Cedar Bark Poets Book 23 “Mugs & Conversation”

Cedar Bark Poets proudly present “Book 23: Mugs & Conversation.” The Cedar Bark Poet ‘Zine is a community-led project. If you would like to contribute work to future editions of the Cedar Bark ‘Zine, please contact cedarbark@friendsofthegrove.ca.

A Grove Full of Gratitude

A Grove full of gratitude for everyone that that supported the 2017 Friends of the Grove Cocktail Party and Fundraiser on Sunday, May 28!

A huge thank you to the Old Surrey Restaurant and the Newton Business Improvement Association for supporting this event! This would not have been possible without you.

Special recognition goes to the following people as well:

  • Ranj Singh and Brad McDowell for the music
  • Surrey Archives for the history of Newton presentation
  • Kamal Bhuller for the henna
  • Steve for the Little Free Library display
  • Katie for the art display
  • Lily Dalley for the fantastic “Grove Automata” artwork
  • Cedar Bark Poets for the poetry display
  • Jonah for the birdhouse display
  • City Centre Library Teen Calligraphy Meet-Up group for making the nametags
  • Amazing Tutors for sponsoring the “Newton Awards of Excellence”

Most of all, a huge thanks to everyone that bought tickets and showed up with curiousity and sense of adventure in hand!

Let’s all continue to work together to find ways to share our resources, time and talent to continue creating the community that we want to live in and be a part of.

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s “Newton Awards of Excellence” Katheren Szabo, Yousif Ihab, Sue Sharma-White and Teresa Klein! Scroll down to read more about these amazing Newtonites.

Katheren Szabo

Katheren is known as the “Heart of Newton!” Katheren organizes gatherings such as the annual caroling event, and does a 60 day vigil in The Grove every year. She is always keen to support others with their projects and make people feel welcome and included.

Sue Sharma-White

Sue has helped bring health and community connections to scores of women in the South Newton community of Sullivan. A few years back Sue wanted to lose weight and find some exercise partners. She launched “It Pays to Lose”, a community wellness group that brings together women in the neighbourhood for mutual support as they reach their wellness goals. The concept is simple: every six weeks participants put $25 each into a pot. Those who reach their goal of weight loss for that period split the pot. Many women have joined this program and succeeded in losing weight. Some have lost close to a hundred pounds. With the support of their neighbours, group participants have been able to focus on healthy living and eating. Lasting friendships have been formed. Sue keeps the group motivated with a dedicated Facebook group and inspirational tips. Sue greets everyone who joins with a smile and words of encouragement. She has changed many lives. Sue does all this while operating a full-time daycare and raising a family. Sue is humble and will say “It Pays to Lose” has been successful because of all the wonderful women involved. They have been drawn together because of her. She is the lynchpin and it all started with her. She is deserving of recognition for the joy and connection she has brought to our community.

Teresa Klein

 Teresa Klein is the coordinator for the Newton PLOT Sharing Garden behind the Newton Arena. In her role with the garden, she facilitates a weekly neighbourhood potluck and has initiated a number of local art projects, including the Heart of Newton Labyrinth that will be launched in June.

Youssif Ihab

 Youssif is the owner and operator of the Espresso Café in downtown Newton. The café is a gathering place for people in the neighbourhood, and Youssif is always supportive of community events such as the annual “Pay with a Poem” and holiday caroling events. Youssif plays an important role in bringing people together in the Newton neighbourhood

Photo Credits: Nasrin Baji, Newton BIA

Cedar Bark Poets Book 22 “Bulbs & Beauty”

Cedar Bark Poets proudly present “Book 22: Bulbs & Beauty.” The Cedar Bark Poet ‘Zine is a community-led project. If you would like to contribute work to future editions of the Cedar Bark ‘Zine, please contact cedarbark@friendsofthegrove.ca.

Where to Find Newton Anthology

The “We Are Newton” Neighbourhood Anthology is on it’s way to homes and businesses in you neighbourhood! See here for an overview of the project.

If you are a business in the Newton neighbourhood we would love to provide you with a copy to have on display in your waiting room. Please contact us to arrange for delivery.

The Anthology is also on loan through Surrey Libraries and can be reserved here.

All locations will be feature on this webpage to express our gratitude to all of our Newton friends and neighbours!

Sites not pictured:

Enver Creek Secondary
School District Welcome Centre
Kwantlen Library (Newton Campus)
Westerman Elementary School
FD Sinclair Elementary School
Vancity (Newton Branch)


Cedar Bark Poets Book 21 “Hands & Heart”

Cedar Bark Poets proudly present “Book 21: Hands & Heart.” The Cedar Bark Poet ‘Zine is a community-led project. If you would like to contribute work to future editions of the Cedar Bark ‘Zine, please contact cedarbark@friendsofthegrove.ca.

Cedar Bark Poets Book 20: “Resolutions & Music”

Cedar Bark Poets proudly present “Book 20: Resolutions & Music.” The Cedar Bark Poet ‘Zine is a community-led project. If you would like to contribute work to future editions of the Cedar Bark ‘Zine, please contact cedarbark@friendsofthegrove.ca.

