Ode to Water

In light of our current Water is Life project, is was such fun for me to discover, just this morning, an old poem I had written, in 2007, about how much I value water in my own life.  At that time, I had just moved after five years in sunny but “Arid”zona, and was enjoying a year of travelling, mostly to coastal hot spots.  Most William Bridge students, having lived all of their life in lush BC, may not fully appreciate how scarce water can be in some environments.  But through our project, they are learning to appreciate the abundance of this critical resource.

IMG_1583  Me and anything green clinging for dear life to any water that we can find in arid, Arizona.

Here’s my Ode to Water, a la Dr. Suess

Water, how I love thee.
Let me count the ways.

I love you when I’m thirsty.
I love you when I’m dry.

I love the roar of ocean waves.
And you gently babbling by.

I love you when I’m filthy or
when I’m so hot it aches.

Sometimes I love to sing in showers.
And swim in deep, dark lakes.

I love to boat, surf, dive, it’s true.
And most of all to float on you.

I love to drink you with my tea.
And cook you with my linguine.

I love you when you turn to snow.
And when you help my car to go.

There is no end to this long list,
Just know that you’ve been sorely missed.


We Are Here at the SVNH!

As part of our community mapping project, We Are Here, I have been having a complete blast at the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House with the Multicultural Women’s Support Group. This is an incredible group of more than a dozen women of all ages from all around the world. Home countries include Colombia, Mexico, South Korea, China, Macau, the UK,  Venezuela, Uganda, the Philippines, and more!

Together we have spoken about what it is to live in Vancouver,  and South Vancouver, specifically, bringing up issues such as culture shock, transit, weather, safety, food, and much more. And soon enough we’ll be dancing about what it is to live in Vancouver.

They’ve told me many a time that they love to dance, and it’s undeniably true! Thus far the ladies have been engaging in fun movement-oriented explorations that challenge the brain and the body while building an ensemble. Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to seeing them create gestures and sequences inspired by their own movement pathways in the neighbourhood. Such a huge thank you to programmer Kwangyoung at SVNH for making this partnership possible!

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Big Ideas’ Water is Life Rehearsals Begin

Since spring break, William Bridge students have really ramped up their efforts towards preparing their Water is Life performance.    This powerful title emerged from their own critical thinking about consistent themes from our project.  I was also thrilled, upon returning from break, to see that many students used the time off to construct their own handmade water instruments (see below).


rainstick, bottle flutes/xylophones, water cooler drums, decorated ice rattle

They are now excited to perform on these instruments in their original work, which is based around the text that they conceived during their “water as a critical resource” word games.  These brainstorms resulted in hundreds of water-related words which they grouped into several categories: Health, Sustenance, Transportation, Recreation (see sticky pad image below).  Subsequently, they listed the words by syllables, alliterative properties, and rhyming word endings to eventually create the verses for their song.  (My favorite line is “Sewerage, Sailboats, Squirt Guns, Showers”, and the students have had a gas with this tongue twister!)


This entire process began with an icebreaker that challenged the students multiple literacies: verbal, auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (see Simon Says game image below).   And it is now clear that this energetic group of different types of learners, have succeeded in creating an interdisciplinary collaboration that uses all of their gifts.



Sunset Out-of-School Care Spring Break Puppetry Workshop

Maggie spent 3 days working with children ages 6-11 creating original glove style puppets with papier mache heads and fabric bodies. The kids had a lot of fun exploring the materials and coming up with their own character ideas. In the end, everyone was able to experiment with their original puppets performing their own puppet shows for each other.

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We Are Here- MACC Seniors make autobiographical puppets

We’ve had a fun time together over the last couple of weeks, sewing together and catching up on my Punjabi vocabulary.

Together the Punjabi seniors are creating glove style puppets using photographed images of themselves. Next week we will be filming their live puppet shows which will tell the story of how they like to ‘Play’ in the Sunset and South Hill neighborhoods. These talented women are very active and participate well in many aspects of the community. I can’t wait to see how our video will turn out.

Enjoy these photos…

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Alphabet Stories Launch Celebration

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Juliana and I had such a blast working on Alphabet Stories, and it was so satisfying to finally see the results of our collaboration with the South Hill community dress the library walls.   The 26 (+1) curated pieces that were selected for the installation went up last Monday, March 11th, and the official launch celebration took place the following Saturday.


