By Alyssa Athanasopoulos
After two years of virtual races, the in-person Run Bowness is returning on June 5. Here’s how you can be part of the action without pounding any pavement:
Even though it’s called “Run Bowness”, running is definitely not required. Both the 5K and Kids Mile routes take place entirely on roads or paved pathways, making them wheelchair and stroller accessible. It’s truly a win-win if you’re looking for an excuse to get outside and meet new people, all while supporting the BCA.
The BCA is on the lookout for reliable volunteers to help make the event a success. Volunteers can help manage barricades, hand out water, sign up runners, hand out race kits, and hand out snacks at the end of the race. Volunteers can also help organize and market the race in the months leading up to it.
Pro tip: Cash prizes are available not only to the winners of the races, but also for the local school who comes out with the most volunteers and race participants.
Races can be grueling and seeing a smiling face or a homemade sign with inspirational messaging can be just the ticket to help someone push through to the finish line. Whether you know someone in the race or not, you can start your day knowing your presence along the path made a positive impact.
Visit mybowness.com/events to register for a race, or contact the BCA to volunteer: email@example.com
There is so much to celebrate this summer. You can feel it in the air: this pent-up demand for patio season, for birthday parties, for any activities that bring together the people we hold dear. We are lucky to have so many great outdoor places to gather here: Bowness Park, patios, front yards, and backyards. And the Bowness Community Association (BCA) is working on another: THE HEART OF BOWNESS!
The BCA has long been considered the Heart of Bowness, and we’re making it official by expanding into the outdoors. THE HEART OF BOWNESS will be a park space designed to celebrate the energy and passion of all Bownesians. With gardening space, a mixed-use sports court, a public art space, seating, and winter ice activities, this dream park will have a little something for everyone in our community.
THE HEART OF BOWNESS will add to our neighbourhood’s rich history of community gardens. You’ve probably driven past the old community garden located right on Bowness Road, on the east side of the train tracks; that garden was operated by the Bowness Railway Community Garden Group (BRG) until last year when the plot of land used for gardening changed ownership. While the situation was disappointing for the community, the BRG is very appreciative of the owner’s generosity in allowing them to use the ground and facilities for the last 13 years. Since getting the news, the BRG has been in talks with the BCA and other community organizations to relocate the community garden.
The value of community gardens is well known and their increasing popularity has been further boosted in the last year as travel has been restricted, global supply chains have been stretched to their breaking points, and financial strains have increased. THE HEART OF BOWNESS will have raised-bed garden boxes, inviting the community to continue the age-old tradition of building a bountiful harvest together.
In addition, there will be a multi-use sports court with endless possibilities right in the centre of THE HEART OF BOWNESS. This space will provide Bownesians old and new with a place to get active together all year long – complete with a basketball net, a pickleball court, public art, and potentially even a fire pit! The court will allow us to expand our existing programs, like popular pickleball, and move some classic BCA events to this space, like our annual Movie in the Park!
Flexibility is central to the vision for this park, so the court will be built to allow a seamless transition from summer activities to a winter wonderland. While nothing quite beats the iconic views while skating at Bowness Park, having our own ice will mean less crowding and more slip-sliding!
The park’s construction will begin this summer: garden boxes and a storage shed will be built, and a water line will be installed. Not only will this launch our project, but also ready the space for the full build-out in 2023!
Here’s the fun part: we need YOU to help us bring THE HEART OF BOWNESS to life! To complete your park, we need to raise $300,000 – and in a neighbourhood with such a strong spirit of giving, we know this goal can be reached by year’s end! We also need volunteers for the Fundraising, Gardening and Outdoor Ice Committees!
To contribute visit THE HEART OF BOWNESS page here!
To join one of our Committees, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We invite you to follow along (and help us spread the word by using #HeartOfBowness) as construction gets underway. And we can’t wait to celebrate our unique community with you at THE HEART OF BOWNESS!
