British Columbia

Poetry and prose offer new perspective on Newton

People in the Newton area of Surrey, B.C. have compiled a group of positive stories about their community for a new book called We Are Newton.

New book shares stories about life in Newton written by residents in the Surrey neighbourhood

A crowd celebrates the launch of We Are Newton — an anthology of stories and poems celebrating the Newton area of Surrey. (Nasrin Baji/Newtown BIA)

A group of community members in the Newton area of Surrey, B.C. have rallied to improve the reputation of their neighbourhood through the written word.

When Newton is in the news, it's unfortunately about shots ringing out or a spike in property crime. Fed up of this reputation, a group of residents got together to share positive stories about life in their community.

Contributors sent in or emailed poems, short stories and prose to fill 72 pages of a book called We Are Newton: A Neighbourhood Anthology.

David Dalley — one of the people behind the project — shared a story about walking with his young daughter.

"We'd just go walk around the community and talk about what she was doing, the things we saw and the experiences. It was really powerful for me to see the community through the eyes of a child," he said.

His favourite story in the book is a contribution from an RCMP officer.

The officer was about to arrest a woman for being drunk in public but decided to let her go. Years later, he ran into the woman at a bus stop. Standing with her husband and child, she told the officer that act of kindness had turned her life around.

Only 50 copies of the book were printed but plans are underway for a community book exchange. (Nasrin Baji/Newton BIA)

Ellen Niemer, who was in charge of putting the book together, said the process brought the community together.

"When we had the book launch and I got to know each writer — most of them I had not met yet — I really felt like they were my neighbours and there was a connection there," she said.

"I think there's so many negative messages out in the world right now about intolerance. I think it's time to get to know each other better."

Only 50 copies of the book were printed and they were all distributed at the launch party held at the Old Surrey Restaurant on Nov. 20. Organizers hope to make the book available through a community book exchange.

With files from Jesse Johnston

To hear the segment, click on the link labelled South of the Fraser: Book inspires a new look at Newton