30th September is Orange Shirt Day – Every Child Matters

This week at our staff team meeting we were fortunate to welcome Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray. This was an opportunity for our team to learn more about Orange Shirt Day, the destructive impact that the residential schools system had on Indigenous communities, and the work that Eddy and Kirstin are doing to further awareness and promote healing.

“I want to release what is inside of me. All that fear. All that anger. All that pain. I want all of Canada to know why we are the way we are today.” – Eddy Charlie

We strongly encourage all of our community to take part in this movement by educating themselves on the violent history of these institutions, listening to the stories of survivors, and wearing an orange shirt on September 30th.

Accounts of survivors are valuable records as many children did not make it home from residential schools and many survivors have since passed away. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation is an important resource as it permanently holds the collection of resources produced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission itself.

Due to errors made while collecting survivors stories The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the survivors accounts that they collected during the compensation process will be destroyed by 2027 except in cases where a survivor comes forward to ask for their records to be preserved.

The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation is ensuring that there will continue to be a body of records.

We are so grateful for the generosity that Eddy has shown to us in sharing his story and experiences so that we can sit with the truth.


1,500 Meals Delivered!

To combat hunger in our community, we have partnered with the West End Seniors Network and United Way to cook and deliver meals to isolated seniors and families during COVID-19. This week marks our 1,500th meal delivery! Our dedicated chef Amanda has been busy cooking delicious and nutritious meals with coordination support from Linda, Jessy, Jenn, and Doris. The balanced menus are developed with love and care, and then delivered using sustainable bicycle couriers. Past meals have included: Tuscan chicken pasta; garlic chicken and vegetables with rice; Salmon and Dill creamy gratin; and a Coconut vegetable bowl with lentils. United Way of the Lower Mainland is partnering with Gordon Neighbourhood House so that everyone has access to the food they need right in their neighbourhood.

Through partnerships with local organizations, the United Way Local Love Food Hub and Better at Home program provide groceries, food hampers, prepared meals, and other essential goods at no cost to people in the community who are facing food insecurity, during this very challenging time. For more information about this program, contact Jenn Mason at (604) 683-2554 ext. 204 or jenn@gordonhouse.org


Virtual Art Class Connects Strangers

For over 20 years, the Neighbourhood Small Grants program has brought people together and made communities more resilient. The grassroots initiative provides grants up to $500 to fund small projects that connect neighbours, share skills, celebrate diversity, and foster a stronger sense of belonging. This year however, as the seriousness of COVID-19 became more clear, the feasibility of hosting the much-loved program came into question. Equally troubling, public health orders to physically distance from others has had the unintended impact of creating more social isolation and disconnection.

Rather than cancel the grants, the Vancouver Foundation (which funds the program) boldly decided to create a new granting stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants to support virtual projects with no physical gathering component.

One such project was Art for Heart project led by Geetanjali Joshi. Geetanjali recently moved to Vancouver in December of 2019. Prior to arriving in Canada, Geetanjali lived in India and had only left the country twice to visit the United States on a cultural exchange program. The Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants program provided Geetanjali “with the opportunity to serve my new home and its people.”

Professionally trained as a teacher and a lifelong artist, Geetanjali applied to host an online art class. “I live alone in Vancouver and am eager to connect with other people who might be alone and are in need of support and mental escape in this tough time,” she explained, “I find art to be therapeutic, and want to share it.”

A committee of neighbours reviewed her application, and awarded her $500 in funding. Geetanjali then advertised the project on a facebook community page. Eight West End neighbours quickly signed up, and she arranged to have art supplies safely distributed to all participants.

Over Zoom video chat sessions the participants bonded and painted together. “It was a wonderful experience connecting with them and doing some amazing art,” she remarked. “We had three zoom sessions on three Sundays. What started out as 8 strangers who are now friends and fellow artists. it was a great experience for all.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House coordinates the Neighbourhood Small Grants program for all residents on the downtown peninsula. Learn more about program and Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants online. For more information, email jim@gordonhouse.org.


Gordon Neighbourhood House Distributes $60,000 in Emergency Food Aid in the Wake of COVID-19

Good Food Access Fund Grant will help neighbours improve food security.

Vancouver, BC, July 24th, 2020—Gordon Neighbourhood House is pleased to announce it has received a grant of $60,000 from Community Food Centres Canada’s Good Food Access Fund. The grant will enable Gordon Neighbourhood House to support hundreds of neighbours in need so they can access nutritious food during these challenging times. Funding is provided in part by the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund, as part of the Food Policy for Canada. The Fund aims to strengthen food systems and facilitate access to safe and nutritious food for at-risk populations. Gordon Neighbourhood House staff identified gaps in existing COVID-19 emergency programs, and distributed grocery store gift cards directly to West End families and neighbours.