Imagine a place where you can go to sow some seeds, help them grow, harvest their bounty, and share with your loved ones. Now envision that place within a short walking distance from your home. Begin to imagine running into your neighbours and friends as you’re digging in the dirt, connecting to nature and discovering the joy of growing your own food.
Can you see it? It’s your community garden, a place to support your physical and mental wellbeing, for youth to learn to grow food, and where biodiversity can flourish. In other words, it’s a lot of things for a lot of people, but ultimately, it’s a safe space to learn about gardening, share intergenerational knowledge, and find a sense of belonging.
Starting this spring, the BCA invites you to come grow with us. Drop by the BCA office or email email@example.com to learn more and get involved.
“The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?”
– Jack Kornfield
There has been much press recently highlighting “green” projects, many of which have arisen as a response to pollution and environmental destruction. This month I would like to introduce readers to the concept of a Miyawaki Forest, along with a different format for The Bowtanical Garden.
Recently, I had a conversation with Bowness resident Rob Miller, who has been in discussion with The City of Calgary Parks concerning the planning and planting of a Miyawaki Forest in a section of Dale Hodges Park.
Beverley – Rob, I understand that a Miyawaki Forest is named after the late Akira Miyawaki, a Japanese botanist and ecologist, but what exactly is a Miyawaki Forest?
Rob – Beginning in the 1970s, Professor Miyawaki advocated strongly for “natural forests” and the need to restore them. His studies at the time revealed the majority of forests in Japan were populated by non-native species, primarily planted for timber to support the forest industry. In some instances, the native forests had been removed completely to support agriculture and construction projects, resulting in many instances of erosion and severe soil degradation. He then launched a series of test projects in Japan to reintroduce deciduous native trees, as well as accompanying natural vegetation in an effort to restore the original biodiversity.
The interesting part about these initial projects is that Professor Miyawaki observed some natural forests remained intact around temples, shrines and monasteries in Japan, which allowed him to study and catalogue them. He also collected their seeds, which were then used as the foundation for planting new natural forests.
Beverley – I understand these initial projects were very successful in Japan, and Professor Miyawaki went on to conduct similar projects in many other countries to restore their native forests. This makes me think he uncovered a number of benefits from using his methods.
Rob – Yes, there are many benefits to reintroducing a native forest, but the most significant one is that a planned and planted native forest consistently regenerates much faster than a monoculture of non-native species, Professor Miyawaki determined that a planting using his method became a thriving natural forest within 20 to 30 years, nearly 10 times faster than typical tree plantations in Japan. Another benefit is that once a natural forest is established, in about three to four years, no maintenance or chemical fertilizer is required. The forest sustains itself and supports local biodiversity – the wildlife returns and the soil gradually improves. It has also been recently determined that these reintroduced natural forests can absorb upwards of 30 times as much carbon dioxide as forests planted for timber. In many locations, natural forests are found to be more drought-tolerant and can mitigate flooding by absorbing more water.
Beverley – Most “greening” projects I’ve noticed in Calgary usually start on barren ground and are sparsely planted with a few trees braced on poles. I see a lot of dead trees lining our streets in the spring! As the establishment of Miyawaki Forests has been successful in many countries, is there a process that has been developed to increase the chances of achieving success?
Rob – Yes, Professor Miyawaki developed a five-step process for the planning and planting of a natural forest with an aim to create a layered effect of trees, shrubs and ground cover. This process has been successful for large deforested areas, along city streets and parks, and even for small backyard groves. The five-step process is:
A site survey is made of existing vegetation in the area, including all types of plants, from places that are still in a relatively natural state. Soil testing is conducted to compare soil from the natural area to soil in the planting site.
Professor Miyawaki also collected seeds from native plants and used these to grow seedlings in a nursery. Plants and trees can also be ordered from nurseries without the added step of collecting native seeds.
Soil is prepared at the planting site, with up to 30 centimeters of organic matter selected to bring the plantation site closer to native soil composition.
A mixture of multiple species of trees, shrubs and ground cover (up to 40 different species) are planted randomly and close together to encourage competitive growth.
