Sunday Jane’s Walk: Planting and Growing Community in the Heart of Regina

This Sunday might be the busiest community outreach day to date for Prairie Spruce community members. You’ll have 4 opportunities to interact with community members this weekend:

  • Dave, Faye and Jean will be doing a presentation at the Regina Unitarian Fellowship @ 10:30am
  • Dave & Lois will be at the 50+ Celebrate Showcase & Tradeshow.
  • Myself (Ruth) and André will be leading a Jane’s Walk

And of course, we’ll have some folks at the Information Centre in case anyone drops in too.

But this blog post is about our Jane’s walk in Canterbury Park…

Prairie Spruce Commons will settle into a place recently re-imagined and re-developed.

The location (land) on which Prairie Spruce Commons will be built has been home to many people and communities before us.  All on Treaty Four Territory.

Now an emerging medley of retails and residential, this neighbourhood of just under 8 acres was once the Property of the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle, and for a while hosted a large community garden project of Grow Regina.

This is a neighbourhood in the heart of the city where it will be possible to rely on bicycles, car-share and pedestrian modes including strollers, walkers and wheelchairs too.

The newly built retail and residential developments are integrated into the history of this place. The Bishop’s Court, St. Chad’s College, Anson House (the official residence of the secretary of the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle), St. Cuthbert’s House, and Harding House are each designed in the Collegiate Gothic style.

The entire site and its five original buildings are Provincial Heritage Property and have received Heritage Awards in the Exterior Renovation category. 

The land on which Prairie Spruce Commons will be built, it seems, has never before had built structures on it but from 1994 to 1998 was part of an extensive Community Gardens project of Grow Regina. 

Prairie Spruce Commons now has a compelling opportunity to plant and grow community in the heart of the city.

Come and join André and me for a Jane’s Walk of our neighbourhood on Sunday, May 3rd from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.  We will meet at the PSC Information Centre (it’s the little building with flags on it).



Walk~Wheeling the Lines of our Common House

Prairie-Spruce-Level-1-Common-House--400x284“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

I keep my eyes wide open all the time

I keep the ends out for the tie that binds

Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”

I Walk the Line, by Johnny Cash

That old song has been singing to me since our community walk~wheeled** the tape on the floor outlining some of the common spaces of Prairie Spruce Commons.

And what the heck does the third line of that song mean anyhow?  No clue here!

Lil and WarrenWarren and the Design Committee spent hours on their knees at the Prairie Arctic Trades Training Centre where we were lucky to be guests for the day.  The massive indoor arena with a smooth cement floor was perfect for marking out, with masking tape, the more than 2000 square feet of main floor common space.  Common kitchen and dining room, lounge, kids space, entrance (front and back), elevator, guest room, accessible bathroom, common laundry, office, workshop, storage closet, powder-room and yes hallways.

Prior to the much anticipated walk~wheel, the plan was that all 15 of us, or so,  would follow Warren into the ‘taped-on-the-floor Common House,’ and listen attentively while he oriented us to what was what. Are you kidding!?  Right off the mark we were like a herd of cats with all our curiosity, questions, and excitement.

Once we settled a little and even figured out which way was north we found that walk~wheeling a space adds new dimension to pouring over architectural drawings.  Like feeling a space and experiencing it and rubbing shoulders with the neighbours too. 

Current research in organizational theory says that the most successful and resilient organizations are those that solicit, welcome and integrate feedback. It’s called the feedback loop.  Walk~wheeling the lines gave us opportunity to experience the feedback loop. Some things in the design seem perfect while others need some minor adjustments.

‘because you’re mine I (we) walk~wheel the line.”

Hope you knees will be okay in a couple of days Design Committee.


** My preferred language so as to acknowledge those among us who get around by wheeling in strollers or wheelchairs.

Thanks Giving for Good Neighbours

Thanksgivings weekend, the weather is beautiful and I have a lot to be thankful for: family, Bekah’s returning health, this beautiful and generous planet – for starters. But this weekend I was also thankful for friends in community…

It goes like this.  Last week I learned that the City of Regina has a Leaf-Yard-Waste Program. It’s all very simple in principle: get some big biodegradable brown paper garden bags (we got ours at the Co-op); stuff them full of all the leaves and grass and plants you are cleaning up as you put your garden to bed for the winter; haul it to one of the depots in various neighbourhoods. From there, it gets hauled to a farm and turned into soil.

While the leaf and yard waste depot is just three blocks from home, I knew I needed a truck to get the stuff there. Being a farm girl I have had truck envy for a very long time. But hey! Murray, one of our Prairie Spruce Commons neighbours, has a truck and he was willing to help us. How lucky is that!?

A couple of days ago I was cleaning up in a long neglected corner downstairs.  I hauled out Brenda’s old canner and told her it was going.  She didn’t take to my idea at first but then she brightened up and said: “Well we’re moving to Prairie Spruce Commons and I bet Joanne (another farm girl) will have a canner!”

See in cohousing, people help each other out and we are willing to share stuff, including trucks. And hopefully canners too!


Field Notes from the Regina Folk Fest

There, on one of those short lawn chairs, squished between my friends on a clear and damp August prairie night and listening to good music with thousands, it was easy to love the culture of the Regina Folk Festival. Enjoying tasty local food, visiting, laughing, hoolahooping and sharing stories of the great storm from the night before… Even encountering a pod of crocheters looping long adorations to be placed in praise and protection of trees. It’s all part of the Folk Fest culture.

The more I think about the tapestry of culture (in families, workplaces, movements, bio-regions, community-based organizations), the more I think that creating culture is about what we value, and are committed to.  It’s about how we make decisions, and do things. It’s about how we negotiate, transact, adjust and apply all of that every day. We, Prairie Spruce Commons Co-Housers, are designing our house, creating community, and building our culture all at once.  The Prairie Spruce culture is being lived out through everyday experiences of being respectful, caring and sharing. This summer, fun has also been part of our culture, whether it’s been at  our booth at the Farmer’s Market, sitting around the fire on a gorgeous summer evening, or researching Fruit Crumble recipe’s for our Lets Get Ready to Crumble event next Tuesday August 19th.  

I feel lucky to have this chance to be part of, not only designing and building Prairie Spruce Commons, but also learning about creating culture from events like the Regina Folk Festival, other cohousing projects, and other community-based organizations.

Thanks to each and all of my Prairie Spruce community who ran the Prairie Spruce Commons Info and Visiting Booth at the Folk Festival. I hear it was a blast! Acknowledgement, praise and noticing where energies are placed is an important part of community and culture building too!