EOS WildEarth Program, Jumbo Hike and SelfDesign High’s New Move!

With the last days of summer behind us, we begin to switch gears and get ready for fall, a time of new opportunities and perhaps a shift in priorities. With a slight adjustment of temperature, many of us begin to focus on new projects and possibilities. This is a time of bounty, not only from local gardens and fruit trees, but also on the educational landscape. At SelfDesign High, this bounty includes a new move to our space at the Kalein Hospice Society, a wonderful new program called EOS WildEarth Outdoor Program and a hike up to the Jumbo Valley.


SelfDesign High at the Kalein Hospice Society


It’s been a year since we began to lease half of the building at 402 West Richards in Rosemont, owned by the Kalein Hospice Society. SelfDesign High occupies three floors at the back of the building, looking out at an abundance of green trees that make up the beautifully forested grounds.


Once again, our local Gateways (grade 8 and 9) and our local EOS (grades 10-12) programs be hosted at this space. Our administration and online school will also call this home. This SelfDesign Learning Centre is available to any SDH learner and their families to study, work on projects and meet with Mentors. We encourage the K-12 Selfdesign Learning Community to feel welcomed to our new home.


Jumbo Hike With a Purpose


At the beginning of September, The EOS Outdoor group did a Jumbo Pass overnighter as their culminating activity for 2013. The goal was to have a journey with a purpose – and Jumbo was the natural choice. Two youth, Poppy and Senna who were 2 of the main organizers for the Youth For Jumbo event at the beginning of the year, brought some subtle activism in the form of a teddy bear! They left a ‘Keep Jumbo Wild’ Teddy Bear in the cabin to inspire the movement to keep Jumbo wild for at least another generation. David Russell Lowen, SelfDesign High Mentor who also did the hike reflects, “We had some great weather, good food and lots of fun – but the highlight for everyone, i think – was enjoying the sunset.”


“If we want our children to flourish, we need to give them time to connect with nature and love the Earth before we ask them to save it.”

- David Sobel


EOS WildEarth Outdoor Program


SelfDesign High is excited to present the EOS WildEarth Outdoor Program, an opportunity for EOS learners in grades 11 and 12 in the Nelson, BC area. This is an adventure based, experiential and entrepreneurial learning program with 12 spaces available.


This program offers a gateway to a career in the growing tourism industry while developing valuable life skills that can be transferred to other career paths. It is also a stepping stone to higher level adventure tourism programs.


Participants in this full time experiential learning program will develop youth leadership, entrepreneurial and teamwork skills that include trip planning, risk assessment, environmental stewardship, guiding, first aid, avalanche, canoeing, hiking certification, interpersonal communication skills and group facilitation.

Blue and ChilkoThe name WildEarth comes from Blue Netherclift, WildEarth Outdoor Program Coordinator, who has been passionate about environmentalism for many years. While studying ecology and environmentalism in University in the UK, he began to explore direct action and environmental campaigning as a way to make a difference. With his passion for protecting green spaces and ancient forests, he discovered that introducing people to the outdoor natural environment was another wonderful way to express his environmentalism and thus his adventure-tour business was born, more than 10 years of experience that drives this program.


The EOS WildEarth Outdoor Program is a holistic outdoors program that will introduce learners to various activities such as canoeing, hiking and exploring their local environment while making connections to entrepreneurialism, responsible travel and other themes. Blue describes,


“…for example, we are not just going canoeing. We are going to look at how things are connected too. In planning our trips we’ll explore using local food and talk about food security. Youth are going to learn communication skills, teamwork and leadership skills. This program brings in a lot of everyday life skills. Even if someone is not too excited about canoeing or doesn’t dream of being a guide, they are still going to get a lot out of this program that can relate to everyday life – They get a chance to learn those things and fine tune them through challenging themselves. And putting themselves a little out of their comfort zone. I do that myself – especially with climbing. Sometimes I have to push myself to get through a crux.”