Watering (if required) is done for one to three years to allow for the plantings to take hold. After this point the site should be self-sustaining.
Beverley – This seems like a fairly straightforward approach, but not something that one or two people could tackle on their own. I understand you’ve been in discussions with The City’s Parks Department about possibly undertaking a Miyawaki restoration project in a portion of Dale Hodges Park.
Rob – Yes, I have had a very positive response from Calgary Parks, as well as Drs. Jana Vamosi and Mindi Summers, two biodiversity scientists at the University of Calgary’s Department of Biological Sciences, who have agreed to help with the project. Mike Dorion of Living Soils Solutions in Calgary has also expressed interest in helping out with the soil testing, which will be a critical component when we start to plant. However, as this will be a big undertaking, we are looking for volunteers from Bowness and surrounding communities to get involved with this project.
We are planning a Bio Blitz for Monday, May 23 to photograph and catalogue native plants in the forest around Dale Hodges Park. We want to identify as much existing native vegetation as we can. This will give us a good indication of what types of trees and shrubs will be successful. Dr. Vamosi, and possibly some of her students, has volunteered to be on hand for the Bio Blitz, to help volunteers with plant identifications. It will be a fun experience for those who like being out in nature and learning about native trees and plants.
Beverley – I really enjoy Dale Hodges Park, and this is exciting as a possible next phase for restoration of that area. If people are interested in taking part in the Bio Blitz, who do they contact?
Rob – I love walking my dog in Dale Hodges Park! The landscape architects have done an award-winning job creating the wetlands and trails in the area. Anyone interested in participating in the Bio Blitz can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve set up the project on iNaturalist.ca to allow people to upload their plant photos from Dale Hodges Park during the Bio Blitz, but if you can’t make the event, you can still participate on your own time. Just email me for details on how you can add your photos to the project.
Beverley Sheridan, The Bowtanical Garden
In early 2021, Loft 112, a creative community space in the East Village, was invited to work with international students through the University of Calgary. Loft 112 asked the students to help them solve a problem of how they could extend their reach into Calgary and meet new people in various parts of the city. Students came up with the Cards for Community project.
The project invited Calgarians to invite others into their neighbourhoods by way of a postcard. The postcards could visually tell a story about the neighbourhood. Participants could also share about their neighbourhood through a poem, recipe, or song, or they could share where they walk their dog, through a business, or anything else that welcomed someone into their neighbourhood and told them why it was an important place for them.
The student team then handed the project over to Lisa Murphy Lamb, Director of Loft 112, and Stacey Walyuchow, Manager of Opportunities at Loft 112, and the duo went to work to invite Calgarians to participate. In September 2021, they sent 800 postcard invitations into the community and launched a social media campaign. Says Lisa, “Our goal was to get a postcard for every neighbourhood in Calgary. We really wanted to get all 217 neighbourhoods. So the scope was huge. We got postcards from 120 neighbourhoods.”
And one of those postcards was submitted by Bowness resident, Sophie Stocking. Sophie has known Lisa for a few years now, and is often inspired by her projects. And Sophie immediately jumped on the opportunity to submit a card related to Bowness. Sophie says, “I hope people in Bowness get a sense of pride from it. I think we’re quite unique with the amount of nature and history we have. Bowness is really gritty and real, and unique in Calgary, and we should be proud of it.”
Lisa says, “Sophie’s postcard talks about the [train] bridge and the past and the present, and the lifelong activity of jumping from the bridge and escaping trains. Hers is a beautiful card and it talks about Bowness in a very poetic and visually stunning way.”
So beautiful a submission that Sophie’s card was selected as one of 23 winning postcards to be printed and distributed. Lisa says, “We’ve created a map of where these postcards are, and we’re encouraging people to have an adventure and go and pick up and collect all 23 winning cards. While they’re in the different neighbourhoods there is also a list on the card of must-sees to visit.”
Aside from a physical postcard, what is the intended takeaway from the project? Lisa says, “We want everyone to take away what they can, but we want them to see the city in perhaps a different way, and in perhaps a more personal way.”
