Choose your own adventure with the Active Fiction Project

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Have you ever wanted to Choose-Your-Own-Adventure in your own backyard? Well, with the Active Fiction Project, you can.

The Active Fiction Project was created through a partnership with local writers, the Vancouver Public Space Network, and the residents of the Riley Park neighbourhood.

Each year feature’s a story set in a specific Vancouver neighbourhood, in this case Riley Park. Spread out amongst several real-life locations, each chapter presents readers with options at the end of each piece. Depending on which option they choose, they’re directed to another part of the neighbourhood, where they encounter another piece of the story, and so on until the end, crafting a flexible narrative that they control, set in the space that they’re in.

Jaspal Marwah, founder of the Active Fiction Project and Public Arts Project Leader with the Vancouver Public Space Network, said he has held on to the idea of the Active Fiction Project for a number of years, simply waiting for the right people to help get it off the ground.

“This kind of falls out of a longstanding interest that I have, through the VPSN, relating to public art and public art projects,” Marwah told Vancity Buzz. “It’s something that I have an interest in, and I’ve spent time to engage in creating public art and related projects.”

Marwah approached the Creative Writing department at UBC, and then-newly-minted faculty member, Canadian author Timothy Taylor. Along with Taylor, Marwah was able to gather a team of writers for the first project.

For the second installment, the Active Fiction Project put out an open call for writers, picking from a pool of local artists. Marwah hopes the Project gives new writers an opportunity to spread their wings, and develop themselves as creators.

“The very first thing that I hope this provides to the arts community is this is a forum for writers,” he said. “Writers are members of the arts community, and this a platform for local writers to help build their voice, in what I imagine is a pretty crowded space.”

Marwah says the benefits that art and artists bring to their communities is often overlooked, something he hopes the Active Fiction Project and similar programs can help fix.

“It speaks to the values that artists have in creating the kinds of neighbourhoods, and the kinds of spaces, and the kind of communities where we all want to live,” he said. “We would be living in very different places, and our quality of life would be very different if we didn’t have the contribution of artists to support that kind of living that makes Vancouver such a renowned placed.”

To take part, follow these instructions from the Active Fiction Project:

  • Head over to the art shop on East 28th Street, just east of Main Street. Look in the planters outside the shop to find the first chapter.
  • At the end of each chapter, you’re given directions to find the next chapter – usually about a few minute walk to a nearby location.
  • It’s free. You can walk it or bike it anytime, day or night. Goes great with dog walking, coffee drinking or stroller pushing.

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Shawn O'Hara Shawn is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. He loves writing about news, arts, movies, comedy, and culture. Some would argue Shawn is too old to still play Dungeons & Dragons. Shawn would disagree.

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