Begin Again (Eminent Intro Post)

Aaaaaand we’re back.

For eminent numero dos I’ll be focusing on Brandon Stanton; the creator and driving force behind the popular photography blog “Humans of New York” He started the blog in 2010 with a goal to create a visual census of 10,000 New York inhabitants. During the first few months of his project he posted the photos by themselves, but he wasn’t getting too much attention. One day he uploaded his first photo with a caption.


“So do you do a different color everyday?”

“No, I used to go through different stages. But then I found that I was the happiest when I was green, so I’ve been green for 15 years.”

He began pairing his photos with captions each time, and the page became very well known currently at over 20 million followers across Facebook, Tumblr, and the website itself.

Since then he’s accomplished a lot for global humanitarianism: locally for Mott Hall Bridges Academy, overseas and at home interviewing refugees, and talking to prisoners. These projects have shed light on the lives of people we don’t seem to acknowledge the regular.

I chose Brandon because I feel like I can connect with him a lot more than many other people, we are both white, male, average guys with a drive to use or circumstances to speak for people who can’t. I have a passion for photography as he does, but I don’t think I will pursue it as a career. I do however, believe it is a great way to tell stories and use it for good purposes; I’ll keep it as a hobby!

BUT I’m going to backtrack a bit because Renee and I are taking over the Humans of Gleneagle Facebook page, which will be a way for me to accomplish things inside and outside this project. First and foremost, this will give me an opportunity to understand Brandon and what be does every day, and the challenges he faces, on a smaller scale of course. Secondly it’ll give me a chance to work on some of my IEP goals, one being time management. I’d have to make time every week to go out and find people to feature, and socially it will force me to step out of my comfort zone and talk to people I wouldn’t normally approach.

So to wrap up, here are my goals for this project:

  • Learning about my eminent person and how he’s able to do what he loves, make a difference in the world with what he had to begin with.
  • Find out how he’s able to humble himself, and share the stories of everyone regardless of appearance, social status, race, gender or beliefs; and how I can apply this to my life.
  • About myself: how I can use my fortunate circumstances to make a difference, and to not judge people by how they look.
  • Time management: working on this project in a timely fashion, and balancing it with other school work, and the crushing weight of a teenage life.
  • Social skills: becoming comfortable talking to other people, and confident enough to have my interviewees feel comfortable in sharing parts of themselves that they wouldn’t normally tell a stranger.

Need better title for Socials Document of Learning

It’s that time of year again! The blog post season, when as soon as I type “m” into my search bar, it goes straight to “”. This is all the beginning of a new semester, new ideas and new experiences in Socials 9!

Now reflecting on last years Socials 10, I see a lot of things have changed. Last year was kind of like a test run of TALONS Socials for me, because the whole way we did Socials was completely brand new. I was used to the standard way of teaching, which was lecture based (also in French for me). So the idea of having a discussion in class instead of a lecture, and writing blog posts instead of a project, was all kind of alien (Not to also mention that my blog post writing skills were questionable). So at the beginning of the semester 2 2015, I wasn’t that much of an active participant in class, because I hadn’t really found my rhythm yet. But towards the end, I found myself able to speak up a little more, which is one of my goals for this year, which I’ll get to next. In terms of my Final however, I had decided to a PechaKucha, and at the time, I had no idea what I was doing. Up to then every project I had done was about a specific topic, not a reflection on what I had learned….so it was pretty safe to say I had no idea what I was doing. I remember feeling completely terrified and unprepared when I had to present, which was an odd feeling for me personally, cause I’m usually really comfortable presenting in front of people.

2015 final 1

My Google Slides Final

I briefly mentioned participation in the last paragraph, which I’m going to elaborate more on since it is one of my goals for this year. As I said before, last year participating in class wasn’t my strongest point, but there were two significant times when I felt like I got to voice my thoughts (were also part of my final). The first was when we were discussing the passing of bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act. Since I’m interested in Canadian military/security, this topic was right up my alley. Then we also branched off onto the topic of the difference between FBI and CIA for America, the RCMP and CSIS for Canada, which I also knew, so I was able to actively participate in the conversation. Then the second was when we were discussing the different political parties of Canada, I had independently researched some information just for the sole purpose of being able to participate. So this year, i want to try to participate at least twice per discussion.

This semester i would also like to learn more about the role Women during the American and French revolution. We learned a bit about what they did during Canadian Confederation, but was there a difference in those 100 years between the two? Or was it pretty similar? Another point i’d like to be able to learn about, is about the military in the day, the role they served in the day, as well as some of the prominent  wars fought it the time. Then being able to occasionally discuss current events (American Presidential elections) like we did last year, would be we engaging to do.


The Big Idea I chose is:

“Disparities In Power Alter The Balance Of Relationships Between Individuals And Between Societies”

After learned about Confederation last year, as well as Columbus recently, I can tell that there is a general theme that plays into a lot of the major and significant events. Power, title and wealth, which is what Big Idea #3 is about, and a concept id like to focus on while learning this year.  Even though we just learned about Columbus and what he did, good and bad (who am i kidding, its basically all bad), we can already see the pattern of how power, wealth and title can be huge motivators, and the drive for why things are done. The reason Columbus went back to North America in the first place, was to get gold, take it back and get his reward of money and a title. I think that also with this Big Idea, doing things like the role playing would really bring a lot of the points to light, as there would be discussions between characters of different power.


