#Eminent2016: Why Bob? Why Now?

My goal is to try and stick to some sort of chronological ordering of the aging of Dylan in the images used in the creation of this project. Hence, this young shot of Dylan in his Greenwich Village folk days here at the outset of the project, moving toward his more current iterations as the study progresses.

Image courtesy of Rolling Stone.

After almost ten years at the helm of the TALONS annual Eminent Person Study, I decided to conduct my own study alongside this year’s classes. These posts will be collected here. 

Why Bob?

They say everything can be replaced

That every distance is not near

So I remember every face

Of every man that brought me here. 1

For a brief moment when I first thought that I would take on the Eminent Person Study, I initially declared my intentions to study Bruce Springsteen. In recent years my musical tastes and affection has leaned heavily toward the Boss, and I would relish the opportunity to delve deeper into his life and rock catalogue. But with Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize win I’ve been hearing a lot more Bob, reading various responses to his inclusion as the first musician to be awarded with the literary honour, and been coming reacquainted with my first true love (and one of Bruce’s, to boot).

Before Bruce, and Josh, and even Gabriel Garcia Marquez, there was always only Bob.

Why Now?

Image courtesy of Consequence of Sound

An artist has to be careful never to really arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at somewhere. You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming, and as long as you’re in that realm, you’ll sort of be all right. 2

Back when I was in an older version of our district’s gifted program – the forerunner to TALONS that operated at Dr. Charles Best Junior High back as far as the late-nineteen seventies – our teachers would occasionally participate in the major projects with us: studying eminent people, or engaging in-depth studies to sing or sew, and creating their own inquiries, findings and meaning alongside us. This always seemed an exceptional example to me of what life might be as an adult: that we might go on, continuing to strive, and learn, and change markedly into our middle and advanced ages. But we haven’t much made or had the time to engage in these sorts of pursuits as TALONS teachers in recent years.

It’s true, two of us have completed advanced degrees, a PhD and an MEd between us, and we regularly share our personal and professional struggles and triumphs in blog posts and classroom conversations about the nature of lifelong learning and aspiration. But engage in a project directly alongside our students, we have not.

Additionally, TALONS seems to stand somewhat perched at a crossroads in its continued evolution. Having doubled a few years into our run as a two-teacher, twenty eight student cohort, there are now four teachers and nearly sixty students these days, two of them new to the program this fall; we’ve added courses in the senior grades, and are breaking new trails in Adventure Trips, and other aspects of our learning and organization all the time.

As well, I find myself nearly ten years into my career, with just shy of that time spent facilitating the TALONS learning across a variety of subjects. And with so much change arriving in the TALONS world, I feel compelled this year to strike out a little beyond my own comfort zone as an act of solidarity not only with my grade nine and ten students, but my new teaching partners. Our program is a place where adults as well as adolescents are challenged to grow and develop beyond what they may have previously thought  possible, and to be joining such a juggernaut of an ecosystem as ours must be an intimidating prospect.

Hopefully some of this process extends an invitation to them to join the ranks of public learning that makes our program unique, both for what it teaches the young people among us as well as those of us beyond the school.

But… why Bob?

It’s not a good idea and it’s bad luck to look for life’s guidance to popular entertainers. 3 

Around the time I was graduating from university, I had begun to play guitar with the idea that I might be able to expand the scope of my expressive capabilities into music. I would be earning my degree in Creative Writing (with a minor in French and an additional honours thesis on civil society and ideology around a Boy Scout summer camp that I had spent two summers interning for), and had written a roughshod novel during school, along with hundreds of other essays, newspaper columns, letters, and stories. But like Kurt Vonnegut wrote once, “virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician,” I had always been drawn to music, to the images and melodies that lit fires in undiscovered places in myself. And so I set about exploring my existing taste and experience in music through a borrowed acoustic guitar; when I moved home to Vancouver I bought my own and started unpacking the history of popular music from Elvis on forward.

