Project Vital City

In memory of the late Ted Harrison, we wanted to share the story of this 2006 Leadership Victoria community action project. Members of Team Vitality: Marion Ashton, Garth Caters, Lorna Herzog and Kirsten Martin (with project coach Bill Headen) created and implemented Project Vital City with a focus on community collaboration. The following summary of the project was adapted from the team’s final report. The project produced a painting that now hangs beside our office lunch table. We invite you to stop by for a look when you’re in the neighbourhood!

Project Vital City was conceived by a team of Leadership Victoria participants. The team envisioned a project that would celebrate what we can accomplish as a community when we work together.

The Victoria Foundation, with its legacy of connecting people who care with causes that matter®, was the perfect match to partner with the Leadership Victoria team in this project. Thus, Project Vital City became part of marking the 70th anniversary of the Victoria Foundation.

Ted Harrison Project Vital City 2006

The late renowned artist, Ted Harrison, graciously created an original painting to be used as the basis for Project Vital City. This image, Victoria Visions, was then enlarged and sketched out by a Studio Art class at Lambrick Park Secondary School. The enlarged image was divided into a series of panels, and each panel was painted by a different community organization. The participating organizations represented each of the community sectors that benefit from grants through the Victoria Foundation:

  • The Langham Court Theatre, a long-standing community theatre in Victoria, represented the Arts, Culture & Heritage sector.
  • Wear 2 Start,an organization which outfits economically disadvantaged women for job interviews, represented the Community Service sector.
  • The Lodge at Broadmead, which supports veterans and seniors in leading full and active lives, represented the Health sector.
  • BC SPCA Wild Arc,which seeks to rehabilitate wildlife and to educate the public about co-existing with wildlife, represented the Environment sector.
  • KidSport, an organization that removes financial barriers that may prevent young people from participating in sport, represented the Recreation, Camps & Sports sector.
  • The Victoria READ Society, which assists people of all ages in developing basic literacy and numeracy skills, represented the Education & Employment sector.

Additional panels were painted by the Leadership Victoria team and by the Victoria Foundation. The Alzheimer Society of BC painted a panel in honour of Ted Harrison and his commitment to the work of the Society.

The focus of this project was to encourage community collaboration. The team recognized that there are many issues facing our community, and felt that underlying many of these issues is a fundamental “disconnectedness” amongst both individuals and organizations within the community. Team Vitality felt that our culture tends toward competition rather than cooperation and that this has led to a climate in which individual groups struggle in isolation for their “piece of the pie”.

“Look what can happen when we work together

The goal of Project Vital City was to use the process of a variety of organizations contributing to a piece of community art as a powerful demonstration of the value of collaboration among different groups and sectors of the community. The message that the group hoped this project would communicate was “look what we can build when we work together!” and, upon completion, felt that the project was successful in communicating this message. They found that each organization they approached was excited to become involved in a project that was inclusive of all sectors of the community. A number of the organizations came together one day for a paint-in. As the groups painted, they had the time to learn a little more about the goals of the other groups represented. The Leadership Victoria team witnessed collaboration occurring as the organizations discovered ways that they could work together to better achieve their goals.

Team Vitality Leadership Victoria

Throughout the following year, Team Vitality and the Victoria Foundation oversaw the travel of the completed painting to various locations. Wherever the painting was displayed, it was accompanied by its story so that those who saw it would more fully understand its history and purpose. Works of art can serve many purposes. The team envisioned that this painting will remain a lasting symbol that will inspire those who view it and learn its story to become more passionate about their own community involvement and more aware of the great potential that exists when citizens and organizations work together.

The final community painting, as well as the process of organizations coming together through Project Vital City, serves as a reminder that it is by working collaboratively that we create a community that is healthy, vibrant, sustainable, inclusive and beautiful. Greater Victoria is our Vital City. May this painting remind us to continue to work together to make Victoria the kind of place that we are proud to call home.

Project Vital City painting Ted Harrison