We had a really “cool” time bringing our project to life. We connected with our neighbours in two ways: an Instagram account @Way2Shade and through in-person events. The Instagram account served as the constant connection point with our community. We posted daily on this page throughout the project’s lifespan in August. Our pop-up engagements on August 11th at Falaise Park and August 17th at Aberdeen Park were fun ways for us to connect in the evenings as people were out cooling down.
It was important to us to use this project as an informational opportunity. We disseminated relevant information such as research on the city’s tree canopy coverage and the impacts of “heat island effect” in ways that were visual and easily understandable. One of the creative elements we used was to do a little science experiment demonstrating the impacts of various surface types (cement, moss, trees) on overall heat. We shared these on our Instagram page and brought it with us to our pop-ups.
We wanted to make sure this was a fun experience for the community. We had an art station at our pop-up events where neighbours learned to make handheld fans to stay cool. We also hid 5 googley eyes with around the neighbourhood with a QR code to our Instagram page and a little poem. We hid them in locations that were cool spaces and that also fostered further social connections. We combined this with a contest where community members could enter if they shared their favourite cool spots or found one of our googley eyes.
This project was also all about highlighting spaces that exist in our community to cool down. We created an online map (https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1EYZ5_ZgNqWf52FPTWzOMZDSEyrJpBqU&ll=49.244849502825524%2C-123.03798265&z=14) with the support of neighbours that is posted on our Instagram page. We also had a physical map that people had a chance to interact with and add to that we later updated to the online version.
Overall, we are quite excited by how many people we connected with. We spoke with about 15-20 community members in person about this project, tracked an average of 10-15 daily engagements and 40 followers on our Instagram account, and 8 entries in the contest.
We learned that people are acutely aware of the ways in which their environments dictate their ability to stay cool. Some neighbours spoke about their experiences of living in the same house over decades and experiencing more heat with densification, and others shared stories of how their homes weren’t equipped with adequate cooling systems even though they lived in a newer highrise. Some even pointed out their experiences from different neighbourhoods that were noticeably cooler than some areas of RC due to tree coverage.