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Harvest Dreams and Beans Parade

1999-2000

The Harvest Dreams and Beans Parade was based in the Flour Mill and Donovan neighborhoods in partnership with schools, community programs, housing projects and the Sudbury Millennium committee and took place the fall of 2000.

Community consultations on themes and images began by asking 87 community members about what their thoughts were on important things to celebrate about our past and our possible futures. Consultations were done in small focus groups, one neighborhood senior’s residence, children’s programs, parent groups, N’Swakamok Native Friendship Center and Better Beginnings staff and volunteers involving at least 300 community members of all ages and cultures.

Consultations resulted in four main themes:
1. Honouring our ancestors.
2. Focus on people’s dreams.
3. Focus on our hopes and fears for the future.
4. Celebrating the children in our community.

The favorite quote from the consultations was: “We are all human beans marching bravely into the future.” This became the overall theme of the event, which we eventually called the Harvest Dreams and Beans Parade, scheduled on September 30, 2000. Artists took part in training in celebratory arts: stilt-walking, outdoor performance, fire sculpture, giant puppets and drumming. A performance art troupe called the ‘WindWalkers’ stilt group formed during this process and became the main creation group for the Harvest Dreams and Beans Parade. Their focus was on creating images of our hopes and fears for the future.

Four community artists led workshops in the schools and in the community during the month of September to create feather masks, paper mache ‘human bean’ heads, giant puppets, banners, dream catchers and musical instruments for the celebration.

The ‘Dream Stars’ was a community initiative that became an integral part of the celebration. A group of four community members cut out 1,050 cardboard stars and distributed them to the four neighbourhood schools. The children were asked to reflect on and paint their dreams for the future onto the stars. 987 students participated. The stars were then collected and mounted with ribbon and beads onto bamboo carrying poles and led the way in the parade.

The Giant Dreamcatcher also came out of these community consultations. We commissioned a local aboriginal artist to create an 8-foot dream catcher. At the celebration, people were invited to write down their dreams for the future onto coloured ribbon, which was then tied to the dream catcher. In exchange, they received a bag of jellybeans. 300 people participated in this activity.

The organizing committee was a solid group of 16 dedicated volunteers. They met weekly to organize the parade, including the set up and tear down, the food preparation and service, security and hospitality. The committee also booked the ‘White Cedar Singers’ to sing a song honouring the ancestors before the parade started; and Jack Broumpton, a local musician, to lead a community drum circle after the parade.

The organizers set up at Queen Elizabeth School with the masks, puppets, banners, stars and musical instruments created by the community. Donning their costumes, stilts and masks, or writing their dreams for the Dreamcatcher, 380 community members participated in the parade route throughout the neighbourhood, where over 400 people watched, then joined us for the corn roast and drum circle.

Please feel free to view a few photographs from the ‘Harvest Dreams and Beans’ project here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythsandmirrors/sets/72157615093926954


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The ‘WindWalkers’ Performance Art Troupe

1999–2003

Myths and Mirrors’ performance art troupe originally began in 1999 with an open-community stilt workshop by ‘Swizzlesticks,’ of Toronto, Ontario, in preparation for the Harvest Dreams and Beans Parade. As the group increasingly came together regularly to explore their creativity, the group began to recognize themes they had in common with each other and based those on the development of a series of performance acts about community issues they felt were important in bringing public awareness and participation to. The troupe used costuming, held theatre, stilt and clowning workshops with residents over the years of their activities in our community. This culminated a core group of stilters and poi dancers focusing much of their work on creating short skits for spontaneous street performance to public plays using fun and interesting methods of engaging residents in anti–oppression. Over the years they performed for and supported hundreds of local events and festivals in our community. The bedazzling and inspiring work of the ‘WindWalkers’ delivered powerful messages to the public through their art and provided years of open opportunities of engagement with residents to participate in their alternative counter-culture of resistance and hope. The group performed for over 50,000 people over the course of an average year locally in the Greater Sudbury Area and took every opportunity they could to travel throughout the province.

Please feel free to visit some of the ‘Windwalkers’ performance art troupe photographs here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythsandmirrors/sets/72157617371192224

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