Act Five believes in the value of investing in the places we live. This act, we believe, is a way of being faithful followers of Jesus and the good news of the gospel. We long to see our places whole, restored and brimming with life – and we think this is an awesome way to disciple young people along the way!
In year two of the program, we developed a new idea that invited students to take on a significant project as they look towards the end of their time with Act Five. It’s called a Capstone Project.
A capstone project is a cumulative endeavour intended to tie together the students’ learning and experiences in a creative, multifaceted way. These projects are designed to respond to real needs – whether in practical ways or in ways meant to bring beauty, hope or tell a story. They required our students to invest themselves, their learning, their time, planning and resources in order to see the project through to the end.
The result, as we approach the end of the year, has been remarkable. Our students have taken risks, tried new things and creatively and humbly brought their whole selves into this project, this neighbourhood and this city. We believe these are significant and we’re excited to showcase them.
Nathaniel – Backyard Mural
Nathaniel spent many hours working under Lester Coloma, a Hamilton Muralist, planning and preparing to paint this mural on our shed which, to him and others, encapsulates what this year has been and what he hopes it will be for future students and residents of Blake Street.
Faith – Butterfly Mural
Faith did her Act Five placement at the Barton BIA (Business Improvement Area). During her time there, she set out to complete a project that might bring light and life to the Barton Street community. She says, “I chose the butterfly because I wanted to create something that would be bright, colourful and bring positivity. The idea sparked from Instagrammable murals, specifically wing murals. The idea is for the person to stand in front of the painting and the wings will look like their own. This project has been a great way for me to grow as an artist and work with others to create something beautiful for a community.
Rieneke – Poem
Inspired by the sidewalk poem on Locke Street in Hamilton, the poem“Hidden Glories” takes note of some of the parallels between this city and the person reading it. Rieneke says, “I reached out to Hamilton locals about the things they’ve noticed and appreciated here. Quickly, I started to realize that many characteristics I’ve grown to love about humanity, in general, were also being noticed in this city. I love that these words, spray-painted onto the sidewalk, follow the reader as they’re on their way somewhere.”
Shir-El – Portrait Sketches of Her Friends at The Hub
Shir-El completed her Act Five placement at The Hub, a resource centre for people experiencing homelessness in our city. Inspired by her time there, she decided to take on a creative storytelling project.
“For my capstone project, I sat with friends from The Hub and drew their portraits as they told me a bit of their story. I gave them the pencil portrait of themselves as a gift and wrote down some of their wise words next to the drawing. I took a photo of the drawing and then transformed the pencil drawings into digital drawings… People have stories, often unexpected ones that you would never know by just looking at them. Let’s rediscover our wonder for other people. Let’s be curious and question our assumptions because they will often prove us wrong.”
Chloe – House Portraits
Chloe has created a five-piece portrait series featuring homes around our Blakely neighbourhood, including our home on Blake Street and the iconic “Stained Glass House”. Each painting is completed with at least one special detail or a signature object that adds authenticity to each home.
“Throughout this project, I learned a lot about my neighbours. Each time I talked to a homeowner, I had an opportunity to mention Act Five, the home I live in and what I was wanting to get out of this project. Sometimes our conversations wouldn’t get that far, but, other times, we would end up chatting for a longer period. I learned more about what my neighbours did for a living, stories about their family and details on their home-owning history. I even had a conversation with George about my faith and why I am a follower of Jesus! Even though I found this project challenging at times, there is something both affirming and exciting about looking back and being able to say “Yes! I accomplished what I set out to do, and I am happy with what I have created!”
Throughout these past weeks, I was pushed to both focus and motivate myself and learn to set goals that work with my personality. I also felt that both my painting and people skills have been tested and sharpened. For me, my Capstone project has been a perfect blend of getting creative with my hands and mind as well as forming relationships with people. As I come away from these past weeks, I feel so much closer to this place I have lived in all year. What better way to do that then by using God’s amazing gifts of art, relationship and creativity!”
Chloe will be giving a copy of each portrait to the homeowner and will be making smaller prints to use as postcards for future students here at Act Five.
Julia – Mixed Media Artwork of Significant Places
Julia has created four mixed-media artworks that creatively signify two places that have become meaningful to her in Act Five – Blake Street and Barton Street. Julia writes, “Blake Street is our home that we have come to love and have learned to care for well. This is a place where we gather, celebrate, mourn and learn. Barton Street has become a regular destination. Through neighbourhood projects in the fall, Deedz on Thursday evenings and lunch at 541, Barton Street has become a place where we recognize and know the names of those we pass. Based on this learning and experiences throughout this year, I have created four separate pieces to demonstrate what this has meant to me.”
Her pieces are titled; “Where we Gather”, “There’s Denim in Paradise”, “Five-Forty-One”, and “Coming Home”.
Gail, Steve, Ryan – Pizza Oven
Gail, Steve, and Ryan built a pizza oven in the Blake Street backyard as their capstone project. Following the canoe trip in September, Act Five got to enjoy a celebration meal from the homemade pizza oven at Camp Norlandand it sparked inspiration. Some Act Five Alumni in Year One of the program had a similar desire, which led to them building the cement foundation upon which the pizza oven would eventually be built.
