Community Engagement

Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Garden Turns 30!

Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Garden Turns 30!

 The Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Garden (HSCG) celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Initiated by Jim Hollicky in 1989, the garden boasts 33 plots for residents in Hillhurst Sunnyside, and has served as a great connector of residents.

Garden Leader, Richard Smith and his partner Buff Smith have been involved with the garden for 12 years. They moved from Peace River — where they maintained a huge garden — to their home in Sunnyside — which has a small and shaded backyard — and sought a space to grow some veggies. Buff says, “We saw [the garden] and I asked about it (because I always chat people up). We thought it would take a while and just kept asking every two weeks until finally they were like ‘*sigh* okay here’. We were so lucky the way it all happened.”

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Buff and Richard speak about the community and connection that makes the HSCG such an excellent tool for residents to engage with one another. Richard says the greatest reward has been the gardeners. He says, “[It’s a] great group of people. They really are excellent. And a number of them have become friends. People that you see on the street and chat with and talk about gardening and other stuff are the best part.”

Buff agrees, “Definitely the people [are the greatest reward] and the fact that you get to run over and pick fresh vegetables too.”

But the garden is not without its obstacles. Richard says routinely weather is the biggest challenge. He says, “Hailstorm in a garden and it looks like somebody put it through a shredder. It’s pretty disappointing.”

Another challenge, the duo says, can be gardeners with an agenda and who may not be so community minded. Richard says, “It’s the same in any group of people, 95% of them are willing to do their bit and volunteer and then there’s 5% who don’t and they can be a pain. There are obligations like coming to the spring clean up and fall clean up and some people just don’t and it’s frustrating. But as I say, it’s 5% of the time. A small minority.”

Buff believes this is “Only because it’s a community garden, so it’s not just about growing the produce it’s about growing the community. When there are people who only want to come and garden then that’s their expectation and that’s all they want to do, so you have to recognize that not everyone thinks community is important.”

The HSCG also produces a lot of compostable material and Richard mentioned that the City’s compost program has been a barrier for the garden financially. In order to eliminate their black cart, the garden took on two green carts, but this changed their status and the price per month skyrocketed. He says, “It cost us over $1100 to have two green carts. It’s $75 per month per cart because we’re classified as commercial. So that’s a challenge right now.

Our total revenues are only $1540 for the plots. And if we’re spending $1100 for compost we can’t do it. So I’m trying to get Waste and Recycling to classify us as residential.

I’m hearing from other community gardens that they’re not using the green carts, they’re doing something else, so there isn’t pressure right now from other community gardens.”

And what do they and HSCG gardeners hope for the next 30 years of gardening? Richard says, “We need more community gardens. There must be 60 people on the HSCG waitlist right now. And it’s at least a two year wait to get on a plot. There are 33 plots in our garden and there were 4 vacancies this year and that’s kind of typical. I think it was a similar case with the Kensington Community First Garden. I hear there’s some talk with Bow to Bluff and Sunnyside Shared garden and making that into an allotment garden.”

Community gardens are important for Hillhurst Sunnyside residents. Richard says, “It brings people together and helps to create community. And aligns with so many other things the community association does like drop in badminton, soccer, potluck nights and stuff. It brings people together. And gives them an opportunity to donate some produce to Fresh Food Basket. And there are people who share their gardens, or their skills and expertise to help others out.”

Buff says community gardens such as HSCG, “Allow people who live in the city and don’t have access to a plot to grow fresh food and feed their family better. And get back to the dirt. There are people who have never gardened before and they’re so intimidated and then when they get their first crops their so excited to be eating fresh stuff.”

We hope that HSCG enjoys another amazing 30 years (and more!) and that community gardens in our neighbourhood will continue to grow (pun intended) and flourish.

Written by Jessica Clark, Communications Manager

Neighbour Day Events in Hillhurst Sunnyside

Hillhurst Sunnyside Community | Neighbour Day Happenings June 15th

Neighbour day is coming up on June 15th and there are so many exciting things happening in Hillhurst Sunnyside for you to enjoy! See below for this year's exciting events and click through the links for more details:

Bowview Pool OPENS- The Bowview Outdoor Swimming pool opens up to the public. Lessons are currently taking registrations!

