Christopher Harris

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there existed an imaginative and creative world named Story Planet. Orbited by the love and dedication of its inhabitants, Story Planet has been home to some of the most amazing creatures.

We would like to introduce the incredibly sweet-tempered, kind and caring, Christopher Harris. Chris, our Research and Outreach Coordinator, is the captain of Story Planet’s Exploration Team. A team of valiant explorers who have undertaken the vital task of reaching out to schools in Toronto in search of groups of young Earthlings who would love our creative help getting their stories out into the universe. The connections that the Exploration Team are building are the foundation of all Story Planet does and Chris and his team make sure that these connections are thoughtful, respectful and responsive from the very first contact. We here at Story Planet cannot be more grateful for his astronomic contributions and his overall generous and caring disposition that makes our little planet shine bigger and brighter.

We asked Chris to answer a few questions about himself to help paint a brighter picture for those who have not met him yet. Check out his responses below!

Introducing Chris

_mg_9983-2lr

1. Favourite planet to live:

The only place I’ve ever wanted to live is Earth, specifically Northeastern North America. I am proud to be a cog in the Super Computer churning out the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read:

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – it remains the only book I’ve ever been able to read more than once .

Last great book I read – Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. Also, East of Eden, which I read years ago, has a portentous beauty that blinds me with its magnificence monthly.

3. Favourite writers:

David Mitchell, Philip Pullman and Warren Ellis are my favourites – I can’t not read anything they’ve ever wrote; Haruki Murakami and I have a tempestuous relationship and he always leaves me with odd feelings largely revolving around jazz or cats.

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth:

I love cooking, baking, eating, drinking, reading and talking; often times all at once, making me mediocre at them all.

5. Favourite Earth food:

New York Pizza. This is the only correct answer. Ice Cream, in certain circumstances, gets part-marks.

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here:

My first day volunteering I fell in love with SP. I was nervous, but everyone, including the students, made me feel welcomed and encouraged my creativity. It was, and continues to be, one of my happy places.

 

 

Keileigh Lowe and Sarah Horobin

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there existed an imaginative and creative world named Story Planet. Orbited by the love and dedication of its volunteer inhabitants, Story Planet has been home to some of the most amazing creatures. And none have been more wonderful then our new intergalactic interns, Keileigh Lowe and Sarah Horobin! From helping to facilitate the Lift Off after school program to reorganizing the space clutter in our back room Keileigh and Sarah have done it all! We here at Story Planet cannot be more grateful for their astronomic contributions and their overall cheerful disposition that makes our little planet shine that much brighter. Story Planet has searched near and far for space travellers like these wonderful ladies and we hope they call this place home for many more light years to come.

We asked Keileigh and Sarah to answer a few questions about themselves to help paint a brighter picture for those who have not met them yet. Check out their responses below!

Introducing Keileigh:

DSC_0243

1. Favourite Planet to live:

I used to live on Mars. It was nice because only a few of us knew about it, but now that they found that water, I guess the secret is out!

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read:

My favourite book is Weaveworld by Clive Barker.

3. Favourite writers:

Douglas Adams is an awesome writer for fiction, but in terms of non fiction I love reading Stephen Hawking so I can really understand the way the universe works!

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth:

I love visual arts, and I love the nature planet Earth has to offer. When I was growing up my dad and I used to go on hikes and then find a nice spot to paint what was around us. I find that as I have gotten older I tend to put things like that on the back burner, but every once in a while I find the time to go up north to my cottage. Temagami lake is my favourite place in the entire universe (even including Mars), and being able to sit under the stars and see the milky way with as much clarity as a photograph, or paint the sun as it is setting, is a truly magical moment.

5. Favourite Earth food:

My favourite current Earth food would have to be Apiecalypse Pizza as it is the best vegan pizza in the city! (And up the street from Story Planet- wink wink)

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here:

It is hard to pick just one. Every time a student shares something with me, whether it is some artwork or a smile I try to log it in my brain so I can remember it for years to come. Mithulaa drew a pumpkin for me for halloween and that was awesome. When Hamsa made his origami jumping creature finally jump and laughed for 5 minutes straight I didn’t think we would ever be able to stop. The staff and volunteers at Story Planet inspire me every day, and the students who come could brighten the day of even the grumpiest person. I feel so incredibly lucky to have found such a special place.

Introducing Sarah:

DSC_0246

1. Favourite Planet to live: 

It’s so hard to pick just one, but if I had to choose, I’d choose Venus. It’s named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, so I feel like I’d fit right in.

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read:

My reigning favourite is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

3. Favourite writers:

I have a few. Junot Díaz, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Kurt Vonnegut are the first ones that come to mind.

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth:

Anything arts and culture related, really. Watching tv and movies. Reading comics. Going to art exhibits, poetry slams, and concerts. I love being able to see the world with a new set of eyes through these artistic mediums.

