Neighbourhood Love Letters
An arts-based engagement process to connect youth-in-and-from foster care with residents of their neighbourhoods. By building new community connections and strengthening existing relationships, Neighbourhood Love Letters creates a tangible, beautiful record of inclusive communities.
VACFSS-CRUW, Urban Butterflies, Youth Matters, Templeton CST, RISE, Roving Leaders
Who feels like they belong in our neighbourhood? And why does it matter? Most of us know the names of at least two of our neighbours, but few can rely on them for support when they really need it. In contrast, feeling like you belong has a positive impact on personal wellness and encourages people to take part in civic activities, which in turn build even stronger neighbourhood connections.
This feeling of belonging is particularly relevant for youth in-and-from foster care, who often have shifting, precarious, and weak connections to their communities due to living in multiple homes or group facilities over the years. In fact, youth from care are sometimes disproportionately plagued by feelings of alienation and loneliness, and feel disconnected from the neighbourhood they live in.
Sidewalk art and street installations
Neighbourhood Love Letters provides an inclusive space for foster care youth to gain skills in art installation and community-directed inquiry, alongside other community residents.
youth from care interact with other members of community through informal chats, love letter scrapbooking, photo documentation, and temporary sidewalk and street art installations
Lead artist Corrina Keeling and a team of Kiwassa Neighbourhood House coordinators connect youth-in-and-from care with other residents in the Hastings-Sunrise & Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhoods of Vancouver.
In this project, youth from care interact with other members of the community through informal chats, love letter scrapbooking, photo documentation, and temporary sidewalk and street art installations. The participating youth also hold regular discussions with each other to understand their evolving views on community.
Art exhibition and future dialogues
The scrapbook writings and documentary photographs will eventually form the basis of an arts exhibit and further dialogue within and between youth and adults. The process helps build an even stronger sense of community, while reflecting the voices, connections, and beauty of each neighbourhood back onto itself.