For more information about the EOS WildEarth Outdoor Program, contact Blue Netherclift at bluenetherclift@selfdesign.org


In addition to the EOS WildEarth Outdoor Program stream, now in it’s fourth year EOS Interdisciplinary Program is also available in Nelson and online for youth anywhere in B.C. Visit our website for more information or contact us at 250-354-1310.

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SDH Youth Exhibition is part of ArtWalk 25 Years!
















SelfDesign High is thrilled to be part of the Nelson ArtWalk 25 Years, in partnership with the Oxygen Art Centre, as ArtWalk’s first ever youth exhibition.

Curated by Amber Santos and Jessie Demers, this exhibition entitled “Life is Learning”, is composed of learning artifacts and fine arts pieces. All pieces were created by youth who call SelfDesign High their school for all or part of their high school learning experiences. SelfDesign High Mentors together with Community Mentors support these youth in exploring various artistic mediums and their expression. Some artwork was created during workshops, while some was created independently.

The exhibition is open July 31 – Aug 2 from 10am to 5pm and the opening is Aug 2 from 6:00pm – 9:00pm at the Oxygen Art Centre.

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Summer Art Intensive for Youth Who Love the Arts

With summer just around the corner, there is excitement about how to spend the warm days and a fresh change of routine. SelfDesign High is once again offering a four week arts program taking place July 2nd through August 3rd in Nelson, BC. Now in it’s fourth year, the Summer Art Intensive is uniquely designed for all BC youth ages 15-18, who are passionate about and interested in the visual arts and ceramics. In addition to the professional art practices gained through this program, BC youth can earn 4 credits towards their Dogwood Diploma upon completion of this course.

This small group of youth (designed to support a maximum of 10), enjoy a balance of guided instruction and open studio time. The program activities are split between Kalein (402 W Richards St. in Rosemont), EarthArt Studios (1116 Latimer St), and Oxygen Art Centre ( #3- 320 Vernon St.-alley entrance).

The first two weeks consist of instruction provided by local, professional artists/instructors that work alongside youth to explore, experiment, and expose various art making techniques and practices. This year, youth will explore Colour and Composition with Deborah Thompson in a Painting Workshop, Book Making with Fiona Brown, Glass Fusion with Michelle Lambert and Wheel Throwing with Kass Swankey.

In the second two weeks, the youth are guided and supported by Mentors Amber Santos and Jessie Demers in their studio time where they create work for a youth driven professional art exhibition at Nelson, BCs artist-run, Oxygen Art Centre. The exhibition includes an art opening and a final critique. The youth co-curate the show with their Mentors, organize the opening, choose a name for the show, design the poster and participate in promoting the event. Finally there is an opening night and the exhibition is open to the community! This year, there will be a second opening on August 2 as part of ArtWalk’s 25 anniversary.

To Register: www.selfdesignhigh.org/enroll

More info: workshopcourses@selfdesign.org

More Summer Programs: www.selfdesignhigh.org/summer

Mentor Bios

Deborah Thompson is a Canadian visual artist who resides in Nelson, B.C. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1984 spending her final year of study in Florence, Italy. She then spent a decade teaching and traveling in wilderness environments from East Africa to the North American Arctic during which she received a B.A. in Experiential Education from Prescott College in 1995. She then put roots down in Missoula, Montana to return to her studio practice completing an MFA in painting at the University of Montana in 1997. She was awarded the Fell-Oskins Scholarship (faculty award) two years in a row for her studio work. She has done residencies at the Vermont Studio Centre and the Banff Centre. She now resides in Nelson, B.C where she maintains a studio and exhibition practice, teaches for the Oxygen Art Centre (she is a founding member of the Centre) and curators for Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History. In 2008 she went to the Netherlands to research medieval altar pieces in Holland. In 2011, she received a Major Project Grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance for the research and creation of Bird Woman in which she is exploring the ascetic practices of female mystics in the late middle ages. This summer she is going to Avila, Spain to continue her research focusing on the life and work of Saint Teresa of Avila.