In terms of Howard Zinn and Columbus, we’ve only been back to school for a week, and i can honestly say i already feel so much more knowledgeable and educated about Christopher Columbus and the Spaniards, just from a few classroom discussions. It’s kind of a weird idea that you can learn so much from ultimately, doing pretty little, just talking. If i think back to middle school, it would require getting a lecture, reading a textbook and completing an assignment to get that kind of knowledge out of a class. But the down side of that is we don’t get to learn anything we are interested in, or want to know, which is one of the things I’m looking forward to this semester. A lot of interesting points get brought up during classroom discussions,  which can generate some pretty deep questions. I’m a big fan of “chain reaction” type questions, so the one i brought up in class the other day was “What would today’s world and society look like if Columbus hadn’t come to America?”. If Columbus hadn’t done what he had, what would that have caused?  Would another empire have discovered America? What if the Spaniards used more peaceful methods with the Natives? Well never know.

Even though we’ve only been back for a week, i feel like its a good representation of the semester ahead, and can’t wait to see where socials 9 takes us this semester!!!


Exploring the New Curriculum

So far, this new Socials curriculum has been pretty interesting to explore. Compared to the old PLO booklet, I find that this one is categorized and organized nicely so that it is easy to follow. While looking at the Core competency booklet, I tried finding things that I would like to improve based off of what goals I wanted to work on last year. One of my goal was to contribute more to class discussions, which fits into the Social Responsibility Competency and the Communication Competency. Another one of my goals was to take more notes and research more about topics that interest me, which fits into the Personal Awareness and Responsibility Competency. I feel that over the past few classes, I have started improving my work habits since I have been taking notes during the discussions, and even guided one of the class discussions on the Columbus booklet. I would like to continue working on these goals since I feel like I could do better than I did last year.

In terms of the Curricular Competencies, I believe I have explored several of the bullet points mentioned on the page, both personally and as a class. For instance, I “[made] reasoned ethical judgments about controversial actions in the past and present, and whether we have a responsibility to respond” when we discussed the booklet about Columbus and the ‘Indians’. We talked about how society has evolved to understand that what Columbus did to the Arawaks was terrible, and it is not accepted nowadays. Though Columbus day exists, there is controversy to whether or not the day should be celebrated as a holiday. However, it is important that the world does not forget about this event of the past and bury it away in shame, since we must learn from our mistakes in order to build a brighter future. In my Socials Final,  I chose the word ‘progression’ to describe the big idea of Socials 10. Just as we have been discussing this year, no matter how terrible oppression is, it has helped progress the development of society and technology (for instance the iPhone and pyramid  examples).

One of the Curricular Competencies is to “Assess how prevailing conditions and the actions of individuals or groups affect events, decisions, and developments. While learning about Columbus, I began to have questions about how his actions had affected the development of the Americas. I wondered, if the Arawak people had never been so welcoming to the sailors, would the world be different? The Indians outnumbered the Spaniards, so if they had been more aggressive, they may have frightened the Europeans and lessened their chance of taking advantage of them. If the Indians were less “naïve and so free with their possessions” (Pg.3) perhaps Columbus would not find out about the fact that they did not have weapons or iron. This question led me to wonder, what would the Americas look like today if Columbus had never touched the area? Just as we had discussed in class, oppression leads to progression, so what would be different in the world we live in today?

I decided to study the big idea “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.” Last year, we discussed how John A.MacDonald used his position of power in order to create Residential Schools and assimilate the Aboriginal culture. This is similar to the way Columbus took advantage of the Arawak natives. My group and I came up with several quotes from the story that showed evidence of this big idea.  I have kept the notes as a hard copy to look back to for future reference.

During the journal write in class, I wrote down a few things I am interested in learning about before the end of my last TALONS Socials class. Firstly, I would like to learn more about politics since it is not one of my strong areas, despite learning a lot about it last year. I would also like to learn about geography since I have struggled with it since Elementary school. Reading about Columbus has also interested me in learning more about oppression and places that have been affected by a difference in levels of power. Overall, I am excited to learn more this year in Socials 9.

New areas to explore – In Depth week 10

So, for most of Spring Break I was in Cuba, with the school music department. The cool thing about Cuba is that, because of the US embargo, they are forced to re-use or maintain a lot of their old technology and materials; for example, the Cuban cars. In Cuba, each family has one car that may have been passed down for generations. The car bodies are from the mid 1900s, but they have newer motors and car parts inside. Going to Cuba let me experience a lot more recycled art, which has led me to find some international concepts about recycled art.

