Community and temporal gatherings

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while now – finally have a few moments to get something down.

slideshow in the parkA couple of months ago, my neighbor (Bill Jeffries) who also happens to curate the SFU Art Gallery organized a gathering of neighbors for a showing of some sort (having something to do with art, history and the neighborhood). We met in the park at dusk (the baseball diamond to be exact) to see friends and neighbors sitting on the ground, on blankets or lawn chairs – looking up at a screen that had been mounted on the chain link backdrop to the baseball area. This was (apparently) to be a showing of work (by neighbors and friends) documenting something of our history as a neighborhood. There were photographs, collages of images and sounds (mashups of sorts – though no-one called them that), images of architecture, billboards and landmarks in the “hood” from the past and present. There was at least one established artist among the group (whose work had been shown at the VAG among other galleries, and there were amateurs whose photos had been shot with disposable cameras. There was a slide carosel and projector (complete with blank and upside down slides) along side a Mac lap top with a narrated slide show. In short it was an incredible demonstration of community talents, interests and perspectives on a place we all care about. And, it was a moment for all of us to collectively reflect on our pasts, histories and those who lived before us in the place we all call home.

My (almost teenage) son had never seen a “slide projector” and – despite the fact that he is regularly wired to his online games and ipod music selection – he was riveted by the images on the screen – for an hour! slidehow in the park

The event made me think about what it means to be part of a community and how we came together in the moment – with little notice and not much planing to participate in something meaningful together. Some of us may not see each other for months to come – it was a temporal moment – a moment of communion – of learning and experiencing something together. Translated to my world, this kind of gathering is much like what happens (from time to time) on Twitter or in various blog comment streams. People come together for a moment with something to share about an idea they care about. It doesn’t need to be planned or evaluated or even archived – it just is.


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