By Maryam Nawaz
With the current COVID-19 situation and the restrictions we are put in, finding moments to be in nature can allow us to feel more calm and at peace. The Morningside Park Photo Walk was an event that occurred last fall/winter, before the pandemic: we remember it now as we look for inspiration and ideas of ways we can stay grounded, connected and well, even in the pandemic context. The event was an adventure into Morningside Park, a local park filled with mature trees, a long creek across the park and many spots for picturesque scenery. As you read how we connected with nature and captured memories through a camera lens, we hope you can take this as inspiration to get involved with nature this winter.
This Morningside Park Photo Walk was part of resident-led initiative Sport for Change’s activities in 2019. With support from The Storefront, grassroots leaders planned and led a walk for kids and families to explore nature and capture enchanting parts of East Scarborough with a camera and explore all that nature has to offer. As you may know, interacting with nature and taking a moment to break away from the hassle of our busy days can bring calm and serenity while sharpening our minds to what is around us.
When it comes to nature we often forget all the little details and escapes that are available to us locally, that is why with a walk in the park and a camera for the kids to gain a new perspective we can see things much more clearly.
Resident leaders Raj, Dave and Brian did exactly that as they each brought their captivating stories and expertise to educate and lead the way. Resident leader Raj was able to guide everyone through the park and into trails where photographs could be captured, encouraging the kids to appreciate the large, forested park that was just a couple minutes walk down a path from the apartment building where the majority of them live. The path led to a graffiti wall and large trees along the trails that provided photographic moments. Brian provided the group with historical knowledge about the Kingston-Galloway/Orton area and how people used to historically use the park. Ecological information was also provided by Brian which allowed the kids to discover and learn about the various types of wildlife and nature including downy woodpeckers and red berries. Dave, an avid photographer himself,was able to guide the kids with tips on how to use the lens creatively and what moments to capture.
The adventure the kids embarked on was one that proved to be unpredictable although this is exactly what added to the elements of nature. From a sunny day it quickly became a wet rainy one. Although, this allowed the photos to capture a different perspective and added to the theme of the event. The kids were motivated to photograph different parts of the park and be curious to the things around them through a “photo scavenger hunt” activity that they did throughout the walk. For example, at one stop, they were asked to photograph something red, and at another, they were asked to do an extreme close up. This scavenger hunt activity served as a prompt to look for new angles and get comfortable with the camera.
The result of the scavenger hunt and the information the kids received allowed this creativity and beautiful captures to take place. As seen in the photos above, Shika (tree bark photo), Nisha (green leaf with droplets), Ashima (red leaf) were able to take advantage of the challenges and take amazing photos.
Taking time for ourselves and connecting with the community is something The Storefront aims to approach in the work that we do. We can connect with one another and to the green spaces around us right in our neighbourhood. Our different local residents were able to come together to showcase and bring their expertise to the community for mutual benefit and played to their strengths. This is representative of our asset-based approach that allows us to find the beauty in different parts of our community and connect with one another to seek it out. Check out Morningside Park for yourself this winter, and see what beauty you find with your own eyes or through your camera lens!