Take Me Outside Inspires

Take Me Outside is the brainchild of Colin Harris.  Born out of a childhood of happy, engaged outdoor experiences and inspired by our very own, Canadian icon, Terry Fox, the goal of Take Me Outside is to get school kids off screens and learning outside at school every day.  Colin catapulted Take Me Outside by running 7600 kilometers across Canada.  You can read about the diary of drama, running challenges and the 80 school visits along the way in his book, Take Me Outside:  Running Across the Canadian Landscape That Shapes Us.  Last week,Take Me Outside Day on Wednesday, October 19th was celebrated. Thousands of kids across Canada headed outdoors.  For the entire week, speakers offered professional development for educators, contests, ideas for outdoor activities, and prizes from places like The Outdoor Learning Store.  Organizations with similar goals came together to support Take Me Outside in reaching educators, kids and people in the place to help students connect with the outdoors.  People committed to getting outdoors more often.  

Wild About Outdoor Learning Society, a fledgling non-profit incorporated in British Columbia on August 4th, 2022, took the opportunity to promote and participate in the week of outdoor learning through social media posts, a bibliography of 100 books to inspire elementary and middle school students to Outdoor Learning, YouTube Read-Aloud of Outdoor Learning books, and blog posts. Colin Harris has been a steadfast supporter since Wild About Vancouver emerged as a grassroots movement in 2015.  Our rallying call #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved can easily be applied to Take Me Outside.  One goal of the Wild About Outdoor Learning is to create a network of support to extend the message about possibilities and benefits of working, learning, relaxing, playing and investing in the outdoors for all people in B.C. communities.   

Last week engaging with other partner organizations in a common activity was inspirational.   It felt very much like the annual Wild About Vancouver Event that has been happening since 2015.  At Wild About Vancouver Events, community groups in the Vancouver Lower Mainland with a common investment in getting the people outdoors for a variety of purposes, come together and provide inclusive ad accessible outdoor activities for attendees, sharing the goals of their group, and extending an invitation to join.  Participants can participate in opportunities to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved in those organizations that share their common interests in the outdoors.  A beneficial offshoot of the event is the amount of networking that happens between the groups during the event.  Wild About Outdoor Learning Society would like communities throughout British Columbia to have the experience of pulling together like-minded outdoor enthusiasts within the community.  

Throughout British Columbia, the place we are located defines our understandings and outdoor pursuits.  Wild About Vancouver takes place in Stanley Park, due to our fortuitous relationship and support of Vancouver Parks and Recreation.  Although many Vancouverites have grown up going to Stanley Park, many of us do not know the stories and understandings of the Squamish people who lived there for thousands of years prior to the incorporation of Vancouver in 1886.  My understanding of the park changed phenomenally when my friend Latash Nahanee shared the stories of his Squamish family.  Certainly this Indigenous knowledge is necessary to understand the place. Heavy industry in False Creek changed the water quality and animal life able to survive.  Friends of False Creek aspire to restore the water quality to levels that support life.  OceanWise and SeaSmart also teach groups about sea life and efforts to protect them.  The Trek Program, championed by Kate Inch and students in the Vancouver School Board and the Outdoor Program at Homma Elementary School championed by Meg Zeni in the Richmond School District provide options that allow students to learn and grow in outdoor contexts, as do outdoor programs for younger students like Compass Outdoor Learning, Fresh Air LearningMuddy Bootprints, and Saplings Outdoor Programs.   We also had the support of BCLCILA, the British Columbia Literacy Council (Provincial Chapter of the International Literacy Association) and Frontier College in engaging students in literacy activities outdoors and putting amazing outdoor learning books into the hands of kids for free. The groups coming together were particularly powerful because they provide local options for participation.  

Moving forward, Wild About Outdoor Learning Society would like to provide the support required so these kinds of events continue in Vancouver and also take place in other communities in British Columbia.  Our support and affiliation from The Institute of Environmental Learning has been helpful in reaching out to other communities.  Most recently, I participated in a roundtable discussion about outdoor learning curriculum in Prince George at the University of Northern British Columbia in my capacity as Executive Director of Wild About Outdoor Learning Society.  Fingers crossed for a Wild About PG event.  In the meantime, the pursuit of funding from supporters such as ParticipACTION and new funding sources continues, as well as the plans for our very own book – Wild About Outdoor Learning – The Inspiration, The Possibilities, and the Facts About Outdoor Learning.

Wild About Outdoor Learning Society meets on the first Wednesday of the month in the Exploration Room at Science World at 3:45 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and participation of supporters is encouraged.


Special thanks to the Southern Interior Land Trust for the tech support.

Gratitude to all of our supporters and donors. Follow this link to a full listing.

Our relationship with Science World is integral in exploring the answers to our inquiry questions inspired by time spent outdoors. Our goal is for there to be an understanding of the fluid relationship between learning indoors and learning outdoors.

Kids Books 2 Support Outdoor Learning

Circling Bald Eagles in our midst!

Wild About Vancouver 2022 in Stanley Park included a booth sponsored by the B.C. Literacy Council. Hundred books, mostly for children, were given away to support outdoor learning. Following is an annotated bibliography of some of the favourites. These would be a great addition to Take Me Outdoor Week, and throughout the coming year. #getOUTdoors #getINvolved

