Dear Readers

Dear Readers, As our Kerrisdale Community Centre Society’s AGM is fast approaching (Wednesday February 15th, 7:30pm), I reflect on the vales of community. What is community? –  That is a complex question.  What motivates us to seek ‘community’ as a means of achieving what we want for ourselves and our family? And what shapes our choices about which communities we belong to? Locality? Familiarity? Convenience? Ancestry? or anything else? — What makes a life ‘liveable’? As part of my non-profit work at Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society, I’ve been involved working with various “communities” to organize numerous community gatherings and create processes that are engaging, inspiring and inclusive. More and more, however, the creation of “community” has become an end in itself, as we come to learn from our experiences that the community is a vital aspect of a person’s ever-evolving sense of self and a source of creativity.  We continue to engage in community-participately practices and public discussions of how our identity is formed and its relation to perceived community on a deep level.  There are a few noteworthy new initiatives in Kerrisdale that create the conditions for effective community development by helping the smaller groups to form and to connect their goals with the broader, overarching alliance. One is KCCS’s Community Engagement new initiative, English-Mandarian Language Exchange Meetup. The other is Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society’s Come To My Yard, a permaculture garden project in the heart of Kerrisdale funded by the City of Vancouver. Be curious, come together, help others, and be a part of a strong community!  Keiko Honda Editor-in-Chief Chair, Community Engagement...

The True Pursuit of Happiness lies in rebuilding our Community and Social Interactions...

By Tatiana Zamorano-Henriquez* Photos by Syed Mustafa* My background is Chilean-Canadian and having a Chilean family the values and morals that many Chileans have are profoundly rooted in family, social interactions and relationships. In the older generations of Chilean culture the collective and community was what bonded people together and was always cherished over individualist aspects of life and over the work life. An example of this in Chile that still occurs is the entire city shuts down for dinnertime. The workplaces close and people are given an hour to two hours to go home and sit down with family friends and coworkers and are encouraged to socialize over a meal. This system in Chile is a structure that promotes and inspires social interactions and forging social ties to fortify the sense of community, and although Chile’s structure has evolved and has been influenced by consumerist and individualist ideals from North America it still holds true to this system where social interactions and community is of central importance and as a result, sense of belonging and community has not dissipated in Chile and these principles can be found across the country. Thus, these ideals that made these interactions and community priority were always a part of my life. When I was young my days were filled with love, laughter, stories and endless conversations, these days were the happiest days of my life. Growing up I was encompassed by my family, we lived in East Vancouver on Venables Street in a vintage white house bordered with a light blue trim. I remember it as if it was only yesterday, walking up the blue steps of the house I opened the giant wooden door to my grandparents house, I remember my heart was always filled with happiness...

Kevin Wong: Forming a Community through Language Exchange...

By Liam McLean* Photos by Syed Mustafa* Arriving in Vancouver from Hong Kong in 1980, Kevin Wong understands the difficulty of learning a new language in a foreign place. As we sit in the Kerrisdale Community Centre, his hand holding a book that will foreshadow the content of our conversation, he tells me about his first encounters with the English language in Hong Kong and in Vancouver. “When we were in Hong Kong we had English classes, but they are just basically grammar,” said Kevin, “Because every day we just spoke the Chinese [Cantonese]. We seldom used English in writing, speaking. So, basically when we came over here […] it was quite difficult to communicate.” After arriving in Canada, Kevin first attended Langara where his struggles with English continued, failing his first two attempts at a required first-year English course offered by the English as a Second Language (E.S.L) program. For Kevin, those early days of learning a new language were made more difficult since “everyday you have to encounter people [who speak English] and some people they talk really fast and don’t have the patience to say it again. Then you just have to guess what they’re talking about and half of the time you guess wrong.” With his sights set on attending Simon Fraser University, it was vital for him to understand English well enough to acquire the necessary transfer credits from Langara and to communicate in daily Vancouver life.          Kevin’s struggles diminished during his third attempt at the English program when he received the proper aid to accommodate his learning style. “The turning point was the teacher,” Kevin said, looking back at that third class, “She actually taught me the basics of grammar and she had the...

Making Genuine Connections Through Music...

By Jamie Zabel* Walking into the Musical Voice Lab for the first time is an intimidating experience. As a newcomer to the program, this is certainly what I felt at first. However, the actual experience, while it may press your boundaries, is nothing but uplifting. Sitting around the circle of participants and hearing the chatter of people around you, you can tell that friends have been made and that trust has been built. This is inevitably the result of the Musical Voice Lab’s fantastically warm and bubbly facilitator, Jane Perrett. Her open and inviting presence, as well as her willingness to help with even the simplest questions about voice, breaks down any walls that people might have coming into the program.  The Musical Voice Lab is a Skill Share project run by the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society (VACS) that aims to help people discover and develop their voices. As of now, participants meet once a month to learn songs from a variety of genres as well as vocal techniques. Jane is a Dramatic Coloratura Soprano, meaning that she can hit the high notes with ease while also having a rich darkness to her tone. Performing has been a passion of Jane’s for most of her life, starting as early as high school where she would treat her classmates to performances of ABBA’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” and other popular songs. She would always be the first to volunteer whenever there was an opportunity to sing. While her first love is singing for people, Jane “always knew in the back of [her] mind that [she] wanted to teach.” When Keiko Honda, the president of VACS, approached her about running the Musical Voice Lab, she was hesitant but allowed the courage gained from her passion for...

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