Locals Only offered art and healthy food to residents of Saskatoon's core neighbourhoods
Locals Only was a large-scale multi-year project that explored food security, community-based artworks, and intergenerational exchange in Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods.
Locals Only deployed local knowledge and long-form hospitality through socially engaged art to link public engagement, youth leadership, and elder stewardship, cultivating a community-based exploration of reciprocity and change. We called it Locals Only to draw attention to the community context of core neighbourhoods and identify the project’s ambition to respond to long-time residents and intergenerational affinities.
As an art project, Locals Only worked with six Saskatoon-based artists on developing projects that explored the front-lines of food (in)security and community dialogue. From a series of new portraits examining access to food, to the development of a board game looking at indigenous approaches to building community, to the re-indigenizing of urban spaces through the planting of misaskwatomin (Saskatoon berry shrubs), to the construction of three mobile art and food carts that will also form a gathering space, these projects aimed to create new access points to community gathering and engagement around local food, changing neighbourhoods, and creative hospitality. Alongside these Saskatoon-based artists, Locals Only also invited artists from across Canada to explore these same issues through multigenerational scales of time and expansive collaborations.
Crucially, Locals Only positioned a core group of youth artists at the centre of its outreach and engagement efforts. Mentored by seniors and Elders from within core neighbourhood communities, these youth artists developed new participatory projects that can extend deeply into the community. This aspect of the project aimed not just to connect across generations but to aid in the development of long-term community-driven and youth-led stewardship of the project and its resources. Above all, Locals Only sought to build new and resilient capacities in youth to lead out on new imaginations and practices of community-led dialogue and multigenerational change to food security in core neighbourhoods.
Throughout the summer of 2018, the youth artists hosted weekly public engagement activities in conjunction with the mobile art and food carts headed out into public spaces across Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods. Stewarded by AKA’s Student Project Assistant, the mobile art and food carts provided a platform for the youth artists’ participatory projects and, whenever possible, a site for selling healthy, fresh foods through CHEP Good Food Inc. These engagement activities cultivated a series of safe spaces for community members to participate in projects connected to food security issues, changing neighbourhoods, and intergenerational relationships, prioritizing practices of hospitality and care alongside delicious local food.
In support of this work, Locals Only held a key partnership with CHEP Good Food Inc. This partnership allowed for engagement and dialogue to occur alongside the cultivation of new points of community access to fresh food across core neighbourhoods. It also created new opportunities for developing community insights and organizational capacity that may assist in the development of longer-term food security in core neighbourhoods through the expansion of a mobile market operated by CHEP. By combining the expertise of these two well-established non-profit charities in the Riversdale neighbourhood, we believe we can help to increase access to healthy food and build capacity for intergenerational local leadership and resident-led community change.