Window Wanderland Comes to James Bay in February
By Robert Hawkes
On the evenings of February 24 and 25 James Bay will become an even more welcoming, sharing, creative, and magical place when it hosts Window Wanderland. What is Window Wanderland? Individuals, families, organizations, and businesses decorate a window, and then everyone is urged to wander through the community to view the windows during the evening. Although Window Wanderland has been held at a number of locations in the United Kingdom, James Bay will be the first community in North America to host a Window Wanderland. The event runs from 5 to 10pm on each of the two nights.
The idea of Window Wanderland started with Lucy Reeves Khan in Bristol, UK in 2015. A set designer by training, during therapeutic evening walks through her community, Lucy, "imagined the streets being alive with people looking at different displays, snap-shots of life" and Window Wanderland was born. The first event was an outstanding success and Lucy saw that "it lifted people’s spirits, strengthened belief in the power of people, of play, and that everyone has at least one creative bone in their body."
The James Bay event is being led by the James Bay Community School Centre and James Bay New Horizons. In their release inviting community participation, the organizations said, "With your help we will transform our neighbourhood into an outdoor gallery for all to enjoy."
Your display can be as simple as putting some objects, a picture, or lights in your window, or it can be more sophisticated. You can decorate a home or apartment window, a balcony, school, church, front garden, or even a parked vehicle. The only real restriction is that everything be family-friendly. You can browse ideas at the Window Wanderland site (http://www.windowwanderland.com).
I contacted Terry Loeppky, one of the organizers of the James Bay Window Wanderland, to find out how the event was coming to our community. In his own words: "Several people were involved...my wife Dorothy Rich and I volunteered as installation artists with Luminara throughout its ten-year run. About two years ago, Dorothy articulated the idea of combining Luminara-like night illuminations with the walk about model of the James Bay Art Walk. Last spring she mentioned this to a friend, Kathryn Pankowski, another Luminara alumnus. Kathryn said she'd heard of something along those lines in the UK and sent us a link to Window Wanderland. When I looked at the site I immediately exclaimed: ‘This would be perfect for James Bay!’ I approached Darcy Topinka and Kim Dixon at the James Bay Community School Centre and James Bay New Horizons. They embraced the idea and away we went."
Everyone I've talked to about the event, without exception, was enthusiastic that Window Wanderland was coming to James Bay. Young children to seniors are imagining creative ways to participate and are looking forward with delight to seeing what others choose to share. That excitement is certainly shared by the organizers. Terry Loeppky commented "I see Window Wanderland as an opportunity to create connections and build community. The pedestrian nature of the event makes it ideal for James Bay allowing people of all ages to participate. I'm excited by the number of individuals, businesses, and organizations that have registered to date and can hardly wait to see how it all turns out." Lucy is enthusiastic that her idea has now crossed the ocean, as she expressed to me by email "I am SO excited that my little idea is coming your way!"
The first step is to get registered for James Bay Window Wanderland, and then spread the word and encourage your neighbours to do the same. After registering, your location will be added to the map so everyone will know where to find your display on the nights of Window Wanderland. The James Bay event is supported by a City of Victoria Celebration Grant, and is therefore free to all participants. You can get details and sign up to get listed in the official James Bay Window Wanderland map at the following website. http://www.windowwanderland.com/event/james-bay-victoria-canada/. Follow along on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Window.Wanderland/ and then under Events select James Bay. If you have questions you can email the local organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.