The co-planning journey of a North Hastings art project

Loree Lawrence and Marlena Zuber
Left to right: Loree Lawrence of the Ontario Arts Council and mentee Marlena Zuber

Community Corridor of Inclusion & Resilience

The North Hastings Community Integration Association (NHCIA) will be creating the Community Corridor of Inclusion & Resilience (CCIR). A multi-phased project, it will result in a collaborative public artwork that celebrates the cultural riches of North Hastings.

This project will rely on the participation of the Indigenous, mental health, disabled, and youth-focused social service agencies, as well as local residents.

Mentorship

Mentee: Marlene Zuber

From 2017 to 2019, we mentored illustrator Marlena Zuber in regards to the planning stage of this project. She is the community connections, planning, and independent living facilitator at NHCIA and is the Community Corridor’s project lead.

Closeup of sensory map

Outcomes:

Marlena created a CCIR working group, and co-planning began in February 2019:

  • Research was rooted in arts activities, presentations and exploratory walks
  • The group practiced community mapping to identify themes and motifs
  • The group discussed a model and possible locations for creating the permanent work

In November of last year, the results from these sessions were shared with community members in the form of photos, drawings, and sensory maps.

Sensory mapping

Why it was done

“Sensory mapping was a way for us to connect more deeply to a place using all of our senses and personal knowledge,” explains Marlena. “It was also important that at some point in the research that we were outside, walking around in our community — taking it in at a landscape and street level.

“This past summer, the CCIR working group went on a field trip to Maynooth Station in Hastings Highlands. We wandered around the Station separately in different directions and made notes on smells and sounds and the sights around us.

“This sensory mapping allowed us to to observe, reflect, share, question and collectively re-imagine Maynooth Station and identify the spirit of this place in North Hastings.

Rocks, leaves, and found objects used for sensory mapping

Starting a collaboration process with community members

“We used guiding questions [and statements] like: ‘Document patterns in the landscape and streetscape. What is the intensity of the smells you smell around you? What is the scenescape? Are there emotional characteristics to Maynooth Station? Choose a spot — look up, look down — document what you see, hear, feel.’

“Photos, recordings and notes were taken. Some folks came back with texture rubbings and sketches. When we were done, we gathered on a picnic blanket and shared our findings.

“I asked everyone to bring back a found object that was significant to them and place it on the tablecloth that we lay in the grass. I asked them to consider placing their item in such a way that it was in conversation with the other objects already placed there.

“The result was a beautiful collaborative collage of pieces of nature, found bits of garbage, and old rusted original metal rail parts.

“This was a creative activity that allowed us to connect more with each other and strengthen our skills in collaboration. The collage also represents Maynooth Station.”