PhoneMe Project creates a public platform and amplifies the voices of community members through poetry. The poems created as a part of this project are recorded live on mobile phones and are uploaded to a secure server. Using an automated process of posting phone calls, we hope to make it possible for people perform and record their poems anywhere they find an inspiration. The end goal of our project is to have a large collection of spoken word poems accessible online and to inspire and empower others to join in the dialogue.
This week we gathered together at the UBC Learning Exchange on the corner of Main and East Georgia streets, right in the heart of Vancouver Chinatown. This part of Vancouver is undergoing rapid changes that involves a rezoning plan, opening the neighborhood to new residential and commercial development. While these changes are celebrated by some, they are opposed by others and even dubbed as symbolic cannibalism, a textbook example of gentrification.
In this context our prompt this week was “Something you would build within a 100 steps”. Coming from different walks of life, we had a thought-provoking discussion around what should be (or should it be at all?) built in Chinatown. We will be uploading the poems written during the workshop onto our interactive map.
As I looked put of the window, I remembered my fist day at the Learning Exchange. I came to this place in 2013 to volunteer as an English language facilitator. Then, in 2013, there was a community garden across the street. Now, in 2017, I was looking at a high rise condo development, a bank and a poke eatery. It was a beautiful building, but having grown up in an apartment complex far from parks and gardens, I felt prickle of loss, a longing for more green space.
This is my poem
I want to build a wall
Luscious green waterfalls
falling down, pouring
into the streets.
The reds and yellows
grim greys of
The hanging gardens of Chinatown.
The eight world wonder.
An urban oasis.
A refuge for those who are losing a home.