Spring Gillard

Many Thanks

5labyrinthMe copyThis is a copy of the acknowledgements in my MA thesis. So many people got me to the finish line.

I would like to thank my supervisor Rob VanWynsberghe for his infinite patience with me as I wrote so very many lengthy versions of every chapter. Despite all the reading he was doing, he also managed to find a lot of paid work for me while I was in school. I am also indebted to my other committee members, Hongxia Shan and Tom Sork, and external examiner Pierre Walter for their patience with my verbosity, their careful readings of my work and their thoughtful feedback. I have been inspired by all of you and your writings. I am especially grateful to all my study participants and my colleagues at the study institution.

Many of my MA course work professors were also very helpful in the early stages of my thesis concept development, including Lesley Andres, Shauna Butterwick, Mona Gleason, Judith Ottoson, Dave Smulders, Pierre Walter, and the amazing dynamic duo, Jeannie Cockell and Joan McArthur-Blair. A special thank you to Hongxia Shan for letting me sit in on some of her courses, and to Amy Metcalfe for allowing me to audit her data analysis course. Jo-Anne Naslund in the Faculty of Education library was extremely helpful to me on many occasions. A great big thank you to Shauna Butterwick who supervised my self-directed course, gave me very concrete feedback, and was ever so quick to reply to any and all emails, no matter the topic.

I would also like to thank Shauna and Mark Edwards for hiring me as the community engagement coordinator for the Faculty of Education. There, I had the privilege of working on an amazing project with a very talented team (see Storying with Our Communities). Thank you Mark for always emphasizing that school came first. Thank you to my department, Educational Studies, for presenting me with the 2014 Gordon Selman Award. It meant the world to me to be acknowledged for making a contribution to the field of adult education.

A number of other scholars got me through difficult times. My correspondence with Fritjof Capra was a sustaining source of inspiration. Judith Ottoson urged me on at many points in the process, encouraging me to “own the language” of application. Alice Kolb was very generous with her time, answering many of my questions on Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory. Christine Blackmore, Tara Fenwick, Penelope Hawe and Stephen Sterling helped me navigate and critique the many streams of systems theory. Barbara McMillan introduced me to some essential works on social network theory. Stephen Ruppenthal answered some critical questions on Buddhist theory.

I made a lot of new friends at school who also kept me motivated; thank you especially to my buddies Linda, Tim, Chrissie, Kerry and Mali. A special thank you to Caitlin Davis for her brilliant work on the graphic side of my thesis and defence presentation. A big hug to my work colleagues at the UBC Learning Exchange for their encouragement and patience with my utter exhaustion and at times diminished brainpower. Eternal gratitude to my spiritual teacher, Eknath Easwaran, whose teachings and writings course through my life and this thesis. Finally, deepest thanks to my treasured family and friends for supporting me in so many ways through this rather unexpected return to school. I assure you all, we are re-entering ordinary time.

Moving Force

2feet walkingMy thesis is now available in the great library in the sky. The title is Moving force: case study of a sustainability tour as a potential vehicle to enhance application of learning. The abstract is below.

Despite concentrated efforts by sustainability practitioners and educators around the world, very little progress has been made in terms of creating more sustainable communities. Many of those same practitioners and educators are now calling for a paradigm shift—a new story that will move us away from the view of the world as a machine to one in which the world is seen as a network, a holistic system of interconnections and relationships. Experiential educational methods are acknowledged as the most effective means for teaching and learning “systems” thinking, a key sustainability competency. This is an exploratory case study of one such method—an annual sustainability tour course within a larger certificate program for sustainable community development in a continuing education unit at a major BC academic institution.

