Alder Eco-Arts Hub
The Alder is a safe, welcoming environment for neighbours to gather; to learn from Indigenous elders, artists, scientists, and each other; to make connections across cultures and disciplines; to appreciate the richness of nature; to respectfully create with natural materials; and to feel like we belong here in nature and in the community. Workshops give participants knowledge of natural systems, and awareness of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge. The fieldhouse is ideally located adjacent to the Renfrew Ravine and Still Creek. It has room for hanging and drying raw plant materials, as well as a sink, a fridge, and a stove for processing plant materials.
Why “The Alder”?
Alders are commonly found near streams, rivers, and wetlands. Alders are among the first species to grow in areas disturbed by floods, windstorms, fires, landslides, development, and logging. Alder improves the fertility of the soil where it grows, and it helps provide additional nitrogen for the successional species which follow (such as Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Hemlock). The bark is good for tanning, dye colour, gargles for sore throats, salves for psoriasis and rheumatism (among other things), and weaving. The wood is good for carving, furniture, building instruments, and mask-making. The Alder Eco-Arts Hub is becoming a centre of art and multi-generational mentorship that honours Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Elders, learns from senior artists, and encourages new generations of artists and community members to learn, create, and develop collaborative and sustainable artistic ecosystems.
Programs Supported by the Alder
Colour Me Local Dye Garden
In 2019, we installed a dye garden by the Renfrew Ravine to support pollinators, natural dye programs at the Alder Eco-Arts Hub, and medicinal plant programs with Resurfacing History. The garden continues to be managed by staff and community volunteers as part of a Dyers and Gardeners Club.
We hold seasonal community potlucks at the Alder Eco-Arts Hub to celebrate the seasonal abundance and to encourage ethical foraging. Guests bring dishes that contain ingredients which have been homegrown or responsibly foraged. Our Forager’s Feasts provide an opportunity for community members to connect over food while discussing ideas such as home, cultural tradition, and reciprocity with nature.
Sarah Ross House Programs
Our monthly events at the Sarah Ross House modular housing building provide a way for residents to engage in community activity. Events range from activities such as natural dyes, lantern-making, and facilitated talks. Through these events, we hope to engage Sarah Ross House residents using the values of art, nature, and community.
Resurfacing History is an Indigenous-led knowledge-sharing program at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House. The program develops a community process for understanding of the land around us, and resurfacing Indigenous land-based teachings and practices. The Alder provides space for harvesting and processing of native plants and medicine, and provides a space for workshops to take place.
Funders & Supporters
The Alder Eco-Arts Hub is generously supported by the BC Arts Council’s Arts-Based Community Development Program, and the Vancouver Park Board’s Field House Activation Program which provides project space and access to parks to foster community-engaged activity that focuses on: arts, culture, sport, environment, local food and social encounters. To learn more about all the other Fieldhouse studio projects go to https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/fieldhouse-programs.aspx