5. Favourite Earth food:

Avacados, hands down.

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here:

My heart grew three sizes the day I wore a shirt with a smiley face on it and one of the space travellers was so eager to tell me that that my shirt was smiling and it made her smile.

Sean Waisglass

Screenshot_2015-06-08-12-11-09

Sean Waisglass has been an essential cog in Story Planet’s extra-terrific volunteer machine ever since he arrived a few months ago. He popped his head in one day to check out the space and (lucky for us) hasn’t left since!

Sean is a super friendly terrestrial with a killer eye for photography. He is always the first volunteer to respond when we are in a space jam and need volunteers ASAP. His fateful landing on this Story Planet has been nothing short of incredibly helpful and so much fun!

We asked Sean to answer a few questions about himself to paint a brighter picture for those who have yet to meet him. Check out his responses below!

 

1. Favourite Planet to live: 

Earth. I like this big ol’ ball of water and rock.  (2nd choice: Saturn. Curious about what goes on in those rings.)

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read:

Can’t narrow it down, but the one book I’m always cracking open and finding interesting is the dictionary, so maybe that’s technically my favourite!

3. Favourite writers:

I really like reading about people’s lives, ideas, and the way the world works, so I read a lot of non-fiction. Authors like Mark Twain, George Plimpton, Joan Didion, Christopher Hitchens, Jane Jacobs, David Foster Wallace, and Hunter S. Thompson have all written great essays and journalism about everything from culture and sports to politics and identity. There’s a lot to learn about life on this planet!

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth:

My two favourite pastimes are complimentary to each other: riding around on my bike, and taking photos. Both are a great tools for exploring and appreciating all the things the city has to offer, like our waterfront and parks, our various buildings and neighbourhoods, and all the different kinds of people living their lives together here. (You can follow along with me at: instagram.com/seanwaisglass)

5. Favourite Earth food:

I like a lot of the food that comes from the Earth continent known as Asia.

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here:

The earnest answer would obviously be a moment when one of the kids at Story Planet and I helped each other learn more about how amazing human language and imagination is. The honest answer would be one of many memories I have of the kooky stuff the kids have come up with during the storytelling Alpha workshops. Like when they made up a villain who lived in a cave and ate meatballs that were actually portals to other dimensions, or a hero who was half snake, half cereal bowl, and had a beard make of electricity.

Scott Ladley

photo-18Joining us all the way from the American Galaxy is Scott Ladley, a former fish-monger and 826 volunteer, who is now known to Story Planet as a videographer, ESL teacher, and all-around cool guy. Scott is a real renaissance man of this solar system, pitching in at Homework Help and investigating alien landings, not to mention doing a bit of filmmaking in between. He always arrives with a smile and a high five and loves listening to stories as much as telling them. We’re so lucky to have Scott and all his enthusiasm in our orbit! Learn a little bit more about him here:

  1. Favourite Planet to live: I’m beginning to discover my front and back porch? I put a question mark because, having moved here this past winter, I never saw them as destinations but rather things I sprinted over in a cold shiver or gazed past with a longing desire. I grew up on the farmlands and backroads of central Pennsylvania, so my porch in Leslieville helps me slow down a bit of this big city life in Toronto.
  2.  Favourite book or the last great one you read: After I officially gave up trying to read and understand a TTC transfer pass, I read George Saunders’s collection The Tenth of December. These were great stories but as soon as I got my PR card, I knew I had to read Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda. Although it’s quite a higher degree of seriousness than what I’m used to, there’s way more violence, social clout that comes with reading it in public….and it’s a step in my quest to be as cool as CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi.
  3. Favourite writers: Pardon my all-American lineup…what can I say? Bill Watterson (comic strips require GREAT writing), Jason Fagone, Ron Suskind, Chuck Klosterman, Michael Lewis, Frederick Exley, Jacob Tomsky, Ariel Levy, Dave Eggers.
  4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: Gotta go with frisbee golf. It doesn’t even have to be a “course”, but chasing plastic discs through the woods with a good friend is pretty close to perfect.
  5. Favourite Earth food: My four years in Seattle cemented coffee at the top of this list. I worked at Pike Place Fish Market 12 hours a day yelling at strangers and hawking seafood…coffee was in my bloodstream nonstop! If I ever saw a dollar amount for what I’ve spent on this absolutely spectacular liquid crutch, I may shed more tears than a 5 year old on his first day away from his mom. During my more serious ultimate frisbee playing days, I would’ve said bagels or something silly like peanut butter, cheese, or salsa (I have the palette of a teenager) but not anymore. I’m a big fan of the programs at Story Planet but I’ll shoot it to ya straight and say there’s a small side of me that’s there just for the Black Hole Brew.
  6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here: The group from Carleton Village that created aliens for 3D printing at Maker Kids last week is a recent highlight for sure. I suppose it’s a sign of the times but their disillusion with iPads and 3d printing was crazy to me. I could’ve watched the printers alone for three hours. But really, they didn’t allow the technology to distract their creativity which was the best part of that workshop–brainstorming their stories.  Every question I had about their “Fearless, faceless Alien Striker from Mars” had a spectacular answer. An example:

    What’s that for?
    Well that’s his belt
    Right, for his pants, every alien needs to hold up his pants. Smart thinking.
    He doesn’t need pants, the belt buckle is a secret button that makes him invisible.
    Right, so wouldn’t people ask him why he has a belt with no pants?
    He also has the special power to confuse people!

