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WHY "ALYSSE ON LIFE"?

My name is Alysse – it’s an uncommon way to spell Elise and always autocorrects to Alyssa in my phone. I used to not love it but recently figured out it’s PERFECT for the name of a space that is meant to stir up excitement, engagement and literally provide a new outlook in life. The idea of “a new lease on life” also refers to “an increase in the period for which something can be used or continued” – which is aligned almost TOO well with sustainability, reusing, repurposing and recycling. Thanks for the name, Mum!

alysse on life

Hello! My name is Alysse. I have created this site in the hopes of growing a collaborative, creative and exciting space for embedding Environmental and Sustainability Education (or ESE for short) in our everyday lives. I love nature, animals and stories, and I firmly believe that a big part of our happiness comes from how we live, learn and love as our stories unfold on this earth.

WHO AM I? I am a teacher, a researcher and – it’s a real thing, I swear – a teacher researcher. I have taught students of all ages, from teeny toddlers to graduate students. I’ve worked with an equally wild bunch of educators along the way – classroom teachers, outdoor educators, teacher education faculty, community organizers and sustainability program staff.

Teaching and learning about the environment is COMPLEX inside schools with students and teachers, inside faculties of education with graduate students who are becoming teachers (called teacher candidates), and – most intimately – in our daily personal lives. And it’s so complicated that we – everyone from a casual litterbug to a mega conglomerate run by a cartoonish tycoon villain – sometimes act in ways that unmistakably hurt our home. And so we need to look out for each other and for our home.

 

 

As a city dweller living in Toronto I am all too familiar with the juxtaposition of wanting to live in harmony with nature while I literally reside in the concrete jungle; wanting to avoid fast-fashion while knowing that not everyone has the privilege of being able to raid their mum’s closet;  wanting eco-friendly options to be easily accessible but knowing that equity issues run a lot deeper than price tags.

But I also love that – I love how complex environmental education is because it means there’s room to grow, and that we need to work together to figure this crazy mess out, knowing full well that victories will be small strides towards a bigger picture that will take life times to be fully realized.

I also love these complexities because environmental issues are so prevalent and affect everyone in every single way – so that means there are SO many topics to explore in ways that MEAN something to people. This makes for enriching conversations, colourful anecdotes, vibrant ideas and all around fun to be had. In teaching we call this having multiples ways “into” a topic and this is a godsend for engaging students who have different interests, passions, backgrounds, identities, and multiple intelligences.

So with this in mind I like to think of this space as one big mixed-media collage combining the richness of so many ideas, perspectives, passions, beliefs, interests and intentions, all related to Environmental and Sustainability Education.

 As a Ph.D. Candidate in Curriculum & Pedagogy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) within the University of Toronto, my focus on ESE has completely taken over my life because of how pervasive the topic of the environment is in all aspects of our daily living. None of us would be here if it wasn’t for our environment because here, in whatever form that means to you wherever you are, is home. And home is our planet – for better and for worse. So, let’s take the opportunity to make it better.

 

Oof, does that sound heavy? Well, I promise it won’t be too much to handle – and nor will it be too superficial either. I hope to put my professional capacity to work to provide the context for my content in a way that helps you to make an informed decision, while balancing this against my personal tendency to want things accessible (read: easier), relevant (read: interesting) and meaningful (read: it makes my brain and my heart take notice because it’s so clever, engaging, powerful, poignant, alarming or inspiring – or a combination of some or all or more of these). We’re all in the same boat, so let’s have a good time!

In approaching environmental education what sometimes works best is this juxtaposition between facts and feelings: the facts are that we need to do better, but feeling hopeless doesn’t help. We know incapacitating people, especially young people, with what’s called the “doom and gloom” approach to environmental education (we’ll talk about this!) doesn’t help in the long term. But what I do see as helpful is balancing multiple ideas, getting critical with it all (in, you know, a fun, light-hearted way) and giving ourselves permission to not have the full answer, but wanting to jump in to try to make a positive difference all the same.

 

 

I’ve had a lot of conversations with different people and sometimes the talk turns to a more environmentally-aligned idea being seen as the “answer” to a problem… I HATE when things are positioned this way because there are often so many ways to solve a problem and there’s never one neat and tidy answer. There are pros and cons and different perspectives to consider in every scenario. And because ideas to these “wicked problems” (we’ll talk about this, too!)  are naturally so messy, it’s SO easy to disparage a good idea because it can’t fix everything perfectly.

I firmly believe that just because something isn’t a perfect answer doesn’t mean it’s not a better solution. And the most exciting thing to me is that at any point in time the options that are given can change as we inspire more people to think critically and start innovating.

The one thing I’ve learned the most from teaching and researching ESE for the last five years? There is a HUGE COMMUNITY of like-minded, mindfully aware people who are dead set on keeping our ecosystem alive while still making the most out of their life on this planet.

The work that is being done is incredibly inspiring and so I want this site to capture that warmth, that vibrancy, that feeling of being absolutely in love with being alive that comes from feeling connected to each other and the earth. And if you’re not feeling that yet or have never felt it, I hope this site can help make alignment with an eco-friendlier life way more accessible and interesting than it’s been before.

At the end of the day I want us all to strive towards actions, habits, practices and policies that are so naturally aligned with environmental sustainability and environmental justice that making a “greener choice” isn’t just good for the planet, but it’s the default option for what’s good for us, our wallets, and our wellbeing.

Obvious disclaimer: I’m not perfect!! I 1000% could be doing more things to lower my carbon footprint overall, increase my environmental activism, buy less things that have nowhere to go but landfill, and buy less plastic – but we (probably) ALL could, and being a work in progress is part of the fun. 

I hope you’ll join me on this adventure towards increasing environmental sustainability in all aspects of my life and maybe, just maybe, be inspired to take steps in your life, too.

If you do, I would LOVE to celebrate these steps, big or small, with you so please tag me on Instagram 

I hope this space can be something to support both you and me to support our home. 

xo Alysse

MORE IS ON THE WAY...

Thanks for stopping by! Soon this will be a big messy place of ideas, neatly categorized into the menu headings above. But for now, in addition to this About section, I have a LOT of eco-friendly/low-waste wedding content for you! Please see more by clicking below

LIVELY CELEBRATIONS (WEDDING)