Past Projects





so many moving pictures


With the Creek Forum we asked ourselves the question: what role do we as citizens and tax payers play in influencing the development of the place we call home? 


image: Igor Santizo

On November 5th we occupied the headwaters of te Statlew, the little creek now known as the St. George Rainway

 Activities were on St. George Street from Kingsway to 13th avenue

The Creek Forum

The Creek Stewards (students from Mount Pleasant Elementary)  led a day of activities designed to inform and inspire engagement with place-making. The event reflected and celebrated over a year of work the students  undertook to meet their community enhancement goals, understanding that Green Infrastructure builds social cohesion and is a long-term antidote to isolation.

Because the car-dealership on the corner is redeveloping, it is urgent and imperative that all community stakeholders engage with telling the story of what the headwaters of te Statlew could be. We are grateful that Destination Auto is open to a community design process and conversation about integrated public space. Together, we can weave our narratives together in a good way.


image: Igor Santizo

The schedule for the day included  

An invocation, Salish Welcome, Calling to Witness.
Some context for the St George Rainway Project.
Unveiling of  signage for te Statlew (bench and mural). 
Distribution of Folio, mapping student experience with Rainway Project to date.

Folio design: Madeleine Sauvé

-Storytelling by the Creek Stewards
-Debate by Ms. Seafoot’s Division 1, on the following 4 Rainway (SGR) themes:
   SGR will be beautiful
   SGR has a necessary purpose and structure
   SGR will be an active transportation route
   SGR builds community


Stamp Card

Craft Station: make your own wave-form puppet!

Stakeholder Information: learn about Odyssey, The Boys and Girls Club, Mt. Pleasant Family Centre, PosAbility, The Robson Park Community Garden and more!!

Design Charrette: contribute your vision of what the block between Kingsway and 13th could look like.

Scavenger Hunt: find yourself here!

Scavenger Card


Following a special song from Ms. Scoretz Division 3, a warm and nourishing lunch was enjoyed. 

After lunch, Russell Wallace from the Native Education College Choir led Zumac, a fun, audience participatory song, teaching various salmon related words in Henqeminem.

photo by Igor Santizo

The community’s Public Piano was available for play under a protective fish tarp and bamboo structure.

Piano Play

The music sent us off on a guided walk downstream, past the tilting topography of twelfth avenue, to flow through a puppet show and sound-garden.

Stumpy the Tree

Stumpy the Tree, animated by Mind of a Snail


After floating merrily past fellow community-minders (hailing from places as diverse as: City Commons, The Tool Library, The Drift and The Art Walk)…


…walkers finally found themselves in cloud shrouded view of the mountains. There, Wendy Charbonneau (Squamish) told the story of the Two Sisters and we danced the Jimmy Jimmy in celebration!         


Water Bodies Dance Collective

WaterBodies led the final leg of the journey towards the Mt. Pleasant Elementary School Field where we were invited to once more gather ’round a bamboo structure.

Give Away

The closing ceremony was an invitation to carry a drop of  the story forwards...



In  addition to working at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School, activities facilitated over the Summer of 2013, in preparation for the November 5th Creek Forum included

NEC Carving 

FREE Carving workshops

The VSOS and Native Education College hosted carving workshops with Joe Bolton and Martin Sparrow (Musqueam). These workshops resulted in 8 cedar panels which will be used to frame the signage at the Storyteller’s bench at the Headwaters of te Statlew as well as the Mural at 8th and St. George street.


Sound Wave Call

Through the Summer, City Studio’s Public Piano was in Robson Park, inviting people to play and muse on the flow of water beneath Vancouver’s streets. It  is now housed at OdysseyII, serving to enhance their Art Therapy programme. The piano rolled back out during the Creek Forum, standing proudly within sacred structural geometry, with a fish-tarp canopy in case of rain.

Bag Swim

Te Statlew Summer Series

Summer Workshops

In August, salmon masks were danced with in glee! Salmonberry, fern and wave puppets were stitched and articulated, finding their voices and stretching their synapses, ready to play on November 5th.

Wee Wave Forms!

Wee Wave Forms!

We also made our own  stencils.

storm sewer marking

storm sewer markings



 The Creek Forum was only possible with: 