    Giving students a forum to create things simply for the sake of creating is invaluable. There’s so much of life that will tell them to do things for a million and a half reasons–not many of them will be ‘for the fun of it’. Story Planet is a place for creativity, confidence, and for-the-fun-of-it learning. Kids need good people to run and be at these places. I’m grateful to have the time and go-ahead from you guys to help out and even create photographs and film for the work!

Katharine Reszetnik

KatharineRPortalIf you’ve ever visited the ITA on a Monday or Tuesday morning, chances are you are already best buds with Katharine Reszetnik. She is one of those people whose sunny attitude and infectious cheerfulness brighten any room. She is as comfortable striking up a conversation with the ITA’s frequent flyers as with new travellers embarking on their first intergalactic voyage. Always ready for a challenge, and eager to find new ways to help out, Katharine is a wonderful ambassador for Story Planet, and we are so grateful to have her on our team!

Here is how Katharine answered our Story Planet Questionnaire:

1. Favourite Planet to live: My favourite planet to live on would be Neptune because in Roman mythology Neptune is the god of the sea and I absolutely love the ocean!

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: I have two top picks for books I have read this year: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and Brain on Fire – My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. Gillian Flynn’s work is a fast-paced murder mystery that has you fooled until the last chapter, written with astonishing detail and an enticing and edgy voice. Susanah Cahalan’s memoir is an interesting reflection on a rare autoimmune disease. I loved it because it crosses into both the scientific world as well as a creative and artistic one – just like Story Planet! Plus it is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and set in my hometown Summit, New Jersey!

3. Favourite writers: My favourite author is Margaret Atwood, no competition. Every word she writes carries purpose and action…her writing is illuminating and visceral and I can’t get enough of it! This year I gobbled up some of her older novels including The Handmaid’s Tale, Bodily Harm and Alias Grace.

4.  Favourite thing to do on Earth: My favourite thing to do on Earth is dance! Boogie, shimmy, disco, limbo…you name it I’ll jiggle to it! Sitting down, standing up, doesn’t matter I just wanna wiggle!

5. Favourite Earth food: Favourite Earth food is raspberries – they’re sweet, pink, delicious and fuzzy, what more could you ask for in something the size of your thumbnail?

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here: My favourite memory from Story Planet is from my first Alpha Workshop when one young girl was reading me the beginning of her story in which her class was  transported to a magical planet. She suddenly stopped mid-sentence and asked me how to spell my name. When I asked why she wanted to know she replied, “Because I want you to come with us!” It seems somewhat trivial but it made my heart tingle and I will never forget my hypothetical travels to that fantastical world.

Zoe Di Novi

zoeprofilepic

You may know Zoe Di Novi as Volunteer Coordinator extraordinaire, but did you also know that she was a volunteer Volunteer Coordinator? Or is that Volunteer Coordinator volunteer?

Anyhoo, although she was with Story Planet just briefly, her creativity, exuberance, and wise-cracking ways made her a natural fit for the Story Planet team, and she will be sorely missed now that she’s found a more lucrative outlet for her talents (congrats on the new job, Zoe!).

We wish her all the best, and demand that she come visit us soon.

 

 

Here is how Zoe answered our Story Planet Questionnaire:

1. Favourite Planet to live: Story Planet, obvi, but if that one’s all full, then I guess I’d live happily ever after on the planet of Warm Cider On A Cold Night, with a stop off on Venus. 

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: I’m in the midst of Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye and digging it hard, but this summer I devoured Alice Munro’s collection The Love Of A Good Woman and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

3. Favourite writers: Edward St Aubyn, Anais Nin, Anthony Doerr.

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: Watch and talk about movies.

5. Favourite Earth food: Bread pudding.

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here: My first day volunteering with the kids in Story Club just happened to land on Halloween. Princesses, masked superheroes, deer, cavewomen, Charlie Chaplin – the Story Planet atmosphere came alive with its own eccentric cast of characters. The day is a wild blur of genre, enthusiasm and laughs and I couldn’t have been happier to have been a part of it.

Corinne Impey

Corinne

Fabulous ITA volunteer, Corinne, is moving to the other side of the country and we are more than a little bit sad to see her go.

