Smoke in the air

September 7, 2017

murkyskyatwoodwynn

This is how it looks these days. In the middle of the day. Wildfire smoke from hundreds of miles away drifts over to Vancouver Island and what should be a bright morning is a dull murky surreal kind of experience. Our hearts go out to those who are experiencing worse.

That being said, the Woodwynn Peace Garden is in good shape – we had a great volunteer party yesterday from St. Andrews School. These folks tackled all kinds of tasks and helped us feel that the overwhelming fall cleanup is not going to be so overwhelming after all.

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(photo is altered because I didn’t ask permission from the volunteers.)

We harvested a lot of sage, so more herb bundles are forthcoming! It’s gratifying to see how tidy the labyrinth looks after the trim and removal of weeds. Also wonderful to have the fragrance in our home when we work with the herbs we have gathered.

 

 

The sage has been trimmed several times over the summer – it came back really well around April after a serious cut-back in late January- early February. I know this from my iPad photos. Thank goodness they are date stamped! Lavender and Poppies were beautiful in mid-June. We started collecting poppy seeds in early August and there seemed to be about 2 or 3 weeks to harvest these as the pods didn’t all form at quite the same time. We definitely left some to self-seed, as they did last year after first arriving all on their own – well actually likely with the help of birds! Thank you birds!!

The lavender had been cut way back in the fall. We harvested lavender from about early July till the end of July and were perhaps a bit late with some of it. There’s some second growth right now – so we have a bit of everything including a dozen or so plants that we didn’t harvest earlier and are now cutting to collect the seeds, which seem pretty abundant.  4stageslavenderyoungtoOLD

The four stages of lavender – buds (probably a bit early to harvest as dried flowers but okay for culinary use, to dry for soap, etc.), flowers ready to harvest for dried arrangements, flowers at the point when they’ve really been left a bit too long to harvest – and seed pods!

I realize how much value there would be in really keeping a log of farm events. This blog could serve the purpose if I was a bit more dedicated to it 🙂

Right now, early September after a very dry summer, it’s of note that the sage and lavender has survived with watering basically every other week (the trough of sage needed weekly watering or better but that’s to be expected since it’s quite shallow). The apple trees, blueberries, kiwis and strawberries really needed weekly watering and in general they got that.  We know we have some serious learning to do in order to prune the apple trees to allow apples to form in the best possible way. And we’ll be training the kiwis for the first time this year – they are ready to have wires to follow along the sides of the arbor.

All in all – it’s been a summer of hard work and lots of reward!

And there will still be weeds to pull till we get to the hard winter. That is to be expected and as along as we more or less keep up, it is manageable.

murkyseptsunoverSolsticeSculpture

 

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Things from the Herb Garden (Woodwynn Peace Garden)

July 12, 2017

 

It is incredibly beautiful right now. And especially satisfying to be harvesting products, like bundles of herbs, for the market!

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Perfect summer day at Woodwynn Farms

June 24, 2017

I don’t need to say much here, the photos show how full and beautiful our time at the farm can be. It is truly a garden of peace. Hay has been cut. Wild flowers are blooming. The sage is lush, the lavender is dense, we see green blueberries that will soon ripen and kiwi flowers that will eventually be delicious fruit. And so much more!


George Essihos

April 1, 2017

georgeEssihosAtWoodwynn

I was very sad to hear today of the death of George Essihos on Wednesday.

I didn’t know about him, or his music, until just a few years ago. Since then, his performances and recordings have brought me a lot of joy and have helped me understand jazz, and perhaps a few other things, in a new way.

I feel honoured to have met him, and grateful that I got to hear him play on several occasions, including what I believe was his last public performance, in Mill Bay, early in 2015.

I guess you could say that once I discovered him, I made a point of getting to know him as best I could, and I’d like to think that in some way my family and I brought a bit of joy to his life as well, through the friendship we cultivated.

George visited us at the Peace Garden at Woodwynn Farms a few weeks before the official opening. Photos on this page show him with a glass-on-glass mosaic I had made, inspired by his performance of “I’m Beginning to See the Light.”

Like many others, I am wishing that there could be a chance to hear him play again.

 


Snow Day at Woodwynn Farms

February 7, 2017

I couldn’t stop taking photos this morning!

snowyroadtowoodwynn

The Road To Woodwynn Farms.

 

 

Today was pretty special out at the Woodwynn Peace Garden!

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Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning

January 19, 2017

veletsianos2016bookcover

Might as well share this on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration….

It’s a post to talk about my contribution to the book: “Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications” edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version). The book has a long list contributors and many are names that folks in the field of digital learning will instantly recognize: Terry Anderson, R. S. Baker, Angela D. Benson, Amy Collier, Alec Couros, Michael Dowdy, Margaret Edwards, B. J. Eib, Cassidy Hall, Katia Hildebrandt, P. S. Inventado, Royce Kimmons, Trey Martindale, Rolin Moe, Beth Perry, Jen Ross, Elizabeth Wellburn, Andrew Whitworth. It is well worth a read and I feel bad for not having promoted it sooner.

BUT….

