Featured Explorer: Carina Nasturzio

One of our fabulous interns (and unofficial photographer!) is Carina Nasturzio, and we are so lucky to have had her bright and happy presence with us this past year! Read below to learn more about this awesome explorer!
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1. Favourite planet to live: Mars, but Earth is pretty neat too
2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: The Kite Runner, Room
3. Favourite writers: Marjane Satrapi, Lidia Yuknavitch, Emma Donoghue, Juni Ito
4. Favourite thing to do on Earth:  Make art, explore, and pet dogs
5. Favourite Earth food:  Popcorn
 
6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience at Story Planet:  At one of my very first workshops, a student gave me a note telling me how nice I was and how she was happy we met.  Sometimes I’ll read it when I need a bit of motivation, or just need some cheering up!
7. Most important thing you learned as an intern at Story Planet:  That what we do really makes a difference.  I’ve seen shy and timid students open up and be creative in the span of one hour, and you can tell that the workshop really touched them.  It’s heartwarming to see, and I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to see it.

Introducing: Wine & Story Night!

We are so excited to launch our brand new event series: Wine & Story Night!

Come to Story Planet on Friday, May 11 for a hilarious and entertaining night! You’ll be guided by a professional playwright and artist through a hysterical writing process. At the end, you’ll take home your own script, printed, bound, and illustrated by the artist!

Wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available throughout the evening, because we now how to host a good party.

Hurry and buy your tickets HERE!

All proceeds will go towards funding our programming for marginalized children and youth.

Featured Explorer: Catriona Spaven-Donn

At Story Planet, we work with some of the most amazing, inspiring, and truly wonderful humans on the planet, and we’d love for you to learn more about them too!

We would like to introduce you to one of our stellar new volunteers, Catriona Spaven-Donn. Catriona is not only a fabulous volunteer who has been helping kids and youth around Toronto through other organizations, she’s also a super cool human with many talents who has also travelled to Toronto all the way from Scotland.

Check out her responses below!

1. Favourite planet to live: Living on Earth is pretty cool – we can be in urban environments with huge streetcar and library networks as well as loads of choices of places to eat and shop; but then we can also be in other habitats. Earlier this year, I lived on an island 4000 metres above sea level where it was sometimes difficult to breathe and the high pressure brought tremendous lightning storms. So far, I’ve found that Planet Earth is full of places to visit, people to meet, stories to tell, and adventures to embark upon.

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: This year, I worked at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which is the largest book festival in the world, and I was lucky enough to hear many great writers present their work. There were sold out events for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith, both of whose novels I have very much enjoyed reading. But rather than the sit-down talks with famous authors, my favourite events happened in the Imagination Lab, where we set up cushions and tables with crayons and arts and crafts for infants and children. There, I discovered Britta Teckentrup’s wonderful world of collage and peek-through story books while working with Grade 2s to produce our own artwork. Her children’s books, such as ‘Tree’, which follows a tree and its woodland companions through four seasons, are creative and educational, with a special focus on nature and wildlife and exploring this planet we call home.

3. Favourite writers: I’ve already mentioned a couple of my favourite fiction writers, but I also read other genres like poetry and travel writing. As you can tell from my Britta Teckentrup recommendation, I love books about nature. Kathleen Jamie is a Scottish poet who writes about the Scottish landscape, which makes me feel very connected to where I grew up in the countryside outside of Edinburgh, and also in the mountainous, windswept wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: Unsurprisingly from all you’ve read about me now, I love reading and traveling! I love going on adventures and exploring hidden away spaces, and scribbling words or taking photos while I’m at it.

5. Favourite Earth food: Anything chocolate mint flavour (but sadly also dairy-free due to dietary restrictions) and tortilla chips and humous. I’m all about the snacks!

