25 March, 2011

Need to inspire

Nichole Pinkard from New Learning Institute on http://vimeo.com">Vimeo.

A friend recently asked me if I would hold a series of mini-workshops for youths and their parents concerning media literacy. I don't know what it is like where you live, but in Germany, there tends to be an enormous amount of discussion about the dangers of media and very little celebration of its potetial to influence our children's ability to develop their communication and problem-solving skills.

Nichole Pinkard speaks persuasively about how imperative it is for us to inspire our children toward learning a complex set of learning skills they will undoubtedly need in the future. Can you imagine what it would be like to have access to the Digital Youth Network program (especially library part) she discribes?

Mimi Ito from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.

Equally, Mimi Ito looks at the questions of "Why do we assume that kids socialising and playing is not a side of learning?" and "Why do we assume that schools can't have a spirit of entertainment and play as a part of what they are doing?". Her group has done extensive research about "friendship driven participation" and what short of beaviour and learning processes the children are involved in. They have also looked at all the things kids do beyond just chatting with each other after school.

She summarises succinctly the gap that exits between the generations. How the older generation places very little value on the time their children spend before the screen. How they even believe the internet is hostile to learning. What she says is must do is  to differentiate between friendship-driven activities and interest-driven activities. If we lump them all together we miss the opportunity to enter into a conversation with our children about something that has a huge potential to teach them important skills.

23 March, 2011

Sun Shower

The spring sun shines through my living room window over the carpet, up the chair and warms my back like a sun shower. My mind begins to wander away from my work in the direction of a daydream in a far off country sparkling with bright colours and sea song.

21 March, 2011

Dear Daughter of Mine

Dear Daughter of Mine,

May you find your voice, your inner poetry maker, your song, your I-don't-care, your I-won't-stand-for-this, your I-will-change-the-world, and know how much I stand in awe of young women like Sarah Kay (with an H), and you and your generation setting examples for us all.

Deep appreciation,

Your mom

20 March, 2011

Nice and light storytelling

Thought you would like this one.

Social media as it's best

Once again the Guardian has made a master stroke in setting standards of how social media can mix with news media and the publishing industry to come up with something brilliant. A few weeks ago, they launched a Children's Book platform.
If you are a child (16 and under), a parent, teacher, favourite aunt, dotting grandparent, or just someone who wants to help children to learn the joys of reading... do go to the site and spend some time there.

Can you imagine anything more rewarding than helping a child discover the wonders of books?

17 March, 2011

Grey winter days

Why is it we spend so much time talking about the weather? Well, I am not going to talk about the 100 words for grey winter gloom.

Just wanted to give a brief update on how my world of freelance is going. Busy. Busy as a bee busy. Sort of getting the feeling of this now and even though there is no deluge of paying contracts on my desk yet, there are some very promising ones. That's it.

All else is fine.

13 March, 2011

Science mapping a Personal Journey

Dan Ariely is a behaviour economist. Aren’t you intrigues to hear that there is a profession called behaviour economics?

Two years ago, I watched Ariely speak about the results of scientific studies explaining why human beings are predictably irrational. It was a fascinating speech, not only because of the findings, but because he is so convincingly and passionately invested in discovering the ways “emotional states, moral codes and peer pressure affect our ability to make rational and often extremely important decisions in our daily lives”.

This morning I had the acute pleasure in watching Ariely’s PopTech 2011 talk, Adaptive Responses.

It is a rare person who can convincing map science as a personal journey of discovery. Ariely tell a touching story connecting scientific findings with personal existential angst and the yearning for love. He does this with such courage, humour, intrepidness, I could only watch in awe.

What is particularly fascinating is to see what a fine line he walks between telling very intimate details of his life without exposing the identity or opinions of any of his family or friends. Secondly, the details he mentions of himself are presented in such a way that lend his intellectual arguments weight without becoming a burden to the audience.

09 March, 2011

Strictly Ballroom Vibes

Well, the opening was last night. Went well overall. Friends and family attended. A few dear friends couldn't come who had wanted to come, but life happens. Sorry they missed the occasion. Think they would have been proud of me trying my best to mingle. Not my forte.

At one point, I was sure that the event had been going for three or four hours. I looked at a friend's watch upside-down and saw that only two-and-a-half hours had passed. I told her we could probably start packing up and trying to get the guests to leave. She mentioned only one-and-a-half hours had gone by and it would be better to let the guest linger a bit longer. Torture.

