Tag Archives: Masters of Ed in SCI

Nature, Interconnection, Other Ways of Knowing

Nature Affluence Chart

Connecting with Nature

Impact on my Happiness and Well-Being 

Increasing my Nature Affluence

Taking morning and evening walks -Good start and end to the day

-Relaxing and calming

-Technology free time!

Using all my senses as I explore/revisit my community
Planting seeds “with” my class as an online experiment -Knowing that this is a real life experience for my students makes me happy Considering to plant our own food in some capacity
Sitting on the deck -Good way to unwind

-Appreciation of the outdoor space I am fortunate to have

Using the outdoors more in a variety of ways: as my work space, more dining, reading, etc.
Doing yard work -Physical activity

-Proud of the work done

-Feels good to look at what you’ve accomplished

Thinking of this more as an opportunity to connect than as a chore allows us to observe and appreciate the nature around us. For example: A rainy day doesn’t have to have a negative connotation, but can be looked at as a time for plants to grow instead.

 As I filled out this Nature Affluence chart it made me think of the direction that I wanted to go for my response this week. I want to go back to the “basics” and consider how well-being can be positively impacted when we slow down. It felt like this is a good time to revisit the simple ways I can connect with nature since I am at home 99% of the time and have very few things that I feel are urgent or need to be rushed toward.

This week’s reading and videos have felt like they’ve given me motivation and almost like a permission to slow down and really think about nature and interconnection. This felt really good because for so long I feel like things are so busy that I forget about the small things that I enjoy, or simply don’t consider interconnectedness like I want to or even take time to reflect. Fortunately as a teacher I am able to “reset” each summer, but why stop there?!

I chose to read Chapter 1: Mino-Bimaadiziwin: Education for the Good Life from Deer and Falkenberg and watch The Hidden Beauty of Pollination and Multiple Ways of Knowing in Environmental Decision Making this week. These all served as tools to pursue time to reflect, wonder and just simply “be”.

From the readings and videos this is what I have decided to focus on…

Connecting with Nature for Well-Being

a) Self Care:

-Whenever I need to hit the ‘reset button’ or think something through I seek out nature

-Being in nature without bringing any technology is literally a breath of fresh air!

-The expectations I feel from all aspects in my life are paused for awhile and I simply breathe, reflect, appreciate and soak in nature and all it has to offer

*It is important for me to realize the interconnectedness that we experience between self-care and sustainable happiness. My own self-care is connected to the well-being of the environment. There can be such a positive relationship between caring for ourselves and caring for our environment!

Self-Care in Nature Morning Routine!

Self-Care looks like this a lot! Hudson and I chilling and watching the wildlife! Fortunately she wasn’t too curious about a skink in the yard the other night!

b) Education:

-Being a multiage class I loop my Social Studies and Science curriculums. This year is what we call an “Earth Year” as we learn about plants, soils, etc. 

-This is a great opportunity to each the students about plants, the environment, the Earth and there are many ways for this to happen (whether we are at home or at school!)

-The valuable lessons about interconnectedness and Indigenous perspectives are very meaningful and valuable

Getting started with our “Planting at Danielle’s” experiment!

Plant A will be inside in the sun and get watered regularly. Plant B will be inside in artificial light only and get watered regularly. Plants C & D will both be outside in the sun, but C will get watered and D only gets water when it rains. The students had to make predictions and weekly observations based on the activities I post on our online platform.

This was our final check in on May 27. After discussion with the students we opted for all plants to be outside and watered regularly and see if the plants not doing well could “catch up” based on their observations.

This was another offering…an inquiry based on a plant observation (with a journal feature for them to fill out). This is a glimpse of the observation at my house, but the students did one at their house as well!

c) Building Relationships:

-There are opportunities to build relationships with the nature that surrounds us, with other people, with ourselves

-When we build connections and relationships we are more invested and care more. These are important parts of our well-being

This poor buck reminds of the interconnectedness between humans and animals. He clearly got caught up in some sort of outdoor decorations. The first time I saw him was on Christmas Day and then sporadically throughout the remainder of the winter. I am hoping that he still comes around, but has lost his antlers and I just don’t recognize him anymore. The choices that we as humans make impact animals and plants when we don’t even realize it. It makes me think about the relationship we can have with nature if we choose to do some.

d) Discovery:

-Finding things that make us happy!

-Finding out things about ourselves

-Learning about how things are connected to all other living things

-Discovering something new each day as no two days are ever the same!

-Appreciating what we have in our natural world and what can happen if we don’t care about the choices we make as a human society 

The discovery that happens when we take a new walking path, or when we tune into our senses when we take a path we’ve walked a thousand times…always something new to discover…with my best girl!

When you discover that your husky might be the “big, bad wolf” in any fairytale ever written! This made me smile! It made me laugh! It made me appreciate the sun and how we create amazing shadows!

I rarely take my phone with me when I’m outside…except when I have the purpose of sharing a photo while I’m out. While connecting with my students I wanted to share these images with them in some capacity. I don’t want this pandemic to distance the relationships I have with the students, so I share a bit of home with them as they do with me! Mostly they are interested in what Hudson is doing!!

My Takeaways: Nature, Interconnection, Other Ways of Knowing

*Don’t worry about the weather, find something good in each and every day

*Listen to your heart and your “gut” and allow yourself to feel what you need to feel

*Never forget the relationships we have as humans with the natural world. We have the power to decide if these relationships are positive or negative.

These words by Maya Angelou are fitting for our relationship with nature. We now know better, so let’s do better!

To quote one of the wisest 9 year olds I’ve ever met…

Me: It’s raining. That’s too bad.

9 Year Old: Ya…but I haven’t seen a worm for awhile!

It’s all about perspective…and that’s the kind of perspective I want to have in my own life!


Deer, F., & Falkenberg, T. (Editors). (2017). Indigenous perspectives on education for well-being in Canada. Winnipeg: Education for Sustainable Well-Being Press.

M.J. Barret. (2013, July 12). Multiple ways of knowing in environmental decision- making [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMsK3v6iJu0&feature=emb_logo

O’Brien, C. (2016). Education for sustainable happiness and well-being. New York, NY: Routledge.

TED. (2011, May 9). The hidden beauty of pollination | Louie Schwartzberg [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/eqsXc_aefKI

EDUC6103: Genius Hour Project

EDUC6103 Education for Sustainability & Entrepreneurship

A Genius Hour of Genius Hour At Montrose School

By Danielle Shrumm


The purpose of this Genius Hour project has been for me to go through the Genius Hour process using Design Thinking as a tool to plan a Genius Hour project for my grade 3/4 students at Montrose School. 

Background Information:

This is my fourth year teaching at Montrose School and my third year doing Genius Hour (GH) projects. Over the years we have made big and small changes to GH, yet the common theme is:

Doing. A. Genius. Hour. Project! 

We have learned many things along the way and our learning will not be over anytime soon!

This is how Genius Hour has progressed for us:

*First of al I should let you know that he “us” I refer to is my teacher partner, Helen at Montrose School (on my Grade 3/4 team)!

Year One: We feel like should do a GH project, but we have no idea what to do, so we decide to learn more about it and try next year

Year Two: We’ve done some reading, but there is a lot of information about GH, so we decide to just start and see how it goes!

Year Three: The kids loved doing a GH, but we had a big question for ourselves: How can we make GH better? *Note: This is the year that I started my class off with doing Genius Hour and then our Inquiry Support Teacher took over. I was given the opportunity to get our whole school’s Friluftsliv (Outdoor Education) program up and running. When I was out of the room one day of our six day school cycle, it made sense to leave my replacement (the Inquiry Support Teacher) something that he could build on from week to week. It also made sense for him to actually do a Genius Hour with a class instead of telling people how to do one without ever going through the process himself. The challenge was that I was disconnected from the process and felt that I wanted to be more hands on. The students were given a booklet to use as direction this year, but again we needed to evolve our expectations of GH and I knew that I needed to play more of a role in it.

Year Four: (This current year): Our plan as classroom teachers was to work with our Inquiry Support teacher, but he had other plans. Fast forward a few months and…still not started. This Genius Hour assignment has been a great motivator and opportunity to get things going! Working with my amazing teaching partner, we began the process of GH ourselves!

*One important addition is the suspension of schools due to Covid-19. This has created a change in how I have been able to implement and oversee the “test” phase of the Design Process, yet has still offered valuable information. Once we are back at school I will be able to try again teaching this process “in person”.

Genius Hour Process/Design Thinking:

Some of the major influences, for me as well as countless others, when it comes to Genius Hour and Design Thinking are John Spencer and A. J. Juliani. If you are unfamiliar with their work but interested in doing your own GH projects, PBL (Project Based Learning) strategies or Design Thinking then visiting the websites of these two authors is a great way to start!



We have definitely used resources, templates, videos, etc. from these two in order to help shape what we have created during this Genius Hour of a Genius Hour!

In fact, my favourite videos to share with parents and students to explain what Genius Hour is are:

My teaching partner Helen and I teach very similarly and we use a team teaching approach for most of what we teach. Her help during this process has been very valuable to me for this particular project, but our ability to work together to further our students’ learning is also incredibly powerful.

