A Welcome Contribution

On a gorgeous sunny day in September, employees at Stantec visited George Pearson Centre as part of their community engagement program. They spent an afternoon at Pearson putting together eight tabletop garden beds for gardeners with disabilities. It was coordinated by DIGA (Disabled Independent Gardeners Association) which has had a long and fruitful relationship with the community gardens at Pearson. Residents living at Pearson were thrilled to see the new garden beds and marvelled at the nice quality materials and solid construction.

Stantec is a giant “design, consulting and engineering services” firm. We think that means they do a lot of the things required to build large structures, just not actually physically build them. Anyway, the table top beds are still standing, which is a good sign!

Stantec employees building tabletop garden beds
Stantec employees building tabletop garden beds

farm fresh harvest at Community Kitchen

Able Community Kitchen meets every month. Some say once a month isn’t enough! A rag-tag bunch of folks get together here and make a delicious dinner together, with community volunteers joining forces with some of the residents here. It gets a bit crowded in the kitchen with everyone in action, often with four cutting boards going at a time. Part of the fun is sampling the aromas — from simply smelling a fresh basil leaf to taking in the sizzling onions and garlic. The regular meals here are served on trays, hospital style. You make menu choices at least a week in advance. And no 2nd helpings of the dish you really liked!

October’s meal was amazing by all accounts. And it was a vegetable stew!

using the late summer harvest

using the late summer harvest

The recipe was called “Three Sisters Stew” after the three foods that Native Americans long ago realized will all thrive when planted together: maize (corn), beans, and squash. Beans climb the maize stalks and squash grows on the ground protecting the roots and base of the maize and bean plants. Among beans, there are so many kinds to choose from — various kinds of fresh green, purple or yellow beans and the dried beans like kidney, navy, pinto, etc.

The trick to the deliciousness of this particular stew is that most of the ingredients were harvested just outside, in the Pearson Community Gardens. These gardens were created as part of Farmers on 57th and are tended by GPC residents and other gardeners.
With its southern exposure, plants grow very well there. Organic gardening is practiced. And ah! the flavour of those ripe red tomatoes! Some of these tomatoes were frozen whole, soon after picking, destined for this stew.

Below is approximately the recipe we made. We used what harvest we had, in what proportions we had, so it’s not exact. But stews are very forgiving!

Able Community Kitchen’s Three Sisters Stew 
(serves about 12–15 people)

2 large onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chili, finely chopped
a bunch of chopped fresh tomatoes (or whole fresh frozen — we cooked tomatoes a bit first and put in blender to make smooth)
fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, parsley
2 mid sized butternut squashes, halved and roasted 375 til just tender.
sliced zucchini / yellow summer squash
2 cups of green and yellow beans
1/2 cup of shelled peas
cup of corn kernels
2 19-oz cans of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
salt and pepper

Sauté onions in oil, add garlic and jalapeno and cook til onion is soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer til ready.
We served it with mashed potatoes, but you could serve over rice, with biscuits, anything good. Enjoy!

Community Kitchen coordinators Shannon and Sarah can be contacted gpccommunitykitchen at gmail.com

New report: Visitability and Accessibility for the Pearson/Dogwood Redevelopment

The PRRG has issued a second report: Visitability and Accessibility for the Pearson/Dogwood Redevelopment. It is available for download here.

PRRG Report February 2013

An excerpt:

The Pearson Residents Redevelopment Group issued its first report in October 2012. Since that report, PRRG members participated at all four Vancouver Coastal Health sponsored Roundtables in November 2012. These Roundtables engaged over 120 organizations and individuals in envision– ing the future of the Pearson Dogwood site in terms of health services, community development, sustainability and housing.

PRRG members also participated at the City of Vancouver sponsored Open Houses in January and February 2013 where they met many of their neighbours to discuss their needs and ideas.

Using this concept, PRRG believes it is possible to realize the opportunities identified at the Roundtables:

The creation of new housing options where residents can live full lives integrated with their community
An opportunity for VCH to contribute to sustainable public funds for health care in an innovative way
A unique opportunity to envision a forward thinking, diverse neighbourhood where healthy living and health services are community priorities.
To read more about the PRRG’s unifying concept of Visitability and Accessibility for the Pearson/Dogwood Redevelopment, please download the report from here: https://pearsonresidents.org/redevelopment-group/prrg-reports-and-publications

PRRG members attending City of Vancouver Open House

An illustration of an ideal future Pearson and all of the buildings from a birds-eye view.

This week, Pearson Resident Redevelopment Group (PRRG) members will attend a City of Vancouver Open House about redevelopment of Pearson lands.

We invite you to join us at the Open House.

