A Celebration of Outdoor Learning at Tatlow Park

Tatlow Park

Kids anxious to play on the playground and in the trees, tennis players, Green Party candidates, birders, book club members, dogs and their owners, people out for a bike ride and fans of Tatlow Park came together to celebrate the role of the neighbourhood park in learning and celebrating outdoor possibilities.

Audrey takes her people for a walk.

This event was funded by Neighbourhood Small Grants in the West Side Vancouver area. (For more information, follow the link). It was inspired Michael Levenston from the City Farmer Compost Garden on the Arbutus Greenway who identified the need to focus on positive memories and things happening at this park on a daily basis.

Michael and Justin from City Farmer

The event began to take form when I shared a blog about my experiences in Tatlow Park where my maternal grandparents were caretakers from 1965 – 1976. Sharing the stories led to others reflecting and sharing their own stories or Tatlow Park and the stories of the neighbourhood parks that had mattered to them as children. The idea of a community celebration to share stories and laugh and eat came into focus.

Carrie Froese, organizer, and Janet Fraser, incumbent School Trustee and great supporter of schools and all things outdoors

Participants were invited to bring a blanket or chair, a picnic lunch, their favourite park activity, and a park story to share. Tea, juice, fruit and packaged treats were provided. Nate Sheibley, long time volunteer with the Bike Kitchen, set up a bike station to provide information on bike maintenance.

Bike Maintenance 101

Justin Lau from City Farmer set up an information station complete with a worm composting bin. It was a highlight of the event, particularly with the kids, educators, and teacher candidate, Larkyn Froese. Justin was pleasantly surprised at how many people were already composting at home.

Worm composting rocks!

I set up a Bird Watching Station with good binoculars and the field guide made all the difference. John Patrick was there with his camera and expertise to document the birds that also attended the event.

Orange Crowned Warbler
Black-Capped Chickadee
American Crow

Parents with young children were most enamoured with Tatlow Park because it was close to home, had lots of shade trees and clean washrooms. Saulina, former teacher at Gordon, brings her young daughter to Tatlow Park every Saturday from the East side to experience “this quiet oasis so close to the ocean”. One set of parents shared their love for this park, partly because it was the first place their 3-year-old would go to the bathroom away from the house. The slide and the sandbox with the community toys are a regular part of their routine after preschool each weekday. All the kids love the playground and the great climbing trees. Tao arrived at the park with an armload of toys to leave for kids to play in the dirt with at the playground area. His Mom, Monica, shared that this was a long-established tradition. Other kids would leave “community toys” for other kids to play with and they would do the same. It always generated excitement and taught the concept of sharing.

Denise shared her memory of the excitement generated when a Hollywood movie was shot in the park in 1969. Many of us went home determined to see “That Cold Day in the Park.” Brad shared the story of his profoundly romantic proposal story on the bridge close to the ocean 37 years ago! My friend, John, unearthed a picture of us taken in the park as preschoolers. His sister, Kelly, relishes the time spent in the park with her daughter doing the very same things she had done as a little girl. The swings were favourites with all of us. I remember having a goal of swinging over the top bar of the swings in a full circle but stopping when it felt like I just might.

Four Generations of our family have Tatlow Park Stories

Planning the event was really quite straightforward.  Because the event was for under 50 people, a license from the city was not required.  Faith Greer from Kits House was very helpful and made the process of applying for a Neighbourhood Small Grant seamless.   It was very much like planning an event for family and friends.  There were many more locals, tourists and visitors wandering through the part en route to the Seaside Bike Path, the tennis courts, the playground or out for a stroll who were able to participate as well.  It was helpful to have some signage to lead them in the right direction.   Fortunately, the weather was sunny, warm and it lured people outside.  We put the tables to good use but never needed to put up easy up tents graciously loaned to us by Alona Ben-Yacov, Director of Spare Time Clubhouse.  

Wool socks! Best prize ever!

About 40 people actively participated in the sharing of stories. The draw prizes were appreciated but not really needed to get people to share their stories. City Councillor Michael Wiebe was one of several men who shared stories of playing Capture the Flag with the stream as the divider between territories. In fact, this experience has been his catalyst for supporting the Stream restoration plan from the storm drains on MacDonald Street, through Tatlow Park and down to the ocean.

City Councillor, Michael Wiebe, Carrie, and aspiring City Councillor, Devyani Singh

There was one woman who had lived by the park for 40 years and was disappointed not to find any familiar friends at the park.  She was most interested in information about the Stream Renewal, plans for the playground upgrade and an opportunity to give her input.  My information was limited to what was written on the signs.  A speaker and a table with more background knowledge would be something to consider for future events at parks undergoing change or new initiatives.  

Susan, Book Club member, discovers Tatlow Park

Although Diane grew up in the area, this was her first time to this hidden jewel in the city.  She joined her Book Club picnic and discussion of Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd. by Jonas Jonasson in the park on Saturday.  She relayed her observation of a squirrel who ran across the lawn, up a tree, across one wire to another wire to another tree that he stopped in to look around.  Obviously a familiar route! A park in a city is not like life in a forest.  It provides a hybrid experience between man-made and nature.  But it gives us outdoor experiences, a sense of community, and glimpses of nature that show its resilience, its adaptability, and its beauty.  And it makes our lives better.  

Another great day in the park!

Published by Carrie Froese

Curiosity guarantees a life of learning😀 Let me help you find the answer to your questions about educational practice, setting up a small business with a focus on education, and running a non-profit with a focus on educational events.

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