  1.  Conservation
    1.  The item is made with something used or destined for the trash. The item can be used for the same purpose as before, or a new purpose. For example, the car bodies were still cars, but I also saw hats made out of old pop cans. The concept is to give the object/material a second life.
  2.  Art/aesthetic
    1. The driving idea being recycled art: trash for one person can be beauty to another. Finding aesthetic value in trash requires imagination and a willingness to try new things.
  3. Awareness
    1. Recycled art is often used to raise awareness for the “throw-away” mindset we have in more fortunate countries, or the damage caused by the objects we throw away.
  4.  Value
    1. Recycled art is meant to be of equal or greater value than it originally was, whether as an art piece or something practical, like a bag or candlestick.
  5. The technical skill concept
    1. There is a lot of technical skill required for this! Multi-media art requires a lot of broad knowledge about materials and their properties, and delicacy in putting them together.
My desk + some materials for my jellyfish!

Some more specific things I learned was that recycled art is mostly about technical things, such as shaping and holding objects. It is very important to find objects with the right physical properties – or, create your project around your materials if you don’t have time to search for the perfect material. Wire is very useful, because it holds it shape and can be bent into whatever you need. Flimsy plastics, like plastic wrap and plastic bags, are also useful because they are easy to drape over things and are usually transparent or translucent. An alternative I explored with my mentor was crushing and balling up soft plastics to use the fluffy, layered look they have. Though I didn’t have many other options, I think my mentor has been a really good fit for me. Her background in painting, multi-media art, and practically anything art-related makes it a really good relationship between her and I, because she has a ton of knowledge and experience about a wide range of things – from how to cut plastic to building up paper-mache. Another mentor may have been able to help me go more in-depth in a specific area, like working with paper or metal, but I think that the rag-tag assortment of materials I have fits best with my current mentor.

Other than coming up with alternatives and suggesting them, I ask my mentor for alternatives.For example, when attaching my ribbons to my jellyfish, I discussed many different alternatives with my mentor. I brought up the issue of keeping the tentacles to the outside of the jellyfish, and together, we generated these options:

  1. Placing a balled-up plastic bag in the center of the jelly (similar to crinoline on a skirt)
  2. Attaching tentacles from the top of the jelly to the outer edges (like a tent)
  3. Placing a small plastic cone inside the jelly (wouldn’t be as messy as the bag, but less puffy)
  4. Using a little glue on the inside of the jelly to hold the tentacles in place
Hole-punches for tentacles.
Tentacles (made w/ wrapping paper)

The great thing about generating so many alternatives is that you can pick the best parts of each option and incorporate them. For instance, I’m attaching the tentacles to the outer edges to make it more decorative, but I’m putting a little cone (top of a water bottle) inside the jelly to hold the tentacles to the sides of the jelly. This leaves the inside of the jelly still relatively uncluttered, so it won’t get tangled in transport. It also makes it easier to arrange the tentacles, because they don’t have to be glued down.

DSCF2851Now that we’re about halfway through the project, I need to look at my progress. Looking back, I realize that finding a mentor so late into my project has slowed me down a bit. DSCF2856To make up for it, I’m dedicating an hour on Wednesdays to working on In-Depth each week. I’m 3/4 done my jellyfish, and a little over halfway done my space junk mobile. I had two other projects I wanted to do before May. One was in accordance with my Environmental issue project, and represented BC’s power system – A sculpture using plugs and a light bulb attached to a fish. DSCF2858Often, people don’t realize that although hydro-power is renewable, it still has environmental effects that need to be mitigated. The other was a hot air balloon candle-holder. My idea was to make a candle-holder out of the metal cans and wire I have in the shape of a hot air balloon, but I would need help cutting and shaping the metal from my mentor. I definitely want to make the first one, but the second one I think I will leave out of my plans until I’ve finished everything else. From seeing the little trinkets in the Cuban tourist shops, I realized I could also easily make with my strange collection of materials was a wind chime, if I have time. But I already have enough to work on.

For the new few sessions, I’m going to focus on my jellyfish to get it done, and begin work on the hydro-power sculpture in my own time. Looking back, I realize that finding a mentor so late into my project has slowed me down a bit. To make up for it, I’m dedicating an extra hour on Wednesdays to working on In-Depth each week.

In-Depth Week 5: How to be Interesting

Welcome to In-Depth Week 5!

What’s new: A space junk mobile in-the-making, milk carton jellyfish (dedicated to Jeanie, of course), and… mentor contacts?

So, I’m a little behind for this post because on Saturday I was at the Zero Waste Leadership Clinic! It was a lot of fun, and I got to meet a lot of really cool people. I also hear there’s a clean energy clinic in the works, which I’m excited for because of my research project… But, back to the main subject. I got to meet the amazing Micheal Hall during this clinic, and I used some of the “How to be Interesting” tactics to make the most of the short time we had. The most important thing I took away from talking to him was that, even though this may take a lot of time, the best thing to do is to just go for it, and make stuff. One thing he said that I really connected to was falling in love with the material. He uses plastic sheets, bags and Styrofoam in his photos, and when describing how he loved the dirty, gross texture of the plastic when left out in the rain. After spending five weeks on this project, I can see what he’s talking about. The milky, translucent milk jug quickly becomes a jellyfish. The red and tan wheels from kinetic become the dusty surfaces of mars, the gaseous storms of Jupiter.  More pictures in a week or so. Promise.

