Multicultural Fair

“Its actually making me a little teary. It makes the kids see what’s good about their neighbourhood, because so often they’re told that it’s not.”

This is what one of the teachers said as she stood before the table and looked at the map on the wall behind me, with the leaves that the kids had cut out and stuck on to show their favourite places. I’d made the map the day before, using the community centre’s projector and laptop to blow up my hand-drawn Strathcona map to cover most of a 6’x6′ sheet of brown paper, traced out with a Sharpie. Brightly coloured sheets of origami paper cut into stylized leaf shapes, scribbled with names and favourite places, were now stuck on the map, marking favourite and personally meaningful places in the neighbourhood. My observation is that kids at this school LOVE this school, for everything from basketball to friends to math class, the swings in the field and the garden. Second favourite was the library; followed distantly by a smattering places where they liked to eat. Some kids knew what “ancestors” were, and some (perhaps those in a class where they’d been talking about it) even had pretty interesting knowledge about their own. Though, I will say that one kid absolutely denied having any — the subject definitely touches nerves for some.

“We Grow Where We’re Planted”

Jay had come up with the title the week before, when we had our artists’ research meeting to brainstorm project ideas for the residency and I had brought them the idea that I was working on for the Multicultural Fair, and asked for their input. It’s such a cliche, but it’s so true: the whole is more than the sum of its parts; we are more powerful together than we are on our own. When Jay said “We Grow Where We’re Planted,” (Jay is very good with words), it was like fireworks in my mind, the whole feeling and message for the day became clear. For me, imagining together in collaboration is one of the best parts of being an artist, a cultural worker, a meaning-maker; and one of the most nourishing and sustaining aspects of the work.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts…

Collaboration and synergy is everywhere in Strathcona; that’s one of the reasons the neighbourhood is so desirable a place to live, with such a high index of magic. I’m looking forward to opportunities to tap into that magic in this project — with artists in the neighbourhood, dyers, fibre geeks, activists, decarbonizers, gardeners, educators, and more!