Pearson Reception Area - redevelopment planning. This image has a picture of a reception desk with a greeter, a big window, a woman in a wheelchair greeting another woman with a child and dog, there is a cafe with two people drinking coffee and a welcome mat. There are directional signs. It is a cheerful and bright illustration.

PRRG members are delighted to meet members of the community and to talk about our hopes for the redevelopment.

Residents want more choices by having a variety of housing and health care support options right on the Pearson lands. We believe that a unique mix of housing and health supports for people with disabilities could build a world-class facility.

The Open House will be an opportunity to talk with PRRG members who live at Pearson, with the City of Vancouver, and with Vancouver Coastal Health.

For more information, please visit this link to see the PRRG report with our recommendations and more illustrations.

PRRG Report Oct – 2012

Dates & Times

Thursday, January 31st , 5–8 pm

Saturday, February 2nd, 10 am — 2 pm


Pearson Dogwood Project Office: 601, West 59th Avenue, Vancouver

Do you take mobility for granted?

Two things that don’t really go well together are motorized wheelchairs and RAIN. Snow is even worse — many people in wheelchairs become stuck at home because their chairs can’t navigate snow. One of the reasons many of us look forward to summer in Vancouver is that there is usually less rain — and it is warm, daylight is long, and everyone just seems happier!

All of the residents here at Pearson use a wheelchair — either motorized or manual. Motorized wheelchairs are much heavier and can be operated in a variety of ways. The most common is a kind of joystick operated by hand. Some people can’t use their hands or arms, so operating a chair can be done with something commonly called a “sip ‘n’ puff”. Assistive technology can enable someone with a disability to focus on their abilities.

The wheelchair is really really important — it is a person’s mobility; it gives you the ability to move yourself around. If you can’t turn your head, you need to turn your wheelchair to see something. You don’t really notice the freedom of mobility when you have it, but when you lose it, you sure do. Sometimes you have to stay in bed if you get a bad pressure sore that won’t close up, or for other reasons. Technology can help there too, with environmental controls connected to lighting, heating, TV and computer, for example.

This image shows a hallway at Pearson

Some folks who live at Pearson are able to push themselves in a manual wheelchair but here the main hallway is a long climb — it runs 150 metres (about 490 feet) at a slope is that is 7 degrees away from flat ground. The railings aren’t totally continuous (almost!) so you risk rolling backwards as you transition from one railing to the next. At least there is a mattress at the bottom of the hill, if you happened to roll to the end…

Bottom line is…mobility is a right that most people take for granted, rushing from one thing to another. But if you think about it, not being able to mobilize physically should not mean you have to sit in the same place all day long — having a disability is not the same as committing a criminal offense!

Private washrooms at a re-developed Pearson

There are many routines and schedules if you live at George Pearson Center. One topic that comes up frequently is decision-making and control over personal care, such as showers and going to the bathroom.

The Pearson re-development focus groups are asking residents about washrooms. What would an ideal washroom look like? Here is an image to begin the conversation.

Pearson Redevelopment - Planning. This image is an illustration of an ideal washrooms for residents. The image is described in the paragraph below.

Residents have described the need for private washrooms. There are many universal design elements that could improve washrooms and personal care routines. Washrooms could have sliding pocket doors instead of doors that open into the washroom. This would save space because wheelchairs would not have to turn around. There would be a pedestal sink so wheelchairs could slide underneath. The toilet would be accessible with an adjustable height. Shelves would hold personal care items. A handheld nozzle would be easy to reach, and have controls at waist height.

This conversation is more than just about washroom design. Staffing shortages at GPC impact personal care routines.

In the 2008 Envisioning Home report, residents said they “understood the need for a routine within GPC but many criticized the inflexibility of it. Residents consistently gave three examples in which the routine challenged the reality of GPC as home: being able to have a bath or shower more than once a week; being able to go back to bed for a rest and then get up again during the day; and having to remain in bed on days when they were to have a bowel routine. Residents wanted a greater degree of control over these aspects of their lives (Envisioning Home, p.12).”

What should private resident’s rooms include?

When dreaming of a new Pearson, what should private rooms include? The Pearson Redevelopment Working Group (PRRG), made up of Pearson residents, are asking other Pearson residents to share their ideas.