A lone picture offering... I'm thinking of making this a mobile!
A lone picture offering…
I’m thinking of making this a mobile!
Courtesy of Me
Close-up on space junk surrounding Earth, courtesy of Me

Did you know that  the space junk problem we have will only get worse as time goes on? The junk currently orbiting our Earth crashes into other space junk and creates tiny, high speed fragments of debris. Contrary to what I would assume, smaller fragments still mean considerable danger to ships; even tiny flecks of paint can cause considerable erosion on the outside of spacecraft. Windshields and windows are especially susceptible to this.


Anyhow, this week’s topic of discussion is how to be interesting. Although the people I’ve been contacting about mentorship haven’t been able to find any artists to mentor me, they’ve come up with a few ideas and two mentor contacts I can pursue. We’ve been doing a lot of emailing back and forth, and while I realize that this isn’t a great replacement for talking in person, I think I’ve been able to incorporate some of the tactics Edward De Bono mentions. For instance, during my emails, I explored the idea of wearable recycled art . Port Moody is having a competition for Wearable Arts, and the awards are being given out this February.  I’m keeping my eye out for the cool ideas I’m sure will be portrayed, but I also know that the materials I have are not suited, nor high enough in number, to cover a person’s body. So I don’t think wearable art will be much help. The Zero Waste Leadership Clinic I attended on Saturday also held opportunities to share personal stories, facts and figures to further engage in the conversations we were having. As we discussed the dangers of one-use plastics, one thing that Mr. Hall said at the clinic really stuck with me: ” You could be buying a gelato, and you know those little plastic spoons that come with your ice cream? Well, you drop that on the ground when you’re done, and boom! One thousand years.” What he meant by this was that plastic took 1,000 years to naturally degrade, but the way he brought this fact into the conversation certainly made it more interesting, and more tangible. One instance in which I modified an idea to make it more acceptable to me was when emailing about mentorship. It was suggested I attend the Port Moody Wearable Art Awards, but as it is a little bit expensive, as no one else in my family would like to go, and as I most likely would not be able to talk to the artists (it is a performance and awards ceremony), I decided to check out some of the other options I had, and check back on the pictures and artists when the event was over. This way, I can still see if there are any artists whom I could talk to about mentorship, but I can devote my time and my family’s time to other priorities. In my case, I hope to finish a project around the same time the Wearable Art Awards are going on.

Which leads me to my next dilemna: I need bracelet clasps and chains. Unfortunately, these things are only tossed out when they break, which renders them unusable to me, so I’m going to have to buy them. Because the whole point of this project was to reduce waste, I really don’t want to buy anything. Right now I only need one clasp and a piece of crafting wire, so I’m going to check out Urban Source, which is a store in Vancouver that sells art materials that would have otherwise been thrown out. For example, they take film, leather scrap, cardboard, and lots of other materials that have been discarded by manufacturers. Now, their stock changes all the time, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find what I need. If I can’t, then I’ll have to buy things the regular way, either from the dollar store or Micheal’s. However, hopefully when I go over there I’ll be able to find what I need and snoop around about their workshop sessions – you can book instructional workshops, but seeing as it’s just me, I might just see what tips I can get from talking to the people at the store.


I’ll probably post again this week/ weekend with pictures of what I’ve been up to. See you next time on In-Depth 2015.

In -Depth Week 3: The Search Continues

So, in my previous post, I stated that I wanted to have a mentor by, well, last Sunday. Today and yesterday,I got emails back from the two people I had contacted about a week an a half ago. Unfortunately,the artist I emailed is in the process of moving houses, and the other person I emailed was part of an organization that may be able to help me find artists. As part of my plan, I went to a local drop-in class about recycled art; however, not only did I find there was no there who could mentor me, I also found that I was the only one who showed up! What a weird experience I had, standing alone in a huge, open art hall making a mason-jar lantern. I’m going to a leadership clinic in February, whee I may have the chance to talk to a recycled artist doing a presentation. So, I’m going to follow up with the emails and keep searching for artists. However, I’m thinking of asking one of my friends if their parents could help me out, because I know someone who dabbles in jewelry.

Because of the above reasons, it’s a little difficult for me to answer our on how to agree, how to disagree, and how to differ. These questions will be answered more in-depth when I’m able to speak with my mentor (or really, any recycled artist). For now, I will answer as much as possible. I cannot say anything of how I have disagreed , agreed or differed with my mentor, but I can speculate that the most challenging part of this process will be to find a balance between my ideas and what is within my ability to do. For example, I have many metal objects that I would like to use in my work, but I currently don’t have the tools or knowledge to shape and work with this material. Thus, I probably will not be agreeing or disagreeing with my mentor about much, but rather trying to intake as much new knowledge as possible. I think my questions would mostly be how-to questions, which, though open-ended fishing questions, are still rather specific. The most important part will be communicating to my mentor exactly what I want to do. For this, I’ll need to have a solidly thought-out idea in my mind, and be very descriptive of what I want the end product to be like. Another important thing to consider is suggestions from my mentor. I will not agree blindly with everything my mentor suggests, but I may ask questions to understand why they are making the suggestion, and better understand what they mean. However, seeing as my mentor will be more experienced and able than I am, I will consider all of my possibilities before coming to a decision with my mentor. This should make it easier to work with my mentor, and certainly easier to communicate effectively. Now I just need to find a mentor!