“We Are Newton” in the Spotlight!

The follow article by Katherine Marley appeared in the March 2017 edition of “Spotlight on the arts,” a publication of the Arts Council of Surrey.

We Are Newton: A Neighbourhood Anthology

This past November, a local group Friends of the Grove launched “We Are Newton”, an anthology of stories and poetry by the residents of Newton.

Newton has been in the news in recent years, almost exclusively for negative reasons. This has created a stigma about the area but there is good in Newton too. Coordinator David Dailey was quick to point out that the media “are doing what they were designed to do, but the onus is on us to feed the media machine” or have our stories co-opted from us.

“What fractures us is when we have no way to tell our own stories” Dalley says. In response, they decided to create this “literary public space” for the residents of Newton. Sharing stories humanizes us, and reveals and creates community.

Initially expecting to produce a chapbook, within two months they had received over 60 submissions. The process was “silly, fun, open-hearted and open-minded” says editor Ellen Niemer. Entries from children to published authors all come together to show a portrait of a diverse community that values each other.

Most of the initial print run was distributed at the launch party, but a second run is coming. If you are looking for a copy of your own, Friends of the Grove will be giving away two copies at their annual fundraiser on April 30th at the Old Surrey Restaurant.

There will be “mini-launches” in the near future, and copies of the book will be available in public reading spaces around town as well as in the Little Free Library in the Grove later this year. There are also plans to make the book available online in the future.

For more information about the anthology, Friends of the Grove or their upcoming fundraiser, please email info@friendsofthegrove.ca

…excerpts from We Are Newton

Newton Seniors Centre
by Norm Bain

To those who do this Centre serve,
Each in their own special way.
Whether in guise of a volunteer
Or those who require their pay.

They are the ones who give us care,
Dedicated as they may well be.
The tasks they perform without a flare
Are oft times hard to see.

Behind the scenes, their cod unsung.
They keep this Centre humming,
Our office staff who set the theme
Keep the fun and programs coming.

The kitchen staff, who man the stove,
Deserve a special mention.
No one left out to miss my praise
Is surely my intention.

But most of all to the volunteers.
Though their task be ever humble,
Please keep watch in your special place
Or this haven will surely crumble.

Newton’s Espresso Café
by Diana Joy

At Espresso Cafe
use a poem to pay
for a coffee or pop.
It’s a nice place to stop.
Say hello to some friends
And discuss latest trends
The walls full of great art
And that’s only a part
of the heart this place brings.
It’s a neighbourhood thing.

Newton Revitalization

This video and article  Province reporter Glenda Luymes posted February 18, 2017. Read the article and view the original post here.

Daughter of slain hockey mom calls grassroots efforts to revitalize Newton ‘silver lining’ to tragedy

Each poem begins with the words “Dear Mom.”

Although her mother will never read them, Rhiannon Paskall writes poems to the woman who was killed three years ago in a crime that continues to impact not only her family, but the community where it took place.

“It’s my way of talking to her,” Rhiannon says, paging through her notebook during an interview at a Newton coffee shop. She orders tea, a nod to her mother and the many cups they shared before her death.

On Dec. 29, 2013, Julie Paskall was waiting for her son outside the Newton arena when she was attacked by a stranger who hit her on the head with a large rock during what appeared to be a botched robbery. Yosef Gopaul, a man with 29 prior criminal convictions, was arrested and eventually sentenced to 12 years in prison for manslaughter.

Three years later, Rhiannon still wonders, “Why didn’t he just ask for her purse?”

Rhiannon and her fiancé, Jonah, often visit Holland Park, near the Paskall home in Surrey City Centre, where a tree was planted in her mother’s honour. They always bring an extra cup of tea. The couple is planning a tea party for their wedding reception later this year.

“She’s a part of everything I do,” said Rhiannon.

The hockey mom has also become part of Newton’s story. The attack caused a significant public outcry over crime in Surrey’s most populous neighbourhood. In the months that followed, several community groups formed to address safety issues and the RCMP increased patrols in the area.

But police statistics show that despite those efforts, violent crimes in Newton rose eight per cent in 2014 and 28 per cent in 2015, due in part to a series of gang-related shootings. Violent crimes didn’t decrease until 2016, when there was a 15 per cent drop.

Many residents of Newton town centre — the area around King George Boulevard and 72nd Avenue — are frustrated by the area’s uninspiring mix of strip malls and vacant lots, which look much the same as they did three years ago.

Those who insist the community has improved focus on qualities that can’t be quantified, like hope and resiliency.

Since her mother’s death, Rhiannon has been drawn to projects and activities that bring fun and joy to the community. She’s become a member of Friends of the Grove, a grassroots group focused on a small wooded area behind the Newton transit exchange, a short distance from the parking lot where her mother was attacked. She learned about the group after they strung lights in the trees and invited her family to the lighting ceremony. She has since joined their bi-weekly poetry meetings.

Rhiannon calls the group “the silver lining to the black cloud” that has hung over her family since her mother’s death. While she doesn’t live in Newton, she wants to make a difference in the community that embraced her in the aftermath of the attack. “They gave me that sense of belonging and the opportunity to get involved.”