Ever since the book became available late last spring, I have actually been afraid to re-read the chapter that I had co-authored with my colleague, BJ Eib. And without having done so, how could I promote the book? At the time the book came out, with Donald Trump as the Republican candidate, I was already feeling low about human rationality. I was afraid I’d find our little book chapter had expressed too much optimism about internet connectivity and the human ability to filter and learn (and ultimately make good decisions) from the information available online. Like everyone else, over the past year I had been witnessing horrifying examples of falsehoods and illogic on social media. And it was appearing that not enough was happening to counterbalance the misinformation. It certainly didn’t get better over the summer and of course we all know what happened in the fall…. So, remembering that the Eib/Wellburn chapter had been enthusiastic about the online world as a source of learning, but not quite remembering how deep (and perhaps narrow) that enthusiasm ran, I felt apprehensive about checking it out, in case the chapter had been part of a naive belief-set. I knew that in our chapter we had talked about new roles for teachers and learners in this information-rich era and I knew we had written this because we were excited to explore the types of online environments where amateurs and experts could learn from each other and where authors and audiences could exchange roles and connect with each other. Had we been too “rah-rah” about these possibilities, which were often based on the very social media that was now allowing the widespread proliferation of “Fake News”? Had we neglected to consider the critical thinking and filtering abilities that are important to make the online environment a worthwhile place to be?

Well, today I have taken the plunge and re-read the chapter! And I certainly feel better to know that we *did* address the cautions (things I have always considered to be important but haven’t always felt sure I’ve expressed completely) along with the enthusiasm I felt, (and actually still feel). When we first wrote this chapter around 2009 (and even when we revised it in 2015) “Fake News” and “Post Truth” were not phrases we heard on a regular basis, but there were plenty of authors writing to warn that new literacy skills were going to be required in order to make sense of all the incoming information. And, thankfully, yes, BJ and I did acknowledge and share the ideas of those authors!

Here’s one quote from the chapter that gave me a bit of relief (and there are others):

“How do we ensure that breadth and immediacy do not replace depth and analysis? A new responsibility seems to be upon us: to ensure that our learners have the opportunity to develop skills and literacies that are appropriate for deep learning from (or in spite of) the published but unfiltered information they are currently encountering.”

So… the chapter did include a call to promote information literacy skills. As recent events have shown, the challenges are more pressing than ever. AND the exciting potential is still there as well.

In the conclusion of the book, George Veletsianos states: “Scholarship should evoke change, and academics, particularly academics in schools of education, should strive to improve our societies in meaningful ways.”

In an era where “Post Truth” is the Oxford Dictionary word of the year…(Nov 8, 2016)…
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2016  I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with what George is saying.

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Here’s some history of the book and of the chapter that BJ Eib and I created.
Here’s the link to the current 2016 book:

Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications
edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).
http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120258
And here’s the title of the 2010 book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (also including a freely available e-book version).

  • Our original chapter title in 2010
    Imagining Multi-Roles in Web 2.0 Distance Education
  • Our chapter title in 2016 (a re-write of the 2010 chapter)
    Multiple Learning Roles in a Connected Age: When Distance Means Less Than Ever

And here’s my blog post about the 2010 chapter:
https://elizabethtweets.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/imagining-multi-roles-learning-with-emerging-technologies-–-chapt-3-from-the-ebook/

Around that time I also blogged about all the other chapters as well, so if you explore my blog you’ll find those posts 🙂

 

For more, read about Wael Ghonim and the role of the internet in the Arab Spring revolution. It’s a fascinating viewpoint:
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/03/opinion/social-media-destroyer-or-creator.html


Paint Nite

January 4, 2017

paintnite

I had intended to write something different for my first 2017 posting here, but since, as a family, we spent the second evening of the New Year at Paint Nite – I now want to share my thoughts on this. Both my kids and of course professional artist husband Deryk are already into making artsy things. As am I. Son-in-law Tyler has more of an interest in technology so it was a newer experience for him. But we’d heard some general talk about the popularity of painting in a pub and we wanted to experience it.

It was a small room packed with 50 participants and we were elbow-to-elbow as we worked on our paintings. There was a set image that we were to paint, but there was no mandate to follow the rules. Almost everybody did (a couple of my family members were the only exceptions to this – I will not name them). We truly started with a blank canvas and I have read that this often surprises people as they expect the session to be more of a paint-by-numbers thing, with the drawing already done for them.

But the rules for outlining the image and then filling-it-in were given in small, humorous doses – a big raw blue sky, smooshy aurora effects, silhouette trees. And it was pretty easy to follow along.

A little refreshment, a lot of selfie-taking and an amazingly focused group of people. All the paintings came out strikingly similar. I spoke to people who planned to give their paintings as gifts and a friend’s daughter who happened to be at the same Paint Nite told me that this was her ninth time!

I did some reading on the topic the next day and found that this whole thing is much bigger than I knew, in fact it’s a multi-million dollar business. It’s clearly filling a need but NOT the need for self-expression. Folks wanted to have their painting turn out as close to the official image as possible. But, like knitting a sweater from a pattern, each painter could say “I made this myself.” And that is important.

Can it be that Paint Nite addresses the same need that drives people to love vinyl recordings and polaroid photos – that “turn your back on digital” point of view?

It makes me think that there is a lot of potential out there for people to take on projects that would be satisfying and perhaps a bit more individualistic than Paint Nite. I guess I hope that this trend will evolve and spark some further creativity.

And, although I won’t be giving my painting as a gift (or hanging it anywhere, even though it does look more or less like it’s supposed to) I did have a lot of fun and so did everyone else as far as I can tell 🙂