BC Literacy Council – Outdoor Learning Book Recommendations – June 2022

100 Endangered Species (2021) Hudson, RachelOne page per endangered species, filled with concise information that leaves you with lots of questions to pursue answers too.   
100+ Activities for everyday outdoor fun: Nature Activity Book for little ones (2022) Lewis, SamanthaA book of nature activities designed for children 2 – 5 years old.  Puppets, birds, games and fairy homes.  Lots of fun. 
A Great Big Night (2020) Inglis, Kate & Bisaillon, JoseeWhen three travelling frog musicians roll into the forest on their bikes, most of the forest animals are ready to party.  It takes some time and a big storm to convince the grumpy Grouse to appreciate what these travelling musicians bring with them on their travels.  
A Yoga Jungle (2013) Mylod, Brigid; Peyrow, Rameen & Garcia, Roger The illustrations of trees, flowers, animals, birds, bugs and waterfalls provide instruction for children on how to do basic yoga moves.  There is a follow up with instruction in the philosophy of yoga and directions to do seventeen basic postures.   
All Creation Represented:  A Child’s Guide to the Medicine Wheel (2017) Perrault, Joyce & Mar, TerraJoyce Perrault is an Anishaabe educator who has engaged learners in teachings of the Medicine Wheel for many years.  This book looks at balance and harmony in life through a First Nations lens.   
Be Prepared (2018) Brosgol, Vera & Longstreth, A. (colour)Vera had always wanted to go to summer camp like her friends.  Russian Camp was not what Vera expected.  This camp tale combines the author’s move from Russia to the USA when she was 5 years old and some of her actual camping experiences when she was a kid.   
Be Thanksful for Trees (2022) Ziefert, Harriet & Fitzgerald, BrianSeven reasons to value trees are presented in this fun books that demonstrates divergent thinking to push the readers’ thinking.  
Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia (2022) Hui, StephenAn autographed copy of this new release.  I love this book.  A variety of hikes for a variety of ages of kids, with a variety of skill levels and complete with fun facts.   
Bird & Squirrel On the Edge (2015) Burks, JamesA book from the Bird and Squirrel series.  The decision to save a baby bear from wolves, leads Bird and Squirrel on a hair raising journey over the mountains to reach home safely   
Bird & Squirrel:  All or Nothing (2020) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  Pressure from Bird’s father taps into Bird’s insecurities.  Squirrel helps Bird to be true to himself and they win the day with perseverance, sportsmanship, and integrity.  
Bird & Squirrel:  All Tangled Up (2019) Burks, James Another book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.   Red leaves Birdie in the care of Bird and Squirrel so she can tend to Grandmole while she’s sick.  Birdie leads them on a quest to track down Bigfoot. 
Bird & Squirrel:  On Fire (2017) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  Squirrel and Bird are delighted to be back in their forest home.  Squirrel wants to clean but Bird wants to party.  Red joins the scene and becomes invaluable in saving the day after beaver’s dam dries out the forest, to disasterous consequences.   
Bird & Squirrel:  On Ice (2014) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.   
Bird & Squirrel:  On The Edge (2015) Burke, James Another book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  
Bird & Squirrel: On The Run! (2012) Burks, James Another Bird & Squirrel adventure book.  A wild and wacky road trip with squirrel, Bird, and Cat in pursuit. 
Bug Scouts Out in the Wild (2022) Lowery, MikeA Bug Scout adventure in five short chapters.  A bug, a worm, a lightning bug, and a spider set out to earn badges while following the Bug Scout oath.   
CAMP (2019) Miller, Kayla Willow and Olive come to Camp Acorn Lake as best friends but will they leave that way.  As they navigate new people and new experiences, they also learn what they value.   
Cici’s Journal (2012) Chamblain, J. & Neyret, A.Originally piublished in French.  Cici’s journal reveals the day to day happenings of her life along with her quest to discover the secrets of those around herwithout compromising her integrity. 
City Streets Are For People (2022) Curtis, Andrea & Fitzgerald, Emma This book focuses the attention of kids on sustainable transportation in their community complete with glossary and resources.   
Cloudwalker (2014) Henry Vickers, Roy & Budd, Robert & Henry Vickers, Roy”The salmon, the animals and the forest are all interconnected and the rivers run through them.”  A beautiful book that speaks to the interconnectedness of nature and our responsibility to preserve it for future generations.   
Deep Roots:  How Trees Sustain Our Planet (2016) Tate, Nikki &  This book uses photographs and text to depict the importance of trees to many facets of our lives.  It also celebrates the joy that trees bring to our lives.   
Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem (2021) Soloy, Lauren”Walking is a wonderful way to contemplate big questions.” A story about how Charles Darwin and his eldest child, Etty, walk their oval, thinking path, called “The Sandwalk,” every day, each grappling with their own big questions.  A wonderful way to explore imaginative thought and the process of logical analysis.  Fiction 
Finding Wild (2016) Wagner Lloyd, Megan & Halpin, AbigailThe author poses the questions, “What is wild.  And where can you find it?”  We follow the main characters, a boy and a girl, in pursuit of it.  Imaginative and engaging. 
Forest (2019) Moss Gamblin, Kate & Patkau, KarenA See to Learn series book that started as part of the authors doctoral research in sustainability learning.  Young learners are taken throughout the four seasons in the forest and encouraged to look closely. 
Forest Magic – A Guidebook for Little Woodland Explorers (2021) Grindler, Sarah & Grindler, SarahAn invitation to explore the magic of the forest.  Intended as a non-fiction guide for young explorers.  Finishes with an invitation to ask more questions and go into the forest to answer those questions.   
Forest Magic:  A Guidebook for Little Woodland Explorers (2021) Grindler, SarahForest Magic is written for young children by an author who grew up surrounded by nature on Salt Spring Island.  It directs attention and asks questions to prompt new discoveries.   
Four Winds (2019) Bowden, Michael & Jules, KelseyThe curious Qelmucw (person) from the Secwepemc Nation must persevere to find balance admidst the forces of the winds coming from four different directions, with the consistent support of Tree.  A story that reflects the importance of The First People’s Principles of learning.  The author is a long time member of the British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association and we are so proud of his contribution.  
G.O.A.T. Soccer Teams (2021) Doeden, MattPart of the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time Teams) Series:  Soccer Teams.  Soccer is the world’s favourite sport.  Epic moments of teams throughout the world. 
Grasshopper (2021) Ukhova, TatianaA wordless picturebook inspired by a childhhood memory of the author.  A story and illustrations that captivate the imagination. 
Hello, Crow (2020) Savage, Candace & O’Byrne, ChelseaSometimes when you go out into your backyard and you are very quiet, a whole new world can open up to you.  A crow begins to bring Frannie little gifts.  Can you be friends with a crow? 
Hideaway Cove (2016) Boreham, Brenda & Timmermans, LauraHidaway Cove on the Pacific Northwest Coast shelters many interconnected species that comprise a healthy marine eco-system.  Gorgeous illustrations intermingled with factual knowledge. 
How To Spot a Sasquatch (2018) Torres, J. & Grand, AurelieNot all Junior Rangers believe in the Sasquatch.  That doesn’t stop Jay in his search.  Both author and illustrator live in Canada.   
In The Red Canoe (2020) Davidson, Leslie A. & Bifano, Laura A story of a grandfather and grandchild and the wonders that canoeing provides.   
