Look at what Stacie does with those heaps of Scholastic Book Order forms!

Teachers amaze me!  I particularly like it when they find ways of reusing items that would otherwise head for a landfill somewhere.  Scholastic Book Orders are very exciting for most students, but let’s be honest, there seems to be an excessive amount of paper that, monthly, appears in your boxes and spread all over your staff room tables.  True?

ScholasticThis week I happened to notice Stacie’s solution and re-purposing of the leftovers.  In the past, I’ve had students roll sheets of newspaper to use in the building of a whole number of three dimensional constructions and also as a base for papier mache building.  I’ve used newspaper in the construction of masks and helmets as well, but I’ve never thought to harvest the piles of book orders and create impressive sculpture with the resulting rolled pages.  Longer rolls can be made rolling corner to corner…shorter and stronger, directly across, edge to edge.  White glue is necessary just at the ending lip.  If you are going to use brushes for this application, thoroughly clean the brushes out with hot water afterwards as this will permanently ruin your brushes otherwise.

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In researching the possibilities, I also found a few ideas that might also be explored using the same materials.  Here’s a relief sculpture.

Artist, Ophira Avisar and her creations with newspaper.

And while I often question the music and sound quality in these Youtube videos (Lol), this is the best I could find for making a newspaper roll paper basket.  I own a circular newspaper roll basket and really like it.  You could whistle while you build…:0)

Grade Two Explores Emily Carr

I had a placement this afternoon where the class, in fact, the entire school, had opportunity to watch a morning theater performance, “Emily Carr – Small Wonders” performed by
Canadiana Musical Theatre. So, it only made sense that I follow that with an art extravaganza in the Grade 2 class. This class has been helping me with my french lately and this has been great fun.

The inspiration for this lesson comes from Hilary Inwood. I’ve been pouring over her stuff the past couple of weeks, absolutely in love with the types of small books, and works based on nature and ecology that she has been writing about and creating. She has a large publication list and I encourage my friend-educators to look her up. As my readers know, I’m quite big on picking up litter and being a steward of my environment. I harvested from my own recycle bin and cut up three cardboard boxes this morning to be used in this activity.

First, we got the projector warmed up and watched a couple of short movies about Emily Carr, the artist. While the children enjoyed the morning performance, they didn’t have opportunity to learn a lot about Emily’s art. As we looked at several tree and landscape images, we talked about the wind and about the blowing shapes, in the sky, on the land and in the trees. There was a bit of chat about British Columbia and the big tall evergreen trees and imagining walking through the woods there in the dark.

Before recess, we opened nine factories, most having two factory workers, but some, having three. I reused chart paper that was set aside in the art storage room, as factory place mats, deciding to use that for collage paper later on as well. Here, the students prepared a lot of collage papers in the approach of Henri Matisse, to be later selected and used for creating a personal landscape in the manner and energy of Emily Carr.

So, the factory workers went to work, using white, yellow, turquoise, green and blue tempera paint blocks and large brushes. A helpful tip is to keep paint blocks out of the individual cupped containers as those are very tricky to clean. Instead, I just set them out on palettes or margarine container lids. Much easier to wipe off afterwards. Reminders to the students: “Stroke, don’t scrub, your brushes.”







Time for recess! Over the fifteen minutes, the collage papers dried and I cleaned out the water containers, the brushes and the palettes. Ready for students to rumble!

The students entered, rosy cheeked and eager. I projected the following image for some sketching in their sketch books. I also demonstrated how when we draw evergreen trees, we don’t have to draw all of the individual branches, but can draw big clumps of branches all at one time. Among the Firs 1931

Among the Firs 1931











To begin our compositions, we sorted our papers into two big piles on the floor, like piles of leaves. We talked about the way the wind blows most of the time…side to side…this way and that…most of the time it’s not going up and down. So, I initially requested a vertical composition (up and down), with the wind motion being wavy, but side to side. “Mix up your papers, guys, to get lots of variety!” I had brought a long a bag full of cardboard cut to size (different sizes and shapes) for compositions and a variety of tree trunks, strips also cut out of boxes.

I showed them Above the Gravel Pit by Emily Carr.


The results…ta duh!

