As the days slowly elongate and I re-emerge from some much-needed time off, I feel compelled to look back on the past year through HCA’s eyes, and to throw our own Best-Of list into the mix.
It’s easy to get swept away with the day-to-day nitty-gritty in a job like this. So, before I do, while I’m still partially enjoying the luxury of my holi-daze, let’s indulge in a moment of reflection and celebration.
Here are HCA’s 12 highlights from the past year (roughly in chronological order):
- New strategic plan! Throughout 2018, our board developed a plan to guide us for the next 3 years (may not sound that exciting to you, but it is to us!). It is visionary and practical, charting out a realistic path for our organization’s growth, diversification, and enhanced relevance. Hooray for clarity, priorities and direction!
- Carmichael moved in! We welcomed Carmichael Outreach’s lunch program into our space temporarily in Spring 2018, so that their meal service can continue uninterrupted until their eventual home on the corner of 12th Ave. and St. John St. is renovated. The move has greatly enlivened our office space and deepened HCA’s relationship with Carmichael, and with the community they work for and with.
- New Neighbour-Friends: Newo Yotina! In May, we gained new neighbours and hopefully long-term collaborators and partners when the Newo Yotina Friendship Centre moved in across the street. Their presence greatly enriches the block, and the neighbourhood, and we are excited to continue working with and alongside them.
- New staff! We had 3 new amazing, talented, proactive summer staff in Summer 2018, who significantly increased the organization’s capacity for outreach and programming during those months. One of them, Kristen Windigo, has stayed on with us part-time through the school year, as our Youth Programming Coordinator. And we trust all 3 of them will remain active in the community, through HCA or otherwise, in future.
- New board members! We welcomed Heritage residents Shawna Semeganis and Gina Burnard onto our team. These two powerhouses bring a lot of valuable knowledge, perspective and experience to our board, largely based on their active involvement in community work in this neighbourhood.
- Launch of graffiti removal initiative! We removed or covered up nearly 100 instances of unwanted graffiti in the neighbourhood. Plus, we hired Artist-in-Residence Jamie Reynolds in September; Jamie is expanding our Mural Project, which works to deter graffiti and develop artistic skills, confidence and sense of belonging among Heritage youth.
- Our first Community Cleanup in 5+ years! With the help of 40+ volunteers, and an array of business sponsorships, we removed an absurd amount of trash and recycling from our neighbourhood’s alleys, backyards and homes. Shout-out to summer student Cristina Crowe for coordinating it all!
- Two Good Neighbour Community Grants! We distributed funding to two Heritage residents through our Good Neighbour Community Grants Program. Cat Haines used her grant to put together a panel discussion called What the Queer? at 33 1/3 Coffee and Malty National. Neighbourhood artist Karlie King is using her funds to engage Heritage residents and visitors in “doily-bombing” a tree on 15th Ave. — another work of gorgeous public art in our neighbourhood.
- Harvest Moon Festival! This year’s festival engaged more organizations, businesses and artists than any other Harvest Moon Festival in recent years! Despite having to move it indoors due to weather, it was well attended and received rave reviews from attendees. It also helped to strengthen our relationship with our very accommodating hosts, Trinity Lutheran Church. Major kudos to Kristen Windigo for pulling it all together!
- New Mentorship Program! We incorporated a Mentorship component into our Let’s Move physical activity program for youth. Now, young people who’ve aged out of Let’s Move have the opportunity to stay engaged and develop their leadership skills as facilitators-in-training. We have 6 amazing Mentees in the program this year.
- Funding Advocacy! Throughout 2018, we worked with other Community Associations and Central Zone Board to assemble a case for increased funding to Community Associations based on the immense value we provide to the City. We brought a strong presentation to Council’s budget meeting in December, and although a funding increase was not immediately approved, it was a good start to the conversation. Councillors acknowledged the need for greater support, and we are looking forward to further engagement with them in 2019.
- Convincing the City to rebuild Maple Leaf Pool! This is by far our biggest highlight of 2018 — not just because of the outcome, but because of the incredible community engagement that influenced the outcome. The groundswell of passionate, grassroots mobilization around this issue reminded me of the power that exists in many diverse voices all saying the same thing from different perspectives. It connected our organization with dozens of residents, teachers, students and community leaders, who came to us asking what they can do to help save Maple Leaf Pool. And it reminded the City, and the people of Regina, how lively, steadfast and strong our community is. You’ll be hearing lots more from me/HCA about the pool in the weeks and months ahead, so I’ll leave it at this for now: Thanks for helping to finish 2018 off with a bang, Heritage (and non-Heritage supporters of Maple Leaf Pool)!
To everyone who feels connected to the Heritage neighbourhood in one way or another, I wish you a Happy New Year on behalf of the Heritage Community Association. Thank you for all you do to make this community richer, more vibrant and more connected.
Shayna Stock, Executive Director