In February 2017 we submitted an application for a Vancouver Greenest City Grant to expand our outreach programming, reducing Vancouver’s textile and green waste while enriching our collective skills and fostering meaningful work and employment. The LITE-WEIGHT program menu would include our signature English ivy basketry workshop, a rag rug weaving workshop, and workshop on up-purposing garden green waste for dyes and weaving materials. If it receives funding, LITE-WEIGHT would be based out of our new Weaving Wagon cart; it would begin rolling in late June or early July, and the season would wrap up as part of the Heart of the City Festival in late October/ early November.

Here is an excerpt from our application:

We propose to create a green transportation-based link that diverts green and textile wastes to willing local hands for processing; then moves the value-added materials to the greater community through three distinct outreach workshops that foster creative expression, social connection, skill development, and waste reduction. The finished workshop projects — mended or creatively up-purposed new objects — are weighed to celebrate the amount of material removed from the waste stream.  

Where do I buy local materials to use? How/where can I get local materials? EartHand hears these questions at almost every workshop, and we always encourage folks to look in their yards instead of going to the store. But we realize that many don’t have yards, or struggle with the labour of processing; while others, such as teachers, need large quantities of materials for class projects. Our current programming creates a demand for local materials, but access is still an issue. 

Existing non profit and community groups have underutilized abundance in the factors necessary for filling the demand for locally-sourced creative materials. Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) has an abundance of invasive species that get sent to the incinerator; while organizations like Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA)  and Hives for Humanity (H4H) have people with abilities and interest in handwork, learning skills and contributing to the community. 

EartHand is also in demand with community organizers, and we have had to turn down opportunities due to not having had an outreach program with appropriate support. LITE WEIGHT is an opportunity for us to bring our programming to new areas of the city. Our cart will also appear at busy lunchtime pocket parks and other park festivals and community events, gauging community response and generating interest and awareness. 

A colourful conclusion to each LITE-WEIGHT workshop is weighing and documenting everything to become a part of a digital archive of LITE-WEIGHT’s creative abundance and waste stream removal successes. A final celebration during the Heart of the City Festival in November would invite all participants to socialize, informally show and tell what they have made, and meet  some of those who helped process materials for the project. Documentation from LITE-WEIGHT becomes a part of an exhibit in 2018 at the Roundhouse during  the Textile Society Of America’s International Symposium on the theme of Deeply Local.


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