The Glitter That Remains

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On October 27, 2016, we got to meet with the staff at the Britannia Library. What better place to visit early on in our search for understanding than the information-keepers of the Britannia community than the library staff?

Upon our visit, we got to sit with a group of staff to get to know them. We started with a simple question of: How does this tribe identify themselves in this community?

In no time we were off and running. I started jotting down words and concepts on poster paper as the group went around the room telling us what they saw as their identity and roles in the community of Britannia.To be honest…we only got to ask one question. What we thought would be a series of questions and pulling information out of a group of people quickly turned into a frenzy of reflections, remembering, recognitions and ideations around what makes up the community, what is the intention of the community and what the community stands for. They really know a LOT about Britannia and its inner workings.

In about 15 minutes we ended up with this word cloud:

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From this initial word cloud we ask the group to circle words and concepts that stand out to them and also add words or concepts that are missing. We from that take all the circled items and newly added items and create a list of words.

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As a poet…these words to me are like gold…and the backbone of a narrative created collectively. To me, just by themselves condensed for recognition and acknowledgement is poetry in itself. But as you can see, we made a couple changes. We added at the top “Britannia is:” and reversed the place of “people” and “services” and added brackets around ‘centre’ as well as adding it at the end. It was then named “This Is The Glitter That Remains” by one of our participants and it really reflected that.

After an hour of intense conversation around what they love and how they identify as a tribe or group in the Britannia universe…these last words remained as a definitive poetic statement from the viewpoint of those lovely people at the Britannia Library.

This interaction would help us set the standard for our later workings in this community and helped us to see what is possible with the groups and how much love really lives in this community. We have intentions on taking this sacred data and transforming it into more art we can live in and experience.

We are VERY thankful to the Library Staff here at Britannia for their willingness to participate and openness in ideation and creation with us. We look forward to visiting later this year to touch base and see what’s developed!

What do you love about the Britannia Library?

Leave a comment below.

Thanks!

Box Of Light – Ronnie Dean Harris

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Oh hey!

My name is Ronnie Dean Harris and I am a media artist also known as Ostwelve. I come from the Stō:lo/St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux peoples based along the Fraser River and immediate surrounding territories. I started my dream as a hip-hop artist back when I was 12 years old and by the time I was 15, I was hosting a radio show on COOP Radio and performing at events in Vancouver. I’ve since gone on to do other things and stuff…which can be found in a bio online somewhere…but for this series of blogs…I am an artist-in-residence or artist-in-community alongside Kelty McKerracher, who also has some blogs on here you should check out as well.

When Kelty approached me with the idea for this residency, I really had no idea what to think. The world of arts residencies is a new realm to me. After some great guidance from Kelty and Ellen at Britannia Community Services, I was set to explore the world of Britannia as a visiting artist. So as we dove into the idea around Box Of Light, we had to make some observations and then adjustments. While being a part of the East Van community as well as the Britannia community for years, I really didn’t know the community of Britannia as well as I thought. My recent experiences with Britannia would come in the form of performance and workshops with youth. So upon arrival of this project and our embarking on this journey of residency, Kelty and I were quickly taken by the many communities and what I’ve been calling “tribes” within the realm of Britannia community.

We then felt that in order to make some art that reflects the values and ideas of the community, we had to listen and hear the community. We then went out and met some groups. Our first groups were highly a social warming-up of interaction. As we assessed our engagement strategy and our intentions around this engagement, we had some early meetings with some youth groups that would prove to be very observational. From then I knew we had to engage in a different way. Ask more questions, provide more space for words and sharing as well as a system for recording and displaying this data. This is where my nerd-core skills as a rapper come in handy. I LOVE ideation and crunching data as a group. While hyper and hectic…it really helps me to understand the context of the groups information and thinking process as a group. We also had a new platform to work with through the Realms Of Refuge work Kelty brought to the table, so we adjusted and worked next with the seniors group and created some lovely ideation and work.

Using a system of word clouds and mind maps, we’ve been interviewing groups and doing public inquiries into the community asking very simple questions:

  • What is this place? (Britannia)
  • What do you love about it?
  • What is your role here?
  • What do you see?

From these questions we’ve been able to get a better understanding of what drives this community and what is at the core of its leadership and intentions around being a community. From these word clouds and mind maps we are able to condense the information down to a series of words. We then shape these words into a statement or poetic device. These words are built from the collective understanding of the groups around their identity, experience and love for their roles in the Britannia community.

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The interactions have been very amazing for me. Seeing people contribute with so much heart and admiration for their roles in this community has been very lovely. To be trusted with this infomration is a great honour, and we look forward to shaping it into some more artistic creations of light for this box we are looking at in 2017.

Stay tuned for more updates and presentations of some of the work we are doing with the community. It has been a real activation of storytelling and learning for us and we are excited to share this light in a reverent way.

Thank you to everyone involved in making this project possible.

What do you love about Britannia?

What is your role here?

What do you see?

What is your tribe?

Can we come talk to you?

Leave a comment below!