Last year, we FEELers were lucky to have spent some time in beautiful Woodhaven Regional Park on unceded syilx territory. This began with a walk around the park with Westbank First Nation councillor Jordan Coble and some of his colleagues last October. We also learned from the generous Land Care circle offered by Pamela, Grouse and Jasmine Barnes in March, the fabulous Fire + Water symposium that we convened in May, as well as our “Alongside the Dark” and “Lichen Love” Fringe Natures events.
Woodhaven is a unique place, where the cottonwood, red cedar, douglas fir and norkfolk pine all meet. The FEELed Lab now has the additional good fortune of having an environmental humanities field lab at this site, where we can continue to meet, have joyful and difficult conversations, understand better our relationship and obligations to this place, and extend our curiosity and care.
The Lab is situated on the second floor of the Woodhaven Ecoculture Centre main building. The Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBCO leases this centre (which includes the main building and several small outbuildings, and a small section of forested land that runs along Bellevue Creek) from the Regional District of the Central Okanagan (RDCO). The Ecoculture Centre is located within the larger Woodhaven Regional Park in southwestern Kelowna.
It feels simultaneously strange, joyful and very serious business to have the opportunity to spend time in this place as part of the FEELed Lab’s work. (What does it mean that most of us are not of this place, as syilx land? What does it mean that the RDCO is “in charge” of this land and the university leases it? How did we get here?) While all research happens in place (on land, in watersheds, using equipment and collecting knowledges that have been resourced and extracted from elsewhere), at Woodhaven we perhaps sense these issues more directly, as we walk down the path, hopscotch across the dry creek bed, or place our hand upon the rough bark of the cedar. What is here? What used to be here? What will always be here? What might still come back?
On 19 September, we convened a small open house breakfast in this space, which coincided with the DIY Methods 2022 conference, in which we also took part. You can read more about that event here!
Over the year, we will be convening several Fringe Natures events here, as well as other workshops. Stay tuned! Student, faculty and community researchers are also welcome to spend time here, using the (indoor and outdoor) office space. If you are interested in being a FEELed Lab-affiliated researcher at Woodhaven, you can find out more information here. We will also have a “researcher in/of/with place” working at Woodhaven to help guide the FEEL Lab as we feel our way into this site, with love and respect.