Strathcona Conversations, Zine One: Community Organizing

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ZINE ONE free !



Dedicated to Gregory Brian Karlen October 20, 1960 - June 9, 2021 We lost a treasured member of our community this year. Gregory was deeply invested in the details of delight and showed us how to be generous and loving every day, including constantly hyping his friends projects and art. A style icon, Gregory was a was a gifted hair stylist who dispensed wisdom and magic at Parlour G. He always knew peoples’ names and kids’ ages! When asked what was the glue that held his community together, he said, “MacLean Park! - Its trees, connected and communicating through mycelium networks. Green spaces like this bring people together.” Miss you Gregory! Let’s dance together in eternity! 2

Photo by Amy Walker

TABLE OF CONTENTS The First Pancake Principle


The Little Free Library Co-created by Ilka, Val and Arnt with a Neighbourhood Small Grant. Books only please. More free projects on p 20.

About Strathcona Conversations 5 Community Organizing Worksheet


Hawks & Keefer Street Painting


About the Design


Free Projects in Strathcona 20 Further Reading & Videos 21 Caring for Yourself and the Group 23 Editor, Designer, Writer Amy Walker Proofreader James Stockdale Contributors Donna Dykeman, Lorraine Holubowich, Sharon Kallis, Gregory Karlen, Roni Cobbs Light, Emily Lomax, Khari Wendell McLelland, Gordon Roe, Mendel Skulsky, Pim van Geffen Photographers Valerie Arntzen, Chris Cameron, Pim van Geffen, Ginko Ochiai, Amy Walker


The First Pancake Principle

If you’re attempting something you have never done before - or something at which you’re out of practice - this principle may apply. Just as the first pancake of the batch is usually burnt, undercooked, too oily, or lumpy, your first attempt at a project, event or activity may feel like an abject failure. It helps to remember that EVERYTHING GETS BETTER WITH PRACTICE. and by the time you have made your tenth pancake, you’ve dialed in the correct heat, you’re pouring the perfect amount of batter, you can smell just when to flip it and you’re generally getting into a rhythm that helps you keep on improving. The same is true in life. The first time will probably not be the best time. When we have never done a thing before, there are a lot of variables that we can only guess at - without having had that all-important hands-on practical experience. Plus, all these unknowns can make us feel nervous, which also affects our ability to be present and perform well. If possible, when trying something new - do some trial runs. Have a couple “throw away” attempts that you can do without as much pressure. For the street painting we did a few practice drawings in the playground with chalk and painted some small stencils on the asphalt to see how the paint would weather. If your first attempt is a flop - don’t give up! Remember the first pancake principle and just use all that you learned from your first try to make the second one that much better! 4

MacLean Park time, Summer, 2021. Photo by Ginko Ochiai.

About Strathcona Conversations

Strathcona Conversations is a series of printed zines, initiated by Amy Walker, to engage neighbours in discussion and creative activity. It’s supported through the volunteer time contributed by neighbours, as well as a grant from the City of Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Matching Fund received through the Strathcona Community Centre Association. The project expanded to include a “same time and place” weekly MacLean Park time on Monday evenings and the Keefer & Hawks Street Painting as a real-life way to practice organizing within our community. - See the story about the street painting on page 12. If you want to contribute art or writing to the next issue - or if you want to comment or help with production or distribution, please contact - and also help us choose the topic for the next issue. See the back cover for details! 5

Photo by Amy Walker


When first I came to the States, one of my American friends asked me,

“What kind of superheroes do you have in El Salvador?” And I was like,

“We don’t really have superheroes down there.” I realized that in my country, since the very beginning, in the family and in schools,

we are taught that if we want to foster change, we have to get together with other people, build relationships and act as a family, act as a community, and that’s why we don’t feel the need of superheroes.” — Gerardo Calderón

Social change needs engaged communities, not heroes TEDxLehighU 7

Community Organizing get started — worksheet

1. Who are Your People? talk to people you already know (family/friends/co-workers). two or three is enough. ask if they’d like to work together and discuss what you’d all like to do. six to 12 people is a good group size: still cozy - but big enough to have an impact. Write their names here: __________________________












2. What is Your Shared Purpose? what is the “glue” that holds your group together? and what do you want to create or change? _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________


3. Meet Regularly weekly meetings, at the same time and place help establish a rhythm and are easier to remember. use your weekly meeting as a time to check in, celebrate accomplishments and encourage future planning. write your meeting place and time here: _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