Kass Swankey has a strong ceramic background from the Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario as a Graduate of 3 year Ceramic Diploma and the Kootenay School of the Arts doing a 3 month self-directed residency under Robin Dupont as well as completing the 2 year Ceramic Diploma in 2008. She is excited to teach basic wheel throwing and surface design techniques to young people at the studio and brings a natural enthusiasm and love for ceramics to her work.

Jessie Demers has been part of the Summer Art Intensive from the beginning, 3 years ago. She is a learning consultant with SelfDesign’s K-9 program, and she also works as a curator and programming coordinator at Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History. She is passionate about the arts, activism, and lifelong learning. This year she will be sharing her love of art history, supporting the learners in their independent research and studio practice, and assisting them with curating their own art show at Oxygen Art Centre!

Fiona Brown’s main media are Clay and Books. She graduated from KSA about 12 years ago and has an awesome little studio in her back yard in Nelson, BC.

From her website:

“My life and travels inform my work. I love texture, pattern, and the dance of colour. I also appreciate the subtle layering effects of variegated glazes over carved surfaces. I keep detailed visual journals from my travels, and re-visit them frequently for inspiration. I love adapting motifs and designs from other cultures and integrating them into new contexts, whether on tiles or teabowls, plates or lanterns. I also love the overlapping of words and images, and the powerful presentation when they are juxtaposed. It is the element of story that most motivates me. The meandering yet purposeful lines of a tile mural or the re-contextualized motif from my travels speak to me of story, of the human connection to the earth. I am also a book-artist and a certified BC teacher. I live in the beautiful mountain town of Nelson BC with my artist husband, our young son, and two rambunctious Rhondesian Ridgeback hounds.”


Michelle Lambert’s discovery of fusing glass as an artistic medium came about 20 years ago with what she considers a blessing; to be studying with one of the founders of the modern glass movement, Boyce Lundstrom. The fused artisanal glass discipline is very appealing as the cross pollination of arts, sciences and cultural studies. The foundation is ancient art from the Egyptians flowering into clean tech art. The wonders of science has allowed for sustainable and durable works of art and utilitarian practicality with the reliable coefficient and expansion of available high quality class made from the upcycling of everyday household glass containers.

Amber Santos has been making art since she was a child and started exhibiting art as a youth. She studied photography at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada and Fine Arts at Universidade Estadual de Santa Catarina in Brazil. As a Mentor at SelfDesign High, Amber brings her passion for collaborative art and self expression to her mentorship. During the seven years she lived in Recife, Brazil, she participated in the Network of Resistance and Solidarity, a self-organized network that used art to mobilize the community to find solutions to their issues and proclaim that, “The community knows what’s best for the community.” Back in the Kootenays where she grew up, Amber is an art activist with a focus on how art can sensitize about social and political issues. She advocates on behalf of more art in the public space – from her perspective, an essential piece for a healthy democracy and community. She helped with the NDYC mural project in 2010, coordinated the Colours of Nelson: a mural project in 2012, and recently helped with the instillation of a Before I Die project in Nelson, BC.

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Celebrate our Graduating Youth – in Community

SelfDesign High will celebrate youth graduating from high school on June 21st and 22nd in Nelson, BC. The celebration will begin the SDH Sweat: A Tradition of All Peoples. This sweat is created out of the traditions of all peoples of the earth, and is not a replication or borrowing of any one tradition. Almost every nation of people has had, or still does have, a tradition or practice of using quiet, dark spaces (sauna of the Finnish, hot box of the ancient Irish, sweat lodge of the Native Americans etc) hot rocks, and steam to represent: gratitude and acknowledgement of the earth as our physical dwelling place; our connection with a greater reality; a cleansing of body, mind and spirit. All of the SDH youth who wish to take part in the sweat are invited to bring a question with them, a question relevant to them at this time of their lives.

Then, on Saturday, the Graduation Celebration will take place at the SelfDesign Learning Centre at 402 Victoria St. Festivities will include the LifeSpiral, Recognition of Graduates and more! The Saturday events are open to the community. Come and celebrate our youth during this magical transition in their lives!

