It’s technically a parenting show, but it’s actually relatable to everyone who exists in a family. They’re currently doing a few reruns before the next season, but since I only started listening a few months ago, I’m so grateful. Following the story of “The Accidental Gay Parents” right now. A story that is melting my heart.
So I hear this podcast is actually geared towards men, but I really enjoyed their episode with Chris Guillebeau about finding and pursuing work that echoes with your entire being. I continue to get these inklings that teaching in its current iteration is not what resonates most with my life purpose, but I’m still trying to navigate through what that all means. I know public education is where I want to be, but I don’t see my current classroom as being that learning and thinking incubator that I envision for children. Shall continue to work through this.
So this is a fairly new podcast hosted by Jennifer Keesmat, the Chief Planner of the City of Toronto. I love all things related to urban planning and design (thinking that intersecting this with public education would lead me to what I feel is my maximum impact in the classroom) and have been feeling a dearth of input into my life on this front. Alas, I am soaking all of this in.
And there you have it – that’s what I’m consuming and chewing on as of late.
I came to Kingston 9 years ago at the peak of my formative years – an idealistic 17-year old who had known the comforts of suburban Toronto for all of her conscious past. The plan was to spend 5 years here, get myself a superb education at one of the nation’s best universities, and promptly return to the GTA to settle down with a government-employed husband and raise 2 kids.
Clearly, God had other plans.
That was me. During frosh week. In front of my residence, Chown Hall, which was at the time an all-girls residence (this has since changed, I hear). How do you know I’m a first-year university student? Well, I’m wearing a lanyard for one. And that lanyard isn’t attached to a student card holder in my back pocket; it is around my neck. Also, I clearly have no regard for the fact that my shirt and my shorts look terrible together. Knowing that over 100 other people are wearing a similar uniform probably helped.
I must admit. During the first two years of undergrad, most of my focus was insular. And by insular, I mean within a 1 km radius of Queen’s campus (save for the odd taxi ride to the local mall, since I hadn’t quite figured out how to ride transit that far). Exploring the city meant taking the bus to Loblaws for some groceries. Or doing silly things like walking up Montreal Street late at night to the KFC because we were craving fried chicken, only to realize we probably should have checked the store hours (this KFC is now a Rexall). I would say I had a very small view of the city I would be spending the next four years in.
Slowly but surely, this circle opened up. Volunteering and various practicums brought me into Kingston (and even Amherstview) schools. Curiosity drew me to local establishments and events. I began dating someone (Kelvin…who now happens to be my husband) who was born and raised in Kingston. Needless to say, I came to realize that there is life in Kingston beyond University Avenue. By the end of fourth year, with my degree in hand, I would say that I really liked Kingston.
It was at this point that the idea of staying in Kingston long term began to present itself. I opted to do my placements in Kingston during my year at the Faculty of Education, just to keep my options open. I began connecting with amazing people outside the university, and local organizations like the Kingston Arts Council. I wanted to hear and share stories from people who lived in Kingston, so I planned an event called Kingston Through My Lens.
Before I knew it, it was the summer of 2011. I had just graduated from the Faculty and had been accepted onto TDSB’s Eligible-to-Hire List. It was time to move back to Toronto, at least for the time being.
But again, God had other plans, and by the end of August, I found myself back in Kingston for good.
Two weeks ago, Dwayne Cline from Hughson Street Baptist Church in Hamilton came to speak at our church (full audio here). A self-proclaimed rural boy, he never thought that God would call him to minister in the city. And yet, this firecracker of a speaker is living and serving and raising his kids in the inner core of Hamilton. He shared with us some thoughts on this passage in Jeremiah, one of Kelvin’s favourites.
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” — Jeremiah 29:5-7
Somewhere between buying a home here in Kingston, and standing in the shade of the beautiful Isabel Bader Centre, with an unobstructed view of Lake Ontario, it dawned on me…I love this city. I love how creative this city is. I love that people are so willing to take chances on you and invite you into the city’s conversation. I love the food and the outdoor space and how “rush hour” means waiting 2 lights instead of 1 for a left turn.
But this passage got me thinking: How am I impacting the city that I live in? And how am I living intentionally in the place that God has called me to be?
If you had asked me in 2012 whether I felt I was doing this, I would have been able to say, without a doubt, yes. But since I started working more permanently, I feel like I have disengaged somewhat from Kingston. This was a sharp reminder that we exist, and our churches exist, to really minister to the community that God has placed us in.
I am challenged to demonstrate my love for this city by engaging once again with it and with the people that make it what it is. I want to take the time to really enjoy our local culture, and to listen to the stories of those I meet. But above all, I want to pray for this city, and to seek the peace and prosperity of this place we now call home.
Kelvin and I both have opportunities this year to make a difference in the lives of people who are here in Kingston – those who are here permanently as well as those who are just passing through. It’s about time we take them.
Kelvin and I had a discussion the other day about people in our field that we really look up to. It’s funny, because as much as I can list off thought leaders within education, when people ask me about my role models or people who inspire me, the first people to pop into my mind have to do with cities and urban space.
Jane Jacobs. Amanda Burden. Enrique Penalosa.
What impresses me about these individuals is the way that they see cities – not simply as machines that need to balance the perspectives and desires of different stakeholders, but as living, breathing spaces that are foremost for people. I love the way that Jane Jacobs observed neighbourhoods in an effort to understand them. I love how she advocated for them unwaveringly. I love Amanda Burden’s fervent passion for public space, and her recognition of the importance of details. (I also love her eloquence and the fact that she looks so put together). I love Enrique Penalosa and the vision and follow-through he had for Bogota’s priorities.
I also love TED talks, and the way they can inspire you, and remind you of these wonderful things. Talks like this one by Amanda Burden, which I watched multiple times.
this week, my goal was to decorate my house. i love to draw and be creative, but i don’t often use that to my benefit when it comes to furnishing the home. today, i really needed a creative outlet, so i thought it would be perfect to see what my little brain came up with. i ended up drawing two dual colour marker pictures. kelvin had 2 black frames that we had bought a while ago for another purpose, so we stuck them in there. i quite like them. hope you do too!
this is the first one i drew. it’s black and green. i think it’s my favourite of the two.
this is the second one. it’s black and blue. the lines are very similar, but the details are different.