“This is an outstanding initiative,” said Gordon Neighbourhood House Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski, “We’re very grateful to receive The Good Food Access Fund Grant, and amplify our food security work in the neighbourhood. As a result of this funding, hundreds of West End neighbours and families will be able to choose the food they need in a safe, and dignified way.”

“Food insecurity was already an urgent problem before the COVID-19 crisis, with one in 8 Canadians struggling to put food on the table. In a time of national crisis, it is in our nature as Canadians to do what we can for our most vulnerable neighbours. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for their quick response, as well as the many corporate partners and generous donors who have stepped forward” says Nick Saul, CEO of Community Food Centres Canada. “The Good Food Access Fund aims to make sure that as many people as possible will be able to get the food that they need. And while we must deal with the current circumstances, CFCC remains committed to advancing policy change that addresses the underlying causes of food insecurity and poverty in Canada. We can’t forget that structural inequity is at the core of so many of the challenges that Canadians face, a fact which painfully confronts us when an emergency like this occurs.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House has served as a community hub in Vancouver’s West End since 1942. As a place-based community organization, we work alongside neighbours and partners to foster a dynamic and diverse neighbourhood where everyone is empowered to play a role in their community. Learn more at gordonhouse.org, and follow us at @gordonnhouse on Instagram and @GordonNeighbourhoodHouse on Facebook.

Media Contact: Siobhan Powlowski, Executive Director; siobhan@gordonhouse.org or (604) 683-2554

Community Food Centres Canada Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) builds health, belonging and social justice in low-income communities through the power of food. We work with 13 Community Food Centres and 183 Good Food Organizations in 175 communities across Canada. Our Good Food Access Fund was established to provide emergency relief during this time of national crisis to our most vulnerable neighbours. Learn more at cfccanada.ca or follow @aplaceforfood.

Media contact: Juniper Locilento, Chief Development & Communications Officer; juniper@cfccanada.ca or (416) 576-2561


How to Wear and Make Face Masks

The advice of the World Health Organisation has been that when people wear a face mask in public places it helps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Check out this news article on the spread of misinformation by anti-masking groups.

There are many valid reasons why people may decide not to wear a face mask, but choosing to correctly wear a face covering on public transport and in the supermarket is an easy and important way that we can protect other people in our community who have compromised immune systems.

You can learn about the benefits of correctly wearing a face mask here you can learn the do’s and don’ts of face mask wearing here and you can learn the correct way to make and wear different styles of homemade masks here.

Last week we held a virtual Mask Making Workshop hosted by Robin who has a background of working in film production design. During lockdown Robin researched how to make masks that are comfortable, effective, and easy to wear. Robin used her skills to make masks and distribute them to friends & neighbours. Below is a recording of Robin’s workshop and her notes on how to make her designs and what measurements to use. It is possible to hand-sew Robin’s design if you do not have access to a sewing machine but it will take longer.

Mask Making Workshop

Join us for our mask making workshop!

Posted by Gordon Neighbourhood House on Thursday, July 23, 2020
Mask making tutorial

How to make face mask:

Adding a visor to your mask – useful for travelling

Anti-Racism Resources

Absolutely Fabulous 2017: Gordon Neighbourhood House with co-hosts Black Lives Matter

Earlier this week Gordon Neighbourhood House along with the Association of Neighbourhood Houses released a public statement acknowledging the reality of anti-black racism in our community.

As an organization we are committed to promoting an anti-racist society and we are sharing these resources so that our community can have a better understanding of why we have made this commitment and learn how to join us.

Today there will be a Freedom from Hate march in our neighbourhood starting at 4pm in Jack Poole Plaza and ending at Sunset Beach where there will be speakers. Please remember to bring your mask.

HOGAN’S ALLEY

Learn more about the loss of Hogan’s Alley and the work being done by the Hogan’s Alley Society.

Circa 1948 is an augmented reality app that allows you to take a virtual tour of the now destroyed Hogan’s Alley.

This interactive map Black Strathcona celebrates some of the interesting people and places that made up the neighbourhood.

The Vancouver Public Library has access to copies of the work of Vancouver born poet Wayde Compton and you can find an interview with him here.

