The good people of The Lion and The Mouse run a summer camp in public green space that runs behind their building. It’s filled with tall grass, with little paths curling through and train tracks behind a border fence. Margaret and Gabby led us through to the Maples, a grove of two trees where children were playing. One sat among the dandelions, while another calmly pressed band-aids to her knee. The rest were moving through the trees, talking to one another in French and English.

One of the trees is tall and slender, while the other has low splayed branches. They seemed ideal for climbing on, offering gradations of height and challenge in the cool shade. I sat for awhile watching the children reach for their next handholds, their movements smooth and capable. One held the branch above his head and slowly stretched both legs into the open air. It struck me how much confidence he must have had, in the tree and his own body, all those slowly reaching limbs swaying together in a gentle breeze. I had no sense of rush or difficulty, only the strangest feeling of trees and children taking pleasure in each other.

Pop Up Play - Montreal QC

Community roots: Lion and Mouse’s inspiring practice in Mile End

In this sweet little location, the Lion and the Mouse are delivering beautiful practice. What’s more, their work is deeply rooted in their community. Staff reach out and talk with everyone – musicians, local residents, friends and family members, passersby, characters on the street. We saw this at the screening of The Land, where our usual post-film Q&A became instead a rich and rambling conversation.

This team should feel proud of the work they’re doing, and the experiences they’re making possible for children. We want to help highlight their gorgeous project, and encourage them to share their stories and pictures! Inspired by adventure playgrounds and forest schools, their work will grow in its own unique direction, organically from the soil of Mile End.

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By Morgan