Jake Maddox Graphic Novels:  Basketball Camp Champ (2020) Maddox, Jake Ana’s dream of going to summer basketball camp comes true.  Will she learn to ask for help before she loses her confidence?  As with all Jake Maddox a section is devoted to creating a better understanding of graphic novels.  A history of women’s basketball and it’s legends is also included.   
Jake Maddox Graphic Novels:  Soccer Switch (2017) Maddox, Jake Andre has been looking forward to summer vacation soccer league.  When the coach retires, the replacement throws the team for a loop with his unusual training routines.  There are important lessons to be learned by the team.   
Listen to Our World (2016) Martin Jr., Bill & Sampson, Michael & Sweet, Melissa “Can you hear the sounds of our world?”  A call to pay attention and listen closely to hear the animals.  Beautiful illustrations depict animals from eleven different habitats around the world. 
Little Wolf (2021) Spathelfer, Teoni & Davies, Natassia”Finding nature in the city made Little Wolf feel happy and more at home.” p.6. So this is what this almost 10 year old girls does to cope with her move to the city.  Vancouverites will recognize many familiar places in this picturebook.   
Live Sustainability (2022) Boyle, Angela & McClaine, LesFrom the Maker Comics Series. 
Long Distance (2021) Gardner, WhitneyVegas is faced with all kinds of challenges.  Moving.  Leaving her best friend.  And summer camp that just keeps getting stranger.   
Love Our Earth (2021) Cabrera, Jane A nature counting book with colourful illustrations for preschool and early primary students.  
Love Our Earth (2021) Cabrera, Jane A nature counting book with colourful illustrations for preschool and early primary students.  
Maker Comics:  Grow A Garden (2020) Frederick-Frost, Alexis There is lots for Will, Violet, and Basil to learn at Garden Gnome Academy from the most unpopular teacher in the school  including how to make a compost bin, seed pots, potting mix, a growlight shelf, a cold frame and a container garden.  I’ll be trying out the insecticidal soap on my lemon tree.  I learned tons from Mr. Butternut!  Factual information delivered in fun graphic novel format.  
Maker Comics:  Live Sustainability (2022) Boyle, Angela & McClaine, LesWhat Isaac thinks is punishment actually turns out to be real learning including:  how to make a rain barrel, a composting worm farm, cereal box notebooks, beeswax food wrappers, a bee garden and bee bars, food cantainer flower pots, t-shirt tote bags and cute cutlery packs! 
Maker Comics:  Survive in the Outdoors (2021) Lawrence, Mike A book in the Maker Comics series.  Sophia and Alfonso head off to a fishing trip with their Abuelo.  No cell service.  No cable.  No background knowledge about surviving in the outdoors.  Luckily their grandfather is able to teach them all they need to know about building a buddy burner, making a compass, fishing, building a campfire, basic first aid, purifying water and making a shelter.  Amazing but true!  Complete with straightforward directions.   
Mapmakers and the Lost Magic (2022) Chittock, Cameron & Castillo, AmandaA gripping adventure of how two children are the only ones able to save their community from the evil Night Coats.   
Martin and the River (2022) Lappano, Jon-Erik & Bisaillon, Josee Martin loves his river in the country where he spends countless hours enjoying nature.  His family needs to move to the city for his Mom’s new job where he finds animals in markets and museums.  His joy returns when he discovers a neighbourhood park with a stream to rekindle his imagination and the possibility of new discoveries in nature. 
Meet Your Family Gikenim Giniigi’igoog (2021) Bouchard, David & Cameron, KristyIndigenous ways of knowing are conveyed through Mother Earth, Father Sky, Grandfather Sun, and Grandmother Moon in poetic verse.  The author’s end goal is to broaden our perspective to see the world as our natural family.  An Ojibwe Language Learning Guide is included inside the picturebook.  
My Dog Banana (2021) Brouillard, Roxane & Sagramola, GiuliaIs it a dog or is it a banana.  You be the judge. 
Nuptse & Lhotse Go to the West Coast (2020) Asnong, JoceyTwo cats, a younger sister and older brother, go on an adventure of discovery, to return Salish, a Purple Ochre Starfish, back home.  Bright colourful illustrations and journey that takes them from Granville Island, around Vancouver Island and up to the Haida Gwaii.  
Off The Beaten Track (2021) De Kerangal, Maylis & Haugomat, TomThis book was originally published in France in french.  Ten year old Tom discovers his inner strength on a hiking trip. 
Off the Beaten Track (2021) Dekerangal, Maylis & Haugomat, TomThis book was originally published in France.  Ten year old Paul goes on a mountain hiking expedition that brings out his inner strength.   
Oil (2020) Winter, Jonah & Winter, JeanetteThe true story of the Valdez Oil spill in 1989 and the devastation caused by the oil spill.  Picturebook format but content that can be explored in intermediate and secondary school.   
On My Skis (2016) Winters, Kari-Lynn & Leist, Christina A perfect book for preschool and early primary skiers.  Vancouverites will recognize the setting as Grouse Mountain.  
On The Nature Trail (2018) Yale, Kathleen & Armstrong, JessicaA magnifying glass is included with this book from the Backpack Explorer series.  Nature Patch stickers are included so the reader can place it on a page that has been completed.   
Outside You Notice (2021) Alladin, Erin & Blinick, AndreaChild like observations are followed up with interesting facts.  This book lends itself to discussions of curiosity, imagination, and surprising facts.   
Owly – A Time to Be Brave (2021) Runton, AndyPart of the Owly Series.  First impressions are not always accurate, even in the forest.   
Paws: Gabby Gets It Together (2022) Assarasakorn, Michele & Fairbairn, NathanA story about three girls in Grade 5 / 6 who start a dog walking business.   They need to navigate both the new business and their relationships.  
Protecting the Planet (2020) Spilbury, Louise  & Kai, Hanane “We need to look after our planet, because our planet looks after us.  If we all make small changes to protect the planet, we will see big results.”  p. 27. This book introduces challenges to the environment while maintaining a focus on being proactive.   
Rabbit Chase (2022) LaPensee, Elizabeth & Oster, KCAn adventure story that is reminiscent of Wonderland and requires Aimee to save the land. 
Rebel Girls Champions: 25 Tales of Unstoppable Athletes (2021) Cavallo, F. & Favilli, E. & Ventura, A. & Brittain, K.A book from the Rebel Girls series.  25 true stories of female athletes across the globe who have left their mark on the world with their tenacity and perseverence. 
Rocket says Clean Up (2020) Bryon, Nathan & Adeola, DapoGrampy tells Rocket about the plastic ruining the island and the ocean habitat.  She organizes a clean-up crew and uses the plastic trash to create an artistic bin to remind everyone on the island to keep the beach clean.   Complete with suggestions about how you can help clean up the beaches.  Reduce.  Go organic.  Dispose of trash properly. 
Sammy Squirrel & Rodney Raccoon: Far From Stanley Park (2022) Lawrence, Duane & Clover, Gordon It’s party time in the forest.  A fun personification of forest animals partying. 
Scaredy Squirrel In A Nutshell (2022) Watt, Melanie Part of the Scaredy’s Nutty Adventures.  An atypical squirrel who is always preparing for disaster makes even the most basic task an adventure to be conquered.   
Science COMICS:  Trees:  Kings of the Forest (2018) Hirsch, AndyPart of the Science COMICS series.  “If an organism is aware of a situation and can choose the best action to take, it has intelligence.” p. 18. Read this graphic novel and ask yourself, is a tree smart? 
Show Us Where You Live, Humpback (2021) Young, Beryl & Kikuchi, SakikaThis beautiful picturebook explores the connections between a young boy and the humpback whale.  A Vancouver author who first saw the humpback whales swimming off the west coast of Vancouver Island.   
