Our Neighbourhood Arts 150 project, bread and bread school, would not be possible without the invaluable collaboration of our community partners.
In the words of Parkdale Food Centre Executive Director Karen Secord “THUNK!theatre’s bread workshops brought together people of different backgrounds to experience something that is a common thread in all cultures – bread and belonging. “
“Bread and belonging” could be the motto of Parkdale itself. The Food Centre’s mandate is to feed people and they make no judgments about who might be considered ‘hungry’ on any given day. Even more than that, the staff and volunteers create a warm space where people are made to feel welcome.
When we reached out to Parkdale about this project, they were interested in a partnership right away. At our first meeting with the staff in person, we understood quickly that they are fiercely loyal to the community they serve and insist that anyone who walks through their door understands their philosophy, ethics and the challenges that people who live in poverty in Ottawa face.
With their trust, we were able to connect to new Canadians with rich knowledge and skills as bakers, community members, parents and storytellers. We were also able to connect to their vast network of passionate bakers and cooks in the food community – business owners who understand the importance of food security for Ottawa’s citizens and of sharing their knowledge and resources with their neighbours.
The staff, cooks, dishwashers, volunteers and neighbours of the Food Centre became our co-creators on this project, shaping the tone and content of our workshops and enriching the experiences we facilitated with their unique passions and experiences.
We connected with The Happening festival through Brenda Dunn, an energetic and hard-working artist who, as she accurately describes ‘makes things, and makes things happen’. As artists who live or do much of our work in the Wellington West community, we had always been drawn to this festival and it’s celebration of the local spirit. As Events Director with the Happening, Brenda was able to help us shape a performance model that would fit with our company and the festival’s goals. All the ingredients seemed to come together to remount our show bread, which we already knew had meaning for the Wellington West community from our previous appearance at the undercurrents festival at GCTC, and expand this meaning to a new audience through a partnership with the Parkdale Food Centre.
It was a pleasure to work with the strong women behind The Happening – Summer and Mary Beth are passionately community-minded and believe in supporting local artists in the neighbourhood they call home. Their commitment to this spirit has paid off, as we saw many engaged community members come out to our bread performances on a series of rain-soaked May days. Children, parents, and seniors; young professionals and entrepreneurs; new Canadians and second generation immigrants; artists, foodies and theatre-goers all gathered in the warmth of the Parkdale kitchen to learn to make bread – or teach us a thing or two.
Our partnership with The Happening allowed us to take the intimate community building that happened in our workshops and expand it to a wider public. Audience members for bread at The Happening were able to view the Human Recipes created in our workshops and go home with not only their own freshly made loaf of bread, but also a recipe and a story from one of our bread school bakers.
We look forward to co-creating with new partners in the Bayshore Park community for the second part of our project. Stay tuned for more info!
- THUNK!theatre, August 2017