4. What Agreements can You Make to Create a Respectful and Uplifting Culture in Your Group? examples of agreements: no put-downs; ensuring enough time so everyone has a chance to speak; not interrupting when someone has the floor; rotating who runs the meeting so everyone can practice leadership skills. _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

5. Document / Record / Keep Notes. how will you keep notes? (a shared google doc works). _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________


6. What Resources do You already Have? ask each person to draw themselves as a stick figure and write the senses, abilities, and skills they can contribute.(see page 22)

7. What Resources do You Need? do you need tools, funding, a space or something else to achieve your purpose? _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________


8. What Will You do First? do something together to energize and activate your group. _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

9. Make Time for FUN! build relationships: share who you are through creativity and play and be stronger together! _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________


Hawks & Keefer Street Painting


An Experiment in Community Organizing

Sunday afternoon, Sept 12, brought glorious weather and helpful neighbours to complete the artwork in a delightful day of creative co-operation. Photo by Pim van Geffen


Veronica and Amy stencilling in details of the design. Photo by Valerie Arntzen

Painting at Hawks & Keefer people about community organizing in the abstract was proving difficult, so creating something concrete was attractive. In early June, Amy and Jade designed and printed flyers describ-

In the Spring of 2021, while we were still living with the restrictions from the third wave of Covid-19, neighbours Jade Koide and Amy Walker met via a Strathcona Residents Association (SRA) meeting held over Zoom. Jade was interested in bikefriendly infrastructure and painted intersections, and Amy is always keen for neighbourood collaborations especially if it involves art!

The Rough Plan 1. Research / Learn / Talk to Experts 2. Describe the Idea 3. Engage Neighbours 4. Gather Input / Design Draft / Objections 5. Obtain Permit 6. Find Funding 7. Community Engaged Design Process 8. Work Plan / Materials 9. Creation 10. Celebration

In late April, Jade and Amy agreed to work together on a street painting project at the Keefer and Hawks intersection. Amy saw a good fit with her existing Strathcona Conversations project because talking to


Using stencils, neighbours lay out the design on Saturday morning. Photo by Chris Cameron.

ing the idea and went door-knocking, asking neighbours on the four adjacent blocks of Keefer and Hawks for their consent. A requirement of the City’s permit application, it was a fun way to meet neighbours. Jade applied for a special event permit, a Neighbourhood Small Grant, and found resource materials about contemporary street painting practice around the world (Bloomberg Asphalt Art Guide).

Jade and Amy offer art engagement activities at MacLean Park in July. Photo by Ginko Ochiai

In July, Christina C. joined as Volunteer Coordinator and the group sent out the first neighbourhood notices about the street painting idea, artwork, and volunteer and donation call-out. The response was pretty quiet - I don’t think people knew what to expect. To be honest, we really didn’t know how it was going to work Neighbours contribute ideas through paint and play. either - since it was our first time doContinued on next page. ing anything like this!


Teamwork! Covering up our meager progress from the coming downpour. Photo by Chris Cameron.

We needed a Traffic Management Plan. Luckily, Jade’s partner, Alex stepped up to work on this part. In August we received approval from the City - and the Neighbourhood Small Grant. We bought insurance for the days we were planning to paint (Sept 4 & 5 and fallback dates of Sept 11 & 12). It was a good thing we had a contingency plan, because labour day saw a massive rain dump, so we had to postpone. Having the extra week turned out to be a blessing. It gave us more time to prep for the artwork. We estimated we’d need 30 or more volunteers to help but by the time of the event we only had about a dozen people signed up, so we just hoped we could invite neighbours to get involved on the spot.

coat. The rain started around noon bringing out our team-spirit as we moved our 10 x 10 tent over the small painted area and covered it with tarps. It was a bit comical as we used hair dryers on the existing paint and painted a little more white base before we gave up for the day. The rain slowed us down, but it also brought us together! It poured rain all Saturday night. Sunday morning the sun came out and we got started early, worried that we had a lot of work to get done in a short time. The best thing was all the people who joined in and helped out. Some who had heard about the event and others who just happened to be walking by and decided to hang out and paint for an hour or so! We took care of the art and each other! And to our amazement - we got everything finished. Plus, we’ll know what we’re doing when we try again next year!

