Q: How do you make an aging cherry tree blossom again?
A: Cover it with knitted cherry blossoms!
– The Kogawa House Cherry Tree is yarn-bombed!
On March 6th, the Cherry Tree at Historic Joy Kogawa House became covered with “knitted cherry blossoms”, along its aged bare branches. It's damaged trunk, became covered with “knitted wool bark”. Scores of knitters from around the world, had sent knitted cherry blossoms to hang from its branches. Scores of volunteers came on Sunday, to help decorate the tree with the “blossoms” and the “bark”.
A fire truck parked in the lane behind the house, and firemen on the large ladder, helped to hang strings of blossoms along the tallest branches. Children helped attach blossoms to the tree trunk. Photographers gathered to take pictures of the strange site. Reporters came to interview the creators of this project.
It is an old and diseased cherry tree in the lane at 1450 West 64th Ave. It probably should have died by now… because it hadn't blossomed in years until the house was saved from demolition in 2006 and purchased by The Land Conservancy of BC. It is the childhood home of famed author Joy Kogawa. It was the only home she knew until the age of 6, when her family was sent off to the Internment Camps for Japanese Canadians, in 1942, during WW2. It was still the only real house she had known when in 1947, all her family had lived in were shacks in the Internment Camps, even two years after when the families were not allowed to go back to their homes because they had been sold to help pay for the cost of their internment.
Many years later, when the family had been sent to work on beet farms, as part of the “dispersal program”, the young Joy Kogawa still dreamed about the big house in Vancouver, with the big yard, and the big cherry tree, she used to climb with her older brother.
In 2002, now a long-time resident of Ontario, an aging Joy Kogawa drove through the old Marpole neighborhood with a friend, and discovered that her old family home was still standing… and it was for sale! She didn't have enough money to purchase the house, so friends rallied and formed a “Save Kogawa House Committee”. But not enough money was raised, and the house was purchased by an offshore owner and turned into a boarding house for renters.
In 2005, a demolition permit was applied for at Vancouver City Hall, and a group of activists rallied to help save the house. The demolition permit was temporarily halted. Letters of support came from writing and writer associations across Canada. The Land Conservancy of BC, stepped in to help the revived “Save Kogawa House Committee” succeed in raising funds, and negotiate with the owners of the house, until it was saved in 2006.
Five years went by, which saw author readings at the house, and the establishment of a Writer-in-Residence program. Joy Kogawa's elder brother, now a retired Anglican Minister, came from Seattle to see the house he hadn't seen in 65 years.
knitters can crocheters Deb Martin, Mary Novik and photographer Lydia.
In 2011, a yarn bombing project started. (more later)
Knitter Cyndy at the dining room covered with yarn and cherry blossoms, inside Kogawa House.
Video of Firemen walking along ladder and hanging strands of “knitted cherry blossoms” to the Cherry Tree.
Monica Miller with the almost completed project at the end of the day…