I take this city for granted, sometimes. I know that I often write about my neighbourhood and its amenities, but I don’t explore the rest of Vancouver enough. Sometimes, I even forget to look up.
So it’s good to get a reminder of all that this city has to offer, along with a call to become more involved in its evolution. This past Saturday, I went to Granville Island to take part in Tales From Terminal City: 125 Years of Vancouver, presented by SFU’s Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue. The students developed a program of three workshops – a walking tour of Granville Island, a collaborative public art project and an urban agriculture presentation. Participation was open to anyone and each participant could choose two of the three workshops to attend. I chose the walking tour and the gardening presentation, feeling that art was better left in the hands of, well, people who are not me.
Each of the workshops was framed around a model of storytelling. For the walking tour our guides, Breanna Kato and Ryan Stewart, told us stories from the history of Granville Island, while pointing out places where new stories are being created. During the gardening workshop, each participant told stories of their connection to gardening and growing food and discussed the possibilities for food production in the city. Those who chose the art project worked together to create a visual story of their connections to Vancouver.
The entire group convened before and between the workshops and we listened to the students from the Dialogue program, as they told their stories of Vancouver. At the end of the afternoon, we broke out into groups for open discussion around questions posed by the students. They were interested in our connections to Vancouver, but were also gathering our thoughts around how to become more engaged citizens of this place. We came together one last time, to listen to one of the semester’s mentors, storyteller Naomi Steinberg, talk about the role of listening and storytelling in creating, as she put it, community awareness, individual validation, collective support and civic engagement.
It was a stimulating day, full of listening to people’s experiences and thinking about our city in a number of different ways. It’s exciting to see youth who are so engaged and articulate. I encourage you to go visit the program’s web page at the link above. The concept is fascinating and I can only imagine how rewarding the experience must be for the students who participate.