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?



Wayfinder Projects and the heart of the ART IN ACTION that supported the mural projects. What may look like murals was actually an outdoor community learning experience.

There is a perception of a social system of support that is supposed to improve people’s lives and it is through a top down government managed approach. …this works only in feeding that same government system. It is flawed, it takes the people out of the very economy of support to feed themselves as a stakeholder in this country. The people are not part of the economy or system strategy. And a perception of kingdom to serf, have and have nots, abounds. If politics become about feeding the system only, and the people rely only on the government, all loses balance and the confidence to sustain.

In these times government support is not freely given, leaving many rural people with a worst situational reality: the absence of the top-down protection and no grassroots resilience of the support community it took over.

I think strong government support and well-financed public services is vital and why we pay taxes. But this model is flawed. Project based partnerships is an immigrant and indigenous community connected model that needs to be bridged. Between government and people. An alliance of Municipal, Provincial, Federal and Citizen governments.

The best action is a politics of belonging based on strong and confident local communities….and keeping people and the skills of the people in the economy. Equally distributed to drop through many hands before it reaches sustainability.

A citizen project P6 approach.

The mural projects I was lucky enough to lead, gave me the honor of working with many indigenous and immigrant communities. For 25 years the murals were just the barn, the people and the connections to each other and the needed resources the song.

Today citizen building can look like that model. It was based on my entire resource town being forced relocated and continually hit by many tragedies that built a spine of resilience that was poured into my veins, like the coal dust that scared my knees.

See Murals but imagine there are welcoming alliances and committees for new arrivals to the street, connections of skills exchange outside spaces of our homes and institutions, public art and music events, community potluck meals, co-creating trade exchanges with senior and youth building scaffolding.

imagine there are programs to turn empty lots and roofs into community gardens, art alleys, metal scrap sculptures, city maintenance learning, and outdoor learning multi cultural centres.

There’s a farm school and a food gathering school (teaching urban animal husbandry), farming, horse stewardship, house building, garbage handling, street maintenance, sewing and quilting sessions.

Imagine places for freelance contract art workers to meet and collaborated for safe alleys. Digital literacy coffee shops with coding workshops.

Literacy projects through story telling for children and seniors, heritage collection and time spent through schools with elders and youth.

Imagine singing sessions and a games night in community hall. Local artists training people in the streets. There are street and rural film studios and street dances and tomato festivals, Sunflower planting along many communities and pie baking workshops.

Imagine tuition for spoken-word storytelling and history collection for immigrant and indigenous elders and seniors and a scheme for shutting streets to traffic so children and adults can play after on large art projects and parking lot painting.

Imagine a movements to train youth on site to create houses and build community from out of institutions. Imagine street nurses and a place to come home to for information to what systems are available to those not attached to the system. Not everyone has a doctor, is in school, or has family. Not everyone can afford a cell and not all communities are connected to the internet.

For decades rural people have leapt on the opportunities of the Mural Craze… but Wayfinder RURAL CREATES was the heart of all the mural projects that my teams led. A new, but from an old system, based on a project built by watching my people rebuilding a destroyed resource community.

This successful community project has been shared across the world, the foundation discovered a set of common community WAYIFNDER RURAL CREATES principles.

These projects demand commitment from local people, government and the community and the outsider community. Creating mini alliances..and a shared financial money and time cost.

The projects are close to people’s homes, open to everyone, and designed to attract and support talent rather than check lists and an agenda. is there a tourism and social legacy left? Yes. A physical and visible and socio infrastructure. that foster simple projects that immediately improve people’s lives.”

But it is the Wayfinder bridge that is the thread that ties. It ties us to our history and to our generations and to ourselves. AR:T In Community building to build a connected community bridge to the resources youth and elders need. A bridge to education, cultures, literacy, digital divide, rural-urban divide, while leaving legacy tourism projects.
Mural and Art events bridging bonds – along the highways that connect is all.  Wayfinder Rural Creates model is that franchise. That can start from B.C. and influence the world, because it has for over 25 years and it looks like a trail of Murals.



As we move forward with the generation two of the Wayfinder Project..I am feeling so grateful.

Many people are coming back to the kitchen design table, and many new people are arriving as well. The app art is the pied piper of connection.

Art is property and the bringing together of artists, creative thinkers, and well anyone who wants to see a different economy is exciting. To see where the concepts went and where the legacy can live is so fulfilling. A creative stream where where grants are equally shared with the systems and the people. As the creative economy is embraced and pushed by all streams of government in the digital revolution, artists need to know their rights, the business model and how to write the imposing grants that fund the very art that is the economic and social driver that this country needs right now. Level the playing field so all are included is though collaboration and education. People up in the communities. Most importantly is not letting the rights be taken by the crown and a shared use of the art or fair payment for that art is important.

Musicians have fought hard for this model and so must digital and visual artists. Artists know how to make something out of nothing. SO…. thinking about that, maybe bring the contract artists to the table in the distribution of the funds. Less administrative line items and more art line items.. Or lets think even further than that….the creatives P6 collaboration model can bring the cash allotments to the managed by the art administrators that are well versed in budget magic….and let the art and social change bring corporate sponsors to the table and well imagine this…the act of art and the placement of the property of art and artists as a contribution to the community gets placed on the community and government budgets. What is that? A creative economy but in the hands of the people in partnership with the tax caretakers.. true people in the economy. Because the last time I looked the tax money comes from the people.

What must be done is to bring all those brilliant people to the table. The makers, the ones in the art trenches all the past 30 years and have the community creative economy masters share their knowledge. We plan to! Create a contract toolkit to make sure this art property, economic and social catalyst tool and legacy knowledge turn a P3 partnership government model, into a P6 parternship model. This will keeps the people, the diverse communities and the artists in that economy….and in this digital age..create jobs in the very communities we live.


The model has beeb proven. The dollars that the art in Vernon and Merritt and more brought in needs to be studied. The toolkit on how this philosophy works was gifted to me by the industrious small town immigrant community I was raised in.

I am flattered that that economy worked well enough, that a group in Merritt are claiming those economic rights. Are they right to do so? No!

Did those few work hard to help make the project as success? Yes, But that does not give rights to claim what an artist manufactures, in a co funding model. Will they try to leverage that art for more funding?

But the art as property has economic rights to myself, the youth, and the stars that lent their faces. Do we have rights to our names and personality rights and our stories? Yes! I signed contracts that say I can not assign those rights. Yet why are we not sitting at a table looking at the success of the dollars brought in and looking at a regional project together? I believe one of the hardest things that small communities face is to work with each other. Life is hard in rural communities and those grant dollars take hard work and as the grants are over subscribed and feeding frenzy occurs. This is why a connected project can bring all the communities together.

This Creative Community model that Susan Allen and I taught Merritt worked..If anyone can explain to me why the Government and the community are not saying how can we make this work…I would really appreciate it. I now work with the Gold Country group, who see the cart needs to be pulled together by all the horses….not apart, in a Rural Creates sustainable plan. I now work with a brilliant woman who has shown me how to turn this model into a franchise and my app team has created a tool that all can use.

I worked my entire career to see the donated non profit work of the many people that give so much for their communities. Non Profit is a Ministry in its own right. Billions of dollars and social good is given to this country every year. The copyright claim I will fight for is the proof this model needs to be taken seriously. And all those that have made teas, events, art shows, theatre productions, musicals, performances, and the list can go on forever, I ask you to stand up with me.

The arts is an economy. And that value is about to be recognized.

I am forever grateful for any support !