Story Club, our Afterlight Book Club Meeting Next Week, Essay Bootcamp and a Job Opening

Space explorers, are you “mad” about party decorating? Our “Eat, Drink, and be Mad” Mad Libs fundraiser is coming up on Thursday, May 28 and we need your help! We’re looking for volunteers to join our decorating committee, as well as about twenty people to help us with setting up, as well as passing cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, tending to the silent auction, and other such tasks during the actual event.

If you are free to lend us a hand with what is positive to be an exciting day and night, email Rebecca and Michelle at volunteer@storyplanet.ca. Our Mad Libs fundraisers are always a guaranteed barrel of laughs and fun!

Story Club

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Our third and final round of Story Club will be starting up this Thursday after school. As with the previous editions of this workshop, stargazers from Story Planet will be joining forces with the superheroes at 826NYC to publish a dual-city travel guide like no other: The Young Astronaut’s Guide to Toronto / The Young Superhero’s Guide to New York.

What a fun way to learn about another city!

Afterlight Book Club
This is a friendly reminder to all the book lovers in our galaxy: next Tuesday, May 5, 2015, our Afterlight Book Club will be meeting to discuss The Massey Murder, by Charlotte Gray. A 2013 selection of “The Globe Books 100: Best Canadian Non-Fiction” list and finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize in 2014, The Massey Murder tells the true story behind the 1915 murder of one of the richest men in Canada. Full of murder, suspense and surprise, this book will give our book club plenty to discuss!

Check out our Meetup event page to find out more about the book, RSVP and let us know of any dietary conditions we should be aware of.

Happy reading!

Essay Bootcamp
We’re looking for volunteers to give one-on-one help to high school students working on their final English, Humanities and Social Sciences essays.

Our Essay Bootcamp will be held at the Multi-Faith Building (569 Spadina Ave.) on Saturday, May 31 from 10 am to 12 pm. There will be an additional one-evening training session in May (the date and time for the training session is T.B.A.).

Email Rebecca and Michelle at volunteer@storyplanet.ca to find out more about how you can help out!

We’re looking for a new Program Coordinator!
Do you have a passion for working with young people to help them tell their stories? If so, we may have a job for you! We’re currently looking for a new Program Coordinator to join our team. Check out this Charity Village link to find out more about the job opening at Story Planet.

And, of course, if that job doesn’t look right for you, we’re always looking for volunteers to help out with our Homework Club and Alpha Workshops. Email Rebecca and Michelle at volunteer@storyplanet.ca to find out more about how you can help out!

Duffy’s Dispatches: Getting Colourful with Artist Callen Schaub

Callen Schaub is an artist and graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design’s Drawing & Painting program. Known for his spin and pendulum work, Callen has painted, illustrated, and sculpted for Story Planet. In 2013, he co-founded Project Gallery, a commercial art gallery in the Leslieville area. 

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Duffy: I ended up here by accident, but I don’t recall you crash-landing as well. How did you get involved with Story Planet and what kinds of projects have you done for us?

Callen: I was in school and one of my professors thought I had an interesting illustration style. He thought I would be a good match for Story Planet.

When I started, I was mostly focused on illustrating for the Alphas to help inspire kids to write stories. I’ve also done some sculpture work with kids to make their characters, and I’ve helped at Story Planet’s portfolio-building workshop.

Gliese 436 b (Ice Planet) Acrylic and latex on canvas 12” x12” 2015 Gliese 436 b’s main constituent was initially predicted to be hot ice in various exotic high-pressure forms, which remains solid because of the planet’s gravity despite the high temperatures.
Gliese 436 b (Ice Planet)
Acrylic and latex on canvas 12” x12”, 2015
Gliese 436 b’s main constituent was initially predicted to be hot ice in various exotic high-pressure forms, which remains solid because of the planet’s gravity despite the high temperatures.

Duffy: You currently have a series up for sale in the Intergalactic Travel Authority featuring some of my favourite celestial bodies. I used to mine Gliese 436 b for its infamous hot ice for my equally infamous house parties. As an Earthling, what inspired this series?

