Hi! Welcome to the Stories collection of Story Stick Project.
These written and audio stories are from local residents in East End Toronto and Scarborough, who participated in the Story Stick Project workshops in summer/fall 2021. The community arts workshops involved wrapping natural tree sticks with textured and colourful yarns, and the participants got to represent, reflect, and tell their life stories and experiences.
As a form of climate change art, the Story Stick Project awakens us to creating together the nurturing care and commitment to positive change for ourselves, our communities and our planet.
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Who was birthed at the touch of sunset,
And fell upon the ocean blues.
With the silky presence,
Taming ancient fires.
With the eyes sparkling love,
Inherited from those long gone,
Continuing to splash wonders with your glowing minds.
You can be different and still fit in.
My stick is about an ocean and sand with a little grass and a bush. It makes me feel calm and happy. Also I like the oceans. It explains my feelings. The part after the ocean is some muddy sand and seashells. The pom-poms at the top are the moon.
I did two sections weaving three different colours and one section of solid colour. With the solid colour, I chose a primary colour of a light olive green, or should I choose all of these combinations to suggest a rich intensity and the beauty of the land and sky. I connect to the land most often when I visit a nearby flower garden. There, I take off my shoes and deeply inhale the scent of individual flowers and appreciate the unexpected colours I find amongst them.
Audio Story by Christina
Abiha Sajid, Mao Nemoto, and Sylphia Basak
Here’s our story: As young women of colour, we all grew up with a similar idea of beauty. We grew up with the same Barbie dolls and the same movies. We grew up thinking that we could never be beautiful.
So, we decided to wrap a stick that represents the beauty and light that women of colour exude. This was a way of healing our inner child. And letting her know that she was and always will be beautiful.
Tammy and Juliet Family
L - I love being near trees and water.
A - The part I wrapped is about the green grass and pollen from the flowers and it helps the bees.
J – I wrapped my section of the stick with the moss in the rainforest of Tasmania.
T - Being at the farm seeing the trees and the turtles in the fall. Life there is so quiet. The coyote pups are calling.
Audio Story by Cheeba
Nothing and nature blooms all year round.
Through hurricane madness, to turbulent trauma,
Through nothing and everything,
We are steadfast and strong.
With our roots deep in our branches interlocking.
But nothing in nature blooms all year round.
The moon wanes and we wane with Her.
The moon fills and we fill up with her, pregnant with love longing.
The birds fill too,
Singing for one no one but themselves.
Who do you sing for?
We’re nothing in nature, blooms all year around.
We breathe in the gifts from our Mothers,
We hold and release,
And we do not see the gifts we exhale in return.
We feel alone amongst fellows,
We do not see the patterns in the frost with leaves.
Nothing in the nature blooms all year around.
Our blood is the blood of the earth.
Our sight is knowledge of the earth.
Our bodies are extensions of the earth.
We grow as grass grows,
All together, but never all at once.
Are we not gifts from the Earth as well?
Do our lives not connect us to Mother Nature.
We are supremely alive,
And constantly blooming.
Henry and Peter
This is the end of the war on the planet.
The peaceful water has arrived to heal everything including a zebra.
Clara and Candice
This is a rainbow, that just got in and then another storm came in, and it washed away the rainbow, and this is the next rainbow.
The stick starts with the tree and as you go deeper it becomes abstract. Each colour under the tree represents the things we cannot see when we look at ordinary things.
A tree is just a tree to some, although they provide us with food, life, clean air. Instead of looking at it as a tree we should see it as a provider of life. Under its roots, the tree keeps its own secrets and has its own spirit.
Audio Story by Homa
Keith, Beka, Kate
Keith chose a warm green colour to represent security. He found the stick with intentionality placed in knots to represent the order and it with them that the earth provides. This creates as opposed to chaos. We stand to protect the natural order and rhythm of the earth.
Kate is five years old, and chose blue to represent water. “We need to keep it clean by taking everything out like the garbage,” she said. “Sparkly white represents fluffy clouds...We need to care about the clouds because the rain comes from them and waters flowers.” She also chose green to represent trees. “Green is my favourite colour and I like to climb trees.” There is an innocence and playfulness about nature.