The Wild West Coast
The dedicated team of Creek Stewards
Creative Facilitators: Igor Santizo, Naomi Steinberg;
Creative Support: Shahira Sakiyama, Ari Lazer, Ocean Deonne, Kalie Bredo, Josh Welsh, Martin Sparrow, Joe Bolton, Varouj Gumuchian, Rob Sutherland, Madeleine Sauvé, GP Mendoza, Melissa Estable, George Rahi, Pierre Gauthier;
Civic Support: Carolyn Drugge (COV sewers & sanitation), Branca Verde (COV social planning)
Performers: Water Bodies ((Jen Dunford, Olivia Davies, Rianne Svelnis, Angelina Krahn, Daphné Paquette, Jennifer Aoki)), Meris Goodman, Candice Curlypaws, Lindy Gray, Maggie Winston, Mind of a Snail, Darcy McMurray, Wendy Charbonneau, Russell Wallace & the Native Education College choir;
Partners: Vancouver Society Of Storytelling, St George Rainway Project, Mt Pleasant Family Centre, Mt Pleasant Elementary School (Ms. Stevenson, Ms Scoretz , Ms. Seafoot, the PAC);
Funders: Vancouver Foundation (Youth Philanthropy Council), ArtStarts in Schools, BC Arts Council, Embrace BC, Neighbourhood Small Grant, Pacific Salmon Foundation;
In-kind: Village Vancouver, Kivan Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Mt Pleasant Neigbourhood House (food security network).
… And a very special thank you to all our  bright and efficient volunteers!… <3

 Creek Forum Invitation

VFlogo-colour   ArtStarts_Logo_300dpi_CMYK BCArtsCouncil_RGB_pos_lrg EMbraceNO Bak  PSF




A storytelling workshop series running from  February-March 2011 dedicated to fostering active and culturally diverse community leaders. 



After 7 weeks of encountering each other, holding safe and respectful listening space, sharing stories and opening to new friendships , members of the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA), Vancouver Area Survivors of Torture (VAST) and MOSAIC (new immigrants to Canada) told their stories at the UNYA Learning Centre.

The Vancouver Society of Storytelling  is dedicated to building community and empowering both individuals and organizations through story-telling and story-listening. Seeding Stories is an example of one the many ways storytelling can be applied for social change.

This project was made possible through funding from

The Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia




5 communities, 5 elements, 5 objects… countless stories.

ELEMENTAL was a 5 part series wherein the VSOS worked with 5 different communities in Vancouver. Each community used stories about a different element (air, earth, water, fire, metal) as the metaphoric access point for an intergenerational story-share and workshop series. The story-share served as a spring board for the creation of an object or series of objects which now serve as a lasting legacy and focal point for ongoing storytelling in community.


The Strathcona Community Centre approached the VSOS to collaborate on a project that would help provide activities for their youth during the extended March ‘School Closure Days’. From March – May 2011, more than 300 kids and seniors living in Strathcona collaborated to build a giant “Storytelling Kite”.  Lead artists were Carmen Mills and Naomi Horii.


From the stories shared over kite making, a series of hopes and wishes for the world’ were distilled and then incorporated onto the tail of a giant Rokkaku (Japanese six-cornered kite). The Strathcona Youth Council took on the project and helped steer Stories on The Wind on May 1, 2011.

The May 1st event was a lovely kite-flying and storytelling festival in Crab Park with professional storytellers, kite crafting and flying. The music & stories were amplified through a pedal-powered sound system  and as the kites flew, they released their prayers & stories onto the wind.


A partnership with the St. George Rainway and Native Education College (NEC),  ELEMENTAL:earth began with series of free storytelling workshops at the NEC. Elder storytellers indigenous to the land shared stories of the earth and plants from July- August 2011, giving a solid grounding to the intentions launched during Stories on the Wind. .


Following the storytelling, participants designed a “storytellers bench” based on the stories told. The MudGirls then hosted a free weekend cob-building workshop.

The site for the bench is the N/W corner of Robson Park at 13th and St. George. This is a very relevant site because it is the headwaters of St. George Creek as well as a nexus of business (Destination Auto), service providers (Kivan Boys and Girls Club, Mount Pleasant Family Centre, Odyssey) and co-op housing as well as being part of a public park with a wide array of activities and users including a community garden.

On EarthDay 2012 we celebrated our storytellers’ bench having learned so much about St. George Creek, the False Creek Watershed and the waters surrounding this beautiful Coast Salish territory!


On the November 2011 full moon, we began  a 6 week storytelling workshop series co-sponsored by the  VSOS ( and Vancouver Community College (VCC)  ( Facilitators were Lesley Ewen and Naomi Steinberg.


By bringing careful consideration to the location of VCC on the False Creek Flats the VSOS’s intention was to foster an understanding of and respect for the land’s historical, geographic, political, peopled and wild narrative. 100 years ago the Flats were a tidal marsh, fifteen times bigger than today. It was washed daily by ocean water, mixing with the 9 creeks draining into the area east of what is now Main Street. Surrounded by swamp, grassland, berry bushes, medicinal plants, and rich forest, the large tidal flat fanned towards Clark Drive from a narrow isthmus of land at Main Street. At high tide the water lapped at the edges of today’s Pender Street. Salmon bearing streams flowed up the ravines. The shallows abundantly supported muskrat ponds, shellfish, oolichon, smelt and sturgeon. Thousands of migratory birds lived around the creek. First Nations used to say “When the tide is out, the table is set.” This area was filled in in 1916 to create railroad yards, at which point Main Street was connected permanently.