The group’s public art and community events — like carolling in the grove at Christmas — are designed to show that people care about making Newton a welcoming community.

“We’re really place-based,” Friends of the Grove convener David Dalley said. “In this digital age, I think we sometimes lose the importance of physical space.”

During the recent snowstorms, some Newton residents who couldn’t go out for groceries knew they could call Friends of the Grove for help, while those who wanted to help knew who to check in on as the snow fell. After the recent attack at a Quebec City mosque, several community groups, including Friends of the Grove, banded together to write messages of support for Newton’s Muslim residents and dropped them off at the local mosque.

“I think we are a much more resilient community than we were three years ago,” said Dalley. “We’re much more connected.”

Rhiannon often thinks about the cedar trees in the grove and the way their roots travel unseen through the earth. She imagines the roots of her mother’s tree in Holland Park woven with those from the grove.

“Surrey is a big city, but we’re all connected,” she said. “The roots of the grove run through Surrey, not just Newton, and we all need to care about our community. We want our community to be a community.”

Surrey is often called a “city of cities,” containing six distinct communities, including Newton, in a land mass larger than Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby combined. Divided by the old B.C. Electric rail line and King George Boulevard, Newton sprawls from roughly 120th Street on the west to 152nd Street on the east, and Colebrook Road on the south to 88th Avenue on the north.

The community is both geographically large — with multiple centres competing for business — and heavily populated. About 25 per cent of Surrey’s total population lives in Newton, which recorded a nine per cent increase — to 114,605 people — between the 2011 and 2016 censuses.

Longtime resident Doug Elford attributes some of the community’s crime problems to the location of a high number of social service agencies, including the Surrey parole office and Surrey pretrial jail, in the area. Homelessness, drug use and prostitution have made the streets unsafe late at night, he said.

“People are still afraid to walk out at night and that’s my measuring stick,” said Elford. “We need the city to actually invest in the neighbourhood instead of paying lip service”

The Newton Business Improvement Association is also frustrated by the lack of development, but that hasn’t stopped the organization from initiating several projects aimed at revitalizing the community and reducing crime, said director Philip Aguirre.

Formed a few months after Paskall’s death, the BIA runs a used-needle program, removes graffiti and garbage, collects shopping carts, runs a bike registry, conducts its own annual homeless count and organizes youth safety walks, taking teens from the local high school on tours to engage them in the community and listen to their ideas on making it safer.

The RCMP began 24-hour patrols in Newton after Paskall was attacked, but eventually scaled them back. The BIA has contracted Commissionaires, a private not-for-profit security company, to continue the daily security patrols.

Police join the patrols from time to time, in addition to participating in a weekly safety meeting that brings various community stakeholders together to share information and devise crime reduction strategies.

There was  a 29 per cent decrease in business break and enters in Newton in 2016, said Aguirre. According to Surrey RCMP statistics, property crime fell from about 8,700 cases in 2015 to 8,400 last year.

But like many, Aguirre feels like the really important changes are on hold, waiting for light rail transit (LRT) — the “silver bullet” that could make all the difference.

City planners hope that in the not-too-distant future, Newton town centre will be the terminus for Surrey’s LRT system. Metro Vancouver mayors have identified the project, along with the subway line along Broadway in Vancouver and the Pattullo Bridge replacement between Surrey and New Westminster, as regional transportation priorities, but funding hasn’t been finalized.

“The plan is pretty much done, but there hasn’t been major development in the plan area mainly because we’re still sorting out … whether we’re actually going to get funding for the LRT line,” explained Don Luymes, Surrey manager of community planning. “Until we have funding, we don’t know if we have a station, and until we have a station, it’s difficult to see redevelopment.”

The LRT station would transform the vacant lot owned by TransLink into a modern transit hub, with storefronts opening onto a wide platform. If all goes according to plan, city-owned land and buildings would be enhanced and revitalized, roads would be re-oriented to create a pedestrian-friendly community, and private-sector development would provide easy access to shops, entertainment options and green space.

“I think there’s a certain frustration in Newton about the pace of change,” said Luymes. “I think everyone would like to see active redevelopment, but the market has to be there for that to actually happen.”

In the meantime, the city planner applauds the work done by the BIA and Friends of the Grove to improve the area.

He pointed to the lights in the grove as an example. “Those little point of light really do help people to feel safer there,” he said.

It’s Saturday evening, and the Newton transit exchange is busy as people heading home cross paths with those heading out for the night. Across the street, bright signs advertise cheque cashing and payday loans. An ambulance passes, red lights flashing.

As a grey day grows subtly darker, a thousand tiny light bulbs ignite in the grove behind the bus loop.

Passengers disembark, and some walk through the trees. No one pauses to consider the lights twinkling in the treetops, but their soft glow holds the darkness at bay. The lights illuminate a picnic table, a wall of colourful murals and several large planters, waiting silently for spring.



Valentines Cards from Newton

What I love about Newton is…

Something I would love to see in Newton is…

Send us your Newton Valentines messages and we will handwrite them on a card and deliver them to Mayor and Council on Valentines Day!

Having fun, strengthening our neighbourhood, and hoping you'll join us!