We Are Here Hand-Drawn Mapping with South Vancouver Youth Centre Students

Today, I met with the students at the South Vancouver Youth Centre to begin a month-long engagement, the results of which will contribute to the soundscape component of the We Are Here community map. To spark the students’ imaginations about what maps can be used to represent, they were asked to map (on paper or on their own hands) anything in their daily lives that they wanted to represent. Below, are the incredible examples of their work which came out of this exercise. These include a map of one of the student’s faces; a walking route in Richmond which charts the spots where a particular dog typically “relieves” himself; and a hand tattoo of one student’s daily routes to her school, library and boyfriend’s place. I look forward to returning to work with these creative teens, to begin our walking and biking tours to record the soundscapes of their neighborhood.

Alphabet Stories Begins

Juliana and Laura, from Something Collective, have been invited to create a text and art installation at the South HIll Library, engaging Sunset neighbors in the process.  This project, entitled Alphabet Stories, was launched last week.  Here is the invitation we distributed to the community:

1.  Discover the history of the alphabets which represent the languages of your neighborhood, and learn to draw these ancient symbols.

2.  Write the stories that you imagine might have inspired the shapes of these alphabet letters.

3.  Play with words using alliteration (words or phrases that start with the same letter), palindromes (words that read the same backwards and forwards) and ambigrams words that read the same upside down and right side up).

4. Create concrete poems inspired by certain letters. (See attached example below)

5. See the results of this story and image-making as we dress up your library wall with digital versions of your text and drawings, made into vinyl stickers.

Last Friday, we worked with ESL students from the library, and the results of our first session are amazing!   Each student worked with the first letter of their first name.  Together we created an abecedary, or an alphabetized list, (think of the road trip game: “I’m throwing a dinner party and I’m going to bring…”:) of their favorite foods, using their assigned letter.  Then, each participant rewrote their word in their own alphabet.  A beautiful array of artistic alphabets were represented in the room: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Roman, and Cyrillic.  And some hand-drawn images of our work together are below.  The second photo also captures the remarkable beauty of the symbology behind the Chinese character for Listen.  The gestures within the character for this word represent a combination of words including: Undivided, attention, eyes, ears, heart, king/queen.  This was described as meaning “When one listens in this complete way they treat the person they are listening to like royalty.”  What a wonderful intention for all of us to follow.

Another component of our workshop asked participants to create poems that described their letter using words that began with the letter itself.  Some examples of their incredibly clever alliteration are below:

A sometimes looks amazing,
Always awesome ABCD.
It ate an avocado in the afternoon
and an apple pie again after that.

S slithers slowly,
snakelike on the street,
skin shimmering in the sun.

P represents people.
People are us.
We have different personalities.

 R ran away more
rapidly than a rabbit,
before the sun set
away beyond the sea.

Ted is a funny boy,
Turning left and turning right,
telling silly stories all the time.

Y usually looks like a branch,
growing widely underground,
and strong, like arms,
it reaches to the sky.

Soundscape Recording with South Asian Senior Women for We Are Here

Since April, I have had the pleasure to work with the South Asian Senior Women’s group, who meet weekly at Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre. These delightful and energetic women joined me in a series of workshops related to Something Collective’s We Are Here digital mapping project. After initial dialogue and mapping exercises that identified their values and challenges in their neighborhood, we took several walking tours of the Sunset area, to record the soundscapes of their environment.

The ladies captured everything from the cacophony of their favorite butcher shop and a house demolition on Prince Albert, to the joyful noise of their weekly chai making ritual, and the children who play basketball in Sunset Park. Each session, we also enjoyed practicing chair yoga together to prepare for our South Hill strolls.