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience at Story Planet: For one comic-making workshop with Grade 4s and 5s, seeing the character we created collectively come alive in the students’ comic panels was really exciting. I enjoyed sharing ideas about glass-eating monsters and unicorn best friends, but the best moment was one earnest comic-maker shouting out to me at the end, “I’ll miss you!” It’s great to know that Story Planet is so valued in the classrooms we visit – and it also means we’ll just have to keep going back so they don’t miss us too much!

Jennifer & Jacob: A Script by the Talented Writers of the Monsignor Fraser SWAC Program

Artwork by Giovanna Galuppo

Jennifer & Jacob
A Script by the Talented Writers of the Monsignor Fraser SWAC Program

Cast of Characters

Jennifer: 20 year old woman. She is Mexican. She has bleached blonde hair, is a student and works part-time as a bartender/server at a Toronto restaurant. She is gay, and also afraid of spiders.

Jacob: 21 year old man. He is Colombian. He is 6 “2, has dark hair, and thick eyebrows. He is a graphic designer and photographer. He is a great listener and very empathetic. He is best friends with Jennifer. They met while Jennifer was serving. Jacob gave her a really great tip, they exchanged numbers, and became friends. Jacob is in love with Jennifer, but knows that they can never be together because Jennifer is a lesbian. Jacob has always found her very attractive, but has realized that she does not feel the same way. Jacob is a great listener and very empathetic, and has been there to help Jennifer as she discovers more about herself.

Ashley: Jennifer’s girlfriend. They met at a party in highschool and have been dating for 3 years. She is very clingy and needy. Ashley doesn’t like Jacob because she has a sense that he has feelings for Jennifer.


SCENE 1
[6:30pm. October 31, Halloween. Funnel cake area at Canada’s Wonderland. People are wandering around, and there is music playing. People are yelling in the background. Jennifer and Jacob sit at a table, sharing a funnel cake. It is a chilly evening, and they are both wearing thick knit sweaters.]

JENNIFER: I got two tickets to the Drake concert!

JACOB: No way! When is it?

JENNIFER: It’s, um, in two weeks.

JACOB: Wow! That’s going to be awesome! I can’t wait! Where are the seats?

JENNIFER: They’re front row! But I never said I was taking you.

[A person in a Dracula costume scares the two of them, distracting Jennifer.]

JACOB: Damn, you scared me! …Ohh, alright.

JENNIFER: [laughs, and says excitedly] We have backstage passes too!

JACOB: Backstage passes to see Drake? That’s awesome!

JENNIFER: Yeah, I know!

JACOB: Who are you taking?

JENNIFER: You know I’m taking Ashley, my girlfriend.

JACOB: Say word, mierda, you’re taking Ashley?!

JENNIFER: Unfortunately, but this is the truth.

JACOB: You’re taking your girlfriend? Huh. [Under his breath] I’m like your best friend.

JENNIFER: Jacob, it’s her birthday, and I want to surprise her with the tickets.

JACOB: You’re actually taking her? That sucks.

JENNIFER: Why are you mad?

JACOB: I’m happy that you’re taking her, but I’m kind of upset… I wanted to do something like this together.

JENNIFER: You can buy nosebleed seats…

[Awkward silence. There is a scream in the background.]

JACOB: Tesoro, it’s Drake! Tickets are like 200 bucks! This sucks, dude.

JENNIFER: I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you.

JACOB: I mean, I guess. I mean, I can’t blame Ashley, she’s your girlfriend.

JENNIFER: Yeah, Jacob. Thanks for understanding the situation.

JACOB: Maybe we should kill her.

[Jacob laughs, but Jennifer grows angry.]

JENNIFER: This is serious, Jacob, it’s her birthday!

JACOB: But she always chooses her friends over you!

JENNIFER: We’re at a good place right now. I mean, we could sneak you in maybe?

JACOB: [raising his voice a little, being passive-aggressive] Man, I’m like 6’2”!

To be continued…

Featured Explorer: Shawna Lee Campbell

At Story Planet, we work with some of the most amazing, inspiring, and truly wonderful humans on the planet, and we’d love for you to learn more about them too!

