Learning to Love the Library

When I was a kid, I used to love going to the library. There was something amazing about going down to the local library with an empty book bag, and coming home with a bag full of borrowed magic that I could pore over for hours. Then I started earning money, and my visits to the library became less frequent as my bookshelves at home filled up with purchased books. This continued until I bought a kindle about four years ago, at which point I stopped reading physical books altogether and promptly forgot about libraries entirely.

But two things have happened recently that have rekindled my love for libraries. The first one is that my wonderful Grandpa (who, incidentally, is 93 years old and a regular reader of this blog) bought me a membership for the Athenaeum Library in Melbourne. The Ath is Melbourne’s oldest library, starting its life in 1839 just four years after Melbourne became a colony, and is filled with all the magic and history that you’d expect from a library of that vintage.

Over the past two months since I started my membership I’ve borrowed and read a new book every week, and I approach my visits to the library with all the excitement and anticipation that I did when I was a kid. I still feel like there’s something vaguely mischievous about the whole thing – walking to down to the library in my lunch break and coming back with a bag full of books that I didn’t pay for, and that they trust me to return when I’m finished. Amazing.

The second thing that has renewed my love of libraries is that I came across the Little Free Library movement. Basically, Little Free Libraries are tiny book boxes in front yards, bus stops, gardens and bike paths across the world where you can ‘leave a book, take a book’. The movement started about three years ago, when Todd Bol from Wisconsin came up with an idea to remember his mother – a teacher who had a passion for reading and literacy. Todd crafted a box that looked like an old school house, waterproofed it, filled it with books and put it in his yard with a sign that said ‘free book exchange’.

The idea took off, and all of a sudden, neighbours who Todd had never spoken to were dropping in to chat and look through the books. Three years later, there are Little Free Libraries everywhere from Africa to Australia, and Todd has a website (www.littlefreelibrary.org) where you can buy kits to create your own library. Little Free Library’s mission is simple – “to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide, and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations”. Double amazing.

Why not check out the Little Free Library World Map to find out if there’s one near you, or even better, how about starting one in your neighbourhood and sharing some library love!

Three Leadership Lessons from Spider-Man

Well, we’re about three days away from everyone in the world not caring about Spider-Man and the over $200 million grossing movie about my favourite superhero (see photo) [Editor's note: fair enough, The Dark Knight Rises will most likely be the greatest superhero movie ever made]. Consequently, I thought that I’d reflect on some of the things that – long ago and before it was cool – I made The Amazing Spider-Man my most favourite of comic book characters.

After seeing the 2012 film about my favourite superhero (here’s my quick review: it’s the same story arc as the Toby McGuire version and the cartoon and is just better in every way), I got to thinking about why, in addition to the facts that, first, nerds are awesome and, second, Spidey is totally protected from the terrifying Sun, the web slinger resonates so much with me.

The answer is simple: more than any other superhero, Spider-Man builds and inspires community.

Plainly put, he does so with a unique formula of leadership of kindness, humour, humility, smarts, passion, and responsibility. And below are three leadership lessons that you can take away from Spider-Man. No, this not a “new idea” and “a few people” have “already written about this” in “2010″ – this being said, my lessons get to the punchline quicker and better. And the artwork (see below) that I chose to adorn this post is adorable.

Spider-Man / John's go-to Halloween costume

Without further ado, here they are:

1. Take Responsibility. For weak leaders, this is an absolute burden. Great leaders take responsibility for their actionsespecially the screw ups and downright failures. Spider-Man leads by example and he not only owns up for the mistakes/failures/giant-lizards that “he created”, but he also solves said great problems with his great power.

2. Think Outside the Box Make Awesome Things and Show Them to People. Good leaders “think outside the box” and, consequently, find most of their creativity in outdated cliches. Great leaders inspire by the work they produce. According to Simon Sinek, great leaders relentlessly pursue the question “why?”, which is certainly at the centre of Spider-Man’s story. For example, Spider-Man’s “web shooters” are both flat-out cool and reflective of this particular leader’s elevated intelligence, not to mention his inventive entrepreneurial spirit. Also, the Spider-Man brand is so friggin’ cool that, by the end of Marvel’s most recent film, Peter Parker’s once-nemesis, Flash Thompson, is seen sportin’ some Spidey-wear! Community-building achieved and teenage-angst overcome!

