Monday, February 16, 2009

Gallery Afternoon

We're finding ourselves drawn to the Penticton Art Gallery more and more lately. They've got a great curator, and he's working hard to really make it part of the community. On Sunday afternoon the girls and I dropped in there for the family art session, which turned out to mostly be a presentation for the grown-ups, but the girls sketched happily for an hour and a half.

Meanwhile, I learned all about InStill Life, one of the many programs undertaken by Olive Us, a non-profit group run by the geniuses at our favourite restaurant in Penticton, Theo's. Nikos has basically come up with a learning concept that combines many of his passions -- art, food, business and social justice -- and works with classrooms to share those passions with kids:
  • They study food, how food has been historically represented in art, then sketch and paint their own still-life pictures of their favourite foods.
  • Those pictures get turned into greeting cards, which are sold as a fundraiser in the community. They're beautiful, and include a profile of the artist on the back.
  • After paying for the printing costs, the students lend the profits to entrepreneurs in developing countries through Kiva, which connects "investors" with people who need loans to expand their businesses. It's not a donation system -- it's microlending that directly connects people with money to lend to the people who need it...and pay it back.
  • Through that final step, they learn about the economy and geography of each of the countries, as well as some things about the specific entrepreneurs they're lending to. And the money comes back to them as the loans get repaid, so they can lend it out again to someone else and learn about another country.
It was truly inspiring, not only for the content of the program, but as a way to see someone who is really pursuing his dream. Nikos already has a thriving business and a family, but instead of watching TV every night or whatever we waste our time on, he's carrying out a vision that will benefit thousands of people.


Tannis said...

I love it. We need to hook into that or create our own version.

Jeremy said...

Or both.