The Thornhill Aquifer Protection Study (TAPS) continued to inform the community on groundwater usage and protection, producing an educational website with the help of funding through the CEED Centre Society from the RBC Foundation Blue Water Project. The website will soon be available to the public.
We were happy to collaborate with the Artists in Residence program hosted by Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Parks and Leisure Services, acting as a fiscal sponsor for a few of the outstanding community art projects created by artists Kat Wahamaa, Robi Smith and Rebecca Fisher. The evening performance of Waterbody at the Wharf on Rivers Day in September was made even more spectacular by a lunar eclipse, which nicely complemented the music and dance written and choreographed by Kat Wahamaa and performed with the Raging Grannies, the luminous salmon and dragonfly lanterns crafted under the direction of Robi Smith and the felting project which will ultimately be fashioned into a yurt by Rebecca Fisher. The event was attended by community capacity building guru, Jim Diers, who later presented on neighbourhood place making thanks to Parks and Leisure Services.
We started the Port Haney Seniors Stay Active initiative last March with financial support from the New Horizons for Seniors program of the federal government. The programs in this initiative allow seniors in the area to stay close to home to participate a diverse range of activities on a weekly basis. The Seniors Activity Group, for example, is led by our volunteer Susan Kennedy with a strong focus on humour in dealing with dementia for caregivers and persons experiencing the condition. This group continues to grow and is developing very close ties as it experiences everything from bocce ball tournaments to belly dancing instruction, weekly song sessions, photo collages and paper making sessions with Artist in Residence Kat Wahamaa. Most recently, we have been joined by the Purple Angel Ambassadors, an advocacy and support group for persons with dementia, which is spearheaded by Myrna Norman with support from spouse Dave.
Of course, we are now in our third year or so of offering Warren's Art Workshops, a free weekly exchange of artistic talent by the amazing artists in our midst. Warren Halm, the founding volunteer leader, was forced to move out of the community due to a fire at his residence, but his artistic legacy continues to build. Some participants come to hone their painting skills in a supportive environment, while others come more for the companionship and therapeutic aspects of creating art.
Similarly, the Wednesday Community Discussions have taken place every week for more than six years with only a few holiday breaks. What began as a series of meetings to think through perplexing social issues in our neighbourhood has evolved into an ongoing forum for residents to discuss current affairs, share expertise on significant topics and share information on community resources. It is a really good way for people to get better connected to their community and to find people with like interests over a coffee and local fruits, baking and veggies.
One of the common threads in the programs and services that we are able to offer because of our support by public and private funders alike is that most of them are completely free to the participants. Our Community Computer Program is a good example. People with limited budgets can connect to the Internet for free using our computers, printer and scanner and Skype account to look for jobs, find housing and access government services. It is equally important that the weekly programs are free because even a $1.00 drop-in fee can present an obstacle to a person trying to live on a disability pension or fixed income. More than 20% of our funding is derived directly from our community supporters with the remainder provided by various funding programs sponsored by government and private foundations. We would like to express our appreciation for the funders that made our work possible in 2015.
In 2015, we inched a bit closer to launching our vision for social enterprises that embody our advocacy for a food system that is more focused on local farming. We are proceeding with the planning to create an agrifood hub that will aggregate produce and products from local farms and processors as well as a complex that might include a farm school along with a farm managed by a social enterprise subsidiary. We look forward to announcing more on these projects in 2016.
Until then, we wish you happy holidays.