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June 23, 2014


Last week, we had an Elder workshop scheduled for the DTES neighbourhood house. When Mirae and I arrived, the front gate was locked. I could feel already that this one might not be a go.


The director of the neighbourhood house came to unlock the door and ushered us into a homey space, full of art, a big wall calendar of events, and in the back a large community kitchen. Shortly after being greeted by the director Carol, we sat at one of the large tables and were joined by Anita, the leader of the Community Kitchen program held that morning.


We were told that the seniors had left for bingo at the Carnegie after Community Kitchen. The timing just overlapped and so we had no participants for the workshop. While this was unfortunate, it gave us an opportunity to use the time efficiently and discuss some of the issues that come up around offering free workshops in the DTES and to seniors, and how to do outreach more effectively.

 

Those participating in the discussion:


Carol, director of the DTES neighbourhood house
Anita, leader of the Community Kitchen program
Mary Ellen, Community Programmer at the Carnegie Centre
Mirae and Hailey, Karen Jamieson dance facilitators
Jan, Mandarin and Cantonese translator/cultural translator

Discussed:


Applicability of workshops to group
Have the seniors been asked about if it is what they want
General discussion about long term projects being offered to DTES without much consultation with residents of the DTES. A sort of top down community engagement.
Many Chinese seniors enjoy line dancing – Jan speaks out that not all do, there is variation
How can outreach be more effective in reaching isolated seniors? Seniors that are at community centres or with a group are out already. We can reach more by going to housing and placing posters in the lobbies.
Idea of doing demonstrations: perhaps two experienced elders (from our Carnegie workshops) can do a brief two minute performance for a group so that they have an idea of what the work is like. Importance of seeing it though participants, and not from us facilitators.
Talk of including stories of elders into the process of the workshops – how to draw in history and story into the dance. Drawing out personal expertise in terms of physical practices and personal histories.