Show Us Where You Live, Humpback (2021) Young, Beryl & Kikuchi, SakikaA beautiful picturebook that parallels the little boy growing up on land and the humpback whales growing up in the ocean beside him.  Vancouverites will recognize the West Coast setting.  
Sing in the Spring (2022) Fitch, Sheree (verse) & Plestid, DebSheree Fitch’s verse as winter transitions to spring.  Quilting and paint artwork is an amazing accompaniment.   
Sir Ladybug (2022) Tabor, Corey R.Sir Ladybug and friends’ quest includes trying to escape being eaten by a chickadee.  This graphic novel is sure to be popular with the Grade 1- Grade 4 readers.   
So Imagine Me:  Nature Riddles in Poetry (2020) Davies, Lynn & Park-MacNeil, ChrissieA fun guessing game with nature clues.   
So Imagine Me:  Nature Riddles in Poetry (2020) Davies, Lynn & Park-MacNeil, ChrissieWhat Am I?  Each poem provides clues to answer this question about something from nature.   
Soccer Superstar (2020) Terrell, Brandon & San Juan, Mel JoyPart of the Jake Maddox Series.  Javier Moreno strives to learn the balance between being a superstar on the soccer field and being a team player.  A nice addition on the role of forwards, midfielders, defenders and the goalie is included at the end.   
Spotlight Soccer (2015) Sanchez, Ricardo & Waryanto, IanA Sports Illustrated Graphic Novel for Kids.  Franco wants to play professional soccer.  His new school and his new team require a new strategy.  The glossary at the back is to assist comprehension.  The “visual questions” support understanding of the illustrations in graphic novels.   
Stay, Little Seed (2020) Valentini, Cristiana & Giordano, PhilipThe story about why the little seed has to let go of the safety of the tree.  It also serves as an example of why taking a risk allows the adventure to begin.   
Sunny Makes A Splash (2021) Holm, J.L. & Holm, M. & Pien, LarkAnother book in the series about Sunny.  The community pool offers a reprieve from what is looking like a disasterous summer.  As a kid I was quick to discover that public pools were infinitely more interesting than private pools.   
Swim Team:  Small Waves, Big Changes (2022) Christmas, JohnnieExcitement about starting a new middle school is soured by an elective Bree really doesn’t want – Swim 101. 
Taan’s Moon:  A Haida Moon Story (2014) Gear, Alison & van der Heiden, KikiTaan’s Moons tells the Haida legend of the changing seasons through the perspective of a bear using poetry.  Kindergarden students worked with the author and a visual and fibre artist to create raw felt illustrations.  This beautiful book includes Skidegate Haida and Old Masset Haida.   
Taking Care of Mother Earth (2021) Aleck, CelestineCoast Salish Series:  Coast Salish teachings about how to take care of the earth. 
The Aquanut (2021) Heinerth, Jill & Kim, Jaime The author shares her path from little girl with a big imagination to becoming an underwater explorer, care diver, and photographer. 
The Biggest Puddle in the World (2019) Lee, Mark & Dion, NathalieGrandpa and a rainstorm teach Sarah and her younger brother about the water cycle. Gorgeious water inspired illustrations. 
The Book of Selkie (2020) Corr Scott, BrianaThis fantasy story of the “seal folk” or selkies, is from Scotland and comes complete with paper doll and clothes. 
The Bug Girl (2020) Spencer, Sophia w M. McNamara & KerascoetSophia Spencer always loved bugs.  The other kids didn’t really understand or appreciate Sophia’s passion until it became a national news story.  This fourth grader shares her story and connects with entomologists that fuel her interest and learning.  A true story and lots of information about bugs! 
The Busy Beaver (2016) Oldland, NcholasThe Busy Beaver’s carelessness wreaks havok in his life, the lives of his friends, and in the forest.  Discover how the Busy Beaver makes amends.  
The Cedar Tree:  The Heart of Our People (2020) Aleck, Celestine Coast Salish Series:  Beautiful phographs depict the many uses of cedar in Coast Salish culture.   
The Great Blanket of Moss (2020) Aleck, Celestine & Good, JoelCoast Salish Series:  The legend of how moss came to be.  Mother tree must take action to protect her young trees when they offend Snow.   
The Gruffalo and Friends:  Outdoor Activity Book (2021) Donaldson, Julia & Scheffler, AxelA collection of the favourite outdoor activities of “The Little Wild Things” in a West Oxfordshire woodland.  A fun resource for use with young children. 
The Outdoor Scientist:  The Wonder of Observing the Natural World (2021) Grandin, TempleTemple Grandin, scientist, is able to bring the light to what STEAM means in outdoor explorations.  A resource book including 40 projects for kids.   
The Sasquatch, The Fire and the Cedar Baskets (2020) Dandurand, Joseph & James, Simon DanielOnly a Sasquatch and cedar baskets stand in the way of the great fire devastating the forest.  Told in the tradition of the Kwantlen people.   
The Science of Surfing:  A Surfside Girls Guide to the Ocean (2021) Dwinell, KimSam and Jade take the reader through everything ocean including the physics, the biology, strange ocean phenomenon, how to surf and how to be a good stewrad of the ocean.  A wealth of information presented in engaging graphic novel format.   
The Sharing Circle (2016) Larsen-Jonasson, Theresa “Corky” & von Innerebner, JessikaTwo red foxes are best of friends until the big argument.  Buffalo takes a gift of a braid of sweetgrass to the wise and mighty Great Horned owl, called Kokum, to request a sharing circle.  Kokum teaches the animals how this Indigenous tradition can be used to problem solve by creating a place of listening and respect. 
The Way of the Hive (2021) Hosler, JayThis graphic novel is masterful.  Written by a biology professor, it skillfully weaves together the story of Nuki’s (“bee” in Swahili) life as she proceeds to “Go forth to adventure” along with everything you ever wanted to know about bees.  I finished the book and wondered why I didn’t start caring about bees sooner.  Perfect for intermediate aged students or secondary students looking for a way to convey content area material. 
The Wonders That I Find (2022) Ward, Meghan, J. & Odynski, TayGeneva and her teddy bear go off on a hike with her parents.  They are in a hurry to get to the summit.  Geneva has lots to teach them about pausing to notice on the hike.  For a preschool and early primary audience.   
Tokyo Digs A Garden (2021) Lappano, Jon-Erik & Hatanaka, KellenTokyo, a boy who lives in a city, is inspired by the stories of his grandfather and plants a garden.  This book was given the Governor General’s Literary Award.  A perfect way to explore environmentalism and the imagination. 
Trees:  Kings of the Forest (2018) Hirsch, AndyPart of the Science Comics series.  Acorn has a lot to learn about trees.  A fun story that conveys an incredible amount of factual information about trees.  
Trudy’s Healing Stone (2019) Spiller, Trudy & von Innerebner, JessikaA picturebook sharing First Nation knowledge of the Gitxsan Nation in British Columbia for a preschool / early primary audience.  Grandmother shares that a stone can is a gift from Mother Earth to help us process difficult emotions.   
Trudy’s Rock Story (2017) Spiller, Trudy & von Innerebner, JessikaTrudy is from the Gitxsan Nation.  Her grandmother, ts’iits, is a knowledge keeper.  She shares wisdom from ancestors, including how Mother Earth can help you deal with powerful emotions.  This comes in handy when Trudy fights with her brother.   
We Are the Water Protectors (2020) Lindstrom, Carole & Goade, MichaelaA book about water inspired by many Indigenous-led movements across North America to protect water from harm and corruption.  The text and illustrations give voice to the animals, plants, trees, rivers, lakes and oceans that rely on water.   
What’s Sprouting in My Trash?  A Book about Composting Capstone Press (2013) Porter, EstherIntended for preschool to early primary students.  Accompanied by vivid photographs and a clear explanation for the rules and process of composting. 

