My perception of the urban environment as a tool for the use of human society brought me to engage with this project. Eighteen water drop shaped pieces are planned for the pathways and two circular mosaic pieces will mark the entry to the park. The collaboration between planning parties is the driving force behind proper urban management. The result can turn into great living conditions.
How does this relate to making mosaics with the public? When we work on laying each small piece of broken ceramic onto the surface of our concrete base, a personal story unfolds. That story will be viewed by other people who visit the park. They will have a chance to go through a journey into their imagination while walking along the pathways. Already I've had the opportunity to notice the many interpretations some of our finished pieces excite.
The light gray areas mark the surfaces where the mosaic tiles
will be placed. Click the image to zoom in
and see the placements for the mosaic tiles.
The architects have a job to do in designing this park. The builders are in charge of putting it in place. When construction is done, it is the public that will be there to live with the results. Having members of the community participate in putting a piece of their lives into the park is a neat way of tying the ends. Our taxes go into paying for this development. Our hands are still there to be part of building it. It's like baking your own cake instead of buying it in the grocery store.
These forms will be sunk flush into the concrete surface.
The resulting recesses will house the mosaic tiles.
As simple as making mosaics can be, the fact that they are going to be part of public space requires a degree of coordination that I find intriguing. Each party has a role to perform. By working together the process promotes an opportunity to make the most out of collaboration. Having a community arts project as part of this maintains a balance between the professional and the personal.
making sense of it all.



When we will look at the process we are going through these days in twenty years, what we will see is a result. The beauty of a fine process is that it can be seen in a result you enjoy looking at many years later. Our ingredients for this are planning, right team and leadership. From how things look up to now we are on the right track.
This week the two first mosaic pieces were completed. Finishing a high quality 1 square foot tile requires more than a two hour workshop session that we schedule weekly for our groups. Instead of waiting with each tile to be completed by the same person who started it, we moved some of them between groups to add pieces to the partially laid surface. This helped in two fronts: finishing tiles quickly without haste and generating a true sense of communal collaboration. 
We got to a point where one of our biggest challenges is people getting excited and engaged. Usually they just put too little mortar on a tile or lay them so that nothing seems to resemble the intended image. Add genuine interest and you can end up with a bunch of small disasters that no one knows exactly what to do with. This is where leadership comes in handy. We have great leaders helping us in guiding youth in one group. The group of adults seems to understand the need to consult our guidance. Our own leadership is then a matter of balancing between keeping a sense of interest in the work and sensitivity to each person contributing their time and energy to this project.
The demolition of the park that started a short while ago is now transitioning into pockets of construction. By the end of this month we might even see some concrete paths being poured. In those paths we will have recesses to accommodate our tiles. Although there's still a lot of work ahead of us, completion feels very close. 


learning is one thing. implementing is another.

Facilitating a Matching Fund workshop is a constant process of learning. Whoever joins us for an hour or a few sessions has unique skills, expectations and interests. For us that means we need to be many things to many people. How to do this changes from day to day. 
Yoko on the left with
the Renfrew Community Center youth group
Yoko and I are working as a team since we met less than two months ago. I'm really happy with how well we get along. Each of us learns from the other and we both manage to review our process and make decisions following each discussion. Whatever we go through in a workshop generates insights into the steps ahead. This is how we find ways of transferring our knowledge and experience to our audience.
Placing tile fragments on paper is a quick way
to feel the process of mosaic creation
The differences between kids and adults are noticeable in terms of ability to concentrate, understanding of language and amount of energy. What I've noticed as similarities is a generality that I'm taking as fact and nothing more. It is an impression that is followed by change that brings me at the end of a process to re-assess my own perception: Most of our visitors start with hardly any ability to imagine what they'd like to create. Through our guidance and leadership a gradual change is taking place in front of our eyes.
One person creates a design. Another lays tiles.
Some of our results are thoroughly collaborative
We need that change to happen if we want to generate results that reflect our capabilities. There is no question in our own ability to produce mosaic tiles that people can appreciate. The challenge is in helping our audience succeed in making similar, high quality results we would like to see in the renovated Norquay Park. In itself, this aspiration raises questions over issues relating to art, quality, and authority. It also raises questions over how far we can go within the structure of the Matching Fund.
From a crude freestyle laying start,
we moved on to fine details and attentive focus
To judge by where we are at in this collaboration, we have gone very far. We intend to continue improving on that.