More information: info@selfdesignhigh.org

June 21st, Friday

SDH Sweat: A Tradition of All Peoples

location to be announced, from late afternoon into the evening

June 22, Saturday

Graduation Celebration

3:00 PM to 10 PM

SelfDesign Learning Centre

Nelson Legion, Nelson BC

3PM to 6PM: LifeSpiral, Special Guests, Celebration of Learning, Recognition of Graduates

6PM – 7PM: Potluck Dinner

7PM – 10PM: Special guests, entertainment and dancing!

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Margie Preninger: Artist, Parent and Village Mentor on ATCs and SelfDesigning

You may have noticed some of the beautiful stitched art pieces throughout the SelfDesign Spring Newsletter, launched in April of 2013. Created by Margie Preninger, a SelfDesign Parent, Mentor, fashion designer and artist, these artworks are known as Artist Trading Cards, or ATCs. Developed out of the Mail Art movement, Artist Trading Cards are miniature mixed-media art pieces traded and collected amongst artists through snail mail. As a Mentor in the SelfDesign Village, the conversations hub within the SelfDesign Learning Community, Margie connects with kids and youth province-wide through mixed media projects like Artist Trading Cards.

Margie began as a Mentor in the SelfDesign Village in 2008, shortly after her son began his SelfDesign learning journey. She recalls being thrilled to see a conference post looking for someone to mentor in the fashion design conference, as this is her formal training and current artistic practice and passion. She has owned her own home-based business for over 20 years. Its called KLoZHAUS, a play on words that alludes to her Austrian background and love of the German language. Aside from running her business which includes everything from simple sewing projects to original one-of-a-kind designs, Margie is also part of the Vancouver Island Surface Design Association, a group that organizes collective exhibitions and events on the BC coast.

Margie draws on her own intuition and life experience when connecting to kids and their art-making. She describes, “I watch kids go from not understanding what inspiration is, or not knowing how to finding it within themselves – to flying with their ideas.” She uses her own imagination and creativity while getting to know each individual learner to find out where they are at with the art being explored in the conference.

Recently a young learner reached out to Margie in an email and wrote, ‘“Hi Margie, I love your conferences so much, I can’t wait for next year. But I’ll probably look over the summer too. I think you are one of the best mentors at SelfDesign and you are really helpful and friendly. “

“Sometimes we work through projects together, its very interesting and every year is different” says Margie.

With the Artist Trading Card project, which has occurred over the past few years, youth are invited to participate in an authentic art movement. Margie explains that it is “a nice way to inspire them on many levels; they can see each other’s art and put something tangible to the names they know from communicating in the conference.” Each learner sent out and received 15 artist trading cards in the last exchange. Margie was excited to introduce this movement to kids, who perhaps in this age of the internet, may have never received or sent mail before, especially of the artistic and hand-made kind.

Margie connects deeply to her work at SelfDesign and relates that, “the SelfDesign philosophy fits really well into what my life philosophy has been as I have very much ‘selfdesigned’ my own life. I haven’t had anyone in my life imposing on me what I should do, which in some ways has been a hardship, but out of it has come a lot of wisdom and knowing. The reason it is a hardship is because I don’t have any parents or much of an extended family. I’ve had to forge my own path and design my own life. Out of not having a lot of restrictions or someone thumbing down on me, has come an ability to create my world to be what I want it to be. I think that SelfDesign provides that ability for their learners. They create an opening for learners to have a lot of freedom.

As for upcoming projects, its tricky to pinpoint just one of the many creative endeavors that Margie is excited about. She recently created a giant goose for the Brant Festival in Parksville, BC and also won a scholarship to go to a weaving conference as she has a real fascination of weaving as an explorative medium. Margie describes, “I’m really excited about this notion of creativity and how it is taking over the world. There are so many Makers and Maker Fairs and its so exciting as they are a place for ingenuity, inventiveness and resourcefulness.”

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Grade 12 EOS Youth Present on their Volunteer Trip to Guatemala

poster for online brodcast project somosJoin the Grade 12 EOS youth on May 29th at 7pm, for their presentation on their recent trip to Guatemala where they participated in a ‘voluntourism’ project that is providing homes for orphaned children, in partnership with Project Somos.