Be sure to tag @takemeoutside @WildAboutVan @BCLiteracyCoun1 when you post your outdoor activity.

Binoculars 101 for a Closer Look


On my first foray into birding, I proudly remembered to grab a set of binoculars to fit in with the “real” birders.  Rather than my antique binoculars making me part of the group, I actually set myself far, far apart from the group.  The leader politely offered to lend me an extra pair that she had in the car.  Apparently, there are things to know when selecting the perfect pair.  Another part of this unknown world of birding.

Yet, even with the better binoculars, I was at a loss to locate the darn bird through the lenses.  My initial preference was the spotting scope.  A trusty leader was quick to locate the bird.  All I needed to do was line up for a look.  Yet, could I see myself packing this large piece of apparatus?  Probably not.  

I resolved myself to buy binoculars.  Clearly this was something that would take some research.  The question 8 X 32 or 8 X 42 or 10 X ? or something else?  How much to spend?  What brand?  The most pertinent learning.

The first number is the magnification.  The 10 may provide better magnification but it is hard to hold your hands still enough to benefit from the increase in magnification.   May this is something like yoga, where balancing on one leg comes from practice.  

The second number is the size of the lens.  Bigger number.  Bigger lens.  Heavier to carry but captures more light, important if you live in a temperate rainforest with many overcast days and large conifers providing maximum shade.   I did discover a work around from my birding buddies. There is a strap that goes around your back so that the strap from the binoculars doesn’t dig into your neck.  Available on Amazon. Very serious looking!

Gull with a yellow beak with black circle around it.  Yellow legs.  White chest.  Gray back.  Black tips on tail feathers.  Eyes are not dark but yellowish therefore this is a Ring-billed Gull not a California Gull.  So much to know.  Up until this year, I called them all seagulls.  The consumer of my not yet finished fish and chips at Jericho Beach when I wasn’t on guard.

Big bird on the top of a very tall Douglas Fir at Spanish Banks.  A Blue Heron.  Usually, I sight these birds further away in the ocean or in a man-made water feature in a golf course.  With the binoculars, the bird stretches to full height and enters the realm of magnificence.  His beak open and closes like he is singing his heart out, although he is too far away to hear a sound.  

I have learned that like anything, I have to practice with the binoculars.  I need to be looking at my target spot before I raise the binoculars to my eyes.    Then I have the best chance of discovery, and the best chance of the sense of awe that comes with each new discovery. 

Goose Rules of Leadership

Photo by John Patrick

I woke not to the plaintive call of gulls or warring of crows, but by a very large flock of Canadian Geese.  Although many geese feel completely comfortable not leaving our hospitable city, many Canadian Geese are heeding their internal monitors and flying south for the winter.  I never tire of watching the perfect V-formations as they make their journey.  I’m infinitely intrigued by the taking of turns in assuming the front and centre position of the V.  

Leadership is only easy to those who never assume it.  Taking the responsibility as a leader is always work.  The direction the energy exerted, varies widely according to leader.  Some leaders focus on to holding on to their perceptions of power, prestige or privilege.  Other leaders are motivated by a quest to make a positive difference in their orbit.  But when that lead goose takes the position at the front of the V-formation, they are working harder than any of the other geese.  They take the brunt of the wind resistance with purpose.  

The other geese are able to fly a little above the bird in front of them, so they reduce wind resistance and conserve energy.  They can flap their wings less, keep their heart rate down, and therefore are able to fly far longer before needing a rest.   When the leader at the front gets tired, that bird falls back, making Canadian Geese a fine example of distributed leadership.  Allowing another bird to take the lead happens fluidly.  There is no evidence of a struggle to maintain that lead position. The bird falls back to recharge.  The new leader is given the support of the group.

I have watched group after group decimated by a leader that holds on to a leadership position so long that it becomes part of their identity.  They are not able to pass the torch to anyone else without losing themselves.  This makes the quest to hold on to that position even stronger until the only option for other possible leaders is to take their contributions elsewhere.  We could learn from the geese and allow others to step forward with their own brand of leadership and way of moving forward.  

Distributed leadership allows support also to be provided by the group.  The structure of the group and the communication is also integral to the successful functioning of the group.  The honking that woke me up this morning is encouragement to the other geese to stay in formation and fly at the same speed.  The approach is that of a supportive coach as opposed to a harsh taskmaster.  The V-formation lends itself to the ability to monitor each of the geese in the “gaggle” aka “the flock”.  If a bird falls away from the group, two other groups break away from the group to fly with it.  They honk encouragement to keep going and even stay with sick birds until they are strong enough to rejoin the group.  Every bird is important.   If the bird is unable to recover and dies, two other birds are by its side.  The whole group takes responsibility for caring for other members and can depend on being supported if needed.

The leader is included in the support and encouragement of the group.  The other group members can count on the same treatment when they assume the leadership role.  Communication is encouraging.  Support is given freely when needed.  Sniping, backbiting, and undercutting power does not serve a purpose and does not detract from the functioning of the group.  Imagine!

Hierarchical structures emerged based on the notion that someone needed to assume leadership for the best functioning of the group and to move forward with goals.  Someone does need to assume responsibility and move the group forward.  However, a Distributed Leadership model is more likely to tap into the strengths of all of the group members, and create a collaborative and supportive context, rather than competitive model.  I think we would be wise to follow the Goose Rules of Leadership.   


Take Me Outside Week is Coming

Wild About Outdoor Learning celebrates and encourages people of all ages in British Columbia to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved in activities to prompt their general well-being, physical health, mental health, learning about nature and caring for it.

Take Me Outside Partners

Wild About Outdoor Learning is fully in support of the upcoming

Take Me Outside is one of the partner groups in our network making a difference in the lives of Canadian children. TMO believes in a future where spending time outside learning, playing, and exploring is a regular and significant part of every student’s day. Take Me Outside works collaboratively with other organizations, school boards and individuals to encourage children and youth to spend more time outside through various projects and initiatives. In 2021, 8,900 educators and nearly 400,000 learners across Canada joined in on Take Me Outside Day.