Below are some pictures of the stuff I’ve gathered over the past two weeks for this project. It’s mostly come from my own house, although there are several materials that the TALONS program allowed me to use from previous years of Kinetic Art. When taking stock of what I had, I put a couple pieces together just to see what it would look like, and came up with a couple of ideas. Maybe I can develop them into full-fledged works of art over the next month.

The man in the moon. (showerhead piece and misc. plactic circle) I don’t really know what I’m doing here… maybe this can become something about space junk?
This looks kind of like an owl… if you squint. Medium: Plastic casing, pop can, and face of a lock.
A…vase? made from a wine bottle? And old electric plugs? I think it was mostly just cool to see the translucent nature of the wine bottle.
This photo came out a lot better than expected, it’s basically just a bunch of lids in a metal container, but because the lids aren’t perfectly centered inside each other, it looks kinda cool.
The full extent of my haul – I will be using the above materials over the next few months. This stuff will be saved from the landfills!

Leadership 11: Myth Bustin’!

Questions from John C. Maxwell’s “360 Degree Leader”

1. Discuss if people need to possess the top title in order to achieve results and help others become productive.

People definitely don’t need to possess the top title in order to achieve results and help others become productive. For example, in my band class, I don’t have an authoritative position (heck, I’m not even one of the best flute players), but I help out my section by making sure the people near me know what piece we’re about to play, or what the proper fingering for a trill is. By doing this, I help others become more productive and achieve the result of a better-sounding flute section. There’s a saying that goes, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something”, and it relates to this because even if you’re not at the top level, doing the little something you have to offer can make a big difference to the group!


2. How can you reshape your thinking and habits to better display the characteristics of a leader?

Becoming a better leader isn’t really something you can just pick up on the side, and call into play whenever you need it. To be a leader, you have to display the characteristics and think like a leader all the time, until it becomes part of you and you are a leader, whether you are required to be or not.
I would like to change my thinking to be more critical, and more open. Whenever I am planning something, I need to ask myself “Is there another way to do this? What are the challenges that I might face, and how could my group and I meet them?” I also need to let go of the control-freak side of me. I sometimes try to take on too much of a project on myself, and forget that I can ask for help, and let other people take ownership for parts of a project. I need to reshape my thinking from, “I need to do this” to “We need to do this” and then make a decision with my group about how to divide up our task. Some habits I would like to form are:

  • Take initiative
  • Involve other people
  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Empower other people and give leadership opportunities to people in my group
  • Help and encourage others and build relationships with the people
  • “Question the Quo” by bringing relevant but fresh perspectives and ideas to the table. Always ask – is there another way to do this?
  • Be proactive
  • Ask for group opinions and perspectives
  • Check in with group members

3. What prompts you to follow someone else?

I follow people that I trust. If I trust someone’s judgement, and I have faith in their ability to distinguish the best course of action, I am inclined to follow them. Secondly, the person’s character plays a role in whether or not I would follow them. Their values and morals define to what extent I would be willing to follow them. Third, after getting to know the leader, their ideas and opinions and how much I agree them would affect whether or not I continued to follow them. In addition to this would be seeing how the leader responds under pressure or in the face of a challenge. If they are able to maintain the main focus of the group without sacrificing their values/morals, I will be able to make a judgement on whether or not I will keep following and supporting them in the future. The better I get to know the leader, the clearer it will become whether I will follow them or have to re-discuss the leadership of the group.


4. What factors should chairs of a committee take into consideration before making a decision?

Before making a decision, committee chair need to take into account the resources we currently have, the schedules of the class members and facilitators, the needs of the class and facilitators (such as allergies or injuries), other committees, and whether or not the decision fits into the big picture and forwards the class’ goals.
For example, in the practice committee, when setting up practice hikes last year, we considered that we had first aid kits and people would bring their own hiking shoes and packs. W considered the schedules of MS. Mulder and our hike leaders when planning the dates of the hikes. We made note of the people with health concerns and made sure that they were prepared to deal with whatever might happen. We discussed with the program committee what intensity the trip hikes would be, and thus what we needed to work up to in practice. Lastly, we made sure that these practices would help us perform well on the adventure trip.


5. To whom do the chairs in the committee answer?

The chairs answer to their group members, because they need to lead them fairly and listen to their opinions. They answer to their co-chair, because they each need to do their part and make sure the other is on track. They answer to the rest of the class, for taking care of the part they chose to do and keeping in mind what is best for the class. Lastly, the chairs have to answer to themselves. Have you done your best? Is this something you can be proud of? The chairs have a responsibility to themselves for their personal fulfillment and development.


6. What are you capable of achieving? What would reaching your potential look like?

I think each person has a limitless potential, constrained by the amount of time we have until we die. Strangely enough, we don’t know how long we’ll live, so I don’t think we ever really know the true limits of our potential. Right now, I’m capable of being a middle leader and finishing grade ten and many other things, but in the future, perhaps I will be capable of bringing about world peace! Or the model plan for an entirely sustainable city that could be implemented with little cost, or maybe do something as simple as instate unisex bathrooms in schools to improve conditions for people who don’t fall into the categories of “male” or “female”, or may not look like the “norm” for the gender they identify as.
To be a little less vague, I think I am capable of becoming capable of anything I want, and to me, reaching my potential would be leaving the world a little better than it was when I came into it.


