Calgary

Forest Lawn natural park designed to inspire and help the community share stories

A natural-inspired park in Calgary’s Forest Lawn is now open, helping to share the stories of a community.

'The community decided what elements they wanted to play with'

Features chosen by local artists and youth 0:30

It was three years in the making, but a natural-inspired park in Calgary's Forest Lawn has been designed by residents to reflect their stories.

"The community decided what elements they wanted to play with, so we had several community meetings over several months," Alia Shahab with Antyx Community Arts told The Homestretch this week.

"They really wanted the swings and they really wanted animals in the park, animals that we may have in Calgary."

The Forest Lawn Natural Playground brings together elements from local artists and youth from the area, Shahab explained.

"The very first one that went in was a collaboration with Calgary-based artist Lane Shordee. It's a signpost that he worked with youth to design and it points out the different aspects of the park. There's also a message board that the community can come post their messages and leave information to other community members on."

That signpost highlights park features.

A signpost highlights features of the park. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

"The bioswale, there's a food forest, there's the new developed, natural-inspired playground. The basketball court, the hills and all the other little aspects of the park," Shahab said.

Four painted picnic tables form a project called Beauty of the Land.

"They worked with an elder called Dakota Eagle Woman and Antyx Community Arts and the Boys and Girls Club, and they asked community members as they were walking by what they think is beautiful. They worked to interpret that and paint the benches to beautify the park," she explained.

But it's the sharing of stories that has some people excited, Shahab said.

Whispers in the Tall Grass

"Our final art project is called Whispers in the Tall Grass. It was a collaboration between Calgary-based artist Caitlind r.c. Brown and 25 youth over two years," she said.

"They worked really hard to get interesting stories, positive and negative, from the community of Forest Lawn. There's about three hours of recordings and stories.

"You can go into the hills, lie in the grass, put your ear upon a speaker and literally listen to the stories of people in the neighbourhood. It's meant to be intimate, it's meant to be just the person listening and the person telling the story."

The park is located at 10th Avenue and 43rd Street S.E. for anyone who would like to discover more.

You can lie in the grass and listen to stories from people in the community. (Jenny Howe/CBC)