Posts Tagged ‘sunnydale’

House of Books

November 13, 2014

 

Photo via flickr

Photo via flickr

Little Libraries And Big Communities

If you walk through many neighbourhoods in Kitchener and Waterloo, you may have started to notice something out of the ordinary.

Little boxes on posts, that look like a strange combination of a mail box and a little bird house.  Sometimes they have a little window on the door that lets you peek inside.  What you find on closer examination, are books.  Lots of books!

Little Libraries, as they are called, are a simple idea.  In the words of the online hub that evangelises them they are:

[A] “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!

Locally you can go to Little Libraries of KW (here) to find out a few of the other little libraries.  They have a great map that will help you locate one close to where you live as well as tips, plans and encouragement if you want to make your own!

Community Connections at Sunnydale

On October 16, a Little Library was officially opened in the Sunnydale community in Waterloo.  Sunnydale’s Little Library is situated in a Waterloo Region Housing complex in which House of Friendship, Sunnydale Community Association and Waterloo Region Housing partner to operate the Sunnydale Community Centre.

A little library Comes to the House of Friendship Sunnydale Community Centre

 

Built by Jane Mitchell, Waterloo resident and Region of Waterloo Councillor, the Little Library has already seen many books come and go.   In the picture shared above, a young girl is seen choosing a book, with Jane’s encouragement.    Linda K, Program Supervisor of the Sunnydale Community Centre, shared that “located next to a busy community side walk, many area residents will pass and enjoy it each day. On behalf of the Sunnydale community, thank you Jane!”

The Library on Charles Street

The little library in front of the Men’s Hostel had a really strange/great beginning and reason for creating, says Brandon S. of Supportive Housing.

“There was a unique group of people that I had gotten to know that seemed to be intercepting at the same time.  There was a woman from one of the shelters that had seen one and wanted one near her area where she moved to. Then there was a few guys who were (in the past) looking for ways of using their painting/construction skills that were asked to help alongside Scott (of the maintenance department). There was also some men at the shelter that had been having some informal conversations with me about missing the times in their life where they would discuss ideas and literature and they wanted to do something to move towards that in some way.”

“I think for me my initial reason for wanting to do it was twofold. I’d been thinking about literacy and literature in low income populations, specifically how sparse these were and yet how meaningful they are when cultivated a bit. I’d also been thinking through some ideas around ‘fear of the other’ and how people can often pass by the shelter with heads down, scared of perceived things and assumptions around the men. I was hoping to be part of creating something that the men could use, could cause community members to stop/ maybe have conversation with people they normally wouldn’t interact with, and for these community members to also have access to books in a different way.”

“I don’t really have any interesting stories besides being surprised by how the guys take care of it, no vandalism, books tend to flow in and out well. It’s been neat to see the occasional passer-by stop and read the box, sometimes chatting with someone there, often just taking a millisecond break from a busy walk to work or school. Sometimes little things would catch me off guard like one of the guys repairing the bird house on top or another man closing the door of the box so that snow wouldn’t go in.”

Cynthia, a front line worker at the Hostel, adds that, “we all think the idea of sharing with anyone and everyone in the community is a really interesting concept.  You never know who took a book or who dropped a new one off. I find that the men like to share a book with each other and I try and encourage them to put them in the box after they are done to share with others in the community as well. We have also worked on creating a larger library here at the hostel, and the men seem to enjoy it.  Its a nice quiet and comfortable space with a couch that men respect as the quiet space at the hostel.”

The Power of Ideas

Little Libraries are a great example of the impact of a simple action that one person can do, to spur creativity, encourage sharing and get people reading!  Do you have a little library experience that you would like to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Volunteers Profiled: The Band of Johns

September 22, 2014

Volunteers Embody the spirit of Sunnydale and House of Friendship

Many Canadians wake up early each Thursday to get ready for work. Such are my Thursdays this summer, but not everyone shares my schedule, not exactly anyway. I was fortunate to meet three wonderfully “atypical” individuals one Thursday at the Sunnydale Community Centre.

Their names are John Thiessen, John Paterson and John Wilken, or, as they prefer to be recognized, John 1, John 2 and John 3, respectively. Those numbers refer to their seniority as volunteers at the Sunnydale Community Centre. Each John is extremely different and together they form a sort of modern day Band of Robin Hood; the Band of Johns if you will. However, there is one major distinction between the two brotherhoods; unlike the Band of Robin Hood, the Band of Johns use donations and their time to aid those in need.  Their dedication to ensuring that the dietary needs of others are met, along with their compassionate and altruistic nature, shows through in all aspects of their volunteer work at Sunnydale. (more…)

House of Friendship Votes: What Does Your Community Think?

