Does our planet have cancer?


I have been struggling for decades with the widely accepted economic concept that businesses must grow or die. And then yesterday I heard a quote from Edward Abbey (29 January 192714 March 1989):

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

Wow. How did I get to be over a half century old and have never heard of Edward Abbey? Perhaps, because I was raised on another continent, or perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention. Regardless, this American writer, noted for his advocacy of environmental issues and criticism of public land policies, had a lot of smart things to say about the way we run our planet.

Now I want to check out the 1962 movie Lonely Are the Brave,  based on his novel The Brave Cowboy.

Some more words of wisdom from Abbey:

“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Of course, people with guns kill more people. But that’s only natural. It’s hard. But it’s fair.”

“The earth, like the sun, like the air, belongs to everyone — and to no one.”

“If wilderness is outlawed, only outlaws can save wilderness.”

“The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.”

And on the day of Trump’s presidential inauguration:

“When the biggest, richest, glassiest buildings in town are the banks, you know that town’s in trouble.”

“Among politicians and businessman, Pragmatism is the current term for “To hell with our children.”

“There is no force more potent in the modern world than stupidity fueled by greed.”

“The more corrupt a society, the more numerous its laws.”

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

“Hierarchical institutions are like giant bulldozers — obedient to the whim of any fool who takes the controls.”

“An empty man is full of himself.”

I guess Abbey must have seen this one coming?

Congrats to my clever students!

It was a thrill to see two of our third year students, Pamella Pinard & Max Littledale, win a $1,000 Jim Rimmer Scholarship last week. The award was given out at the annual GDC Practivism event (

Their project focusses on the importance of protecting and reviving indigenous languages. It was part of my second year applied design class with a focus on sustainable design. The project was a collaboration with first nations students from Capilano University’s Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking program. The IDEA School is honoured to enjoy the support of BC first nations students and faculty, on whose unceded traditional territories the university resides.

Rimmer PostersRimmer Web & Print applications

Going for gold

Canada ranked 20th in the Olympic medal standings.

This isn’t pleasant, but I’m sorry, it has to be said: apparently we’re much better at gender pay inequality than we are at sport. According to the OECD, Canada currently ranks 7th in the world when it comes to pay, with men earning almost 20% more than women. This is particularly sickening when Canadian women brought home 73% of Canada’s 22 Olympic medals. It reminds me of the 1962 “We Try Harder” tagline, written for Avis by copywriter Paula Green. The tagline was so good, it lasted half a century. I wonder how much she got paid? 

The Huffington Post on gender inequality

The Guardian on gender inequality

Embracing our intuitions

George Littlechild holds up student work

Cree artist George Littlechild leads a workshop for IDEA students

  Nanâskomew (thanks) George Littlechild!

What a treat for the IDEA School second year class when, Alberta born Cree artist, George Littlechild came to spend the morning with us. This was part 2 (read part 1) of a wonderful collaboration with aboriginal students and faculty at Capilano University. Many thanks to David Kirk, one of Cap’s first nations advisors, for suggesting and organising the workshop with our students. Until George walked into the room, we had no idea what the workshop might entail. We all have apprehensions about appropriating first nations art and culture, as our previous first nations class project revealed, so we were a tad nervous. Continue reading

I love my job

Victoria Steinebach on the crapper

Victoria Steinebach on the crapper

I learn the darndest things at school. Who knew that the word crap came from Thomas Crapper, inventor of the flush toilet? Thanks to my lovely first year student Victoria Steinebach for this pearl of wisdom! Some days it’s embarrassing though: why did I think epitome ended with a Y? Glad I looked it up, before telling a student to use spellcheck!

A good day

IIDF and IDEA forging friendshipsWhen risk reaps reward, say jazz hands!

Collaboration can be challenging and trying new things doesn’t always work. Certainly, some of my classroom experiments to date have left me scratching my head and wondering if I’m really up for this. When David Geary and I decided to bring our two classes together, we had no idea whether it would prove to be a positive experience. Continue reading

Artifact #2


A major motivation for completing Artifact #1 (apart from years of longing) was my commitment to make a similar piece as a wedding gift for my niece. As an English teacher who has devoured literature from a very early age, Rachel is an ideal recipient. With love as an obvious theme, I started scouring thrift stores for some of her favourite books: Emily Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, etc. Her fiancé Alex’s literary diet is a little different, including Stephen King and the sports section. The couple got engaged in Paris, so a city guide was a lucky thrift find. I blended all these influences with some trashy romance novels, such as Loves Enduring Promise, which provided the incredibly à propos line, “And you really are the school teacher? Sure didn’t have teachers like that when I went to school.” Continue reading

Scratching that Itch

Type Tray Art

Artifact #1

Taking a Deep Creative Breath.

Several years ago, I bought a type tray (also known as a California job case) from a vintage shop in Gibsons, thinking I would “do” something with it. One of many dreams of resuscitating the experimental maker in me, after decades of smothering my artistic longing in extrinsic rewards and risk-free practical maker projects, like cushions and bodum covers. Continue reading


ShelvesFolks seem to be loving the new shelves we built, so I thought I’d share them. They’re made from window sill moulding purchased at the hardware store. Making the shelves is pretty straightforward, just cut to size, sand and paint, but if you want the invisible mount you need to be pretty hand with a drill. (They’re held in place with drill bits). You could always use some cute little brackets. The moulding provides a lip on top that prevents pictures falling of. Not necessarily earthquake proof, but can probably withstand the odd pogo session.