Friday night we pressure-washed the street. Saturday we started early and drew the outlines of the design and started painting a white base


Neighbourhood Small Grants Apply for up to $500 toward any project that will bring your community together, building strength and resilience, or tackling social isolation. NSGs are offered throughout the year.

Thank You!

to everyone who helped support this community process with your time, skills, equipment, ideas, good cheer and spreading the word! If we missed you, please let me know!

Holly, Bruce, Griffin & Samaya Arnt & Val Arntzen Alex, Chris & Pat Bigazzi Veronica Butler Rebecca Brass Chris Cameron Amanda Cassidy Christina Chant Jess Craig Jennifer Du Brittany Graham Kiku Hawkes Dan Jackson Russell Kildal Jade Koide

Shelby Masters Megan & Jody Barry Mirochnick Mister Fire-Man Wendy Nahanee Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee Ginko Ochiai Rob O’Dea Woochan and Jiyoon Park Chris Parker James Pau Roberta Robertson Gerry Teahan Jamie Smallboy John & Kim Stewart James Stockdale 17

Pim van Geffen Amy Walker Carlyn Yandle Evelyn Youngchief Alan Zisman Val at the park Susan for the lentil stew City of Vancouver Special Events & Mural Program Dulux Paints Neighbourhood Small Grants The Wilder Snail Union Market

About the Design This artwork is intended to be uplifting and beautifying to our neighbourhood. This is our first time making a street painting and we know it’s far from perfect! We hope people will understand we put in a lot of care and love into it and we welcome feedback and constructive criticism. We look forward to collaborating with neighbours on more collaborative designs and street paintings in the future. For several months we reached out for ideas and images including going door-to-door on the four blocks adjacent to the intersection, and setting up art jams in MacLean Park, as well as posting notices to community organizations via email. It may have been hard for people to imagine the end product, so now that we have done one, we hope it will be easier to engage neighbours in the design process next time - and YES! we want there to be a next time! We asked local artists for their feedback. We also sought guidance from our Indigenous

neighbours, including members of the Squamish Nation (one of the three host Nations, also including the Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam) who reminded us that in pre-colonial times this neighbourhood was an Indigenous village site called Kumkumalay.

The Design Elements

The turtle in the centre represents Turtle Island - the Indigenous name for the continent on which we live. Around the turtle is a lotuslike flower made up of orange hearts, containing small footprints to commemorate the location of the unmarked graves of Indigenous children whose memory has touched our hearts this year and underscored the need for change: redress, land back, and de-colonization. Also here is a red hand print to represent Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Next there is a circle of characters contributed by neighbours, including plants, animals, objects, and a memorial to Gregory, a friend we lost this year who brightened our lives on this corner. 18

that come from the local host Nations representing protection. Each eye is one of the colours of the medicine wheel: yellow; red; black; and white, and inside the circle of each is a sacred medicine of Turtle Island: tobacco, sweetgrass, sage, and cedar.

The surrounding eight ovoids are Coast Salish form lines that are very prevalent in nature: you can see them when you cut a stalk of rhubarb. Ta7talíya Nahanee provided artwork for the eyes that form the outside of the circle. The eyes are symbols 19

Strathcona Free Projects Backpack at Strathcona Community Centre Join our volunteer team! We’re looking for volunteers for Thursdays and Fridays. Strathcona Backpack is a community-member-centred program including, hospitality; hamper prep, distribution; clean up; resource research and referrals; arts and culture, music and life skill supports. Our work is based on a community member centered approach called “Asset Based Community Development” (ABCD), where the emphasis is on personal and collective gifts: Each person in a community has something to contribute. 1. What are the gifts of your HEAD? What do you especially know about and would like to share with others (math, mechanics, animal care, music, etc). 2. What are the gifts of your HEART? What do you especially care about? Are you passionate about inclusion, equal access, children’s development, gardening, collaboration etc? 3. What are the gifts of your HANDS? What do you do that you would like to share with others? (cooking or baking demos, haircuts, playing an instrument, music, doing taxes, etc) Contact Lorraine - 604-713-1839 The Union Street Free Table The free table provides a physical space to drop off and pick up free items. Sometimes people dump garbagey items, or even steal the table itself, but Hugh and Joan who mind the table have persevered. Please leave only usable items in good condition - and don’t leave items just before dark or rain. The Strathcona Neighbourhood Free Group on Facebook A very active group where people are getting to know each other and liberating un-needed items.