This video explores what life was like in Hogan’s Alley before its destruction, as well as highlighting the community activism that took place to prevent further displacement of people from nearby Chinatown.

LEARNING

Woke or Whateva is a bilingual podcast based out of Montreal, you can find their Instagram account here.

The Conscious Kid and The Great Unlearn are two Instagram accounts that you can follow to challenge your thought process and hold yourself accountable.

This document Anti Black Racism in so called ‘Canada has a large collection of Canadian specific resources for self-education.

Check out this report Towards a Healthy City – Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Vancouver.

Black Lives Matter Canada can be found here and you can follow this link to read the Vancouver Black Lives Matter Calls on the City to Dismantle Systems of Violence and Oppression.

This link take you to a two hour Youtube Webinar titled Resistance and Resurgence: Confronting Anti-Black Racism in Canada.

Diverse Book Finder is a website designed to help parents source books that feature Black and Indigenous people and People of Colour.

Raising Little Allies To Be might be of interest to some parents.

Indigenous Peoples Day is this Sunday June 21st. This article highlights some of the ways that you can celebrate virtually through podcasts, movies, sports, humor, and museums.

The Vancouver Public Library has resources for learning about Indigenous people here.

SPENDING

Massy Books is an Indigenous owned book store in Downtown Vancouver.

Afro Biz is a website that can help you to find Vancouver’s Black owned businesses, Black owned restaurants, Black artists, and more.

DONATING

The Write to Read project delivers books, libraries, tablets, and high speed internet to remote Indigenous communities in BC.

Vancouver Black Therapy and Advocacy Fund is raising money to support the mental health needs of our Black community members.

Black in B.C. Community Support Fund for COVID-19 is a fundraiser for a low-barrier, emergency, micro-grant program to support those experiencing financial hardship at this time.


Statement on Anti-Racism

The Gordon House team has spent the last few weeks in deep reflection about the persistence of structural racism in our communities, and examining our own complicity within these systems. Hatred has no place in our community. But nonetheless, it continues to exist in our community.

Like you, we are horrified by current events. Black and Indigenous people are being killed every day for acts as simple as going for a run. There has been a substantial (and shameful) increase in anti-Asian racism here in our own neighborhood, and we are aware of multiple instances of elders being targeted by this violence. Something in our system is broken — and we must all take intentional action to fix it.

We have come together with our sister Houses across the Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC to make a public commitment to anti-racism work. Anti-Racism is the ‘practice of identifying, challenging, preventing, eliminating and changing the values, structures, policies, programs, practices and behaviours that perpetuate racism’. That statement is attached – and we hope you hold us accountable to do this work.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing educational anti-racism resources for the community, including live workshops. We also welcome additional ideas, resources and workshops that we can share – please email welcome@gordonhouse.org

Please view our full public statement here:.http://anhbc.org/a-statement-from-anhbc/


Deeper Roots Program

Connect Yourself To The Land

Gordon Neighbourhood House offers Deeper Roots, an educational gardening program that provides opportunities to connect with the land and deepen our understanding and relationship with nature.

We will explore how to grow food, plants and medicines in ways that care for both humans and the earth. We will develop a practice of gratitude and awareness that will shift how people look at growing food and the natural communities around them.

Join us for weekly drop-in garden sessions and nature-based activities and walks. Once a month we will also offer a multi-lingual session in the garden. All ages and levels of garden experience are welcome. Be prepared to experiment and learn together!

Location

All sessions will take place in the West End neighbourhood of Vancouver. Locations will vary between each session. Once you have registered for a particular session, we will contact you with the meeting location, safety guidelines and what to wear/bring 1-2 days before the session.

Accessibility

Contact Joey at joey@gordonhouse.org if you have questions or concerns about accessibility.

Registration

Each session will have a max of 5 participants. We will be registering participants on Eventbrite only (please don’t email to register).

We would like to offer the opportunity for as many different people to participate.

If you’re interested in multiple sessions, please sign up for one or two first, and allow others a chance to register before signing up for additional sessions. If a particular session is full, join the waitlist.

If you’re bringing a child or youth, please register them and indicate their age in the registration form.

Schedule

Program schedules will be released on a monthly basis. Click on each link below to register and view more session information:

Tuesday, June 16 at 10:30am – Herb Tour

Thursday, June 18 at 2:30pm – Garden Session

Tuesday, June 23 at 2:30pm – Bee Safari in the Garden

Thursday, June 25 at 2:30pm – Garden Session

Tuesday, June 30 at 10:00am – Garden Time in Spanish with Mayra (for Playtime families)

More info on our urban farming initiatives can be found here.


