Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Collingwood’s humble kitchen expert

Barry Londry and Esther Yuen

Barry Londry tells writer Esther Yuen his story at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House community kitchen. Photo by Julie Cheng

BY ESTHER YUEN

To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News, we’re revisiting past stories that have particularly inspired us. This article was first published in January 2013.
I got to learn about Barry’s rich and fascinating backstory. He’s a significant contributor to this community and it was an honour to interview him.
− Esther Yuen, writer

Barry Londry stands out from the crowd, literally. At six feet tall, he towers over most people in the Collingwood  neighbourhood, yet his warm smile and kind words put people around him at ease.

Barry’s a humble expert in the kitchen and can be often found tending shrubs in the Cheyenne community gardens. He’s also well known to improvise and create delightful dishes out of discarded food materials.

Just like these dishes, Barry could have easily thrown away parts of his life, but chose to create a meaningful life for himself that has positively impacted those around him.

You see, Barry had a thriving career as a chef―but this all of this came crashing down one day.

Years before Chef Barry joined the Renfrew Collingwood Food Security  Institute, Barry was just another kid growing up in the Vancouver eastside  neighbourhood called Diaper Hill. His parents, who moved here from the Prairies after the Second World War, fed Barry the typical Prairie diet of meat and potatoes―and on the rare occasion, they would cook him a delicious steak dinner.

Barry’s tastebuds were more adventurous, and even though Vancouver’s population then was quite homogenous, Barry was still able to develop a palate for exotic flavours. Every so often, Barry would hang out at his friend’s parent’s Chinese restaurant, and would visit ethnic restaurants with friends.

Whenever he found a dish that he enjoyed, he would ask the cooks for the recipes. Thus began his fascination with international foods.

While cooking was a hobby, he pursued a career in sports and business during his 20s. He studied restaurant management and completed a diploma in international business. He became a ticket distributor for sports games and even managed sales for the Stanley Cup games in the 80s. He also sold cider to the States!

Barry was business-savvy, but eventually realized that he couldn’t deny his passion for cooking. After he was laid off from a job in the beverages industry, he enrolled into the top cooking school in Vancouver, and then worked across the Lower Mainland in various food services capacities. Eventually, he found full-time employment as a chef in an assisted-living seniors’ centre.

In 2005, doctors discovered Barry had dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition  common among taller athletes. His heart was enlarged and was only at 13% capacity. As a result, he would often be tired and short of breath.

Determined to get well, Barry entered a recovery program. Unfortunately, weeks into the program, the heart specialist told him he was never going to be able to work again.

This hit Barry like a tonne of bricks. His life was going to be radically changed. No longer could he be independent, but had to be government-dependent, take on disability status and give up his car.

After dealing with the shock and the self-pity, he asked himself, “[Am I] going to sit here and moan or do something about [my life]?”

Barry went into action mode, and motivated himself to complete the  paperwork that accompanied his diagnosis.

Soon, Barry moved into the Collingwood area. Who knew that this would be another turn in his life?

In 2008, Barry went to an open forum at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House, intending to voice his opinion about the transit system. Instead, he met Stephanie Lim, then coordinator of the Renfrew Collingwood Food Security  Institute, who relentlessly pursued Barry to be involved with her programs.

He got his feet wet by building the Cheyenne Gardens with Jason Hseih and Steph, then eventually led and taught in food programs.

A few months later, Barry was asked if he could volunteer with Nadjia, who coordinated the community kitchen at Collingwood  Neighbourhood House. Barry thought he would volunteer for a few weeks, but eventually became a consistent participant, assisting Nadjia run the program to this very day.

Barry is still committed to perfecting the fine art of experimental cooking. He rarely writes down any of his recipes and almost never cooks the same meal twice, but he knows how to exactly combine foods to bring out the flavours.

His friend George, from John’s Market, once said, “[Barry’s] a better cook than me!” Those who have tasted his cooking would probably give him the same type of praise.

Esther Yuen is a communications specialist and graphic designer. She is passionate about positive social change and is active with the local arts and culture scene.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

 


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Intercultural Physical Activity Guide gets neighbours moving and learning from each other

BY ESTHER YUEN

A team of professionals from Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH), Renfrew Park Community Centre, Windermere Family of Schools, University of British Columbia (UBC) and Action Schools! BC is developing an Intercultural Physical Activity Guide, which aims to increase intercultural understanding using physical activity as a tool.

Dance walking is one of the many non-competitive and fun activities that a group can do to learn about others.

Dance walking is one of the many non-competitive and fun activities that a group can do to learn about others.

The activities in this guide will be pilot-tested through community organizations in Renfrew-Collingwood this fall, and provincial-wide promotions of the published guide is scheduled to begin next year. This guide is one of the several projects launched through Renfrew-Collingwood INTERactive, a community initiative that encourages local residents to connect with neighbours through physical activities.

At 43-pages, the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide is a launching pad for any group to explore interculturalism or physical activity. It’s geared toward individuals in leadership capacities, but the activities, though originally planned for school-aged children, can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age.

