Roots & Seeds Intergenerational Creative Writing Story Exchange Program and Workshops
The stories we tell shape who we are and how we act. If we can learn to tell more stories about the land we live on and the plants and animals around us, we will come to know, appreciate and care for them.
From July 8 to August 19, 2020, we offered a brand-new arts-based program with youth participants province-wide! Youth developed oral and written storytelling skills while exploring how plants of all kinds connect a person to place. Participants also exchanged personal stories with an older adult (50+) that they already knew, connecting about their relationships to plants and places, including tree-climbing, forest foraging, gardening and how plants are connected to health and celebrations.
Thanks to the dedication of our artist-in-residence Alyssa Harms-Wiebe, we are pleased to share the package of Roots and Seeds curriculum, learning resources for use by Facilitators of Learning (teachers) to engage youth ages 11-15 in a six- to eight-week writing journey. This program can be offered through interactive online workshops or in-person. Please give credit to Alyssa Harms-Wiebe who created these resources in collaboration with Sierra Club BC.
Participants will learn useful interview skills to gather stories and consider the many uses of all kinds of plants. They will be guided in pulling out their bright thinking to adapt ideas and stories into creative nonfiction and poetry.
The pilot program was led in summer 2020 by our artist-in-residence Alyssa Harms-Wiebe, who is dedicated to bridging literary and performing arts with social and environmental sustainability. She has created writing programs and taught speech and drama at the Bolton Academy of Spoken Arts, taught theatre in high schools, and currently leads creative writing and spoken word workshops with youth at DAREarts. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys exploring her own writing. Last year, she was a writer-in-residence at the Gullkistan Centre for Creativity in Iceland, where she developed poetry on environmental degradation. She later performed her poetry at the 2019 Vancouver Outsider Art Festival. Selected as a 2019 BC Culture Days Ambassador, she also shared her work through a community-engaged art installation, A Poetic Landscape. With a BFA from Concordia University and as a current UBC MEd student focusing on Education for Sustainability, she is curious about the intersections between the arts, education, and environmental sustainability.
This program was made possible by a collaboration between Sierra Club BC and FUTURES/forward: a national, community-engaged arts mentorship program, funded by the McConnell Foundation and the City of Vancouver.