In a previous course (EDUC6109: Transformative Education: Teaching for Creativity) I did an assignment about Genius Hour and how I could do a ‘revamp’ of what I already do. We used this as a tool to help us plan our own GH project!

Image of the Design Process that I created in my previous course

D. Shrumm Teaching for Creativity Genius Hour

(PDF version of my previous assignment)


What matters to us is that our students are taught meaningful learning tools and strategies that they can use for a variety of subject matter and after instruction will be able to work on independently for things they are curious and passionate about.

Step 2: DEFINE-

Our students need a Genius Hour that uses the Design Thinking Process because it will teach them how to learn in ways that are important to them about material they are curious about.

Step 3: IDEATE-

  1. Find a prepackaged Genius Hour template and let the students work thought it
  2. Create a Genius Hour template from scratch
  3. Find Genius Hour resources and make tweaks to what our students need
  4. Let the students figure out what Genius Hour is and isn’t on their own
  5. Create a school wide “Genius Hour” fair (like a Science Fair)


We’ve decided to move forward with Idea #3. To do this we will ‘scour’ the resources out there and make the ‘tweaks’ we think make sense for our learners.

*More on our PROTOTYPE later!

Step 5: TEST-

The test phase has changed from what our original plans were. Once our prototype was complete we sent it off to our school division’s printshop and were going to spend the last two weeks of school before Spring Break to do a GH project with our students using our prototype and testing it out! However, due to unforeseen circumstances, our test phase has moved to being tested at home during our “virtual teaching and learning sessions”.

*More on my “new” version of the TEST later!


-In order to put together a GH project for our students, we searched for resources and also created our own. We felt that at this point, this IDEA from the IDEATE process was the best fit.

We worked on a lot of things at once!  In the end this is what we have come up with!

We used a template we had found from https://www.makersempire.com/design-thinking-cycle-worksheet-handout-template/ for the students to keep track of their Design Thinking Process.


We had our package back from the printshop and had our schedules ready for the last two weeks of school before Spring Break to test out our prototype. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 our plans needed to be shifted. With classes being suspended we needed to be able to send the project home. Each student was sent home with a paper copy of our GH package and were asked to wait for further instructions. I created resource for parents and students explaining what GH is (including videos, storybooks read on YouTube, etc.) called “Before You Begin Genius Hour” and an audio recording to match a photo of each page in the package. 

This is the video I sent to the students before I posted their GH assignment!

Genius Hour Before You Begin!

(PDF of a GH overview for the families)

Genius Hour Process

(PDF of some reminders of the order to do things in)

(Audio with image explaining the “Step by Step to Genius Hour”)

(Audio with image explaining the “Design Thinking for Students”)

(Audio with image explaining  “Ideate/Prototype”)

(Audio with image explaining the “Research Log”)

(Audio with image explaining the “Self Reflection”)


-Students still had a lot of questions and were unable to use their parents as their guide (still wanting my approval on everything)

-The Empathy and Define sections needed much more explanation. The students simply wanted to “jump in” and make something (they were treating this more like a Maker Space activity)

-Not many students were ready to participate in the GH project at this time. I think the families are feeling overwhelmed with working from home. I offered this as an optional project and it is my assumption that it’s too much for home (for now at least)

-This is a much easier process to do in person than it is online

-It makes me reconsider our approach in general. If the students are coming to us without ever spending much time doing Maker Space type projects or have had choice in what they learn, then they really just want to explore and discover on their own

-We are unsure at this point which tweaks we will need to make as we are not able to know exactly what has been used by our students


-An option for us may include starting the year with more “free” design thinking plans and work our way up to more of a structured plan

-Perhaps as a school we have a system that is more like a continuum approach so we can ensure students are getting this type of learning across all the grades. If this were to happen then we’d need to share this vision with our administrator and see what role the Inquiry Support Teacher could play

-More emphasis needs to be on empathy and how that can lead to a project, developing a guiding question and what role research plays in all of this

-Differentiating between GH, Design Thinking and Maker Space opportunities

-Creating different expectations for grade 3 and grade 4 students, or for students with varying needs (like a “beginner” and “more advanced”-wth this one being for the more advanced)

-Do whole class projects first so students understand the process and expectations better


-This process has been very valuable for myself and my colleague. We have come up with a process for our students that has the potential to work, with again some tweaks! 

-This has proved that we are open to giving things a try, even when we aren’t sure they will work. This is a good lesson to share with the students as it shows we are all learners and that learning is a process

-We’ll try again when we get back to school!


-There is so much potential to use sustainability as a focus in a Genius Hour and Design Thinking Process project. Incorporating sustainability is my goal in all that I teach and to me I think a GH project is a perfect avenue to embed sustainability in seamless and natural ways. I believe this is where the empathy piece can really come into action. I included a section on sustainability  in my “Before You Begin” page for students and families. Had I been teaching this process at school this is where I’d really stop and focus on what sustainability is and remind students why this is so important to us as humans. This is a step in the process as a whole that I feel cannot be left out.


I’d like to thank my colleague, Helen Mather-Oliver, for her support and collaboration during this process. 


Chris Kelser. (2013, September 6).  What is genius hour?-Introduction to genius hour in the classroom [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMFQUtHsWhc

John Spencer. (2017, March 9). What is genius hour? An overview of genius hour and 20% time in the classroom [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n7EelMbzG0

John Spencer. (2017, August 25). You get to have your own genius hour (a video for students) [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n7EelMbzG0

Makers Empire. Design thinking for students. Retrieved from https://www.makersempire.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/MAK_Design-Thinking-Work-Sheet_A4_1810.pdf

Spencer, J. & Juliani, A.J. (2017). Empower: What happened when students own their learning. IMpower.

Spencer, J. & Juliani, A.J. (2016). Launch: Using design thinking to boost creativity and bring out the maker in every student. San Diego, CA. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.





EDUC6103: The Cost of Convenience-Deep Learning Food Challenge

EDUC6103: The Cost of Convenience-Deep Learning Food Challenge


Over the years I have felt both upset and guilty from the conveniences we have grown to expect as we shop for groceries and consume snacks and meals in and outside of our homes. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “cost of convenience” and have used this Deep Learning Food Challenge as a way to question my own consumption habits and invite others in my life to do the same. Taking the time to really look at our choices, consider alternatives and choose ways to make changes in our own lives is a great way to make positive impacts in our world. We don’t need to do everything perfectly when it comes to clean eating or waste free living, but even if we each focused on one small goal we’d be making a positive impact. One goal practiced enough times becomes a habit and once something has become a habit we can choose a new goal and continue with this pattern. It makes “big ideas” such as waste reduction easier to manage and to stick to.

Don’t worry about being perfect…just find a place to start!

Why is convenience so important to us?

In my opinion, one of the most important reasons is: Time!

We are in a hurry a lot of the time and when we can eliminate or ‘shave off’ time in someway, it is very appealing to us. Some ways we use to help save time include: getting groceries delivered or using a grocery pick up service, using a meal subscription service, eating out, etc. These ideas save time with: thinking of meal ideas, purchasing or preparing food and even clean up. Time not spent doing the above tasks allows for more time to get where we need to be, balance a home/school/work lifestyle, spend the time in other ways (such as with our families and friends), etc.


Let’s consider what the convenience might be costing us

Questions to consider:

Have you ever…

-grabbed a coffee on a whim and used a disposable cup?

-bought fruit or vegetables that were pre-cut/washed and packaged instead of buying your own and preparing them at home?

-ate breakfast, lunch or dinner that you picked up “on the go” for no reason other than you wanted to?

-thrown away leftovers after days of keeping them in your fridge, instead of actually eating them?

-brought home leftovers from a restaurant even though you doubted you’d eat them?

-bought healthy foods that you knew you should eat but let them spoil?

-thrown expired food out in the container instead of reusing or recycling the container because it was easier to toss the whole thing?

-bought food because it was a good deal knowing that it would likely expire before you ate it?

-purchased a larger container/package of food because it cost less money, even though you knew you wouldn’t use it?

-have you used a food subscription service for its convenience?

-thrown food away and not think about what happens to it or worry about being able to get more food at your earliest convenience?

I personally can answer yes to many of the questions above. I am not proud of this by any means and am actually very embarrassed to admit that I am guilty of these actions, but this also is what has inspired me to delve deeper into this topic and make the decision to reduce making choices based on convenience. I know I am not alone in this and have decided to attempt to get others to question their choices too!

This is often what we see while at the grocery store. The temptation of shopping for convenience is all around us.

Ready for more questions?!…

-Have you ever bought a coffee in a single use cup, felt guilty about it and planned to use a reusable cup next time?

-Have you ever bought food that is already prepared for you and thought about what the store/restaurant does with the scraps and leftover food? (Do they compost? Is any food donated to those in need? What ingredients get repurposed for other food items?, etc.)

-Have you ever bought food “on the go” but then thought about how you could be more prepared and next time bring something from home?

-Have you ever brought leftovers home and made sure you ate them?