We made a book of “watermarks” with handmade paper (thanks to Sharon Kallis and the Urban Weavers). Fibers for the paper were sourced at The Means of Production Garden, which is located in near the False Creek Flats as well as a cedar snag near Klahowya Village in Stanley Park.

The book was then immersed in water and frozen – a comment not only to what happens to our stories when we write them down (they become static and frozen rather than shifting and ephemeral when they remain oral), it was also a comment on the time it takes for authentic community engagement, for trust to build and water to flow together. During the 2012 storytelling festival the book was set out to thaw on the Flats.

Currently in development is a ten minute meditative documentary clip, showing the thawing process.


For ELEMENTAL: fire, we worked at the Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre (MACC), with a grade 6/7 class from Trudeau Elementary. From April – June 2012 the students developed an exciting story about a bear, a scorpion, food security and Ayurvedic medicine as well as planting and tending onions in the MACC herb garden. Lead facilitation was with Naomi Steinberg. Co-faciliators and guests included: Natalie Gan, Melanie Ray, Mohinder Singh and Zaccheus Jackson Nyce.

planting onions in the MACC garden

planting onions in the MACC garden

Narrative captures (journaling and illustration) were part of a display/exhibition at the Sunset Community Centre and the children told their story as part of the ELEMENTAL bike/bus tour.



Finally, working with the University Women’s Club (UWC), ELEMENTAL: metal was conceived as a “give-away”, honouring a wisdom tradition indigenous to the  West Coast namely, the opening of one’s table.


i am only as wealthy as what i am able to give

Using a set of silverware as a spring board for discussion and discovery, 18 women delved into their stories over three intensive evening workshops. They were then invited to co-host  the ELEMENTAL: reception on the grounds of Hycroft, home of the UWC.


The ELEMENTAL initiative was showcased at the 19th Vancouver International Storytelling Festival through a bicycle/bike tour facilitated in part by Red Sara.

ELEMENTAL:what stories are made of  was an opportunity to to engage with the social, cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity of Vancouver, in a creative, multi-storied context.

We celebrate the Wild Wet West Coast, home to so many creatures – two legged, four legged, winged and finned.

We acknowledge the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples

We are grateful to our partners, the Strathcona Community Centre and Youth Council, The Mt. Pleasant Family Centre, the Native Education College, Vancouver Community College, Urban Weavers, Moberly Arts and Culture Centre, Trudeau Elementary School and the University Women’s Club.

                                  SCCLOGO with oldest community                NEClogo                  



ELEMENTAL was made possible through funding from Heritage Canada, The Canada Council for the Arts, The BC Arts Council, the City of Vancouver (Cultural Services), Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation (Neighbourhood Matching Fund), and Small Neighbourhood Grant (Mt. Pleasant), in addition to countless volunteer hours and in-kind donations.

Thank you.



BCArtsCouncil_RGB_pos_lrgCity of Van logo


The result of over a year of community engagement, the ELEMENTAL bike/bus tour was integral to the 19th Vancouver Int’l Storytelling Festival.

dragon marks the spot

dragon marks the spot

Festival goers were invited to meet at 11:00 at the dragon in the zodiac wheel found on the plaza in front of the Sun Yat-Sen garden. After receiving their map and meeting their guides, participants began the ELEMENTAL tour of 5 of Vancouver’s parks. This free tour showcased the results of over a year of community engagement through the ELEMENTAL initiative.

The first stop was Crab Park. A 7ft storytelling kite flew as audience members heard Sam Bob tell the story of the West Wind, a powerful mythic character. Then, an icy storybook with hand made paper was unveiled on the False Creek Flats. The way then led uphill to Robson Park where a cob bench served as a “listening station” from which to hear Wendy Charbonneau tell the story of the Two Sisters Mountains. Next was South Vancouver for 4 p.m. refreshments where a children’s storytelling ensemble provided fiery entertainment in the Moberly herb garden, touching on notions of Food Security.

The end of the tour was a 7 p.m. reception on the grounds of Hycroft, where the University Women’s Club (UWC) set the scene for stories of indigenous wisdom and philanthropy.  The City Studio Long Table served as focal point for the community celebration and dialogue.

All food was carefully prepared in Brenda Koch’s “Love’s Kitchen” with ingredients sourced at local urban farms and businesses including: SoleFood Farms, Young Agrarians, Metro Vancouver City Farms, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Southlands Heritage Farm, Slow Food Vancouver, Eternal Abundance, Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society, Brewery Creek Community Garden, Golden Ears Cheeseworks, Martin’s Marvelous


Thank you to those people who put in so many hours planning, trouble shooting and facilitating this experience. In particular we would like to thank Godfrey Levy, Sara Ross and Donna Chen.

In-kind donations of infrastucture were made by: In The House Festival, Vancouver Renewable Energy Cooperative, UBC Bike Coop and George Rahi.

Site Management was by: Tim Furness, Ari Lazer and Rob Telford.

Funders  for the ELEMENTAL bus/bike tour were:




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