On June 3, look for red muskoka chairs in small parks. Part of 100in1Day, Red Chair Ave aims to spark conversations and introduce people to underutilized parks.
Wesley Andreas, organizer of Red Chair Ave, said he often passes what he calls a “pocket park” on 96 Street and 116 Avenue.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone there,” Andreas said.
He explained the city created these parks in vacant house lots in the ‘70s when they identified a need for more green spaces.
“Now it seems like they’re random lots and underused,” Andreas said.
He hopes to bring attention to this neighbourhood gap by placing red muskoka chairs in these parks on June 3 and encouraging people to sit down and have a conversation with others about their thoughts, love, or dreams of Canada, Edmonton, and their neighbourhood.
“It’s about building community and having an intentional time to think about the place we live in or talk to people we wouldn’t normally meet,” he said. He supplied a list of questions because “it gives an entry point. It’s hard to meet people.”
Volunteers will help at the locations by explaining the idea to passersby and handing out postcards to complete afterwards. The postcards record the basic idea of the conversations.
Andreas said he plans to place chairs in pocket parks or smaller neighbourhood parks in Spruce Avenue, Delton, Alberta Avenue, Parkdale-Cromdale, Eastwood, and Elmwood Park. Some chairs may also be available outside businesses like The Carrot Coffeehouse. A map with locations will be available at the sites and online at makesomethingedmonton.ca/events/1649-red-chair-ave-100in1dayyeg/.
“Everyone should have one close to their house, ideally,” said Andreas, although he’s still working on a location for Westwood.
At least four or five parks around those neighbourhoods will have chairs, although he is aiming for 12 or 13 locations. A few examples are the 118 Avenue grassy space and the pocket park on 96 Street and 116 Avenue.
So why red chairs?
“Red is prominent, it’s visible. We want people to notice these unexpected spaces we don’t pay attention to usually,” said Andreas.
While Andreas hopes to obtain 100 chairs for Red Chair Ave, he said he will use fewer chairs if needed.
“The ones I like aren’t available in bulk,” he laughed. “We’ve been having to raid Home Depot.”
Andreas said he hopes to do something creative with the postcards afterwards, like create a poem or an art installation.
Participants can also continue the conversation beyond June 3 by entering into a draw to win a pair of muskoka chairs. When completing the postcard, include your contact information and indicate if you want to be added to the draw by checking off the appropriate box. Volunteers will collect the postcards. The intention is for the winners to place chairs on their front lawn and encourage people to sit and talk.
Andreas also said he hopes the event will encourage people to use pocket parks more often for activities such as picnics, frisbee, or bocce ball.
RED CHAIR AVE
June 3, from 10 am to 3 pm
Feature: Wesley Andreas (left) and husband Ed Koehler (right), relax on a few of the chairs to be used on June 3. | Rebecca Lippiatt