Brenda Dunn artinjest

re[place] re[collect]

When a project is beginning, there’s always trepidation around how participants are going to engage. I wanted to create the re[place] re[collect] project because I think people have stories that matter. That said, I wasn’t sure how much that would matter to my participants!

When I first get in touch with facilitators in the seniors support community, they all have supportive and enthusiastic responses. But right away, even within that amazingly helpful group, Carolyn stands out. She knows instantly which of her members would love to chat to me, and she is clearly as passionate about getting me connected as I am.

Our first site visit is to join into a luncheon held monthly out in Metcalfe. When we’re introduced, we’re sort of surprise guests. The attendees are polite, but they are suspicious at first of a giant recording device. I make it very clear that NO one has to be recorded or photographed if they don’t want to, and Carolyn is great and smoothing our introduction. I’m lucky – my photographer is also from a rural area and he acts as a bit of an ambassador and gets noticeably warm reception. After that, we just sit down to lunch and start chatting.

And that’s all it takes.

These people are instantly able to recall details and moments that are perfect little capsules of rural Ottawa 20, 30, 40 50+ years ago. I hear about lighthouse dances and backyard parties, I learn about buildings that served 10 different purposes for as many different owners. I am immediately overwhelmed by the generosity with which people share. Not just with me, but with each other. This is my first tiny toe in the water of this project, one that asks so much of the participants. It is instantly a flood of recollections. Something tells me we’re going to get all the stories we need.

Brenda Dunn artinjest

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