Becoming the difference

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Welcome!

Previously I have posted information on education, gathering credentials, learning things because you want to… and the like. This time I will be discussing ways to transition theoretical knowledge into practice, actually putting the things you know into use. Just to clarify, education as a whole never ends, but it is possible to transfer theory into practice. The obvious ways that this is done is by working in your chosen environment- foolproof way to practice your knowledge, also volunteering in  your chosen field is useful. I have found this transition from learning theoretically to practicing knowledge and learning away from school to be quite difficult. The reason, I believe, is that learning at school is organized, structured.So, the best way to remember things is to not only learn them theoretically but also put them into practice- standard knowledge right? This is a well known phenomenon but it is not practiced frequently enough.

In my view, I believe that anyone can alter their reality and make a difference. All individuals have unique traits and talents that make them well suited to different tasks, we can’t all fit into one box- we can’t all be very good at school, or great soccer players right? I feel like sometimes this is forgotten, we are composed of many elements, we all have different interests. For example, my sister likes lawns whereas I cringe when I see one, she is better at using machines and I unfortunately have a fright of large machinery. We belong in slightly different worlds, but that is ok because we each fulfill different roles in the house and on the farm. The important thing to keep in mind is that being different is the best thing ever! This leads to creative diverse thoughts and solutions to issues, helps maintain balance among people. But, we must honour difference and use it wisely to become the best people that we can be. As Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Things that don’t work out- make them into opportunities 🙂 If you don’t like the state of the world, change it. And what better time to do so than right after school and before stable employment? This way, if you begin your path correctly, you may end up in something that you like and has meaning- something that can create change.Your skills and talents will for sure be needed somewhere, go, find your niche.

Watch this video for more information about being the change: http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-change/

A way that I help to make a change is by being a part of Transition Town, these are awesome because they do this: (direct quote from Transition Town Peterborough website) “volunteer, non-profit organization focused on reducing our community-wide dependence on fossil fuels while increasing local resilience and self-sufficiency in food, water, energy, culture and wellness with economic localization. With a focus on community building, TTP is made possible by ordinary citizens working toward positive change, and is shaped and guided by all who are able to participate, in whatever capacity they can.” If you were to live in a great community that satisfies all your needs- why would you want to leave? wouldn’t you want to stay and help the place improve further? Some links to awesome transition town websites:

So many more are out there, when I find them, I will add them.

There are many ways to help create change in the world, simply by eating locally supporting farmers close by, contributing to a local economy, driving less, walking more, consuming less, enjoying simple things more.. I bet you’ve heard them all. Now, you know the theory and the reasons, why not actually use that knowledge and put into use?

This is a great article about how to be sustainable- through creating change, not just by fantasizing about it: http://blogs.worldwatch.org/sustainabilitypossible/sustainable-consumption-myths/

 

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Extra self education

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Lately I have been both unemployed and out of school. This – I once thought- would be AWESOME, vacation all the time. But, it turns out that boredom sets in rather rapidly and can damage a lot of enthusiasm, motivation and desire to fulfill the projects that were set out for “the moment I have more time”. Also, sometimes it is not just boredom but pure procrastination- oh I don’t want to make that dress today (example), I am too tired, maybe I’ll work on it some other time.. it gets to the point where it gets super easy to be too nice to yourself, eating the second you’re slightly just a teeny bit hungry, resting after anything mildly strenuous, ect. At least, this is what I’ve noticed from myself. Now, I’m working on trying to break from this suddenly sedentary lifestyle and regain former lust for life. The way to go about this, in my opinion, is to continue self-education. Unless the time and motivation is too difficult to find for this, in which case- some programmed courses may be a suitable alternative. Can’t be too educated right? Now, free time is good, in fact a lot of can help you slow down your pace of life to something more peaceful and calm. But if you find that there is too much time to think and analyze life, then here are some options:

  • Learn an instrument, I have taken up accordion, it is fun, keeps me entertained
  • Think about an interest that would be nice to take up, and do just that- take it up
  • Learn a skill- to sew, to cook, to plant
  • Examine the local college or university course calendar- usually they should have something called: continuing education- meaning- courses for those who don’t necessarily want anything like a certificate but want to fill their time and learn something cool. Example, my local college offers courses in Spanish learning, salsa dancing, wild plant foraging, wilderness survival, art courses, computer courses, mandolin classes.. ect. Pretty nifty right?
  • Or, take enough courses to gain a certificate, may become useful one day.
  • Another option is of course, volunteering- you learn lots (likely) and are a useful member of society. I am now volunteering for the Transition Town movement in my city, it is awesome, I recommend. Although some volunteer positions require just as much or more paperwork and time as a full time job, so, if you still want your thinking time.. be careful what you ask for.

Here is one example of something that I plan to do, and the respective links, just something that will hopefully fill little void of “I need to do something with my life”.

Herbalism. This is a  fascinating topic and something I think will always be useful. Instead of spending lots of time (7+ years I hear) and money (many thousands) to become a doctor, why not learn about plants and their properties and be able to (mostly) self-heal? links:

Some of the herbalism courses are offered online, with short field sessions that you must attend, all cost money sadly, but all seem really useful. Other examples of courses that I think would always come in handy are: permaculture design, gardening, learning about wild plants- animals- mushrooms-ect.