7. The reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. Does that mean they should just give up leading altogether? Discuss.

Just because you’re not CEO, doesn’t mean you can’t lead in your job. By leading from the middle, you can influence people (including higher-ups) without needing to be the top level person. Plus, you can always lead in other aspects of your life! For example, you could lead in a volunteer group, or start a local club. There are so many ways to lead and exert influence on people to fix problems, streamline processes, and bring your goals into fruition.

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Intro to In-Depth: Recycled Art

And so In -Depth begins again!

This year I’m pretty excited for what I’m going to do. In fact, it took me a really long time to get this post up because every time I went looking for a picture I got distracted by all of the cool recycled art on the web.

Joe Pogan’s Recycled Art, courtesy of his website gallery (

So, what’s recycled art?

It’s basically taking old stuff, and making art out of it.

This is sometimes known as “Upcycling.”


verb (used with object), upcycled, upcycling.

1. to process (used goods or waste material) so as to produce something that is often better than the original:

ex. “I upcycled a stained tablecloth into curtains.”
I want to do this because,well, who doesn’t want to learn how to make cool stuff? Plus, not only will I be making artwork, I’ll be helping raise awareness about the environment and reducing the waste I produce! I’ve been interested in scrap bits and pieces from a young age, and any of my friends can tell you that I carry around rubber bands, a broken combination lock and taken-apart pens in my pencil case for whenever I get bored. I’m just taken with the idea that scrap junk can become beautiful works of art, which really makes me wonder about how humans place value on objects. If that bird sculpture was given to me as a Christmas present still in the form of a bunch of nails and screws, I wouldn’t consider it as special as the sculpture above. But it’s the same stuff! Isn’t that weird?
The “how” of the project is where it starts to get complicated. I’ll take used materials, and combine them using glue, string or soldering tools (if I get access to them)to make art. I want to make sculpture pieces and one or two pieces of jewellery. There’s tons of awesome stuff being done with really small, simple sculpture.
Matthew Bartik’s flatware Recycled Fork Musicians.
Recycled insect sculpture by Justin Gershenson Gates
 I will obviously collect spare pieces of scrap metal, electronics, cork, old books, cassette and VHS tapes, or scratched/broken CDs and DVDs. I will also ask friends and family to send me all of their used materials, but I’m not sure how much this will bring. Finding a mentor is a big part of meeting these challenges. I’m hoping my mentor will be able to suggest some good places to find materials and, if possible, I will also contact someone who does metalworking to learn about soldering metal sculpture. So my needs are materials, a mentor with experience in sculpture, soldering tools, and an instructor who can teach metal soldering.When I searched for local resources and artists, I had a hard time find recycled art specialists, but I did find a free family drop in class about recycled art at Leigh Square, Port Coquitlam. I’m going to attend the first workshop there on Jan. 15 if all goes well, so I might be able to talk to the supervisor of that class about possible mentors. In the meantime, I’ll continue looking for a mentor.

My timeline goals are to complete a project a month, roughly. I’ll attend the workshop at Leigh Square after school, as it runs every second week starting Jan. 15th until the end of March. Coming up soon is my mentor-finding. I want to have found a mentor by Jan. 18, about a week from now. I’ve found many independent artists who do recycled art, but most of them live quite far away from here – the one Canadian artist I found lived in Ontario! But I still have a lot of searching to do.


In-depth posts update every week, so check next week to see if I’ve found a mentor and see some design sketches!

Final Speech Draft (Document of Learning)

So, as many of the tens know by now, the speech you present is constantly shifting and evolving up until the moment you finally present it onstage. After three days of memorization, and slight changes, and adding parts because “it felt right”, I ended up presenting a slightly different version of my last Eminent Person speech in TALONS onstage last night.

Okay. Close your eyes and imagine you’re sitting in a squeaky red folding chair. In front of you is a stage, lit in the center with a spotlight. Around you are parents, teachers and students in similar red creaky folding chairs that are really quite uncomfortable after a while. Then someone dashes on stage from behind the curtain, sporting a large afro. And they speak:

“They’re coming for me.
The FBI’s “Wanted” posters read “Angela Davis”, but sometimes the picture is another black woman, unrelated to me except for our common oppressor. And what does this tell me? I’m just a stock photo that can be swapped out for the hundreds of others like me.
They don’t see me as a person. They see me as a problem. Well, the real problem is much bigger than me.
My hometown was bombed because of its black residents, my neighbours were beaten and stabbed for sending their black kids to a white public school. America may have abolished slavery, but racism still persists.
Oh, America: (Pause) the land of the free and the brave. We sure as hell aren’t free, but we are brave. Brave enough to see that this justice system is wrong. It discriminates anyone who isn’t white, straight and well-off.
And prison isn’t helping. We are locking up the problem somewhere we can’t see it. We need to rehabilitate these prisoners, not push them under the rug to be forgotten. Those with substance abuse problems, the illiterate, the homeless, the unemployed: these are people too, not just problems.
I’ve been accused of kidnapping and murder. Neither of these charges are true. What I’m really being charged for is my battle to abolish prisons, my struggle to end oppression. I’m being hunted for trying to liberate America.
Until now, I’ve only dared to move at night, going to whichever house will hide me. But I don’t want to run anymore. I have nothing to hide. I’m proud of who I am and what I am trying to do. Yes, I am black! I am a woman! I am a radical thinker! I am Angela Davis, and I am not afraid!”