June 9, 2014

Today I am pleased to share a guest post by Fariba talking about her experience in the community and her hopes for the involvement of the community with the democratic process.

House of Friendship encourages you to vote for a poverty free Ontario

1. Tell me a bit about your work at House of Friendship.  What is your role?

I am a community outreach worker at Sunnydale Community Centre and my main role is to support low-income families with children, who live in my catchment area.

2.Who are some of the people that you might work with in a typical day?

Single moms with children, youth in the community, immigrant families old and new (refugees, new-comers), students, and visitors.

3. Do you vote?  Why?

Yes, I see voting as a fundamental democratic right which keeps me connected to the political process and  allows me to  express my opinion and address my concerns with politicians and the elected representatives in my community.

 4. What does the word democracy mean to you?  How would you define democracy in our day to day life as a community?

As its roots in Greek language the word democracy for me stands for “the government by people”.  That means all the people should be able to have their say in one way or another in everything that affects their lives and it’s not only limited to participating in voting but also expressing ideas and concerns on decisions and policies in all levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal).

5. In the communities you live and work in, do people engage with the democratic process?  Do they feel they have a voice?  Do they feel like they have power?  Why?

In my communication with members of communities that I am in contact with, the subject of politics is not a favorite topic. The most common concern raised is that people don’t feel they have a voice or that their input will be valued, and there are several reasons behind this kind of thinking.  To name some:

  1. Negative and painful past experiences with politicians and government in their original country
  2. Lack of knowledge of the Canadian political system and their individual social and political rights
  3. They feel their issues are ignored/not addressed during political campaigns

6. What barriers (if any) exist that get in the way of people participating in the democratic process at any level?  Why would someone in the community that you work with decide to vote, or decide not to?

Language barriers plays an important role in preventing the immigrant voters obtaining knowledge and information, which affects the development in interest and sense of purpose to vote.

Sometimes the location of the polling stations and the limited time/resources to get there is voiced as a barrier as well.

Those who decide to vote are mainly motivated by hope for positive change and want to support the candidate/party that address their concerns.  Also, the same reason of negative past experiences and the inability to exercise their rights in their country of origin, motivates many more to value and practice their rights in Canada and vote.

7. What would you like to see happen on Election Day in your community?

What I like and hope to see in all communities is more and more participation in voting and political decision-making in Canada

 

What Children Teach Us About Giving

April 28, 2014

Childhood is usually thought of as a time when you start to learn about your place in the world and how to be a part of it.  Parents and other adults sheppard children from infancy through adolescence and into adulthood.

But not all life lessons need to come from adults.

Recently, six year old Ben delivered a large number of brand new toys and books to the Sunnydale Community Centre to share with children in the community.  The community centre is situated in North Waterloo in a culturally diverse community which is home to many new immigrant families, a large number of children and youth and many living on a limited income.   Many of these families access services, resources and programs through the community centre. (more…)

Supporting diversity during 12 Days for Good

December 19, 2012

Today’s 12 Days theme is ‘Diversity,’ which can be approached from many directions. Diversity is something that you might think of in terms of culture, country of origin or language but it can also apply to income, experience, age, outlook, or native language, to name a few. Today we’ve decided to focus on cultural diversity, and in particular on ways the Sunnydale residents have used diversity to transform their neighbourhood.

We’ve written about the Sunnydale community centre before, and for good reason. It has a rich history, not all of it happy.  For starters it is a multicultural hub but used to be known more as a neighbourhood with a high crime rate. Part of what helped turn that around is how they often bring people of all different cultures together as equals. Recently, the Sunnydale Community Centre received a grant from the City of Waterloo to publish a cookbook, bringing together family recipes from residents along with the story behind each recipe.

A picture of participants at food distribution at Sunnydale

A picture of participants at food distribution at Sunnydale

The cookbook was inspired by a day when the neighbourhood made ‘stone soup’ together. Rebecca Seiling explained the process in the book’s foreward:

“Several years ago, the community participated in making their own ‘stone soup.’ As in the traditional tale, big pots of water were set of boil in the kitchen of the community centre which is at the heart of the complex, drawing out curious people from their homes. Stones were added to the water, with an encouragement to residents to bring whatever they could to make stone soup. Bit by bit, various ingredients were added to the pots: bamboo shoots, Chinese mushrooms, onions, carrots, cilantro, peppers, beets, potatoes, parsley, celery, garlic, turnip, and other ingredients whose English names were unknown—each one improving the flavour of the soup. In the end, the neighbours created something delicious that none of them could have made on their own.”

(more…)