Mending clothing and community: A Halifax TD Park People Grant Event

September 9, 2021

Rachel Yanchyshyn

Nothing says summer like a road trip. This summer, my family and I ventured out to the beautiful eastern shores of this vast country, in an attempt at a break from reality after a year and a half of pandemic living. We spent some time enjoying the rugged beauty of Cape Breton and paired that with a stay in Halifax, the vibrant urban hub of the Maritimes.

The plan was always to work for a period while being away, which included being able to visit with numerous colleagues living and visiting Nova Scotia (do I hear Park People Halifax office?), and attending events supported by TD Park People Grants.

 

 

The author, Rachel Yanchyshyn (right of the picture) meeting with Park People friends in Nova Scotia: Leah Houston, Nadia Bello and Erika Nikolai (left to right)

As we say around here, vibrant parks feel magical, but they don’t happen by magic. It takes dedicated people to make parks vibrant people-places. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how this community group made magic happen in their park.

 

Clothing Care and Repair Workshop

 

Art Bikers, the organizers of this event, is a mobile arts program that brings artists, children and community members together in public green spaces around Halifax/K’jipuktuk.

Their TD Park People Grant supported events were a series of three outdoor celebratory gatherings focused on clothing repair and reuse. Participants were each invited to bring a piece of clothing to repair or embellish and were provided with all the necessary tools and materials.

 

Credit photo: A participant who brought some clothing to repair by Carolina Andrade

 

The Art Bikers team were the experts on-site, patiently sharing techniques and encouraging skill sharing amongst participants, showing them creative, fun, sustainable ways to make damaged items useful again.

 

Before the event

 

“It’s important to think about the space that you’re interacting with,” says Kawama Kasutu, one of this year’s Art Bikers.”To make sure the activities work well with the community, but also that the setup works well. We try to build connections that are long-lasting.”

Partnerships are often the key to successful events, and in this case, recruiting volunteers to set up for an afternoon of sustainable crafting was handled by ISANS (Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia), one of the event partners. After a brief orientation huddle with the Art Bikers team, the volunteers worked like busy bees before the event, erecting pop-up shade tents, spreading colourful quilts on the ground, and getting acquainted with the myriad of materials and tools available for use.

 

Credit photo: Volunteers looking at supplies by Carolina Andrade 

 

Holding events after Covid-19

 

Adapting an event while managing Covid 19 restrictions isn’t easy, but, as this event demonstrated, the right combination of creativity and organization can make masked magic happen.

“It was a counterintuitive way to organize an event. We couldn’t send out invitations to the larger community and garden members, to get as many people as possible to the event, as we normally would,” Heather Asbil from ISANS explains. “We usually would have food to share at this type of event.”

 

Credit photo: Heather at the sign-in table by Carolina Andrade

 

The group added a registration table, PPE and sanitizer to the event and made sure the setup allowed for physical distancing. All of this helped participants feel safe at a community gathering.

 

Make it beautiful!

 

“This mending workshop has been one of my favourite parts <of the program>…” Kawama says ”…it’s nice to have it in a park. It’s open and accessible. Being in the open air is really nice, especially with Covid-19. The event was very inviting to people passing by. People wonder, what’s going on in the park?”

 

Credit photo: Kawama Kasutu modeling her latest creation, by Carolina Andrade

 

What’s going on in the park, indeed. The colourful materials and hands-on activities supported by a TD Park People Grant attracted families from nearby apartment complexes and others who travelled from further afield, all lured by the idea of making something old feel new again.

 

Feature photo credit: Hands with embroidery, Glen Garden Park by Carolina Andrade

 


 

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