Kirby Delaney’s Birdhouse Mailboxes and the Community of James Bay

Kirby Delaney’s Birdhouse Mailboxes and the Community of James Bay

By Rita Button
Photo by Bob Tuomi

A master’s student in Community Planning at Vancouver Island University, Kirby Delaney doesn’t wait around to find answers to the questions she has. Last month, she wanted to get to know her neighbours in James Bay, so she made four mailboxes that look like birdhouses, cemented them into plastic pails, and dropped them off at various places in James Bay. In this personal community research, Kirby has posted the following questions on the birdhouses:

What is your favourite green space in James Bay?

What do you think of your home in James Bay?

What would you like your community to look like in ten years?

Kirby has made the birdhouses and cemented them into plastic pails that serve as their base, allowing them to stand easily, and placed them in various places in James Bay.

Having no agenda and no budget, Kirby wants to become a part of the neighbourhood, partly by discovering how James Bay people perceive their community. The questions she has posted are designed to reveal the answerers’ values. People are invited to respond to the questions on the paper included in the birdhouse, and place the answers inside the house. As is stated on the display, the responses are anonymous.

The birdhouses/mailboxes had been in the neighbourhood for only six days when I talked to her, but people were already responding to the questions. As well, some had offered to host a birdhouse on their property, a gesture that Kirby really appreciated since this is a personal project which prevents her from placing her artifacts on public property.

The research ended at the end of April, and Kirby promised to send me the results. I am hoping we will be able to print the results in the paper.

Kirby’s creativity and curiosity suggest that the responses will tell us something interesting and maybe even unusual about the nature of James Bay. We’re looking forward to the findings of this totally grass roots survey. And Kirby wants to thank the people in James Bay for their wonderful support!

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