The over 200 postcard submissions are now hung up for viewing in The Landing at the BCA (7904 43 Ave. N.W.) until the end of May. Join us on Saturday, April 23 from 6-8pm in The Landing for the official launch. to view the installation, and you can pick up a copy of Sophie’s winning postcard for yourself (while supplies last).
For the map to the other 22 winning postcard designs, visit: https://www.loft112.org/cards-for-community
And creates opportunities for residents to connect and express themselves while learning new skills!
Writers. Painters. Photographers. Woodworkers. Dancers. Fibre artists. Gardeners. Sculptors. The list of creative talent in Bowness can go on forever. There’s something in the air, in the water, in this community that beckons to artists. The Bowness Community Association wanted to find a way to create opportunities to connect creative types with residents in and around the community. And so, the Bowness Artist in Residence Talent Share Program was forged – Bowness ARTS, in short!
The Bowness ARTS Program launched in early 2022 following a call for proposals in the previous fall. The intention is for artists to introduce themselves to the community through their art; this can look very different depending on the artist – some might host workshops, or perform at a BCA event, or create a community art project, and some might do all of those things. Thanks to generous grants from United Way and The City of Calgary, artists will be compensated for their labour and all Bowness ARTS activities will be free.
As this is a pilot program, we hope to make the Bowness ARTS Program a permanent initiative, so stay tuned for updates as they become available, and for your opportunity to apply as an Artist in Residence in the future.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your art.
My name is Kyra Newton, and I am a contemporary dance artist. I have a degree in contemporary dance and sociology. I have branched out into the realms of dance for people with disabilities and also conscious dance, which is basically connecting the mind and the body, and connecting our emotions and our spirit. I make a lot of programs for people — children, adults, seniors — that really encourage them to connect to their bodies. I also create mindful choreography that is either encapsulating my experiences in the world and in nature, or is embodying emotions. I make a lot of work. I love it.
How long have you lived in Bowness and what drew you here?
I’ve lived in Bowness for about two years. We chose to move out here because it’s so close to natural areas. We love being by the river. It’s nice to be in a community that is well connected. There’s strong bonds in Bowness and we were drawn to that. And we love Bowness Park.
Why did you choose to apply for the arts residency?
I’m really interested in creating more opportunities for community members to access art. I love that this opportunity integrates community workshops. I also have this burning desire to create choreography based on my experiences with the elements. I’ve done a workshop on it before, and I was really feeling pulled to serve people through performance and workshop.
How can communities better support the arts?
Communities can better support the arts by attending events and workshops, by being curious about art and what is being made. And also engaging in conversations with artists, asking: “What are you making?” and “How do you hope to influence people?” Remove the idea of barriers like “that’s an artist and I’m not an artist” and allow those lines to blend, blur. Get involved in workshops and attend events and allow that to pull creativity out of people.
From this opportunity, what would you like to see for yourself, for others in the community, and for the arts in Bowness?
For arts in Bowness, I’ve always dreamed of living in a community where there are a lot of different art programs being offered — dance and visual art and pottery and writing — that bring people with different lived experiences and of different ages together as participants and as audience members. I feel like it contributes to creating a really rich community, but also gives people a stronger sense of belonging. When you’re attending things in the community it really supports the sentiment of ‘I belong in this community and this is my community.’
For the people I serve as participants and audience members, I really desire for them to have an experience where they can connect to nature and themselves. [For example,] how does the element of earth actually exist within you? And how can you embody it? And when you see it, what does that bring up for you? I’d like to have it influence their mind and the way they look at nature.
And then for my craft, I tend to work where I just do things and see what is unearthed. So, to have a really specific entry point is going to support me to be focused and also to challenge my habitual ways of creating work. It’s something new for me to be working on, so I imagine there will be wonderful discoveries and challenges and question marks, and that’s always really nourishing for the process.
Sign up for Kyra’s Workshop here!