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Community Wide Yard Sales-  9am-2pm between Kensington Road & 5th Ave NW, visit the streets of 10A, 11th, 11A, 12th, and 13th (and beyond??) It’s back! The super-duper, you-won’t-wanna-miss-it: Kensington-Wide Yard-Sale Day! For 18 years (and counting), neighbors have pillaged their attics & storage spaces to find all kinds of interesting things to offer for sale--AND, as an added perk, there are always some young entrepreneurs offering up tasty treats to eat, too.

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Sunnyside Park Party- A community-led event at New Edinborough Park from 3-7pm complete with live music, games, baby racing and more! Donations welcome to make this event a success! 

Hillhurst Block Party BBQ- 3-7pm at 1700 Block Bowness Road NW. If you live in Hillhurst come out for some games and food! Donations welcome to make this event a success! 

Framed on Fifth Sidewalk and Backyard Festival Framed on Fifth invites you to meet your Calgary area artists.  Chat, watch them work and check out their skills  and finished artworks in front of our gallery and in our open backyard.

Food Forest Pilot Project - Please note this project has been postponed. Stay tuned for future updates.

Community Planning and Engagement Update for June

Community Planning and Engagement

The Hillhurst Sunnyside Planning Committee (HSPC) will be meeting on Tuesday June 11, 2019 from 7-9pm. All community residents are welcome! Agendas and past minutes are posted on www.hsca.ca/meetings.

Please help us welcome the applicant’s team at Ocgrow and architects at Riddell Kurczaba as they provide an update on the proposed development at 211-221 14 St NW (site of the yellow National Transmission auto garage on the west side of 14 St between Kensington Rd and 2 Ave).

Want to volunteer? HSPC is looking for more representation from Sunnyside and condo neighbours. All are welcome – guests, students and whether you rent or own your home or have a business in the neighbourhood. Please bring your ideas and an open mind. Contact lisa.c@hsca.ca.

Ocgrow | 211-221 14 St NW (National Transmission Building)

Ocgrow has submitted a rezoning and ARP amendment application for this site for a 26m (8-storey), 5 FAR mixed use building (ARP limit of 20m or 6 storeys and 4 FAR). Because this is a proposed change to bylaw, the application will need to go through City Council for their final decision.

The due date for community comments is Monday, June 10, 2019. For information or to provide comments, please contact the City of Calgary File Manager at matt.rockley@calgary.ca. You can copy HSPC at lisa@hsca.ca and Councillor Farrell’s office at caward7@calgary.ca.

Background information:

·       HSPC overview: https://hsca-community-planning.mn.co/posts/residents-meeting-may-30-2019-natl-transmission-redevelopment.

·       Developer’s project website http://engageocgrowkensington.com

·       Review the status of the application at the City’s Planning Map website at www.calgary.ca/pdmap.

Kensington Manor | 321 10 St NW

View an update on the vacant Kensington Manor building at https://hsca-community-planning.mn.co/posts/kensington-manor-june-4-2019-council-report.

Bow to Bluff public parks project – FUNDED

Check out an exciting news announcement from Councillor Druh Farrell on the citizen-initiated Bow to Bluff project. The project was the result of years of resident engagement and advocacy to transform and create activity on the triangle-shaped parks along the LRT line from the Bow River to McHugh Bluff. Read more at https://hsca-community-planning.mn.co/posts/bow-to-bluff-funded.

Water for Riley: the drinking fountain

Check out another win for the community from the volunteer team at Water for Riley on the installation of the drinking fountain on the west side of Riley Park by the playground! Check out their blog for updates at http://www.waterforriley.org.

Bow River Naturalization and McHugh Bluff Goats

The City is beginning work this May to naturalize the park open space near 14 Street NW along Memorial Drive, and a portion of the McHugh Bluff natural area. The goals of this naturalization project are to: establish more natural, self-sustaining vegetation communities within the boulevards, provide habitat for native pollinators (e.g., bees, butterflies) and reduce non-native invasive plant species.

Read more and view the map of the affected areas at https://hsca-community-planning.mn.co/posts/city-of-calgary-naturalization-the-goats-are-coming-back.

