Filed in:

Reflections from the Lab

23 Feb, 2017

Campfire #2: reflections on home

Reaching out to community is one of the core tenets of the Shift Lab. One of the ways we do this is through what we call “community campfires.” Although nothing actually gets lit on fire, we aim to create spaces for reflection and conversation, where food and thought can be shared and community nourished. Below, core team member Soni Dasmohapatra shares her reflection on our last event. Our graphic designer  par excellence, Molly McMahon, also made a great visual summary of the event.


On a cold Edmonton winter’s evening at Massawa Café and Bistro, Edmonton artists shared stories, poetry and music about home and belonging. The audience feasted on Italian and Eritrean treats, being transported to the rich flavours of the port city of Massawa. The café is named after the city, located on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea.  On December 15, 2016 hearts and souls were lighted at the Edmonton Shift Lab’s campfire event.

Shift Lab core team member Brandon Wint, a poet and spoken word artist, hosted the coffee house. Every guitar note strung by Justin and poetic verse shared by Roya struck a chord in the room. Dweniminn’s strength, grace and courage echoed throughout the café. Lady Vanessa Cordona’s sweet and powerful voice captivated the audience. Brandon shared poetry from his latest album “Long Walk Home.”  Many other artists shared their talents and passion about the concept of belonging and the longing of creating a home. Snaps, applause, amusement, tears, silence and appreciation wafted through the air. The words that resonated were safety, love, sadness, laughter, community, warmth, resistance, a place to rest and nourish the soul.

These words, drawings and messages found their way on to the rich picture maps that were set up to gather information on the topic of poverty and racism in housing, the Shift Lab’s focus. The campfire was animated with many different artistic forms. There was a map of Edmonton at the entrance of the café where people gathered to discuss the places and spaces that were most important to them.

Overall the event was a space to bring diverse people and voices together. Just as this campfire supported the spirit of inclusion and considerations of social change, the Shift Lab’s process also hopes to emulate this method. The goal is to bring diverse individuals, communities and organizations together to create sustainable solutions to address the intersection of systemic and individual experiences of racism and poverty when accessing housing. Please contribute to Edmonton’s Shift Lab as we embark on this journey.


Campfire 2

By |2019-09-09T19:29:57-06:00February 23rd, 2017|Categories: Reflections from the Lab, What's Going On|Comments Off on Campfire #2: reflections on home

About the Author:

Addressing racism and discrimination continue to be identified as a critical piece of the puzzle in how we reach the big goal of ending poverty in a generation in Edmonton. Building on the work of many local initiatives, the diverse collective making up the Edmonton Shift Lab is stewarding an exploration to develop potential service, policy, system and community action prototypes that will help reduce racism as it contributes to poverty. We want to be bold and explore how to Shift ideas. Shift attitudes. Shift systems and Shift into new ways of solution finding with community.