And save the date for her Embodying the Elements Showcase event on Sunday, April 24 from 4:00 – 5:00 P.M. or 7:00 – 8:00 P.M. in the BCA South Hall (7904 43 Ave. NW)
Becky McNabb was born and raised on Saskatchewan prairies where the colourful skies and vast landscape provided unending inspiration. Becky holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Calgary.
A self-proclaimed non-representational painter, Becky works in acrylic and mixed media, and she is often influenced by unique patterns or distinctive colours found in nature. As an abstract artist, a focus on texture is key to her personal style.
Residency from May – August 2022
Margaret Jessop is an Art Quilter known for her portraits, landscapes and use of colour. She is a graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design in Fibre.
Margaret has been creating art quilts since 1983 and teaching quilting for over 30 years. She has been doing trunk shows for the past 10 years, and her quilts have been shown internationally. In 2016, Margaret was honoured as Quilter of Distinction at the Calgary Festival of Quilts held at Heritage Park.
Residency from September – December 2022
By Bill Christieson
“Community… is about the experience of belonging. We are in community each time we find a place where we belong.”
Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging
Strong communities are built on relationships.
A neighbourhood is a place to know and be known. The Community Development Committee connects Bowness residents to resources and to one another, assisting Bowness residents to each become an integral part of the life of the neighbourhood. Becoming integrated means both giving and receiving the gifts and skills that make us strong. Strong communities are developed when residents identify deeply with their place and invest themselves for the sake of their neighbourhood and neighbours.
First, there are resources available through the BCA and its partners. The BCA provides space, resources, programs and facilities to groups developing the social fabric of the neighbourhood. The Committee supports the Bowness Community Hub Coordinator in connecting Bowness residents to community building resources and initiatives in the neighbourhood.
Second, the Community Development Committee works to recognize and mobilize the gifts of our neighbours. There is a rich abundance and diversity of skills and passions among our neighbours. A primary goal of the committee is to help Bowness residents share these gifts with one another. Many of these gifts have become established and cherished initiatives within the neighbourhood. The committee wants to foster the continued growth of grassroots Bownesian projects.
Third, the Community Development Committee helps Bowness residents connect with one another. The committee helps to establish and promote relational networks in the neighbourhood. When residents are linked to one another the neighbourhood has the potential to flourish. The committee seeks to identify established networks and develop greater connection.
Let’s work together to create a stronger, more connected Bowness.
If you want to participate in building community in Bowness, here are a couple ways to get started:
Make a connection with your immediate neighbours. A simple way to build on your current connections or make new ones is to drop an encouraging note in your neighbours’ mailboxes. Let them know your hope of being part of an integrated neighbourhood that fosters relationships. Invite further engagement and friendship.
Participate with the BCA Community Development Committee. The committee meets regularly throughout the year. Email the Bowness Community Association to express your interest: email@example.com
By Gideon Mentie
At the beginning of the pandemic, being outside kept me from going stir-crazy. But as the winter set in I needed a little bit of extra incentive to brave the freezing temperatures and get outside. I surprisingly found that incentive in cross country skiing.
The 2021 skiing season wasn’t technically my first time on a pair of skis. A few years ago, I stole my father’s old skis while he was selling our childhood home. He hadn’t used them for a while, so I stored them in my university apartment and went skiing in the Rockies with a friend a few times. Little did I know that my dad’s white lacquer skis from the 80s, complete with neon pink stripes and bamboo poles to match, would eventually be my emotional support tools through a global pandemic. But that’s exactly what happened: I think that cross country skiing rescued me last year.
I called my college buddy and we set out one weekend to the West Bragg Creek day area. The parking lot was packed, which I soon learned is a regular occurrence. Regardless, we enjoyed an amazing day on the trails. This became a regular trip for us, and soon we had other friends joining us too. I also started going out on my own, not just to Bragg Creek but also to some spots in Calgary as well. I began making a trip to the East Village most Saturday mornings, and I would brazenly ask anyone who looked like they knew what they were doing for tips to improve my technique.
