Our long-time sauna host and collaborator George was recently in Toronto and was fortunate to connect with a number of sauna-related projects going on back east.
I’m really pleased to hear about Heidi Lunabba’s Sauna Obscura project making an appearance on Toronto Island as part of the Nordic Bridges cultural program. Continuing the great tradition of using mobile saunas as a platform for artistic practice, Sauna Obscura turns the inside of a sauna (tent in this iteration) into a pinhole camera.
I’m also very interested to hear more about Othership, a new bathhouse in Toronto that really seems to understand that the key element of sauna bathing and sauna wellness (at least from our perspective) is transformative social connection.
George also mentioned a sauna festival in Toronto coming up next year in 2023. We’re waiting for more information, and hopefully we’ll be able to attend some virtual sessions. There’s a lot to talk about at the moment regarding sauna culture. I was today reading an article about European energy shortages leading to residents being officially told to cut back on saunas. Of course we know the real response to energy shortages is to sauna with more people, and move away from the (relatively) recent personal bathing trends like daily solitary hot showers and return to traditional community bathing practices. There’s a lot we can do to restore and reinvent community bathing facilities that have recently been eclipsed by architecture that favours solitary bathing as it leans us toward isolation in all aspects of our lives. We know social bathing is an excellent way to restore the community bonds and the feelings of connection that go along with them. Here in Canada and elsewhere there’s a wealth of cultural traditions around sweat bathing and sauna-like practices that we practice, honour, learn from and explore. There’s also a lot of new ideas in sauna practices that we can incorporate into our bathing routines, including technology, design and artistic perspectives, as well as other complimentary and synergistic wellness practices. I think there’s also a lot of opportunities to explore saunas powered with alternative energy sources, whether that includes geothermal, ground source heat pumps, waste heat reclamation, solar, or other technologies. Here in Canada we’ve also got a lot to learn about how to integrate sauna practice into the design of our cities and neighbourhoods, in a way that is supported by and supports the kind of communities we want to live in. I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to dig into these ideas a little more in the months ahead.
Thanks again to George for his Toronto sauna reconaissance, we’re looking forward to hearing more.