Written by Rosa Duran, PhD student, Social Practice and Transformational Change Program, University of Guelph


Meaningful social connections help foster a sense of belonging and community. When we are open to sharing, listening, and hearing each other’s perspectives, we unlock opportunities to heal, support one another, and grow.


The Wood for the Fire Project was able to achieve just that.


This community-based project was developed as part of my studies at the University of Guelph in the Social Practice and Transformational Change PhD Program in partnership with The Stop. The project’s objectives were to develop digital storytelling skills for community members and co-create digital stories that were of importance to them, showcasing the diversity of their perspectives and lived experiences.


As a former volunteer at The Stop’s Earlscourt Garden, I saw first-hand the power of building community capacity through access to land, nurturing relationships with nature and each other, growing and sharing food, and finding a sense of belonging in urban settings. These themes are central to my research and key to understanding how we co-create public community-driven spaces. Through my time volunteering and developing relationships with The Stop’s staff and community members, I was able to enrich my understanding of the common and unique needs of the community and form a strong foundation for this project to come to life.


Creating the Space


The project took shape through an 8-week digital storytelling workshop co-facilitated by me, staff from The Stop, and Rosemary Tomlinson-Morros—a community member of The Stop and one of the storytellers. Rosemary and the other storytellers—Rosalee Edwards, Josh Fogel, Karma Ninje Paldrún, Amber Lee RLG, Eti P. M., Ana Oliveira, and Tom Vosylius—were selected through an application process and agreed to participate in weekly sessions. Every Tuesday afternoon from late January to mid-March, we gathered at The Stop’s Davenport location in a space that was conducive to the project’s collaborative and creative process.


Our Stories


Together, the group shared and captured their personal stories using video, audio, and editing equipment. Within their stories, the storytellers highlighted the impact that The Stop’s programs and services have had in everyday life, and why it’s so important to feel a sense of community and belonging.


“For me it was a great way to connect with others and myself. We all got a chance to express ourselves in a healing way. Sadly, many community members have journeyed through painful times, but we found strength telling our stories.”

– Storyteller


Over the course of the 8-week period, the storytellers formed new friendships and connections with one another. To celebrate the stories they captured, and provide a chance to come together again, we hosted a screening event in The Stop’s drop-in space.


The community screening was a great opportunity for storytellers to share their stories with the broader community The Stop serves, speak about the process, and answer questions from the audience. Audience members were pleasantly surprised by the diversity captured in the stories and moved by the storytellers’ vulnerability, hope, resilience, and joy.



It has been an honour to collaborate with staff and community members that have been incredibly generous with their time and by sharing their skills, knowledge, and stories. The Stop’s work over the past 40 years embodies many of the elements I believe are crucial for diverse communities to flourish: social justice as its compass, providing access to nutritious food and land to grow it, nurturing intercultural connections, utilizing education as a tool for advocacy and self-determination, and cultivating community-driven spaces.


My hope is that, as the stories are shared, they encapsulate the complex realities that exist in the community that The Stop serves. May they be catalysts for reflection, deeper understanding, conversations, healing, action, and change.


Watch the digital stories


A special thank you to Richard Haubrich—a community member of The Stop—who helped with recording and sound, as well as staff members of The Stop—Winsome, Neye, Nick, Raymond, Marie-France, and Alanna—for their support with this project.