The presentation will take place at the SelfDesign High Commons on 402 Victoria St. in Nelson, BC.

In planning for their graduation, the Grade 12 class decided to do something meaningful and innovative for their graduation this year, rather than continue with the typical traditions. The group decided to plan two social justice trips, one regional and one international. They are excited to invite the community to an evening of sharing stories and food, where they will present a slideshow and more!

Get a peek into their travels here:


EOS is an integrated and interdisciplinary program for learners in grades 10, 11 and 12, available online to all High School aged youth across British Columbia and at the SelfDesign Learning Centre in Nelson.

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SelfDesign High offers summer programs that earn credit while exploring passions and life changing adventures!


At SelfDesign High we have many exciting intensives and camps at different locations in BC and abroad. Whether you want to do something just for fun, or if you also want to earn a few high school credits while enjoying summer activities, we have something for you.

SelfDesign High summer programs kick off on July 2nd with the Summer Visual Arts Intensive in collaboration with the Oxygen Arts Centre, now in it’s 4th year! This is a month-long intensive for youth who are passionate about making art and sharing their work with the community through an exhibition that the youth co-curate with their mentor!

Then the Zero Waste Youth Camp and Senior Directors Seat kick off on July 8th

The Zero Waste Youth Camp, created by Earth Matters, offers youth the opportunity to look at environmentalism through the lens of the zero waste movement, leading to hands on work in the community using reclaimed tents from the Shambalah Music Festival to upcycle into bags!

At Senior Directors Seat, presented by Watershed Productions, participants pitch, script, direct, and produce their own short films using professional camera and sound gear, and then edit their film to show the world!

For youth who want to go a little farther with their summer adventure, Seeding the Future is a course offered in Bimini, Bahamas by SelfDesign Institute member, Tracey Huguley. This is a hands- on workshop, focused around building a self-renewing learning community of teens that learn about marine science (dolphins and sharks), agriculture (small space gardening), and economy of place (examining resources we use in our daily lives).

On another ocean, farther north, Surpass summer camp commences near Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast on July 21st. Surpass is an exciting program filled with fun and learning activities and the opportunity to make meaningful connections with other youth. Now in it’s fourth year, Surpass takes place at Camp Byng, in the heart of the great outdoors of the Sunshine Coast.

Then from Aug 14th-Sept 6th, back in the Kootenays, SelfDesign High partners with Kootenay Co-op Radio to offer the Telling Stories in Sound: Radio Production Summer Intensive, where youth explore the tools and techniques used to tell compelling stories on the radio and create their own radio shows.

Finally the YA! Experience concludes summer with an 11 day Kootenay mountain adventure based at the Tipi Camp on Kootenay Lake described as an experience of self discovery that nurtures appreciation, gratitude, compassion, where young adults have the time to discover who they really are, what their gifts and talents are, and what they really care about.

For more information and to register visit us at www.selfdesignhigh.org/summer



Summer Visual Arts Intensive with Oxygen Art Centre

Nelson, BC

July 2-31

For youth ages 14-18


Senior Director’s Seat with Watershed Productions

Nelson, BC

July 8 -19

For youth ages 14-18


Zero Waste Youth Camp with Earth Matters

Nelson, BC

July 8 – Aug 14

For youth ages 14-18


Seeding the Future

Bimini, Bahamas

For youth ages 14-18

July 14th – July 20th OR July 21st – July 28th



Gibsons, BC

July 21 – 28

For youth ages 13-17


Introduction to Community Radio Production with Kootenay Co-op Radio

Nelson, BC


For youth ages 14-18


YA! Experience

Kootenay Lake

August 19 – August 29

For Youth 17-21 years of age



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“Look at the World in a New Way” at this Saturday’s GAP Performance

SALMO GAP PAGESGender Action Project (GAP), a project of the Nelson and District Women’s Centre, presents two thought-provoking plays on Saturday, April 27 at 7 pm at SelfDesign High, 402 Victoria Street, Nelson.


