The Imagination Network
We are a dynamic group of artists, healthcare professionals, academics and advocates engaging in creative projects with older adults aiming to change the way we view and experience aging in our community.
The Imagination Network was founded on the belief that—no matter our age—we can continue to contribute to our community. As we adapt to the conditions of aging, to cognitive, social or physical challenges, our communities need to adapt with us. The Imagination Network amplifies the voices of older citizens through cultural creation, public engagement, academic research and civic discourse to foster meaningful connections across sectors and transform how our society responds to aging, older age and dementia.
In 2015, Bruce Devereux of Good Samaritan Christenson Village, a 140-person care home in Gibsons BC, reached out to Chad Hershler of Deer Crossing the Art Farm, a community-engaged arts organization in Langdale, to share over 100 stories he had co-written with residents living with late stage dementia using Timeslips – a story creation process that replaces the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine. Bruce wanted more people to see, hear and appreciate these stories; to recognize the vitality, creativity and wit that his residents had to share with their community. One look at the stories and Chad was hooked. These short compelling stories, co-written by some of the most marginalized voices in our community, were at times abstract and funny, at others poignant and profound.
Their shared wonder and admiration for this work led them to conceive of a cross-sector collaboration – The Imagination Network. Over the next couple of years, they facilitated two successful creative engagement projects inspired by the stories written by these residents: The Sunshine Coast Art Crawl at Christenson Village and a Pop Up Art Studio. The public’s response was overwhelming. There was clearly a need for more of this work in the community.
In 2017, a research team from Douglas College Therapeutic Recreation Department, led by Dr. Colleen Reid, joined the partnership. The Imagination Network expanded its focus to incorporate a Community Based Participatory Research approach, launching Raising the Curtain, a multi-year project that explores the question “What is the lived experience of dementia?” through the ideas, creativity and perspectives of those living it.
The Imagination Network is nascent, iterative and always evolving. We don’t present ourselves as “experts” or “providers”. We know that there are older adults in our communities dealing with age-related conditions of cognitive and mobility impairment whose voices are currently marginalized by the systems that surround them. Together we are co-creators, co-researchers, co-educators, co-artists, co-healthcare providers, and co-advocates with older adults and their care partners as we explore ways to understand, adapt and change this. Creative engagement, the world of the imagination, is where we do this.
With The Imagination Network we are constantly striving to blend and integrate the principles of community-engaged arts and community-based participatory research.
- We seek to understand and represent marginalized voices and experiences by shedding light on the lived experiences of dementia and aging.
- We use innovative approaches to engage and mobilize community members.
- We are committed to working in a way that requires flexibility, creativity, openness, intuition, analytical and storytelling ability.
- We are guided by the values of social justice.
- We are working towards positive social change.