Monday, July 27, 2015

Stewart Park Community Labyrinth

Our Carleton Place Community Labyrinth is providing inspiration to other communities!  We are so happy to be able to report that Perth, Ontario now has it's own community labyrinth - and Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator - Vanessa Compton is leading the way to make this a reality.  She has kindly agreed to having us publish the story here.

It didn't happen overnight... here's the story. (By Vanessa Compton)

Year 2 of the Stewart Park Community Labyrinth.
After the success of last summer’s Stewart Park Festival labyrinth, a one-day installation immortalized by Perth Community Police Officer Bird as “some seniors’ spray-paint graffiti vandalism,” I was encouraged by Stewart Park Festival workshop organizer Julie McIntyre and my fellow members of Transition Perth to plan a more durable version for the summer of 2015.

Surveyor's tape - laying out the medieval 7-circuit labyrinth in Stewart Park.
It would need to be easy and cheap to maintain, of minimal cost to the Town of Perth, and in harmony with the aesthetics and community guidelines of Stewart Park. With the help of the Town of Perth’s Karen Fox, Director of Special Events, Shellee Evans, Director of Community Services, Jim Niblock, Supervisor of Parks and Facilities, and Kari Clarke, Coordinator at Downtown Heritage Perth BIA, who helped steer the project through Council, we were put in contact with Kat Watson, Coordinator of the Youth Action Kommittee (YAK) Skills Link program, and Rick Woods, the Parks and Facilities go-to guy and keeper of the keys to the lawnmower.
Enthusiastic YAK team members, help to make the Stewart Park Community Labyrinth a reality!
Kat arranged for me to visit with the spring cohort of the YAK Skills Link program, to explain about labyrinths in the community, and what the project would involve. The young people were so enthusiastic about it, they were ready to haul stones and make a permanent masonry version that afternoon, and were annoyed to have to wait for Council approval. I had to laugh – they reminded me so much of my impatient younger self.

On a cold sunny day at the end of April, a team from YAK helped lay it out using surveyor’s flags and tape, and fence staples, a generous donation from the Perth Home Hardware store. We had decided on a Medieval 7-circuit with x and y axes to make U-turns on the path. We made mistakes and laughed a lot and had to make emergency trips for more supplies, but finally the CAUTION tape went up and we waited for the grass to grow.
First mowing by Jordan Lye-Lee, a YAK member planning to start his own landscape business.
First mowing was May 8th. Jordan Lye-Lee, a YAK member planning to start his own landscape business, was our first volunteer. The lines are just starting to show!
Perth Parks crew mow the labyrinth every Friday - the labyrinth starts to take shape!
The mowing was scheduled for every Friday, when the Perth Parks crew would be on site. We alternated just mowing the path and mowing both the path and the lines at different heights. It was such a rainy spring and early summer that it sometimes took three passes to get the whole thing done.
An information sign is installed at the entrance to the labyrinth.
Thanks to Image Printing in Perth, an information sign was installed at the entrance to the labyrinth. By mid-July, we noticed that the path hardly needed mowing because it was getting beaten down from being used so much!

Two weeks before Stewart Park Festival, YAK was between Skills Link cohorts, so “Sherpa” Mike Fletcher mowed the thick vegetation. It looked like a scalp job, but by Festival weekend, the grass had grown in and the labyrinth looked serene and lush.
By Festival weekend, the grass had grown in and the labyrinth looked serene and lush.
Festival weekend dawned – rainy and hot. By Saturday the weather had cleared, and the labyrinth provided a cool sanctuary for people of all ages, over 500 by one account. During the hot afternoons, the labyrinth was a magnet for kids and families whether playing make-up-your-own-games or taking a break from the crowds and noise. It was a pleasure to walk barefoot on the cool springy clover turf… or run races, reinvent hopscotch (one of the historical origins of the turf labyrinth), stand on your head… even check your FaceBook!
During the hot afternoons, the labyrinth was a magnet for kids and families.
We’re looking forward to seeing the labyrinth through the fall, and experimenting with some judicious application of slow-release fertiliser. While the long term goal is to put a stone paver labyrinth in place eventually, mown turf labyrinths can last for decades, with a little maintenance. In the height of a hot summer day, there really is nothing more delightful than walking a fragrant clover labyrinth in your bare feet.
There really is nothing more delightful than walking a fragrant clover labyrinth in your bare feet!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Finding Labyrinths Along the Way

While walking the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth early last Friday morning - it occurred to me that I should try to find labyrinths to walk along the way - while on my upcoming journey to the Haliburton School of the Arts to take a course on Soul Collage®.

I checked both the Labyrinth Society's Worldwide Labyrinth Locator and the Ontario Labyrinth Locator for some possibilities. Of course - I only did this on the morning of the day I was leaving. 

