Talking Poles

Graphic collage of Love and Peace and participant faces for Talking Poles

Talking Poles: Love and Peace. A collaboration between Lorna Boschman, Victoria Moulder, T’uy’t’tanat Cease Wyss and local community members who shared their voices and drumming. The artists have created Sonic Maps locating audio tracks from our original community engagement project.

Talking Poles, located on both sides of 68th Avenue at the Serpentine Greenway in Surrey, commemorates a community dialogue project that transpired over the spring of 2009. The two steel poles stand 4.2 metres tall and are emblazoned with symbolic imagery and words, denoting “peace” and “love” respectively, in languages used throughout the Newton community: Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, French, and English. Also included are iconic First Nations symbols representing these terms, and their translations into binary code, in order to represent the role digital technology plays in contemporary human life.

Working with people from the area, two themes were chosen – Love and Peace – these words are displayed in ten languages on the Poles. Pedestrians approaching the Pole trigger a sensor, activating prerecorded audio clips by local residents sending messages to future generations. Joining us was translator and artist TJ Grewal who helped us communicate with community members who provided audio recordings. Most of the audio pieces created for the Love and Peace themed Talking Poles were developed and recorded in this way. 

Want to visit the site using your mobile device and GPS? First pick your route – in Surrey, BC, visit the Love or Peace walk. In Vancouver, visit the shorter walk along Woodland Drive or path for slower walkers. Go directly to Sonic Maps and download the Talking Poles files while you have WiFi. On site, open in your browser for an interactive experience. 

Talking Poles in Surrey

Love Pole
T’Uy’Tanat-Cease Wyss begins the walk with a Welcome Song. She worked with sound designer Take 5 to create a series of audio recordings that explore the community-inspired theme of Love. Two elders worked closely with us to expand our ideas. June Clearsky who reminds us how love and peace can spread. Acharya S. P. Dwivedi talks about love as universal, connecting us as humans.

Peace Pole
Quote from June Clearsky, one of the elders we worked with: “Start with inward peace. Inward peace. Pass that on to people that you come in contact with. Just have that inner peace. Inner peace. That change is like a ripple effect to all others. That’s what I think about love and peace.”

More about the project:

To involve participants, we contacted a number of local community groups, schools and spiritual leaders; developed iconography with a university visual art class; worked with high school design students; and organized a World Drumming Day event at a First Nations housing co-op. To engage residents who walked along the Greenway, we designed a Talking Pole prototype and placed it on location. With printed brochures in hand, we stood in front of the prototype inviting people to sit at a table and to talk with us. 

The Sonic Map is another way to share our collaboration with future generations. This version created with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. The original version created as a public art project for the City of Surrey B.C.


Lead artists, Talking Poles
Lorna Boschman, Victoria Moulder, and T’Uy’Tanat-Cease Wyss

Audio Mix
Take 5

Community members who provided audio recordings, translator TJ Grewal,  Kwantlen Polytechnic University Fine Art instructor Sibeal Foyle and her second-year students, Bobbi Kozinuk who assembled the electronics, Mike Vandermeer and Cheryl Hamilton from i.e. creative  who fabricated the poles and Akash Murgai who created the vinyl design.

Producer and Sonic Maps Editor 
Lorna Boschman

StoryCloud Concept
Lorna Boschman and Claire Roberts

We gratefully acknowledge that we live and work on the unceded, traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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