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?


Full Circle

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an artist. Not in the traditional sense as my mind sinks into the past. More of conductor of unreachable projects. I think of the grand giant flowers my mother would let me paint on my bedroom walls, or the basement wall. Or my lavender bedspread that I melted with nail polish remover after attempting to paint that too. The art of my childhood was larger than life to me. I wanted all my friends to participate and perhaps it was how I felt included when the mean girls took their shots.

Perhaps that is why my work has been so focused on inclusion. To feel not included in your community of what ever size is like social suicide. The youth and elders that joined me on the walls, sitting on hot, or sometimes freezing scaffolding were part of a huge tribe. The island of misfit toys I used to say.

Now the creative movement is leading the Covid renewal. I worry for the artists who need to learn about copyright and the business of the arts. why? So that the content the creators create is in a shared economy with the artists and story tellers and the stories must belong to the cultures that own them. These properties are not to be traded for small shiny beads that will not sustain the very origin. A movement of wise people must come together as way finders to learn from each other and maintain an economy of resilience for people, place and planet. Route 66 is a famed tourism plan that utilized artists and murals to build a new economy after the depression. That is what the ART ROUTE CANADA plan I have dreamt about is. It is built from a phone call many years ago with a man named David Knudson and a woman named Lorrie Fleming. The result of those calls was the formation of the ROUTE 66 Mural Program, a vision of a chain of numbered murals down the entire length of the road. 20 years later it has happened. I may not have painted them all. But I painted many many, and created the ROUTE 66 Mural city, with my other hat of a community creative economic developer dressed in painting clothes.

SO who are these two? Well Mr. David Knudson and his wife, Mary Lou, are the founders of the National Historic Route 66 Federation, the worldwide, nonprofit organization dedicated to directing the public’s attention to the importance of U. S. Highway Route 66 in America’s cultural heritage and acquiring the federal, state and private support necessary to preserve the historic landmarks and revitalize the economies of communities along the entire 2,400-mile stretch of road.

Lorrie Fleming is the Queen of the Canadian Highway movement and founder of the Route 66/99 Foundation in British Columbia. She is also a founding member of AR:T ROUTE 66/99 a destination mural trail that will cross the borders of USA and Canada in a connected mural digital road trip itinerary.

As Lorrie puts it in her painterly words.

“May we forever be connected on the wings of the Mother Road, a scripture that symbolizes the message within the Peace Arch Monument situated on Highway 99 linking Blaine Washington & Surrey BC – merging together two nations as one ‘contiguous’ pathway for equality & representing the freedom to travel for all humankind!
The US Inscription Reads:  “Children of a Common Mother” and the Canadian Side Says:  “Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity”.  May these Gates never be Closed!
And may the flags of both Countries forever fly high on the Arch’s Crown…”

I am lucky enough to be talking to these two road warriors again. To kick off the digital version brand of an old vision that we three and many many more warriors dreamed.

stay tuned to hear the stories on …coming soon

Life is a painted highway and the people are the music and the songs.

ART ROUTE RADIO ARTIST Michelle Loughery ArtistWayfindingNetwork Destination Mural Town Master Artist Series MURALS Take it to the wall

NEW EPISODE-Creating light with Artist Heidi Thompson

Climb my digital scaffolding and join Artist Heidi Thompson and myself and we talk about creating light in the time of covid.  Heidi is an accomplished global artist from the Okanagan. It was inspiring to find our similarities as we enjoyed creative conversation and talking about mud puddles.

“My aim is to capture beauty – not by painting a landscape as I know it with trees, mountains, clouds or sunsets; rather by painting the essence of nature using her elements of colour, light, patterns, texture, movement and space.” – Artist Heidi Thompson.

#artrouteradio #artistmichelleloughery #takeittothewall #heidithompson #art #artrouteblue #artistsgonewild #artistwayfindingnetwork