Beka chose a multi-coloured shades of blue yarn to represent all the rivers, lakes and oceans in our world and the importance of keeping them clean and accessible. Next was a bold and bright multicoloured pink piece of string to represent boldness. Sometimes the board voices needed to stand for our earth. Lastly she chose a thick soft warm multi-coloured piece of all the many kinds of people on earth from all nations standing in solidarity for the earth. This piece is wrapped around all the other colours, I have mentioned above, to show solidarity and all the issues and meanings mentioned above it takes to make change.
My part of the stick is about the happiness I feel when I see the colours of this world. Included is the silver of age, the copper of connection, the common blue of water, and the green of plant life. The beauty of the earth makes me happy.
My story is about how humans are participating in the destruction of the earth. So actions have to be made. By raising awareness to this issue, we will get the desired results and we will have hope for other generations.
The Day/Year starts a blazing red rising from the earth horizon represented by the stick itself, and the great mother bird takes flight, moving over the scene. She finds a great river, glinting all the colour's of a prism as she rushes through the brush and past berry bushes and the small animals in search of food.
Touching down at Noon/Summer, our mother birds carefully dances through the dense undergrowth and comes upon a miracle of Summer/Autumn hues, turquoise, olive greens and brightest purples. Until she meets Winter, and sees herself reflected in the ice itself, as the Day/Year again blazes red and brown into the dying embers of the Sun.
Audio Story by Madelyn
While wrapping this stick I thought about nature and the earth's ecosystem, and I thought about the present and the future. The section I wrapped has a story to tell, starting with the sky and the clouds, the dark yellow feels like sickness, then loneliness. The story continues with nature and hope, and this time the yellow brings healing and growth. The story has a bittersweet conclusion to me but it is not the end, as the story I've told merges with the rest of the sticks.
I’ve designed and based my stick around queerness and mental health, you go through loops and spirals and figuring things out.
I added sticks and extra textures into it to show the things you go through are dense and rigid, and not everything is crystal clear and easy.
As someone that struggles with a personality disorder, I thought the weirdness of the stick would suit all the things that I have gone through in life.
Water and earth intertwined with green and blue colour sticking out.
Blue and purple – water and spirituality.
The brown, black, white, beige wrapping near the end of the stick, is fire, air and earth to me.
Wrapping over water.
All the creatures in the woods and land I love together, and they need each other.
Also people need each other and non-colonial collective decision making and one non-colonial, anti-racist, anti-oppressive way.
I need and we all need compassion for each other and to live our days allowing equity for everything and everyone.
Pamela Schuller’s Story Stick Project provided us, as a couple, with the opportunity to reflect on our lives as individuals and how we came to be together. We chose different coloured threads to represent our individuality, with our threads eventually coming together and becoming intertwined. Along came children and pets, all of whom are represented by a separate thread. This activity allowed us to reflect on our lives together and what drew us to one another. We were inspired to imagine our futures together; namely how we choose to live and love as we move forward. Feeling the tangible thread and winding it around a tree branch reinforced the importance of grounding ourselves in what matters most: our relationships to one another and to earth.
We have many intersections in our lives with many things and with many people. In our daily interactions, we intersect with other people. Some intersections mean nothing to us and we forget them soon. They are not strong enough to create meaningful stories around them. However, some intersections have this power of keeping in touch. We want this intersection to happen again and again and turn into something tangible and intense. My stick’s story is about the intersections. You see some gentle wraps on both ends and an intense wrap at the center. Through this Stick’s Project, we, attendees, intersect with each other and at some point, around the intense wrap we did something visible and strong by coming together. We will always remember that we worked on this together.
Richa and Sanket - "A Prayer for Green Goa"
A song of soil by the sea where the abundant sun and rain make her face a giving green.
Her bounteous surface,
running over plains and valleys unscathed, just almost, wild and free.
But one cunning thought and dig her deep they did, so deep that
THE RED SPILLED OVER
Her precious ore innards, they plunder and pillage, to make putrid millions for themselves.
in exchange for deep wounds. Wounds that hurt the air, the water and all her children. Wounds that leave her gaping, open and red.
We bandage green over the red of her ravaged being,
with a great prayer,
A prayer against the pillaging parasites.
that she herself may find her strength, to shake out the miserable mindless.
to all her children. Sell not your mother's body to skim off the pockets of the thieving privileged.
for the rise of consciousness, where we recognise that she is us and we are her.
that she return to her blemish less self, that she be seen;
not as productive territory, but as the giver of food, shelter and identity, she who nurtures us,
A GREAT GREEN BEING