Hope Bridges Society

Transformational Power of Arts & Culture In Community


Get Creative, and Celebrate Our Earth!
By Wanda Reinholdt

Since its international beginning in 1990, there has been a yearly celebration that encourages communities and citizens to protect the environment and make choices that do not pollute but improve the state of our earth. This celebration is called “Earth Day” and it is observed every April 22nd around the world.  Events that take place during Earth Week are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. This celebration of the earth came about after John McConnell at the UNESCO Conference in San Francisco in 1969 declared March 21st the first day of spring. Nature’s yearly blooming each March and the recognition of it was later sanctioned by the United Nations along with Earth Day.

A Canadian initiative in 2012 to celebrate Earth Day was “Take It Up For Earth”. It is outlined on Canada’s website www.earthday.ca. The program encouraged people to join others across the nation to do one or more of the following 4 things: Eat and prepare plant-based foods. Drink tap water and be water wise. Detox your personal routine.  Activate outdoor unplugged activities. And, upon doing this, report what had been accomplished. The purpose was to promote making better decisions about food, clothing and household necessities, thereby saving thousands of litres of water and oil, and meaningfully reducing personal and collective impact on the environment. According to the tracking of this initiative, 97132 days of energy were saved from the participation in this program. It was very successful.

Another very notable initiative was an artistic one, carried out in 2011. The program was called the Upcycling Challenge.  Upcycling is the art of making something beautiful out of something that would normally be recycled or thrown out. For the celebration of the Earth in 2011, individuals were asked to create projects that show safely the importance of re-use and waste reduction. These projects were filmed or photographed.  Submissions were judged on written quality, clear instructions and well composed photographed or videos. The winners were then celebrated on the website and given prizes. You can see the details at www.earthday.ca/pub/campaigns/upcycling.

So why not join in the celebrating of Earth week this April 22nd to 27th? It’s very easy to do. Here are some ideas: Get creative and take a fun Upcycle Art workshop with Hope Bridges. Shop smart by purchasing what you need rather than what you want. Save energy through replacing light bulbs, putting aerators on faucets, and weather-stripping on windows. Use alternative transportation. Choose local food. Wash clothes in cold water and hang to dry. Set thermostats lower, get programmable thermostats and install ceiling fans. Vacation, travel and work close to home. Take short showers instead of baths and don’t run water while brushing teeth. Use natural non-toxic cleaners like vinegar, baking soda and water. Instead of discarding, choose to reuse, recycle and compost.

To celebrate Earth Week and have an Upcycling experience, visit the Hope Bridges “A Go Green Spring” gallery display in partnership with the Strathmore Municipal Library in May.  Workshops will be at the library also for the month of May.  For more information and to register, contact Hope Bridges at 403 983 3640.


March 2013

Does Art Make a Difference?
By Wanda Reinholdt and Sheila Konschuh

When you hear someone say, “That made a difference in my life”, what is your first thought?  Is what comes to mind that someone of influence impacted a life -perhaps a teacher, counselor, officer, friend?

But what if the reference is about art making a difference? Would you find it hard to believe?  If so, you are not alone. In my lifetime, I too have thought there is little reason for arts and cultural activities other than for entertainment.  And in a region like ours where the focus is on agriculture, oil and gas, and construction, it’s easy to understand.  After all, it can seem frivolous to participate in the arts when economic issues are on our minds and day-to-day realities weigh heavily upon us.

Why is it so hard for us to believe a story about art making a difference? What makes us want to limit the potential transformational power that arts and cultural experiences can have on community and individuals’ lives?  Maybe it is because we have not heard examples of art making a valuable difference?

I recently discovered a story of inspiration that, at first glance, is hard to identify with given the quality of life we experience here in Canada.  It’s the story of some people in Paraguay that have had no choice but to make their homes atop a landfill.  At first glance, it is one of the most heartbreaking situations, but it quickly becomes an inspiring literal example of garbage turned into gold.  It is the story of musical instruments being created from refuse in a landfill.  And the opportunity to create and learn to play these “upcycled” instruments is changing the lives of entire families.  The soon to be released documentary “Landfill Harmonic” will remind you that determination, creativity and a love of music can transform an entire community. Check out http://vimeo.com/52711779

There are also stories of transformation here at home:  I have enjoyed local talent opening for main stage bands brought to our community by the Strathmore Musical Arts Society.    What a great way to build confidence in a performer starting out in their career. In Zentangle workshops hosted by Hope Bridges Society, I have observed participants experiencing reduction in chronic pain.  “Burnt Thicket Theatre’s” patrons speak about how their hearts have been changed regarding their relationship with their son or daughter through seeing the show “Hockey Dad”. Blackfoot Crossing receives praise from visitors about how educational their experiences have been, and a Rosebud Theatre patron expresses gratitude for making the last outing with their father so memorable.