So basically, if you’re bored with nothing to do and want to do something useful, there are options. Extra education is possible, not always through traditional means such as certificate courses (which may take more time and money than you want), but rather through single courses, classes that teach you so you add to your inner storage bank of knowledge of the world. Learning for yourself. I have (I hope) provided ideas on where to go looking for cool and unusual extra education- college portals, associations, inner community workings (Transition Town organizations), self- learning, options are out there!

Unconventional studies and programs

ImageAfter the internships I attended (please see previous post) I figured I’d do a masters program or diploma or certificate or something to show that I have credentials in my field, because often this helps make you more believable. My wish is to do eco-village planning or sustainable ecological design or something like that, I also want to learn more about sustainable building, how to live with few resources, I want to know more about herbalism, wild plant foods, gardening, community building… ImageI don’t actually know what I want to specialize in in the future, but this is a start (right?). I wanted a program that was different (obv) that required less sitting than a standard course, possibly more outdoor work and hopefully really interesting coursework. To date I’ve found several excellent looking programs.

  1. http://www.postgraduate.hw.ac.uk/prog/msc-sustainable-community-design/ This one has a mandatory three week field trip to Findhorn eco-village, tuition is quite average (I think) and it is only 12 months long.
  2.  http://www.ntnu.edu/studies/msa1 This one has a two months placement in Africa, takes two years to complete but has no tuition! beware though, living costs in Norway are quite high.
  3. http://acs.aalto.fi/masters-programme/ this one is really intriguing, no tuition cost, two years, and the content is ultra cool! interdisciplinary which is important and focus on creativity!
  4. http://www.chalmers.se/en/education/programmes/masters-info/Pages/Design-for-Sustainable-Development.aspx no tuition for EU citizens, two years, very very cool.
  5. http://www.gaiaeducation.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71&Itemid=75 This, from what I understand, can be taken either online or at various locations- Brazil, Spain.. there a few options. It is a year long and you do receive a certificate. Really nifty, a potential possibility in my books.

Also, don’t be afraid to teach yourself! You may learn a lot more that way. Educating yourself for your own benefit and love of a topic can only really lead to something beautiful.

Fabulous internship, volunteer and work placement opportunities

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For a long time I’ve been searching for really good programs, studies, and internships that actually educate students. First I went to Trent University. This school was great, I achieved a degree in Environmental Sciences, took a variety of courses that taught me things.. my favourites were Indigenous studies courses- I highly recommend these! However, a year before graduating I worried that I had zero experience in my field. I had no success obtaining jobs in the environmental science field and actually worked in a factory for a couple summers instead (bleh). So this is what I decided- to take a year off and do some internships or volunteer work that would give me real practical experience. Also I was tired of sitting all the time, I just wanted to shovel something, dig a hole.. whatever. Ok, so I found a lot of epic websites that had internship listings, volunteer opportunities, work away possbilities ect. One suggestion that I have for anyone looking for an opportunity: don’t look to far from home, some of the best links I found were right on my university homepage. Since I like lists- I find it helps with organization, I will make the following links into a list format:

  • http://www.goodworkcanada.ca/this is my favourite website. Useful for anyone, not just Canadians (although most of the jobs and volunteer opportunities occur in Canada), anyway, you can search jobs or volunteer placements in any province. All are related to the field of the natural environment. The two internships I ended up attending were found on this website, one was through a Canadian organization called the Urban Farmer http://theurbanfarmer.ca/ run by a permaculture practitioner named Ron Berezan. This organization along with the University of Alberta run a program that takes several (12? usually) Canadians to Cuba for six weeks to learn about permaculture. Best thing ever. Ok, the other internship I attended was located in Argentina and had nothing to do with Canada except that it happened to be on this website, I’m not sure why it was but I’m VERY happy that I found it. The internship was located at Mama Roja, here is the blog: http://www.mamaroja.blogspot.ca/
  • http://www.goabroad.com/– this website has drop down menus to facilitate searches, you can look for study programs, jobs, internships, volunteer placements.. just about anything in any country. The list of sectors and organizations is also giant. Very useful website but be careful, the website cannot go through all the programs and check their validity.. so some of those cool sounding options may be fake money grabs. I haven’t chosen a program from this website, I’ve only taken suggestions from it, but I think its a good idea, when you find a cool program- to contact the organization yourself and find out if its legit.
  • http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/home– this website is mainly for Canadian students who wish to do development projects in countries such as Africa and South America. The programs sound amazing and some even pay! 
  • http://www.thepoosh.org/mapofbuildprojects– a friend of mine sent me this link, I haven’t used it yet but I think it is similar to the following WWOOF link where projects are listed and you hunt down the ones that interest you.
  • http://www.wwoof.org/– WWOOFing is a fabulous way to learn about organic gardening while living on a farm and eating healthy food for free. Basically you work for your lodging and food, generally work is about 4 hours long.
  • http://www.workaway.info/– Similar to WWOOF it seems, you find a project, work and get benefits like education! food! a home! basically it is a work exchange.

These present only a few options. It is easier if you know what you want to do- the best way to find something is to contact an organization or person who specializes in your field and talk to them about potential opportunities. Or Google search.