The guide includes over seven categories of activities ranging from handball to skipping and jumping, and within each category are often cultural variations of activities. In Target and Accuracy Games, for instance, there are games from Sierra Leone, First Nations groups (Sahtu and Chipewyan), Greece and Ethiopia. There’s even a category teaching readers how they or their participants can create their own activities. Each category has a series of intercultural discussion questions, activity co-creating suggestions and physical activity outcomes.

“We focused on the three themes: relationship building, learning from each other and sharing, and co-creating,” said Vive Wong, CNH’s prevention education coordinator, who also stressed that the games were not focused on competition, but fun-filled participant engagement.

Wong and UBC graduate student Donna Lee researched and drafted the document from February to September. Both women are experienced in planning activities and have studied with Dr. Wendy Frisby, a co-founder of RC INTERactive and former UBC School of Kinesiology professor. They gathered suggestions from RC INTERactive community partners and Dr. Frisby’s UBC undergraduate students, and evaluated resources from Action Schools! BC and the UBC Library, as well as materials provided by Michael McLenaghen, the director of community services at CNH.

“We had to research the history of the activity, consider how we were going to include physical literacy (or skills the activities develop), think of how can we use the activity to promote interculturalism, and how participants would interact with each other,” said Wong. “These couldn’t be activities you did yourself.”

The result blew the organizing committee away. “Most of the activities, I’ve never heard about.“ said Dr. Frisby. “Vive and Donna did a great job researching, [and] exploring possibilities.”

Gavin Clark, the community schools coordinator for the Windermere Family of Schools, is excited about the guide, too, saying, “It may prompt dialogue and hopefully, [prompt] people to develop new ways of thinking and being within an intercultural context.”

The idea for the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide came about during discussions between UBC kinesiology students and teachers and principals from the Windermere Family of Schools. The students discovered that the educators were enthusiastic about the idea of interculturalism, but neither have the time nor resources to effectively create and implement intercultural physical activities in classrooms.

Paula Carr, an RC INTERactive co-founder and intercultural specialist, and Nancy Reynolds, a facilitator for RC INTERactive, responded by gathering a team from RC INTERactive to develop a guide. Action Schools! BC was later brought on because of their extensive experience creating and distributing physical activity resources across elementary schools.

Now that the draft is completed, the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide moves toward the next phase: testing. Supported by a Healthy Living grant from Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, RC INTERactive will coordinate Train the Trainer workshops this fall and winter in the Renfrew-Collingwood area for recreation practitioners, teachers, student leaders, parents and any other interested individuals. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, contact Paula Carr at pcarr@cnh.bc.ca. Once finalized, the guide will be available for free download from www.actionschoolsbc.ca and distributed to the roughly 1,600 elementary and middle schools in BC through Action Schools! BC workshops.

The Intercultural Physical Activity Guide is an example of how a project started in Renfrew-Collingwood can make a significant contribution to a wider community to further prevent social isolation and promote health. “This is a concrete tool for a variety of groups to use,” says Carr, who adds, “and we hope it will get people more active, aware of diversity and willing to ‘create something new with someone not like you.’ ”

Copyright (c) 2014 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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New health and physical activity project moves residents

BY ESTHER YUEN

Renfrew-Collingwood community organizations and the University of B.C. Kinesiology Department partnered earlier this year to launch the Renfrew-Collingwood Interculturalism, Health and Physical Activity Initiative. The goal of this project is to promote interculturalism, defined as curiosity about people different from ourselves and a willingness to connect, through physical activity to increase social-connectedness, health and well-being in the community.

Residents of the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood are encouraged to participate in events associated with this initiative and are invited to share their learning experiences. This initiative is expected to continue indefinitely, but is also expected to launch and support other related projects and programs in the neighbourhood.

To support the project, diverse teams made up of Renfrew-Collingwood community leaders have been or are in the process of being established. The steering circle, responsible for giving direction to this initiative, consists of representatives from Collingwood Community Policing, Vancouver Coastal Health, Windermere Family of Schools, Collingwood Neighbourhood House, Renfrew Park Community Centre, UBC and Collingwood Business Improvement Association. The Intercultural Communicators Circle disseminates stories and information, and the Intercultural Connectors Circle, once formed, will reach out to groups that are identified as low-participatory groups.

UBC faculty, staff and students will be working alongside the three circles as well as Renfrew-Collingwood residents or groups who are or will be involved in intercultural physical activities. Led by Dr. Wendy Frisby, the UBC group will act as an academic resource to the community and assist the community in documenting the project. Their aim is to build capacity around the neighbourhood and, in the process, gain insight into real-life community development.

Between now and December 2013, all three circles and UBC representatives will work together to identify existing skills and to learn new skills, create a regularly updated map of intercultural physical activities in the community, promote and communicate about the initiative and document and review the project process.

Residents of the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood should contact Paula Carr at pcarr@cnh.bc.ca if they have questions or are able to contribute to the map or organize events and programs that promote community and intercultural physical activity. The Intercultural Communications Circle is also actively looking for motivational stories from community members that give insight into stories about community-based physical health initiatives.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News