Callen: My paintings are usually abstract, but recently they’ve taken on a galactic, celestial appearance. These planets just started coming to me naturally, but I wanted to add more context to them. That’s where the naming came into the fold: these names are more site-specific. I wanted to get more educated about these planets, and I wanted to get kids who come in to learn about space as well.

Duffy: I’m glad you brought up naming. I’ve been told I named myself after a disgraced Senator with questionable spending habits. How do you name your pieces?

Callen: I don’t usually make a piece and name it myself. I’ll ask people, get their input, and talk about what the piece is trying to do and how it makes them feel. Together we can arrive at a proper title, while still trying to keep the option of thinking differently about the artwork.

Methelusa (Ancient Planet) Acrylic on canvas 12” x12” 2015 Methelusa AKA PSR B1620-26 b is the oldest planet discovered in the universe, at approximately 13 billion years old. The planet has a circumbinary orbit around two stars, a pulsar and a white dwarf, and is the first circumbinary planet ever confirmed.
Methelusa (Ancient Planet)
Acrylic on canvas 12” x12”, 2015
Methelusa AKA PSR B1620-26 b is the oldest planet discovered in the universe, at approximately 13 billion years old. The planet has a circumbinary orbit around two stars, a pulsar and a white dwarf, and is the first circumbinary planet ever confirmed.

Duffy: Let’s get hypothetical for a parsec. If you were going on a space mission for two years and could take one book, one movie, and one colour of paint with you, what would they be?

Callen: *after several torturous moments of deep consideration* I would bring… a sketchbook! Then, I would probably make a home video of all my friends and family so I could watch my loved ones so I wasn’t lonely in space. Hmm… one colour? I guess I’ll just have to go with green. I don’t think there are a lot of things that are green in space.

Duffy: Well! You win for finding the most creative way around that question. Speaking of things going around, tell me a little bit about your spin and pendulum paintings.

Callen: The original idea came to me when I was in a painting class at OCAD. I looked around and realized, “I’m in an art college. I’m supposed to be pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is new.” We were all doing the same thing. So I ran down to the pottery floor, got a potter’s wheel, and started spinning my canvas on it and splashing paint. It sort of started as a gimmick, but I realized there was a lot of potential with the spinning technique. I have an interesting homemade contraption to spin my paintings. Five years later, I’m still spinning and finding new and interesting ways in which paint responds to centrifugal motion.

Duffy: Sounds like something I should give a whirl! I’ve been researching Earth hobbies. So far I’ve discovered that humans love strapping knives to their feet while hitting round objects with sticks, watching movies that stimulate their fear systems on purpose, and complaining about how they never get enough of this totally useless thing called “sleep”. Do you have any hobbies you could recommend?

Callen: I do a couple interesting things. I’m a unicyclist, which you should definitely try out. I’m also an arborist, which is a tree surgeon. That’s not really recommended for children yet because it’s a dangerous line of work.

Duffy: Okay. Last question, but the most important one: what is something that makes you laugh?

Callen: Tickling! Tickling makes me laugh.

Duffy: …Where?

Callen: That’s a little personal, Duffy. But probably my feet!

Check out more of Callen’s work on his website, and don’t forget to stop by the ITA to see his whole planet series in person.  

 

Writer’s Club and Integrative Thinking Workshop on Monday and Announcing Two Judges for Our Mad Libs Event

We have a lot to announce this week! This Monday, we’re hosting a FREE Integrative Thinking Workshop in conjunction with Rotman School of Management AND kicking off our FREE Writer’s Club Workshop. As well, we’re so excited to announce two of the judges for our Mad Libs Story Battle happening at Propeller Coffee Co. on May 28.

It’s an exciting time to be part of our team. If you’d like to join us, send us an email at volunteer@storyplanet.ca and let us know!

FREE Integrative Thinking Workshop in Conjunction with Rotman School of Management
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We’re hosting a workshop this Monday night at 6 pm in conjunction with Rotman School of Management all about Integrative Thinking. At the core, Integrative Thinking helps people make better choices when they face challenges that have no single right answer. If you would like to learn more about how to equip students with the tools needed to problem solve critically and creatively, come join us in what is sure to be an informative night!

