Want to stay cool?

This poster is among the many ones by grade 6 students at Barnhill Memorial about saving energy. They’re working on implementing recommendations that came out projects done by last year’s grade 6 students on energy at the school.

The secret to staying cool? Don’t waste electricity in the school.

My journey as an educator

On Friday I had the opportunity to present to the current class of Saint Thomas University’s B.Ed class on my journey as an educator for a session on alternatives to classroom teaching.

Looking back on my journey as an educator over the last 3 years was a great exercise for me.  At The Gaia Project, we’ve come from my first day where we were working in a warehouse on Wilsey Road with no windows and a very mediocre heating system, to a basement office, to sleeping in a car in a high school parking lot during our Sustainable Building Challenge, to where we are now:

  • I have an office (with a bonus window!)
  • We’re currently 5 staff in various areas of New Brunswick
  • I love our mission: ’empower youth to make critical and informed decisions about energy and its impact on the environment’
  • We offer projects in both the Anglophone and Francophone systems 
  • We co-facilitate a peer group for teachers to support experiential learning in the province

It pushes me me to learn new things all of the time, and I’m grateful to be on this journey.

Feb 2013 498

This is a photo of the painting that everyone contributed to during my art empowerment day at the Restigouche Hospital Center! Everyone from staff, clients, to the director and CEO of the Vitalite Health Network. The text doesn’t come through particularly well in the photograph. It says ‘At the Restigouche Hospital Center, we believe that tout le monde est un(e) artiste’.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this project possible!

On this day of celebration

I wanted to share some thoughts on the connection economy and choice on this day to celebrate love and friendship.

I believe that outlook is a choice.  A positive outlook is something that we have to choose every day, and we all have days where this choice is harder than others.  I had a tough day yesterday, and it wasn’t until later in the day, when I got a chance to call a close friend where I was able to put it all back into perspective.  Resiliency is a key part of this positive outlook, and I’m grateful to have a supportive network of people.  There’s some nurturing I need to do within this network, as I’ve gotten busy lately.  I’ve been trying to filter all of my decisions through a lens of what I would my 80-year old self want my current self to do.  This Monday, after an amazing day making art, I had the choice to get on the road quickly or to pause for a dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in years.  I chose the latter option, and I’m really glad I did.

I also wanted to share these thoughts from my favourite business guy – a guy who constantly re-envisions how business can be – Seth Godin.

‘When we find our own foundation and are supported in our work by those around us, we can get back to first principles, to realizing our own dreams and making our own art by supporting others first and always’.  Great words to think about on this day of celebration love, friendship and connection.  You can check out the full blog post here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/02/open-generous-and-connected.html

The things I learned from Campbellton

I just arrived home from spending almost 3 days in the lovely Campbellton, New Brunswick.  I delivered my art empowers project at the Restigouche Hospital Center, and I had an absolutely fabulous day; the staff and clients were so great, and we made truly creative acrylic paintings to stay at the center to display in their hallways.

During my stay, I stayed at a quaint little B&B, had dinner at a tasty Vietnamese noodle resto, caught up with a friend I haven’t seen in years, and weathered an unexpected storm.

The thing I liked the most about Campbellton – well, aside from the beautiful view of the water and the hills – was the people.  This morning while loading my huge kit of supplies into my car, a woman stopped, despite the snow and cold, to help me load everything into my car.  The receptionist at the hotel wanted to see my paintings, and asked me about my project.  The staff at the RHC took me out for lunch at a cute bistro for lunch.  The clients told me stories, and thanked me for bringing paint and colours.

People really are the heart of communities.  I loved the beautiful resiliency of this place.

On the note of people, you should also check out this post from blogger, Seth Godin, on the often heard saying, ‘those people’….  ‘if we brainwashed them into setting limits, I know we can teach them to ignore those limits’.


Compromise vs. Negotiation

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about the difference between these two words.  Compromise, at least for me, is loaded with negative association: not achieving your potential, giving up on your ideals… settling.  I’m not interested in compromising.

Negotiation, on the other hand, resounds with me.  To negotiate means moving towards a solution acceptable to both parties; a solution that both parties actively participate in creating.

It might mean letting go of the things that aren’t fundamentally important, but that push forces you to identify what is stringently the most important aspect(s) of the negotiation.  Entering into a negotiation recognizing what are willing to let go of, and what we are not, can make us more adept at building fulfilling relationships/deals/transactions.  Sometimes though, we instead realize what is fundamentally important to us though the process of negotiating.

Genuineness & Right-Directed Sensibilities

I finished reading Daniel Pink’s ‘A Whole New Mind’ last night.  Great book with some interesting perspectives considering how our first world economy seems to be shifting from dominantly left-brain, logical directed thinking to a more holistic economy that incorporates right-brain perspectives.  Wikipedia has a great summary here.  He argues that we are now in the Conceptual Age, and success will often be correlated with the capacity to incorporate 6 senses that are not typically considered crucial determinants of success at the moment: design, story, symphony (big picture), empathy, play and meaning.

I tend to agree with Mr. Pink, as I’ve also considered a lot of my strengths to be some of these right-brain directed senses.

I had some fun the other night with some of the links he provides.  Check out this online survey from BBC, where you can test your skills on detecting fake vs genuine smiles.  I’m proud to say I nailed it: 100%.

In my never-ending TED talk quest, I also recently came across this one about how to spot a liar, from Pamela Meyer.  She’s quite funny and articulate, and there’s a really interesting clip that starts around 14:50.  It’s so creepy; you’ll know what I mean.  One of the take-aways: the key to detecting genuineness is all in the eyes.

Thanks, Dan Pink, for being a part of rethinking and challenging the status quo.  I’m looking forward to checking out his latest, To Sell is Human.


‘We can cry about it, or we can dance about it’

‘We can cry about it, or we can dance about it’

This message from 9-year old, Robby Novak, is really inspiring.  Sometimes it takes someone so youthful to envision the world as the place it could be.  I think this can speak to the importance of cross-generational partnerships and collaboration.  All generations have much to learn from one another; I know that I enjoy chatting with people older than me to gain wisdom from the things that they’ve experienced.  Mixing what has been with what could be sounds like great alchemy to me.

Kid President also tells us that ‘the world needs us, stop being boring’.  I agree.  In the words of Seth Godin, let’s go make a ruckus.