Mary Boone, of Canada’s Huffington Post, says it well: “Art, if we let it, can be a respite. It can restore our spirit and help us reconnect to dreams, thoughts, and feelings. It can help us truly see, feel and learn if only we are willing to discover something beautiful, pleasurable, unique or unusual.”

The good news is that the potential for respite, restoration, reconnection and education through the arts exists here in Strathmore and surrounding regions.  We have our own rich cultural heritage and diverse artistic community. Local area musicians, wood turners, architectural interior designers, dancers, go green upcyclers,zentanglers, African drummers, painters, actors, videographers, photographic artists, cultural entrepreneurs, cultural managers, philanthropists, directors, and singersare making a difference in our community. And these artists are currently binding together with strength and vitality, becoming much more accessible and effective. This is happening under the umbrella arts society called The Strathmore Regional Arts Collective (SRAC).

Since our official start in the fall, SRAC has been developing a solid foundation of communication, governance, and sustainability. Our ultimate vision is to create a healthy and vibrant arts community through which lives are enhanced by access to and participation in the arts. And yes, this does include a building. But this is only part of the vision because the arts do so much more.

If you or your organization would like to know more about or become involved with the Strathmore Regional Arts Collective (SRAC), please call the Board Chair, BrandyHebbes at 403 312 7244 or myself, Wanda, at 403 901 5081.


“Anything Is Possible One Stroke At A Time!”
By Wanda Reinholdt

I could not believe it! A participant in a workshop I was attending pulled me aside and said “I cannot feel my pain!”  My friend and colleague Debbie, who was facilitating this workshop, had made me aware that it was possible for participants to notice some relief from their discomfort, but to witness this was incredible.   I wish you could have been there.  This lady was relaxed, smiling and having a great time. I later discovered that her enjoyment was a miracle of sorts because her pain was chronic.  Her experience in the workshop was in fact the first time she had felt a release in a very long time.  Wow.

You might be surprised to hear that the miracle activity in this workshop was not exercise nor was it meditation.  It was an easy to learn drawing art called Zentangle.  Although teachers of Zentangle cannot promise that pain will subside for everyone, there is evidence that this form of art can provide health benefits such as pain relief, stress management, and relaxation.

According to www.zentangle.com and founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, Zentangle is an easy-to-learn-for-everyone, relaxing and a fun way to create beautiful images.  These images are created by drawing repetitive trademarked patterns one at a time, and then joining the patterns together.  The entire patented process of Zentangle is guided by Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) like my friend Debbie.

The many benefits that one can experience are best expressed by Zentangle as “Anything is possible one stroke at a time!”.  Incredibly, if you participate in Zentangle, you can:

  •  Have fun and connect:  The process of creating these images alone or in a group is mesmerizing.  By making a game of picking a pattern yourself or with friends, you never know what you are going to end up with when your piece is finished.  Exciting!
  • Relax:  We all have our own share of challenges in our lives.  So it is so good to find something to enjoy.  Zentangle is a great way to focus on something fun and creative.  And, because it connects the left and right brain, the state of relaxation comes quickly and results sometimes in a freedom from pain!  Best of all, it is easy for anyone, it does not require physical skill or expensive equipment, and you can do it anywhere.
  • Engage in Gentle Therapy:  Without having to say a word, Zentangle gently can empower you to give feedback, journal, and reflect.   It has been used for helping those with addictions, ADD, increasing self-esteem, anger management, stress management, a self-created Rorschach test, stroke recovery, and symbolic journaling.
  • Break Through Artistically:  Have you set aside your artistic goals because they are too hard, expensive and require a lot of work, time or equipment?  Zentangle is an answer.  If you think you cannot draw, you can do this.   If you think that your tangles will not be good, by learning the patterns already created by the founders, your drawings will easily look as professional as someone who has been doing it for a while. If you think your creativity is low, Zentangle can inspire ideas for other art, writing or even math.  It is a rich eye opening creative experience that can help break through any block.