We would like to introduce you to one of our stellar volunteers, Shawna Lee Campbell. Shawna is not only a wonderful volunteer who has connected with kids all over the GTA, she is a published children’s book author, artist, and all-round lovely human.

Check out her responses below!

1. Favourite planet to live: Our magnificent Earth of course!

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: The Little Prince wins my heart.

3. Favourite writers: Lucy Rose and Mike Norris!

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: Travel, paint, write, mermaid, hike, hoop, breathe, laugh, sleep.

5. Favourite Earth food: Shawarma

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience at Story Planet: My favourite workshop I’ve done is the Alien Has Landed workshop. The moment that stands out for me the most was the fifth grader who felt the spacecraft had been appropriated from a Northern Indigenous community by aliens. Her perspective was incredibly insightful and intelligently articulated. She was able to back up her ideas with specific details about the spacecraft and reference to factual details of Indigenous culture and Northern landscapes. It was a fascinating experience listening to her ideas.

Alien Landing Imminent!

Our ever popular Alien Has Landed event is happening at Artscape Wychwood Barns on March 24th, 11 AM! Bring the whole family and help us figure out the mystery of who has landed and why.

https://torontostorytellingfestival.ca/2018/#events

Story Planet will run a 3-day story-writing workshop with a grade 5 class, at Valleyfield Public School on April 16th. Our awesome lead artist, Josh Rosen, will illustrate the story and show the students how to draw the alien, step-by-step.

 

From one of our last Alien Has Landed at Gracefield Public School!

We are indebted to our wonderful workshop volunteers, who braved the cold crash site for four hours, and spent even more time working one-on-one with students to help them craft a totally original, totally awesome story!

We are also so grateful to all our amazing volunteers, without whom Alien Has Landed could not have been a success. Our team of engineers and tech wizards designed and built a spaceship that truly awed everyone, children and adults both! We cannot thank them enough for all their tireless work. They made this spaceship crash a magical experience that 500 young students are going to remember for years to come!

We are so excited to launch this program again in spring 2018 (when it’s hopefully a little warmer, too!).

Featured Explorer: Kris Bone

At Story Planet, we work with some of the most amazing, inspiring, and truly wonderful humans on the planet, and we’d love for you to learn more about them too!

We would like to introduce you to one of our stellar long-time volunteers, Kris Bone. Kris is not only an awesome volunteer who has helped inspire kids all over the GTA, he’s a published writer, comedian, and overall cool human.

Check out his responses below!

1. Favourite planet to live: Earth is nice (so far), but I hear that Venus has some great restaurants.

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: The People of Paper, by Salvador Plascencia! It’s a magical little book about luchadors who are secretly saints, origami so deft it can replace human organs, and a no-holds-barred fight between the author of the novel and a small village that he created. It’s the book that keeps me writing when I start getting tired and considering taking up plumbing or becoming an undertaker.

3. Favourite writers: Hunter S. Thompson, Andre Alexis, David Foster Wallace, Erik Larson, and that gorilla who paints.

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: It’s a three-way tie: Reading, napping, and writing.

5. Favourite Earth food: Mars bars, ironically.

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience at Story Planet: I was part of a workshop a few years ago with a group of second-grade students. The facilitator, in talking about characters in stories, asked the group if they thought characters always had to be boys or girls–could they think of other things that could be characters? One little boy put his hand up and declared that “animals, animals could be characters!” The facilitator agreed. A girl in the second row put up her hand and proclaimed that “donkeys could be characters!” Again, the facilitator agreed–donkeys are rare but wonderful protagonists. Then, one boy near the back put his hand up in the air and waved it around–he desperately wanted to contribute. Our facilitator looked over at him and asked him what he thought. The boy said: “It could- it could be a cinnamon donkey!!”

I have rarely laughed so hard as I did that morning, and I think about it often (but maybe not for the reasons you’re expecting). That boy was right! A cinnamon donkey COULD be a character! Who am I to say otherwise? When we’re writing stories from our imaginations, why couldn’t a cinnamon donkey exist?

