We Are Newton!

On Sunday, November 20 we launched the “We Are Newton” Neighbourhood anthology to a full capacity crowd at the Old Surrey Restaurant!

The Launch Party was funded by the Oak Avenue Neighbourhood House Small Grant Program and the Vancouver Foundation. We are grateful for this financial support!

Scroll down for a description of the project by our editor Ellen Niemer. Further down you will find pictures taken at the launch by Nasrin of the Newton BIA.

We are in the process of acquiring funding to do a second print run. If you did not receive a copy and would like to, please let us know and we will add you to our distribution waitlist!

Over the next few months, the stories and poems in the anthology will be shared in our bulletin and social media channels. Please sign up for our bulletin and connect with us on social media to help spread the good stories of our neighbourhood! Link to our Facebook and Twitter accounts are in the column to the right.

You can see media coverage of the project by CBC Radio “Early Edition” here, and by CBC News Vancouver at 6 here.

Here is Ellen’s speech:


Thank you for coming out this evening to celebrate the launch of the We Are Newton anthology. This project sprang from the fertile soil of David Dalley’s idea-filled mind. The Friends of The Grove are constructing a Little Free Library for The Grove and David came up with the idea that the first book to go into the library should be a book about Newton. From that one seed of an idea, here we are today, celebrating the fruits of our writing labours!

A small group of us met monthly from late spring to fall at the Newton Seniors Centre to plan the book and this party. But the book remained a nebulous thing, a mystery, whose shape would depend entirely on the submissions we hoped to receive from residents of Newton.

And how the residents – and former residents – of Newton responded! We received poems and stories from all ages, from grade 4 and 5 students to seniors. We also received submissions from writers from a variety of cultures that make Newton such an interesting, colourful place to live. The criteria for submissions was that the writer share a positive story about Newton.

The wonderful stories in these 72 pages provide snapshots of people who lived in Newton when it was a rural town and those who live here today. They include memories of watching black and white TV through a store window at the dawn of the TV era, swimming in the Bear Creek pool, hanging out at the Oval and the wave pool, making unexpected friends, marvelling at nature so close at hand, and a special story from one of Surrey’s finest about his decision to break with protocol to help a young woman with her alcohol addiction and the positive outcome of that decision. And there’s even a story about our host for the evening running naked through this very restaurant – when he was just a small boy!

My dad was a rockhound. He collected rocks that he’d cut, shape and polish to create beautiful jewellery. He could find something beautiful in what, from the outside, may have looked like just an ordinary stone.

To outsiders, Newton may look like an ordinary stone: a place with problems, a place with a bad reputation, a place that people fear, but we insiders know that Newton is a beautiful place. Sharing our stories helps us to get to know each other personally, to build connections and a sense of community. Especially in these uncertain times when we hear far too many negative messages of intolerance, the time is right to reach out and get to know each other. Timing is everything, and I believe this anthology couldn’t have been released at a better time.

As an editor, I was really impressed with the quality and thoughtfulness each writer put into their poem or story. Who knew? Not only are we a community of positive-minded people, we’re also a community of talented writers! So my sincere thanks and congratulations to you all.

So thank you very, very much to each writer who contributed to this anthology. I hope that when you read this book, you’ll feel inspired to tell your stories and treasure your memories of our special home, Newton. Would the writers who are here today please stand up, and let’s give them a warm round of applause.

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