Residential Parking Program Review

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Written by Lisa Chong, Community Planning and Engagement Coordinator

Jane's Walk 2019 - A Weekend in Hillhurst Sunnyside

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Jane’s Walk 2019: A Weekend in Hillhurst Sunnyside

It’s the annual Jane’s Walk festival the weekend of May 3, 4, & 5! Jane’s Walks are free, locally-led walking tours inspired by legendary urban activist, Jane Jacobs. Walks are hosted by volunteers on the first weekend of May, whether it’s rain, snow or shine. Hillhurst Sunnyside has you covered with four walks on Saturday and Sunday – participation in any (or all four) walks is optional. Click on the links for details on each walk as follows:

Gentle Density in Historic Hillhurst
Saturday May 4 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Starts at HSCA, 1320 5 Avenue NW and ending at containR
Hosted by Decker, Lorna & Lisa and guest presenters (Hillhurst residents, Studio North, Sunnyside Sustainable Living)

Sunnyside Garage Art Tour
Saturday May 4 from 1:45 PM to 3:15 PM
Starts at containR, 1020 2 Avenue NW
Hosted by Christie and Darren

Spark Change – A Look at Laneway Housing
Sunday May 5 from 1-2:00 PM
Starts and ends at HSCA, 1350 5 Avenue NW
Hosted by Maricris & Lisa and guest presenters (Alloy Homes, City of Calgary).

Flood Protection in Sunnyside
Sunday May 5 from 4-6:00 PM
Starts and ends at the Sunnyside Bus Loop at 748 5 Street NW. Bonus: the City will arrange to open the doors to take a peek in the recently completed Sanitary Lift Station.
Hosted by Charlie, Lisa and Vania (City of Calgary Water Resources)

A fair amount of planning goes into the Jane’s Walk events. We sat down with Lisa Chong, Community Planning & Engagement Coordinator at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association to learn more about organizing Jane’s Walk in Hillhurst Sunnyside.

Who is Jane?

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She saw cities as ecosystems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With a keen eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. At the core of her work and thinking was the need to get out and walk your city and observe how people, through their actions and interactions, create communities with a strong sense of belonging (from the Calgary Foundation’s Jane’s Walk website).

What is Hillhurst Sunnyside’s relationship to Jane?

I was first introduced to the writings of Jane Jacobs in my Urban Studies 201 class. Jane’s ability to mobilize communities and champion for vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods piqued my interest in how planning, policy and design influences the social fabric of place and eventually led me to the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association.

The community activism that has shaped Hillhurst Sunnyside mirrors Jane’s work in many ways:

  • A strong sense of social justice and inclusivity resulted in HSCA’s historical and current advocacy for family-oriented and affordable housing, food security, social services and harm-reduction programs and support for seniors.

  • Resilience, demonstrating strength of community, organization and advocacy that resulted from the 2013 floods.

  • The HSCA Planning Committee has existed in various forms since the 1970s and continues to work to inform and educate residents in planning and development initiatives and ensure that neighbours have an opportunity to engage in civic matters together with the City of Calgary and development applicants.

Hillhurst Sunnyside was host to Jane herself: Ms Jacobs visited our community and saw Hillhurst Sunnyside as embodying the planning principles articulated in her 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” through successful qualities of scale and mixes of people with place. We also have a unique family connection to Jane as you will learn on the Saturday tour and at the following link – In the Family Footsteps: An Interview with Jane Jacob’s Calgary Nephew.

What was your process with organizing the Hillhurst Sunnyside walks?

Planning for this walk started a year in advance, when residents were asked what they would like to learn about in the 2019 walk. Walking tours can be tough to run as individuals, so we asked people to help! I’m connected with people daily due to my role at HSCA, the close-knit nature of the community and through redevelopment initiatives.

We have also cultivated positive relationships with City of Calgary staff who are excited to present about their work and to educate about the City’s process and talk about how citizens can engage in city- and community-building.

Development applicants also reach out to us as the Community Association (and vice versa) to present their design ideas to the wider community. We like to involve industry folks in the community through dialogue as new buildings will stand long after their design applications are accepted by the City and eventually built.