FREE Writer’s Club Kicks Off Today
Our FREE Monday Writer’s Club Workshop gives students in grades 5-8 a chance to explore new types of creative writing projects. Whether they’d like to try out song writing, photojournalism, comedy, whatever… we’re here to help!

Our Writer’s Club Workshop will be held every Monday from 4-5 pm. To register, please contact Joe at joe@storyplanet.ca or phone us at 416-645-1049.

Announcing the Judges for this Year’s Mad Libs Event
Flambé fans, get excited! Kevin Sylvester, illustrator, broadcaster and author of the Neil Flambé book series has officially signed on as one of our judges for our upcoming Mad Libs Story Battle. Next to him, we’ll be having chef and food stylist, Christine Tizzard, whose recipe for gluten-free brownies is out of this world!

Think you’ve got the perfect recipe for an Anti-Matter Mojito? Email it to info@storyplanet.ca and it might just end up being the signature drink of our fundraiser!

Cleaning-Up Day at Story Planet
We’re looking to do some much needed spring-cleaning this Saturday and we can use your help to get this place neat and tidy. If you have 2 hours (or more) to spare, let us know. Give us a call at 416-645-1049 or email Michelle and Rebecca at volunteer@storyplanet.ca. Thanks for your help!

Spring Cleaning Our Space, Our Upcoming Mad Libs Fundraiser, Writer’s Club, Integrative Thinking Workshop and Story Club

Do you have a passion for cleaning? Does the thought of labeling and recycling, and organizing make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Then head on down to Story Planet on Saturday, April 25! We’re looking to do some much needed spring-cleaning and we can use your help to get this place neat and tidy. If you have 2 hours (or more) to spare, let us know! Give us a call at 416-645-1049 or email Michelle and Rebecca at volunteer@storyplanet.ca. Thanks for your help!

Our 3rd Annual Mad Libs-Themed Story Battle Fundraiser

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS! We’re hosting our 3rd annual Mad Libs-themed story battle fundraiser on Thursday, May 28 at Propeller Coffee Co. near Bloor and Lansdowne. Get your tickets now before they sell out!

Think you’ve got the perfect Martian Martini recipe? Email it to info@storyplanet.ca and it might just end up being the signature drink of our fundraiser.

Our Writer’s Club Workshop Starts Next Week!
This FREE workshop series starting next Monday will give students in grades 5-8 the chance to work on a range of creative writing projects. You bring your ideas and we’ll supply paper and pens!

The program will run every Monday from 4-5pm starting April 20th. To register, please contact Joe at joe@storyplanet.ca or phone us at 416-645-1049.

FREE Integrative Thinking Workshop
On Monday, April 20th, we’ll be hosting a FREE workshop in conjunction with Rotman School of Management all about Integrative Thinking. At the core, Integrative Thinking helps people make better choices when they face challenges that have no single right answer. If you would like to learn more about how to equip students with the tools needed to problem solve critically and creatively, come join us in what is sure to be an informative night!

The workshop will take place at Story Planet on Monday, April 20 from 5:30-8:30 pm. Contact Liz (liz@storyplanet.ca) for more information or to sign up.

Story Club
Thanks to the overwhelming response, our upcoming Story Club workshop is officially full and ready for take off on April 30. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, you can email Joe at joe@storyplanet.ca.

Thanks to everyone who signed up to help us create an awesome travel guide for young astronauts!

Duffy’s Dispatches: An Interview with Context Creative

Context Creative is a marketing and web design company which helped launch our website into the exosphere. I shouted a few questions into the void, and Andy Strote, Context Creative’s Director of Strategic Services, kindly shouted back.

Duffy: Greetings, Andy. Could you tell us how you got involved with Story Planet?

Andy: I knew about Dave Eggers before there was a Story Planet. In fact, about 10 years ago, I made a point of visiting 826 Valencia on a vacation in San Francisco. I have a t-shirt from the pirate store! Then one of my friends, and eventual Story Planet board member Daniel Ho said a similar outlet might open in Toronto, and was I interested?

Sure! The first meeting was in a bar at Bloor and Bathurst. There were many people involved with getting this off the ground obviously, but that night I volunteered Context Creative to build the website. And it rolled from there….

