What began as a policy paper has been curated into a Saturday, as we fill a neighbourhood with our micro-events. Calgary Bliss Mind/Art Adventures have been designed to evolve into a travelling annual pop-up interpretive centre that grows communities in support of week-long festivals and events that celebrate mental health, mental wellness, and those affected by mental illness. We researched mental health from a place of contention, because those suffering need to celebrate, and they might be too angry to want to find a place of joy. Our pain points were layered and nuanced, which meant our dynamic and responsive solution would need to be too. We focused on tense topics, around resources focused on delivering mental health services and learning how they validate their business cases, and created safe ideological spaces for frank, heart-led discussion. By creating these spaces via arts and culture-driven projects for us to explore, discover, and assess, we can support a dynamic model of compassion that engages with the self and others.
The Mind/Art Adventures are a deconstructed wellness festival to better accommodate safety requirements. We feature low-cost and free engagement activities with local agencies and social services, promote compassionate 2-way conversations, and encourage equitable access to mental health programs through our services. Our narrative is integrated with learnings found within The Brain Story, as provided by the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative and Palix Foundation. We have established a path of study and are hoping to become a floating laboratory to support study of the arts and culture, as related to individual mental health.
This August, in support of those that we wish to celebrate, we’ve set up open house booths in the East Village. This year we host the Distress Centre and Immigrant Services Calgary, along with their presentations throughout the day. Kerby Centre is providing their Expressive Art Class as part of the festival, along with a presentation in partnership with Branch Out Neurological Foundation. There will also be a guided walk for a select group through Kerby Centre. The Centre for Sexuality is crafting their virtual panel presentation for late afternoon, highlighting the 2SLGBTQ+ perspective on mental wellbeing. All in-person events and ceremonies have a limited capacity for safety.
As we are not able to present a pop-up interpretive centre just yet, we’ve taken over a section of the East Village neighbourhood in Calgary and spread out the adventures, with a majority of the panel presentations taking place virtually. These art classes, sharing circle ceremonies, and workshops empower everyday citizens to normalize their awareness of mental health, mental wellness, and those affected by mental illness.
The design behind this project is holistically integrated with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and Placemaking principles, for the benefit of everyday citizens. We work with a leading Canadian CPTED expert to review our designs, and have spent years developing the concept with input from various mentors in the community, as well as staff of a multitude of agencies and services. We hope to see a difference through our events, in the emotional state of everyday citizens, for the better. We do this through designing around a core narrative, or story, that empowers us to layer meaning and creativity through our arts and culture projects, while acknowledging the wealth of services and programs in Calgary that support mental health.
Because we lead with a story, aspects of our narrative will be featured through the environment design, reflecting the designs of the original festival prototype. For example, where we can be in-person, the signage is nature-themed, brightly coloured, and the designed spaces will promote a sense of going on an adventure. This will be most prevalent in the East Village through our humanized trees, wayfinder statues that assist attendees in finding their way from the food trucks to the Art Walk on St. Patrick’s Island.
There, any citizen of Calgary can find the Art Walk laid out along the path. By following the signage, discussion prompts, and being present with the art installations, the emotional transitions of the adventures can add up through internal processing. The “Lobby” will still give the signal that they are heading down a path to self-awareness and learning, they will all pass “Not Your Fault” Falls, the food garden will feature a “Mural of the Divine” station. It will still encourage attendees to write down or draw something they learned that helped them to be a better neighbour, or be nicer to themselves. Before they leave the expo hallways, the “Trials” of classrooms and workshops, and the “Meet Thy Self” gallery, they will experience the multicultural ceremonies within “Forgiveness Grotto”.
These stations, in addition to the events over the Saturday, will showcase various culture’s practices of forgiveness, and lead them to finally “Bring It Home” through interacting with on-going arts and culture contests, with support from various partners like Branch Out Neurological Foundation, Kerby Centre, and HEAR (Health, Education, Advocacy and Research) Music Alberta group. In this way, we can connect attendees with resources both virtually by email, or through our pick up desk at the Central Public Library.
The HEAR Music Alberta group presents over 3 hours of programming, hosted at the TBC, featuring Dr. Andrew Bulloch speaking to a history of music therapy, work from the Instrumentalist Society of Calgary, and JB Music Therapy. We’re thrilled to be hosting Stoney Nakoda AV Club for their videography work, as we capture some of the happenings over the weekend. Tickets information and details available soon.
PFW’s Guiding Values
1. We understand the value of healing and that pain is inherent in our life experience.
2. We believe that change is constant and that dynamic and responsive systems are a potential solution.
3. We work to further our understanding of energy and emotion and to improve the vocabulary around the human experience.
The Perlin Foundation for Wellbeing focuses on motivating change in individual attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs – as a way of affecting change for the population as a whole. We work to advance health and support services’ resilience during economic certainty/ uncertainty or economic fluctuations. We work to connect smaller niche non-profits with larger partners to ensure the ecosystem prospers and demonstrate a unique approach to supporting vulnerable populations, the general public, and service providers. We feel that our work provides meaningful tools in support of agencies, artists, and the public, and ensures that services are available to those who need it, so that we can all succeed.