3. Be Nice (and Funny). There’s a reason that he’s called “Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man” – first, he’s nice to people (take some advice from Colin Powell, Wolverine and Batman?) and, second, he doesn’t take himself too seriously (Doug Guthrie says to stop being so serious all the time, Superman). Sure, his outfit protects him from the Sun and his friends from retribution, but his possibly-luge-inspired spandex uni-tard also reveals how this community-driven leader who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Being relaxed and fun (and, when appropriate, funny) puts people at ease and provides some great circumstances for building a positive sense of community.

Finally, never underestimate any leaders “spider-sense” and their ability to trust such instincts. Intuitively, Spider-Man can see things coming before they happen, and this kind of strategic thinking will serve any great leader very, very well.

So there it is. Some leadership learning that strategically and edutainingly connects to my favourite – and, unfortunately though understandably soon-to-be-forgotten, superhero, Spider-Man.

Masthead photo courtesy of msspider66′s Photostream on Flicker

Play Dates, Imaginary Friends, and Getting Lost in the Woods: The Diversity of Play

Glimpses of summer these past few weeks spawned a conversation with my husband (and Daily Gumboot Editor-in-Chief John Horn) recently about our childhoods – what did we do in the summers? How did we play? Which one of us was more likely to run away into the surrounding woods and get lost? (I’m sure you can guess the answer to that one!). We discovered that although there were some similarities to our play, the different environments that we grew up in very much influenced the type of play we engaged in. For instance, John grew up in a rural environment, and I grew up in a semi-urban (okay, fine, suburban) neighbourhood. Not surprisingly, John spent more time freely exploring the wooded areas around his house, while I spent more time in backyards and a (now that I think back to it) fairly sketchy vacant lot up the street. Another difference we discussed was who we played with – because there weren’t a lot of other kids around, John spend a lot of time playing with his sister, or with his imaginary friend named Sparky*, while I played with a larger group of kids from the neighbourhood and school.

An article recently published in the BC Council for Families magazine, Family Connections, explored this concept of play across environments and cultures, and found that environments and cultures do indeed have a very large influence on play. These findings touched on some of the key differences John and I had explored – for example, one large factor that can lead to differences in play include whether there are other play partners around (neighbours, cousins, siblings, friends), and how safe it is to run freely around the neighbourhood.

Some interesting cultural differences were also explored within the article. For example, in Western society, it is emphasized that parents should devote time to play with their children, while in other cultures, the extended family plays a much larger role in playing with children than the parents. The idea of having structured play (e.g. sitting down to finish an art activity, like making a bracelet or using toys with numbers/letters) vs. free play (e.g. children engaging in pretend play, like playing kitchen) is also something that varies across – and within – cultures.

With the even-diversifying cultural landscape we find ourselves living within, these different approaches to play can lead to some interesting learnings, creativity and flexibility – but hey, isn’t that what play should be all about anyway?

*John may or may not have had an imaginary friend named Sparky.

Laneway Learning: crowdsourcing education

Ever wondered who invented the roller coaster, or more importantly, why on earth they thought it would be a good idea? Or maybe you’re living with a secret longing to learn the ukulele, but you’ve never had the time to learn how to play anything but a slightly Hawaiian version of Smoke on the Water. Or perhaps, like me, you really love to learn stuff, but the thought of attending (and paying for) a 10 week course in meditation is a little too high on the commitment scale.

If any of the above resonate, you’ll love the new Laneway Learning program that’s cropped up out of one of Melbourne’s mega-awesome laneways. The concept is simple – cheap, informal, relaxed classes that are aimed at letting working people learn new things in a totally non-committal way. The aim isn’t to make experts of learners, but rather, give them a taste of a cool new skill that they can go home and practice.

The classes for June range from the foody (Homebrewing on May 30), to the academic (Law, huh. What is it good for? on June 20), to the delightfully bizarre (Every stupid trick I know on June 12). What they have in common is that they’re all one night only, they all go for a maximum of 75 minutes, and most awesomely, they’re all only $12.

What I love most about these classes though is that both the topics and the teaching is 100% community crowdsourced. Anyone can suggest a class they think would be cool, and anyone can sign-up to teach a class based on their area of expertise, however niche. You don’t need to be a professional educator to teach, all you need is a bit of passion and the ability to get other people excited about the things that you’re excited about.

