Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Katherine Davis is a conscientious Metis woman and a volunteer with 1JustCity, committed to helping individuals navigate change to create thriving sustainable communities. Her efforts take many different forms, one is the art of “plarn”.
1JustCity is an organization in Winnipeg founded by four member charities: Oak Table, Northend Stella, St Matthews Maryland, and West Broadway Community Services. These member charities work with volunteers across Winnipeg and are united to work towards a city that is founded on justice; where all are heard, all are welcome, all are cared-for, all are celebrated and all work together.
Katherine’s journey as a volunteer with 1JustCity started in 2015. Since then she has started a community social justice bookclub and engaged in a variety of 1JustCity volunteering events. In 2017, she began volunteering with Just A Warm Sleep (JAWS), an emergency warming centre that operates January to March every year out of Augustine United Church in Osborne Village. Katherine says, “It was a much needed service in my community and it gave me a chance to get to know more people.”
During the first year of JAWS operation, a man by the name of Ray came up with the idea to upcycle plastic bags into plastic yarn (aka plarn) and create crocheted mats for the JAWS guests. The guests are often homeless or do not have a consistent, safe place to sleep. The plarned mats can be taken by the guests and used as a cushion, pillow or barrier to the ground wherever they go. As Canadians use between 9 and 15 billion plastic bags a year, an amount that would be enough to circle the globe 55 times, this initiative creatively addresses an important environmental issue while providing some comfort to individuals who may not have a consistent place to sleep.
In 2019, Katherine decided to apply for a grant through Taking It Global – Rising Youth to fund a “plarning party” event to make plarned mats. A group of around 20 other people dedicated their afternoon to this cause and started the process of creating 10 mats to support JAWS guests.
Katherine’s inspiration is her devotion to love and a human connection, as she says, “The mantra that I love at 1JustCity is “loving the underloved.” Love can look different to many people. Sometimes love is a smile, other times its socks, or a plarned mat. The work we do is about getting to know the community and providing the person what they need in the moment to feel safe, secure and loved”.