Last weekend marked our first set of workshops, which we were lucky to facilitate in the beautiful Prince Edward County with Sparkbox Studio and Drake Devonshire!

Community of Communities

Prince Edward County is characterized as a “community of communities”, made up of diverse townships, villages, natural landscapes and agricultural production. It is a centre of creativity - with local farms, breweries, wineries and a vibrant cultural community. 

Planning Context

Currently, Prince Edward County is in the midst of rewriting the County’s Official Plan, which means they are developing a new vision for how the area should grow and change in the future. The Crazy Dames workshops aimed to explore the county in a playful and creative way, asking community members to share with us their stories, experiences and visions of their physical spaces. 

Questions that we were considering throughout the weekend: 

Could our conversations and creations shape the vision for the County? How can our stories and experiences of place be reflected in our future spaces? Do these exploratory workshops focused on our spaces better connect us with community and our physical surroundings? 

Workshop 1: How to Build a Blanket Fort

Held at the beautiful Drake Devonshire in Wellington, PEC, this workshop invited participants to work together to transform the event location into an epic, playful physical space. 

We were situated adjacent to the Drake, across from a stream right by the lake. We had a number of participants, ranging in ages with the youngest being 2 years old. We divided into three groups and each ‘team’ worked together to discuss their goals of the blanket fort, to design and then to actually build them. 

The fort with the ornate blue entrance was designed by two siblings, aged 2 and 4. Rhys drew out a blueprint of the fort he wanted to see and as we were building, he had a difficult time straying from that image of a peaked roof, a door and a pillow within. The result was exactly what he envisioned.

‘The Burdock and Brooke’ was developed by a mother and three daughters and was aimed to act as a meditative escape, with the babbling brook nearby and burdock plants used for medicine.

‘The Tiny Toonel’ was the largest fort with a lakefront view. The fort builders, using tiny toon sheets, built a tunnel with a goal to connect to the other forts. While it did not physically connect, we all envisioned a pathway that connected the distinct forts, reflective of the townships within Prince Edward County. 

After we built our forts, we sat in Tiny Toonel to reflect on our experiences and understand how our visions for this small space could be reflected in broader visions for the County. 

We discussed the importance of community involvement and play in planning practices, especially exploration - not getting bogged down by how things SHOULD be and just allowing ourselves to build and see what could take shape. This model of exploration and play could be and should be incorporated into planning processes - to allow urban designers and planners to think out of the box and let go of the policies, zoning and precedents at least for a minute.

The fort building workshop was a success- participants were driven and inspired to just create!!

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