When you’re visiting a new city or place, much is often made of getting the “locals-only” experience – avoiding the tourist traps and seeing what makes the place truly special to those who live there.
Getting a more genuine experience of a place’s true gems can take years to glean, but luckily, a new movement of community mapping is emerging to share the wonders of local places with residents and tourists alike.
“Community mapping is a picture about a place created by community members,” says Maeve Lydon, Associate Director of Programs with UVic’s Institute for Studies and Innovation in Community University Engagement.
“When communities are involved in making the map, it represents them, their landscape, their stories, what they care about and what they think is important in their community.”
The Institute is one of the partners in a team called the Community Mapping Collaboratory, which oversaw the creation of series of community maps that includes Colwood and Highlands here on the West Shore.
To create these maps, community members from across all walks of life identify sites that are important to them –from apple orchards to carving sheds to wheelchair-accessible beaches – as a way to learn more about their community from each other.
These days, the Community Mapping Collaboratory is seeking submissions from the community for their Capital Regional District Green Map, an online mapping project that showcases important sites in the region. If you have sites and stories to share from the West Shore, visit crdcommunitygreenmap.ca for information on how to contribute.
The District of Metchosin has also developed its own community map that showcases the community’s sites and historical highlights. You can find copies of the Colwood, Highlands and Metchosin maps on the West Shore Arts Council’s Website: westshorearts.org/green-maps.php.
What’s coming up?
Here are some of the great events coming up on the West Shore:
• The Luxton Fall Fair kicks off today (Sept. 12) and continues Saturday and Sunday. Arts lovers will want to check out Arts in the Barn, sponsored by the Vancouver Island Blacksmiths Association, and the lineup of live bands including Dave Cormier, Jake McFadden and Sombrio.
• Sept. 13 marks the artists’ reception for the Island Invitational: Clay, Paint, and Metal, happening at Coast Collective, 3221 Heatherbell Rd. in Colwood. Drop by from 1 to 5 p.m. to meet the artists, or check out their work during the run of the show from Sept. 10 to 21.
Johanna Henderson is a volunteer with the West Shore Arts Council and principal with Shelter Creative Services.