Belonging: Food, Climate, Reconciliation, Home

People gathering to make, learn, do and be with each other in shared space is transformational.

This year’s Burnaby Festival of Learning has come to a close. It has been busy in all the right kinds of ways. We ate, we danced, we talked, and sometimes we silently used our hands to make and do. Always, we belonged to a space together. I feel very grateful for the joy this brings. Grateful for the chance to learn from experts in their fields of passion, for free. And grateful for the chance to meet and know my neighbours, near and far. This kind of experience and knowledge exchange doesn’t happen every day. The warmth and connection we experienced together reminds me just why we do this.

I met remarkable people from all walks of life, and I was lucky enough to see some of the same people multiple times – and when this happens, there is a sort of silent head-nod, wink, “secret handshake” feeling that starts to emerge. Making friends as an adult can be hard. Belonging can be hard. So it’s a gift to have a space where we can come together and connect.

Also, enthusiastic curiosity is contagious! Every event I attended had a heartfelt vibrancy and energy born of curiosity – sometimes quiet and contemplative, but sometimes brash and joyful. We are a neighbourhood full of people who are not only curious about the world, but who care about it and the people with whom we share it enough to want to share knowledge with each other to make it better. This is transformation!

Naomi Steniberg, at the end of her workshop, Of Soil, Stone and Stories, mentioned that the air we all breathe is the great equalizer, and I see the Festival of Learning in a similar light. It brings a true multiplicity of experiences, cultures, voices, and abilities together, in an open and accessible way. We all hold and share knowledge, and this festival platform gives each of us the ability to give and receive with and for each other.

And for me, that’s the bottom line: It’s not the festival that makes this happen, it’s us – our Burnaby community. What a tremendous gift we can be to each other!

To those who were a part of it this year (in person or in spirit), thank you. To those who weren’t able to come this year, we can’t wait to see you next time!

With gratitude,

Tara Flynn,
Festival Director

Photo credits: Sarah Race Photography & Rebecca Heyl
Twitter: Burnaby Festival of Learning 2023 Highlights