The purpose of this research was to gain a better understanding of the perceived influence that an educative experience in the form of a sustainability tour had on participant learning, the features of the tour format that contributed to participant learning, and factors that participants believe enhanced or inhibited application of what they learned. In keeping with a long tradition in adult education research of employing multiple lenses in order to assess program effects, a multi-disciplinary theoretical framework was developed that included theories from systems thinking, sustainability, adult education, program planning and evaluation, application of learning, the sociology of tourism, and cognitive science. Qualitative research methods were employed; both course participants and facilitators from the wider certificate program were interviewed, and a number of course-related documents were analyzed. Findings indicate that the tour format has unique features that produce a “tour effect” that may not only enhance learning, but also contribute to deeper embodied learning, and thereby increase the likelihood for applying learning. The tour itself was found to be a flexible, multi-vocal mobile storytelling vehicle, one that can play a critical role in moving us into a new story.

Celebration Time

gradhatsA week ago Friday, I successfully defended my Master of Arts thesis at UBC, entitled Moving Force: Case study of a sustainability tour as a potential vehicle to enhance application of learning. I will post a link to the thesis once it is uploaded to the great vault in the sky. My degree will be conferred when I convocate in May. Many thanks to all of my family and friends for all the support they gave me over the last three years and four months! I will post full acknowledgements here once I’m rested and refreshed.


woodsTaking a break from blogging until I wrap up my MA degree. On the final stretch, but miles to go.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Too Tart

tartI bought myself a yummy pumpkin tart from Terra Breads over Thanksgiving. But the liner left a bad taste in my mouth. They used to use tin cupcake liners, which are recyclable. Now they are using a plasticized paper shell, which is not. The “retail performance” manager informed me that they do use compostable takeout containers, napkins, cutlery, bags and muffin/tulip cups and they are continuing to source new partners who can help them reduce their environmental footprint. Tin, it exists, why not use it?

Art of Resistance and Liberation

I’m presenting with a fellow student on behalf of the Learning Exchange at this adult ed conference at U.Vic this coming weekend. Looking forward to the social justice tour of downtown Victoria on Saturday afternoon.

A radical celebration for social and environmental change with a focus on (de)colonisation, resurgence, and allyship

The ART OF RESISTANCE AND LIBERATION will spark critical dialogue through art, performance, music, theatre, and social action that challenges dominant norms, inequities and conceptions of knowledge in western society and provokes action for systemic change and a more egalitarian world.

 The conference draws on UNESCO’s four pillars of adult education: Learning to be; Learning to d; Learning to know; Learning to live together.

The ART OR RESISTANCE AND LIBERATION recognizes that critical adult education embodies multiple forms and is interdisciplinary by nature.  It seeks to unite academia, activists and practitioners from diverse backgrounds and fields who engage, empower and transform with the ultimate goal of creating a better world. The conference recognizes that central to this is confronting colonization, embracing resurgence, and settler peoples learning to deal with their past, become allies and live in solidarity.

Viaduct Vote

viaductrenderingThis week City Council will be making a crucial decision on the future of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. After five years of study, consultation, and engagement, the City is on the verge of a once-in-a-generation city-building opportunity for Vancouver. Click here to find out more about the viaducts proposal.

Casting a Vote for All

Reposting this from November 2011. There’s a very important federal election tomorrow. Please vote.

I just got back from voting in my municipal election. Every time I vote I get choked up. I guess it’s that “rush of democracy” as one Facebook friend described it this morning.

I remember when I was growing up, my parents would always get dressed up to go vote. There was this solemnity about the day and an aura of importance. Just by their example, they instilled in me the privilege it is to vote and I never fail to exercise my right at all levels of government.

When I was entering my polling station, I noticed a sign on the door: shelter open tonight. St. Mark’s Lutheran/Trinity United church is also one of the winter shelters in our city that keeps people warm and gives them a bed. They also feed people every Thursday through the year.

When you vote today, think about which candidates will, in author Paul Hawken’s words, “create the conditions conducive to life,” for everyone, all one hundred percent.


happinessSaw this poster at the new UBC sub during opening week. An appropriate message for my birthday – which is today!

Grassy High

grassyknollNice use of a slope outside the new Student Union Building at UBC. Can’t have enough seating around campus.