Further Reading The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker Audiobook available from VPL / Overdrive app Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When Its Gone by Astra Taylor Audiobook available from VPL / Overdrive app When the Hero is the Problem (article) by Rebecca Solnit,

Videos Inspiring social change through community organizing Dara Frimmer | TEDxUCLA Social change needs engaged communities, not heroes Gerardo Calderón | TEDxLehighU

Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action. Among the virtues that matter are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine, more nerd than jock: listening, respect, patience, negotiation, strategic planning, storytelling. But we like our lone and exceptional heroes, and the drama of violence and virtue of muscle, or at least that’s what we get, over and over, and in the course of getting them we don’t get much of a picture of how change happens and what our role in it might be, or how ordinary people matter. — Rebecca Solnit When the Hero is the Problem

What is Democracy? by Astra Taylor | 107min. documentary


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Engaging in a neighbourhood project and going g door-to-door gettin ed, consent forms sign it was shocking to realize how many people I had never

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met before.” — Mendel Skulsky


—Donna Dy

“Give people a re ason to slow down so they’ll stop and talk” —Sharon Kallis

is u n ity m m o r with e “C h t e g t to b ro u g h n i bble.” a d n a a song Lelland c

endell M

W —Khari

“Our Covid experience is helping us in reframing community, preparing people to be more neighbourhood-focused.” —Emily Lomax

y. r communit “Define you ve. ant to achie w u o y t a h Describe w you need to s e c r u o s e Find the r the goal.” accomplish oe — Gordon R22

f l e s r u o Y r o f Ca ri ng

an d Ca rin g for the Group

Before working in groups, it helps to have some self-knowledge and practice of self care. Hopefully, we can all be present in a healthy, empathetic and consensual way – and speak up when we need help.

Boundaries Each person has their own boundaries about what’s okay and what’s not okay. If we don’t know what someone’s boundaries are, we can ask, without putting anyone down. This way we can ensure we’re not trespassing on ourselves or others and we’re creating a safer, more trusting, and constructive space. Capacity It’s natural to want to be helpful and say “Yes” to requests and opportunities. But if you’ve ever over-committed then found yourself struggling to deliver on your promise, or feeling resentful and over-worked, then you know the importance of realistically assessing your capacity before agreeing to things. Honestly, I’d rather someone was comfortable saying “no” to something they haven’t the capacity for than saying “yes” out of a sense of obligation or an inability to value and stand up for their own precious time and energy. Scheduling It seems simple, but if you’ve struggled to arrange a time to meet with people, you know how frustrating it can be. Managing time requires care and attention. Meeting at the same time and place at a regular interval (like once a week or month) is a simple, easy solution, an “un-plan,” if you will. If you’re going to accomplish something with other humans you’re going to need to do some scheduling. It doesn’t matter what system you use - as long as it works for you. One-on-Ones Talking in groups can be illuminating and stimulating - especially for those of us who enjoy attention, but there’s a complex emotional geometry at work in group settings, so remember to take time for one-on-ones with the people in your group. You can share on a more personal level and maybe make a deeper connection as individuals. The energy of the group can really benefit when people feel a sense of comfort and trust, so make time for each other. 23

Why Community Organizing?

We’re living in a time of great change that requires us to adapt – just as our ancestors responded through their own plagues, wars, droughts and storms, ensuring you and I could be born. Today we’re facing the greatest challenges in human history and we have the most sophisticated tools of all time. Yet it seems many of us feel powerless, isolated and separated - by walls, screens, inequities and fears. Here, on the unceded, traditional territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations, for the past 160-odd years we’ve been living with extractive, colonial, capitalist behaviour and governing that fails to meet the needs of all people, and fails to adequately protect the land, water and other living beings. We’re at a crossroads where we can choose to be more responsible, equitable, inclusive – and more joyful! To accomplish this we need courage (you find it in your heart!) and connection - and people need to remember how to work together to make the world. We hope you enjoy this zine. Let us know what you think - and join us in making the next one!

Help Make Our Next Zine! Email and ask to be added to the contributors email list. Help choose the topic for our next issue! Vote with the QR code below - or by emailing your choice to us. What should our next topic be? • TREES • CEREMONY • LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION • INEQUALITY • HOME • STUDYING STRUCTURES • or SOMETHING ELSE?

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