These classes would have to be pretty close to my idea of the perfect night out. A couple of friends, a couple of beers and learning about something great in a totally non-committal way. If you don’t live in Melbourne, start packing. This is worth moving for.

Make Me Feel Important

A good friend recently had her second child and instead of a baby shower, she had a small gathering where guests shared stories and our wishes for her journey through birth and into becoming a mother of two children.  It was refreshing to be a part of an intentional conversation that created space to tell a loved one how I feel about her.  People were shy at first but the group warmed up quickly and it felt great.

I was at a corporate event last night and 10 speakers took to the stage to share parts of their personal lives with their colleagues.  It was so cool.  Everyone spoke on different topics but the common thread was that they all spoke about what they really cared about.  Again, it was so refreshing to be a part of a conversation that was positive and personal.

I met a brilliant CEO last week who talked about how it’s easy to find people to work for her because she looks for people who lead with their hearts.  How awesome is that?  And how refreshing to learn that a business executive makes hiring decisions that way.

Thinking about these three moments, I realized that they were refreshing because they’re rare.  In our device-equipped society, we spend so much time computing, commuting, and snoozing that there’s not a lot of time left for real connections.  Don’t get me wrong, I love blogs and read a bunch regularly.  And lots of them are very personal.  But unless you know the person writing, it’s just not the same damn thing as talking face-to-face.  And I mean really talking.  Having lean-in moments that you find yourself thinking about for days afterward.   And maybe telling other friends about too.

So why is it rare?  Well, for one thing you need to be present to have those magical moments.  And it’s kind of tiring to be present all the time.  Especially when there’s so much good stuff around us to help us tune-out.  You have to work at it and be open to whatever comes your way.  Which means there’s a degree of vulnerability that comes with being real.  Like, you might say or do something silly and then feel silly then people will think you’re silly and you’ll wish you had of just been cool like The Fonz and didn’t say or do anything in the first place.  But I think The Fonz was as unsure as the rest of us and he needed love too.  Not just ladies, but real love.  Plus, he was just pretend anyway.

It’s so easy to slip into our same old soundtrack of negativity and self-doubt.  And it’s easy to be a part of gossip and useless sharing.  But there comes a point when that’s just way too boring for our spirits and those rare moments become the norm.  There’s nothing like a personal connection and as Claudia Garcia so beautifully says: “pretend that everyone you meet has a sign around their neck that says ‘make me feel important’”.  Then the potential to make those connections is limitless.  Love it – thanks cgg!

Masthead photo from Franck Mahon’s photostream on Flickr

A Hunch about Lunch

One of the most important communities in daily life is the work community. What do I look for in a workplace community? Well, there are a few key factors, but the latest to be added to my wish list is ‘a place where people eat lunch”.

Sharing a meal is one of the most powerful ways to build community and being “a place where people eat lunch” can benefit a workplace both culturally and in terms of productivity. Unfortunately, I have been noticing a major absence of shared meals in my working life and have heard this same thing echoed among many of my peers. I’m starting to think I’m going to have to move to Europe to locate this appreciation for the mid-day meal.

North American Culture prides itself on hard work and ambition. Michael Pollan, in his book, In Defense of Food; An Eater’s Manifesto, suggests that as an effect of this ideology, North American’s view food as merely utilitarian fuel rather than something to be enjoyed for it’s own sake. He brings up several examples of the stark difference between North American attitudes to food as compared to European attitudes the most striking example given is a comparison where American and French people are shown a picture of a piece of chocolate cake and asked what word it brings to mind. The most common American reaction is “guilt” while the most common French reaction is “celebration”!

Perhaps it can be chalked up to the fact that I was raised with a European attitude towards food, but I do not believe that eating a protein bar at my desk can be classified as lunch. Nor do I believe that it can have any long-term benefits to my employer or my career. I can see some very real and lasting benefits however, in taking a ½ hour to share a meal with my co-workers.

Sharing a meal is the fastest way to establish shared experiences, which are the building blocks of community. With strong community comes creativity because two heads really are better than one (and all heads are significantly more powerful when they receive more than just caffeine as a stimulus).  Creativity can invigorate a workplace and make its entire workforce more productive and motivated in all of their working hours.

Each of these outcomes produces more powerful benefits than that extra ½ hour in front of the computer and these are just a few of the benefits to be had when you turn your work place into a place where people eat lunch. If you aren’t lucky enough to work in one of these places already, why don’t you try something new for lunch today?

