A little goes a long way. It went from the Vancouver Foundation all the way to a Quesnel advocate, and it turned from some art supplies, flowers and snacks all the way to a network of new friends.
Linda Manky didn’t need much to bring a couple of dozen people together for some fellowship and fun they would have never otherwise had. It’s exactly what the Vancouver Foundation had in mind with its $500 Small Neighbourhood Grant program, which is how Manky got the funding for some much needed socialization as Quesnel wakes up from COVID’s social hibernation.
“They basically believe that when neighbours connect and friendships are born, magic happens and communities and neighbourhoods as a result can feel safer and more vibrant,” Manky said. “It turned out so good.”
The grant rules stipulate that the money must be spent on honoraria for presenters, space rentals, and whatever hard-cost supplies are needed.
“I gave a speech about the businesses that were generous in regard to this endeavour,” said Manky. “Some gave me discounts or products needed: Craig’s Table, Quesnel Bakery, Big Country Printers, and Staples. I got door prizes from Granville’s, Mama C’s, Paradise Salon & Spa, The Mill Pub, Dragonfly Naturals, and Hi-Chic Cutting Lounge.”
A large window of time was allowed by the granting agency, so Manky could put together a strong event. The whole point was to tap friends and acquaintences on the shoulder for their input, and together put on some kind of occasion that boosted community spirit and neighbourly connections.
“One of my coffee friends, Louise Smith – she is well known from being at Blumko Flower Art and Christine’s Floral – offered to be a presenter as a florist,” Manky said. “Then, some time later, I saw Lee-Anne Chisholm working on a mural and asked her if she would also be a presenter. She agreed and then we worked out a plan to have a two-and-a-half-hour event in the Library Program Room where Louise would first do a presentation on floral arrangements in china teacups. We then had a light lunch.”
After breaking bread, the second round of hands-on creative expression got underway. Chisholm and her partner Aaron Harder – acclaimed artists, both – donated the paint supplies and led a slide show and discussion for everyone working together on some communal art.
“They are in demand all over B.C. Their works are becoming so prevalent and are so amazing,” said Manky. “They had an art project where attendees could take part painting on a mural they created with sections that had various textures. People had the choice of what colour paint and what section they chose to paint. It was so much fun.”
More than 20 people came out to enjoy the multi-faceted event. Manky said some were already known to each others, some were acquainted, and others were complete strangers at the beginning. No one was by the end.
These kind of micro-events are believed to be important glue for a town, especially in times like these with financial and social pressures at the national and even global level coming to bear on our local lives.
“People have better community connections, after things like this, leading to better health and better wellness,” Manky said.