April 2019
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Connecting with the Homeless

It was my 3rd Friday off this past weekend and I relished knowing that this was ME time. A time to relax, feel inspired and expressive. A time to catch up on items longstanding through the week and a time to potentially catch up on sleep. But what made this weekend so exciting and special was the time that I set aside for an incredibly worthwhile project … Homeless Connect (HC2) at the City Hall, downtown Calgary. HC is a city initiative at attempting to end homelessness by the year 2010. Noble and lofty goals indeed. Having lived here for the past 2 years, witnessing the dire circumstances of many people (50% of whom have jobs) who just can’t afford to house themselves, I see the mass difficulties that the city faces. The occupancy rate in Calgary is extremely high, and with the price of accommodation through the roof, trying to come up with first & last months rent + a security deposit is an impossible task for many, considering that the Landlords here in Alberta seem to have all the rights over tenants; it seems like the proverbial 1-way street in the way of rights and legalities favouring the home owners. But that’s another story ….

sKYflowerSI have always enjoyed volunteering, giving of myself to another without anything expected in return. And in every circumstance that I’ve donated to such causes, I often get back more than I actually give. This however is not about who comes out ahead. Rather it’s about giving of myself and offering a hand up (rather than a handout) to those in need. Feeling so blessed in my life with the world falling into place in every sense of the word, I have everything plus my love and time to give. One could say that I am ‘overflowing’. To this extent, I jumped at the chance at helping out with this quarterly event (the 2nd of its kind – I was unable to make the first, last Spring).

So early Saturday morning, I followed the same schedule of readiness, as if it were a normal workday, and made my way downtown, with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. I didn’t really know what to expect, beyond the unexpected. So to arrive and discover that I was offering my cre8tive services to the Arts and Culture (‘This Is My City’ initiative) booth left me giddy and happy at the possibilities that would unveil themselves. Basically “This Is My City” offered an enticing artist trading card workshop where anyone who was interested could cre8te their own powerful piece of art, on 2 x 3 inch cardstock. This initiative was sponsored by the Arts and Culture Department of the City of Calgary.

I discovered that, at first, most people were leery and skeptical of particpating, saying that they lacked experience and / or any artistic skill … the desire really didn’t hit them that day, nor did they often feel inspired in the harsh world they exist in, every single day. This doesn’t lend itself to invoking a sudden yearning to paint / sketch / cre8te. The homeless people who came to this event were in search of help, resources and connection, rather than offering to participate on this type of ‘frivolous’ level. Art seemed to be the last thing on their minds. Trying to convince people that a spontaneous artist existed within each of us, regardless of the experience, was a difficult, awkward and hard sell.

With the mindset that inspiration is a far better leader than coercion or bribery (why can’t politicians grasp this concept?), I sat down for 4 hours and literally explored, divulging my soul through many a mixed media, and played! Given every sort of cre8tive material imaginable, I painted with acrylics, and drew with chalk, oil pastels, markers, pencil crayons and glitter. I collaged with magazine photos and art paper. I wrote poetry and weaved it into a colourful song on paper. There was no end to my non-digital cre8tivity! And oh how I loved the freedom to express, on such a pure, non-demanding level. Who knew that I would find such joy and gratitude in today’s event? I haven’t been this free to cre8te (with such a plethora of materials) since I was probably in kindergarten. And with my earnest attempts to be as colourful and flamboyant as I could be with no holds barred in my art, people started to enquire, inquisitive about this young girl focused so intently on having fun. I felt like a child given the permission to run rampant with my imagination. And all the tools were provided to express my outlet. And slowly, slowly, people came to sit down and speak with me. Opening up about their childhood dreams, their cre8tive pasts, their addictions which often hampered any possibility of cre8tive expression. And with a little coaxing, I managed to inspire the uninspired into weaving their story on to paper. The art and colour which emerged was incredibly beautiful. The stories, the music, the cre8tivity inspired was an artistic masterpiece which burned itself deep into my soul. The images below are some of the art that was inspired and produced.

words of the homeless

words of the homeless

The impact made on me can be expressed with a few sentences:
“Every Man, Woman or Child, regardless of race, religion, colour or financial status has a heart bursting to be explored, expressed and admired. Art is the pathway and mirror to the soul. And we are all beautiful, with our own story to tell. The possibilities and variability’s are endless, boundless. We are all unique, in need of the freedom of expression, and we are all worthy.”

  • Live artfully.
  • DreAm beautifully.
  • Live blissfully.

Explore, find joy, breathe deeply and savour. Now go cre8te and explore your heart in the vast expanse of life’s colour.

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