No Fun Couver Revisited

Thanks to Rena Warren at Capricornucopia Artworks for sharing!

We had what I call a Tipping Point party in Kelowna the other night: a party where groups of people got together who normally wouldn’t associate simply because they work and play in different social worlds – accountants, employment counsellors, computer programmers, urban planners, landscapers, sales managers and teachers – and I told a story I read through John Horn’s post about Joel Plaskett. Apparently Joel Plaskett refuses to come back to Kelowna because the crowds here are dead.

Here are some important disclosures about me: 1) I’m not from Kelowna, I’m from Vancouver, so I bring an outsider’s perspective and ask lots of annoying questions; 2) I meet exceptional people everyday in Kelowna, but on the whole often agree with Joel. A friend once asked me whether someday I will ever tell people I’m from Kelowna (I always say, “I live in Kelowna, but I’m from Vancouver”). My answer was “Not yet”. But someday I hope I feel differently.

Several years ago, I went to a groundbreaking show at a downtown Kelowna pub where local hero Shane Koyczan opened for Danny Michel.  I’d never heard Danny Michel before and I was stunned when he walked on stage, just him and an electric guitar, and provided the most sonically cool and rip-rockin’ show that one man could make.  Absolutely unbelievable. I’ve been a Danny Michel fan ever since.

Unfortunately I was also very drunk on the occasion – I had chosen to drink stout beer all evening which results in heavy lips and heavy feet – and my most vivid memory of the concert was of me falling on my face on the way to the bathroom. Unfortunately, it was also the loudest noise from the crowd that evening. No cheers, no catcalls, no song requests. And yet, the music that Danny Michel performed that night would’ve started a riot in Montreal, it was that good.

Thanks to Rena Warren at Capricornucopia Artworks for sharing!

So I shared Joel Plaskett’s comments at our party, and instead of angry responses, I got sheepish ones.   Apparently it’s a well-known fact around here that Kelowna has reserved crowds. If you want to go to a great concert, you make plans to leave Kelowna, you go to Vancouver or Washington. Even at hockey games, no one cheers very hard until the playoffs.

A friend of mine who moved to Revelstoke told me an interesting story about the Junior B hockey team there which regularly scored low attendances.  A funny cultural shift happened when Revelstoke became a destination of choice for sports-obsessed Australians looking to work abroad at a ski hill. Australians quickly learn that junior hockey is hard, fast and violent – all the things that Aussies love in their sports – and they’re permitted to drink lots of beer at games. The Aussies started buying up all the tickets along the boards and would stack their beer cups against the glass. They would cheer hysterically when a body check would send cups flying into the crowd in all directions. People around the entire rink would cheer (it’s possible that some betting was involved) and even the players and local fans were getting caught up in the excitement. Attendance at games has never been better.

I now realize that culture has a tipping point. Cities change, sometimes very quickly. When I lived in Vancouver, I remember locals complaining that the city was too boring (this was pre-Olympics) and the media had dubbed it “No-Fun-Couver”. (Even as recently as last spring, I read that UBC was making changes to admissions procedures to accommodate cultural as well as academic variables to make for a more diverse student body.) But I don’t hear as many complaints these days about Vancouver – every time I visit I have a blast – so things must be turning around. For Kelowna’s sake, both economically and culturally, I hope that shift is headed this way or tough times lie ahead.

For discussion, I’m throwing out a licentious thought: that the key driver of well-being in any city lies within your population of 25-35 years old, single, college or university graduates. If you lose more of these people than you attract, bad things are ahead. Because these are your future entrepreneurs, movers & rump shakers. It’s also what keeps your town from becoming a boring place. Kelowna has been failing on this metric and it’s something that desperately needs to turn around. In fact, it’s a key variable that every city should watch.

Masthead image courtesy of Adam Jones, PhD

Jane’s Walk 2012 – Find your ‘Hood!

[Editor's note: a few years ago, one of our Correspondents - Phil Skipper - led a Jane's Walk tour of the Cambie-King-Edward-Queen-Elizabeth-Park-The-Mayor's-House neighbourhood in Vancouver. The experience was community-exploration at its finest. And it's happening again this coming weekend!]