And here are the labyrinths that I found and some notes and photos about my experience.

Between Friends - 730 Inglis Rd., Renfrew, ON. Private, outdoor, always open, Chartres design. Wild flowers.

I sent an email and tried to call ahead - but could not connect with the owner - so did not get to walk this labyrinth.

Rocky Bear Labyrinth - located at the Teddy Bear B&B in L'Amable, ON.  Public, outdoor, Cretan design. 7-circuit, 50 foot diameter. Pebbles and quarry rock.

I called and spoke to Diane (one of the owners of the bed & breakfast) - and it was no problem to walk the labyrinth.  Diane was very warm and welcoming on the phone. I saw a sign for the Teddy Bear B&B as I was getting closer to Bancroft - and was delighted to find it quite easily.  I knocked on the door - but no one was home - so I explored the labyrinth path on my own.
I had a very peace-filled walk at the Rocky Bear Labyrinth, located right beside a wee lake.
Grail Springs Labyrinth - Bancroft. Please call in advance if you would like to visit and walk the labyrinth. Also inquire about our Sacred Labyrinth Sacred Life retreats. Private, medieval, inner 5 circuits of the Chartres design, 33 feet diameter, rock, garden, hemlock. 

Unfortunately - I was not able to make arrangements to walk this labyrinth.

Hello Chris,
Grail Spring is a private retreat centre. There is a small window of opportunity for you to meet with Barb Shaw at 6:30 at the front desk. Without an escort it would not be possible. Please answer if this is okay for you and I will inform Barb who will be glad to meet you.
Kind regards,
Grail Services team

Hello Chris,
Sorry I skipped over the answer for Saturdays... Saturdays are not possible because guests would and could very likely be using the labyrinth.
Kind regards,
Guest Services

Haliburton Highlands Tranquility Trail - a labyrinth healing park located at Haliburton Highlands Health Care Facility. Public, outdoor, wheelchair accessible, Cretan design, 5-circuit, 30 foot diameter. Crushed stone path & perennial sedum.

Sadly - this labyrinth has been removed (possibly because it was neglected and needed tending?)  - and has not yet been rebuilt.  However I was able to find out about the Minden Hills labyrinth from a staff member at the Health Care Facility.

Minden Hills Labyrinth - Minden - Public, outdoor, shaded by trees, 7-circuit. 42 foot diameter. Gravel pathway. More than 1000 stones mark the walls. Tree stump shaped into a stool in centre for restful contemplation. Peace pole, “May Peace Prevail on Earth", in English, Finnish, German, French & Spanish. Located across the Gull River bridge on grounds of Minden Hills Museum.

We drove to Minden one evening looking for this labyrinth.  We stopped at the Cultural Centre and I went through to the library.  There I was directed to find George at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery who would be able to tell us more about the labyrinth. Another sad story about a lonely labyrinth.  The stones are being removed, in effect the labyrinth is being dismantled, again because it seems there is no one to tend it.  However, we could still find the path, and George made an exception and unlocked the gate close to the labyrinth so we could come in to walk it.

Some lessons from the labyrinth: he/she loves me; remember to make an exception; can still find and follow the path despite perceived difficulties; let there be light - shimmering through a crystal!
A lovely location for a labyrinth - on the grounds of the Minden Cultural Centre.
I pause and find a crystal along the path.
Labyrinth at Kennisis Lake - Haliburton - Private, appointments can be made via email to Belinda Beer, Petite Chartres, 7-circuit, 24 foot diameter.

When I sent the email to Belinda inquiring about walking her labyrinth - I heard back within minutes!
And synchronistically, we were even taking the same course.  A group of eight of us ended up having a wonderful evening at this labyrinth while we were in Haliburton.

Hi Belinda: I am about to leave Almonte – and will be travelling to Haliburton to take a one week course (on Soul Collage® at the Haliburton School of Arts. I am hoping to walk a labyrinth or two while on my journey. Would it be OK to make an appointment to walk your labyrinth at some point while I am in Haliburton? I look forward to your reply. Thanks Chris

Just left you a voice mail. I'm on that course too. You are welcome to walk whenever you would like. Belinda
We are so fortunate to visit this sacred space, called Cathedral in the Woods

We place our Soul Collage® cards on the labyrinth - what a powerful combination.

The beauty and energy of the forest surrounds us.

  And the labyrinth journey continues. 
What a special gift to walk this labyrinth in the woods today. 
Lessons learned:
Believe and receive all that you need.
Trust your path (supported by our newly created Soul Collage® cards).
Continue to step inside the Circle - and step up to new opportunities that present themselves.
"Listen to your heart"
"Help me find and keep my humble self"
I feel supported by the labyrinth and the group of soul sisters that are here - in this moment!