Life changing choices offer an interesting journey. As an artist and community connector, I am finding my footing while I walk this new path. Life has a way of unfolding when you choose to listen to your calling. This past year has been very interesting, challenging, adventurous, and very rewarding. After a universal connection and wedding in Sooke, BC, coupled with a unique investment opportunity, my husband and I purchased a rural property, then decided to sell our house in Port Coquitlam. We eventually quit our jobs of 30 + years and moved to a remote location on Vancouver Island in Port Renfrew, BC. As a new member of a close knit coastal community, I find myself testing the waters, so to speak. Since arriving in March, I have joined the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, where I am one of ten directors. I also planned and managed a children’s scavenger hunt and kite-making for the annual Canada Day celebrations at Beach Camp on July 1st. Hands down, this was the windiest day and coolest craft I have ever organized. I also met with the Port Renfrew School back in May and was able to coordinate with the local teacher and shipped ten pieces of art to the Hamada Children’s Museum of Art, where I have been curating works from Canada for the past 12 years.
Even with all the success of Canada Day, and sending work to Japan, I find my learning curve is great. Being self-employed, running the riverside retreat and having to drive 1.5 hours each way to buy food and all our working and living supplies is an adjustment. Postal pick-up is on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We have no cell service in Port Renfrew and our internet is via Sidelight, so things move slower here, but we are adjusting. The natural beauty of our surroundings and applying to be a Culture Days Ambassador and landing the position has really allowed me to immerse myself in some heartfelt projects that truly inspire me, such as reaching out to the Cultural Regional District, connecting with the Pacheedaht First Nation, the Port Renfrew Community Association, Wild Renfrew, Sheringham Lighthouse Society, Ancient Forest Alliance, Sooke Community Arts, and Living the Dream Farm.
I also met with singer songwriter Katrina Kadoski, who will be performing with her band for Culture Days on Sunday, September 30, and I will be curating and coordinating a historical photo exhibition on the "Working History of Port Renfrew," along with Hugh Smith, local band member of Mexican Bus Ride, who will perform on Friday, September 28. I have met a few artists in Port Renfrew; however, there is not an organized arts group in Port Renfrew that I have come across as of yet, so making connections has been a challenge. The community does, however, have several cultural highlights, such as the Song and Surf Music Festival, Tall Tree Festival, and a local artisan gift store.
Being new to a community has been a learning experience, as it is hard to know where to turn; however, in small communities, word of mouth seems to be working, as I have had phone calls from members of the community and nearby towns to offer input and find out who I am. From my experience, working in a rural community is all about planting ideas, reaching out, and seeking support from strangers.
Diane Moran is a practising visual artist who recently left the big city of Vancouver BC and has relocated in Port Renfrew, a remote community on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, BC. As a long time community connector, Children’s Programmer, and arts advocate Diane has independently and collectively participated and coordinated Culture Days events in Burnaby, West Vancouver, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. She is very excited to be a South Coast Ambassador for 2018 and looks forward to engaging others in the arts while exploring the local culture and history of her new community. Diane also enjoys educating others about global issues and awareness through her art. She has been intimately involved with and has coordinated relief efforts using art projects to support others after natural disasters. She has undertaken projects in Havana, New Orleans (after Katrina), New York (after Hurricane Sandy), Fort MacMurray (following the forest fires) and Calgary (following the floods). She has been an Artist in Residence in local schools since 2002 and has developed and planned many community arts projects including school-based banner projects, ceramic and mosaic works, as well as artists’ presentations on Stigma and Mental Health. She is a listed Artist for ArtStarts in Schools. Diane’s latest artistic passions include photography, painting, and facilitating art workshops coupled with her humanitarian projects.
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