Question: How can we alter urban environments to influence social change? I picked that [Question] three years ago and now it doesn’t feel relevant, so my guiding Keystone question is: How does access to urban green space affect happiness and well-being?
Keystone: It’s a two part Keystone that came about through conversations and classes with my mentor, John Reid-Hresko, around environmental justice. The first part focuses on what I identified as the incentive to talking about green space, which was to talk about happiness and well-being based on the importance our culture places on those things. The second part, and for me the more important part, is about who does and who does not have access to urban green space in Vancouver. I picked four different sites and surveyed 20 individuals at each location, which took a total of about four to six months.
Audience: I wrote a scientific paper, so I’m catering towards academics or government officials and such. My particular idea was to get it to Vancouver city officials and planners. Vancouver has decided to implement the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, which places my Keystone in a unique position to critique that plan. I use a neoliberal framework to break down their proposition. Hopefully, I can encourage them to think more critically about their choices for the future.
Format: I think the scientific paper format works well to communicate with those whom I want to read it, mostly those in governmental positions, who consider it a well-respected format for communication.
Future: This research has never really been done before, so my next goal is to get my work published. Hopefully after that I can get it to city officials because I want to comment on how Vancouver needs to be very careful about future green space planning. Their next big challenge is to assure that they don’t gentrify the Downtown Eastside in that process. Vancouver is also the City of Reconciliation, so if they’re going to choose to be the city that takes on that task, I want to see them do it well and properly. Canada calls itself multicultural and celebrates its multiculturalism, but does so through a very colourblind lens. I think it’s important for city officials to have some illuminating data to work with in the future. I’m hoping to go to Planning school, so on a personal level I think that it will help me get into grad school.
Question: Why seek risk?
Keystone: My keystone is in two parts: there’s a writing portion in which I discuss how people self-describe their motivations for participating in outdoor sports, and there’s an art installation that is my artistic understanding of their answers.
Audience: Originally, my audience was myself and only myself because I figured no one else would care. Then I realized that I could do an art installation and broaden my audience. So now my audience is both ends of the spectrum– those who are really passionate about outdoor sports and those who are not. This gap exists everywhere, even here at Quest. My goal is to bridge the gap between these people by bringing them together in a space that’s hopefully not intimidating for them.
Format: Honestly, I needed something that I knew would inspire me for over two years. At the beginning of my third year, I was leaving for a gap semester and needed something that I could work on. I’ve always loved hearing people’s stories, and I knew that everyone loves talking about themselves (laughs). The art installation came about when I was getting uninspired by the interview process and wanted to reconnect with my artistic side. The installation connects the two elements of my Keystone by pulling quotes from the interviews and interpreting them artistically.
Future: The short answer is: I don’t know. It comes down to the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing when I graduate. However, this has been a very personal journey for me and I’ve learned a lot about myself through this process. It’s helped me to better understand why I enjoy spending time outside. Being able to communicate that is going to serve me anywhere I go, especially as an outdoor educator.
Question: How does an image affect its viewers?
Keystone: My Keystone is a multimedia storytelling experience. I wrote a story over the summer, and created music and imagery to tell that story in slightly different ways. I don’t think the two media formats interact as much as I thought they would, but I feel that it’s really important to have both. There’s going to be an exhibition where I have listening stations with accompanying imagery, and the goal right now is to have a soundscape in the room. That way when people go between songs they’ll have something to ground them in the greater narrative experience.
Audience: I was mostly thinking about about my identity and how it was connected with the identities of the characters in my story. My audience in mind is also my friends, family, and “Quest strangers”. There’s going to be a lot of those people who don’t know who I am or haven’t had a personal experience with me which will influence how they interpret my art. All the perspectives and ideas that those people arrive with are going to shape their experience.
Format: The format stemmed from my identities as an artist. I really enjoy making music and studying affect theory and imagery, particularly the role imagery plays in our society. I wanted to culminate my interests into one larger piece that was impactful and engaging. I anticipate that people are going to find the music more effective at conveying the story than the imagery, because the imagery is not very overwhelming; it doesn’t change. However, music is temporally engaged and when you’re experiencing the music you have to be there with it.
Future: I learned a lot of skills from this project, but more importantly I learned a lot about my creative process and what works for me and what doesn’t. I also learned a lot about myself emotionally – I’ve been regarding this as a weird subconscious combination of fears and anomalies of emotions. Whenever anyone’s putting a story together it’s always 100% them: somebody puts themselves into the story, I didn’t do anything different. Through putting the story together I didn’t really realize that some of those elements were there for myself. It’s also really important to say that I want to go into music when I leave here. So it’s going to be really important for me to have had this experience.
Question: How does trauma affect children’s development?
Keystone: My keystone looks at ethnic conflict and forced displacement, specifically with refugees. I’m looking at how displacement affects children’s psychological and emotional development.
I come from Kosovo, which is a war-torn country. I am a child of war and a person who has experienced displacement. I’m studying child development specifically in Kosovar-Albanian children because Kosovo is ethnically divided. In my keystone, I analyze the experiences of seven Albanian children who came to Canada. I observed access to housing, money, school, language, and education. I did a qualitative research experiment with lengthy interviews, found common themes within the interviews, and analyzed those themes. The inclusion criteria was very narrow, but I thought that having a specific population of people who were impacted two decades ago would offer insight into how we should respond to refugee crises today.
Audience: My audience is the policy makers and the counsellors responding to refugee crises. I advise people on how to provide for refugees from a policy standpoint through resources such as refugee centers, subsidized housing, language centers. I propose trauma and behavioral therapy methods for counsellors for how to engage with refugee children.
Format: I created a research paper which included a literature review on the history of the Kosovo War, transculturation, and diasporic identity. It also included the methods and results of the interviews, including analysis on the refugees’ lives prior to the war, the process of immigration, and the struggles they faced upon arrival to Canada. Lastly, I analyzed how the Albanian diaspora helped these individuals to overcome adversity. The interviews were long and I couldn’t analyze everything they said, but for length that it is, I’m happy with where I’ve come. I’ve been working on this document for almost a year, and it is very close to my heart. I could’ve been a participant in the study; I fit the inclusion criteria, so I’m studying how something that impacted me has impacted others.
Future: My Keystone allows me to show that I studied psychology at Quest. It’s a document that exhibits my writing and research skills. It demonstrates what I’ve learned and that Quest develops people into great researchers. Quest should really be proud of all the Keystones that are produced in this school.