The Boxes of Curious Noticing: A Vancouver TD Park People Grant Project

October 15, 2020

Helen Garbiec

While the pandemic has created numerous challenges in our communities, it has also spurred innovation and creativity at a time when we need it most. Over the summer, the Vancouver Learnary Society created Boxes of Curious Noticing, unique curated collections of games, books, questions, and adventures. Surya Govender, Co-Principal of the Learnary, said that the Boxes were designed “to spark curiosity in a new way.” The Boxes of Curious Noticing were supported through a TD Park People Grant.

The Learnary seeks to entice people to learn about their world in a new way.  In 2019, with funds from a TD Park People Grant, this creative community organization hosted nature based art events  in their local green space, Clinton Park. This year, with the pandemic limiting physical contact, Surya reflected on what could be done to spark curiosity while maintaining health and safety guidelines. Taking a walk through the Learnary’s shop, Surya found inspiration for the series of themes which led to the creation of the boxes. Through her networks, Surya found Mariska McLean, a carpentry apprentice, who built each custom wooden box by hand. 

The first box was themed ‘Animal’ and subsequent boxes were themed Land and Soil, Sky, and Ocean. Each box was filled with exciting and thoughtful activities for all ages, from an origami airplane kit to compelling books. Each box also included a blank postcard. After the recipient adds their address to the stamped postcard, it’s placed in another box so the next recipient can become a ‘pen pal,’ mailing along a message to another community member. Each box features a stamped and addressed postcard.  This novel idea was a wonderful way to connect neighbours with one another.

The Boxes have been warmly received by the community. People of all ages, have enjoyed the diverse activities and the opportunity to reconnect with nature as well as one another. 

Staying connected and engaged is now more important than ever. As Surya says:

 Tthose connections are what life is all about, it’s what saves us.”

Survya believes that community engagement is all that stands between us and loneliness, which we know takes a toll on our mental health. Through the The Boxes of Curious Knowing, The Learnery kept people connected to one another. “This is a small gesture. But small gestures add up,” she says.


Thanks to our generous supporters

Stay in the loop about Park People opportunities, programs & events

Subscribe to our newsletter!