PARC’s 35th Anniversary through fresh eyes

By Beck Lloyd

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It is the 35th anniversary of PARC. A place I have now spent only 4 days navigating, but its rhythm is already beginning to feel familiar. As a Queen’s Education student I have the opportunity to complete a 3 week Alternative Practicum – a chance to spend sometime outside of the classroom setting in order to build on educational concentrations, teaching philosophy, and personal interest. As a teacher and an artist naturally Making Room was my first email, requesting to spend my 3 weeks with the organization, and I received a veryquick “yes”.

Day One
I meet with Michael and go over Making Room’s schedule, my schedule and the projects currently on the go. It’s a lot. This team of artists and the members they work with tackle large-scale endeavors without hesitation, which at first seem intimidating but promptly becomes inspiring.

Day Two

I meet with the Making Room artistic team at Pete’s, the local diner/office with scrumptious breakfast special. Over coffee we are introduced and I am caught up on the undertakings of the day. It will be my first workshop and we are building rocks made from mental frames, wool, soap and water that will be used in a display during the 35th anniversary event. We chat about the theme of the evening: Legends. I am shown the flame sculpture they have created that contains names and descriptionsof PARC legends. These names are, as of yet, unfamiliar to me but they are people I want to meet.

The workshop takes place in the Healing Room, I meet members, and we do a check-in sharing what rocks mean to us. I am exhilarated by the reflective, personal responses. Suddenly making rocks seems like the most important activity in the world.

Day Three

The rock making continues! Some of the dedicated members come out to assist in some final rock making. We attempt several of the large rock frames with minimal success, but the optimism in the room remains throughout the challenging crafting moments. It is a long day but there is certain energy knowing that we are only one day away from the festivities.

Day Four

Today is the day. The drop-in is going to be transformed into a celebratory space and I am so pleased to be apart of it. With the help of members I spend the morning creating a paper chandelier that will be hung in a nook I fashioned with white sheets hanging from the walls and covering the ceiling. This is where the guest book will be; it sits on a table surrounded by old photos. The flame sculpture is installed; it is lit up with a string of white lights and sits on a wooden spool. The rocks are placed around the base of the fire and they sit on a string of blue lights, it all looks quite majestic. Cutting, hammering, lifting, pinning, measuring and moving take place throughout the day until the doors open. The energy is palpable and as a student of theatre I am acutely aware that this force is the gathering of legends. There are speeches and various people share their stories of PARC not only with the microphone but also at the table where I am seated. Mario tells me how fortunate we are to have the chance to celebrate this way. He is right – I am feeling very fortunate. The band plays and I mingle, chat with new faces as the atmosphere is one of welcoming. Food is served and the room is buzzing, a new face offers me abite of his spaghetti because “everything tastes better when you share!” Dancing occurs and I catch the eye of Shelly, a member who really took to the making of rocks, we groove from afar. The guest book is signed, (I go over to look at it but also to admire my handiwork) pictures are taken, and I can sense that the room is filled with history, possibility, wonder and I have been accepted into it. PARC and Making Room are now apart of my story. How lucky I am. The evening is enchanting, there are faces that have become familiar to me and I meet many new ones.

As I get on the streetcar to head home I feel incredibly excited for next week’s workshop.

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On a Cold Winter’s Night…

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Photo by: Tamara Romanchuk

Back on Feb 18 + 19 a magical reincarnation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream came to life as Bottom’s Dream, an Ahuri Theatre production. Members of PARC and the community were able to take part in the experience, which also had some touches of one of our lead artists Sonja Rainey as well as the Making Room Choir’s accompanist, Lisa Bozikovic. The purpose of Bottom’s Dream was to create a radically inclusive retelling of A Midsummer Nights Dream by artists who use augmented or alternative methods of communication. Verbal and non-verbal actors lead visitors through the story itself and had interactive elements to bring people closer to the action.

One of our Sand in Water members, Shelley La Hay wrote a response to the evening which we are honoured to share with you all. Continue reading

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Farewell, Stephanie!

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Making Room is bidding goodbye and wishing good luck to one of our first George Brown College placement students, Stephanie.  Stephanie is a student of the Assaulted Women’s and Children’s Counselling/Advocacy (AWCCA) program. While Stephanie has only been with us a short time, we are very grateful for her involvement in the Sand in Water workshops and support during workshops in the Drop In on Fridays. She was also a key player in the execution of One Small Gesture, being involved from the initial brainstorming to the final take down and evaluation.

Coming to us from the AWCCA program she has also been part of forging a new relationship with George Brown College, including having another intern, Gil Glover, who will remain with us until June. During One Small Gesture, Making Room and PARC also made contact with the Social Service Worker program at George Brown College around housing issues and concerns during our participation in the National Day of Action for Housing. We hope to see that relationship develop for the future.

Thanks again for all your hard work Steph!

 

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Meanwhile, at Edmond Place…

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As our exploration of legends continues at PARC, something else is happening right next door at Edmond Place. Lead artist Jonathan Valelly received a Platform A micro-grant through the Toronto Arts Council to do a project at Edmond Place with the support of Making Room.

Seeking to explore the rhythms of life at Edmond Place, which although related to PARC, has its own dynamic and culture, Jonathan’s workshops so far have been exploring the role that smoking plays in the lives of virtually everybody there. Rather than taking any specifically health-based approach, the group has been asking questions not necessarily about whether or how to quit — though that comes up. Rather, we’ve been inquiring about how smoking shapes our day, season, year, and life; how it positions us to see and be seen in different ways; how it fits into our experience of social, emotional, and bodily cycles.

So far, the group has been producing writing and visual art at the same time. Through many writing techniques such as the prompted poem, list-making, cut up poems, and free writing, Jonathan and his small, but growing group of participants has already written a good bit of text toward what will ultimately be a series of handmade books. One of the most exciting things about this process has been the editing process, which has proven to be one of the most rigorous, but also most exciting part of text creation so far.

