New Look Planned for Gordon Neighbourhood House

For many years, Gordon Neighbourhood House has offered West Enders a welcoming environment and a variety of services and programs. But the building is getting old and it’s due for an upgrade. Paul Taylor, Executive Director at Gordon Neighbourhood House, has been working with funders to secure funds to upgrade the space to give it a “revitalized physical presence” for the community so that “all of our neighbours are proud to call Gordon Neighbourhood House their neighbourhood house.”

Perkins+Will, an international design firm, has been supporting the facelift by providing pro bono design and research support to the project. Alex Minard, Senior Associate at Perkins+Will, hopes to make Gordon Neighbourhood House stand out by creating enough visual interest on the exterior to spark curiosity. ”Little Band-Aid solutions are not enough,” he says. “The project requires a holistic look at improving the entire building to make it a comfortable, welcoming environment that allows [neighbours] to feel supported and connected with their community.”

Linda Minamimaye (Director of Operations) has been with Gordon Neighbourhood House for 33 years -ever since the old design was brand new – and is excited about the upcoming changes. She thinks the facelift will make Gordon Neighbourhood House more inviting, and that bright new colours will help make it feel as vibrant as the programs and initiatives.

Linda Rubuliak, Manager of YMCA Connections and active community member, hopes the facelift will make optimal use of Gordon Neighbourhood House and ensure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable, and at the same time reinforce its role as “a key hub in the community, building on its existing programs and services.”

This is an exciting time for Gordon Neighbourhood House and the West End community.

Written by Soroush Moghaddam
GNH Community Journalist/Blogger 

INSPIRE 2014: Conference Attendees Visit GNH

Some two dozen attendees at INSPIRE 2014 – the International Neighbourhood House and Settlement Conference – came to Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) on May 8 to participate in a neighbourhood house tour and discussion about GNH’s food programs.

Tour participants came from across Canada, the US, Britain, France, the Netherlands and India, and they were excited by the opportunity to share lunch, exchange ideas, and ask questions. Here are some highlights from the panel discussion:

  • Andrew Christie, Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Community Food Advocate, explained that discussions about food can serve as a tool for social cohesion. Andrew noted that 75-80% of people indicate that one of the reasons that they come to the low-cost community lunch program is to connect with their neighbours.
  • Paul Taylor, Executive Director of Gordon Neighbourhood House, highlighted serious problems with the current charity model and noted that nutritious food was often hard to come by via emergency or charitable sources. He says that this is compounded by the idea that often emergency/charitable food sources mostly offer Eurocentric options. Paul emphasized that he has been pleased by the efforts of the Vancouver Food Bank and their leadership on working to reform the model.
  • Ross Moster, President of the Village Vancouver Transition Society, suggested that the food bank system had become “a huge self-perpetuating program,” even though it was originally intended to be a temporary solution. He also indicated that people need to move away from the current charity model and instead create a peer situation, which allows everyone to take from and give back to the program. Like Paul, Ross emphasized that organizations like GNH must connect people with one another and facilitate people-powered programs and systems to generate trust in the community.

It was an engaging and fruitful discussion, and the hosts at GNH hope that their guests have returned home with fresh ideas about how to address similar challenges in their own communities.

Written by Soroush Moghaddam
GNH Community Journalist/Blogger