This post by Green Wood Outreach Worker, David Sheffield, earlier this week reflects the frustration of meeting people who have fallen through the cracks in our community, and are most at risk. This conversation that has started, we hope, will lead to some people who have been forced outside, coming indoors.
This cat and it's owner are homeless in Northumberland at the moment. The cat is staying at a shelter that provides food, water, support and a comfortable bed. The human is 'sleeping rough'* in our community, having been disqualified from receiving any sort of emergency shelter.
While I was making calls and visiting police stations on behalf of this person today, I was approached by another individual, also disqualified from any form of emergency shelter, also 'sleeping rough' in our community.
Incidentally, there is no appeal process if one is disqualified shelter.
I know it's summer and these people are not likely to die overnight (unlike the individuals I wrote about in February), but where is the justice, the compassion for our neighbours. And I have to ask, "will this problem be solved before winter?"
Northumberland is proud of it's reputation as a friendly, safe, caring community. But I have to question the press release when I encounter individuals who ( in spite of their being disabled, poor, injured, bullied, abused and pushed aside) are being treated as if they were criminals.
A measure of a community's values is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
Northumberland County, your grades are low today!
I'm glad that the pets are finding shelter, but when will the same concern extend to humans in our community.
'Sleeping rough' is the most extreme form of homelessness. It means living on the street or in alleys, beside garbage bins, in public spaces, sheltered over heating ducts or in any other place not meant for human habitation. It is usually a last resort for homeless people.
Fine coffee and chocolate for the palette, and art for the soul: the Green Wood Creative Arts Group is displaying work at Harden & Huyse Coffee throughout July. It’s a lovely place to linger over a cuppa and check out the bold, colourful work of the Green Wood artists.
The Green Wood group meets weekly in Port Hope, to learn skills, techniques, and explore new art media with local artists. The focus of the show’s work is mixed media, a combination of drawing, collage and painting. A series of fanciful birds are light and humorous, while other pieces combine vintage images with layers of colour. Port Hope artist, Heather Roy, curated this exhibition.
For the group, art making offers an opportunity to create works that are expressive and affirming. The friendships, acceptance and encouragement the artists offer to each other are an important part of the whole experience. The Green Wood Creative Art Group has been meeting for five years, and has had such local artists as Hilda Van Netten, Alice VanderVennan and Susan MacDonald devote their time and skills to lead the group.
David Sheffield, Community Outreach Worker for Green Wood Coalition, facilitates the art group, and begins each session with a poem or reflection, to help the group focus. Some sessions are devoted entirely to the written word, and poets like Rick Webster, Cliff Bell-Smith and Carol Anne Bell-Smith share their skills in writing poetry.
The exhibition continues through the month of July at Harden & Huyse, 201 Division St., Cobourg. An opening event will be held on Thursday, July 17 from 4-6 P.M. where many of the artists will be present.
Recently, a message of hope was brought to Port Hope, at an evening hosted by Green Wood Coalition, at St. Mark’s Parish Hall. Greg Paul, a founder of the Sanctuary community in Toronto, spoke about building a place where street involved folks can find safety, dignity, joy, family, and an opportunity to give back to society.
From its beginnings as a few musicians chatting with street people, Sanctuary grew to its current community of around 600, with a staff of 18 who are dedicated to building a foundation in those whose lives have been decimated by misfortune. A drop-in for those who live in the street, in shelters or other temporary and precarious arrangements creates a place where folks can gather, share meals, make art, work, and feel at home.
The most powerful and hopeful theme that recurred throughout Greg’s presentation, was that people who have a lot, need people who don’t have a lot, just as much as those who don’t have, need those who do.
When one participant remarked to Greg, “You are a very special person, to do this work," Greg countered that we are all made for this relationship building, connecting with our neighbours, and caring for each other. He relayed how important it is for stakeholders to come and be served by the street involved people, to visit and get to know some of the individuals who are part of the community at the drop-in.
Remarkably, Sanctuary is largely funded by private donation. This allows the organization to operate without the usual slavish dependence on grant formulas that become narrowly driven number goals. When asked “What does success mean to your organization?”, Greg responded that the goals are measured by the stories of individuals who have found some healthy connection to others in their lives, relationships that allow them to receive and express care, and proficiency in areas such as art-making, cooking, organizing and assisting with day-to-day operations.
Green Wood Coalition is striving to build that kind of community here in Port Hope, and the efforts of a group of local people from very different walks of life is growing, as the hope spreads.
-Heather Roy, Port Hope
A gathering of good hearted people in a beautiful location, under the longest sun of the year, made for a memorable Solstice Garden Blessing at the Green Wood Community Garden. Thanks to Sayed, Chris, Shari and Doug for their contributions. Special thanks to the Wolters family for their generous loan of the property where our garden is located.
Green Wood Coalition
Annual General Meeting
All members & guests welcome
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 7:30 pm
St. John's Parish Hall
Pine St., Port Hope, ON
As the growing season approaches, we are able to offer several, individual rental plots in our community garden on Peter Street in Port Hope. A small number of these 4' X 8' raised beds will be available to members of the public for a low annual fee, and agreement with our shared values.
Our garden is a place that encourages:
1. Enjoyment of the outdoors and Creation.
2. Making of friendships.
3. Building of community spirit.
4. Physical connection to the land.
5. Learning about natural, sustainable growing methods.
6. Planting, tending and harvesting of food crops.
7. Sharing of fresh, healthy vegetables.
8. Satisfying, rewarding labour.
9. Respect for one another and for nature.
10. Celebration whenever possible.
11. Enjoyment of the outdoors and Creation.
The Green Wood garden is one piece of a larger community initiative that provides shoulder-to-shoulder support for individuals and families who are living with issues related to poverty. Our site is made possible through the generosity of Dr. Tiffany Wolters of Ganaraska Animal Clinic, and her husband, Doug Wolters.
We are incredibly saddened to share the news that our dear friend, and Green Wood Board Member, Loretta Fraser, passed away in Oshawa on Thursday May 1, 2014. Loretta was also an active volunteer with hospice, and St. Vincent de Paul. Our love and condolences go out to Loretta's husband, Ross Fraser, their children and grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements can be found here.
(From left Arlene Pettipas holds the ribbon across the new Personal Care Cupboard at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church for Rev. Dr. Doug Brown and Councillor Mary Lou Ellis to cut, with the assistance of Lloyd MacDonald. Photo by Cecilia Naismith, Northumberland Today)
One of our partnering churches, St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Port Hope is offering a much needed service to people in need in the community:
PORT HOPE - People in need know that the food bank can help out with groceries, but sometimes edibles are not enough. Read more...
In the midst of doing what we do, we're always exploring new and interesting ways of improving what we do. This week we had the opportunity to visit two innovative projects in the heart of Toronto.
The Stop is a leader in the Community Food Centres movement that "strives to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community and challenges inequality".
Sketch creates opportunities for young people living street involved, homeless or otherwise on the margins, to experience the transformative power of the arts. They're in the process of moving into a new location that's part of an innovative project by Artscape. Incidentally, The Stop's Wychwood Barns location that we visited is also a collaboration with Artspace.