Rutland reimagined

UBC Okanagan project is using art to fuel discussion about the future of Kelowna's largest residential area.

Imagine John Rutland, founder of the Kelowna neighbourhood bearing his name, in a Monty-Pythonesque soliloquy about his escapades.

How about a dating guide that highlights all the local places to take a great date or ditch a bad one?

Maybe a CD of music celebrating Rutland is more your taste.

Then again, what about a graphic novel about scary hauntings in Rutland?

How about a lifestyle magazine featuring fabulous homes and styles of Rutland residents?

Emerging artists from UBC Okanagan are engaging Rutland in an innovative endeavour called Dig Your Neigbourhood Rutland.

The UBCO initiative is driven by a creative bunch of students from the faculty of creative and critical studies, with the ultimate goal of the project being to generate discussion around the cultural, historical and ecological issues of a specific geographic and cultural space—in this case the Rutland, Kelowna’s largest residential area.

According to the university, creative writing and visual arts students have created a limited-edition package of artworks that will be distributed to new residents of Rutland by Welcome Wagon Ltd. and the public is invited to the launch of the art initiative on April 12, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Hillcrest Farm Market, 700 Highway 33 East, Kelowna.

There will be refreshments, entertainment and a number of artworks for sale.

The university says its students are excited about the neighbourhood dialogue and how their Dig Your Neighbourhood work will shape what Rutland newcomers need to know about their new home area.

Jessica Bonney co-authored a book of poetry about Rutland with Sarah Megan Hunter, called Daylighting.

“There’s a really fabulous sense of community in Rutland,” said Bonney. “I really love coming here.”

“It was really cool to see it all come together,” said Nik Vreugdenhil, who worked on maps for a walking guide. “I learned so much, not just about the community, but in collaborating with artists and using industry-standard programs and software.”

Jessica Klassen did design work on three individual pieces, Daylighting, the walking guide and a teen survival guidebook. “Just getting to know the character of Rutland turned out to be a fascinating experience,” she said.

Nancy Holmes, associate professor of creative writing, said Dig Your Neighbourhood is an innovative project unlike anything done anywhere else.

Students, she said, learned how to write to a specific audience and how to develop a project from concept to finished product.

“Writers get to work with visual artists and they get a sense of their own role, the contribution they make, as well as collaborating with each other and engaging with the community,” said Holmes.

Rutland, a area within the city that is  seeking to re-energize itself, is home to a varied population, including many low-income families and recent immigrants. The project’s leaders say misconceptions about Rutland are nothing new.

“Local residents and community groups are excited about our involvement because we will be able to assist them with some of their own projects, and with helping the neighbourhood overcome negative stereotypes,” said Holmes.

The Dig Your Neighbourhood project is a partnership of UBC, Welcome Wagon, artsVEST BC, the Eco Art Incubator, Lake Publishing and the Uptown Rutland Business Association.

For more information about the project follow on Twitter: @DYNRutland and go to the project’s Facebook page at


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