Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Changing the World

cormorant and gull with freighters

Some days I look out around me at the forest, my community, the sky, the creeks and the ocean... and I see something so beautiful - so needed in and integral to my life - that it brings me to tears. Happy tears. Sad tears. Tears of honest terror and helplessness. I look out and I see that we are using it up. Just using it all up and it's not ever coming back, and this - THIS is the world that's keeping us alive.

And I'm scared.

There's no point in seeing all the changes that need to be made without doing anything to make them, but I can't change the world alone. Changing the world - saving the world - happens in all of us. I am moved to my core to see my neighbour and my friend sing his heart into our community, making it OK for us all to be real. Changing the world happens when my sister makes it her personal mission to disseminate discarded goods from the recycling depot so they can be reused, first. It happens when my son overcomes an enormous fear of confrontation to yell at a man he sees hitting a snake: Stop! Please stop! It happens when a friend gives up plastic and empowers me to do the same. It happens in all of us every day.

Wild Art kids releasing some tadpoles and changing water for those we're still raising.

Today was the last regular day of this year's 9-14 year-old Wild Art Group. These kids just rocked my world, this year. The premise of Wild Art is that we hang out for 4 hours and they basically do whatever they want, with encouragement, guidance, and mediation from me. Today we were looking at our tank full of tadpoles (a project not at all taken on lightly, and accompanied by a huge amount of moral discussion) and we talked about monoculture vs. permaculture, as it pertained to our little aquarium and the pains we take to replicate the pond the tadpoles came from and to which they'll be returned. This year these kids have created spontaneous forest villages complete with financial and labour systems, wild food stores and ethical consultation. And now they're putting the finishing touches on a play. The entire year, the artwork, the discussions, the explorations - all came from the hearts of these kids. I'm just the facilitator. But that is the work I love, and I hope that in holding this space for some wonderful people I can help amplify the waves they are making.

Wild Art play planning.

Changing the world isn't done alone. It's in the connections we make and the passion that connects us. When I share my feelings - the negative ones, the idealistic ones, the dramatic ones and the fearful ones - I'm just trying to change the world. Because I have hope.

This looks like a stock photo. It's not. It's a real moment of hope revealing itself.

Click this photo to enlarge it. That ain't yer average little clover, there! We took this photo today out on the field as the kids were going over their inventive and improvised script. We took this photo in the April sun, in a gentle breeze, with the movement of sequoia boughs above and a few species of birds snacking in the grass around us: six passionate kids and a four-leafed clover. There is always hope.


  1. I loved reading your post, especially the part about your Wild Art Group. I have recently started Unschool Days and am hosting them at my house. They have been great, but what I really want is something more like your group. Can I possibly get more information about how you got started...Thanks!!!

  2. I loved reading your post, especially the part about your Wild Art Group. I have recently started Unschool Days and am hosting them at my house. They have been great, but what I really want is something more like your group. Can you possibly give me more information on how you got started, how you facilitate?

  3. Hi Sammiesantics!
    If you missed it, there's actually a tab up there with more info about the Wild Art program. But where it comes from is a bit of a long story. As briefly as possible, my mother had a long career teaching and working with young children and always had a child-led philosophy, so basically this idea is in my blood. Then I taught art for many years at rec centres and privately, developing my own very similar philosophy, which focuses on student-led social, creative, philosophical and wilderness exploration. Because my kids are unschooled, I try to create programs that they can participate in, and that enrich our own lives while taking advantage of my own strengths (unschooling, wilderness, and art). I run the programs mostly out of my home studio and in the surrounding forests. I keep them very small so that nobody is ever lost in the suffle. Max 9 kids in any group.


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