-Have you ever reused containers that food was purchased in? (example: yogurt containers, to go containers, etc.)

-Have you ever felt guilty about some of your purchasing choices and made changes the next time?

-Have you ever considered the idea of what convenience costs us?

If you have answered yes to these questions then you might be ready to make some changes with your purchases and understand that our desire to have things so convenient has a major impact on our planet.

What choice will you make?

How true is this statement?

Digging a Little Deeper:Even if we feel like we do a pretty good job about being careful what we purchase as far as food goes, we need to consider the conveniences we have at home that help us to:

-heat our food

-keep it cool and fresh

-clean our dishes, etc.

We rely on the conveniences of stoves, microwaves, fridges, freezers, dishwashers and other appliances to cook, store and clean our food and food ‘products’. When is the last time we’ve thought about those as a convenience?

Check out this video from Inside Energy to give yourself a little something to think about as you dig deeper into the idea of the cost of convenience!

Conversations About Convenience with Kids!

Recently I decided to take some time during our health lessons in my grade 3/4 class to talk to my students about the idea of convenience and what that might mean to 8, 9 and 10 year olds.

Question: What does convenience mean?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-convenience means that things are fast and easy

-we get things right away

-we don’t have to wait long to get something

-we can get what we need/want and move on

-we can do more than one thing at once

-it helps when we are busy

Question: When do you notice convenience when it comes to the food we eat?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-when we eat at a restaurant instead of eating at home

-when we eat on the way to a sports practice/after school activity

-when we go on trips and can’t make our own food

-when we use plastic bags for food instead of a reusable container

Question: What types of foods do we eat because they are convenient and what could we do instead?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-cheese strings instead of cutting cheese

-yogurt tubes instead of putting yogurt in our own containers

-water bottles instead of filling our own

-buying fruit and veggies trays instead of cutting up fruit an veggies

-when we have snacks after school (sometimes we eat snacks that come in a package instead of cutting fruit or veggies up)

-buying bags of popcorn instead of popping our own

Question: How else is convenience connected to what/how we eat?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-using a straw that comes with the drinks we order (at fast food restaurants)

-getting a whole bunch of napkins in the “to go” bag even if we don’t ask for them

-using the forks and spoons that you throw away after

-getting lots of ketchup packages (more than you need and there is only a little then you throw it out)

-so many plastic bags being used 

-can’t recycle ‘paper’ drink cups or coffee cups because of the wax on the inside

Question: What are some changes we could make in our lives that could make a positive impact?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-buy whole fruits and vegetables and cut them up instead of buying them pre-cut

-have a piece of fruit after school as a snack instead of having a granola bar in a package

-bring reusable forks, spoons and straws with you instead of using single use/disposable ones

-tell your parents to bring their own coffee cups instead of using a disposable cup

-before stopping for food/drinks ask yourself if you need it or just want it

-talk to your family about some of the choices you make and see if you can make better choices

Question: How can you talk to your family about convenience?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-tell them that you are worried about the environment

-tell them you are learning about things we sometimes choose to do because it’s easier and how these choices aren’t always the best ones for our planet

-ask them if we can talk about some ideas we have

-don’t be mean about it and blame parents for making certain decisions

-know that we can’t change everything at once

-share that one change can still make a difference

-offer to help with things like packing lunches and not asking for fast food

Question: What are some of the “costs of convenience”?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-there is more waste

-can be unhealthy sometimes (food choices)

-just because it’s easy doesn’t make it the best choice

-just because I think I want something doesn’t mean I need it

-we are always rushing but doing things together like making supper or baking can be really fun

-just because something takes longer to make or get ready, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it. For example: When we put yogurt into a reusable container, pack a spoon from home, eat it at school and have to wash the container it takes more work than just eating a yogurt tube and throwing it away. One is more convenient, but not the best choice when you think about a healthy planet

-something that is already made for you can cost more money than if you made it yourself

-sometimes we can’t help it but can think about the best choice in that situation

My grade 3/4 students have been very insightful as always! They understood what I was asking and also understand some of the ways that convenience “costs” us and ways we can make changes where our choices aren’t always the most convenient for us. Teaching these big ideas now and having these important conversations early is very effective. These students will go home and share what we’ve been talking about and many of their parents will listen to them and start making changes where they are able to. I always say that kids who care turn into adults who care. And we definitely need more people who care in this world!

Looking ahead:

Consider the following questions:

  • What role does convenience factor into your purchase and lifestyle choices?
  • Can you think of one thing you could change in your lifestyle that would have a positive impact on the environment.
  • Am I willing to make a change even though it might be less convenient for me and my family?
  • Why is convenience important to us?
  • What comes to mind when I use the words “Cost of Convenience?”

What Could I Do?

  • Spend more time preparing meals and snacks
  • Commit to reducing (and one day eliminating) single use plastics (cutlery, straws, cups, etc.)
  • Try starting a compost
  • Shop at bulk stores where you can use your own containers
  • Eat what you have before buying more food
  • Reduce eating out when possible. When you do eat out do things like ask for only the amount of supplies that you need (napkins, ketchup, etc.)
  • Consider your actions before acting upon them!

If you think about it…there is convenience in these waste reduction suggestions!

Have you ever thought about bringing your own container for takeout and leftovers? What’s stopping you? Is the notion that “this is weird” a barrier? If so, what can we do to change that?

We need more of this!

An example of the environmental cost of convenience

Concluding Thoughts:

Convenience is something that we as humans seem to be seeking as well as live with without even realizing it. I understand why convenience is important to us, especially when it comes to food. We have a limited amount of time in a day and what can seem like an endless list of “to dos”, so finding ways to spare some extra time makes sense. However, I think it is very important to think beyond ourselves when it comes to the choices we make and begin to consider what convenience is actually costing us.

Social Media Posts to Get Us Thinking:

Here are some Instagram posts I have connected to as I think about society’s infatuation with convenience, how convenience is linked to what and how we eat as well as some ideas to make positive changes…

This is a really important reminder…

Ask yourself… How can we change our relationship with food in a way that has a positive impact? How do these suggestions connect to convenience when it comes to the decisions we often make with food?


What can we do to make this statement true?

Let’s find out!

Changing our mindset is a great place to start making a change

Why do we buy so much?

Kindly refuse!!

Change has to start with each and every one of us!

Do. What. You. Can.

Words to live by!


This project has provided me the opportunity to do some deep thinking about a variety of ideas as well as include my students in the process. It has been my goal to deepen my own thoughts,  initiate a conversation with my students that they could then take home and continue at home, share some resources with others and to bring awareness to and encourage you to think about the idea of what convenience is costing us.

Interesting Articles:





Thank You Kindly…

-A special thanks goes out to my grade 3/4 students at Montrose School for their participation in our discussions and for their great ideas!

-Instagram photos that have been used from the following accounts:










-Click on the links to the articles and video for more information

Teaching For Creativity: Assignment 5


It made more sense to post everything on my professional portfolio page since the attachments were too large for our forum.



Morning Routines:

Danielle’s Morning Routine: I Feel Terrific vs I Feel Terrible Scenarios

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Reflection Part 1:
I thought the process of asking someone else about their morning routine would be awkward. I struggled with who I should ask to be my ‘subject’ because I know how different my morning routine is compared to everyone else I know. I have a partner and a dog. Everyone else I know has a partner, kid(s) and often a pet too. What I am able to do before I leave for work looks quite different in comparison to what others can do (due to personal responsibilities) and I was worried about coming off as judgemental. I then realized that when I use empathy, the judgement piece is no longer a factor. I am not judging my friend, but because the mornings are such a busy time for her she is sensitive to how things might look to an outsider. We cleared that up right away! I told her that I was only here to listen and see if there was something I could do to help, even something that seems silly or “out there”. Empathy for the ‘win’! Removing the judgement and really listening helped to eliminate any awkwardness. If we want to do all the things that make us “feel terrific” then we have to make that a priority. Having a terrific morning often translates to a better day ahead, so we should be trying to do what we can in order to “feel terrific” as often as possible! Helen needs to work on communication and coming up with a plan as a family and I need to be motivated to just get up and get going because that’s when I feel best. I cannot control when the dog gets up and is extra hungry, but I can control how I react to that. Helen cannot control everything and everyone in her household, but she can let others know how the rushed mornings make her feel and develop empathy for each other as a family.

It also helped that both my friend and I have actually used this exact template while doing “Picture Book Engineering” with our grade 3/4 students. We both recognize that the process is beneficial as it gets you thinking about problems, solutions and even problems with solutions, and actually have some fun along the way!

Design Thinking Process: Genius Hour Redesign

Redesign Process for Genius Hour

*Please see links below for graphics!

Grade 3/4 Genius Hour Redesign

Revised Genius Hour Graphic Organizer (Assignment 5) 

Reflection Part 2:

As I already mentioned I have used this process before, but what I didn’t mention was it has been the only reason I’ve used it. When I l first learned about this specific version of the design process and saw the physical document at a workshop it was for picture book engineering, so naturally that’s what I thought it was for! Nobody really talked about how it could be used for any type of design thinking. 

