‘Dig Your Neighbourhood’ project digs into Rutland’s history, future

UBC’s creative writing students capture the character of historic Kelowna district

Imagine John Rutland, founder of the historic community bearing his name, in a Monty-Pythonesque soliloquy about his escapades. Or how about a dating guide that highlights all the local places to take a great date or ditch a bad one? Or a CD of music celebrating Rutland, a graphic novel about scary hauntings in Rutland, or a lifestyle magazine featuring fabulous homes and styles of residents?

Emerging artists from UBC are engaging Rutland in an innovative endeavour called Dig Your Neigbourhood Rutland. The UBC Okanagan initiative is driven by a creative bunch of students from the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. The ultimate goal of the project is to generate discussion around the cultural, historical and ecological issues of a specific geographic and cultural space.

Creative writing and visual arts students have created a limited-edition package of artworks that will be distributed to new residents of Rutland by Welcome Wagon Ltd. The public is invited to the launch of this art initiative on Saturday, April 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Hillcrest Farm Market, 700 Highway 33 East, Kelowna. There will be refreshments, entertainment and a number of artworks will be for sale.

Students are excited about the neighbourhood dialogue and how their Dig Your Neighbourhood work will shape what Rutland newcomers need to know about their new homes.

Jessica Bonney co-authored a book of poetry about Rutland with Sarah Megan Hunter, called Daylighting. “There’s a really fabulous sense of community in Rutland,” says Bonney. “I really love coming here.”

“It was really cool to see it all come together,” says Nik Vreugdenhil, who worked on maps for a walking guide for DYN. “I learned so much, not just about the community, but in collaborating with artists and using industry-standard programs and software.”

Jessica Klassen did design work on three individual pieces, Daylighting, the walking guide, and a teen survival guidebook. “Just getting to know the character of Rutland turned out to be a fascinating experience,” she says.

Nancy Holmes, associate professor of creative writing, says Dig Your Neighbourhood is an innovative project unlike anything done anywhere else. Students learned how to write to a specific audience and how to develop a project from concept to finished product.

“Writers get to work with visual artists and they get a sense of their own role, the contribution they make, as well as collaborating with each other and engaging with the community,” says Holmes.

Rutland, a community seeking to re-energize itself, is home to many low-income families and recent immigrants. Misconceptions about Rutland are nothing new.

“Local residents and community groups are excited about our involvement because we will be able to assist them with some of their own projects, and with helping the neighbourhood overcome negative stereotypes,” says Holmes.

The Dig Your Neighbourhood project is a partnership of UBC, Welcome Wagon, artsVEST BC, the Eco Art Incubator, Lake Publishing and the Uptown Rutland Business Association.

More information: Twitter: @DYNRutland
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DYNRutland

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