How do you meaningfully introduce a cohort of 5 design interns to one of the most complex neighbourhoods in North America? Team Tasai collaborated with Dossier Creative to create a 2 day Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood encounter.

DAY 1: The Railyard interns (the Yardies) were hosts, and the DTES residents were guests in the Dossier offices. We had a brief workshop about mindfulness which included some mindful practice and an exploration of the mindful circle, a concept developed in conversation with Akshay Kapur. We then all participated in a brush calligraphy and enso (円相) workshop lead by Kisyuu-sensei. Drawing the enso, traditionally a Zen meditation practice, was a hands-on way to experience and remember the mindful circle.

DAY 2: The neighbourhood guides were hosts, and the Yardies were guests in the DTES neighbourhood. The neighbourhood guides took 2 Yardies each on a 2 hour walk of the neighbourhood. The three groups of three were free to go wherever they wished to go, meet whoever they might meet. We reconvened at Jacob’s Well and debriefed with a talking circle. The talking circle is an Indigenous practice that honours brave and honest talk. Steve convened the circle as the practice was passed on to him by his elders, in community, with the permission of those same elders.

Jenny is an artist and original Tasai member who has lived and worked in the DTES for over a decade. Jenny’s consistent, persistent, embracing presence in the neighbourhood meant she was the perfect person to bridge two very different worlds. On the one hand, the DTES, and on the other Railtown, an adjacent neighbourhood of tech start ups and maker labs where Dossier is located.

Natsuki is a calligraphy master and Tasai member. She has won too many calligraphy competitions in Japan and Canada to mention, has worked on projects with Microsoft, Shiseido, Dentsu, Toyota and Netflix, and has provided hundreds of calligraphy workshops and demonstrations. On her first visit to a Tasai event she told Steve she wanted to create world peace through calligraphy. When Steve said, “Yes!” they both knew she was in the right place.

Steve is Executive Director of Tasai, and an organizational health consultant. He is an artist, writer and community organizer. He works on behalf of #teamhuman.

Work with Team Tasai

Team Tasai would love to work with your organization in creating dignified and just ways for you and residents of the DTES to interact through art and mutual learning.