With advanced and Division II classes, you might add three layers of hills (foreground/middle ground and background)…and several trees. At all grade levels, given time, you might also want to add textures/shading/highlighting onto the tree forms with oil pastel, before gluing. Because this is a young group and I am a visiting teacher, one tree did the trick!

Thank you, Grade 2, for the magic of an afternoon making art!

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Cherry Ames: Student Nurse by Helen Wells

Recently I have seen a number of cast off books reinvented as journals, notebooks and art and so I have kept my eyes open for unusual bits when I go looking for my panels for painting on Wednesday night at the Gorilla House.  So, I gathered up a few interesting ones just today and I’m going to post some of the more unique features of some of them here. (This, a way to avoid putting the boxes of tree ornaments downstairs, now that I have dragged my poor dry tree to the back alley for the wood chipper.)

Cherry Ames: Student Nurse by Helen Wells is the first book of a series produced in 1943.  Inside this particular copy, I found a piece of folded paper towel.  Carefully, I unfolded the towel to reveal four leafed clover!  Does this mean good fortune for this year?  I think so!

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My Thoughts on Tim Hortons…AGAIN

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Recently, the media shared with us that according to the Zagat Survey of Fast Food Favourites, Tim Hortons ranked within the top five.  I have to say that while the public may find their menu popular…and their coffee too, according to this one artist-chick, their stance on stewardship and the environment is in serious need of revision!  I cleaned up some days, between 30 and 50 Tim Horton’s on each walk while exploring whether I might change the landscape, one bag at a time.  In fact, one day I walked over to the Tim Hortons located on the edge of Frank’s Flats and approached the manager with 71 cups collected in a single day and asked if he might offer me a rebate or even turn those cups in for recycling.

The manager explained that, as yet, Alberta does not have the capability of washing the lining product from the cups and so the cups, primarily made of paper, can not be recycled.  There are no incentives offered for returning the cups either and so a large number of people out for their evening/morning/Sunday strolls just pitch their cups and plastic lids into the pond or along its edge.  Like many other Albertans, they surely believe that over time these products will break down in the weather and such, but nah…unfortunately, they just become smaller and smaller pieces of those things that they are.

I revisited this location to see how it has been doing…from a view of the big picture, it continues to be a pristine and beautiful place…hmmm…but, look up close and you will see a different sort of picture.

When I contacted Tim Hortons about their stewardship efforts, I was directed to their link on their website.  It explains goals of diminishing waste and environmental impact by 5%...again and again…if you look into it, over the last several years.  However, there is no acknowledgment of having reached any of those targets.  Tim Hortons sponsors various clean-up efforts in the city, but rarely do you hear of larger efforts to change the type of products they use or to design a new and cost efficient technology to deal with the recyle of their cups.

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 10, 2012 10:30 a.m.  Weather: 12 degrees, Sunshine and Blue Skies  Findings: I picked from the south shore of the pond and picked up many plastic straws and packaging for snacks, a beer bottle thrown into the water and then resumed plucking plastic bags out of the water.  Personal items from the highschool slope were also picked up.  It’s interesting that the culture of garbage on that slope tells so much about the folk who are hanging out in that particular area.  I wish they would take some responsibility for cleaning it up.  I got such bad red ant bites on that slope last time I picked there, so I hesitate to work very far into that space anymore.

My One Bag of Pond Debris and a Few Responsible Coffee Drinkers' Discards

The geese stalked Max and I, the entire extent of our clean-up.  They didn’t appear to be bothered by us, but I sense that perhaps their nesting materials/area was nearby.

I Am Steward to This Place of Peace

The number of Tim Hortons coffee cups that I picked up this morning did not beat out the number that I found tossed into the bin…so, that was a first! 

I decided to hike over to the neighbouring Tim Hortons anyway.  I wanted to check in with the owner and see how his managerial meeting went, one where he was going to discuss my issues of litter with other franchise owners.  Gene wasn’t there, so I spoke to Kay Kuldeep (manager) who told me that she has sent clean-up teams to the parking lot across the road to pick up Tim Hortons waste…at least a couple times a week since I had visited.  I told her that I would recommend that they continue to do that.  As I left, I noticed the recycle/garbage bins are in obvious places, but I also noticed a large number of Tim coffee cups all over the median between traffic lanes. 

