Friday
Nov042011

Camaraderie and Commitment at The Arts and Letters Club

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Literary Luncheon of The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto about You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? The Club was founded over a century ago for people who love the arts and provides a strong emotional circle for many of its members. Events range from musical/dramatic productions and art exhibitions to improv and alternative performances. Good conversation and camaraderie are long-standing club traditions, as was clearly evident from the discussion after my talk. Here are a few snippets from the thought-provoking exchange of ideas. One man told us about the striking quality that had helped his mother age well: her genuine curiosity about life and other people. He finds it frustrating to watch her now as she faces increasing isolation with a mind that remains active and a body that is failing. A woman told us about her group of some two dozen friends who started out 20 years ago meeting regularly for Scottish country dancing. When they realized they “couldn’t keep the dancing up forever”,  they switched their focus to theatrical outings - first in the evenings and now at the matinees. Because the group has been adjusting their focus as they age, they’re still going strong. A former widower told us his story. He and his wife had retired to Prince Edward County but after 10 years enjoying life together there, she had died. His friends invited him on a cruise and, among the fellow passengers, he met his new love. His sweetheart explained that her life included The Arts and Letters Club and they were a package deal. By accepting the challenge he says he was doubly blessed. He found both his new partner and the Club and they rest in his affections – in that order.

Friday
Oct282011

Embracing the Book Sellers

Thank you to the dozens and dozens of book sellers who welcomed me as I toured the country launching Teens Gone Wired: Are You Ready? At the book launches, you have come out in the evenings, in rain or shine, to sell books enthusiastically. At my store visits, you have been unfailingly courteous and welcoming when I’ve interrupted your day with my dog and pony show complete with buttons, cookies and even a contest. You are hosts in salons of delights, mind readers deciphering customer wants from slim clues, matchmakers trying for that perfect marriage between writer and reader. Here are photos of a few of you in action.  May you continue to love what you do.

We appreciate you.

Saturday
Oct222011

You Have to Love Haligonians


Despite an extreme weather warning, a full and enthusiastic house turned out to support Laing House and launch "Teens Gone Wired" in Halifax last Wednesday. Laing House is a remarkably successful peer-support organization for youth with mental illness that I profiled in the book. Since their founding a short ten years ago, they have proven the value of  their youth-driven, community-based approach and gained a committed throng of supporters. Our evening was graced by musical performances from several Laing House members: violin selections by Gwen and Erin and an original guitar composition from Chris. In consummate Halifax style the plates of scrumptious brownies were whipped up in a baking bee, the space was donated by Leonard Preyra - MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Islands, and the Laing House community turned out in numbers to show their support. The event was held at the home of the National Council of Women, founded in 1894 to improve the lives of women and children. What a perfect location for the launch and what a great evening. You'll find photos from the event here.

Sunday
Oct162011

In the Heart of the Action with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa

What a joy it is to hang out with people who love what they do and want to share their enthusiasm. On Oct 13th we launched “Teens Gone Wired: Are You Ready?” with the amazing staff and inspiring young people of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. Anic and Apiew are teenagers and club participants and they used the themes of the book to create original works for the launch. Anic sang a capella her own beautiful composition that urges teens to look beyond appearance to discover each person’s unique and original gifts. Apiew drew a series of portraits to reflect the range of emotions that teens experience when confronted with life’s challenges. I’ll have a wonderful opportunity to dialogue with Anic, Apiew and their friends as they continue to explore the book’s ideas with Teresa, their senior youth worker.  For 88 years, the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa has been providing supportive and stimulating programs for 4,500 young people per year. It is an awesome organization and it was a privilege to launch the book with them. Check out the photos here.

Saturday
Oct082011

Gripping Performance Gorgeous Venue Great Discussion

At last night's Vancouver launch of Teens Gone Wired: Are You Ready? we were treated to a preview of Green Thumb Theatre's latest production OUT IN THE OPEN. This play is further proof, if there is anyone left who needs convincing, that theatre is a powerful way to reach young people and nobody does it better, play after play, than Green Thumb.  Teens have a built in Geiger counter for hypocrisy and can smell a false note of dialogue or a clichéd plot a mile off. Green Thumb's plays excel because they're the real deal. You're eavesdropping on awkward, painful moments in teen lives. By offering those moments up for dissection they force us to stare at our own bad behaviour.  Bravo to Artistic Director, Patrick MacDonald and the Green Thumb team. The world needs more of them. Check out the event and our spectacular venue at the Creekside Community Centre.