Back in May, my good friend and roommate, Justine Zeisman, and her business partner, Matt Schroeter, formed a collective called Exhaling Change. Their first venture, Project Thankful, encouraged individuals to share their gratitude with the world. It consisted of both online interaction and a live installation board that made its way throughout various spots around the city and eventually, even my own apartment. Seeing the board in my living room everyday serves as a great reminder of all the things to be thankful for, plus it makes for a beautiful art piece. It has also paved the way for new ideas and new ways to bring people together.
With the addition of a new team member, Angela Tam, Justine and Matt have developed Why I Love My Hood. It’s based on the idea of uniting communities together to create positivity and motivate social change in their own backyards. Launching this Friday, November 15th in Mount Pleasant, WILMH will target other neighbourhoods in the coming months ahead.
I chatted with Justine to learn more about Exhaling Change and WILMH.
Valerie Tiu: What is Exhaling Change?
Justine Zeisman: Exhaling Change is an (in the process of) non-profit organization wanting to create positive change by bringing people, ideas, and communities together through inspiration and expression in Vancouver, and eventually nationwide.
VT: Give us the elevator pitch for WILMH.
JZ: WILMH is a project designed to bring communities together by posing two questions: Why do you love your hood? And what could make it better?
By encouraging members of the community to participate in this project, it gives everyone a chance on to reflect on all the great things about where they live, work, and play – but also what could improve and make it better.
VT: How does WILMH work?
JZ: It’s simple, really! WILMH packages will be placed in businesses all over Mount Pleasant. If you want to participate, all you have to do is pick one up (it’s free!), and answer the questions on each card. After you’re finished you could either visit F as in Frank Vintage or The Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House to attach your cards to the installation. There will also be packages at both of the installation places as well. If you can’t make it down to these locations, you can also participate online by tweeting @ExhalingChange with the hashtags #WILMH and #MTPLEASANT.
VT: What do you hope to accomplish from this project?
JZ: There’s a lot that we would love to see happen at the end of this project. The main goal is to unite and build stronger communities, however, we also hope to inspire people to also act on the ideas of others on what could make their neighbourhood better if they have the means to make it happen.
VT: What other communities can we expect to see WILMH in next?
JZ: Commercial Drive, Yaletown and Kitsilano, just to name a few.