An area that we’ve “struggled” with at school over the past few years is Genius Hour. Year one: we wanted to do it, but didn’t know where to start…so we didn’t. Year two: we weren’t going to use the same excuse as the previous year so we took the plunge and learned as we went. Year three: We found resources to help track student progress to make them be more accountable. Year four: Well, that’s where this process may be able to help. We are currently thinking about ways to change Genius Hour time in our 3/4 classes in order to enhance the projects/process/learning opportunities/accountability/ for our students. We want to make things better, but need to decide what that even means. We have some planning time as a team coming up at school, this will be a good time to look the Design Thinking Process together. For now I’ve created something that we can start with. The great thing about Genius Hour is that we recognize the benefits of offering choice and voice for our students and are able to keep an open mind about making changes. This resource has helped spark a conversation with my team that we’ve been meaning to get to, but haven’t found the time. For me, going through the process has been helpful to initiate things and will play a role in the future of our Genius Hour projects moving forward.





Source of Vigour…I Am Love Project

“The I AM LOVE PROJECT was created from a vision where everyone is worthy of love, should be loved, and feel loved regardless of age, colour, gender, or race.

Our mission is to continuously encourage self-love; a practice which allows us to enjoy a positive relationship with ourselves and others. A mindset that is cultivated through the support of the community and backed up with heart.

By encouraging volunteerism, raising funds and awareness for smaller Canadian non-profit organizations, we together can sustain the chain of love.”

This is a quote from the I AM LOVE project mission statement. I’d also like to mention that it was posted on July 1, 2018! Despite being a new initiative in the Winnipeg area, the I AM LOVE project has already impacted many, many lives. Here is the story of the impact Amy Tung and the I AM LOVE project in Winnipeg, MB!



I met Amy Tung at one of the Pop Up Yoga events that the I AM LOVE project puts on. It was actually only the second Yoga fundraising event that Amy had organized through the I AM LOVE project! Jodi, one of my good friends (more on her later!!), posted about a Yoga event she had gone to and right away I sent her a text asking what the fundraiser was for and if it would be something she’d be interested in doing again. She told me a bit about the premise of the I AM LOVE project and said she’d love to go with me in August, so we signed up!

Reasons I signed up:

  1. The event was the day before my birthday and I was inspired by the idea of giving back to my community (a great way to start my “new year”)!
  2. I love to do Yoga, so that was also a good fit!
  3. There were great local businesses that were sponsoring the event (more on one of my favourite Winnipeg products later)!
  4. It was a nice way to spend the morning with a friend

Reasons I wanted to know more about the I AM LOVE project after being at the Yoga fundraiser:

  1. Amy Tung, the amazing founder of the project, came up to my friend and I after Yoga and thanked us for coming. Amy actually remembered Jodi (my friend) from the previous Pop Up Yoga event. She was SO nice. Jodi and I joked afterward that we thought we were nice and then we met Amy and were so pleasantly shocked that people like her existed..we decided that we needed to step up our “niceness game”!
  2. The charity for August was for the Mood Disorder Association of Manitoba-a smaller charity that really benefited from the money that was being fundraised as well as the advertised awareness for the organization. It was such a nice change to support a smaller organization, one that people may not know about but one day may need the assistance of or know someone who might benefit from its support.
  3. Seeing the support of many local businesses was special and inspiring. There was a beautiful vibe at the event. I wanted to be part of the next cause, even if it was only through my $20 donation.

Reasons I am sharing the I AM LOVE project as my source of vigour:

  1. Amy Tung and her amazing will to make the world a better place.
  2. The reminder that people are out there helping other people. Despite all the terrible things we hear… we need to remember that there are awesome human beings that are directly impacting people’s lives and the social sustainability of our community.
  3. To show the ripple effect of an act of kindness…
  4. It might inspire someone else!

How the I AM LOVE project has impacted myself and the people in my life:

-First Jodi went to a Pop Up Yoga fundraiser, then Jodi and I went, then Jodi, Penny and I went and now I have people asking me to join us the next time we go!

-My colleagues are now following Amy on Social Media and asking me about the I AM LOVE project and the impacts Amy is making on the community

-Jodi is involved with an upcoming event where she is giving haircuts to people in need. She also collects warm clothing and feminine hygiene products for one of the organizations that Amy supports

-and this is only the beginning!

I am truly honoured to introduce Amy Tung and the I AM LOVE project to you via an interview with Amy….


Photo courtesy of Amy’s Instagram account: i_am_love_project (permission granted)

Amy! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?!

I grew up in Winnipeg with one older brother, and most of my childhood, as well into my early adulthood, was devoted to helping the family business. Then I graduated University and decided to move to Hong Kong and I managed a makeup and nail salon for a while. When I moved back to Winnipeg, my brother and I started a business together and later on I started working for H&M.

While I was working for H&M I realized I was more suited to HR so I took courses and started applying whenever I saw an opening to non-profit organizations, admin positions, anything related to HR. I didn’t get any phone calls but that just made me realize even more how much I wanted to help people.

I get motivated in doing the work I do now, by the people around me and other like-minded people who I’ve gotten to know.

I know I was supposed to talk about me but I ended up talking about how I got to this position, but I think the work you do kind of defines what kind of person you are; I’m passionate, caring, and I like the motivation I get from being under a certain amount of pressure. I work hard to help others and I want to share that occupation with other people. I want to continue to share love, to continue this chain of love. I want everyone to be able to say I Am Loved.

 Where did the idea for the I Am Love Project come from?

I think in a lot of ways, it came from how I was living my life and how I wanted to be, and how much I wanted to do for the people around me and the community I was living in. No matter where you go, you see people who have not been given love, or think they don’t deserve love, or have trouble understanding what love is. I wanted to show others what love can do and that they are all deserving of love, so I began the I Am Love Project.

How long did it take for the I Am Love Project to get up and running?

That depends on which part you mean. The I Am Love Project started out on my instagram account with motivation and meditation posts, so in that sense, I would say it took half a year, but if we’re talking how long it took for it to become what it’s known for now, making bracelets and pop-up yoga events, I would say 3-4 months.

What kind of setbacks have you encountered along the way?
Handling rejection and having people not show any interest in what I was doing was dejecting, and in that aspect I was experiencing emotional setbacks. I know that a “no” doesn’t hinder my performance, and it’s really just an opportunity for bigger and better things.

I found that finding people passionate and devoted to their cause isn’t hard (we’re all passionate about something) but a setback of sorts regarding collaborations and sponsors, was a lack of guidelines, who was going to do what, and the level of initiative that needed to be reached. 

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?

I learned I had to dream and to follow my dreams. Set goals around my dreams in order for them to come true. I know what it means to follow your dreams and do something your passionate about. It was always in my mind, but I needed to believe myself and make it happen. Everything is possible.

What are some of your best moments of the project thus far?

I have a few. One is at the end of every month, where the money denomination isn’t a huge amount but the impact is huge. Little by little, we are able to raise money and know exactly where that money will be going. Another best moment is living everyday to the fullest, I look forward to all the great people I get to meet. They have been super supportive every step of the way. Their eagerness to help, inspires and fills my cup everyday.

How has your vision for the I Am Love Project evolved since the beginning?

I don’t think the fundamentals of my vision have changed, I still want to spread love, to make others aware that they are worthy of love, no matter what nationality, no matter the age, gender, sexual preference. I want to bring awareness on community issues, mental health issues, youth involvement, and be a source of information for the people impacted by these issues.

I think what has changed is how far I want this to reach people. I wanted to support local charities in Winnipeg, and bring awareness to the general public, inform people who may not have been aware that these charities existed. It’s changed from wanting to keep it local to wanting other cities to get involved with their local charities, and keeping that chain of love, that flow of energy and community alive.

What are you hopes for the I am love project?

Oh my, there’s a lot! In a broader scale, build a stronger community. There are a few things I want to implement. First, make Yoga accessible (incorporate mindfulness in all settings). Second, bringing awareness to smaller charities. Every household should have a book with all the charities and the programs they offer (the charity yellow pages). Third, establish a law where grocery stores need to donate their food to homeless shelters, we can no longer waste food. This will support our charities and help them sustain. No longer will we need to exhaust our man power to secure food sponsorship. Lastly, spread love across borders, across cultures as it should be. Make volunteering and donating fun (statistically there has been a decline).

I know that the Future Under 40 has recently come out. Can you talk about what that means to you?

I think people thought that I wasn’t excited about being nominated, but I was actually just in shock that I would be nominated at all and honoured, and humbled, and overwhelmed. This is truly an honour. When I found out, I cried and I was speechless, I couldn’t find the words to describe how I was feeling for a few days. I was so excited and elated but none of the words I had were enough to tell people how I felt. That’s when I realized that I’d never felt this way before, and now I know what the emotion “honoured” feels like. It feels amazing. It’s amazing that the I Am Love Project is being acknowledged in such a public manner, and it’s amazing because the project will reach even more people.  I’m excited for what this will bring in the future.

