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. This mindfulness and enso workshop was the first half of what we created together.

On day 1, the Railyard interns were hosts, and the DTES residents were guests in the Dossier offices. We had a brief talk about mindfulness which included a 10 minute mindful exercise. Then we all participated in a brush calligraphy and enso (円相) workshop lead by Kisyuu-sensei.

On day 2, the DTES residents will be hosts, and the Railyard interns will be guests. The DTES guides will take 2 Railyard interns each on a 2 hour walk of their neighbourhood. We will reconvene and debrief with a talking circle, an Indigenous practice that honours honest and brave talk.

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 writing these words. (Hey there.) He is an artist, writer and community organizer, but is certainly not a mindfulness guru. However, having been in dialogue with Akshay Kapur about all manner of interesting topics—including 無 (mu) and 円相 (enso)—Steve felt free to hold space for Jenny, Natsuki and Team Tasai to shine.

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.