Alphabet Stories is a text-based art installation that addresses the question: “How can we dress up our library to reflect the language of our community?”  Our intention, throughout this project, was to facilitate the creation of work that reflected the stories which exist within the symbols of our written language.  We founded our final Alphabet Stories installation upon the Roman alphabet (used in English).  However, it also includes the alphabets of several other languages in order to represent the South Hill neighborhood’s culturally diverse community.   The installation incorporates words, narratives, poems, sounds and images that have either literal or symbolic associations with the letters themselves.   And each piece explores how different scripts interconnect image and meaning.

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The colorful results, exhibited in this installation, are the result of a variety of activities that we led with Khalsa School Grade 7 students, as well as the South Hill Library ESL & Book Clubs.   All of the content for Alphabet Stories was generated by these thoughtful community members, and then rendered into exquisite digital graphics by Juliana.  These were then laser cut into vinyl stickers which now dress the library walls.

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After a final deliberation, participants selected SPICE as the most resonant term for this cross-generational, multi-cultural art project.  And this is represented in numerous alphabetic texts, on the west library wall.

香料        Специя         こうしんりょう       SPICE     향신료

Soundscape Lobby Map is now up at Sunset Community Centre

Since last summer, as part of Something Collective’s year-long, We Are Here multi-media mapping project, I have been engaging with Renfrew community members to lead soundscape walking tours of their surrounding environment.   Asked, “Where are the Sounds that Make the Music of Your Neighborhood?”, the South Asian Senior Women and the South Vancouver Youth Centre students have collected a host of examples that truly reflect the aural landscape of their community.    


Now, the general public, in Sunset, can contribute to our community mapping project by charting identified sounds and their locations on our interactive lobby map.  This four-foot blow-up map, representing the area from 41st -70th, between Ontario and Knight, is installed on the south wall of the Sunset Community Centre.  So, please, just grab a bell-shaped sticky note and a sharpy pen, write your chosen sound on this paper, and place it on the appropriate geographical spot on the map.    In one month’s time, I will collect all of this data, and lead a new community group of “sound scouts” to digitally record this neighborhood “music” that you have all identified.



Big Ideas Project on Richmond’s Water #10 Sculpture Begins

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March 14th (Pi Day: 3/14) marked my third visit to Richmond’s William Bridge Elementary School to develop our Water Music Big Ideas Project. Like Maggie and Flick, I have been invited by the Vancouver Biennale to facilitate a student-created performance project that takes its “big idea” from one of their public art pieces. Our muse is Jun Ren’s Water #10, on the Cambie Plaza by the dyke. I am working with Ms. Potter’s Grade 7 class, as well as Ms. Tuason’s grade 3 class, and we have already come to learn that, as with Pi, the possibilities to make music inspired by water are infinite.

Project Meeting Feb 6 - 3  Laura with Ms. Potter and Ms. Tuason

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SANKASET – Public Engagement and the Arts | Kristina Lemieux

Watch my public chat with Tara Cheyenne-Friedenberg and Kristina Lemieux at Rhizome Cafe about public engagement in the arts. #artsandpublic

SANKASET is a series of dialogues on arts organizations, audience engagement & citizenship. The series kicked off with a dialogue about the Canada Council for the Arts‘ recent publication Public Engagement in the Arts, between Sankaset creator Kristina Lemieux and two arts leaders: Continue reading

Recreating the Sky Train experience- biennalle project

Our new crumpled paper masksLeading With Our Noses?

Posted on March 8, 2013 by admin

On Friday, March 8 we had another fantastic session with Ms. Winston at the MACC. We first made new crumpled paper masks and then built on our growing drama knowledge and experience.

We first reviewed being in neutral – we are getting better at it! Then, Ms. Winston showed us how to become different characters by walking and leading with different parts of our bodies. We first led with our noses which made us feel like detectives. We became Santa Claus by leading with our bellies. Walking and leading with our toes made us into ballerinas and finally, leading with our chests filled us with confidence and pride. It was exciting to see the students transforming into all of these characters.

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