How does one foster place based awareness in cities and towns where people have limited access to the natural world that supports them? Kelowna, British Columbia is a small city that has serious problems of disconnection to place—a beautiful region people flock to to live in because of its natural beauty and amenities but that is so problematically developed and landscaped and shopping malled it barely exists as a community or place at all. In many ways, we are stuck with our socially and environmentally dreadful housing and business infrastructure, but Dig Your Neighbourhood is a project that aims artistic attention on these places and on new residents, attempting to make the place worth caring about, to create a gentle repair of our relationship with place.
For the past three years, UBC Creative Writing and Visual Arts students have created a series of projects that provide a locally generated, unique vision of specific neighbourhoods in Kelowna, British Columbia. These students research the neighbourhood, engage in community consultation, and then create at least one dozen items which are published and produced by a local non-profit, Lake Publishing, and then packaged and delivered to newcomers by our business partner, the Welcome Wagon. The packages have included calendars, blank cards, meditation cards, maps, board games, books of poetry, graphic novels, CDs and all kinds of fiction and one-of-a-kind guidebooks that are completely neighbourhood-specific. Dig Your Neighbourhood engages emerging artists in a real-world endeavour and provides excellent experience in community-based art.
For for information or to order individual items/packages, click here.
Nancy Holmes was the winner of the 2015 Robert Kroetsch National Teaching Award for Dig Your Neighbourhood. Read Nancy’s short summary of the project on the Award website.