Duffy: From strategizing marketing campaigns to developing websites, Context Creative appears to do it all. (If you’re ever looking for a career change, we could use your versatility on long-term space missions.)  Can you expand a little on the different ways you bring a client’s vision to life?

 Andy: The first step in bringing a client’s vision to life is to ensure we all have a common understanding of that vision. It’s important that we’re very clear on the objectives, the audience(s) we’re talking to, the outcomes we’re expecting and what constitutes success.

Then, we make sure we’ve defined the audience in a way that’s useful.

Once we’re clear on objectives and our audience, we look at media. In most cases the campaign will have some presence on the company or product website, or it may need its own site. But perhaps it’s also on paper. Maybe an insert that could be distributed in media, but also handed out at events. We’re always looking for the biggest bang for the budget, so if something can do double duty, it helps. Also campaigns are likely to include social media and perhaps email.

So, then we write, design, produce and deliver the campaigns. Once they’re launched, we measure, observe, adjust if necessary and rinse and repeat.

Each project is a bit different and has its own challenges, and that’s what keeps it interesting.

Duffy: Besides helping us with our website, you also generously donated two computers to our space. Why is community engagement important to Context Creative?

Andy: It’s quite simple. We live in a big city. At Context, we’re fortunate enough that sometimes we can help others, and so we do. I think there’s a moral obligation to do so. Everyone can decide what’s right for them, and how they want to contribute, but doing so is just part of life. We don’t live on an island, and we’re all in this together.

Students enjoying Context Creative's gifted iMac computer

Duffy: Storytelling is the backbone of our organization, and it seems to span many disciplines. In what way is marketing similar to storytelling as well?

Andy: That’s a very interesting and timely question because it’s currently the subject of a lot of discussion. Sometimes in marketing we get so focused on the “features” of a product or service,that we forget about the benefits to the user. Why would the user care? What’s the story?

As much as people like to think they’re rational, they don’t actually buy for rational reasons. They buy on emotion, and then justify their emotional decision with rational points.

Smart marketers tap into the emotions, and once you’re talking emotion, you’re talking stories. It all comes down to how it makes you feel, even for an everyday product like laundry detergent. Underlying every purchasing decision is a set of emotions. Some are stronger than others, but they’re there. Good marketers know how to appeal to those emotions, and it’s often in the form of a story.

Our Upcoming Writers Room Series, Writer’s Club, Story Club and Afterlight Book Club Meeting

Thank you to everyone who came out to participate/help out with our Author Fest Alpha Workshops. We visited four schools across Toronto in two days to host our galaxy-famous Alpha Workshops and had an absolute blast doing it!

Writers Room Series at Pauline Public School

Starting April 7, every Tuesday morning from 9:30-11:15am, students from Pauline Public School will receive extra writing support during school hours. This is a great opportunity for volunteers who are teacher candidates or who want to gain an in-school experience.

If you’re interested in helping out with any of the programs we’re putting together, let us know!

Writer’s Club

Monday Writer's Club

We’re very excited to announce the return of our Writer’s Club workshop. This FREE workshop series will give students grades 5-8 the chance to work on a range of creative writing projects; from stories to poems, songwriting to screenwriting, photo journalism to comedy, and any other forms they’d like to explore. You bring your ideas and we’ll supply paper and pens!

The program will run every Monday from 4-5pm starting April 20th.

To register please contact Joe at joe@storyplanet.ca or phone us at 416-645-1049.

The Last Edition of Story Club

Our third and final session of Story Club: Travel Guide starts April 30. This final installment of Story Club will be used along with the previous sessions and in conjunction with 826NYC to create a travel guide for young astronauts from Toronto and New York City alike.

This 5-week program will meet every Thursday afternoon from 3:45-5.

Contact volunteer@storyplanet.ca for more information or to register!

The Next Afterlight Book Club Meeting

Our Afterlight Book Club will be meeting again on Tuesday, May 5 to discuss The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray, which was a selection of “The Globe Books 100: Best Canadian Non-Fiction” list in 2013 and a finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize in 2014.

Check out our Meetup event page to find out more about the book, RSVP and let us know of any dietary conditions we should be aware of.

Happy reading!