Story by Gareth Vieria

Imaginate 2017

Green Wood Coalition is a community organization that addresses poverty and social challenges that arise in Port Hope. A group of people from different walks of life who come together to make changes for the community.

If I think about the early days of Green Wood Coalition,” said David Sheffield. “We were just a weekly community dinner, people struggling to find a meal at the same tables with people who have plenty to eat. We sat and shared stories back and forth, we learned things, had our worlds changed and that continues today and this interconnectedness is at the heart of Imaginate. We are just bringing those conversations to a larger audience.”

Imaginate will be held on Thursday April 13, at the Capitol Theatre, in downtown Port Hope. It is an evening of storytellers, poets, musicians and other voices that offer something for the mind and something for the emotions with a strong theme of social justice that runs through it.

Each talk will be twelve minutes in length, fast paced and energetic the evening can best be described as a night of storytelling. This is Imaginate’s fourth year and this year’s format is sure to surprise.

“We got very local with Giorgos Kallonakis from Olympus Burger. He is a young entrepreneur who is making his mark in this small town where he lives and runs his business, working in a family tradition. There’s also the compassionate element he incorporates into his business, Generating funds for local charities. I really have respect for the kind of person that builds into their business a caring plan for the community. It’s not just an afterthought with George.”

Another relatively local presenter at Imaginate will be Christian Harvey, from Peterborough who heads the Warming Room, which provides emergency shelter and parallels the work of Green Wood Coalition, but in Peterborough.

Other presenters will include Mike Stevens, a well-known musician from the folk music world. Stevens, is a multi-talented harmonica player who travelled to communities in Labrador, at his own expense, to share his music. The result of this experience is a documentary called Walk in My Dreams, and the creation of an organization called ArtsCan Circle.

“They take musical instruments and creative experiences into indigenous communities in parts of Canada, Alaska, and other places where the crisis for social needs are pretty acute these days.”

Crista Couture will also be a speaker. She has visited Port Hope on numerous occasions and has worked with Green Wood Coalition in the past.

“Crista’s Father was an indigenous Shaman. He started the Indigenous Studies program at Trent University. Her Mother is Scandinavian and she grew up in these two cultures. She has experienced a lot of grief in her life and what she will bring to the event is her very real personal experiences,” said Sheffield.

Imaginate has grown in popularity each year and for The Green Wood Coalition, this is due in a large part to the partnerships they have created with other business, people, and organizations.

“Cameco has provided the venue,” said Sheffield. “They have been in our corner since the beginning. Watershed Magazine has also jumped on board.  Meg Botha, the art director at Watershed will be doing art direction for Imaginate, so the experience is going to be taken up a notch. And our partnership with Adventure Canada will give the audience an opportunity to look outside of our geographical community and consider our inter-connectedness as citizens of a shared planet. The partnership will also provide our host, David Newland, as well as the performing duo, Sunsdrum.”

Last fall Green Wood participated with other social agencies in the 20,000 homes campaigns, which is a grassroots coalition of over a dozen agencies in Northumberland County who have joined a national movement involving 33 other communities across the country whose goal is to permanently house 20,000 of Canada’s most vulnerable people by July 1st, 2018.

“An interesting survey found that 29 percent of the homeless individuals interviewed gave aboriginal ancestry, if you take, that the percentage of indigenous people in Northumberland County is somewhere around 2 percent, but 29 percent of the homeless you begin to see what is going on in the north is quite relevant to us here. It is that interconnectedness, that is part of what makes Imaginate interesting. W are an ecosystem, we have to address the unhealthy parts of our commnunity and make them healthy healthier. We need the connection of the whole community.”

For more information on Green Wood Coalition and Imaginate visit their website at http://www.greenwoodcoalition.com/imaginate.html