Last April, I moved to Bowness just as the skiing season was coming to an end. But now that we are back in the clutches of winter, I’ve returned to the trails with gusto. There’s something enchanting about gliding through newly groomed tracks, and if I’m honest, I actually love the little challenge every hill presents. Moreover, I’m saving money on a lift ticket to Sunshine and I’m getting an extra workout in too.
By the time this article is published spring is hopefully just around the corner; but if we still have some snow on the ground, I hope you get a chance to go skiing – whether it’s your first time or five hundredth time.
Looking for something to help keep you active during our long winters? Here’s some tips on how to start cross country skiing:
Stay in Your Backyard: And by backyard, I mean Bowness Park! You can rent skis right in the park to use the City-laid tracks along the river path. Practice going around the loop with a friend to get comfortable. We’re really lucky to have such an incredible winter destination in our community, great for both new and practiced skiers alike.
Get a Lesson: If you’re looking for some training as you get started, you can check out the Canmore Nordic Centre. Not only do they have professionals who can help perfect your technique, they also have a beautiful circuit of tracks with stunning mountain views. Head to their website for more information.
Hit the Mountains: The West Bragg Creek Day Area has endless options to ski; set out for Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis if you like elevation; or take a longer drive to enjoy the gorgeous trails at Lake Louise. Remember to make a donation to the ski clubs that care for our tracks, so we can continue enjoying this lovely winter sport.
On a warm morning in late August, a team of volunteers was paving the way to food security for Bowness residents. No, literally – the group was pouring a concrete pathway for Bownesians to access a fridge, freezer and pantry outside of Awaken Church. Today, we know this space as The Common Cupboard in Bowness, and it’s part of a growing movement across Calgary.
The Common Cupboard is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. The Cupboard was created by volunteers and modelled after the community fridge in Crescent Heights. Nikayla, lead pastor at Awaken Church and proud Bownesian for the past six years, says the goal is to address food insecurity in Bowness through a collaborative community-led approach.
Once COVID hit, there were a lot of people in Bowness handing out lunches in the Boys and Girls Club parking lot. Some of them approached folks at the BCA and asked “How can we work together?” There was a food bank at St. Edmund’s Church, lunches going out from Bowcroft School, and what about Good Food Box? Even with so many options, barriers were thrown up in the form of mandatory registration or only being available on certain days for short periods. Enter Nikayla, who thought, “I know a really cool way to bring integration to all of those agencies.”
The Common Cupboard runs on a trust-based model where anyone who self-identifies as needing this service can access it. “I love that they can come here without signing up,” says Nikayla. “There’s no security cameras; no one is judging you. And this isn’t just for people experiencing homelessness. I think lots of people are concerned about the price and availability of food right now, but they might feel ashamed because they aren’t struggling as much as someone else. That’s not the point – The Common Cupboard is for anyone and everyone.”
The Common Cupboard is located at Awaken Church, next to the community garden. Everyone is welcome to access the food and other essential items stocked there. Patrons do not need to be affiliated with the church. The project was made possible through the Awaken Church Neighbourhood Fund and a Ripples grant.
Some members of Awaken Church are directly involved in producing food that ends up in the fridge. Rod Olson, local regenerative agriculture specialist with YYC Growers is excited to “bring high quality food to the people who need it most but we need the help of the community. For Rod, it started with the YYC Growers Food Box which is a subscription service delivering locally grown fruits and vegetables to Calgarians. Each subscription supports local farmers, giving them the confidence they need to invest in growing their craft. Supporting local production is critical to the long-term supply of food for initiatives like The Common Cupboard, and Rod is delighted to be conducting systems-level science to raise the profile of local initiatives that address food insecurity. YYC Growers has a pickup location every Wednesday inside Awaken Church – consider subscribing to a Food Box and giving some of it back!
For those looking to help, Nikayla suggests buying in bulk at the grocery store and donating extras to the Cupboard. Restaurants in the community can contribute by ordering a bit more food and donating the surplus.
“You need a bit of milk and eggs because you had a hard week? We got you. Do not struggle. There’s no shame. You don’t have to sign up. You don’t have to qualify. There is enough.”