sounds of My City blog for more information, or, if you are all ready to share you sounds with me – click “Submit” on the project blog over on Tumblr, or drop your sounds directly into the Sounds of My City group on SoundCloud. You can also follow the project on Twitter @soundsofmycity!

I hope that you’ll join me and share the sounds of your city! Oh and here are a few of my favorites from the Sounds of My City project below:

Trippiest busker by katieneeds

This busker presents himself at the most random times during the days and years, and it always catches me off guard. I’ve heard this sound at various intersections around the University of Toronto area for the past 6 years now, and I have never seen the person who is actually playing this instrument (and what is it?! A zither, maybe?). It’s totally bizarre and awesome.
Waves at Wards Island by katieneeds

This is a recording of the waves at Ward’s Island Beach, on the Toronto Islands. It was a great day outside, the water wasn’t totally freezing, and a nice group of strangers fashioned a coal oven right in the sand and brought enough dough and toppings to make 40 fresh pizzas to share! The best summer day, hands down.
Old City Hall bells, 4:45pm by michelle.t.davies

A great user-submitted sound, this one is a snapshot of the bells at Old City Hall at around 4:45 pm on a Wednesday. You can hear the Queen streetcar passing by, the iconic chimes of the bells, and then Michelle exclaiming her satisfaction with her recording,”…nice”. Nice.

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