Corinne was one of our very first volunteers in the ITA, and has been with us longer than any other ITA volunteer! If we had a medal for commitment, she would surely be holding it right now.

Her radiant personality provided much appreciated pep behind the counter of the ITA, not to mention her ability to whip up a mean latte. What will we do without you?!

 

 

 

Here is how Corinne answered our Story Planet Questionnaire:

1. Favourite Planet to live: Jupiter – it has 63 moons!  

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: Harriet the Spy, Sherlock Holmes…hmm, I’m sensing a trend. 

3. Favourite writers: Stuart McLean, Malcolm Gladwell.

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: Host dinner parties with my favourite earthlings (no space food allowed). 

5. Favourite Earth food: Homemade guacamole. Yum!

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here: Meeting and getting to know all the patrons of the ITA. Especially the “regulars.” 🙂  

It has been a pleasure, Corinne! We wish you happy travels and many adventures!

Peter Scowen

The incredible Peter has volunteered in almost every program we offer and everywhere he goes kids adore him!

 Peter Scowen.Featured Explorer.Photo 1

Peter, a talented journalist, has been volunteering with us since last Spring when he helped host a workshop on tabloid fiction writing at St. Mary’s Secondary School.  Since then, Peter has been putting all of his skills to good use by volunteering at everything from our After-School Program and Youth Publishing Project to our Essay Bootcamp.  He has showed us he is equal parts patient homework tutor, magician, and essay hero.  But, as Peter said, “the highlight to me [of volunteering at Story Planet] has always been the after-school program.  I really enjoy that all of the kids are so great…I think I love most when they get so engaged in creating their stories.  It’s really great when you can see them riff on all the things [something] could be.”  The feeling is definitely mutual – although no one can remember how the kids decided on Sonny as his nickname, we know they love working with Peter and have written him into many of their adventure stories.

We can’t thank Peter enough for being part of Story Planet’s story!

And now five questions for Peter:

1. Favourite planet to live (other than Earth): “Mars, I like robots.”

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read:  “I just read Inferno by Dan Brown, it’s not high literature but it’s a great read.”

3. Favourite artist/s:  “My mother.  She was a great artist.”

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth:  “Eat.”

5. Favourite Earth food:  “Hamburgers.  No question.  With pizza a close second.”

Thank you for all you do, Peter!

 

Thanks so much to Midoco for sponsoring Story Planet’s Featured Explorer.

Check out Midoco Art & Office Supplies for your one-stop-shop for creative expression.  Established in 1977, they now have two destination outlets in the Annex and the Beaches

 

Jackie Kriekle

Jackie is an unstoppable volunteer coordinating force!

Since joining us in October, Jackie has welcomed almost 100 new volunteers as our volunteer Volunteer Coordinator. She has a knack for helping volunteers find their place at Story Planet and has helped us get organized as our charity grows.

Jackie has tackled many a project during her time here, including creating a brand new volunteer database from nothing but intergalactic scraps and a dream for a more organized tomorrow.

March is Jackie’s last month with us as our volunteer Volunteer Coordinator and we already miss her terribly.  During her time at Story Planet, she has made everything a little better and a lot more fun.

Jackie 1

Alright Jackie, it is time for the lightning round – tell us your five favourites!

1. Favourite planet to live (other than Earth):

“Saturn – I like the rings.”

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read:

The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal

3. Favourite artist/s:

“I’m not good at favourites, but Giorgio de Chirico”

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth:

“Being silly with my nephews.”

5. Best Earth food:

“The smell of melted cheese, because I can’t eat it…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!”

Thanks so much and good luck Jackie, we’ll miss you!

Thanks so much to Midoco for sponsoring Story Planet’s Featured Explorer.

Check out Midoco Art & Office Supplies for your one-stop-shop for creative expression.  Established in 1977, they now have two destination outlets in the Annex and the Beaches

Michelle Montenegro

The incredible Michelle inspires countless Story Planet students and reaches her 100th hour with us!

 

Michelle is an amazing and dedicated volunteer, spending twice a week with us in the after-school program, volunteering at the occasional Alpha workshop, and even volunteering in a local classroom.  She is patient, playful, and full of encouragement – we could not ask for more!  If you’re still not convinced she’s a treasure, here is what some Story Planet kids have to say about Michelle:

“Michelle is fun to talk to.” – Shanjai

“I like to play bananagrams with Michelle!  Thank you!” – Mithulaa

“She’s fun to draw with.” – David

“She’s really nice!” – Rosie

“[When I get to work] with Michelle, she reads the story for me and I like it and I like her!” – Joanne

Thank you for all you do, Michelle!

 

Thanks so much to Midoco for sponsoring Story Planet’s Featured Explorer.

Check out Midoco Art & Office Supplies for your one-stop-shop for creative expression.  Established in 1977, they now have two destination outlets in the Annex and the Beaches