We find ourselves amidst a very difficult time in the world; a time of loss, a time of poverty and a time of forlorn hope. It is in times like these that stories of inspiration and perseverance become even more meaningful as a way for us all to find that inner beacon of hope that lies dormant.
This story finds us back in the little town of Cowichan Station on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada where last year we encountered the Cowichan Station Rural Traditional School all boarded up and seemingly left abandoned. Our initial posts “School’s Out” and “The Playground Children Forgot” discuss the rich history and heritage value in this fabulous old schoolhouse, as well as our own impressions of our visit. These stories were melancholy in nature as we were quite moved with the encounter and the shock in finding such an incredibly important link to our past left in the condition it was in.
This was one of our favorite pictures from that initial shoot as it really expressed the feelings we had in visiting this place originally. You could almost hear the echoes of the children who once played here. At the time of this shoot the paint had all but faded and worn off the playground set, and the swings were totally missing. It really served as a strong metaphor for the situation as a whole.
We quickly learned of the power of social media and the internet through this experience as shortly after our initial posts were published we were contacted by several members of the community to share a story of renewed hope and inspiration. Our blog post “Hope Springs Eternal” discusses the coming together of the community in a very concerted effort to save this wonderful old heritage building, and to breathe new life in it through acts of kindness and benevolence. This is no small feat as it requires everyone to step outside their own boundaries and come together with the sole purpose of renewal for the betterment of the entire community.
This is exactly the kind of story that we all need and crave in these volatile times.
In June of 2012 we were contacted by community members to tell us about an exciting new initiative that was being undertaken on behalf of the community for the school. The idea was to have murals created that would be fixed to the boarded up windows, in essence bringing a splash of color and vibrancy to a semi-dormant scene. The Cowichan Station Area Association then planned to auction these pieces off as a form of fund-raising and as a means to celebrate the boards coming off the antique windows. Once again the light was allowed to shine inside the hallways rendered dark for these past few years.
What once was left to the effects of nature and time was suddenly a scene of life and promise. Sure, the windows remained boarded, but there was a palpable sense of excitement where before none existed.
What a difference color and vibrancy can bring to a scene. These bright colors symbolize much more than their own unique beauty, they also symbolize a rebirth and re-purposing of a very important link to the area’s past.
It was a pure delight to tour the facility and see it all coming to life like this. The old portion of the original school was once nearly lost as a footnote to the local history, and today it beams proudly as a symbol of what can be achieved when communities come together in common cause.
The local volunteers banded together and gave up many of their Saturdays in an act of pure unselfishness to clean up the entire area and repaint the playground. On the day that Mrs. Toad and I visited for this shoot, the sounds of feet pounding the basketball court was real, and never before has any sound been so beautiful to our ears.
What seemingly is a scene full of chaos and destruction in reality is a scene of rebirth. The active process of rebuilding the schoolhouse into the HUB is ongoing and serves as a source of excitement for those who witness it. Certain aspects of the building will have to change, but change isn’t a negative here; change signifies a fresh outlook.
Today the boards are all gone, the light once again streams joyfully through these beautiful old antique windows painting the inside of the schoolhouse in a way that must feel good to its old bones. Light brings illumination and warmth to an area that was dark and without hope just a short time ago.
As we come full circle around to the front of the school, we find a whole new outlook. The entire scene is brimming with life and joy, and the pride the community has in the ongoing process is something entirely tangible. Given how important we feel our history and heritage is, this is the kind of sight that really brings joy to our hearts and lets us know that by coming together as a group with the sole mandate of making things better for everyone can we find inspiration for our future through this strong connection to the past. These are all legacies we can share amongst ourselves and with our children, and our children’s children.
This is a very important message, one that we wish to be a part of no matter how small our contribution can be. And through this all we can only hope that we’ve inspired others to get involved in the same way. The future, after-all, is really what we make of it as a collective. Let’s leave something meaningful behind.
To see all the murals that were on display for the fund-raising event “Let There Be Light! – 2012 Art Mural Auction” please feel free to visit our online gallery “Cowichan Station Rural Traditional School (The Murals)“. If you feel inspired to support the community, please feel free to visit their site “How to Donate | Cowichan Station Area Association“.
We truly appreciate you taking the time to pop by and read this story here today with us. We love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have.