A week of activities, speakers, and events

OCTOBER 17 – 21, 2022


Wild About Outdoor Learning Society

OCTOBER 17, 2022 – Eventbrite ONLINE SESSION

HOST A WILD ABOUT OUTDOOR FESTIVAL IN YOUR COMMUNITY Postponed until a later date / Stay Tuned









By registering for the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge, you will also receive 20% off  Take Me Outside educator apparel, 5% off at the Outdoor Learning Store, along with a chance to win many more prizes from TMO and partners!

Be sure to tag @takemeoutside @wildaboutvan @BCLiteracyCoun1 #getOUTdoors #getINvolved #TMO #TakeMeOutsideDay2022 when you post your outdoor leaning endeavours on social media.

Thanksgiving and Reciprocity

Pacific Spirit Park

Some books are better listened to than read.  Particularly when they are read by the author, and it seems like that author is talking directly to you.  Braiding Sweetgrass is one of those books.   Not a book to listen to in one sitting but a book to savour over time.  It is like sitting down to visit with either my maternal or paternal grandmother.  The pace is slow and the stories just seem to unfold out of pauses in the conversation or between cups of tea.  

Robin Wallin Kimmer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass (2015) was just talking to me about thanksgiving and the relationship with reciprocity.  She is sharing the teachings of the elders  taught in Indigenous cultures for thousands of years yet carelessly lost due to the inability of settlers to identify wisdom.   The relationship between thankfulness and reciprocity was lived by my grandmothers.  You accept what is given to you with love and respond not only with gratitude but with a desire to reciprocate.  I am thankful that both my grandmothers gave their love, their stories, their baking and meals without any conditions or strings attached.   There was never any doubt that they were on my team and wanted the very best for me.  Reciprocity was entwined with good manners and judged a fair expectation by the receiver.

Somewhere along the way the concept of thanksgiving and reciprocity became divorced from one another. Unconditional giving that had previously come from a place of love morphed into giving because it was the surest way to demonstrate superiority or buy favour, or influence, or silence.  The giving came with a cost.  Perhaps the cost of the gift replaced the sense of reciprocity that had previously existed.  Or perhaps the narrative of entitlement was assumed because it was easy. 

Robin Wallin Kimmer peels it back to the giving from nature that is still unconditional and our responsibility to reciprocate.  We can be thankful for our bounty but it is our responsibility to look for the conditions that allow to sustain the bounty.  We are seeing the repercussions on nature of over-taking, over-hunting, over-fishing, over-harvesting, over-reliance on fossil fuels., over-consuming, and waste.  Imagine the change in the world, if each time we took from the environment, we took some reciprocal action to give back.

My involvement in Wild About Vancouver, and its new iteration as a provincial non-profit called Wild About Outdoor Learning Society is spawned by thankfulness for my home.  Growing up in Vancouver, raising my family in Coquitlam, and my work as an educator in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Vancouver has given me appreciation for farm culture, the suburbs, and city life.  Recreational interests have taken me all over Beautiful British Columbia.  While we bemoan the rain for a good chunk of the year in Vancouver, our water is instrumental to every facet of our lives.  We most often pause to feel grateful during the plentiful options for recreational activity.  I am so thankful for the water in the oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls, and snow on the mountains during ski / snowboard season.     It takes me aback when I see brown lawns, dried up ponds, and smoke from rampant fires in areas suffering from a lack of water.  

There are no shortage of individuals and groups that have considered the many possible ways for us to limit our consumption and take action to repair the damage that people have done to the environment.  Wild About Outdoor Learning Society as goals to familiarize people in British Columbia with ways to engage with the environment, be thankful for all it provides, and opportunities to give back. 

Wild About Vancouver, a grassroots movement started in 2015, has foraged some great partnerships.  Some are specific to Vancouver, and some have a greater reach.  Friends of False Creek aspires to restore the waters of False Creek to pre-heavy industry conditions.  Imagine being able to swim in False Creek!  Sea Smart uses education and positive actions like shoreline clean ups to make a difference in the environment and in the minds of our young people.  OceanWise aspires to protect and restore our world’s oceans with programs to help ships avoid whale collisions, shoreline clean-ups, and by selling sustainable seafood.   Year of the Salish Sea has joined with 90 other countries to protect 30% of their land and ocean by 2030 to coincide with the 2021-2030 United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.  

There are lots of ways to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved while giving back.  A good addition to  the conversation on #Thanksgiving.  

Wild About Outdoor Learning Supports Take Me Outside

Wild About Outdoor Learning celebrates and encourages people of all ages in British Columbia to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved in activities to prompt their general well-being, physical health, mental health, learning about nature and caring for it.

Wild About Outdoor Learning is fully in support of the upcoming

Take Me Outside is one of the partner groups in our network making a difference in the lives of Canadian children. TMO believes in a future where spending time outside learning, playing, and exploring is a regular and significant part of every student’s day. Take Me Outside works collaboratively with other organizations, school boards and individuals to encourage children and youth to spend more time outside through various projects and initiatives. In 2021, 8,900 educators and nearly 400,000 learners across Canada joined in on Take Me Outside Day.


A week of activities, speakers, and events

OCTOBER 17 – 21, 2022













By registering for the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge, you will also receive 20% off  Take Me Outside educator apparel, 5% off at the Outdoor Learning Store, along with a chance to win many more prizes from TMO and partners!

Be sure to tag @takemeoutside @wildaboutvan #getoutdoors #getinvolved #TMO #TakeMeOutsideDay2022 when you post your outdoor leaning endeavours on social media

Missing the Mark

Vancouver Art Gallery

“Missing the Mark” is a phrase that has been incorporated into our lives and readily understood.  The concept of “being close but not quite there,” has its roots in archery.  Your arrow has almost hit the bullseye, but it is still a little off the mark.  It is a rallying call to continue the practice.  An encouragement that the goal of hitting the centre of the target is possible.  For Canadians, it could serve as a catalyst in our work towards truth and reconciliation.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was brilliant for two reasons. The first reason is that it allowed the truth about the experiences of the Indigenous people who initially welcomed colonizers on arrival from Europe. Initially some mutually beneficial relationships were developed. At the Vancouver Art Gallery, beadwork by Attatsiaq, is on display. She was a Padlirmiut Inuk from the vicinity of Arviat, Nunavut (formerly Eskimo Bay, Northwest Territories). The glass beads perceived of as worthless by fur traders were valued and combined with wool flannel cloth, musk ox and caribou teeth, cotton and sinew threads, and caribou skin, to create intricate and enduring artwork. The art was obviously appreciated because much of it can be found in museums all over the world, most often without the name of the artist. Early historical documents express the willingness to accept glass beads as a lack of intelligence rather than appreciating it as a difference in world view. This so called primitive culture that had already met their basic needs and was able to focus on artistic expression. The colonizers came from a worldview in Europe that people wanted to escape, yet they di not understand the need to change for the better. These conflicting world views worked to the advantage of those with the weaponry to take what they wanted despite treaties or unwritten agreements.

