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Vancouver’s park fieldhouses find new life as community spaces and art studios

Metro’s Amy Logan looks at some of the interesting art groups utilizing former park caretaker residences in Vancouver.

The fieldhouse at Strathcona Park.

Amy Logan/Metro

The fieldhouse at Strathcona Park.

Tucked unassumingly into the corners of various Vancouver parks, former caretaker’s residences have been transformed into community hubs.

The city's Fieldhouse Activation repurposes underutilized space in fieldhouses into community spaces. With the goal of reinvigorating local neighbourhoods, the program encourages place-based activities focused on arts, culture, sport, environment, and local food.

The Vancouver Park Board artist studio residencies program evolved out of a 2011 pilot project, and has included over 50 artists working out of fieldhouses as well as park facilities, marinas and community centres. The program offers work studios for artists, who in turn engage with the community. The Healthy Local Fieldhouse Residency Program offers organizations fieldhouses where they create programs that engage with residents to grow and share food.

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Fieldhouse residencies include musicians, gardeners, environmental artists and dancers. Cloudscape Comics Collective, based out of South Memorial Park is a diverse collective of 60 or more members that promotes cultural cross-pollination by sharing stories. Like most of the fieldhouses, it offers regular drop-ins at the studio, and it also hosts unique events like the 24-hour Comic Day.

Iris Film Collective creates, screens and exhibits film. With a focus on experimental media arts, the collective regularly hosts screenings and hands-on community workshops. Over at Oak Park fieldhouse, chART: Public Art Marpole focuses on sustainability and art, with upcoming Up-Cycle Sessions such as homemade pastels, recycled planters, and DIY insect hotels.

At Trillium North, environmental art projects such as growing and harvesting flax and spinning it into linen, bring community together.

Amy Logan/Metro

At Trillium North, environmental art projects such as growing and harvesting flax and spinning it into linen, bring community together.

At Uncle Hoonki's Fabulous Hornshop, based out of Maclean Park in Strathcona, Mr. Fire-Man invites the community to explore the craft of musical instrument building and wood working as well as tool making, sustainable harvesting of local wood, and creating and playing large wooden fuhorns. Every Tuesday evening, a growing number of Vancouverites join together for food, conversation, and carving locally sourced wood.

At their Riley Park Fieldhouse Collective, Little Mountain Neighbourhood House uses the space to provide workshops, educational sessions and community meetings. Activities support the Neighbourhood House's core vision of improving food security, ecological sustainability, and community engagement.

The Neighbourhood House has a food-based community focus. According to Joanne MacKinnon, community engagement co-ordinator for Little Mountain, they aim to "join arts, culture and food through education in the space."

Another night of community engagement at Uncle Hoonki's, where participants carve locally-sourced wood together weekly.

Submitted

Another night of community engagement at Uncle Hoonki's, where participants carve locally-sourced wood together weekly.

For her, the most rewarding aspect of the fieldhouse is engaging community in workshops, education, training and meetings. The fieldhouse "brings people together to learn, teach, share, and strengthen our community connections, she said. As a hub, the fieldhouse "supports the city's greenest city action goals and our objective to increase our community's food security."

As MacKinnon pointed out, "the fieldhouses are part of the history of Vancouver and parks in the city. They provide a space to bring community members together and offer a variety of programs and services. There are increased connections, offering diversity, and accessible and inclusive opportunities for intergenerational and inter-cultural experiences."

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