On the Ground: Friendly Crafters

It was an idea cooked up over coffee in Quadra Village one day that resulted in a popular new weekly gathering for crafty types with a desire to learn, socialize and create.

June McIntosh said she had been looking for a new way to give back to the community, when she and friend Naomi Kennedy decided to team up and apply for a Neighbourhood Small Grant from the Victoria Foundation.

But what to do? June had the desire and the drive, but wasn’t sure what to do or how to go about doing it.

“At my age, I was starting to get to the point where I had given up a lot of my volunteering, and I haven’t been working for a long time,” June said. “I was starting to feel a little bit like I was staying home too much, I didn’t have all that much to look forward to.”

June’s lifelong love of scrapbooking turned out to be the key to their altruistic ambitions, and she soon centred on the idea of starting a crafting group. The two teamed up to apply for the grant and were awarded $500 to get their group up and running. The two hit the art supply stores to buy some of the basics and before long the Friendly Crafters were gathering once a week to work on projects, share stories, swap tips and generally enjoy themselves.

Scrapbooking is still June’s primary focus, but the varied interests of participants have led to all sorts of crafty activities taking place during the group’s weekly meetings. June keeps a running list that now includes embossing, rubber stamping, felting, iris folding, stencilling and so much more.

“They all do beautiful work,” June said. “Every week they surprise me, someone comes in and does something different.”

Neighbourhood Small Grants is a unique program designed to build community and strengthen connections right where people live – in their neighbourhood. Small grants of up to $500 are available for residents of the Hillside Quadra neighbourhood to develop projects that meet the needs of the community.

A key goal of the Neighbourhood Small Grants program is to encourage and develop feelings of connection to community – whether it’s connecting neighbours on the same block, connecting people across cultures, or connecting people in need of support to others in the community who can help them to thrive.

A total of 16 projects received grants in 2016, leading to a series of wide-ranging initiatives designed to do everything from teaching adventure skills to kids, to sharing lessons about Islam, to singing in the streets.

And, of course, to provide the space, resources, knowledge and inspiration to get crafting.

“It’s a place to relax, it’s a place to socialize, [everyone] is so generous, so helpful,” June said. “I’m just astounded at the community spirit, the amount of talent. … It’s given me a whole new lease on life.”

June McIntosh

June McIntosh

About 12 to 15 people now regularly come out to the Wednesday gatherings at the Quadra Village Community Centre. Crafting takes place from 12:30 to 3:30pm, and everyone is welcome. Many supplies are available for those who don’t have their own, and regular participants are always happy to help teach new skills and get you started on your own projects.

Stay tuned to victoriafoundation.bc.ca to keep up to date on Neighbourhood Small Grant opportunities in 2017.

Watch an On the Ground video on the Friendly Crafters here.