beadwork by Attatsiaq

Much of the focus of Truth and Reconciliation has been focused on the horrors of residential schools.  Certainly, for many, there has been a lack of awareness of our history of the cruelty inflicted on children to eradicate difference in the population.  The colonizers brought a worldview that was transported from Europe.  Incidentally a worldview that had many people were flocking to escape.  Yet they set about recreating it in the “New World” with a new bully in the playground.  The travesty of justice for the Indigenous people began long before residential schools.  It began when people adopted the stance that informal and formal agreements need not be honoured.  It began when the perspective that one worldview was superior and was beyond incorporating new learning.  A missed opportunity to learn from Indigenous people who had survived on this continent for thousands of years was lost and the devastation of the environment guaranteed. 

In our society, it has become readily apparent that hearing information based on facts does not result in accepting truth.  The truth seems to have gotten lost because the conversation has gotten lost in a quagmire. It has become focused on our responsibility for the “sins of the father”.  If truth is perceived as an accusation or a guilt inducing exercise, people seem willing to do anything to discredit it.  The focus becomes on who to blame for the situation or how my truth is worse than your truth.  Treatment of Indigenous people, persecution of Jewish people, internment of the Japanese people, the Chinese Head tax, and racist policies have been put in place by governments, but they have been facilitated by the citizens of countries.  People may claim they didn’t know what was happening but when your neighbours or their kids disappear, someone had to notice.  When poverty, suicide, homelessness, and death by drugs impacts people with a specific profile, something is amiss.  Yet, collective guilt is not the goal.  Collective action motivated by a worldview that values divergent voices and possibilities for new learning will be far more enduring.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission came out with 94 actionable items.   Kevin Lamoureaux refers to these recommendations as the “The Roadmap home” in his TEDx (University of Winnipeg) talk. We must be acting from a place of truth.  However, there is more than enough data that shows that we missed the mark in the formation of Canada.  I’m proud of being a Canadian.  I have benefitted from living in a democracy where there is a willingness to respect, accept and learn from opinions different from one’s own.  Yet, to quote Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”  

It is the responsibility of Canadian citizens to hold our democratically elected governments feet to the fire, to take on the actionable items that are going to make the biggest impact.  It would seem readily apparent to me that clean water, dealing with the opioid crisis through adequate treatment programs, housing and education would be the primary targets for funds.  One walk in the downtown east side is all that is needed to identify that we have a crisis requiring immediate action.   Indigenous people may incorporate other priorities.  But government responsibility is to ensure equity of access.  

Truth and Reconciliation cannot be treated as one day that you have a day off, wear an orange shirt.  It needs to be actionable.  For some people that action will be to listen to the stories.  For some people it will be to become more informed.  Not to embrace guilt but to incorporate new learning into our own worldviews. Taking a look at the 94 recommendations is a good start.  Once we are knowledgeable, action is imperative to help Canada to meet the mark in becoming a place of equity, justice, and pride for all Canadians.   There is work to be done.

A Celebration of Outdoor Learning at Tatlow Park

Tatlow Park

Kids anxious to play on the playground and in the trees, tennis players, Green Party candidates, birders, book club members, dogs and their owners, people out for a bike ride and fans of Tatlow Park came together to celebrate the role of the neighbourhood park in learning and celebrating outdoor possibilities.

Audrey takes her people for a walk.

This event was funded by Neighbourhood Small Grants in the West Side Vancouver area. (For more information, follow the link). It was inspired Michael Levenston from the City Farmer Compost Garden on the Arbutus Greenway who identified the need to focus on positive memories and things happening at this park on a daily basis.

Michael and Justin from City Farmer

The event began to take form when I shared a blog about my experiences in Tatlow Park where my maternal grandparents were caretakers from 1965 – 1976. Sharing the stories led to others reflecting and sharing their own stories or Tatlow Park and the stories of the neighbourhood parks that had mattered to them as children. The idea of a community celebration to share stories and laugh and eat came into focus.

Carrie Froese, organizer, and Janet Fraser, incumbent School Trustee and great supporter of schools and all things outdoors

Participants were invited to bring a blanket or chair, a picnic lunch, their favourite park activity, and a park story to share. Tea, juice, fruit and packaged treats were provided. Nate Sheibley, long time volunteer with the Bike Kitchen, set up a bike station to provide information on bike maintenance.

Bike Maintenance 101

Justin Lau from City Farmer set up an information station complete with a worm composting bin. It was a highlight of the event, particularly with the kids, educators, and teacher candidate, Larkyn Froese. Justin was pleasantly surprised at how many people were already composting at home.

Worm composting rocks!

I set up a Bird Watching Station with good binoculars and the field guide made all the difference. John Patrick was there with his camera and expertise to document the birds that also attended the event.

Orange Crowned Warbler
Black-Capped Chickadee
American Crow

Parents with young children were most enamoured with Tatlow Park because it was close to home, had lots of shade trees and clean washrooms. Saulina, former teacher at Gordon, brings her young daughter to Tatlow Park every Saturday from the East side to experience “this quiet oasis so close to the ocean”. One set of parents shared their love for this park, partly because it was the first place their 3-year-old would go to the bathroom away from the house. The slide and the sandbox with the community toys are a regular part of their routine after preschool each weekday. All the kids love the playground and the great climbing trees. Tao arrived at the park with an armload of toys to leave for kids to play in the dirt with at the playground area. His Mom, Monica, shared that this was a long-established tradition. Other kids would leave “community toys” for other kids to play with and they would do the same. It always generated excitement and taught the concept of sharing.

Denise shared her memory of the excitement generated when a Hollywood movie was shot in the park in 1969. Many of us went home determined to see “That Cold Day in the Park.” Brad shared the story of his profoundly romantic proposal story on the bridge close to the ocean 37 years ago! My friend, John, unearthed a picture of us taken in the park as preschoolers. His sister, Kelly, relishes the time spent in the park with her daughter doing the very same things she had done as a little girl. The swings were favourites with all of us. I remember having a goal of swinging over the top bar of the swings in a full circle but stopping when it felt like I just might.

Four Generations of our family have Tatlow Park Stories

Planning the event was really quite straightforward.  Because the event was for under 50 people, a license from the city was not required.  Faith Greer from Kits House was very helpful and made the process of applying for a Neighbourhood Small Grant seamless.   It was very much like planning an event for family and friends.  There were many more locals, tourists and visitors wandering through the part en route to the Seaside Bike Path, the tennis courts, the playground or out for a stroll who were able to participate as well.  It was helpful to have some signage to lead them in the right direction.   Fortunately, the weather was sunny, warm and it lured people outside.  We put the tables to good use but never needed to put up easy up tents graciously loaned to us by Alona Ben-Yacov, Director of Spare Time Clubhouse.  