As a matter of process, we’ve also made some beautiful art — fake cigarettes using coffee-dyed paper, handmade cigarette boxes, and recently, a colourful hanging grid composed of miniature watercolour paintings, each of which has a word or phrase on it inspired by music related to smoking.

As we move towards the eventual production of this book, we are savoring the process of learning to make art and texts with new people and in a new context. Look forward to big things coming from Making Room at Edmond Place!

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We’re on fire with PARC legends!

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After the initiation of the Summit of Legends on Wednesday at Sand in Water, a legendary pyre emerged in the PARC drop-in on Friday. Making Room asked members around the drop-in to feed the fire with stories and names of the legends of PARC, which we added flame by flame to our pyre.

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Before we knew it, we had members around the drop-in — some of whom we haven’t even met before! — writing and telling us about all of the unique legends that have passed through PARC and the stories that went with them. We know that PARC values memory and oral history, but something about remembering as many legends as possible all at once livened up the sleepy, cold-day drop-in and brought warm memories, as well as some difficult ones, to everybody’s head and heart.

Keep your eye out as the Summit of Legends continues its quest to answer the questions, what is a legend? What makes a legend? And what does that mean at PARC?

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You have been summoned to the Summit of Legends!

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A very special council was created this week at our Wednesday Sand In Water workshop. Our participants were prompted to make puppets of themselves in order to attend the Summit of Legends, an emergency gathering that is meeting to discuss the very crucial question…

What is a legend?

As the first meeting commenced, each of our miniatures introduced ourselves and named one element that is involved in the recipe of a legend. And at the end of the meeting, we were each tasked with finding one more legend to bring to the table.

Click through to see some more images of our legendary puppets…

Continue reading

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Many moments make up One Small Gesture


1. group shot wednesday

Celebrations and ceremonies are at the core of what we do at Making Room. Every project of ours is made up of rituals and festivities large and small, and culminate in one great event, be it a book launch, a parade, a market, or whatever else brings together the work of a term.

This winter, we decided that instead of having one busy, elaborate, over the top celebration, that we’d instead bring as many people as possible into the process of creating such an event. To that end, we decided to create a three day pop-up celebration in the Healing Room at PARC, where we have our Sand In Water workshops. Over the course of December 10th, 11th, and 12th, dozens of individuals and groups from PARC, Edmond Place, and our larger community took part in adding their own gestures and offerings to the space.

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Fittingly, we named the event One Small Gesture, hoping to evoke the way that the efforts and ideas of everyone, on whatever scale, contribute to the work we make at PARC.

Read on to learn about the many different activities, both planned and spontaneous, that joined together in  a truly magical three days. Warning — the following is a picture-heavy post! Thank you to Jess Shane, Sonja Rainey, and Gill Fraser for their photography.

Continue reading

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This Week! Making Room Presents One Small Gesture

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Join Making Room Community Arts this week for One Small Gesture: A Three Day Pop-Up Ceremony.

Throughout the fall, members of Making Room and PARC have been experimenting with gestures and translation across artforms as a way of thinking about our personal and collective rhythms. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, these different approaches and ideas will culminate in One Small Gesture. We will be inhabiting the Healing Room, and other parts of PARC, with an evolving and living installation composed of intentional gestures from dozens of groups and individuals at PARC and Edmond Place.

One Small Gesture will kick off during the Wednesday Jam, which starts at 10am. At 12:45pm, a special, shadowy production will kick off a procession up to the transformed healing room, where we’ll share in art and music making ranging from the quiet and individual to the collaborative and elaborate.

On Thursday, we’ll enjoy a special workshop from the mindfulness group and a zentangle workshop led by Alice Rogers, followed by a special ceremony and installation from residents at Edmond Place.

On Friday, we’ll be making more gestures to add to the space in the drop-in, while yoga happens in the Healing Room. Following a special writing group session at 4pm, at 5:30pm we’ll have a light dinner and a closing ceremony, including special appearances by the Making Room Choir and the Oracle. Guests and visitors are welcome to join for all events, but are especially encouraged to come for this final gesture.

Throughout the three days, we will be adding and subtracting to the Healing Room, leaving room for quiet and relaxation as well as spontaneity and adventure— join us for both each afternoon December 10, 11, and 12!

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Engineers of the Imagination: Dispatches from John Fox and Sue Gill’s visit to Toronto

It was a wonderful week at the end of October when many of our artists and associates had the pleasure of sharing in the presentation  from John Fox and Sue Gill, as well as opportunities to speak with them and learn from them. In different fora, many ideas relevant to Making Room were discussed, including ritual-making, negotiating artistic vision in community contexts, food, archetypes, and more.

Below, find a few images from the week by Liam Coo. And, at the end,  there’s a special treat! A full video of The Tempest of Snake Island,  John and Sue’s legendary show on Toronto Island in 1981.

John and Sue presenting in the Arts4All space at Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Health Centre

John and Sue presenting in the Arts4All space at Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Health Centre

On Toronto Island

On Toronto Island

Gathering with Jumblies artists at The Ground Floor

Gathering with Jumblies artists at The Ground Floor

The Tempest on Snake Island (Part One) from Jon Michaelson on Vimeo.

The Tempest on Snake Island (Part Two) (Show) from Jon Michaelson on Vimeo.

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A Hallowed Day

What a wonderful day in the drop-in today! One long time PARC staff member told me it was his favorite day in a long time. In order to celebrate Halloween we created the longest story ever that included ghosts, cemeteries, severed hands and the celebration of Parkdale as a place where people care for one another! As well, there was dancing, cake, conversation and a good time was had by all!

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