It has been an endeavour of teamwork and community! The group writes, “One of our favourite parts of the project was how resourceful we had to be. One example of that was where we found the Hamilton bricks that are now displayed on the front of the oven and used in the archway – Ryan was walking down Cumberland Street in our neighbourhood and stumbled upon a fellow who was doing some work on his house and had a bunch of Hamilton bricks on his front lawn. After talking to him, he generously allowed us to use some for our project.”
Marika & Gill – Cookbook “Flavours of Faithfulness”
“This cookbook was created out of the idea that food is not just physical but also spiritual. We believe that we can meet God in the everyday acts of meal-making and enjoying food. In this book, each recipe is accompanied by a Scripture passage, poem, prayer or short reflection that connects the food to living as faithful followers of Christ. We want to encourage readers to practice following Jesus, even in the mundane rhythms of creating and enjoying food, through prayer and reflection. The purpose of this cookbook is to show the ways that faith and food are related. The Bible frequently uses ordinary things to accomplish the extraordinary, such as a humble baby in a manger accomplishing the restoration of all of humanity… It is clear that God is at work in all things, even food, and He uses these mundane things to show His faithfulness”
A PDF of the cookbook is available to download here. Anyone who wishes to purchase a physical copy can contact email@example.com.
Sarah – Sports Equipment to Neighbourhood Families
For her capstone project, Sarah put together boxes of sports equipment and a package of games and activities for families to participate in with their children. As a baseball player, she says, “My goal has always been to help youth learn the importance of physical activity and the life lessons we can learn from being a part of a team and committing to something… Through this process, I have learned just how much resilience children have. For example, one child I delivered a box to struggles with anger and rage. [His mother explained that] playing sports gave him the opportunity to bring those feelings into a game of growth, character building, focus and determination.
This project has shown me that, when the time’s right, I really do want to get into coaching to work with children who are falling through the cracks and give them the opportunity to fill those cracks with something they can hold on to and work hard at.”
Caleb – Writing on Vocation
Caleb, out of his journey this year, wanted to write. He says, “I love stories and I have spent my whole life reading. I loved the stories of Ivanhoe (in a condensed picture version as a kid) or reading about the judges in the Bible, Israel and Judah’s kings. Or hearing from my dad about living on the farm and from my principal in Portugal about being in the military. Stories entrap and capture the audience, but in this dance and mirage of untouchability is something so freeing. Something more than what is tangible, something that can give hope and something that has led people to do some stupid stuff in life. Stories have a beautiful power to free but also to trap people; they can give hope of more in life, but the other side of that coin is that the present, the real, the tangible can seem so boring and so lacking in life.”
In this love for stories, he has concluded that his biggest realization in Act Five was the idea of faithfulness and how his vocation is just that – to be faithful. So, Caleb wrote a story of his journey with faithfulness and the ideas surrounding it for his final project. A snippet from his piece includes:
“Act Five has taught me what I am going to do with my life; however, I have no idea what I am going to take in university next year. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Well, in our society’s view it is, but I am here to argue that vocation is much more than your job or even your family or all of the service to the poor and the needy than you could ever do in a lifetime. Although these things might be something you do, they only stem out of your vocation, they themselves do not encapsulate it. Our vocation is our calling‒ our calling from Christ to follow His commandments and to strive into the unknown where our feet may fail, straight after Him…
To Caleb, the story of Ruth is a picture of vocation. “To imagine being Ruth is terrifying, even though we can see plainly that her voyage into the unknown was beneficial. Sometimes, it can feel like the story of Ruth is just that- a story, and that here, in the real world, our problems are bigger and scarier than hers and we use this to justify not stepping out in faith ourselves…
I was reflecting with a friend while staying up too late and I realized that [hearing stories of] faithfulness was my biggest takeaway from Act Five…It certainly hasn’t led to me knowing where to go to school or what to take at school, whether I should go to school at all, or if I should rethink the entire education system through stories of faithfulness Act Five has taught me so much and made me grow and expand my mind and beliefs. An entire lifetime could be blessed only studying this one part of my Act Five experience.”
We are thankful for Caleb’s honesty and willingness to explore his learning in this way!
Ella – EP
Ella wrote and recorded a five-song E.P. called “Ever Present” for her capstone project. Each song talks about something she’s learned about herself, her faith, what it means to be faithful in ordinary life and the spiritual practices she’s cultivated at Act Five. Though not comprehensive, this E.P. provides a window into Ella’s journey through this year. Listen to her song “Birch and Barton” below.
Joel & Noah – Deedz Documentary
Noah and Joel have been impacted this year by their evening visits to the Salvation Army Soup Truck at Birch and Barton. They produced this documentary to explain how a jug of hot chocolate and some styrofoam cups has introduced them to a new and vibrant way of community and experiencing Jesus through people who experience poverty and food insecurity. The entire documentary is available to watch below.
These projects are a testament to Act Five’s role as a place of belonging, growing and practising day-to-day faithfulness. They reflect each student’s love for and commitment to this place, this home, this neighbourhood and the live-giving goodness of the gospel. Thank you for accompanying us on their incredible journey so far.
Each capstone project was also featured in a video presentation. Check it out below!