I listened to the Beatles incessantly, and in chronological order. I watched the Anthology documentaries and began to untangle the thread of blues and rock that ran through Elvis, and Chuck Berry, and Johnny Cash. I began to see the tightly woven threads of the culture that connected Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg to Jim Morrison, and back to Robert Johnson. I’d had some experience with each of these threads in isolation: I’d studied the Beats ravenously as an undergraduate; that hasty youthful novel written in my third year bore an inscription from one of Jim Morrison’s poems; and I could talk for hours about the complimentary and divergent aspects of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones’ early aesthetics.

Untitled

Then my dad bought the Martin Scorsese documentary on Dylan, No Direction Home, and everything became obsolete. Here was the Rosetta Stone to synthesize and decode the American spirit that unified the story I’d been untangling for years. Here was an artist who defied category or classification, who by the time you had decided what to call him had morphed into something else entirely, who seemed to know his own voice and gifts so well for never claiming to understand them so much as he would never cease to explore their potential. With Dylan there were no lines, no titles, no boundaries, and I wanted that for myself.

I wanted, as I still do, to find what my vision and voice can see and say: to expand beyond what I’ve previously thought possible, and to create new ways of being for others to follow, which is Why Bob, Why Now.

  1.  “I Shall Be Released”
  2. No Direction Home
  3. Songwriters on Songwriting

Reflecting on the Chaos of Life

A provocative question is one that provokes thought and discussion. It’s a question that can take a long time, to a lifetime to answer. Some of the questions I have been thinking of are:

  • Who decides the social norms?

All of our lives have been dictated by rules or “social norms”. Don’t wear socks and sandals, only girls can cry and there is a great divide between the “popular kids” and the “unpopular kids”. Why? Who decides these things? Is it someone in particular?

  • Do we see color in the same way as each other?

Since we were toddlers we’ve been told the sky is blue, grass is green and a fire truck is red. But is what’s red to me red to you? We can’t describe a color, only say its name. So what looks green to me, you may call purple. It’s a strange thought, but totally plausible.

  • What makes a person a person?

Say an animal (Most likely a chimp) evolved to speak, think, have good judgement and somehow become a model citizen is it a person? It may not be human but if it has all the characteristics one. It could be labelled as discrimination no more justifiable than racism to say this chimp isn’t a person.

  • Could the world have been made yesterday?

We all know about the Big Bang, but when did it actually happen? Billions of years ago, or just minutes ago? The universe could very well have been created yesterday and the atoms arranged in our minds in a way that gave us all memories and a world history. Pretty outlandish I know, but an interesting concept to think of.

  • Do we decide to be introverted or extroverted, or does it just happen?

We all know about introverts and extroverts, but here’s a question: are we born that way or do we decide what we are? Maybe from a young age we decide we either like/dislike being around people and that’s what decides our future.

  • If I grew up in isolation how would I be different?

If I grew up in a small empty room (Ignoring the fact I need food and water) how would I be different? Would I desire company even though I don’t know of anyone like me. I wouldn’t know how to talk, or create images in my mind. Life wouldn’t be life at all!

  • What if we had no emotions?

If we couldn’t feel love, hate, sadness, happiness or shame life would have no meaning! We wouldn’t feel the need for knowledge, friends or good health. What would we do all day if we had no aspiration? It’s unimaginable

  • How different is life in other dimensions?

Life is riddled with choices, but what if we made the wrong one? In another universe I might live in New York, I might be an only child, I might be a girl! It’s so interesting to think of all of the different versions if ne that there are out there.

These questions are very interesting, and some daunting to try to answer. But of all of these questions this last one is my favorite:

  • What past event had the most effect on my present life?

This is kind of a tricky question. A myriad of decisions by myself, my parents, my friends and even strangers have been made which brought me to this point in my life. For example if I had not gone to a certain preschool I wouldn’t have met my friend Lauren whose mom told my mom about Rochester Elementary. So I wouldn’t have been in french immersion and probably wouldn’t have applies for TALONS.

In the NBC comedy “Community” there was an episode playing with the idea of alternate timelines. The main character Jeff rolled a dice to see who would go downstairs to get the pizza. They showed us what happened in all six timelines. The end products of each situation were drastically different. In one timeline two characters realized they were in love and in another timeline one character died, one lost an arm and one went insane. It’s crazy to think that just because you rolled a 4 instead of a 1 your life could be completely ruined.