Our guest presenters are usually more than happy to talk about their work and about what they love about “home”.

What were some of the successes and learnings from the 2018 Walk?

Participants of the 2018 housing walk were thrilled to learn more about the city that they live in and asked excellent questions of our guest presenters. We delivered our Land Acknowledgement, welcomed participants and introduced HSCA before starting our journey. We connected Calgarians with 12 presenters and stories from neighbours, local non-profit housing organizations and the City of Calgary as we covered 2454 steps (1.87 km) and hosted 40 engaged minds and pairs of feet.

Some residents told us that while they are not able to participate in events at the HSCA building, they loved the idea of joining us on a collaborative walk and learning together. We were featured on Global News and on social media, generating interest and support in affordable housing and population diversity: https://globalnews.ca/news/4189734/more-calgary-affordable-housing-units-urged.

We found that participants wanted a chance to decompress, quench their thirst, and discuss what they learned. We also learned to reduce the distance of the walk, as it was a challenge to move so many people on a tight schedule and split up our walks. This year, we were awarded a modest Stepping Stones grant from the Calgary Foundation/First Calgary to provide refreshments during the first Saturday walking tour (lemonade, anyone?).

Additionally, we partnered with Sunnyside residents to host two back-to-back walks on Saturday May 4 with a picnic lunch break and conversations in between. Bring your own food and drink and a blanket to sit on as we continue the conversation at containR.

Who else will be a part of the festival weekend?

To find more Jane's Walks in Calgary, go to https://www.janeswalk.calgaryfoundation.org.  Remember to check back often as the website is still populating with all the various volunteer-led walks across the city.

Do you have any advice for any residents who may want to start a Jane’s Walk in their neighbourhood?

Ask for help!

You can get together with a neighbour or a friend on a topic you feel passionate about and start from there. This walk-buddy will help keep you motivated and will serve as a sounding board for any ideas. There are resources available at the Calgary Public Library and on the City of Calgary website, if you are looking for facts and historical information.

The Calgary Foundation organizes, promotes and provides training for aspiring Jane’s Walk Leaders in Calgary – contact Julie Black and Janet Hails for more information or go to their website at https://janeswalk.calgaryfoundation.org. You can also connect with HSCA and we can help you promote your walk on our media channels.

Where else can people go to learn more about Jane?

The Calgary Urban Affairs Book Club is hosting an event, “Jane’s Talk” to discuss the book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Wednesday May 15, 2019
Former Central Library
616 Macleod Trail SE
6:30-8:00 PM

Register and find out more at https://showpass.com/janes-talk.

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SAVE THE DATE! THE 2019 AGM WILL TAKE PLACE ON TUESDAY APRIL 30, 7-9PM

Our annual general meeting takes place once a year in April. All residents of Hillhurst Sunnyside are encouraged and invited to attend. Come spend the evening with us and learn what the HSCA Board of Directors and our various committees are up to. Members must have their current year membership purchased and paid for 30 days prior to the scheduled AGM in order to run and or vote for board positions during the meeting. 

Renew your membership to vote

To be eligible for voting in the AGM residents must renew membership 30 days prior to the scheduled AGM.

Renewals may be done online: https://central.ivrnet.com/hsca/membership_plans Or in person at the HSCA front office from Monday-Friday 9:30am-3:30pm.

HSCA Board of Directors Voting and Nominations

Resident participation in the Board of Directors voting and nomination process is highly encouraged. Our Board of Directors at HSCA has an active involvement with numerous programs, events and activities in the facility and the community. The Board also operates critical task forces and committees. Hillhurst Sunnyside residents with valid HSCA membership are encouraged also to run for Board positions. We are a diverse group of motivated professionals working on interesting and engaging projects for a forward-looking community association.

Board meetings are held monthly – If you are interested in finding out more about joining the Board or nominating someone for the Board you may contact our Executive Director, Kate Stenson 403-283-0554 ext 221, email: kate.s@hsca.ca

Community Service Award Nominations

Do you know someone, or are you someone making a difference in Hillhurst Sunnyside?