This summer, PRRG came up with ideas about what new private rooms could include:

What should a Private Room for Pearson Residents looks like? This image describes a 16×20 foot room, with a bed and lift, private washroom, pocket doors, windows that open, controls for doors and heat, a small kitchen on wheels, and wheel-in closet

This image describes:

16×20 foot room. This would be enough room to move around
A bed and a lift above the bed
A small table or desk for writing, reading, or working
A comfortable chair for visitors
A private washroom
Pocket doors: doors to the closet and washroom slide open, instead of opening into the space. Pocket doors in the washroom save space and help eliminate the need to turn around in a wheelchair
Windows were very important. The windows should be able to open, and residents should be able to open them using controls at a good height
There should be controls for the heat and lights within easy reach
A small kitchen on wheels, with dishes and a microwave, means people could eat food or share it with visitors
A wheel-in closet would have storage for personal items
Lighting should be ambient lighting (like lamps on the wall) instead of one big overhead light. Lying under a big ceiling light or having fluorescent lighting was not as appealing as ambient lighting.
A walk around Pearson will show you a range of rooms. Many residents are at Pearson for long-term care, and this is their home. For many, the ideal room is a private room.

A Welcoming Entrance for Pearson

What is a welcoming entrance to Pearson?

The Pearson Residents’ Redevelopment Group would like to know what residents imagine a welcoming entrance would be. Some ideas from the summer are in this picture. They include:

Pearson Reception Area - redevelopment planning. This image has a picture of a reception desk with a greeter, a big window, a woman in a wheelchair greeting another woman with a child and dog, there is a cafe with two people drinking coffee and a welcome mat. There are directional signs. It is a cheerful and bright illustration.

  • A reception desk with a greeter
  • There is a community cafe where residents can meet people, and importantly people from the neighbourhood can come in. This can help build connections between Pearson and the community
  • There are clear directional signs
  • A big window and natural light, plants can thrive
  • Pets and children are welcome. In this picture a dog and a child are visiting.

What do you think about having pets and children in the picture? Pets, children and living things is part of the EDEN Alternative, an innovative philosophy of long-term care. The EDEN Alternative seeks to eliminate boredom, loneliness and helplessness by creating a vibrant environment for residents and staff.

Introducing the Pearson Residents Redevelopment Group

The George Pearson Center is home to 120 residents and 19 acres of green space. These lands will be under redevelopment soon. In March, the Pearson Residents’ Redevelopment Group (PRRG) formed so ensure residents’ voices are heard during the planning.

This poster shows the PRRG members: Diana, Pat, Christopher, Joy, Rod and Hansu. This poster is printed 3 feet wide and hangs in a Pearson hallway at eye level so residents and visitors can see who is involved in PRRG.

Planning Community Notice Board

Focus groups– what should a new Pearson include

Tell us about your dream home.

Pearson lands will be under redevelopment soon. The Pearson Residents’ Redevelopment Group (PRRG) is organizing focus groups to ensure that residents’ voices are heard in the planning. PRRG is asking, what should a new Pearson include?

PRRG decided that focus groups with residents could discover what the most number of residents wanted. PRRG has worked on planning the focus groups since March.

To get started, PRRG went back to 2007 and a report called Envisioning Home. In 2007–2008, Pearson residents led a Participatory Action Research Project that asked what a new Pearson would look like. The results of the report are in this poster and it hangs in a Pearson hallway. A new Pearson would have housing with easy access to health care and the community, is in a safe neighbourhood, has a choice of rooms, is easy to navigate by wheelchair, doesn’t feel institutional, and has space for family and friends.

An illustration of what attributes are important for residents in housing support: easy access, safe neighbourhood, green space and parking, a . choice of rooms, public space that is easy to get around, easy to navigate by wheelchair, doesn't look or feel institutional, balances the needs for housing and care, has space for family and friends, has a warm, welcoming atmosphere, has appropriate levels of staffing care.

Since PRRG members also live at Pearson, they began with writing down their own experiences of what a new Pearson should include. Some people wrote that rooms should be spacious and others added there should be nice places to have visitors. For each PRRG member, a new Pearson looked different. With the research and their experiences, the next step was to bring the ideas to life in pictures.

An illustration of Pearson Redevelopment Ideas with some text: What should a new Pearson include? Community gardens, Independence, Accessible for everyone, new building designs, new rooms, new neighbourhoods, medical services, pool, shops and transit, ways to meet people, daily living choices.

PRRG wanted to use visuals to help structure the focus groups. They contracted an artist. PRRG gave the artist their writings and asked him to draw pictures of a new Pearson. The drawings are meant to begin a conversation and show different ideas. Together, the artist and PRRG developed a series of 11 drawings about different areas at Pearson.

PRRG directed the process and shaped the final products.The artist submitted drawings to PRRG and PRRG would discuss them. PRRG directed changes so the drawings would represent the groups’ perspective clearly. When the drafts were ready, PRRG organized focus groups starting in August to get residents talking about a new Pearson.

To promote the focus groups, PRRG members invited residents individually, with posters and notices, and posted a large sign at eye level in a prominent hallway.

More updates from PRRG work to come soon.