I adore small utopian ventures that inspire change. Here are some examples:

Rockin’ the Coffin A CBC short doc by Cailleah Scott-Grimes

This contrarian’s guide to the good death was a family collaboration, with Ron Grimes (subject), Cailleah Scott-Grimes (director, illustrator), and Bryn Scott-Grimes (music). I was on chuck wagon duty for this one.

Passionate Heart Dance Writing Workshop with senior dance artists Suzanne Sherman and Michele Green. November 17, 2019, Guelph, Ontario

There is nothing we can do that does not involve the body at every level of expression. Dancers know this instinctively, writers not so much. When Suzanne and Michele reached out to see if we might do something together, I kept returning to the question, why is it so hard to write about the body?

“Sleeping with the Author,” In which the editor (me) confronts the writer (my husband) about going public with brutal family stories.

Native-Immigrant. Arts-based collaborations that are down to earth and joyful. Visit our website to learn about our projects and practices, and to meet other members of this collective, with roots in the global north (Montreal) and south (Chile).

TNQ’s diversity project, with conversation partners and co-mentors, Jagtar Atwal, Leonarda Carranza and Tamara Jong as well as members of their CNF writing group, based in Toronto. TNQ’s editor, Pamela Mulloy, and I have been engaged in deep listening, and in reflecting on who has access to publishing, and why.

Long before Native-Immigrant, there was The Arpillera Project. Spanish-speaking immigrant women new to Montreal document their lives. Celebrated in print and an accompanying textile exhibit in Waterloo, ON (1999). My first adventure, working with the incomparable Carolina Echeverria.

The Artist as Activist and Creative Communities twin issues: The New Quarterly’s joint publishing venture with Alternatives: Environmental Ideas + Action (2006-07). Before the sensational Salon des Réfusés with Canadian Notes and Queries (CNQ) and the award-winning QuArc issue with ARC Poetry, TNQ teamed up with Canada’s foremost environmental magazine to produce twin issues, a public forum and a workshop for gifted youth. In partnership with Waterloo Unlimited at the University of Waterloo.

O Mother, Where Art Thou? A quirky glimpse of the woman writer; video project with musician Bryn Scott-Grimes (2011).

Opening New Doors in the Waterloo Region oral history project: two years collecting the life stories of adults with developmental disabilities (1998-9), culminating in the “My Heart is Full” storytelling gala at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, Ontario.

Our Visions, Our Voices: unorthodox women writers with roots in the greater Latter Day Saint traditions read at 5 public universities throughout the US West (March 2010). Co-founded by Joanna Brooks (The Book of Mormon Girl) and Holly Welker (Best American Essays) with support from participating institutions Arizona State University and the Mormon Studies Program at Claremont University. The University of Utah’s Marriott Special Collections Library now houses the writings collected on this 1,000-mile historic tour.

Rural arts ventures with visual artist Wesley W. Bates. “’Out of Hand’: The Life and Times of Rural Water” prints exhibit, part of the Ontario Society of Artists 2003 province-wide Water Project; We in Glass Houses and Urban-Rural Link interdisciplinary arts projects. See also the Walkerton Water Stories Project and the Stories Project.

Walkerton Water Stories Project (WWSP) and its offshoot The Stories Project (SP). Award-winning Community Arts projects that sprang up in response to the 2000 E. coli outbreak–an environmental crisis that changed the course of water history across Canada. Projects co-founded with storyteller, Mary-Eileen McClear, and visual artist, Wesley W. Bates, in partnership with Walkerton Healthy Community Initiative and supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Walkerton Community Foundation. Featured artists included installation artist and water activist, Basia Irland (The Water Library), and singer-songwriter, James Gordon.

Awards: 2004 Community Arts Ontario Best Practices Award; Community Arts Ontario’s inaugural (2003) Entering into Print Dialogue Award; 2001 Ontario Arts Council Community Arts/Artists in the Workplace Grant.

Legacy: community and conference workshops, academic papers, consultations, touring exhibits, storytelling festivals, community water festivals, guest lectures, performances and publications.

Today: the 34 Water Stories Prints are on permanent display at the Walkerton Clean Water Center (WCWC), where water managers the world over are trained, while the projects’ ethnographic materials (interviews, etc.) are archived at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre in Southampton, Ontario. To view the hands-on resource guide I wrote for artists and the general public; please click here.