Please email: jessica.c@hsca.ca with the candidate’s name and a brief explanation as to why the nominee is an outstanding member of our community. Please include the contact information for yourself and the nominee. Nominees may be resident or non-resident, member or non-member provided their community service experience had positive impact in the neighbourhood of Hillhurst Sunnyside.

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Thank you for supporting HSCA! We look forward to connecting with you at the AGM

How Can Your Community Association Support You?

March is Community Association Awareness Month. This means that the HSCA and other Calgary CAs (there are over 150 in YYC) want you to know about all of the amazing opportunities to give back to your community association—and there are many ways; from volunteer positions, to donations, to membership, to attending events—but we would also like to take this opportunity to make you aware of the ways HSCA can give back to you.

Resident-Led Initiatives (in our spaces)

The Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association is known for both our Farmers’ Market and Flea Market, but did you know that these programs were initially started, led or developed by residents in the community?

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And our drop-in Badminton group and art class program were also ideas that first developed outside of our regular programming. Chair yoga is another example. These arts and recreations ideas came from instructors who wanted to find a foothold for their businesses or share their gifts with the community and found such success in collaboration and a fit with our mission and values that we adopted them into our program offerings.

They all share a common thread of passionate volunteers and participants who pitched ideas for programs they wanted to see in the building, and they helped nurture and grow those in our spaces for the benefit of the community.

            The Kensington Community First Garden, located beside the HSCA building, established in 2010, was also a project developed and implemented by residents with some facilitation from HSCA to secure grants and funding, as well as some ongoing stewardship of the garden plots when it was adopted into our Community Food Program.

Resident-Led Initiatives (outside of our spaces)

Community gardens are also a good example of resident-led initiatives.

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The Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Garden, established in 1989, was founded by residents who wanted to provide a place for those with limited space to grow their own food and to meet neighbours who shared their passion.

            And HSCA’s Vitalization Committee worked with the City of Calgary to develop placemaking and public art installation opportunities in the community such as Bow to Bluff and containR.

Community Planning

The Community Planning Committee is another example of what HSCA can give back to residents. The committee is volunteer driven and plays a valuable role in providing advice, background information and community context, as well as expressing the concerns of the Community Association to the City of Calgary and to applicants, and advocating for development that fulfills the vision as described in the Area Redevelopment Plan.

            HSCA’s Community Planning Coordinator, Lisa, has also taken on Community Engagement initiatives into her role and is available to assist with questions and applications for community grants to throw events such as block parties, or Neighbour Day events.  

Outreach and Resources

During and after the 2013 flood in Calgary, mobilization of support efforts on a community level were implemented the quickest. Residents who were flood affected were not necessarily willing to speak to government officials but would open the door to speak to their neighbours.

Eventually, a Flood Task Force was created to assist with the overwhelming amount of information. This task force then evolved into the Emergency Planning and Response Committee of the HSCA board. Volunteers of the committee use their knowledge and expertise, in a similar way to Community Planning Committee volunteers, to advocate for residents, host open houses and informational sessions and push for progress. They also developed a Community Emergency Plan to help keep Hillhurst Sunnyside residents informed and safe.

The Community Connections program at HSCA assists residents either through direct support or by sharing information on available resources externally. Community Connections outreach programs include the Fresh Food Basket, and yearly Tax clinics, and also provides free and accessible opportunities for all residents to participate in social events or programs such as Drop-In ESL Club, Neighbour Night, Seniors Drop in groups (cards or knitting), and Community Potlucks.

Volunteer and Career Experience

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Community associations and the community at large benefit greatly from the hard work and skills of volunteers, but there are also opportunities for volunteers to learn and develop new skills and knowledge through volunteering. And for student volunteers we can sometimes provide support through bursaries.

            HSCA also hires practicum students and summer students to assist with their education programs and they in turn are provided with meaningful employment that can be applied to their school requirements.

Stories and Belonging

Some of the most compelling stories originate at the community level. Last year, Christie Page and the Garage Door Art Project in Sunnyside gained traction and attention in the news after receiving mention on HSCA channels. And who would have predicted that Painting Birdhouses, a project initiated by North Hill Centre to revitalize the Hearth Room would have gained that kind of steam? But it speaks to the strength of our local partnerships that we could reach out to Framed on Fifth for support on this and they came through in a big way.

