Carina is a former two-time Story Planet placement student who started back in 2017. Since then, she has officially joined the team as a facilitator, earned a Social Service Work diploma from Sheridan College, and a Bachelor of Social Work from Toronto Metropolitan University. She is a hobbyist artist, writer, and podcaster, and loves taking care of her many plants. Outside of Story Planet she teaches swimming to children in her town and plans to complete a Masters of Social Work in the near future.
Marel Alemany is a singer-songwriter and film director from the Dominican Republic. He is the son of educator Pura Sanchez and creativity has been at the root of his formation and passion since he was born. A singer from an early age, in 2003 he released his debut single, “Palabras en el Aire” and started making music professionally. He has released two albums (“De Papel” in 2006 and “Carne” in 2009) and several singles, including (“Tu Guerra y la M a,” 2017, and “Navegar ” 2019). He has also composed numerous advertising jingles and two songs for the children’s books, “Super Niños” and “Tun Tun,” both written by storyteller Anya Damiron. Alongside his career as a musician, he’s worked for more than 15 years as a film director of commercials, short films, and music videos. He majored in Advertising at Seville University and later studied filmmaking before returning to his hometown of Santo Domingo in 2002. He is in the process of completing the post-graduate Children’s Media Program at Centennial College in Toronto.
Marel is a true master of many trades, whose talents in music, production, and leadership supported us in the success of our workshops and programs. We are incredibly grateful and proud to have Marel on our crew, and we can’t wait to share more about him with you!
1. A lot of what you do with us at Story Planet is guiding young folks in their creative writing journey. What or who inspires you in your creative journey?
Creativity is intrinsic to me. When I get any free time, I start day dreaming or start thinking of how to improve the world or my life and my family’s. I think they are a huge inspiration for me. My kids and my wife. They’ve inspired songs, and stories and they motivate me to look at the world with an open and critical mind.
2. We’re approaching your one year anniversary with us! Can you tell us about some of your favourite moments at Story Planet?
I enjoy everytime I read a story from a Young Authors and it blows my mind. This kids are capable of so much at such a young age, that is always a humbling experience. One of the things I enjoy the most is helping the kids create songs for the podcast or now with the songmaker program. I like when they realize they can get their ideas across with music and rhyme.
3. Aside from facilitating and being our go-to media man, you’ve also produced our first podcast and developed our SongMaker program. Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies you would like to share?!
I’ve being a singer-songwriter since I was 10, and this is very public, so not sure about if is a hidden talent. I’m also a die hard soccer fan.
What keeps you motivated?
My family. Being a good person, doing something that helps me shape a better future.
4. In our workshops, we’re often transported to fantastical places with the kids – outer space, futuristic cities, medieval kingdoms. What three items would you take with you to a deserted island?
A fishing pole, a hunting knife and a satelite phone so I can ask someone to pick me up after I’m done exploring.
5. You’re a creative, multitalented maven! Can you tell us about what made you want to pursue a career in the creative industries?
My mother was an educator with a passion for theatre, and I always had a musical inclination. When I was 5 I was signing in front of an audience. I remember expending hours and hours playing by myself, making up fantasy worlds, future versions of my life. Books, movies and music where my favourite friends when I was little. Even playing sports. I used to play basketball by myself, imagining I beat Michael Jordan one on one. I don’t think I could do anything, but create. I’m just happy there are industries for that.
6. What’s next for yourself?
I’m new to Canada, and I hope I can make a life here. I wish I’m able to keep creating content (music, tv shows, stories) to inspire others, especially kids, to be kinder, creative, engage with their communities. So, I’m going to keep writing and hope that I can sustain my family by doing what I love.
7. If you had a superpower, what would it be? And why?
I would love to be able to teleport in space and time. I just love to travel and learn about different cultures and places.
8. If you were a were-hamster (werewolf + hamster), what would you do?
Probably find other’s like me and move to the wilderness.
9. How would you describe Story Planet in one or two words?
Inspiring and necessary.