Now, back to the original question. What event had the most effect on my life? I don’t think I can answer that now or ever.

“Chaos already dominates enough of our lives. The universe is an endless, raging sea of randomness. Our job isn’t to fight it but to weather it together on the raft of life. A raft held together by those few, rare, beautiful things that we know to be predictable.”

I love this quote from that episode of Community I mentioned earlier. We will never make the best decisions, and we will never be able to ensure our future because everything we say, do or think has the potential to change someone’s life for better or for worse. But even through all of this unpredictability we will always know some things are for sure. I know I will always be curious, I know I will always love to learn. Those few predictable things are what drives us.

Now here’s a question to think about; what drives you? What can you do to make the most out of this chaos which we call life?

What’s Up In Politics? The Sky? – Political Narrative Doc. of Learning

The past few weeks in class we have been discussing some of the, shall we say, broadcast narratives in current Canadian politics. The four main areas we have been trying to fit these down into are economy, government, identity, and geography, which includes all resource, land, and environment issues. I find the different angles presented of these narratives by the four main parties, heading into this 2016 election, all very interesting however one particularly intrigues me because of my interest in the topic.

Geography, specifically the environment, is an issue that I am very passionate about and I have a strong opinion about how certain issues should be treated both in B.C., Canada, and the world surrounding this topic. For these reasons, I am intrigued as to how the different parties narrate the environment discussion and curious as to what they present to the public about their cause towards it.

Straightforward and bluntly, the Conservative website does not show any signs of care or thought towards the environment, in ads and campaigns the issue  is noticeably not present, only occasionally do they bring it up when discussing the economy’s effect and impact from pipelines such as the Kinder Morgan, Keystone, and Northern Gateway. Their three main sections under their ‘Where We Stand‘ heading show no mention of the health of our planet.

The NDP, current opposition party, don’t appear to have geographical focuses as a main point of interest or value either. Though their policy book, when found, is highly detailed and comprehensive, it doesn’t have any direct mention of the environment specifically or current issues surrounding it. However, some small glimpses of care and thought can be found in multiple other policies, but nothing of significant value.

The Liberals are the only of the three main parties to show a greater care for the environment and the ones who seem more attentive to it and its issues in this changing world. A recent series of Tweets and Facebook posts present Justin  Trudeau’s recent visit to the West Coast and the former Kitsilano coast guard station as a large act towards care of the environment. Upon further investigation, the backing of this case is that the removal of the coast guard greatly reduced the rate of reaction to a spill  or disaster in the marine area.

Nonetheless, the act of reacting is still not the act of preventing, or improving, which it appears there is no major action for the Liberals to uphold if they were to gain significant power. ‘Energy and the Environment‘ is the third third of six headings on the Liberal website, but upon viewing this page and identifying their views on issues, it seems they have other underlying values that in certain cases override their worry and true mindset for protecting the environment, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline.

This leaves only one other main party, outside the big three but still highly relevant, that truly presents this as their leading narrative and focus for the future of our country. Not only that, but the only party who truly shows a real worry and alarm for the worthy issues that are present in our society today.

It is not a surprise that what’s up for the Green Party, is the sky: our atmosphere, our earth, our environment. One out of their nine main categories under their ‘Our Vision‘ heading on their website focuses solely on “Solving the Climate Crisis“, but additionally, almost all of their other values incorporate and include their respect and responsibility for the environment and its current and evermore pressing issues.

The Green Party’s focus is obviously bringing a voice to an invaluable circle of life in the very land and ‘environment’ that we live, but this offer is more than just needed in today’s society. If the other parties are not willing to sacrifice, let a lone side with, the values of our Earth itself, then it becomes all the more important for the voice to become louder, in the people, and in the party. For this to occur, people need to take a chance, just like the other parties. Our Earth’s nature and life has taken a chance on human’s since the beginning of our very civilization, can we not respect it in the slightest and put but a small thought into our own future with it.