Future 40 Finalist Amy Tung-CBC

Quote below is from the second round of CBC’s Manitoba Future 40 list for 2018:

Amy Tung is an inspiring young woman spreading love throughout Winnipeg.

Through her volunteer work at West Broadway Youth Outreach and Big Brothers Big Sisters Winnipeg, she found many non-profit organizations lack funding, awareness and engagement. In early 2018, she took matters into her own hands and started a business that will sustain itself and support Canadian charities — the I Am Love Project.

Every month, volunteers come together to create crystal intention bracelets in support of a charity that is making a big impact in the community. They select a new charity on a monthly basis. The I Am Love Project hosts pop-up yoga classes featuring different local teachers and venues and at the end of the month they deliver all proceeds to their chosen charity.

Within the last four months, we’ve raised over $10,000 for the Women’s Health Clinic, Turning Pages of Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, Make Music Matter and Westman Dreams for Kids Foundation.

“We create the chain of love with no beginning and ending. Love and support is continuous.”

Can you talk about the Mama Bear Clan and your involvement?

The Mama Bear Clan is an amazing group of women who patrol Main Street to make it a safe environment for everyone who occupies it. They are a volunteer based organization and it’s mind-blowing to see how dedicated these women are and how strong they are. They inspired me, and I wanted to do my part for them by collecting donations and getting them the media coverage they deserve.

One is when I’ve made that impact, brought awareness to a charity and now an extra 50 people are aware of this new charity and their cause.

Another one is when relationships have been cultivated and you can see the support grow.  Having people reach out and want to participate, seeing people be as passionate as me and want to help out any way they can.

These are the best, most heart-warming moments.

CTV video/article on the Mama Bear Clan

CBC article on the Mama Bear Clan

Facebook page for Mama Bear Clan

Did you know Cheryl from Cranked Energy before her involvement in the I Am Love Project?

I did not know Cheryl. I reached out and she said YES! After getting to know me and all the different things I was involved in, she’s been saying yes to everything. She loves community and she’s been giving back ever since she was a child. 


Photo courtesy of Cheryl’s Instagram account: crankedenergy (permission granted)

An Interview with Cheryl Zealand: Owner of Cranked Energy Bars

  1. How did I hear about I AM LOVE:  Through the powers of Instagram – Amy reached out to Cranked via message and simply told me the basics of what she does and whether I would like to meet. I love taking meetings with local entrepreneurs so we met at the Cranked Shop and it was an instant connection made through our love for community and giving back.
  2. Why did Cranked get involved: As a business owner passionate about community it can be very hard running a business AND giving back. Energy focused on one often limits energy to put towards another. What I loved about Amy is that SHE is the connector and facilitator of all these amazing projects. Cranked can support her initiatives when and how we choose to. She gives us the ability to join in to existing projects she is working on, or sit down and create an initiate of our own. The key is the the IDEA can come from us, but the real WORK is done by Amy. The other part is that her initiatives support SMALL charities. The underdogs, the ones where $500 makes a HUGE impact. A small business cannot make an impact with big charities. Cranked has often supported Gala’s with donations or bought tickets but it often is not acknowledged or we don’t feel the direct impact because the larger companies with more money are able to get the good promo and acknowledgement due to the $$$$$ support.  With I  AM LOVE, we can donate a prize or a product, or we can buy 4 tickets to a yoga event and we know that our efforts make a difference.
  3. Meeting Amy has allowed me to finally give back in the way I always intended to. Since I was small, I have always given back as best I could. Whether it was money from my allowance to help a friend in need, or time spent after long hours at the office volunteering at Bingos to raise money for charity groups. Kids, career and then starting my own business slowed down my ability to give back. Amy came along and said, no matter what you can or are able to do, we will make it happen.
  4. My dreams for giving back have grown even in the last 6 months. It started with donating food to a yoga event. It then grew to weekly donations to Mama Bear Clan Patrol to hand out. It then grew to me taking a day off running Cranked Energy to spend running around the city doing random acts of kindness. We then did a sock drive, bring in new socks and get a free bar. It is now growing into 100 tote bags being shipped to a northern reserve full of products from local businesses, and then an evening handing out 500 coffees, 500 lunches and 500 toques PLUS haircuts for anyone on the streets needing one – Dec 21st. Amy brings an idea to us at Cranked and we say how can we help, what connections can we help you with, who in our community do we know who would love to get involved. Its connecting people through giving back that makes relationships strong and healthy. The focus is less “what can you do for me “ and more what can WE do together for our community.  Giving back is an actual feeling, and its a feeling everyone should experience. The problem is not everyone knows how to give back, are scared to, or feel like giving back means money out of their pockets. Amy and I create fun, innovative ways for People to get involved at minimal cost.
  5. Can you talk about your product and the role of sustainability: Cranked Energy was created to fill a hole in the market in terms of a fresh grab and go food product, high in nutrients and LOW in preservatives and chemicals. The mission was always to make lives easier for people to eat healthier. When a Cranked bar is purchased, I hope our clients know that their support now funds our community initiatives. As Cranked Energy grows, we are able to give back even more. The staff at Cranked and our sponsored athletes are expected to also give back . We often surprise junior teams or special need athletes with our athletes. Our team is full of people who already do A LOT for community, and when they join Cranked we are able to pull from their efforts while creating our own.  In the beginning our focus was creating a business that could provide for myself and my family in a basic way.  Today 4 years later, we are sustaining our family and the extra is able to be used for our community- to sustain their needs, support community projects, bring awareness to small charities and how your $ makes SUCH an impact. To show our youth empathy, and how they can. Give back (we do a sandwich drive every few months where the youth from sports teams come make sandwiches for mama bear clan at our Cranked Kitchen). This small act of a team of 14 year olds, showing up for a few hours, making sandwiches using products donated by our community, and then knowing they will be enjoyed by people in need is a small step forward to raising caring youth.  Our cranked kitchen I see as not just a kitchen to make our bars to sell. We have the space, we have the people,. We then have the ability to DO MORE. Its a mindset, and a movement I hope we can inspire many others to consider.

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Cheryl:

-Cheryl is also an amazing person! She also makes amazing energy bars! I heard about her bars, tried them once and was hooked! I have NOT eaten a “non Cranked Energy Bar” since May! The bars taste great-like really great! They are fresh. They are produced in the city I live in! There is no transportation cost for shipping the bars…because I stop by when I am in the area! I share the bars with anyone who is looking for a product in the “energy bar market”!

-After my first visit to her shop, Cheryl remembered who I was! She was SO nice! We chatted a bit, then a bit more the next time I came in and I soon learned that she was very active in supporting the community. That’s part of what inspired me become extra loyal to her product line!

-Who was on the list of supporters for that first I AM LOVE Pop Up Yoga event I went to?!? Yes…Cheryl! Of course she was there, not only to give the bars out as a snack after the class, but also to participate! I learned that she had been to the first event and had plans on continuing her support to the project.

-At the most recent Pop Up Yoga I was at for the I AM LOVE project I was chatting with Cheryl and she mentioned her involvement with the Mama Bear Clan and invited my fiends and I to join them walk the streets sometime (which is on the list of things I plan on doing one day-hopefully soon). Cheryl also mentioned some of the people they met on their walks not wanting the food that was being handed out, but wanting a haircut instead, so they could look more “presentable” when trying to find a job. Cheryl said ” I need to find someone willing to donate haircuts”. Well wouldn’t know it…my friend Jodi has her own hair salon and right away said “I’ll do it!”. Just like that the ripple of kindness was spreading!

-Cheryl and Amy recently spent the day doing random acts of kindness. These two ladies are unbelievable! They do these acts of kindness because they care. They want to show others that they are loved. They make an impact on our society whether it is to one person, a family, a small group or within the larger community. They are making our world a better place and inspiring others to follow suit. They want people to be aware of what they can do to help out. I really feel like many people want to give, but don’t know how/where/what to do. Cheryl is so right when she says that Amy puts opportunities together for people and is making a huge difference because of her efforts.

-I can’t wait to see what these two will do next!


On the left (me-Danielle) and on the right (Jodi) at the I AM LOVE Pop Up Yoga Event in August, 2018

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Jodi:

Jodi is the friend that I talk about sustainability issues with! She appreciates that I try to be loyal to local shopping and she is trying to put in the effort  to do the same. She is also very kind and generous. Jodi drives around with a case of water in case she meets a homeless person, or person in need that could really use a bottle of water. She is also the one who introduced me to the I AM LOVE project. Thanks to Jodi I have a really meaningful organization for this source of vigour project! On Friday, December 21, Jodi will be teaming up with other stylists to donate their time and give haircuts to those in need. Jodi is also part of the local business group who donates to the attendance prizes at the I AM LOVE project Yoga fundraisers.

December 21 is also the day that the proceeds from the Love For the Holidays Pop Up Yoga event that I attended will be turned into items of need for those who need them. 500 toques, meals, coffees and feminine hygiene productions will be distributed in Winnipeg. Isn’t that amazing?! This is what the I AM LOVE project is all about!

