Reflections of NatureSummit

This past September I had the pleasure of experiencing something new for the first time. I was a little young at it, a little naïve and very hopeful.

After experience in the many fields that comprise ecovillages, I assembled a workshop based on that knowledge and wisdom. Someone had made the comment that it would be neat to see a workshop on the philosophy behind these communities. Enthused with the suggestion, I began pulling material together from the visits my family had to several different communities.

In September, I presented this workshop at NatureSummit for the very first time. While it was not my first time in front of people, or even presenting, rather it was my first time presenting my own material at a large organized event.

I learned a lot! I definitely need to wean myself away from reading the material. But people seemed to like my material and my message.

NatureSummit itself was beautiful. Prior to the event I had only walked through the grounds to acquaint myself with the area once before. The human presence in the woods and trails brought a vibrancy to the forest, a hopeful, bright sense of potential.

Being a presenter my attendance fees for the day that I presented were waived. I was there in the morning for Jeff Reading’s keynote speech, which was pivotal all on its own. It was very refreshing to hear someone be hard hitting and talk straight facts about climate change, even if it’s unpopular. I really enjoyed the keynote, and had a chance to talk to him afterwards. I was floored that he knew about the Gaia Trust, and had been to Findhorn in Scotland. My workshop was immediately after his keynote in the same space. After his blunt truths of problems, I felt great to be able to say Hey, here’s some solutions. There are people on their own paths that are making a difference.

Jeff Reading

I must say I was a little nervous leading up to my workshop. But when everyone was seated for it, there were nine people there. This was totally doable. I had been worried there would be twenty or more, which is a lot more intense!

The presentation went off without a hitch. The computer provided worked with my files just fine. People were engaged, asked questions, and the discussion afterward was inspiring. One of the attendants came up to me at lunch and we talked awhile about possibilities for ECEs in an ecovillage environment. Those possibilities are endless and very exciting to talk about.

After my workshop I had the opportunity to attend a workshop. I chose Earth Mandalas, and it was very relaxing. It was wonderful to reacquaint with a deeper intuition at a child-focused event.

20160917_124824-01.jpegI stayed for the day, and found myself greatly enjoying the event. It gave me a welcoming feeling of being in the right place at the right time. People were focused on something that I feel is very important; children and their interaction with nature. To me, this is a big part of the collective healing process our North American culture needs. It was revitalizing to have a direct participation in that process. I came away from it having matured in my presentation abilities, less naïve but even more hopeful. I discovered that I really like talking about the positive developments that are taking place in this world. There is so much good if we just look for it.

Fort Whyte in November

This past Sunday, the weather here in Manitoba was unseasonably warm.  The car thermostat read 17 degrees at one point in the afternoon.  Looking for something to do outdoors, the family ventured out to Fort Whyte to enjoy the incredible afternoon.  Arthur is very used to getting lots of walks and outdoor time at daycare, so walking the paths at the preserve was easy with him.  It just takes Mom and Dad getting used to being outside!

Avatar: The Legend of Korra

As a long time fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I was pumped for the return of the series when it aired.  While it isn’t the story of Aang, it certainly has a devoted following for good reasons.

It was difficult going from the young Aang of Avatar: The Last Airbender to the teenage characters of Korra. This was one of the first and hardest things to get over in the transition as an adult viewer.  One of the beautiful things of the story of Aang is the simplicity it represents.

That said, Avatar Korra has got to be one of the most mature series on Nickelodeon.  It doesn’t matter the viewpoint the viewer comes from, it stands on its own with strength, compassion and fortitude.

I greatly enjoy watching it with my inner child, as it has far more fight scenes, more weapons and more ‘bad guys’.  It’s fun.  It’s easy to slip into the world it presents and enjoy it just for what it is.  The relationships are more complicated than Aang’s story with the confusion of hormones conflicting with the deep friendships of youth.  We see our many heroes like firebender Mako, earthbender Bolin, the airbender children of Master Tenzin and the waterbender-by-birth Avatar Korra growing up with their magical abilities, learning more about themselves and their gifts in the process.  Even Asami who is not a bender, but very practical we see grow in her own way.  This in itself is a beautiful thing to experience as a viewer.  It helps youth understand the growing pains of adolescence.  It also helps adults remember those growing pains.  Watching it as a parent brings a smile to my face.  I can’t wait for my boy to be old enough to share this with him.

