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#artrouteBC AR:T ROUTE CANADA ART ROUTE RADIO ARTIST Michelle Loughery BC AR:T ROUTE BLUE Michelle Loughery Art MURALS PROJECTS WAYFINDER ARTWORKS

Non Profit Power

Wayfinder Original Crew

The name of my projects worked into the word Wayfinder. It was a natural evolution of a path of finding one’s way through community engagement and support. Where did this concept originate from. My hometown! Community learning models existed in education and skills learning in communities for a very long time. My immigrant grandparents knew well how important the word community was as the new Canadians struggled to keep food on the table and support to build infrastructure, businesses alive and children looked after during harsh winters and coal mining disasters.

Non Profit played a huge part in the learning taught to me by the women I was blessed to be related to, friends with, or mentored by. Non-profit truly is a skills and employment program that builds bridges, celebrations, events, galleries, parades, museums and so much more.

I remember weeks of my parents creating floats for our coal miner day parades and the laughter and merriment that would flow from people of all walks of life working together to have fun community events for all our families to enjoy. The enormous dolphins that my dad created by hand, with all us kids fluffing thousands of Kleenex flowers remain legendary to this days back home story telling.

The women of Michel, the little coal mining town I was born in were in many groups, such as the Eagles and many church groups. These groups had much political power and what may have seemed like a social do good mandate, was also a political strategy play that was tangled with tea and crumpets.

I got my first taste of art economy building when I worked with a group of strong women who wanted to build a culture that embraced art and heritage and cultural experiences for their families, to balance the wilderness and hockey cultural assets that are so defining in Canadiana history. Bus trips to the big city of Calgary and historic placemaking with infrastructure in tourism like the Titan Truck, and of course murals.

That of course is just a bit of the start to a placemaking economy that the women of Michel taught me.

This kinship of women who create and build communities has been the spine of all the projects I was blessed to lead. The women who build each other up. The women who dare to be silly, dare to challenge government systems and the women who taught me to be a wayfinder, and find your way through bake sales to million dollar projects …isn’t it all the same ..just more zeros on the budget and bigger community boots to fill.

Non profit is the back bone to our culture in Canada, a unique skills job force training bridge that is struggling as we try to get through the last two years of stick handling. Support your local non profits, look at a town or city without these pillars. I can not imagine the loss of these unique experiences that hold up our economies. I am very grateful for the women of Michel who taught me to see the power in the arts and to be brave enough to pick up the phone and challenge where our tax money goes. Accountability and strategy for strong rural communities is a question I want asked at the polls. What is the plan for the non profits that are grassroots and vital to our future?

By MASTER ARTIST MICHELLE LOUGHERY

Master Artist and The Wayfinder Project visionary. Podcast Host of Wayfinder AR:T ROUTE RADIO and Curator of Wayfinder AR:T ROUTE BLUE curated mural route and Wayfinder Way Life Path series

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