This is what Jodi had to say about Amy and the I AM LOVE project:

A friend bought me a ticket to the first I Am Love Pop Up  Yoga for my birthday as something different to do together. We got to the venue and were welcomed by strangers that did not at all feel like strangers, they were so welcoming and friendly! After the class I looked further into what the project was all about and it was just such a different approach to fundraising and promoting awareness and bringing people together that I couldn’t help myself and wanted to get involved. I have continued to attend as many of the Pop Up Yoga events as I can and try to help out with their events in whatever way is possible for me. It just seemed the natural progression, to support someone that is helping others.


Photo courtesy of Amanda’s Instagram account: shiftwpg (permission granted)

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Amanda:

-Amanda is one of the Yoga instructors for the I AM LOVE project Pop Up Yoga fundraisers! She lead 200 people through the Love For the Holidays class (where the fund have turned into donations that are being distracted on  December 21)! Amanda is also my ‘regular’ Yoga instructor! Jodi and I attend her weekly Restorative and Meditation class and anytime she’s teaching at the studio near my home I sign up for her class! Amanda is a calm presence and is always looking to teach people about self love and self care.

This is what Amanda had to say about Amy and the I AM LOVE project:

Well when I first heard about Amy and what she was doing I was so interested and loved the concept of giving back in the way that she is. Particularly through her pop up yoga events and crystal bracelets. I purchased my first one at prairie love and spoke with her about getting involved in any way I could to help give back. We met for coffee and talked all things yoga, life, community, passion projects. She asked me to teach at the Love for the Holidays event … her largest fundraiser to date. She and her team of volunteers managed to sell 200 tickets to support the event.

I loved seeing how organized and driven she was/is and that she truly believes in the value of the work she’s doing. I’ve loved using yoga as a way to give back to the community but have not been able to do so on the same scale that she has … she knows a lot about fundraising the ins and outs and I felt it was a valuable learning experience for me too.

Back to Amy!

What are some of the thing you have worked through/are working through when it comes to running the  I AM LOVE project? *List is from Mulligan:An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives (p. 184-5):  On Being a Change Agent

These are the areas that I can say that I’ve worked through and now strive in:

  • Focus on an issue or a set of challenges that you really care about.
  • Be bold and also realistic about your chances of success, do your research and make sure you know the issues and concerns very well.
  • Try to find people you enjoy working with, pay attention to these relationships as well as ‘the cause’.
  • Work on your oral and communication skills.
  • Be creative in the way you do things; a little humour can go a long way.
  • Always remember that good teams will achieve more than talented individuals.
  • Do not get demoralized when things don’t work out; learn the lessons of failure.

And this is one that I’m probably going to have keep working on:

  • Keep a balance in your personal and work life, avoid burnout; you have your whole life of activism ahead of you.

Because a lot of the stuff that I’ve been doing, I’ve had to organize and plan out a majority of the events on my own, I haven’t really had the time to take steps back and relax, but hopefully the new year will bring new opportunities of rest for me.

Final Thoughts:

Amy’s efforts within the I AM LOVE project are what social sustainability is all about. She is building community for people who maybe didn’t even know they could be part of something larger. She is telling people who may have forgotten…that they are loved. She is reminding people who are able to give about the impacts that giving to others has on our community. She is connecting businesses and everyday ‘ordinary’ people to causes that matter and that need attention. She is educating the people of Winnipeg (as well as Brandon and Calgary-where two of the Pop Up Yoga events have taken her so far) about resources that are available, who uses them and how we can make a difference to sustain such programs. Amy is sharing her message and the messages of those in need using her social media platform and presence. She is facilitating projects for people who want to think beyond themselves and help out those in need: whether that person is a child, a teenager, an adult, a senior, a man, a woman, a newcomer to Canada, someone who has lived here all their life, someone who needs help for a little while, someone who needs help for a longer term. She doesn’t look at the colour of skin, religion or sexual preference. She cares about humans. Amy’s message is that “everyone is worthy of love, should be loved, and feel loved.’ We should all take a moment to remind ourselves of that and then spread that message like it’s confetti!

What I enjoy most about my experience with Amy is the feeling of connectedness. I’ve met her in person only twice and yet she immediately responded that she would do an interview with me. Maybe after learning more about the project someone else will be inspired to buy a bracelet her volunteers make, follow her on Instagram and see something that speaks to them, purchase a ticket for a Pop Up Yoga event, contact her about how they can be involved, contact her about a charity that needs support and recognition, volunteer at an event, volunteer to lead the Yoga, donate to the prizes or food at the events, join the Mama Bear Clan walk…the list could go on and on. Amy is the one who is dropping the stone in the water and we are all seeing the ripple effects she has been able to make. Thank you to Amy, Cheryl, Jodi, Amanda and the countless others that I do not know who work to make our world a better place!

I AM LOVE project on Instagram

Cranked Energy on Instagram


Mulligan, M. (2018) An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Reflective Journal: Consumerism and Materialism-Part 2


After tracking my spending for two weeks I was ready to track for another week, this time with more awareness and intention! This experience holds a lot of value and I encourage people to give it a try. With the holidays right around the corner I think I will continue this practice and really track what I spend over the month of December (on food, gifts, donations, etc.). In our house we always try to limit what we spend, but have never actually tracked all aspects of the holiday season. By extending this journalling task I feel like will really consider what I buy, who I buy for and needs vs wants vs luxury. By writing down what I have learned and what I plant to do I feel more accountable to move forward with my next steps!

October 29-November 4 “Spending Journal”:

Monday, October 29– No Starbucks today! I made my own coffee!! I used my Keurig machine, BUT not a K-cup. I used coffee from home and brewed it in a reusable “pod”. There can be SO much waste involved with using these single cup machines. I’ve been using my reusable pod for months and it works like a charm! I used coffee from Starbucks to make my own coffee!

Safeway- Weekly grocery run (again…no single use plastic bags used). I also purchased Halloween treats. Halloween treats is something I really struggled with this year. I think about the waste produced during the holidays each year, but this year it was really on my mind. I felt so torn. I wanted to have a zero waste option for treats, but wasn’t sure what that could be. I decided to buy peanut free ‘treats’ such as cookies and fruit snacks. I know that there is still waste from the plastic/foil packaging, but I thought that it was less packaging than mini chocolate bars or small candy. I brought the boxes to school for our Halloween “maker space day”. What is a better option for Halloween-one that still includes participating by giving a ‘treat’? I’d love to hear people’s suggestions. I miss the days of giving money for Unicef! Luckily we only got 13 kids, so we didn’t have to buy a lot of snacks.

While I was shopping I tried to buy fewer groceries and use what we already had in the cupboard. Being an organized shopper can help reduce purchasing doubles or triples of the same products. If you plan for the week then you can also purchase with intent instead of buying on a whim because you are hungry! I really noticed how as a society we focus more on convenience more than anything else. We pay extra to have an employee cut up fruit, vegetables, cheese, etc. so we don’t have to do it ourselves. I can understand this, but now food that didn’t require plastic packaging has been put into a plastic storing container. I honestly don’t even know if these can be recycled.

I did remember to bring my mesh bags for fruit/vegetables. That is one things I forget to do a lot of the time. How many of those clear, plastic bags get tossed as soon as the groceries get unpacked? I at least use mine for dog “waste” bags-but I shouldn’t be using them at all.

My mesh bags are from Norwex-but look just like this one!

What I need to do is buy more things in bulk. Many bulk food stores are encouraging you to bring in your own containers such as Bulk Barn’s Reusable Container Program. This is going to be my next step!

So Monday’s grocery shopping wasn’t just a regular run in, grab a few things and go home process like it usually is! I need to be better at shopping with intent and making sure that I get what I want and need so no food gets thrown out. I reluctantly admit that we throw food out. I am embarrassed by that. Better organization with shopping/cooking will make positive changes for the earth, my wallet and my tummy!

Tuesday, October 30– Acupuncture appointment. *Pre-purchased visit

Wednesday, October 31– For our Halloween “party” today I allowed treats that were “as healthy and as waste free as possible”. None of the students brought in candy bags or juice boxes. We had a few homemade treats and the kids drank from their reusable water bottles. I am pleased with the student and parent support with this endeavour.

Homemade “Mummy” Pizzas!

October 31 was also the final day for our “WALK-tober: Walking School Bus”. Our goal was to encourage more students to walk to school instead of being dropped off when they live within walking distance. The best way to encourage the students was to join them! To celebrate one month of walking to school (we had about 15 regular walkers) we offered a snack of homemade muffins, oranges and bananas. Baking saved on packaging and homemade always taste better! The downfall…another reminder that we haven’t started a compost at school. One thing at a time I guess, but a school compost needs to become a priority at some point.

Thursday, November 1– Today was “Outdoor Classroom Day” at school. I purchased Starbucks for the two other teachers spending the whole day outside with the students. I brought ALL of us a reusable cup! At first I thought that this might be considered as weird or strange, but the staff knows me. They see me with my reusable cups all the time, so they accepted their hot drinks without complaint. AND if there was judgement, they kept it to themselves!!