In addition, Zentangle is used for education, motivational training, and study groups.  It is in galleries as part of collectibles for public to purchase and enjoy.  And these creations are incredibly beautiful gifts for yourself or others.

You can experience the powerful transformation of Zentangle right in your community with CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher), Debbie Lawton.  To do so, call Hope Bridges at 403 983 3640 to register for adult Zentangle workshops coming soon.

February 2013

Written by Wanda Reinholdt and Sheila Konschuh

Have you ever heard of Upcycling?  It has become quite the rage all over the western world and it is now here in the Strathmore region!  The reason is that it works against our consumer modern culture, is creative, fun and helps the environment.  Instead of purchasing something new, it encourages people to repurpose.

Upcycling is the art of taking an item that would be normally recycled or thrown away after first use and turning it into something that is once again beautiful, useful, pleasing to look at.  These things can be used for economical gifts or enhance any home.  Best of all, Upcycling is something that anyone can do.

Most of us are familiar with the way that grain processors burn waste materials like husks and stems to power their plants – a process that has been around for a long time.  But the latest idea of Upcycling became popular with the book called “Cradle to Cradle” in 2002.  This book was written to encourage people to think about how they use things.  As a result, entire pieces of furniture have been built out of discarded materials, bottles have become vases, buttons and computer parts have become jewelry and plastic bags have been made into yarn just to name a few.

There are many ways that you can be a part of Upcycling in your community- dumpster diving for the useful – re-using containers from lotions or food – joining groups who Upcycle in your community and doing it together – developing a business.  Although everything does have potential to be used in Upcycling, it is a lot of fun to imagine a new use for something.  You may be surprised what you come up with.  Whether you create something useful, beautiful, or both, reusing creatively is very fun and fulfilling.

For an experience of Upcycling in your community and to register for all sorts of artistic experiences, contact Hope Bridges at 403 983 3640.  Hope Bridges holds workshops weekly for all adults of all abilities in the Strathmore region,


The Transformational Power of Music
Written by Wanda Reinholdt

Nothing brings us together like music. Especially the music we know and appreciate. This is something that Andrea Curry loves about her work in Strathmore. Not only does she get the opportunity to faciliate meaningful musical experiences, she also witnesses transformational change in the lives of those she meets.

Andrea has been a musican and artist her entire life. In fact, she pursued a career in classical voice, recording and teaching. Her focus shifted to therapy when she realized that “she didn’t enjoy the idea of correcting every detail of the music someone makes”. In other words, she yearned to use her gifts in a therapeutic relational way. She returned to school, attending Acadia University to become a fully licensed Music Therapist. In 2010, she graduated and joined the JB Music Therapy company. She worked initially as part of the Project HOPE team in the Golden Hills School Division in Strathmore. Recently, she has begun meeting with the adults that attend the Tuesday afternoon HOPE Bridges “Sing Your High Notes”.

Andrea enjoys and values her work and relationship with JB Music Therapy very much. JB (Jennifer Buchanan) Music Therapy is celebrating 21 years of operation and providing excellence to clients in Calgary and surrounding area. Music Therapy is the therapeutic practice of using music to achieve non-musical goals. Andrea focuses on using rhythm, melody, timbre, lyrics, tempo (speed) and dynamics to help individuals connect with the therapist or others within their communities. Music therapy can support other goals in the areas of speech, fine and gross motor, rehabilitation, mental health & wellness. Andrea has found in Strathmore the relational therapeautic work she longed for.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of it all is that Andrea has rarely seen someone leave a session without having laughed, sang or shared something important inspired by the music. People who have never met are forming friendships and connections.   People are able to expereince song and sound through the power of facilitated music opportunity. In March we celebrate Music Therapy Month!

To register for and learn more about Music Therapy and “Sing your high notes” facilitated by Andrea, contact Hope Bridges at 403 983 3640.  All adults interested in “sharing music of their generation” are welcome!