The Team
Asami, Bolin, Korra, Mako and Master Tenzin

This time around it isn’t the irascible fire of an angsty adolescent providing antagonism to drive the story forwards.  Each season has its own antagonist, and that’s about the best word to describe them.  ‘Bad guys’ doesn’t do these bad guys justice.  The beauty of the maturity of this series shines here.  These antagonists are human.  They are flawed, have in-depth backstories, and end up falling by becoming over zealous in their ambitions. There are social tolls they forget about.  Amon wants equality for benders and non-benders alike, and his method of removing bending abilities echoes of the creepiest characters of the story of Aang.  Unalok  is a father-figure, a spiritual mentor to Korra, and his children powerful in their own bending abilities.  A hypocrite, his path puts him in direct conflict with the origins of the Avatar soul.  The repercussions of his ambitions really do change their world, but its hard to say whether those changes are for the better or worse.

This harkens of a really amazing thing that The Legend of Korra manages; bringing mental health to light and normalizing its challenges.  Korra always seems to be under the thumb of an enemy, and it causes depression.  In the beginning of the series she acts quickly and impulsively. By the end she is acting slower and feels depressed because she doesn’t know what the right thing to do is.

Zahir, an antagonist in The Legend of Korra
Zahir, an antagonist in The Legend of Korra

My personal favorite antagonist ever, Zahir, an evil airbender, hurts Korra severely enough that it takes time for her to heal.  He doesn’t have anything directly against Korra, rather she is a stepping stone in his plan of action.  What he does to Korra causes mental health challenges for her.  She eventually has to face her fears and learn to transcend them.

It is hard to compare a series like Korra to much else.  Rarely do viewers get to enjoy a show that mixes magic with present issues in the world.  Sadly, it illuminates the fact that almost never is spirituality a theme in shows for a YA audience, which makes it very dear to my heart.  The show is serious yet doesn’t get too heavy or take itself too seriously.  It has charm, depth and characters that we see learn more about themselves as they grow.  We see Korra face challenges, be wounded, seek healing (and even learn to become a healer) and grow as a person.  The only time I have seen this in animated form is with Aang’s story, and perhaps ADV Film’s Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is a very different show altogether.

As a parent this is a show I recommend to other parents and kids alike.  You won’t be disappointed.  As a writer, this is one writing team I would love to work with.  With Korra finished for not the first time, I am on to my next anime, Serial Experiments Lain.

Wildcraft: An Herbal Adventure Game

A board game to help kids get to know their natural environment and make it fun?  Take my money!  As a parent interested in ways of getting  my kid to really enjoy outdoors and nature, this is something I can wholeheartedly endorse.  I think I may just buy one for my kids’ daycare.

When our son Rowan was little, we always wanted to play the nature and cooperative games with him. However, he always pulled out Candyland or Chutes & Ladders. Then it hit us! Why not make a nature-based educational game featuring all the things kids love about those timeless board games? Also, why not make cooperative play even MORE fun than competitive play? Wildcraft was born! Now, everyone can share their passion for plants with their kids and grandkids in a way that brings everyone together.

Text from Wildcraft: An Herbal Adventure Game – LearningHerbs



Trains and Treasures

Do your little ones like trains?  There’s a new business open on Ness near Sturgeon called Trains and Treasures that has an indoor train ride for kids.  At only $5 per ride, it’s an affordable weekend activity for the under-6 age group here in Winnipeg.  My family visited this past weekend, and had a great time.

We had heard about a ‘Train Party’ through the Kindermusik mailing list, and were really curious as to what exactly a ‘Train Party’ was.   Apparently there was an indoor train ride, and that alone was enough to pique some interest.  Sure enough, when we got there, it was in an old Safeway, and the oval track covered the entire indoor facility.  Kindermusic was set up with a couple people singing train songs (Think ‘500 Miles’), an instrument pad where people were introducing kids to small instruments, a photo booth and an information booth.

As far as Trains and Treasures, they had done a few rides over the Christmas holidays, but officially opened for business on February 1.  When we visited, there was a lego pit, an air filled castle with a slide for kids to jump on and a model train for kids to watch. Plus of course, the main attraction, the indoor train ride.  The treasures aspect of the name refers to a shared storefront where crafters and hobbyists can purchase shelf space to sell their products.

They are clearly still in the process of getting the business going, but it was a fantastic discovery that is a great indoor activity during the cold Winnipeg winter months.  We will definitely be going back.