Community Outreach Posts
Here you will find various write ups and posts about events featured on the Community Outreach page. Check some of them out and read about these awesome events that happen in London.
November Event: London Poetry Slam
Photo courtesy of londontourism.ca
On the Third Friday of every month, London Poetry Slam holds an event. This month it happened on Friday the 16th. Since a big part of my position as community outreach coordinator is to get involved with the London community outside of western, I’m always looking for events that particularly catch my interest, and I’ve been trying to go to the poetry slam since September and this month it finally lined up with my schedule! (YAY).
Although I love poetry, both reading and writing it, I have never been to a poetry slam before, and was unsure of what to expect. To explain it simply, it was a room filled with people of all ages, who shared a love for poetry. They created a safe space where anyone could share their work, without feeling uncomfortable or scared.
Slam poetry is by nature, a competition, in which judges (who are randomly selected audience members) mark poets on a scale from 1-10, based on original poems they perform. Although it is competition, everyone was very supportive of one another, the marks being part of the fun but not overshadowing the more important aspect of sharing personal pieces with one another.
Poetry is often very personal, and it can be hard to open up and share such intimate extensions of yourself or your emotions with other people, but somehow that room full of strangers made it possible for people who seemed shy to share these parts of themselves. If a person’s goal was only to share their work and not necessarily to compete, there was an open mic for the first half an hour of the night for people to simply go up and read their poetry.
Every poem I heard was so powerful, whether it had personal details or whether it incorporated the writer’s individual sense of humour, it made me feel like I got to know those
people, even if it was just for the few minutes that they read their poems. If you want to get out of the western bubble and explore another part of London with a community that is inclusive, and accepting, or even if you just want to hear some good poetry, I definitely suggest you go to a poetry slam. Whether you stay for 20 minutes or 3 hours, you will leave feeling connected to a new group of people or to yourself because of the personal nature that sharing poetry has to offer!
October Community outreach event: Food For charity
This month AHSC held an event called Food for Charity, its main aim was to promote general student knowledge of the USC Food Bank and get donations which could help to provide for students who are experiencing food insecurity. The premise of the event was simple: we offered free cookies to anyone who donated non-perishable food to the USC food bank. Overall, we received around 60 donations, filling up a whole donation box, (which was pretty great) but more importantly we raised considerable awareness about the foodbank around campus.
For my first year at Western I didn’t even know the USC had a food bank. A university with such great facilities makes it very easy to simply not acknowledge such issues, assuming everyone here is in a fortunate situation, which is not necessarily the case. This event forced people to confront the reality of the situation, and some of the inequalities present not only in London but within the Western community itself. (The cookies definitely helped to grab people’s attention too). Several people who stopped by asked whether they could make donations all year and where they could do it. It really helped to show that Western students are often very interested in taking the initiative to help out, but they often are unaware of what they need to do.
While the event was going on, I was interviewed by two different people. Firstly, Sofia Rodriguez who is a journalism student at western and a reporter for Fanshawe’s radio station, organized to come and ask me about the event, the USC food insecurity initiative and the overall success of the event. Secondly a girl walked by the table and happened to work for Western’s; radio station and asked me to briefly explain what was going on while she recorded. Both of these interviews allowed for increased exposure and hopefully more knowledge on campus about the opportunities to donate in general.
It was overall a successful event, in future I want to focus more on promotion, so we can have an even better turn out and more donations, but I think it was a great start to the community outreach work I’d like to keep doing!
September Arts Events
The arts events that took place this September in London were mainly focused on connecting locals to both the social and physical environment they live in. They worked with all age groups and different members of the community to put on a number of arts events, I attended two that specifically stood out to me, these were Culture days at B13 and Talking Mosaics and Making Frames.
The B13 culture days was an exhibition displaying many different mediums of art all of which critiqued the society we are currently living in. There was one part of the exhibition in particular, that spoke out against environmental degradation and the impact of humans on Earth, which was very interesting and informative.
I later found out that these had been made by local middle school students. I met one of them artists who explained to me that their only direction had been to create visual art pieces that represented some aspect of the current environmental degradation.
The first project was a series of photographs that showed pollution along the Thames, which serves as physical evidence that can hold people accountable for their actions:
The first project was a series of photographs that showed pollution along the Thames, which serves as physical evidence that can hold people accountable for their actions.
The next was a sculpture of a butterfly with a broken wing, it depicts how our actions effect other ecosystems than our own.
Another very interesting piece was of the world painted, with a face on it, to show how everyone on this earth is interconnected no matter what our differences
The artworks all took different approaches and were an example of awareness amongst the new generations. Hopefully spreading a new message promoting environmental consciousness and conservation of resources
The second event, Talking Mosaics and making murals was also very important to creating the universal and connected environment the London art community is trying to foster. It depicted people of all colours, genders and ethnicities in the same space as to show how we can all interact and cohabitate.
Again, this had the participation of a lot of different groups and had a large focus on the working together of older generations with school groups.
Hello friends, Words fest 2017 is here! Once a year the arts community of London get together to celebrate “all things wordy: books, poetry, song, children’s literature, writing for the screen and stage, new media, spoken word performances and much more.” I had a chance to check in with Josh Rambler, director at the public humanities at western who has given me an inside look.
This year, the team has put together a new an expanded Southwesto Book Expo, featuring local writers from Southwestern Ontario who will be showcasing their publications. This is a great chance to meet and connect with writers, poets, words artists from around the city and beyond, and of course check out their work!
So what’s happening at Wordsfest? The festival begins with an opening reception, featurring “Taylor Prize-winning writer Ian Brown in conversation with documentary filmmaker Janice Zolf, followed by a star panel of authors (Ron Sexsmith, Heather O’Neill, Steven Heighton, Liz Howard, and Stephen Marche).” This exciting event is happening at Museum London on November 3rd, at 7 PM. Tickets are $15 for student. This is the only event that requires a ticket during Wordsfest.
Two things I want to highlight from this year’s event are: MJ Kidnie presents: Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio, showcasing the fourth folio of Shakespeare that has been gifted to the Western Library. Also Guerrilla Poetry, exploring poetry in different settings around town.
Other Weekend Highlights
Saturday, 4 November 2017 (all events are free):
Leacock award-winning author and former Western Writer-in-Residence Gary Barwin will read from his book, Yiddish for Pirates.
Internationally recognized musician and lyricist Ron Sexsmith will talk about his new book, Deer Life.
Western English Professor M.J. Kidnie will talk about Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio, with a chance to view a newly acquired Fourth Folio from Western Archives!
We will also screen Mi’gMaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby’s film, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, with a conversation with the director afterwards.
Sunday, 5 November 2017 (all events are free):
Award-winning cartoonist Chester Brown will read from his latest graphic novel, Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus.
Legendary editor and author Douglas Gibson will present his sesquicentennial lecture, 150 Years of Canadian Storytellers, 1867 – 2017.
Want to Volunteer?
“If you would like to be a volunteer for Words, you can send us an email at the following address: . There a range of possibilities for volunteers, including a chance to participate in our Guerrilla Poetry event up and down Dundas Street!
Whether you’re interested in philosophy, poetry, fiction, graphic novels, new media, spoken word performance, visual art, or big ideas, Words brings London’s creativity to life! Please share the invitation widely!”