10. What is your favourite colour?
11. If you could choose one age to be for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
30 is a sweet spot of youth, independence, energy, experience, but what would be sweet is to be 70 in the body of a 20 year old.
12. What is your favourite children’s book?
The little prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
13. What’s a song that you like a lot?
If I have to choose, I’d say Beautiful Boy by John Lennon.
14. What is your favourite place in the world? What’s a place you’d like to visit next?
Playa Bonita, Samaná in the north of the Dominican Republic. I want to go to Japan, Italy and Mexico next.
Here’s a sneak peek at the generative moments shared in My Monsters Hold Me Soft, a 10-session comic-making workshop for queer, disabled young adults.
Couldn’t make it? Keep an eye out for more upcoming public programs!
This program is generously supported by the Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation.
Learn more about the workshop here: https://storyplanet.ca/my-monsters-hold-me-soft-2022/
Spring is coming! Story Planet has curated a list of local artists to watch this season!
What Does it Mean to be Queer and Take Up Space? by Tiana Smith
This dreamy photo series celebrates LGBTQ2S+ experiences, especially when intersected with the experiences of Black and other racialized identities.
STARSEED by Kaya Joan
This digital zine is inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s words and is features out-of-this-world explorations.
Uprising: The Power Of Mother Earth by Christi Belcourt & Isaac Murdoch
This art series looks at works combining art and activism as a holistic practice, including important messages about our world.
Food to Palette by Kanika Gupta
This video series shows us how to make natural watercolour paints out of everyday grocery store items, step by step.
#CripRitual by various artists
This exhibition from many artists explore themes of disability culture and ritual using different mediums.
Finding Myself at the Museum by Florence Yee
This oil painting series questions power as the artist’s figure interrupts paintings on display.
Story Planet has curated a list of fiction and poetry books to read this season!
Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez
In a near-future dystopia, a queer Black performer and his allies join forces against an oppressive regime.
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
When Tan-Tan’s father commits a crime, she must tap into the Robber Queen’s powers to set them both free.
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
In a world where only Indigenous people can still dream, Frenchie and his friends must escape the evil marrow thieves who hunt them for their bone marrow.
The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley
Iris is an African tightrope dancer, hiding the secret that she’s immortal — but then she stumbles on a secret society’s deadly gladiatorial tournament.
Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
Though she works in a restaurant, Hana dreams of being a radio star — and as a hate crime shocks her community, she must find her voice.
Freedom Journal: Antidotes to Violence by Brandon Wint
This poetry album explores the experience of being Black in North America, with its attendant histories, joys and tough reconciliations.
Spring is coming! From local established talents to rising stars, Story Planet has curated a playlist for your listening pleasure this season!
We’re kicking off this International Women’s Day with a round-up of our favourite women writers!
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom
“We Are Water Protectors” is an illustrated picture book about a young Ojibwe water protector who must protect the precious resource from a snake.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
“The Henna Wars” is a young adult rom-com about two teen girls with rival businesses who fall in love.
Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
“Ghost Squad” follows the adventures of two girls who accidentally cast a spell that awakens evil spirits. can they save the town before it’s too late?
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
“Legendborn” is a young adult novel full of adventure. When sixteen-year-old Bree discovers she has magic powers, that monsters are real, and there’s a secret society at her school, she must decide her place in the coming magic war.
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
“The Proudest Blue” follows Faizah and her older sister Asiya, who’s wearing her first hijab on the first day of a new school year.
“People who bully—it’s actually more about them. It’s less about you.”
This Pink Shirt Day, the Story Crew reflect on their experiences with surviving bullying and how they coped. Sharing next is Elena (@barschazkie), a graphic designer and artist new to Toronto.
“While the horrible effects of bullying are long-lasting and damaging, giving each other strength and hope impacts just as much, if not more.”
This Pink Shirt Day, the Story Crew reflect on their experiences with surviving bullying and how they coped. First up is Michaela, a multidisciplinary creator based in Scarborough and our Communications Lead.