Wednesday, December 10, 2008

“Culture and Community”

This morning's Sustainability Community Breakfast explored the roles of culture and community in creating sustainability.

The first speaker was Sheila McKinnon, Manager of Arts at Surrey Parks. The City of Surrey was designated as the cultural capital of Canada for 2008 and Sheila discussed the theme of this year's selection (Fusion-a catalyst for cultural sharing) and the various projects that Surrey participated in throughout the year which contributed to their selection. One source that she cited as her inspiration was the Creative City Network's special edition on Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Sustainability. Sheila also discussed the main points behind cultural sustainability including raising awareness, ensuring accessibility, planning a beautiful city, cultural events for tolerance and community pride among other aspects. She also stressed the power of the arts to motivate and move people to participate and create change.

Amir Ali Alibhai, the Cultural Development Officer for North Vancouver's Office of Cultural Affairs discussed his experience as an art director at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Yaletown. He also stressed how art has the power to allow people and communities to shift perspectives and create change and that small individual efforts can make huge changes in the world. He also took time to define sustainability in the cultural process, citing it as a continuing process rather than a final end point that can adapt to change. His strategies to attain cultural sustainability included having all classes work together, participation with all levels of the community (children, elderly, etc.), partnerships with individuals as well as organizations and the creation of special events.

Sheila Hall is an Artist and Instructor at Emily Carr University and primarily discussed her work on her project To Connect. To Connect is a public art project with Metro Vancouver which attempts to engage different cultures with the community while recognizing Vancouver's unique and diverse history. Sheila Hall also participates in a number of art projects that work with the global community towards sustainability. One of the projects she shared with the breakfast involved working with women in the Philippines to create dresses and fashion from fibers from leaves of pineapples.

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