“On a scale from one to seven, with one being a really great day, and seven in the pits, how was your day, today?”
So began last night’s check-in for our monthly community of practice gathering. I sat in circle, surrounded by the deep garnet and golden hues of my friend’s living room, softly lit by candles, reflected on my day, and when my turn came, I announced “One!” and said why.
I had made a snap decision driving to work yesterday morning to veer right and head towards the high school hosting our district’s second annual “Create in 8.” I wanted to support my colleague, the new arts consultant, who with a small group of her colleagues, had originated the event last year. I needed to be in a school and experience the high energy of our students engaged in what I intuited would be an example of creative emergence.
Each high school art teacher brought ten students from grades 10 – 12, who were then organized into cross-site teams to create art in 8 hours. The entire floor of the gym was covered in heavy -duty purple plastic. Rows of team stations were composed of tables and supplies, and chart paper taped to the floor served as their design boards. Extra tables held bottles of acrylic and tempera paints in every colour imaginable, glitter, colourful cotton beading thread, buttons, beads, and gel pens to embellish their “Create in 8” wordcloud t-shirts.
The stage was filled with boxes and bags of random materials which became available to one member only of each team at announced times, adding to the creative tension. The school’s video arts teacher and former drama buff masterfully held court. Local media were on hand to film the event. The teachers had their own project station and in that way, held space by modeling collaboration and not influencing the students’ work. Techno rock thumped into the spaces as the kids nervously said hello to their team-mates and then opened the envelopes with the theme and instructions – a three dimensional depiction of “re-imagining their life.” Let the games begin!
When stacks of pizza boxes arrived at noon to feed the masses, and I, chilled to the bone (the gym was cold!) but filled with ideas on how to re-jig this for leaders wanting to understand emergence, left to head off to the official opening of my district’s Aboriginal Resource Centre. I arrived to the fragrance of sweet grass from the morning’s pipe ceremony, and the soft words of the elder concluding his prayers. After all the greetings from all the dignitaries, we were invited to view rooms filled with artifacts, books, and learning resources and partake in stories from our First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures. It was a proud day for my colleagues, after a long labor of love to realize this dream, and I was honoured to be present to offer my support and congratulations.
Then I had a quiet hour to myself as I waited for my friend at our dinner spot, the Parkallen, now beautifully renovated featuring an award-winning wine wall, while maintaining its historic trademark Lebanese cuisine. We shared their famous “fattoush” salad and soujick (spicy Lebanese sausages in a coriander sauce with tomatoes) with warm pita. Our waiter poured generous glasses of a soft and full Italian red. Our corner table warm and cozy, the satellite jazz station unobtrusive and mellow, and our conversation as soul satisfying as our meal.
I spoke in circle about all of this, and too, the gratitude for having recognized my need and summoning a few years back for a circle, and now receiving its genuine and kind camaraderie, one that inspires, sustains and last night, even provokes and perturbs me into being and bringing my best, “out there.”