Looking back at my goals for this project, I learned a lot more about the world from looking into the issues Angela Davis was interested in. As I said in my introductory post, I try to stay updated with the news and current events, but this project brought to light a whole other side of civil rights I had never really explored. I think, because racism and slavery are so old, they are often though as overdone or outdated topics. However, racial profiling and discrimination is still a huge problem in the justice system today, even in Canada, and it’s not being talked about! It really surprised me that, as we all have to learn about different government systems and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in school, I’ve heard nothing about prisoner’s rights and how law enforcement is supposed to be done.  As there is very little research done about incarceration by race, I needed to go to many different websites to verify and collect all the information I needed for my display piece. That display piece is now the most comprehensive piece of data I have about American incarceration by race, which is cool because it has more information than the Wikipedia article section!

So I feel like I met or exceeded my goals for research/synthesizing information and discovering new interests. Similarly, I ended up talking to my classmates about their people and opinions, which was very engaging. Each person had so much to offer about their passions, ideas, and personalities. As we got closer and closer to Eminent night, I also think the grade tens grew closer and closer to each other, in a network of mutual support and trust. As a result, we lead and guided each other to that stage last night, where our Eminent people came to life once more. Being a part of the Eminent experience, and working alongside my peers to make the most of the night, I worked towards my IEP goal of leadership.

And now Eminent is coming to a close. We are reflecting, and blogging, and doing self-assessments. Am I going to come to Night of the Notables next year? I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Now I am excited to see what the grade nines will do, and how they will carry forth this TALONS tradition. Seeing the grade 11s at NotN reminded me that, even though Eminent is over for this year, I can come back time and again to see it continue on.

#Eminent2014 in Motion


The passage of autumn into winter in the TALONS classroom is marked by the arrival of the Eminent Person Study and culminating Night of the Notables. And while there is a great deal of tradition and meaning transmitted down through years to the current group of students undertaking the project, the chain of cultural transmission is captured in the chorus of individual goals, reflections in progress, and documents of learning blogged as the project unfolds.

While everyone fulfills the same few tenants of the study, the learning that takes place – collectively and individually – is largely a personal affair, one that is handed down from year to year in links and digital portfolios. And as the individual lessons of the study accumulate, so does the culture at the heart of the TALONS classroom congregate in RSS and digital artifacts.

Thus we can look back in the Notable class of 2009 astride our own, with Saskia’s learning center, one which still resonates today:

I left out postcards for people to write to Zahra Kazemi’s son: Stephan Kazemi. These I made from her photographs as a reference to the postcards she herself created (mentioned above). I wanted them addressed to her son for several reasons. By having people write about what they thought of Zahra Kazemi, I was honouring his mother and his own struggle to find justice for her. At the same time, it also showed him just how much his help made a difference to my project. Eleven people ended up writing postcards and I hope that when Stephan Kazemi receives them, they will make him very happy.

The sentiments of Raiya, a year later, looking back on her turn under the lights, echoes in this the fall of 2014:

Night of the Notables left me awestruck, amazed, and inspired. I realized that all my pre-N.O.T.N. stress was well worth the great moments that came with it. For me, some of the more memorable moments of the night were the ten minutes we were all getting a pep talk from Mr. J, the five minutes we were all singing the same familiar notes of “Don’t Stop Believing”, and those three seconds of dead silence after your speech, followed by the thunderous cheers from your classmates. The energy from that night will stick with us our entire life.

The TALONS newly departed, too, leave their thoughts to frame this year’s experience:

Slide11I always get the most peculiar tickling sensation in my tummy after late nights with TALONS. I don’t know if it’s those shooting stars or the fact that these late nights are way past my bedtime, but it’s always a rather homey feeling that curls around my chest when we join hands, all tired and warm from the long day.

But each of these predecessors merely sets the stage for the voices that are lent to this chorus across the TALONS blogs this fall. Newly migrated to a new domain – - each of the blogs is collected and syndicates in a steady feed of interviews, and speech drafts, and learning center floorplans. The results represent a new generation’s perspective on a timeless aspect of the program, which by changing stays the same.

And so this year we’ve been able to travel with Julia to SFU, and glimpse the individual learning on a field trip to a local university:

Before events happen, I usually have this weird distorted vision of20141030_101631 (1)what will happen. On this trip, I had some educational expectations and such. Something I really wanted to get as much as I could of was experience. Experiences are as valuable as any research, and going to an environment I hope to return to as a university student, I hoped to absorb as much as possible. Some aspects of the buildings themselves were how they were all made of cement. It made for a quite gloomy yet professional feel, and looked quite impressive from a distance. It would feel great to walk across the serene pond, down the massive steps, and graduate. There was also a pyramid in a clearing that could only be the pyramid of life, and I questioned it no further. Experiences demand to be felt, and I was entranced.

We’re introduced to fellow grade nine Emma M’s look back on her speech, and see the evolution of the draft(s) that brought her there:

Oh eminent speeches.

I have written many speeches, however I always stress about them and slightly go crazy yet end up finishing with flying colours. People say I’m a good public speaker, and I think that I’m good at it, just when I get up to speak I don’t know if it’s nerves or adrenaline running through my veins. As well, once I finish the speech I don’t speak for a while because all I’m thinking is “Wow, I just did that.”

Sensing the permanence of the blogged reflection, by taking stock of her grade nine speech Nazlie offers some advice to her future self:

I presented my speech on monday, which I am really proud of myself for. I’m usually not the best with public speaking, but I feel like I did pretty well and I am less nervous to present in front of groups of people, especially the classroom. I think I have a pretty good technique for staying calm whilst presenting now, which is something extremely useful that I have gotten out of this project so far. However, I have miserably failed to follow through with my goal of time management, I left my speech to be written on the last weekend before I presented. Personally this wasn’t a big problem for the outcome of my speech, but I still believe it would’ve been more efficient for me to have written at least some of it the weekend before. I literally spent 2 weeks brainstorming and then ended up doing something completely different from what I brainstormed. So, Future me, who will probably look back at this post a year from now and feel terribly embarrassed, PLEASE brain storm and do some speech writing on the same day, preferably 3 weeks before NOTN, so then you won’t have to spend all day on Sunday and Saturday before the big day writing your speech based off of brainstorm-notes and then end up realizing, on the 3rd speech you’ve rewritten, that there is a way better POV to use. Please.

While attending to her own project, grade ten Jessica takes the opportunity to shine some light on Nazlie’s speech, as well:

SFU trip with TALONS

I also want to comment on Nazlie’s project. I recently heard her speech on the woman who runs Rookie. It blew me away. During her speech, she didn’t ever really move, using no body language to aid her, however it worked in her favour. I believe this is because her speech was formed as a letter to her eminent person and letters are not often associated with body movement. She caught my eye because she spoke with such passion in a way that was relatable, and because she was talking about body images and the affects society have on us.

But as the project marches on, Alison takes a moment to forecast her goals for Night of the Notables:

Compared to last year, my learning center is not so complex and it occupies more space. Also, visitors will have to directly converse with me for information about my person rather than reading off a board or by looking at pictures. Although the idea may be more simple, I think I will be equally or even more busy than last year, but I look forward to it! I hope that this learning center idea will be successful and entertaining on the night of while showing the true eminence of Niccolo Paganini to the guests!

While Lyle shares his interview progress with the Reddit community:

If you recall from last year, my interview requests crashed, burned, asked me to tell their wives they loved her, and then convulsed wildly until their vital signs were zero. I believe this was because I was overly optimistic about securing an interview with my person himself and so did a pretty half-hearted job of seeking interviews from anyone else. In short, I was fishing with a line instead of a net.

This year however, my interview request was fired out to a potential audience of almost 60, 000 people, all who are knowledgeable or at least interested in graffiti. Where did I find such an audience?


Joanna shares her successful interview attempt, as well as her results:

So this year, I was extremely lucky to get an interview on my first try, with none other than Margaret Sanger’s grandson, Alexander Sanger, who also happens to be the Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council.

Talking with Mr. Sanger has really made me feel like I know Margaret Sanger a bit better- questions such as the one I asked about her personality are really going to help me be in character on Night of the Notables, and being able to see this woman from a family members point of view gave me quite a bit of insight on her private life. I also got the chance to learn about some of her lesser known beliefs, and this knowledge prompted me to look into her accomplishments outside of the legalization of contraceptives.

While her sister shares another draft of her speech speech draft, along with the following caveat

The first thing I did for my speech was pretty much a free-write. The free-write is below. I will be posting my speech draft #2, which will actually have a semblance of organization, in a different blog post. The transitions are in bold because I had already decided where I wanted to start and end, so those are parts that won’t change much. You’ll be able to tell that they don’t fit with the free-write, because they were created separately.

Emma F in turn sketches out the broad strokes of her turn as Frida Kahlo:

Although I have chosen not to illustrate a specific ‘snapshot’ moment or event in my speech, I have instead decided to address the concept Frida’s balance of surrealism and reality within her paintings. Although many have labelled her as a surrealist painter, she has incorporated so intimately the realities of her suffering in her work, which makes it difficult to dismiss her paintings as purely imaginative of dream-like. Of course it is necessary to acknowledge that there is a spectrum of realism within her paintings, from her most literal reprentations of people and still life to her most extravagant otherworldy images, but both polar opposites hold meaning and relevance in her life. Thus the ‘surreal’ paintings that she created still were rooted in the very real aspects of her experience.

And Jenny anticipates the Big Night:

Today the grade ten afternoons did a run through of our speeches. The result made me ecstatic! Our. Speeches. Will. Be. Awesome. Glorious. Magnificent. Superb. Spectacular. Terrific… etc. etc.

By Wednesday night, another cohort of grade tens will have passed across the stage which marks their true arrival as the program’s seniors. One of the TALONS pillars will have passed into recent history to be filed among the notables that have gone before, all to act as prelude for the grade nines who will inherit the honour next year.