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Breathing New Life into Old Space

Posted May 18, 2017 by LSC

Blog by Alexandra Frederickson, Outreach Coordinator, Land Stewardship Centre

With some much needed renovations and improvements, Land Stewardship Centre is now able to make our culturally historic office, Imrie House, available to other non-profits and community groups to use for meetings and gatherings.

Hidden gem

Nestled quietly in a suburban area in west Edmonton, not many people are aware of the existence of Imrie House. However, if you maneuver your way through a confusing cul-de-sac and drive down a small dirt road, there you will find Imrie House, surrounded by trees, bristling with wildlife and offering a very beautiful view of the North Saskatchewan River valley.

Imrie House (which was originally called Six Acres) was designed and built in 1957 by architects Mary Louise Imrie and Jean Wallbridge, who were partners in Canada’s first all-female architectural firm. These women were ahead of their time; not only were they were trailblazers in architecture and business, they also understood the importance of preserving and enjoying Alberta’s natural heritage.

Old space, new purpose

Today, there are few places like Imrie House, which represents and respects the architecture of a by-gone era. The house is located in a stunning natural setting which preserves the indigenous landscape once so common in Edmonton. With the history and importance of the property in mind, as the long-time tenant and caretaker of Imrie House, LSC wanted to harness the uniqueness of the property and create something which would directly support Alberta’s volunteer and non-profit community.

With funding from Alberta Culture and Tourism’s Community Facility Enhancement Program, LSC was able to renovate the garage of Imrie House into a fully functional boardroom/meeting place. This transformed space, with its stunning view of the North Saskatchewan River, is available to non-profits and others to use for meetings, workshops and more. Naturalist clubs, stewardship groups, community associations, art and culture clubs, architectural and history societies, social enterprises and support organizations – groups and organizations from across all sectors – can benefit from this new space.

If you are interested in experiencing Imrie House’s unique setting, learning more about the rich cultural history of the property or booking the meeting space for your next function, please contact us.

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Stewards in Motion Inspires

Posted May 17, 2017 by LSC

Jane Ross, President with the Association for Life-wide Living (ALL) of Alberta, sits down with LSC’s Outreach Coordinator, Alexandra Frederickson to discuss LSC’s Stewards in Motion, the power of working locally and the release of ALLs highly praised new book.

ALL of Alberta’s mission is to inspire creativity and health through our landscape, our communities and the arts. What makes ALL unique is their efforts to thread together people with the local environment; creating this unity between landscapes and those who live on it.

The group, currently celebrating their 13th year, focuses their attention on three main programs including rural transportation, place-based writing and an annual event held in January to encourage people to enjoy, rather than suffer through, the winter season. The underlying theme in all of the groups’ efforts is to connect people, stories and landscapes.

Connecting through Stewards in Motion

In 2013, ALL participated in LSC’s Stewards in Motion (SIM) workshop in the Battle River area and left feeling inspired. The regionally focused SIM events have become a highly regarded LSC initiative that serves as a rally call to connect all stewards at a community level regardless of focus, affiliation or discipline.

“We really benefitted from the Stewards in Motion workshop,” shares Jane. “It brought people together from the local area who all share an interest in watersheds and working together to achieve healthy landscapes. It also deepened and broadened relationships between us and other local volunteers and groups.”

An underlying theme in ALL‘s efforts is to connect people, stories and landscapes. The SIM workshop approach, with its regional focus, is similar to the model for the ALL conference in 2012. The conference, titled ‘Culture, Creativity and Place’, attracted Battle River area residents, First Nations, Settlers and new Canadian immigrants.

“The conference was intended to bring consciousness to the Battle River region, its resources, and the significance the river holds for people in the region,” explains Jane. Interestingly, the conference and the river led several ALL members to Australia in September 2016 for Culture, Creativity and Place II. This time, the conference focus was on the Hopkins River and the Aboriginal, settler, and immigrant people of Victoria State, Australia.

From conference to collected works

Ultimately the conference inspired and became the theme for ALL’s new book titled Beauty Everyday: Stories from Life as it Happens. The theme of ALL’s book is exemplified by the vitality of rivers which ebb and flow, and ultimately connect people. Just as rivers take us on journeys, so do the stories in the book, which are told by real people who have lived in and called the Battle River region their home. The book has been met with positive reviews from scholars, organizations and individuals alike.

“Editor Jane Ross and her collection of diverse writers, have managed to create an anthology of special significance and lasting impression. These compelling narratives of adversity, challenge and triumph are influential and illuminating on their own, indeed. However, when set within the rich historical context of the Battle River region of Alberta, these stories are empowered by the remarkable spirit and energy of this land. The intersection of the spirit of people with that of the Battle River ensures the reader of a uniquely transformational and memorable journey.” Michael C. Chettleburgh, Author, Founder/CEO of Astwood Strategy Corporation and Writer for Globe and Mail, Toronto.

The book release prompted Dr. Andrew Creed of Deakin University to invite ALL to participate in and co-host the conference in Australia that would embody the book’s theme and illuminate the power of stories and connecting people with the landscape. The connections continue with ethnographic filmmaking about the people and landscapes of the Hopkins River and the Battle River. In November 2017, Aboriginal landscape artist, Fiona Clarke, will visit Alberta where she will be available to speak with individuals and groups about the power of creativity for lands, water and people.

Following the success of the book and the conference, ALL continues to connect people and their local landscapes through creativity and the arts; highlighting “places that matter” and the power of working and appreciating your local environment – looking inward first before looking outward.

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