There is something satisfying about seeing a project come to its conclusion. I think it’s safe to say that the longer the project takes to complete, the more people involved, and the larger the scope, the more satisfying the conclusion.
I’ve been sitting on the outer reaches of a large project for the past six months, watching my friends Matt Coleman, Jordie Burton and Toge Heersink put crazy amounts of work into the En Masse Collaborative Mural Project. My involvement started and ended at carrying pieces of the mural between classrooms. Hindsight being what it is, I wish Jordie explained what the “canvas” was made of, because it felt like granite!
There were many people who were much more involved with me. Three teacher advisors, 66 students, 3 outside artists, school admin, HDSB facilities staff, City of Burlington employees, City Councillors, the Mayor. To hear the students involved with the project talk about their mural, it was easy to see what a labour of love the entire process was.
|The Mural, installed, finally!|
Today was the formal dedication ceremony for the Mural. Several people spoke, but no one impressed me more than the final speaker, Abbey Kunzli, a student at our school. She spoke about, of all things, community building! She spoke about how she feels most at home with her soccer team, when they are sitting around after a game sharing orange slices that one of the parents have provided. She talked about how that act of sharing makes her feel like her team is a community. She then compared that community to her school community, and how participating in projects like the En Masse Mural make her feel like a part of a larger community. Is it any surprise that Abbey’s contribution to the project was to paint one of the orange slices that border the mural?
|Abbey, posing with her orange slice|
We’ve been focused on intentionally building community in our schools this semester. Having a safe and inclusive classroom where all students feel supported is one of the ingredients needs to foster innovation. It’s amazing how far building a positive community can get you, both inside and outside of the classroom. Community building is how you convince 100 teachers to help carry pieces of a mural through the school and across the street to be installed. It’s how we empower our students so that they will feel confident enough to talk to strangers about what piece of a mural they’ve worked on. If I can steal a line from Jordie, community building is how we go from “cement and new build homes” to a place where students can produce and run an entire dedication ceremony.
And I think that is pretty rad.