During the Outdoor Classroom Day, one of the activities was a community walk. With the first group (grade 5/6) we walked down a street that was under construction. We noticed an ENORMOUS amount of garbage in that area. When we took the second group (grade 3/4) we brought bags to pick the garbage up. There were hundreds of pieces of garbage littered all over the street, sidewalk and area that had been dug up. The students were outraged at what we saw. Our neighbourhood is usually pretty clean and this area was looking like an actual dump. I Tweeted out a photograph and Take Pride Winnipeg (@TakePrideWpg) commented on our clean up! A few people came out of their home to thank us. We actually had to get two more garbage bags from one of the residents because we had filled ours up.

One of the big things that the students noticed/commented on (as we were treating this as a spontaneous mini inquiry project) was that there weren’t any garbage (or recycling) containers at this construction site. People would need to care enough to bring their trash home and dispose of it properly. Clearly, this was NOT happening. Another HUGE disappointment to the students was that there were so many coffee cups amongst the litter. “Adults should know better. They are always blaming the kids, but kids don’t drink coffee. I’m telling my parents to stop buying coffee and make it at home instead. If I see one more coffee cup on the ground I’m going to scream” (Grade 4 student). One of the most interesting things to me is: with all the advertising companies do on their products we know exactly where the litter is coming from. Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s were the brands of coffee that were being carelessly tossed. McDonald’s offers $1 drinks several times per year. Why not offer those deals to people bringing reusable cups?! Tim Horton’s has their “Roll Up The Rim” promotion (which isn’t evening happening now and there were still so many of their cups on our street). Even if you bring your own cup you have to get one of the their cups in order to have an opportunity to win a prize. Why are the people who want to do something environmental being forced to make a decision about whether or not they should go against their ideals to have a chance at a prize. Maybe you only have a chance at the prize when you use a reusable cup?! Why is consuming hot beverages from cups that are not recyclable so widely accepted in our society. It made me think of Tim Jackson (2006) and his focus on “what government agencies can do to facilitate a wider public shift towards reduced consumption. Governments need to create a policy framework that both encourages people to break their existing consumption habits and penalizes wasteful consumption…” (Mulligan p. 45-46).

Friday, November 2– I was not at school today because I had a conference to go to. I ended up at Starbucks again (after doing well with making my own coffee for Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday) but I brought my own cup AND an extra for my colleague just in case she forgot hers (which she did!). She appreciated my thoughtfulness and plans on making a change herself. *I would also like to point out that early in the week a different colleague commented on my $2.00 reusable Starbucks cup. I got one for her and she has used it each day since!! We went for lunch on Friday as well. We chose to go to a restaurant that prides themselves on using local ingredients.

Saturday, November 3– I had a “No Spend Saturday”. This was pretty easy because I was busy with schoolwork, but also since I was at home all day I was tempted to do some online shopping. I talked myself out of making any purchases because a) I wanted to have a day where I didn’t purchase anything AND b) I didn’t actually need anything. I ate leftover soup that I had made earlier in the week (which made for quick meals during the week and was healthy and tasty).

Sunday, November 4– The only purchase I made was a coffee on the way to the airport to meet a friend, and the cost to park at the airport. Overall I was pretty successful at not spending much and instead consuming what I already had at home this weekend!

Things of Note from Part 2 of journalling:

  • I had a lot of different thoughts and ideas this week. I thought I would choose one area to focus on, but instead there ended up being many different things to note and consider.
  • I was more open about my concerns and ideas and people were receptive and even willing to make changes themselves. I’m ready for my views on consumerism to be heard and my ideas to inspire others to make simple but effective changes.
  • I have work to do! Responsible grocery shopping is going to be a real focus for me. The choices I make for my household can/will impact “the hide costs of hyperconsumption” (Mulligan p. 36). Better planning and intent will result in less plastic in my purchases-which has to take priority.

FInal Thoughts: 

  1. I practice the 6Rs (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect, Repeat) but also really like these 8Rs!
  2. I have some decisions to make about Christmas. If I want change to happen then it needs to start with me. Some ideas that have come up from this process are: keeping a spending journal, buying fewer material gifts and more experiences for gifts, using paper that can be recycled or cover gifts with things such as towels that can just be put back in the drawer (the fun part is the surprise, who cares what the wrapping looks), making an effort to buy local, considering the needs of others instead of the wants that I have (especially with my students. Last year two students bought gifts in my honour-a scarf for a homeless person and a donation made in my name for a local charity. They did this because they knew me well and knew how I would appreciate that as a gift. Maybe I let parents know that. It is always very awkward when students bring in teacher gifts at Christmas. They do it because they “should” and because they want to, but honestly I don’t need anything) and making the holidays about being together instead of gifts.
  3. I’ve really enjoyed this process. I spent a lot of time scrolling through Instagram finding posts that resonated with me and connected with the points I was trying to make. The required reading and supplemental material was helpful to make connections as well.
  4. We can all ask ourselves this question…

Until Next Time,



Mulligan, M. (2018) An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Bulk Barn: Reusable Container Program: http://www.bulkbarn.ca/Reusable-Container-Program/

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Reflective Journal: Consumerism and Materialism-Part 1


For two weeks I have tracked my spending to help determine and understand my consumption habits and patterns. During this time I attempted to spend and consume as I normally do, but also pay attention to any sort of activity that may impact or prompt what I was purchase. Below are the “highlights” of what I noticed over this two week span!

October 15-28 “Spending Journal”:

Monday, October 15-Friday, October 19  &  Monday, October 22-Friday, October 26– Starbucks Coffee. Yes. Now that I type this it seems like a LOT of coffee trips! I’d like to put a few things into context about my Starbucks visits!

*I ALWAYS bring my reusable cup. No cup…no coffee!

*I realize that I do NOT need coffee from Starbucks. I’m just trying to be honest about by consumption!

*Although I realize that buying my coffee from a smaller, local place of business is better I do think Starbucks makes somewhat of an effort to social responsibility and sustainability

Monday, October 15– Acupuncture appointment. *Pre-purchased visit

Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Wednesday, October 17– 90 minute Massage

Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Friday, October 19– Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Sobey’s- Supper groceries (brought my own bag!)

Outdoor furniture for the deck (balance that was owed). We ordered new furniture for our deck-all made from recycled milk jugs! Interested in learning more?! Check out the C.R. Plastic Products website

Sunday, October 21– Breakfast at a local Winnipeg restaurant

Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Safeway- Weekly grocery run (again…no single use plastic bags used)

Monday, October 22– Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues game *Pre-purchased tickets

GO Jets GO!! (My girl Hudson is a Wheeler fan too!!)

Dinner at the Jets game *No single use cutlery used

Wednesday, October 24– Subway Lunch (no drink = no straw!)

When I do use a straw I make a conscious effort to use my own stainless steel straw. I love that it came with a little brush to clean it. I often carry it in my purse…just in case I need it!

Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Thursday, October 25– Facial

Friday, October 26– Domino’s Pizza for supper

Saturday, October 27– Latte & Scone from my favourite local bakery

Sunday, October 28– Yoga fundraiser: “Holidays for the Homeless”. The proceeds from the 200 tickets sold will go to getting coffee, female hygiene products, toques and lunches for 500 people on December 21!! Everything from breakfast to attendance prizes to location for the event are donated. It’s a great cause run by local Winnipeg philanthropist Amy Tung (@i_am_love_project). The downfall…too much waste from the donated breakfast (plastic spoon, small portions of a variety food that come in single use containers and everything comes in an oversized paper bag).

Consuming without purchasing:

Now…besides merely spending I also consumed things that other people purchased for me. A friend purchased a coffee for me and I drank it…out of the single use cup. This hurt. My friend knows that I only drink from reusable cups. When I purchase coffee for her I bring her a reusable cup too! I know she purchased for me out of kindness, but all I could think about was that cup 🙁 It reminds me of this recent post I saw from the Plastic Tides instagram account (@plastictides). I’ve been really bothered by this because I have allowed myself to think about stand not just push it to the back of my mind. Something needs to be done about the amount of single use coffee cups that are used on a daily basis.

