Everyone is ready for something new in Welland and The Hard Way hopes to deliver that in the heart of Welland's downtown. Halfway between the canal and railway it is literally where the people from rails and water would meet.
Experimenting on Humans
While the Black Lantern Experience (BLX) started as an exhibition experience that gave individual artists an opportunity to show off and have fun many have become stakeholders in the community. This new connection has prompted many of the artists to move from painting with acrylic on canvas to painting with ideas in human minds. This remarkably different approach to creativity has a physical manifestation at 43 Hellems Avenue in Welland, Ontario.
Inspired by the collection of stories found in The Hard Way on Purpose the principal benefactor Kevin Santone has a vision for what people could accomplish in Welland if given the opportunity. The hypothesis is that the community will go from the brick-by-brick approach to something bigger.
Developing an Organic Community
There isn't a committee or government that can create organic and real change without the people being truly invested in it. Governments can't support your initial investment. They are accountable to all the taxpayers and creating an advantage for the most progressive or developmentally minded is outside of their permitted mandate.
The Hard Way isn't limited. It is an unencumbered and united entity that holds no control over the creativity of its participants, it only holds control over the space and time allotted to the group. Volunteer driven and running on a tight budget the number of benefactors has grown beyond Kevin Santone to include artists, businesses, consumers, families, and the BLX. This is a new community made in the Canadian way which combines other communities in a cultural mosaic.
Creating Value in Downtown Welland
Welland has been in a state of limbo pending the spark of life that was promised to return after the construction of the new City Hall nearly a decade ago. That life has a name, that name is VALUE. Value in terms of money or things has failed to create the change, while the value in experiences and learning has been the only real growth in Welland.
Institutional experiences found at Welland's Brock University or Niagara College campus are a great way to develop a core skill. The down side to academia is that you leave as quickly as you enter and without a community that actually values experiences those graduates will remain unsatisfied in life. What can you do?
Get involved. Give a little. Do art, have fun, be cool. Party hard. Try something new. Introduce yourself to new people and their experiences. Immerse yourself in inspiration. Rinse and repeat.