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Aurora on the Park: A Personal Account

Posted May 22nd, 2015

 

 

Aurora photo        Written by Darcy Mammel

*Photo credit: Cat Schick

It’s a beautiful 19 degrees in Calgary and I’m on site at Calgary’s largest yarn-bombing initiative that will celebrate two new apartment buildings being built through the RESOLVE Campaign and Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness. I’ve stopped here on my way to the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Market, where I’ll get the experience of being a vendor for the day, sharing information about the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s (CHF) newest undertaking through the RESOLVE Campaign, a unique collaboration of nine Partner agencies raising $120 million to build affordable and supported rental housing for 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians.

The yarnbombing is well underway, and as I meet up with Linda Hawke, President of the Board of This is My City Art Society (TMC), she tells me that the weather couldn’t be better. I can see flashes of colour all over the house; a rainbow of yarn has begun making its way around the four walls of the old home. A property in the Hillhurst Sunnyside community that will soon become Aurora on the Park -a 25 unit accessible, affordable housing apartment building for Calgarians exiting homelessness. But for right now, the current building on the property is TMC’s newest canvas.

TMC house wrap 5 Linda yarnbombing

Linda Hawke busily yarnbombs the house

Contracted by CHF to turn the existing building into a work of art for the project’s introduction into the community, Linda and her team are spending the next two weeks wrapping the house in yarn and other textiles.  When I asked her what this project means to her, she tells me, “The yarn bombing is a great example of what This is My City is all about: art bringing people together…People see the colourful afghans going up on the house and they stop in and ask about what’s going on. Art brings them in. Artists and volunteers from all walks of life are working together to make the house look amazing, each bringing their own ideas and expressions; each getting something out of it personally.”

Yarn donations have been collected from all over different communities and will become part of the artwork that graces the old home.  On June 9th, CHF will officially introduce Aurora on the Park to the community at a kick-off event open to the public. Aurora on the Park was made possible through funding from the Government of Alberta and StreetSide Developments: A Qualico Company who are one of 11 homebuilders working with CHF through the RESOLVE Campaign to end homelessness in Calgary. Along with the Government of Alberta, the home builders have committed funding to build 8 affordable housing apartment buildings throughout Calgary over the next 3 years.

Leaving Linda and her team to exercise their creative muscles, I set up camp at the Sunnyside Hillhurst community centre’s Farmers’ Market. The farmers’ market is outdoor for the first time this season, complete with a band and food trucks. The sun is shining and people are out in full force, reveling in the vendors and music. I spent the next four hours with the community’s residents, introducing the CHF’s newest project. News of the Aurora on the Park was received with a welcoming chorus of encouragement and then, as I explain TMC’s work, fascination with the art of yarn bombing.

When one little boy asks me why I’m not selling anything I explain that I’m just here to share with people what we do. When he asks me why, I explain that I work for an organization that helps people who don’t have homes, find them. He pauses for a moment and frowns. Sneaking a glance up at his mother, he offers his bedroom up as a place for someone to stay so that they can have a home too. The mother stifles a laugh as I grin. Before his mother leads him away he asks me to make sure we find homes for people so that they don’t have to be sad. Out of the mouth of babes…

When the market wound to a close I couldn’t help but think about what Linda said about the power of art. “Everybody comes together through art and at the centre of it all, people interact with each other to create, enjoy, share…and in the process they feel a little more connected to this big community we all share.”

Aurora on the Park will be unveiled on June 9th at 3 p.m.

Contact Aaron G. for more information – 403-237.6456

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