12 Jul

Story Spotlight – A Grand Thanks

We go down to the riverbanks to think
We go down to the riverbanks to drink
The river washes
The river watches
Grand living and learning
Grand transporting and transferring
The grand of the Grand touches us all
We gather at the river to reunite
We gather at the river to might right
The river rests and reactivates
River denizens synergize in song
Glorious voices from the river throng
We join the river in sweet harmony
Grand living and learning, Grand transporting and transforming, the grace of the Grand touches us all

Shared, illustrated and written by Marcia

“Six miles deep from each side of the River beginning at Lake Erie and extending in the portion of the Head of Said River, which Them and Their Posterity are to enjoy forever.”

Knowing your watershed and the waterways that meander through your community is important and I’ve been dabbling in exploring through drawing since creating that map. I met the Grand River Community Play group in the cold of November in the Abe Erb Mill by Laurel creek in Uptown Waterloo. It was the second Prologue, which was a manifestation of the group’s past year of collecting stories about the Grand River and tributaries. I was hooked. I wanted to continue my explorations in this context. This was fine with the creative leaders of the project, because everyone is invited to join in this collective community gathering of stories and ideas about the Grand. It’s in this spirit that I continue recording, exploring, mapping and scribbling ideas on the page with my fude (bent nib) fountain pen. The flow of ink feels like the flow of the river.

The question often asked in our workshops is “What does the River mean to you; and what do you mean to the River? Words for this scrambled in my brain, so I tried to tame them through my pen. Having experienced a guided “automatic drawing” session (I know – that sounds like an oxymoron), I wanted to try reaching my inner consciousness to express my feelings. I started as artists (such as Mirò and Dalì) have done before me, clearing my mind and letting the pen travel around the page randomly without rational control. After many lines and swirls the shape of a creature finally appeared. That’s where I stopped the random marks and started thinking of how this creature might take shape. As I began detailing this strange creature, other critters of the Grand began to enter my thoughts. Eggs, tadpole and frog; dragonfly, bumble bee, otter, … and lastly when I thought I was finished – a kingfisher. In the midst of that, words came and swirled around the image. Now that I look at “Grand Thanks again, I see that strange first image as the spirit of the dragonfly nymph. 

Am I the River and the River is Me began when someone said “We are not the river.” I explored this idea in the drawing, but I wasn’t finished chewing on it. My research found that at least three Indigenous-led initiatives have been successful in arguing that rivers have the right to “legal person” status. Rivers in New Zealand, the Amazon and Quebec, Canada now hold legal rights and responsibilities equivalent to a person. https://www.instagram.com/p/C1k-sR3Av-V/

I’m looking forward to exploring the river at Hillside Music Festival nestled on Guelph Island on the Speed River – a Grand tributary. With my comrades in the Grand River Community Play, we’ll be exploring through song, movement, puppetry, storytelling – and drawing.

02 Jul

Community Quilt Workshop in Cambridge, July 6th, 2024

Saturday, July 6 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Join us at the Queen’s Square studio at the Idea Exchange in Cambridge for a Community Quilt Workshop with the Grand River Community Play Project. ⁠

Location: 1 North Square, Cambridge, ON, N1S 2K6
Cost: FREE but please register beforehand.
Registration link: https://ideaexchange.libnet.info/event/10941486

There are no rules for creating a square aside from a final size of 10 x 10 inches. Any approach is welcome (sewing, painting, applique, felting, etc.), and we encourage experimentation and creativity. The most important thing is that each square should tell your story or depict your relationship to the river. Rather than a traditional rectangular quilt, each of your squares will be tied together to create the shape of the river and be displayed with a map of the Grand River watershed identifying where each square came from. We will also display a matching “quilt” of your stories about each square. ⁠

Examples of current
Grand River quilt squares

The Grand River Community Play Project: The Voice of a River is an interdisciplinary piece that will connect the communities and inhabitants that live along the length of the Grand River – a river that starts in the highlands of Dufferin County, travels 310 km, before emptying into Lake Erie at Port Maitland. About a million people live within the watershed, a watershed that passes cities, towns, villages, trees, wild grasses, coyotes, and includes thirty-nine municipalities and two First Nations territories.

The Voice of a River is about community and the meaningful connection to Indigenous leaders and communities along the Grand River. It is an inclusive creative activity involving artists, municipal and Indigenous leaders, scientists, Elders, Community folk, children, NFP organizations, educational institutions – and most importantly the Grand River. This is a project about storytelling – in all the ways stories can be told – in spoken word, in song, in dance, ceremony, in art installation, in silence, through different cultural lenses, and via technology. It is being imagined as an environmental experience – something that will develop and build over time, leading toward a unique presentation in all four seasons, and over many years, passing the experience along to the next generations for them to reimagine, for them to inhabit with their own stories.

24 Jun

The Voice of the River presents: “GRAND SUMMER comes to HILLSIDE”

On Saturday, July 20, participate in telling the story of the Grand River – celebrating 30 years since its induction into the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 1994 –by experiencing creative workshops in puppetry, music, art, and movement!

Purchase your tickets for Hillside today!

Presented by: Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity, Grandview Theatre, and Shadowland Theatre.

Come join us at The Hillside Festival 2024 from July 19-21 at Guelph Lake Island!

31 May

Where it all began…back in Blyth

Where it all began.

