A new initiative for those over 55 called Community Conversations is in the planning stages. Community Support Services which is running the groups along with Visible Voices Open Arts Studio in Haliburton is looking for volunteers to assist. Four are needed. The end product will be a quilt created using the art made by the group. Photo: Penny Berens “Daily Scratchings”

Help create a Community Conversation

By Jenn Watt

Published Feb. 14

For four weeks a group of seniors will be getting together and telling their stories through art as part of the Community Conversations project in Haliburton.

The participants will be painting and drawing working with pastels and wax newsprint – you name it – to create squares that will be sewn together into a quilt.

The new venture from Community Support Services aims to offer a different kind of social recreation but they do need the public’s help.

Four volunteers called studio guides are needed for a short-term commitment of three hours a week.

“You don’t need to be talented in any of this” says CSS volunteer co-ordinator Brigitte Gebauer. “You’re just acting as a guide.”

There will be a full day of training for volunteers with Visible Voices Open Arts Studio guide Fay Wilkinson from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday March 31.

Wilkinson will be introducing the studio guides to the space and its resources and doing instruction on specific techniques they may not have tried before.

“Perhaps some print making some fabric collage incorporating found objects that type of thing” Wilkinson says. “Then we’ll talk about how do we engage the participants when they come. How to bridge conversations into working with this idea of doing different [art] panels.”

The project will run in April.

“Each week it will be a guided conversation by our volunteers our studio guides to get people reflecting on their lives their past present future and creating a piece that can go into this quilt that becomes a conversation between themselves and each other” says Nancy Brownsberger a staff member at Haliburton Highlands Health Services (of which CSS is a part).

Wilkinson says the space will be comfortable safe and non-threatening “that concentrates as much on the process of doing this as the end result.” In other words it’s not about creating a masterpiece as much as trying new things and expressing yourself through art.

“The end game is to hopefully be able to display the project in installment pieces” Brownsberger says noting that local galleries are interested in hosting the completed quilt to keep the conversation going.

The volunteer studio guides will be helping to give participants a chance to get together be part of the community and connect with each other.

For more information about the program contact Brownsberger at 705-457-2941 extension 2922 or nbrownsberger@hhhs.ca; to volunteer contact Gebauer at bgebauer@hhhs.ca or 705 457-1392 extension 2927.