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            Sense of Belonging is generated through these types of initiatives (and many of the above mentioned) as like-minded residents come together to share and explore their passions in the community. HSCA is honoured to provide these opportunities as we know that belonging is a human need, such as food or shelter, and is important for residents to see value in life and cope with intensely painful emotions.

Of course, all of the above are just a fraction of the ways that HSCA can give back to you. As the community of Hillhurst Sunnyside grows and changes the needs of our residents will too, and so these programs and committees may change. But what will not change are the core reasons for why we are interested in supporting our residents, that we wish to preserve and enhance a healthy and vibrant quality of life for Hillhurst Sunnyside and that includes providing opportunities for participation to build a sense of belonging.

#howwillYOUbeapartofit

  • Written by Jessica Clark, HSCA Communications Manager

Volunteer to be Part of the Bigger Picture

Written by Allison Harrison

Photo taken at our 2018 Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

Photo taken at our 2018 Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

Volunteer opportunities can be limitless, they can also be fun exciting ways to get involved with something you feel extremely passionate about. What is volunteering? It is the commitment of time and energy, for the benefit of the society and the community, the environment or individuals outside one’s immediate family. It is undertaken freely and by choice, without concern for financial gain.

Benefits of volunteering:

·       help you connect with others

·       energize your body and mind

·       advance your career by obtaining new skills

·       fun and fulfilling.

Connections with others is big in today’s society, networking is one of the greatest ways to advance yourself in life, whether it be to benefit your career or your social life. The skills you gain from volunteering can benefit your career path. Not everyone is able to commit to school on a full or part time basis, but the casual opportunity volunteering can provide can help build a skill you may not have or help in further development with ones you already have.  Seniors benefit as much from volunteering as an anyone else, keeping a commitment can help ward off depression, and give a sense of belonging that may be missing from their daily lives. Children benefit from volunteering as well, it helps foster empathy and a sense of self efficacy, both characteristics that if learned at a young age can boost emotional and cognitive learning.

So how do you pick the right volunteer opportunity for you? Choose a cause you are passionate about. Not only does it benefit you with fulfillment, but the organization also benefits from your enthusiasm and drive. Choose an opportunity that matches your interests, skills, and schedule. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone either, that is where true skill building comes into play. Upload your resume on volunteer sites to help those looking for volunteers understand your skills and interests while giving them a general idea of who you are. Stay in touch with those who you have given a resume to, volunteering is no different that applying for a job and those who stay on top of places you have contacted will not go unnoticed.

The experience you get from volunteering is up to you.

Basic principles to keep in mind are:

·       honour your volunteer commitments

·       the time you committed to them is important and necessary and was already planned for

·       stay professional, volunteering is often an assigned role and an opportunity that should be treated the same as a paid position

·       take the opportunity to let the organization know what you like about the role and what you feel could be improved upon when asked

·       you are an important part in helping many organizations and not for profit stay in the game

Here at Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, we have an extensive and varied selection of opportunities, which can be found by visiting: www.HSCA.ca. You can participate in a range of activities or event such as, food programs, Casinos, recreational programs (such as soccer), Board of Directors positions, committees, supporting seniors and more. For all of the above reasons and more we hope you will consider lending your time and skills to Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association and your neighbours, plus, HSCA hosts a pretty amazing volunteer appreciation dinner you can get an invite to in recognition of your support.

 

Sources Cited:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm/

https://volunteer.ca/index.php?MenuItemID=342

https://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/developing-empathy-in-children-and-youth.pdf

https://www.volunteermatch.org/volunteers/gettingstarted/

Building Community Participation Through Art

Take a stroll in the community along 5th Avenue and you’ll see a unique housing development taking shape in Hillhurst Sunnyside.  But it’s not a new condo.

Local area artists have created over 90 new homes and many are on display now at Framed on Fifth, or can be viewed in the Hearth Room at HSCA.

They’re birdhouses!

As part of the North Hill Centre Hello Neighbour campaign and in collaboration with Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, Patricia Gustafson and Hannah White from Framed on Fifth took the idea of birdhouses as art installations to exciting new heights.