Three Sets of these, located on the Shawnessy Tim Hortons/Wendys Commercial Property

More work has to be done!  I left Gene my contact information and asked Kay to pass on my request for a follow-up communication.  I have to wonder what is in the psyche of human beings anymore, that we believe that it is ok to toss our garbage onto the earth, instead of depositing it, at the very least, into a waste bin?

Next, I went into the Shawnessy Home Depot.  I’ve looked over the Home Depot Sustainability report and community initiatives. 

Shawnessy Home Depot and Macleod Trail

I met with Gary, a new location manager, after perusing the surrounding space, some that edges on the lunch area for staff.  I’m including some of my archives here.  I spoke to Gary about the culture of the litter I am picking up daily at Frank’s Flats.  I told him the approximate percentage of materials that bear the Home Depot trademark.  I then asked him who has jurisdiction over the space that I had just photographed.  A very likeable guy, Gary responded that the City of Calgary is responsible for that space.  He also said that he was very happy that a week ago some city workers were out picking in the ditches, edging Macleod Trail.

Looking Toward the Store

I asked him, “Do you think that we should all be waiting for the City of Calgary to clean up our messes?”  Without hesitation, he responded, “I know what you mean.”

Must WE throw this onto the ground??

Then, he told me that this litter issue had come up at their last Managers’ meeting and that they intended to put together a team.  I said, “That’s a really good idea because all of that litter, once blown, will end up in the park where I am stubbornly picking, One Bag At a Time.”  He assured me that Home Depot is a big supporter of Habitat for Humanity and various other community initiatives. 

Or This?

I told him that I knew that.  BUT…you know what?  Tim Hortons sponsors the Calgary Pathway and River Clean-up.  Bishop O’Byrne highschool sponsors Feed the Hungry and Home Depot supports Habitat for Humanity!!  Does that absolve them from cleaning up their own mess?  Keeping their own lots clean?  Volunteering to be stewards of their own environment.  Again, Gary said, “I know what you mean.” 

Is this the City of Calgary's problem OR is it OUR PROBLEM?

I’ve asked to be invited to archive their first clean-up team and have been assured that I will receive a communication about when it’s going to happen in about a week’s time.  I’m looking forward to hearing from Gary.  I regret that I am posting these horrendous shots…one Home Depot location in our city…and I know that I will capture other locations in similar dire straits in my series called, Drive By (Photo) Shootings.  Stay tuned and ask yourselves, “How am I contributing to this problem?”


Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 17, 2012 2:30 p.m. Weather: 5 degrees, blustery.  I liked bumping into Frank again.  He was enjoying the views and told me that he really noticed a difference in the landscape.  This made me smile because it’s not something that one can really acknowledge because one batch of blowing litter is always replaced by another batch.  He said, “The wind will blow in more junk in no time flat”.  I agreed.  I didn’t get him to snap our photograph.  I just didn’t want anything to be about ego today…I just wanted to do my job.

Moving earth around…again!

Driving to our location, I took pause at the traffic lights and snapped a couple of shots.  Thinking about the changing landscape and the Youtube I posted yesterday of the Garth Lenz TED talk…I couldn’t help but notice how quickly things change in an industrial world.  I thought to myself, “I guess you bunnies had to move along again!  You had no choice!”

Frank’s Flats: One Bag at a Time

March 3, 2012 12:30 p.m. Blue sky, with bright puffs of white cloud.  11 degrees and very blustery wind.  Today’s finds were primarily plastic bags of every size and variety.  I filled the bag quickly on the first hill because I wanted to drop it to the bin and get on with a good off-leash with Max.  It doesn’t take long to fill a bag with trash at this location.  This makes me very sad.

Day Five

Blue Skies

I felt discouraged as I passed so much garbage along the way.  I wondered if I could possibly make an impact?  One person…one bag at a time.

Long Shadows

When Max and I were heading home, we came around the edge of some trees and bumped into Frank, who was the witness to our project today.  Frank says that this is his special place in the world and that he comes here often to sit and observe the world. The place, he says, is called Frank’s Flats.  I smiled and was glad to know that someone likes the place as much as I do. Frank had the day off and so was sitting in the bright sun, sipping on a beer.  He took this close-up of Max and I.

Max and Me: Windy Day March 3, 2012

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert