Stepping out onto the streets of Yaletown, we were uncertain at first what the “Walking Home Yaletown” project would be like. After using Google Map the previous evening to find where in Yaletown is 530 Drake Street, we got to meet our fellow volunteers at the ISS (Immigrant Services Society) center. Upon meeting Catherine, our context-loving and intellectual teacher at the entrance, we were directed up to a room on the first floor where we had the chance to meet the rest of the group. Handshakes, polite greetings and welcoming smiles awaited each participant at the entrance. We were introduced to Laurie Dawson, a freelance broadcaster and she eagerly showed us her skills and gadgets for audio recording. Next, we got to meet our photographer Bali Singh. Bali’s presentation was quite remarkable and definitely inspired some of us sitting there listening attentively to her story. She told us of her decision to give up her job in order to pursue the arts at Emily Carr University. We were intrigued by her stories of her ongoing projects, including her blogs. She also informed us of her work during the Winter Olympics and how art could be use to send out a message. However, our time with Bali was short because that very evening, she had to catch a flight to Montreal for an art festival. After bidding farewell to Bali and last minute munching on snacks, we were ready to do some walking.
Walking down to Richards Street, we reached George Wainborn Park and our first task was… a scavenger hunt! We had to find two bridges, a school, a factory, yellow chairs, swings, two cranes and a heron, blue ferries and rainbow buses. We also observed some cement blocks that we were not sure if they were public art or lamps. This led us to the question- what are the standards to distinguish whether something is meant to be infrastructure or public art? This was an interesting discussion indeed. Sitting beneath the heron, an eye-catching piece of public art, Catherine told us the story of the heron returning to False Creek. For some of us, it was shocking to know that just 40 years ago in the 1970s, False Creek was an industrial area filled with pollution and virtually all wildlife was nonexistent. The public art piece of the heron was a remainder for the public of simply how precious wildlife is and the return of the heron was significant. While we were discussing this, Neudis pointed out the flashy, colourful screen across from where we were sitting. It turns out that this new public art addition was installed during the Olympics. A camera was placed underneath an Aquabus and what the camera captures under the water is reproduced onto the screen. It just comes to show how much public art surrounds us but we often do not pay enough attention to notice it.
As we headed back to the ISS center, we walked along the waterfront. Catherine wanted us to make some observations of our own so we better pay attention to our surroundings! Special attention was drawn to the million dollar dock in David Lam Park that was constructed during the Olympic but wasn’t used to its whole advantage. We also came across the last structure by famous Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, the residential building named “the Erickson”. Strolling down by David Lam Park with the roaring wind tailing right behind us, it was starting to get a bit chilly. Luckily, our destination was not far and even though our feet were tired and our ears ringing from the wind, we all made it back to the center.
Even with sore feet and windy weather, our hearts and minds were pounding strong from all the information we gathered on our first day. We were all excited for more!