As the cold months of winter arrive, several community projects have been funded that will inject a little cheer and warmth into the Hillside Quadra neighbourhood. Eighteen projects have been awarded grants of up to $500 for a total of $8,292 through the Neighbourhood Small Grants program, which is being piloted in Hillside Quadra this year.
The Neighbourhood Small Grants program has been running in Vancouver neighbourhoods since 1999, and 2015 was the first year that it has been brought to a neighbourhood in Victoria. The pilot in Hillside Quadra is co-funded by the Vancouver Foundation and the Victoria Foundation and implemented by the Quadra Village Community Centre. Between September 1 and October 20, individuals were invited to apply for grants with project ideas to connect and engage residents of the neighbourhood.
A Resident Advisory Committee, a diverse group of volunteers from the neighbourhood, reviewed the applications and made funding decisions. Program Coordinator Rowena Locklin from the Quadra Village Community Centre says, “One of the best aspects of the Neighbourhood Small Grant process for me has been working with a great group of people on our Residential Advisory Committee. Everyone brings their unique ideas and perspectives to the projects, often bringing up things I may not have considered.”
The Neighbourhood Small Grants program differs from the Victoria Foundation’s community grants program in several ways. The size of the grants are much smaller, and applicants must be individuals, not organizations or businesses. Applicants also must not benefit financially from the project — the people who are leading the projects are doing so as volunteers. Finally, decisions about the grants are made from within the community, something that makes the Neighbourhood Small Grants program an example of “grassroots granting.”
A wide variety of projects have been approved for funding, and all meet at least one of the four Neighbourhood Small Grants program goals: to connect and engage neighbourhood residents, to share residents’ skills and knowledge within the community, to build a sense of ownership and pride, and to respect and celebrate diversity .
Some projects are focused on connecting people in a specific geographic area within the neighbourhood – for example, a party will be held for a block to plan a community art project, while another project aims to bring a street together to celebrate winter solstice.
Other projects aim to share ideas or skills across culture and celebrate the diversity of the neighbourhood. A series of workshops held at the Quadra Village Community Centre will teach community members about Japanese-Canadian food, art and culture, and a “Hijab Awareness Fashion Show” will educate the public about the Muslim faith and associated practices of head covering.
Still more projects use art, dance and music to bring people together. The “Quadra Village behind the Lens” project will encourage community members to take photos of the neighbourhood that will then be displayed at a local coffee shop. A free bellydancing workshop will be held for community members who want to learn how to move their hips. And a drum circle will begin at the Quadra Village Community Centre to celebrate the Aboriginal heritage of many neighbours and connect local Aboriginal youth to their culture.
Many of these projects will be open to all interested members of the neighbourhood – keep an eye out for posters around the neighbourhood and check http://neighbourhoodsmallgrants.ca/whats-happening/11 for listings of upcoming events.