Brainstorm for the Barn, February 4 (and a Q+A with Dawn Johnson)

Flood it for hockey or curling. Hang a movie screen for a bicycle drive-in theatre. Host weddings. Host a circus school. Host a barn dance. How about long table lunches or tango lessons, soup kitchen, outdoor church sessions, an art market, a summer long canoe carving project?

The point of a brainstorm is to throw a lot of ideas around. And right now, the Village of Pemberton is inviting ideas about the Community Barn space, at an Information and Brainstorming Session at the Pemberton Community Centre, Wednesday, February 4, 7-9pm.

Tea and coffee will be provided.

The goal is to engage community and establish a management model for the Barn to ensure the space reaches its full potential. Contact Dawn Johnson, Project Coordinator, for more information.

Please join the Village of Pemberton in a brainstorming session to share your ideas, input, and feedback for the Community Barn.

Time or dates don’t work? Just let Dawn know and she can arrange another session or a time to meet up. You can also provide feedback via e-mail or give her a call., 604 698 5686          

vop barnstorm

We asked Dawn to give us some background. Here’s what she shared.

What is your role here? 

Basically, I am working with the Village of Pemberton to identify ways to move the vision of the barn forward.

My role is to brainstorm with the community to find out if there are any existing community not-for-profit organizations interested in potentially taking over the management of the barn and site, or if there are motivated individuals in the community to form a new non-profit for the purpose of managing the barn and site.

The main objective of the stakeholder group will be to help realize the full potential of the barn and the vision of the community. To work with the current vision and also bring brilliant new ideas and energy to the table. They could also be tasked with exploring setting up the barn as a social enterprise. I will then take the findings back to the Village of Pemberton Mayor and Council and put forward a list of interested parties, and business and seed funding models for their consideration.

What excites you personally about the space?

The barn is an exceptional work of art in itself. We have this amazing timber frame building to serve as a public space. A blank canvas that will eventually become this dynamic and evolving landscape portrait painted by the hands of many, that will reflect who we are as a community, what values we embrace, what ideas and ways of life we think are worth sharing. That excites me!

I remember being at your house while the barn raising was taking part. You had just come back from NZ, and immediately rolled up your sleeves to get involved/offer support. Why?

That the barn came to fruition with the sweat, tears and hard work of volunteers from our community and beyond made getting involved initially as a volunteer irresistible! It is kind of like this amazing, positive peer pressure to step up. People in this community inspire me every day to do that.

We have such a devoted platform of people who put in THOUSANDS of cumulative volunteer hours. It is extremely satisfying. Volunteering for something you believe in, with others who believe in the same thing, can be a very rewarding experience. It can be a life changer for some people (it actually was for me!). I honestly think that it is part of what makes Pemberton so special. We have a lot of social capital here – people helping every day in areas they are passionate about. If you look at the skate park, BMX track, community barn, our world class network of stunning single track trails, the One Mile Lake Nature Centre…I am probably missing many more examples, but these were all the visions of our community volunteers. Totally inspiring!

What kind of ideas are on the table?

Right now we are exploring non-profit business models on how the barn can operate. While the barn was a Village of Pemberton initiative, it is my understanding that the VoP feels that in order for the vision to reach it’s full potential it needs to be handed over to a group of people, or a community member working with stakeholders, to make that happen. This group could potentially operate independently, or in partnership with the Village of Pemberton. Enterprising non-profits are a growing sector in the B.C. economy. They do amazing, whole hearted work all over the province that places great value on the three principles of social enterprise: people, planet and then profit (in order to fund their non-profit!).

What’s off the table? 

Really, not much is off the table! I would rather keep all ideas coming in, but the emphasis here is undoubtedly on a community led space. So ideas that venture too far off that course would probably not gain traction.

Who are the likely “stakeholder groups”? 

Stakeholder groups encompass all the levels of local government including the Village of Pemberton, Lil’wat Nation, and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District. But then there is also the Pemberton Farmer’s Market, Tourism Pemberton, the Pemberton Chamber, the Spirit Committee, and of course all those who helped with the initial vision of the barn: the barn working group. Stewardship Pemberton Society will likely share their story on how they were successful in getting their vision and social enterprise up and off the ground.

Who are you hoping to hear from? 

We are hoping to hear from passionate individuals and community groups with the energy and enthusiasm to make great ideas (and there are already plenty!) actually happen. We are also hoping to hear from those who can offer their expertise in planning public spaces, tourism, operating social enterprises, business management, marketing and advertising. Really, all those components required to make the Community Barn a success.

Is this about programming, or is it about a vision for what Pemberton is? 

Right now, it is mostly about setting up the management model for the barn, and engaging our community. But ultimately, I think that the barn has the ability to represent what makes Pemberton so special. Also, barns are so quintessentially Pemberton, reflecting the European history of the valley.

And what’s your response to the negative energy around the Barn – ie it’s a waste of money, it’s a lost opportunity to get funding from the WB foundation for ‘things we really need’ (ie a rink.)

I recognize that there is some negative energy around the Barn for sure, but I personally don’t at all see it is a lost opportunity.

To welcome the Timber Framers Guild into our town, show them our hospitality in exchange for volunteering their expertise? Amazing!!

And to be totally candid and honest, if there was a community group interested in pursuing ideas like a rink or a swimming pool, what really is stopping them? Look at all the other great amenities realized by volunteers and work groups.

We have to hope that Foundations and grants are going to continue to be available for viable and great ideas.

It is about finding and supporting that champion in the community to spearhead that initiative, to have a strong and well planned vision. Yes, it is going to take some time to see the barn full of great things. But all great things take time, and they take hard work. So I encourage those with negative energy to shift! Get involved, help out! And have patience….

Also… the idea of turning the barn into a rink in the winter has also been brought forward for consideration. 🙂

(For more on the temporary curling rink, see