Back in 2014, the CCRC helped raise $5 million for the revitalization/renovation of the Blyth Memorial Community Hall, Art Gallery, Kitchen and Lower Hall. Two years later, the first Rural Talks to Rural (R2R) conference happened under a big white tent on the Blyth Fairgrounds. R2R becomes a biennial conference and is hosted in Blyth and Brussels. This year we are back in Blyth and the Memorial Community Hall. This special place offers a main stage theatre, art gallery, and lower hall. Much of the conference will take place in these spaces and for many, it is also a form of ‘coming back home’. For those new to Blyth and the hall, you’re in for a treat. It’s a beautiful space and place that reflects the incredible community and the arts.

Early bird pricing is available until June 30th. Scan the QR code to access or click here.

23 May

Welcome back Summer Student, Meagan!

Welcome back summer student Meagan Downes!

Meagan joins us again as our Creative Assistant to continue supporting the development of the Grand River Community Play Project. Meagan will work alongside Pete Smith in bringing together the people, stories, and spirit of the Grand River which will culminate into a community play in 2025.

Meagan shares:

“Hi I’m Meagan! I have two cats, love to read, and have been listening to California by Chappell Roan on repeat for a year! I’m a recent Theatre Studies grad from the University of Guelph and will be continuing my studies there in the fall pursuing a Creative Writing MFA. I am so excited to be back with the CCRC for another summer and can’t wait for what’s in store!!”

Welcome back Meagan!

23 May

R2R24 Early Bird Pricing Available

R2R24 Conference Tickets Available!

➡️ Full conference Early Bird pricing runs until June 30, 2024

➡️ Group (10 or more from one organization) rates

➡️ Students

➡️ Virtual tickets are available for those who cannot attend in person.

Virtual delegates access includes keynote addresses, presenters, conference highlights and closing remarks.

Use the QR code or click to purchase your tickets here.

22 May

The Rural Assembly: Exploring Our Differences Together

We shared R2R24’s conference photo, “Blue Heron in Flight” by artist Kelly Rebar. As mentioned, the Blue Heron symbolizes many things such as being present, patience, good judgment, and the ability to progress and evolve.

A very apt image for this year’s conference theme – The Rural Assembly: Exploring our Differences Together. 

An assembly is a gathering of people in one place for a common purpose. In our case, the common purpose is our rural communities, livelihoods, places, and spaces. 

We invite you to join the rural assembly to explore key rural issues and opportunities across our landscape, such as artificial intelligence (AI) ‘s impact on our rural communities, economic development, and health & wellness. Delegates have the chance to engage in discourse, make contributions, support others through listening and learning, and discover strategies for advancing rural development. 

R2R24 will provide various formats, methods, and models to step into this dialogue – through documentary theatre, storytelling, participatory leadership methods, art, and simply providing the place and space for rural to talk to rural. 

Early bird pricing is available until June 30th
More than 10 people attending from your organization? Click here for a further group discount.

21 May

Blue Heron in Flight – Conference Photo

We are delighted to showcase R2R24’s conference photo, “Blue Heron in Flight” by artist Kelly Rebar. In some cultures, a blue heron symbolizes being present, at peace, and in balance. In others, it represents patience, wisdom, good judgment, self-reflection, determination, and the ability to progress and evolve.

Please meet the artist and the story behind “Blue Heron in Flight.”

Kelly Rebar was born and raised on the prairies, and after a series of moves, made her home in the mountain town of Nelson, British Columbia. She has written plays, screenplays, and shares her photos daily on X https://twitter.com/kellyjeanrebar. Visit her fine art photo website: kelly-j-rebar.pixpa.com.

Artist: Kelly Rebar

“Taken from a canoe while paddling on Kootenay Lake on a summer evening a few years ago. I noticed a great blue heron and an osprey in a fight for a fishing spot. Their flight antics were dramatic to observe as they chased each other back and forth across the west arm of the lake. Finally, the osprey gave up and flew off. The image of the heron was captured after the struggle – as it flew one last time to the other side of the lake, and disappeared into the night. The light and soft shades of blue of the image are dreamlike, I know, but the quality of light that makes it so is due to a nearby forest fire that was burning out of control; the shades are softened due to heavy smoke hanging in the air. It impacted both those birds, as well as me, and every other living thing in the area.”

26 Feb

R2R24 Preliminary Information

At this year’s biennial conference, we have an opportunity to explore our differences together, engage in methods of participatory leadership to support our dialogue AND use our collective wisdom towards collective action whether as an organization, community, or individual.

More to come on the concept of The Rural Assembly – a powerful platform to truly welcome all voices.

We are excited to share that R2R24 is returning to the Blyth Memorial Community Hall from October 16 – 18, 2024. Tickets will be available in early spring.

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities for R2R24, reach out to Peter Smith at peter@ruralcreativity.org.

15 Jun

Support the Spirit of CCRC

THE SPIRIT OF THE CCRC is an energy that brings people together who mightn’t ever come together. It is about sharing an idea – something that is working in one rural community that could also work in another rural community. It is an energy inside a gathering place, where dialogue can develop into a path forward, where meaningful participation can wind up with us working together to leave the campsite better than we found it.

In supporting the CCRC you are supporting an organization that explores where rural is at today and, as importantly, where rural will be tomorrow.

Please visit: https://www.ruralcreativity.org/donate-today/