Youth aged between 14 – 17 years old have created this forum theatre production based on their own experiences and invite the audience to be a part of the play and community dialogue about issues they have faced. This Saturday’s performance will focus on family violence, homophobia, and sexual assault of teens.


A past GAP performer recently shared “With GAP, I have changed in great ways. I look at my world in a new way. I try to keep my eyes and mind open to new or powerful things and people.”


Admission is $10 for adults, free for youth, doors open at 6:30pm.

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EOS Grade 12 youth are now in Guatemala!

EOS Youth stroll through Antigua enjoying gelato and the opportunity to practice some Spanish while speaking with the locals.

You may have noticed much bustle and activity around fundraising this winter and spring from youth at SelfDesign High. From bottle drives to vintage bingos to a mushroom talk and even a masquerade ball, youth have been ‘fun-raising’ and grant-writing with creativity and vigour to support their peace and social justice trips taking place this spring.

The Grade 12 class decided to do something meaningful and innovative for their graduation this year, involving travel and social justice. They are currently in Guatemala participating in a ‘voluntourism’ project that is providing homes for orphaned children, in partnership with Project Somos. Follow their travels here! Then in May, the group plans to travel to the Great Bear Rainforest on the BC coast to explore the beautiful place that faces threats from the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline development.

Simultaneously, the grade 10s and 11s have been fundraising for an exchange program with students from Québec, through an organization called SEVEC that connects communities in Canada to help youth “strengthen their second language, develop cultural awareness, break down social barriers and improve self-confidence.” The Québec group of 20 youth and two adults arrive this April to experience Kootenay culture with a rich itinerary created by the youth and Mentors. Then the SelfDesign High group will travel to Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse on the south shore of Québec city.

EOS is an integrated and interdisciplinary program for learners in grade 10, 11 and 12, available at the SelfDesign Learning Centre in Nelson and online to all High School aged youth across British Columbia. Dissolving the walls that traditionally separate courses we discover the interconnections that live between disciplines, thoughts, systems and things. EOS youth and mentors approach learning through hands on exploration, lively presentations, discussions and projects in their own lives: at home, in their community and out into the world. Learn more: http://www.selfdesignhigh.org/eosinterdisciplinaryprogram.html

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Art and Bees in Nelson – Encaustic Workshop with Erica Konrad

Amid all the controversy surrounding keeping bees in Nelson, Erica Konrad, a local artist is dependent on bees, not for honey, but for beeswax for artwork. Encaustic, coming from the Greek word ‘encaustikos’ meaning ‘to burn in,’ is an ancient method dating back to 4th century B.C.. The procedure of applying molten wax to various surfaces is perhaps best known from the Fayum funeral portraits painted in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. which can still be seen today in London and Cairo. The longevity speaks to the incredible durability of this art medium, mainly the beeswax being impervious to moisture resulting in a long life span. The technique was lost for hundreds of years, but re-discovered in the 18th century but had not made a real resurgence until the 20th century with painters like Diego Rivera, Karl Zerbe, and Jasper Johns using it in their practice. Encaustic which is now increasingly popular as a medium, is a mixture of beeswax and damar resin (sap from a tree) which is mixed together to make medium, then colour is added to make encaustic paint. This is used in a molten state (heated), and then fused with a heat gun or torch into a continuous layer and fixed to a rigid absorbent support, usually wood.

8470590478_cc266a8c83_oErica Konrad, a Nelson based artist, uses encaustic as a medium in her artwork and shared her knowledge, through a workshop with students from SelfDesign High. The free workshop was made possible from a grant she has received from the Columbia Basin Trust and the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance. Through this grant, Konrad has been working on a body of work, titled “The Waggle Dance,” related to the dance bees do to communicate vital information – the metaphor representing our maintenance of community through the action (flow and preservation) of this symbolically rich material. She hosted a wonderful workshop where the SelfDesign youth learned the process of encaustic. Erica encouraged their expression of community through the use of wax medium.

The artwork is mounted on panels displayed at SelfDesign High on the 2nd floor of the Legion building, at 402 Victoria St., Nelson, BC. Come and enjoy!


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