“While speaking with Karen at HSCA, she told us you had been given the birdhouses by North Hill Mall, they were donated and you were selling them to people and they would decorate them. [And we went, well] we have all these artists friends why don’t we take the project to our artist friends and family and the community, to as many people as we can to paint these things. We’ll give them the birdhouses and they will paint them and they’ll bring them back and we can silent auction them,” says Patricia.

            Hannah says, “We opened it up to everybody. It was in the newsletters for a couple of months. So our youngest artist is 4. It’s a community event. It’s not just artists in Calgary. We made it ‘artists’ and meant anybody who can put a paintbrush in their hand.”

            At least 70 artists have contributed to the project, and everyone who sees the houses gets very excited. Hannah and Patricia talk about the reception from the community. “It’s blown up way more than we ever expected,” says Patricia. “It’s become more work than we ever thought, but it’s so fun.”

            “What I love,” Hannah chirps in, “are kids walking home from school and everyday they’ll all stop, and as a big pod they’re all like ‘blebleblebleblebleble’.” She makes a noise like a flock of tweeting birds.

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            When asked what their favourite birdhouses and names are, Hannah and Patricia move around Framed on Fifth to showcase each. “Invasion of the Birdy Snatchers.” says Patricia, “Wordy Birdy.”

 

     “I love Octavia.” Hannah says. “I like her name. Oh, the tin roof one! Under the hot tin roof!”

             So why do they think birdhouses have been such a success? “It’s a small thing they can contribute to be part of the community,” says Patricia.

            “I would say that there’s a feeling of coziness and a feeling of home and maybe that’s what people are doing,” says Hannah. “It’s almost like cocooning.”

            The catalyst for this project was a partnership with North Hill Centre and that was the exact intention behind the idea to use birdhouses. Paula Lee from North Hill says, “The reason we chose birdhouses is because we wanted to start a dialogue around the Hearth Room, and the centre of a home, and we couldn’t build a house, so we decided that birdhouses were a kind of metaphor to what the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association does. You have programs for the community, for seniors, for kids. So it was just a way to give people a fun project that was around this idea of home. And the Hearth Room being the centre of this project.”

            Money raised from this project will go toward revitalizing the HSCA Hearth Room, which hosts our Community Connections programs, such as Fresh Food Basket, Neighbour Night and Community Potluck. All of these programs are HSCA run and designed to foster connections and a sense of belonging. They are open for participation by all residents. The Hearth Room is also home to our Art Class program and Indoor Farmers’ Market both of which offer capacity and skill building opportunities. 

            When Framed on Fifth is asked why a project like this is a good fit for Hillhurst Sunnyside and HSCA Patricia says, “Because people care here. They walk, they see things, they do things at the community centre. You’ve opened up the community centre to homeless people again. Because you’ve opened it up, you’ve made it accessible and when you make something accessible people want to play. They do. Personally I have no idea where this is going to go, but we’re up for pretty much anything. We’d be more than thrilled to help you do whatever group things where we can play. I don’t know where it’s going to go. This is just the beginning. This has been so much fun.”

            “We want to play,” says Hannah.

            Paula says, “The collaboration with Framed on Fifth is exactly what we want to be happening. We are neighbours. And we should all be doing something that benefits each other whatever it is, you know, especially in Calgary. I just think it’s what we do in Calgary. So they see an opportunity and they help people and we see an opportunity and we help people and you see an opportunity and you help people. It’s really kind of a great story. “

            Silent Auction bidding is open now and you can visit HSCA or Framed on Fifth to view the birdhouses in person and get a jump on the auction. All of the birdhouses will also be available during a special Farmers’ Market on Wednesday December 5, from 3-7 P.M. before bidding closes. But Patricia also mentioned that they’d like to pick 10 of their favourites for a live auction on the December 5th date. There will also be a prize awarded to the artists who win Fan Favourite and Best of Show courtesy of MLA Dr. David Swann’s local arts fund.

To view the full collection online please visit: http://framedonfifth.com/birdhouse/ and we hope you can join us on Wednesday, December 5.

Article written by Jessica Clark