Things of note from my “spending journal”:

  • I pre-purchase Yoga classes because it is more cost effective. WELL it is more cost effective as long as I go regularly. My Yoga studio offers a variety of packages, but the one I use the best ‘deal’ as long as I go twice a week!
  • I pre-purchase acupuncture appointments too. The clinic offers a pay for 7 sessions and receive the 8th for free! Again-this package is ideal for those people who require many visits.
  • I spent money on services/experiences vs. ‘stuff’ (other than food)
  • I go to Starbucks for coffee because I enjoy drinking it the most. My regular Starbucks employees actually expect me to being my own cup since I do each time (like to the point the barista has noticed when I’ve brought in a different cup!). I also choose Starbucks because they have a good rewards program. For every 125 stars I earn, I receive a free menu item. To prompt more visits, Starbucks has BONUS star offers such as “Double Star Days”, “Menu Challenges” , discounts after 2:00, etc. To be honest, on “Double Star Days” I purchase a latte instead of a regular coffee…because I get more points! These promotions are sent via e-mail so I always feel “in the loop”. They work for me and I’m sure for millions of other people. It makes me think that I NEED that latte even though I understand that it is a total want. Starbucks advertising and rewards program has definitely worked on me!
  • I go to Yoga, massages and for facials all at different locations, but all are run by local Winnipeg women who are following their passion. I seek out small businesses and am loyal to these service providers because they love what they do and they go the extra step to get to know me. I don’t feel like a number at these places. That is important to me!
  • The furniture we purchased was chosen very carefully! We wanted to buy something that was manufactured in Canada and from a small store (versus a chain store). We have a relationship with this store owner and enjoy doing business with him. We saved for the furniture by doing a “52 week savings plan” (we put cash aside each week and spend it on items we really want). We were able to pay cash for the furniture because of our effort to save for these types of expenditures. What we chose was more expensive than other furniture that we had seen, but it is also made from recycled milk jugs (which we are pretty excited about), it is built to last and requires minimal upkeep (can be left out all winter). When you factor this all in-the cost makes sense! C.R. Plastic Products uses an environmental approach to sell their products. This is appealing to many people looking for a small way to make a difference. I do wish that the furniture didn’t have to come from Ontario and was produced in Winnipeg by the place we bought it from. Although, things coming from Ontario to Manitoba is a lot better than being shipped from half way around the world.
  • I don’t often go out for lunch. I did during this week because it was a “Forest Exploration Day” for me at school and it was very busy! I felt like I needed a break during the lunch hour. A coworker suggested Subway and that seemed like a great option. I didn’t get a drink because I was being mindful of the cup and straw. I realized too late that my sandwich was in a plastic bag.  I took my own bag and my coworker’s and used them to pick up after my dog-hoping that using the bags twice instead of once would make me feel better about taking it. It didn’t really, maybe a bit, but not enough. I’ll pay more attention next time!
  • In general, I ate out more than I should have. For me, going out to eat seems to be more for social reasons than any other reason. The Domino’s was because I was meeting some friends and that’s what they chose (I had never actually ordered from there before) and the breakfast was because it was part of our “date day”.  We could have easily made our own food at home, but it feels like such a treat to order in or go out with friends and family. How can I make the best choices when socializing with friends and family? This will be something to consider for the future!
  • The local bakery I go to is one of many businesses that use The Local Frequency card. When you shop at these businesses and use the card you get “money” that you can use to spend at these same businesses. There is an app you can use instead of carrying the actual card. You get 1-3% of your purchase back to spend using the card/app. You can also load the card with “Frequency Dollars” and earn more money on your purchases as you spend them (up to 20%). It’s a neat approach to “keeping it local”!

    My Local Frequency card!

Final Thoughts:

  1. Tracking what I spent made me feel guilty in some ways, but also reminded me that I make a decent effort to make a difference-even if the difference seems small
  2. There is always room for improvement! I need to be more vocal with my beliefs and spread my ideas with others. I sometimes assume that other people know what they can do to make a difference, yet choose not to and it turns out to be completely different! More often than not these people hadn’t even thought about the significance of their choice. I can be gentle with my approach, but be more vocal about suggestions for positive choices. Leading by example has allowed for some success but I’m ready to lead more people into environmental stewardship!
  3. It is time to revaluate my personal goals. Yes I have created some good habits such as only using reusable cups and bags, saying NO to straws, cutting down on single use plastic utensils (by refusing, using my own bamboo utensils and washing and reusing when possible) and buying local, but these have been habits for a long time. What are own my next steps? How will I put what I have read in Mulligan’s “An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives” as well as what I have learned from the supplementary materials and other students into practice? I will continue on my journey of ethical consumption “a values-based approach to purchase and consumption which puts the onus on the consumer to exercise his or her choice wisely” (Mulligan p. 42) and voluntary simplicity “effort to live with less as a result of a conscious decision to avoid waste or complexity in life” (Mulligan p.43).

While reading through the supplemental material I’ve decided to use Anup Shah’s Consumption and Consumerism article to guide me to my next steps.

“We consume a variety of resources and products today having moved beyond basic needs to include luxury items and technological innovations to try to improve efficiency. Such consumption beyond minimal and basic needs is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, as throughout history we have always sought to find ways to make our lives a bit easier to live. However, increasingly, there are important issues around consumerism that need to be understood. For example:

  • How are the products and resources we consume actually produced?
  • What are the impacts of that process of production on the environment, society, on individuals?
  • What are the impacts of certain forms of consumption on the environment, on society, on individuals?
  • Which actors influence our choices of consumption?
  • Which actors influence how and why things are produced or not?
  • What is a necessity and what is a luxury?
  • How do demands on items affect the requirements placed upon the environment?
  • How do consumption habits change as societies change?
  • Businesses and advertising are major engines in promoting the consumption of products so that they may survive. How much of what we consume is influenced by their needs versus our needs?
  • Also influential is the very culture of today in many countries, as well as the media and the political institutions themselves. What is the impact on poorer nations and people on the demands of the wealthier nations and people that are able to afford to consume more?
  • How do material values influence our relationships with other people?
  • What impact does that have on our personal values?
  • And so on.”

I am looking forward to Part 2 of this task as I shift something in my consumption habits and add a fresh perspective to my responsible consumerism journey!

Until Next Time,



Mulligan, M. (2018) An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Shah, Anup (January 5, 2014). Consumption and Consumerism. Global Issues: Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All


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Becoming a Responsible Consumer

We live in a time when people are recognizing they need to make positive changes to help improve the environmental status of our planet. There are easy choices we can make as consumers that create the positive impacts we seek. At least we thought these choices were easy. It turns out that the information we receive is all but simple. We put our trust in companies to do the research, create the products and behave in a way that we expect, yet that does not always happen. As consumers we may rely on the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to make our purchasing decisions simple. However, at times we have been intentionally “Greenwashed” by the corporate world.  As responsible consumers we need to do our research and then support the businesses we feel are socially responsible and match the values that we have as individuals.

Before we begin we need to understand what Corporate Social Responsibility and Greenwashing are.

Corporate Social Responsibility as defined by Business New Daily in an article published by  Sammi Caramela, B2B Staff Writer, What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Greenwashing as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary online is “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment that it really is” (Greenwashing Definition)

Some people are content with purchasing products that have a label that reads “green”, “organic”, “biodegradable”, “eco-friendly”, etc. and feel like they are doing their part. Other people need more. They want proof that they are supporting companies and using products that are not making more of a negative impact on our planet and are geared toward achieving sustainability standards. Corporate Social Responsibility is a way for consumers to have the research done for them, but only if it is done properly.

In order to educate ourselves about the process and standards of CSR we can consider the following articles:

Interested in learning more about CSR? Take a look at this comprehensive guide about implementation of corporate social responsibility for businesses in Canada.

Corporate Social Responsibilty: An Implementation Guide for Canadian Business

The following information from 2015 tells us which companies are operating with a “strong performance across important sustainability issues such as resource efficiency, impact on local communities, treatment of employees and responsible supply-chain management”. (Julie Smyth from her article Canada’s top 50 socially responsible corporations: 2015 “How these companies are getting ahead by putting communities, the environment and their employees at the top of their agendas”). *Link below

MACLEAN’S: Canada’s Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations from 2015

Walmart is a huge corporation that many consumers rely on for the purchase of their day to day goods. How is Walmart doing with regard to opportunity, sustainability, community? Want to learn more about their impacts? The link below also provides its audience with a Global Responsibility Report.

Walmart’s Global Responsibility-from Corporate Walmart

Greenwashing: What do you need to know? You are making the effort to be environmentally conscious, just be careful that you aren’t being “Greenwashed”!

It’s not easy being green. Businesses must back up their words. Government of Canada website

There is so much information to sift through. If watching a video makes more sense for you take a look at CBC’s Marketplace on Greenwashing: Busting “Eco” Labels.

So, you don’t want to be “Greenwashed”? What can you do as a consumer to avoid it?

How to Avoid Greenwashing-Green At Home Blog

Wash Greenwashing Away-Simply Sustainable By Earth Hero

Corporate Social Responsibility is not limited to the idea of whether you are being “Greenwashed” or not. It is also more than having an environmental focus. As mentioned earlier in the article entitled: “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?” by Sammi Caramela,

Take the Colin Kaepernick and Nike headlines that have been in the news as of late. Will corporations speak out more about what they believe in regardless of the risk of using profit?

Colin Kaepernick-Staement from NFL in The Globe and Mail, September 4, 2018 article

“Nike’s stand on Kaepernick may signal the start of more companies speaking out” CNBC September 5, 2018 article

We all have responsibilities when it comes to what to purchase and who to purchase from. Corporate Social Responsibility efforts can make it easier on society to purchase products that they feel can be more of a help than a hindrance to our planet. Without policies in place we are at risk of being “Greenwashed” into buying and using products we think fit into our personal philosophies. As consumers we have the power to hold companies and corporations accountable. If we don’t believe in the product we don’t have to buy it. If we don’t educate ourselves or take a stand for what we believe in, the changes we seek will never take place.

Danielle Shrumm