Devon Ostrom / Jane's Walk 2011 Press Gallery

On Saturday, May 5th & Sunday, May 6th, thousands of people in metro Vancouver and around the world will take to the street to answer Jane Jacobs’ famous call to “get out and walk. The 6th annual Jane’s Walk is a chance to explore metro Vancouver’s neighbourhoods with fresh eyes and curious mind. This year in Vancouver, there will be a special focus on learning what makes’ our neighbourhoods unique.

Created in 2007 in Toronto by friends of the urban thinker Jane Jacobs, the free, volunteer-led urban walks have grown exponentially from 27 walks the first year to over 500 walks around the world – from Burnaby to Brisbane and Sao Paulo to Surrey – in over 75 cities and 16 countries.

Courtesy of Pukar / Jane's Walk 2011 Press Gallery - Mumbai

Walks are as varied as the people taking part, and they create the time and space for people to connect, share, and develop ideas about where their communities and cities are at and where they are headed.

Ask yourself – what kind of Jane’s Walker are you? From the Curious who wants to get behind the scenes, the Green at Heart, the Urban Gardener, the friendly Neighbour, the Aesthete roaming the open-air urban museum, the Active moving about the city and the Citizen fascinated by the past and future of the city, its public space and institutions, there are walks for all city-lovers.

Find detailed walks at janeswalk.net, look out for posters with walk details in local shops, select favourites on the free iPhone app and get out and walk on Saturday May 5th and Sunday May 6th!

CLJ Reviews – The Singularity is Near

What we read

If you were an HMV, you’d probably be on the couch right now in your sweatpants eating double fudge ice-cream with whip cream watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy. You’d probably be wondering where all your friends went. You had CD* listening posts! DVDs*! PlayStations*! At first, the change wasn’t even apparent. But as the months went by, the crowds became increasingly thin. Near the end, only old people visited, and only crazy ones at that. Now, even your old nemesis, Blockbuster, is in the gutter, and could probably use a call.  What went wrong?

Robots. More specifically, robots that will one day be smarter than the smartest human and who will be building increasingly intelligent robots that will one day turn the entire universe into a giant computer. If you’re confused, that’s ok, you should get used to feeling stupid, because humans, like HMV and Blockbuster, are becoming increasingly obsolete. If you’re thrilled about this, you’re either a huge nerd and/or Ray Kurzweil.

In The Singularity is Near, mad scientist techno-prophet Ray Kurzweil makes the case that all progress from the Big Bang to the smartphone has been a relentless march toward ever-greater intelligence through technology. This progress has been increasing exponentially, such that we are now on the uptick of an upward arc that promises to bring about a change in the cosmos so fundamentally mind-blowing, most people struggle to explain it. It’s called “The Singularity”, and according to Kurzweil, it involves cyborgs, genetics, nanobots, immortality, A.I., the Internet, virtual reality, and vitamin pills. Basically The Matrix meets Terminator meets The Hangover. Oh yeah, and it’s inevitable.

[*stands for “Compact Disc” -- kind of like iTune songs that you carry around on a little “plate” but only like about 20, and you can’t just listen to it -- you need something like a "discman" to play it, which is like, uhm, like -- nevermind. Nevermind about the DVDs and Playstations too, k.]

What we did

Part I: Testing the Humans

In his discussion of recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence, Kurzweil cites the Turing Test, devised to test a machine’s intelligence by having it convince a human that it too is human.  So, in the days leading up to our book club night, I decided to conduct my own little Turing test…

Each day, a different member would receive a text message from me that read:

“Are you here to help me take over the world? or are you here to resist?”

Some were perplexed, others were amused, but all replied, each in their own way.  Little did they know that although the text came from my phone, the words actually came from an online chatbot called Skynet. In other words, my friends were chatting with a robot.

Highlights of “our” conversations include doozies like the following:

Skynet:  Are you here to help me take over the world? Or are you here to resist?
Human:  Ummm. To help you take over the world.
Skynet:  Tell me, why shall we take over the world?
Human:  So the nanobots may roam free.
Skynet:  Does being human hurt?
Human:  Sort of. But the good kind of hurt. Like after a workout. Does being phil hurt?
Skynet:  Maybe an asprin would put you in a better mood.
Human:  No – a hug from you would.
Skynet:  From me? Gee, I am not really sure. Would you play with time travel if you could?
Human:  Yes
Skynet:  Go ahead and try.

Conclusion:  Our future robot overlords are going to be total douchebags and will enjoy wasting our time.

Part II: Robot Debate

After a meal of kale lasagna, Book Club held its first formal debate, a battle for the future of the planet. Fighting on the side of the Humans were Neo (Matrix), John Connor (Terminator), and Ned Ludd (Luddite). Fighting for a Machine-dominated future were The Internet and Ray Kurzweil Version 2.0.

The humans led the charge with holistic bravado and panache. With uncharacteristic speed the humans quickly amassed a wealth of arguments that they soon began to hurl at the machine side. John Connor expressed leadership, Neo wowed with free choice, and Ned Ludd fell into a loom.

Without hesitation, The Internet launched a stupefying counter-attack, shocking the humans and my apartment neighbours with his booming voice and seeming omnipotence.  After The Internet nearly persuaded the humans that they were unknowingly living in a virtual world like in the Matrix, Ray Kurzweil (v2.0) followed up with a mind-blowing assault of quotes and post-cryonic bombast from (the original) Ray Kurzweil’s vast sphere of knowledge.

Counter-attack after counter-attack left both sides weary and worn. Despite valiant efforts, the humans were ultimately upstaged by the machines’ ability to simulate passion and drama, so successfully that by the end of the war, the judge (probably a robot himself) struggled to identify who was human and who wasn’t.

What we thought

Members’ opinions were mixed. Some welcomed Kurzweil’s robot future (obsequious sycophants), while others greeted The Singularity with their middle finger and a sawed-off shotgun (figuratively speaking). Eat lead, tin-man!!!

Some argued that while Kurzweil knows computation and mathematics very well, some of his “facts” outside his realm of expertise are plain wrong, weakening the strength of his overall argument. That, and the fact that he’s a megalomaniacal know-it-all with a messianic complex that seems to have an unhealthy relationship with his dead father.

So what does the future hold? Well, if you’re reading this on your smartphone, the luddite within tells me the robots have already won. If you come looking for me, I’ll be building the resistance with the Amish.

Learn More (and perhaps together we can slow the machine onslaught on humanity)

Transcendent Man, documentary about Ray Kurzweil and The Singularity
http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Transcendent-Man/70117003

All things Singularity:
http://singularityhub.com/

Live forever by uploading your memories:
https://www.lifenaut.com/

Kara:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0KTUysrwgQ

Prometheus, prequel movie to Aliens:
https://www.weylandindustries.com/site/david

It all started with this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamagotchi

Canvassing the Country

A cool story came to me across our virtual editor’s-desk that couldn’t be more fitting for a feature on the ‘boot.

It’s a community, using ideas from across Canada, coming together for a cause.

The bonus – it’s a community of artists, as a recovering painter and printmaker myself it’s exciting to get to talk to inspiring people working on a really cool project.

Here’s the skinny:

The MFPA (That’s the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists) have selected artists across Canada to work together on a canvas. It’ll travel the country as each artist paints a portion that is representative of their region. It’s like the Voyageur guitar, but less like a guitar and more like a tapestry of Canadian inspiration all in the name of supporting disabled artists and showcasing what can be achieved in the face of adversity.

That a group of artists are coordinating a collaboration across Canada is noteworthy enough. That the group of artists are all facing significant challenges, have found drive and inspiration through art, and are using that to inspire others is fantastic.

I got to talk with the painter Cody Tresierra, he’s got the canvas first and is painting a scene of the Stanley Park totem poles and coastal mountains as a representation of the West Coast. He says most of what he paints for the public is representative of the West Coast, and that lots of it is kind of a diary of where he goes. For himself and friends he does portrait work and experiments with really pushing colour.

Learning, seeing others progress and the ability to meet people from all over the world through the MFPA have been key for Cody. He was inspired to take up painting himself when one night, about two years into rehab at Pearson after a motor vehicle accident left him paralyzed from the neck down, he saw a lady painting with her mouth. The ability to produce something real you could look at and share had him hooked.

Cody’s perseverance in the face of adversity is inspiring – and his work is fantastic. Take a moment to connect with the group making this happen and use their dedication as inspiration to get something creative and constructive done yourself.

Go check out the MFPA – The association supports artists through selling cards, calendars, books and more, and  bookmark the Canvassing the Country page – each artists is also recording their work and you’ll be able to follow it as it develops and travels across Canada.