By Beck Lloyd
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.