Wool socks! Best prize ever!

About 40 people actively participated in the sharing of stories. The draw prizes were appreciated but not really needed to get people to share their stories. City Councillor Michael Wiebe was one of several men who shared stories of playing Capture the Flag with the stream as the divider between territories. In fact, this experience has been his catalyst for supporting the Stream restoration plan from the storm drains on MacDonald Street, through Tatlow Park and down to the ocean.

City Councillor, Michael Wiebe, Carrie, and aspiring City Councillor, Devyani Singh

There was one woman who had lived by the park for 40 years and was disappointed not to find any familiar friends at the park.  She was most interested in information about the Stream Renewal, plans for the playground upgrade and an opportunity to give her input.  My information was limited to what was written on the signs.  A speaker and a table with more background knowledge would be something to consider for future events at parks undergoing change or new initiatives.  

Susan, Book Club member, discovers Tatlow Park

Although Diane grew up in the area, this was her first time to this hidden jewel in the city.  She joined her Book Club picnic and discussion of Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd. by Jonas Jonasson in the park on Saturday.  She relayed her observation of a squirrel who ran across the lawn, up a tree, across one wire to another wire to another tree that he stopped in to look around.  Obviously a familiar route! A park in a city is not like life in a forest.  It provides a hybrid experience between man-made and nature.  But it gives us outdoor experiences, a sense of community, and glimpses of nature that show its resilience, its adaptability, and its beauty.  And it makes our lives better.  

Another great day in the park!

Tatlow Park Celebrates

Tatlow Park – Bridge close to Bike Path

WHEN ?            

Saturday, September 24, 2022           11:00 am – 3:00 pm

WHERE ?         Tatlow Park.    Directions

WHY ?              

I was fortunate for Tatlow Park to be a mainstay in my growing up and adult life.  This is a community celebration of the activities, stories and the learning we take away from life in a neighbourhood park.

WHO ?            Everyone is welcome!

WHAT ?            

Bring along a picnic lunch and your own cup for tea.

Bring along your neighbourhood park stories and the activity you like to do in the park.  To date there will be a bird watching station, a bike station, a book club meeting, A City Farmer station, some tennis players, some crib players, some Wild About Outdoor Learning Society, some B.C Literacy Association members and a station for you to record your story in print or on camera. 

There will be a prize draw for all those people contributing park activity ideas and stories to the book or online. #TatlowParkCelebrates

Grants Available for Community Building Events

This project is funded by Neighbourhood Small Grants in the West Side Vancouver area.  For more information, follow the link. 

How It All Started

Michael at City Farmer on the Arbutus Greenway inspired this event. He expressed how much the community needed some positive Tatlow Park stories after the tragedy of the past year. I wrote a blog post about my memories about Tatlow Park which resulted in the sharing of more stories. It got me thinking about how many other people have stories about Tatlow Park and their own childhood parks. Faith Greer, Community Service Coordinator, was instrumental in stepping me through the process of applying for a Neighbourhood Small Grant. The goal is to share and celebrate the happy  stories of this park and other neighbourhood parks to be available for all. Following is the original blog post.

What Defines a Neighbourhood Park?

Carrie Froese in “The Monkey Tree” – Safe Zone during games of tag and a good place to read

Many years ago in Buffalo, New York, I had time to kill while waiting for a bus to take me to Youngstown, Ohio to visit my step-grandparents.  I got on a city bus and got off at a local “park” that had ‘lake” in the name.  It turned out to be a relatively small gravel area with an extremely large puddle of muddy water in the middle, some trees on the perimeter, a set of swings, a bench and a surprising absence of birds.  I was shocked that this would be called a park.

Sunday dinners at my maternal grandparents’ house are some of my first memories.  My Mum had one brother, two sisters, and when tallied, there were ten grandchildren.  On Sundays, everyone was invited, in fact expected to come for dinner.  Friends, and neighbours were also welcome.  My grandmother was a good cook and lived by “throwing another potato in the pot” to stretch meals to accommodate anyone who would walk through the door.  Boards or perhaps old doors were put on top of the table, hidden under tablecloths, when there were not enough leaves in the table to accommodate the group.  TV tables were for delighted kids when more space was needed.  In a pinch, you’d just put your plate on your lap.  

Keenan Family dinners in Tatlow Park house 

Summer was the easiest to accommodate our rambunctious crew.  The baseball game of “scrub” was halted, and we’d picnic on blankets outside.  Then we’d be off to play in the massive “yard” that included climbing trees, monkey bars, swings, a stream with a pond surrounded by a rock wall, two wooden bridges over the stream, tennis courts, a path around the perimeter to roller skate or ride bikes and a diverse range of trees with prickles, red ants, and long whip branches.      Sometimes a blanket was set up and my cousins would share their large collection of comics while sucking on homemade popsicles.

Bill and Edna Keenan – Tatlow Park Caretakers – 1965 – 1976

Go play outside!” was the refrain of my Nanny, Grandpa, aunts and uncles.  

And when we did, we learned all about working together on collaborative projects, solving fights, making new friends, and noticing the animals, plants, and trees around us throughout the different seasons.  We learned that death is part of life and that respect was required to mark the occasion.  We reminded each other to never touch a dead thing with your hands.  Disease existed and you had to take care.  Strangers were potential friends but you always travelled in a pack for safety. We learned what rain smells like and the feeling of sun on your skin when you’re sitting quietly in a hiding spot.

We learned that risks need to be calculated.  Roller skating down the “big hill” at the end of the park took skill.  So did jumping to the rock in the pond or climbing the big trees.  We also learned to watch the direction of the wind carefully if you were going to fly a kite in the park and that a high tangle meant saying goodbye to the kite.   

We didn’t go outside to exercise and take care of our physical and mental health or to develop relationships.  We played tag, hide n’seek, baseball, climbed on monkey bars and trees, roller skated, rode bikes and ran from each other, ran to the monkey tree, and ran to get dinner.  The outdoor activity was fun in the park in the midst of the tumultuousness of all of our lives.  Any physical health, wellness or development of relationship was a fortuitous by-product.  

Tatlow Park has a special place in my heart.  My husband knew it when he proposed to me on the bridge.  As he was on bended knee, my first impulse was to grab the ring.  I’d dropped and lost many things into the stream below that bridge as a kid.  I stared at the ring on my finger and then noticed that we had an audience.  Everyone in the park had gravitated towards us to watch the proposal and share in the excitement.  Because that’s what neighbourhood parks do.  They build community.   

Dandelion Dreams is the section of my blog devoted to myself as a writer. The name is inspired by my favourite piece of art by David Klassen.

%d bloggers like this: