Seeding beauty in Crown Point

A day in the life of Crown Point

… it is only when we are afraid that courage becomes a question. Courage is amazing because it can tap in to the heart of fear, taking that frightened energy and turning it towards initiative, creativity, action and hope. When courage comes alive, imprisoning walls become frontiers of new possibility, difficulty becomes invitation and the heart comes into a new rhythm of trust and sureness. There are secret sources of courage inside every human heart; yet courage needs to be awakened in us. The encounter with the Beautiful can bring such awakening. Courage is a spark that can become the flame of hope, lighting new and exciting pathways in what seemed to be dead, dark landscapes.

O’Donohue, John; Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, Harper Collins, New York, 2005 p. 6.

Friday night, in what was to be a dash to Metro at the Centre Mall to pick up milk and a few things, I turned my vehicle onto Cannon Street and suddenly was between flashing lights as police cruisers had quickly barricaded the neighbourhood.

That meant a sudden change in my plans! After a detour and returning back home, sometime about 11:30 pm, I noticed flashing lights in the alley directly behind my house – a cruiser was slowly combing the neighbourhood. I was afraid.

Fortunately a neighbour responded to my Facebook messenger post and filled me in on what was happening – someone had been shooting at police. Another neighbour across the street was outside on his porch having a smoke and we had our usual across-the-street chat to touch-base. It was re-assuring to know that I was part of a community that cared.

Saturday morning The Spec was late arriving, which was a clear indicator of the nighttime neighbourhood trauma. I made my trip to the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market to connect with Brian, Brenda and Kevin who, every Saturday during the winter, bravely truck produce from their farms to bring our neighbourhood locally grown, delicious food. To see them, and share about the night’s anxious moments, was re-assuring and grounding. Then, off to Seedy Saturday!

Buying eggs at the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market. Photo Sean Hurley.

This year, the annual event was held in our neighbourhood: the Boys and Girls Club on Ellis Avenue, a few minutes’ walk from the Centre Mall parking lot. No sign of the nights’ trauma there. The building was bursting with the usual children’s swim, as well as gardening enthusiasts desperately dreaming of what beauty and excitement the tiny seeds we were clutching would bring to our yards, tables, and community.

It was awesome to hear all kinds of buzzing contributing to a cross-pollination of ideas. Thanks to host of the event: Green Venture. There was the ever-popular seed-swap room, informative displays by organizations such as Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalist Club, engaging workshops, many interesting vendors and all kinds of volunteers – young and old.

Seedy Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club. Video courtesy of Green Venture.

What a delight to see Adam, Nica and their two young boys visiting the event. They used to live near Kenilworth Avenue North. Now they are living and farming near Simcoe. They bring their produce to the Farmers’ Market from April to November. Adam and Nica are part of that exciting group of young people who are gambling that growing local food in a sustainable way just might make them a living. Selling at the Market is a major source of their income. Maintaining a connection to our neighbourhood is important to them.

At the end of the event, as I helped with the dismantling of our Crown Point Garden Club table, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for each of the organizations and vendors and hundreds of visitors who were there to prove the importance of hope and trust in the power of seeds.

Yesterday, on a Sunday in February, two scarlet blooms on my amaryllis had finally burst open. It had taken what seemed like ages, but the gorgeous, beautiful burst of colour on such a dreary day was well worth the wait.

An Amaryllis - Discott [CC BY-SA-3.0)]
An Amaryllis – Discott [CC BY-SA-3.0)]

After some phone calls and computer work, it was suddenly afternoon and time to stroll over to the Pipeline Trail to help in the installation of the “Last Days of Snow and Ice” crocheted snowflakes – most of them crocheted with strips of plastic bags. This community effort is part of the DeLight Festival and Hamilton Winterfest.

The DeLight Festival germinated during the Crown Point Planning Team meetings. No one who attended DeLight in 2016 will forget the hundreds of Chinese lanterns suspended over the Pipeline Path between Province and Graham Streets lit for the entire month of February. The installation represented thousands of hours of volunteer hours and the belief of the importance of the Trail as a source of hope and delight for the neighbourhood.

Anne Vallentin, right, and Christina Babcock place crocheted plastic snowflakes on a fence as part of the DeLight Festivial. Photo Jeff Hayward.

It was a joy to have Elizabeth Seidl and her family there for the install of the snowflakes. Elizabeth knows how to nurture and grow seeds of ideas. Thanks to her quiet persistence and determination the Pipeline Trail has been recognized by the City of Hamilton as a special jewel that can be a way to showcase sustainability and bring people of all kinds of backgrounds together in the simplicity of walking and being connected to nature.

DeLight recycled ideas of the previous installation years by inserting light into the darkness of February; showcasing plastic’s impact on the environment and having fun. Yesterday we reflected together on all the work, the cold, the technical challenges, the creativity and the fun those installs represented, and the awe when it all came together.

This year, thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, not only is there the community engagement part of DeLight, but a curator and artists have put together an intensely thought-provoking and fun experience that will be in place for the duration of the month.

Poetry by Klyde Broox at the Crown Point Parkette. Photo by Jeff Hayward.

The installs are along the Pipeline trail from Park Row to Andrew Warburton Park and Fairfield Avenue. Visit the website,, for a map and click on each of the artist’s names to see a description of their work. Each piece is unique and reflects an important aspect of our impact on the environment and climate change.

A special shout-out to Fatima and Magda who made an eight hour trek from their new home in Quebec to be part of this year’s launch. Their presence in our community made the original DeLight happen. Their wonderful passion for building community by nurturing relationships and drawing out creativity has left a huge legacy in our neighbourhood.

Thanks to all who have brought DeLight to our neighbourhood once again.

We sorely need these signs of beauty and belief in community and creativity.

Get out with your family and friends. Enjoy the walk. Get your minds opened by the experience. Come out to the grand-finale on Saturday, February 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology, 900 Woodward Avenue, Hamilton.

Be DeLighted!

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