Feeling very relieved no longer to be in the limelight. Lovely to know how kindly people take to the collages. Even those who do not know me. Who would have thought?

On another note... don't you just tremble in anticipation for the film to show? Seriously, I can almost feel "Strictly Ballroom" vibes in my bones.

08 March, 2011

International Woman's Day 2011

Many many years ago, just after I had started university, I befriended a female engineer/researcher from Russia. Well, sort of befriended, in the manner a scruffy dog tries to befriend a lunching businessman on a park bench. Anna headed the physics lab in our electrical engineering department.

She was actually a very intimidating person: reserved, but short-tempered, and didn't suffer fools. Why she suffered an ex-ballet dancer newbie engineering student obviously way up over her ears, was beyond me. While all my other fellow students lived in fear of having to ask Anna for any information (Anna didn't believe in the "There are no stupid questions" premise of today) and thus become the brunt of her scorn.

Then came one March day and another physics lab. Anna walked in with a bouquet of red roses, which was very puzzling. Then she took out two of the roses and handed one to Myrna and one to me (the only two women in our year). She explained that it was International Women's Day and back in Russia, it was a very important holiday. One where women went out on the streets and joyfully celebrated.

I don't know if literally women in Russia at that time went out into the streets or if Anna meant it figuratively. What she said though was it is a shame that people in Canada and the States didn't know how much that day of recognition meant to many women around the world. And, to be perfectly honest, I was one those Canadians she was referring to who didn't really care about the women's struggles living in her country behind the Iron Curtain.

This was because we knew so little about life in Russia. What the media covered was appropriated from sources either underground or from dissidents living outside of the country. Somewhat the same situation as that existed in Egypt for the last decades.

On this International Women's Day, I am celebrating the women of Egypt, as well as the people of Egypt.

In the video above, Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, shares his view on what is happening in Egypt. He argues Al Jazeera's approach to journalism emphasizes "re-thinking authority, giving a voice to the voiceless". Many of those voiceless, one has to assume, are the women of Egypt. Yet, perhaps some are speaking up:

The Women of Tahrir from Yasmin Moll on Vimeo.

Maybe each of us to should spend some time listening to women who are speaking out. You can start today by reading about 100 Top Women in the Guardian. Or, you can join the second annual Women in the World Stories and Solutions summit starting Thursday, March 10th.

Finally, I want to thank Anna, who I no longer know, for giving me that rose over 30 years ago. With that simple gesture, she brought me closer to a whole country of women seldom mentioned.

03 March, 2011

Amazingly deceptive

These guys make tapping seem like fun. For anyone who has tried to tap dance, you will recognise how amazingly deceptive they are being. It's work. It's hard work. The hardest part of all is to make it seem easy. I watched those feet and the tremendous fluidity of their bodies... A true delight.

Stumbling upon Inspiration

It's not something that I do very often, but occasionally, I just stumbleupon various new videos.

Send it sistah ! from sébastien montaz-rosset on Vimeo.

This morning, these two videos, set my day right on track.

shinya kimura @ chabott engineering from Henrik Hansen on Vimeo.

Do make sure to watch the videos full screen.

02 March, 2011

Immeasurable help from friends

The Opening of my art exhibit "Art for Positive Social Change" is next Tuesday on the 100th Anniversary of the International Women's Day. 

So yesterday, two friends agreed to help put up the collages. M. is a terrific handyman. L. is an artist with a lot of experience in setting up exhibits. If I am really honest, I initially asked them to come along for the company.
I thought that I would arrive at the venue with the old exhibit gone, some strips of nylon and hooks hanging down the walls. In my mind, all that we needed to do was to take the collages hang them up on the hooks, and presto, an hour later... all would be done. This could not have been further from the reality.

Old art exhibit still up. Hanging wires soldered to the paintings. No extra wires or hooks in sight. No help from the people working there. No tools beyond my nifty measuring tape. I was seriously ill-prepared. Except, EXCEPT, by some fluke I'd asked M. and L. to come along for the ride.

Between the two of them, all was up in three hours. Not only that, it looks good.

To those of you who in a moment of craziness decide to undertake some public enterprise, be forewarned, you need to bring in an expert! L. helped decide which of the pictures should hang where, how to hang them, and also went running off home to pick up the hooks and wiring system we needed. I stood around trying to be as helpful and experiencing one hot flash after another.

Oh, what would we do if it wasn't for friends!