For these reasons, the Green party has the best values and support focusses for our future in terms of geography narratives, as they have consistently shown actions and greater support in putting a foot forward on the path to a healthier planet.

To close, speaking from a more literal point of view, if we don’t have an Earth to stand on, what good is anything else? If we cannot physically walk, or drive, or take other modes of transportation, to a store because it is flooded with water, what good is our money to buy our groceries? What will our ‘resources’ be when they are filled with toxins? Where will our children live, when there is no land to live on? I think the Green party has their priorities right for our ‘future’, as it is referenced:  life first, liberties later.

99 years of Wisdom in 99 seconds

A quote from the times when I still walked the earth. Recent events have left me dizzy – not from the fast-paced changes we are going through, but from constantly rolling in my grave. In this year of the confederation of Canada, I am now 54 years dead. If I still lived, I would be 99 years old – older than most of my audience, save you, Mr. Issac Brock, and perhaps a few others.

If you have never listened to me before, now is the time to change your ways. What I am about to say has no effect on me, in the Spirit World, but every effect on you and the growing nation of Canada. Let us put aside our past disputes for a moment.

Canada is a land of many resources. You have no doubt discovered this. The mining by Trois-Rivieres and the coal deposits show as much. The logging of the eastern forests show as much. The crushed rock and mineral debris leaching into the delta shows as much. If you continue this, the land will not be full of resources forever. This is an early warning. You are at the start of your nation, and have it in your power to build a country that protects not only its people, but its land from being destroyed.

Some would say I have been defeated, now that the Pan-Aboriginal Confederation has been shot down. But I am a warrior, and a warrior is never defeated. I once said, “Prepare a noble death song for the day you go over the Great Divide”. Well, this is my death song, and I hope it echoes for years after I am gone.

I thought only the Aboriginals could take care of this land. Prove me wrong! Mr, MacDonald, I have never wanted to be wrong more than this. I must fulfill my duty to my people, this land…and I suppose, our nation. European Canadians – do not let this new land die in your hands. By forming this nation, you have taken responsibility for the country. You most of all, Mr.MacDonald. Make good on your promises. Provide not just equality but fairness to the Canadian people! Aboriginals were once the majority race here. One day, the English may become a minority as well. We cannot afford to misuse our resources, be it governmental power or precious minerals.

Find alternative ways to develop your technology. Return everything back to the way you found it, instead of leaving tailings in the river. Talk to the Aboriginals, who know this land and all its secrets. Work with them, and follow their advice to look after it. I want to see this country prosper, and become great. Please do what I could not in my lifetime, and protect the land you have.

These are my last words before I leave on the great journey, to the land in the stars. No more will I speak with you, as I do in this temporary spirit state. I go to join my ancestors. Heed my advice, or pay the price – the choice is left to you. Remember me, and learn from the mistakes I suffered. Live to be proud of your deeds even after you have died, and my life will not have been in vain.

Mapping Out (British North) America

I really like historical maps. Especially the one that Fiona added to the resource library, where you can click on different dates to see the changes in state or country boundary lines.

Courtesy of Canadian Historical Maps
Courtesy of Canadian Historical Maps

 “After the war of 1812, immigration to British North America led to a more diversified economy, with lumbering, farming and shipbuilding growing in both the Maritimes and in the Canadas. But by the 1830s there was a great deal of unrest, partly because of economic distress, partly because of the cultural prejudice against the French-speaking Canadiens in Lower Canada, and partly due to the system of government, which gave relatively little power to the elected assembly. In November 1837, Louis-Joseph Papineau and his radical Parti Patriote led a rebellion against this unfair government structure, but the rebels were not well organized and were readily defeated by British forces. Similarly, in Upper Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie, a newspaper editor and member of the elected assembly, led a rebellion that was also quashed. But two uprisings made British officials realize they had to reform the government system.”

– Canadian Geographic: Historical Maps

I chose this map/timeline to blog about because it gives a great visual representation of what exactly is going in Canada from 1700 – 1999. We can see how our country changed from being basically two European colonies in the east to the structured provinces we have now. When viewing the Canadian geographical map/timeline, it’s amazing to see how young our country really is. Canada is still evolving and “growing up” so to speak. Our last edit to our geography was making Nunavut a territory, and happened in 1999. That’s sixteen years ago! Not long at all, compared to other places. For example, the United Kingdom’s last change in borders was in 1922, when Southern Ireland gained independence.

To me, it seems that as Europeans explored westward, they discovered all the different resources Canada had to offer. Growing, harvesting, and exporting wheat from the prairies gave Canada’s economy a boost, enabling people to explore further. When the government encouraged Canadians to explore further, offering “…free land to anyone who would clear and work it.” (Canadian Geographic: Historical Maps). In Alberta, BC, and the Yukon they  found precious minerals and oil. Remember the Klondike gold rush? Caused by the exploration of European settlers. The Aboriginals didn’t really need the gold for any reason other than decoration or ceremony – but I think they should have gotten a say in what happened (remember, it was their land) before a bunch of people bring up their pickaxes and gold pans to set up roads, supply routes, and buildings. Once the gold is gone, the deserted remains of the town make the land unsuitable for farming or animal life, so the land has to be left to be reclaimed by nature, which can take many years. Worse yet, mines that are no longer operating can still pollute the surrounding environment.

There are several differences in how Europeans mapped out this country in comparison to the indigenous people, the First Nations. The First Nations people had many different groups spread throughout Canada, with not much visual or text records of their land. Other than knowing where different language groups generally lived, most knowledge about the land was passed down through oral tradition. The whole idea of “your land” and “my land” didn’t really exist with the First Nations, which lead to problems when Europeans colonized Canada.

Map of First Nations populations and languages. Data used for this map is from 1996. Image taken from “Canada’s First Peoples” website.

The current 50 languages of Canada’s indigenous peoples belong to 11 major language families – ten First Nations and Inuktitut. Canada’s Aboriginal languages are many and diverse, and their importance to indigenous people immense. This map shows the major aboriginal language families by community in Canada for the year 1996.”

Canada’s First Peoples

My personal interests lie in First Nations rights and fairness, so it is eye-opening to see how the land originally inhabited by the First Nations people was signed away (or just outright taken, as is the case in the majority of BC) to the European settlers. “Because the Royal Proclamation of 1763 stated that the Crown must negotiate and sign treaties with the indigenous people before land could be ceded to a colony, the Numbered Treaties were negotiated in most parts of the Prairie Provinces. The Government of the Colony of British Columbia, however, failed to negotiate many treaties and as a result, most of the province’s land is not covered by treaties.” (Wikipedia, British Columbia Treaty Process). In BC, we currently have a six-step plan that First Nations groups can take to try to settle the issue of land rights.

  1. Statement of Intent to Negotiate: A First Nation submits a Statement Of Intent (SOI) stating among other things who is claiming, proof that the negotiating party is supported by the community and where the claim will be made.
  2. Readiness To Negotiate: Within 45 days of submitting the SOI the parties must sit down and show that all parties have the will and resources to negotiate a treaty.
  3. Negotiation Of a Framework Agreement: The “table of contents” of a comprehensive treaty. The three parties agree on the subjects to be negotiated and an estimated time frame for stage four agreement-in-principle negotiations.
  4. Negotiation Of An Agreement In Principle: The negotiating parties examine in detail the elements outlined in their framework agreement with the goal of solving the all problems and creating a working treaty.
  5. Negotiation to Finalize a Treaty: The treaty for all intents and purposes is finished at this stage the treaty has to be approved by all parties of the negotiating team.
  6. Implementation of the Treaty: Applying and running the First Nation as set out by the treaty.

However, I’m not entirely sure if this is fair to the First Nations peoples. For example, in July 2007, the Tsawwassen First Nation members voted in favour of their treaty. The treaty more than doubles the size of the Tsawwassen reserve, and has several financial compensations:  a one-time capital transfer of $13.9 million, $2 million for relinquishing mineral rights under English bluff, $13.5 million for startup and transition costs, $7.3 million for resource management and economic development, and $2.6 annually for ongoing programs and services. It also reserves a portion of the Fraser River salmon catch to the Tsawwassen. In return, the Tsawwassen will abandon other land claims and will eventually pay taxes. (Wikipedia, British Columbia Treaty Process)But can we really translate the First Nations way of thinking, where the people belong to the land, not the other way around, into numbers like area and money? It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

Whichever way our treaty system works, the First nations will never end up being able to fully reclaim their land, because then the other 96% of Canadians would have nowhere else to live. In fact, when negotiating, only crown-owned land is even on the table for the First Nations to regain. Any land that is owned by private companies is unavailable unless the owners are willing to sell it. Instead, it’s a very tricky process of trying to re-compensate the First Nations for something we will never be able to give back to them. It makes it worse that in the past, signing a treaty was analogous to signing away the rest of your rights as an Aboriginal, and losing rights to your culture, land, and traditions except for what was explicitly stated in the treaty. Although now treaties try to modify and define Aboriginal rights instead of “cede, release, and surrender” your rights, some people think it still limits the rights of Aboriginals even more than not having a treaty. For more information, check out: http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/home/land-rights/aboriginal-rights.html

Some of the prescribed learning outcomes this covers are:

  • Interactions between Aboriginal peoples and Europeans
  • Canada’s physiographic regions
  • Geographical factors in the development of Canada
  • Resource development in BC and Canada
  • Western Expansion
  • Technological development and settlement
  • Contributions to the development of Canada

On a brighter note, Happy 1st of March!

An Original Title

Where have we been?

Where are we going?

These questions really change depending on who I define “we” as. It could be the universe, or a specific group of people, like the TALONS class. For the sake of brevity and my sanity, I will set “we” to mean the human species for now. Aside from where we’ve literally been as a species (the Earth, Moon and nearby areas of outer space), we have been in a lot of good places and many bad ones. As a species, it seems like we often go through bad events to get to good events. For example, we had to go through a World War to get the funding and resources necessary to understand more about how atoms worked (this was, of course, to build the atomic bomb, but we learned lots of new information in the process). What does it say about our species that we prioritize scientific research most when it can help us build weapons?

When I consider where we are going, I found wonder about the differences between where we are going, and where we should be going. I was talking to Vanessa Felice yesterday about this, and I told her how I felt about humans in general.

“Sometimes, I really like people, and all the potential for goodness and growth they have. Look at all of the new technologies and discoveries we’ve made! We surely must be doing some good for this planet, and if not, we have the ability to do good eventually. But sometimes, I look at the human race and all I see is the war, destruction, and pollution we’ve caused. And then I just think, get rid of them all. Get rid of ALL the humans. Even me. This place doesn’t need this. Humans should just get out.”

So sometimes, where humanity is going and where humanity should be going is a bit of a conundrum to me. On one hand, I think the human species has a lot potential good that we strive for. Humans are on the track to better technology, faster communication, and more exploration of places like the deep ocean and outer space. We’re also quite far down the path of Global Warming, en route to the extinction of several more plant and animal species, and seem to have no intention of stopping warfare for good. Is the human race worth keeping around, when you consider all the negative effects we’ve had on our planet and our own species?  Will we keep going in this direction? Should we?

I don’t know where humanity is going for sure, but as a member of the human race, I will be striving to reduce the negative effects our species brings, and bring into action the potential for good we have.

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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.

DSCF2830
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?
DSCF2824
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.
DSCF2821
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.
DSCF2811
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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Night of the Notables Reflection

The Night of the Notables began the moment I walked through Gleneagle’s front entry way at 8:15 am, laden with learning center supplies.

I will never be able to forget the moment when the locker hall fell silent as everyone realized my hair had been transformed into an Afro within minutes.

Or when we began running speeches and I just took a moment to watch from the back of the room as all the tens tried to practice onstage at the same time, like a kaleidoscope on steroids.

Untitled

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Courtesy of TALONS flickr

Or the feeling of trust that was welling up inside of me, the pride in my classmates’ work, the honor I felt to be performing with them. I felt like, even if I messed up, even if I fell short, my peers would catch me and bring me with them. I believed we would do well. How could I not, when even after hearing it time and again in practice, the speeches always impressed me, moved me, and filled me up with gratitude to know that these were my friends, my classmates, and I was sharing in the experience right along with them.

Or when I sat down cross legged at the edge of the stage, scuffed and worn from the performers who had traversed on it before me, and stared up into the stage lights. The seats were empty; snowflake decorations hung and diffused the light. A spotlight was shining dead center, on me as I took in the peace, the stillness of the theater and the surreal feeling of something beginning to be over before it has begun. It was nostalgic. I was full, full up to the very top with this feeling of home, of this is it, this is us, we are here, and I felt it well up until it was tugging at the seams whenever I took a breath.

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Courtesy of TALONS flickr

And the moment when we all went in for a group hug, not needing to tell each other what we wanted.

And then behind the curtains, as we hugged and bro-fisted and joked and practiced and gave each other tips and spent a full minute standing like a superhero to give ourselves confidence.

And waiting in the wings, watching the person before you, trusting them wholeheartedly to set a scene you could walk into without a second thought.

Then the stark contrast of onstage, of the speech. Black on white and blinding lights, and trying to articulate the words, pouring yourself into the speech and hearing your voice crack ever so slightly. Buzzing with the energy of the crowd, of the sets of eyes trained on you, of the pauses broken by a voice that is so familiar, but enstranged with some rare emotion.

And a heartbeat later, off of the stage, high on the feeling that’s over, you did it, you only made one mistake and no one noticed. Being hugged backstage by the people who make you laugh and smile and aspire to be always something more. The heady relief and the sense of practical caution, that someone else is doing their speech right now, and the moment is yours, but it is theirs as well.

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Courtesy of TALONS flickr

Of course Eminent wasn’t all dramatic emotional stuff though. It was nerve-wracking! We joked about everyone’s hilarious hair, and how people didn’t recognize me in the hallway, and how the chocolate mousse tasted good, but looked like cat food and ground beef, and how we were all dying for a sip of water halfway through our learning centers. We had silly pictures and sword fights with moustaches and discussions about police officers being tried for crime, and US President Obama’s promises of action. And then we went back to silly pictures and sparkling grape juice.

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Courtesy of TALONS flickr

Lastly, I’d like to thank the teachers and the other tens for being simply amazing with everything they did, especially the feedback and tips provided. However, this thank you has got to be dedicated to the nines. Without you, Eminent Night is nothing! Thanks for ordering us dinner, calling up the alumni, welcoming the guests, setting up the learning centers, providing the food tables and making the whole night a success. You niners are stars.

The French Resolution

Fall 1793

It appears that these tumultuous times are drawing to a close – at least for now. Louis-Auguste has been executed, and rumours are circulating that Marie-Antoinette has been doing some horrible deeds: it is almost certain she will be executed. This effectively puts an end to the near-absolute power held by the nobles, royals and clergy. It is up to the Jacobins now to channel the general will into a suitable form of government: whether that is a monarchy, aristocracy, democracy or what have you does not matter to me.

All that I wish is that the people will make the choice together, and it will be a fair vote that is carried out as the people need. This revolution has shown the French that a group of united people can topple even the oldest monarchies, and I hope they continue to practice what they have learned and all take part in being active citizens in France, taking part in the decision making and hard work alike, so that they may all reap equal benefits as part of the country.  We need to have no trickery, or inner alliances but an open, honest country that serves its people. If everyone can do this, France will prosper and become a role model for the rest of the world.

I have been dead for 15 years now, and I am pleasantly surprised that people have read my writings, and some, like the Jacobins, even look to them as a guide. I should like to think of myself as that, a guide: holding a lantern in the night so that those who wish to follow my ideals may walk in my light and be guided to wherever they want to go safely. I do not expect everyone to have such silly fantasies as me, though! I simply hope to be remembered as the man who lived for the collective. Even if they do not remember my name, I hope they remember my thoughts about equality of authority, and the good of the general will. And finally, just as the guide does after the traveller is in his home, I shall extinguish my light here and move on to another place in the night – perhaps to another traveller who needs guidance, or perhaps to the place where no living man has ever been. I do not know yet; I venture out, and I will know when I arrive.

Signed,

       Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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