When I write, now, I often remember that boy when I find myself thinking that something shouldn’t or couldn’t happen in one of my stories. My characters can, and should, do everything–why not? And maybe, one day, I’ll find a way to work a real live imaginary cinnamon donkey into one of those stories, too.

Featured Explorer: Anna Fitzpatrick

At Story Planet, we work with some of the most amazing, inspiring, and truly wonderful humans on the planet, and we’d love for you to learn more about them too!

We would like to introduce you to one of our stellar long-time volunteers, Anna Fitzpatrick. Anna is not only a dedicated volunteer who is adored by children all over the GTA, she is a fabulous Toronto writer and journalist, and overall great person.

Check out her responses below!

1. Favourite planet to live: I only have experience living on planet earth, but Sailor Venus is my favourite of the Sailor Scouts so I’ve always gotten a good vibe about there.

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

3. Favourite writers: All the young writers I meet through Story Planet, of course! For grownups, I love Shirley Jackson, Jack Handey, and Monica Heisey

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: I’m addicted to Duolingo, an app that helps you learn new languages. They’ve yet to add Martian, so for now I’m just practicing Russian.

5. Favourite Earth food: Love me some mashed potatoes

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience at Story Planet: Once in a story writing workshop we were coming up with a character, and one of the students suggested it be “Tall like Miss Anna.” I felt so seen.

Story Planet is Looking for Volunteers!

At Story Planet, we love and appreciate every single one of our amazing volunteers, and we would love to have more folks join our incredible team!

We are looking for volunteers to help us with our in-school workshops for the Winter Term (January – March, 2018). Please read through the details below thoroughly to find out more about how to apply.

As a workshop volunteer, you will:

  • Support Story Planet facilitators & artists during our high-energy literacy workshops in school all over the GTA
  • Work one-on-one with students to help them build their confidence as well as their communication and writing skills
  • Be a mentor to students of all ages, from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Get loads of great experience working with children and youth in groups and one-on-one
  • Have loads of fun and be totally inspired!

To become a Story Planet workshop volunteer, you must be able to commit to:

  • Volunteering with us for the entire winter term (January – March)
  • Volunteering 3 hours per week between 8am – 3pm, Monday – Friday (our workshops take place during school hours, and will be scheduled in advance)
  • Travelling to various schools in the GTA where we conduct workshops
  • Completing a vulnerable sector police check (this will be done through Story Planet, and costs $20)
  • Attending a volunteer orientation and training session.
HOW TO APPLY
If you are interested and able to meet all of the above requirements, please email the volunteer coordinator Liz Mochrie at volunteer@storyplanet.ca with the subject line: “Volunteer Application for Winter Term.”

 

In your email, please provide a brief explanation (2 – 3 sentences) of why you would like to volunteer with us. After that, you will be sent the full volunteer application form as well as further details.

 

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

Update: Story Planet’s New Headquarters!

Update: November 8, 2017

We’ve been painting!!

Thanks to the amazing Farha and Logan for getting the place launch ready. We’ll need a few hands to help with some more painting and some carpeting!

Email me liz(at)storyplanet.ca if you like to help make our space beautiful!

Our new space at Parliament Library will be creative workshop, meeting and office space. It will enable us to run consistent, impactful programming for children in the neighbourhood (both James Town and Regent Park), as well as allow schools from all over the GTA to come on a field trip to us.

The space will be designed for maximum creativity and will feature all kinds of art from kids, artists and writers. We will embrace our galactic theme so children entering the space truly feel like they are going to a new, imaginative place where their ideas matter.

We know from the library that there are many families and children who are in need of creative and writing support. Toronto Public Library is the perfect partner because they are a trusted space, with the perfect companion to writing support…books! They are as excited as we are about the impact we can have on the community and how we can support each others’ programs and co-create new ones. 

We will be offering after-school programs twice a week, weekly field trips, Teen Writing Group, as well as camps, and that’s just to start!