Just over a year ago The Poison and The Apple was born; an Alberta-based bilingual non-profit with the vague goal of changing the culture surrounding the way Canadians see and interact with the environment. My partner in crime,Chúk Odenigbo, and I dove in head first, and as first-time business owners, we have had a lot to learn. While it hasn’t all gone perfectly, we’ve learned that even the smallest organization has the ability to make big change.
Both hailing from Alberta, Chúk and I met on a trip to Yellowknife when we were asked to join an amazing team of Canadians tasked with the challenge of finding new ways to connect with nature. Many months laterThe Nature Playbook was published and a friendship was forged. While incredibly different in almost every sense, Chúk and I bonded over our shared love of nature, our common roots in Alberta, and commitment to stay connected despite now living in different provinces.
While I am currently living in Toronto, Ontario, studying in the Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at OCAD University, Chúk is in Ottawa pursuing his PhD. It was with a very clear understanding that we were about to take on what would potentially be our biggest challenge yet in the form of graduate and doctoral studies, that we decided to also launch our non-profit. An interesting choice we know, but that brings me to…
The Poison and The Apple tells the story of two friends with green dreams who came together by beautiful hazard in an effort to a create cultural change in the relationship Canadians have with their environment. We fundamentally believe that there is no right way to connect with nature, and we work to encourage everyone to find their own way of engaging with the outdoors.
We live and breathe this philosophy in our own lives and in the work we do. Chúk, fondly known as The Poison, is an urbanite in every sense of the word but finds his connection with nature in the green spaces of whichever city he finds himself in. I, on the other hand, am The Apple and my connection is grounded in my upbringing. Having spent most of my childhood enjoying the outdoors in rural Alberta, I find my connection when I am away from everything and everyone; solitude in nature. Just as we are different, we encourage everyone to embrace their own differences in finding their personal way to explore the world through our work.
Collaboration is at the centre of everything we do. By bringing together people from very different worlds, and building creative partnerships, we’re able to approach the idea of connecting with nature in unique ways. We’ve collaborated withdesigners,artists, andconservationists to work towards our goal of changing the way Canadians relate to the environment.
Our newest project,The Forces of Nature: Gaia’s Child is an exciting and fantastical allegory that explores our connection with nature through diverse characters and ways in which we can become better stewards of the environment. The illustrated story, supported byMEC Outdoor Nation andOcean Wise’s Ocean Bridge programme, launches this spring and we couldn’t be more excited!
Gaia’s Child is a follow up to our first publication,The Forces of Nature: An Origin Story, published by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation. Led by The Poison and The Apple, we worked with an incredible team of young people (all under the age of 30) to illustrate, design, translate and produce Gaia’s Child. The story follows the Forces of Nature as they work to save Mother Nature from a villain who has harnessed the power of the oceans to threaten the world as we know it. This villain personifies real threats to our environment and serves to not just entertain but to be learned from.
By drawing on the imagination, we hope to bring the reader into the world of The Forces of Nature and inspire them to think about their own superpowers, and the ability to make a change.
As I have already mentioned,The Forces of Nature: Gaia’s Child is launching this spring. We will be posting updates on our social media channels over the next few months if you’d like to follow along!
We would also like to invite you to our official bilingual launch events happening in Edmonton on May 20, 2019 and Montréal on June 13, 2019. Huge shout out to Local Laundry who will be joining us for our Edmonton launch event. We hope to see you there as well!
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Photos of Sam are by Don He
Photos of Chúk are by Joel Dragon Smith