Mindfulness

by Darlene

stock photos free
 of water macro photography of drop of water on top of green plant nature

Here’s a little information about mindfulness meditation to make it more accessible. Meditation and that wandering monkey mind! Well, minds think, that’s what they do. Rather than emptying the mind of thought altogether, meditation provides us with an opportunity to ‘steer the mind’ using concentration practice. Mindfulness is the ability to know or name what we are noticing or experiencing. Concentration practice is the ability to hold our focus where we choose.

Here is a mindfulness meditation practice to explore. While our attention may come and go, our body and breath are always with us. When we notice our mind has wandered, we can use the opportunity to steer the mind, to concentrate instead where we prefer or intend. Steer your mind to notice the next out breath when it occurs. And then the next one in the ongoing in-and-out cycle of breathing. And then the one after that too. To help you with your concentration practice you might observe a physical sensation that helps you know, ‘oh, this is an out breath.’ Perhaps the downward settling of your chest or belly or maybe the air moving through your nostrils. Keep noticing that next out breath as it occurs. Gently, allow yourself to notice how your body is breathing just as it breathes, there is no need to make your body breathe in any particular way. Perhaps you are taking small sips of air or maybe your breath is moving in your chest or possibly down in your belly.

The point of meditation is not necessarily to empty the mind of all thought, rather to steer the mind to where we intend and bring it back to our chosen point of focus. With this concept in mind we can be gentler with ourselves each time we steer the mind back toward the focus of our concentration practice.


Social DistanSING

Christopher Clarke Hyndman of the Quixotic Neurotics

In celebration of Neighbourhood House Week 2020 we collaborated with community members to host a unique rooftop concert (dubbed #socialdistanSING) for West End apartment dwellers to cheer from their balconies and celebrate the strength of community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 5th after the daily 7pm cheer for front line workers we surprised neighbours with a Beatles inspired West End rooftop concert from the corner of Gilford Street and Comox Street to celebrate the power of togetherness and social inclusion.

Happy Neighbourhood House Week! #socialdistanSING #2020goodneighbours

Posted by Gordon Neighbourhood House on Saturday, May 9, 2020

Connections and relationships are at the heart of our organization,”said Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski,”we have operated in this neighbourhood for over 75 years and are proud to have worked alongside thousands of amazing neighbours like musician Christopher Clarke Hyndman to improve our community. While COVID-19 has drastically affected the programs we used to offer, our values remain as strong as ever.”

At a time when most people are staying at home, many apartment renters have been asked by landlords to keep noise to a minimum,and be considerate of neighbours. Organizers of the rooftop concert tried to find the right balance between creating a fun experience,and avoid bothering some neighbours.

“It sounds counter intuitive,”explained local musician Christopher Clarke Hyndman of the Quixotic Neurotics, “I had to convince everyone that more speakers are actually less disruptive than fewer speakers. When you use lots of speakers you can position them in all directions with a lower volume so that everyone can hear the music. That way some neighbours don’t just get thumping bass and echoes, it creates a great experience for everyone.”

This first week in May has historically been declared Neighbourhood House Week by the Mayor of Vancouver, and events are planned all across the city to celebrate the contributions of Neighbourhood Houses. This year organizers had to get creative in devising ways to celebrate the occasion together. The West End is known for its canyons of tall apartments and condo building, and ‘vertical communities’ so a rooftop concert was a perfect fit. It is not uncommon for some buildings to be over 20 stories with hundreds of residents stacked above each other. Unlike must outdoor concerts however, only residents in these buildings were able to watch the show. To make everything possible,organizers had to carefully hoist each piece of sound gear up a fire escape ladder to the roof of the three-storey walk-up apartment building where the event will be held.

“I hope our neighbours enjoy it,”remarked Jim Balakshin, the Director of Community Development, “I can’t think of a better time to host a rooftop concert to cheer people up,and bring everyone together for a common cause.”

The Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC has been leading community development in Metro Vancouver for over 120 years, and currently operates 16 neighbourhood houses, and an outdoor camp. These facilities have become second homes for many residents, and are a place to makes connections and build long-lasting relationships with neighbours from diverse backgrounds.

Gordon Neighbourhood House has served as a community hub in Vancouver’s West End since 1942. We have a history of working alongside our friends and neighbours to facilitate connection, engagement and collaboration, while seizing opportunities for community development. In the context of COVID-19 our programming may have changed, but our values remain.