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A bit about us

We believe that when we personally connect with the natural environment in a tangible way, we can begin to develop a deepened sense of place and that leads to a stronger, kinder community of people that care about our earth and each other. Every program, service, product we offer we feel should somehow connect us to nature in a thoughtful, caring, creative and meaningful way. We hope that in everything we do there’s a reflective thread of these values whether through a cup of tea, a difficult conversation, a educational offering, playing in mud puddles or through the story that might be held in a vintage linen cloth.

  

Founders

I'm a mother of a boy name Max and a girl name Ella.  I listen to their stories, I watch them play, discover and make connections with their natural surroundings and learn from nature's resilience, generosity and creativity.  

My past informs my present.  I discover how with the power of one ( or two in this case!) I can make a difference in my corner of the world.  How kindness and generosity can be paid forward.  How as a community we can create forward momentum when we practice acceptance and inclusion, when we celebrate the individual and empower our children.

Taylor Innes, ECE, Forest School Practitioner in progress

Taylor Innes, ECE, Forest School Practitioner in progress

Growing up in the city I found it hard to connect to nature on a deeper level, though my most fond childhood memories are of being outside, either running around the neighbourhood with my many siblings or camping in various locations with my grandparents. Flash Forward 20 years or so and while completing my Early Learning and Childcare Diploma I was presented with the unique opportunity to have a practicum at Common digs during my final semester. I had found myself struggling to find my voice and passion within traditional early childcare centres so I was thrilled for the opportunity to learn in such a fantastic environment. I instantaneously fell in love with this program, in fact, I was so in love I used the analogy "I feel like a tiger who has finally been set free from it's cage". Now I am fortunate to be wild and free everyday, and forever learning and experiencing new things with my forest school classes. You can often find me exploring our outdoor space through digging in snow, mud and exploring the other beautiful natural settings Lloyd park has to offer. 

Teague Urquhart, BSc., Forest School Practitioner in progress

Teague Urquhart, BSc., Forest School Practitioner in progress

Teague has lived, worked, and played in Calgary for his entire life. After receiving a Bachelor of Environmental Science from The University of Calgary Teague began volunteering as an Environmental Educators with multiple organizations throughout Calgary. This volunteering brought about a passion for education and Teague began seeking out a career as an Environmental Educator.

After his first year of working at Common Digs Teague began to seek out more education around Forest and Nature Schools. Teague is currently finishing his Forest School Practitioners Course and a the MacEwan University Course on the study of the Alberta Early Learning and Care Framework. 

Teague's passions are education, permaculture, the outdoors, and Dungeons & Dragons. 

Lisa Menzies, Co-founder

Lisa Menzies, Co-founder

I have a small scar under my right eye (it looks like three little dots). It represents my journey to Common Digs, as it has been a bit like connecting the dots.  Growing up on an acreage, I was given the privilege and freedom to explore and play in the natural surroundings for endless hours every day.  Now, I have a very deep connection to nature. (see the dots connecting?) I didn’t always see it though, having spent 10 years in the corporate world. Having had children now and met the challenge of one of them having a disability I have come to feel pretty strongly about the power and necessity of getting people outside for them and for our world (my dots connecting like in a mandelbrot). So much so that now I am a MEd candidate specializing in Early Childhood Education and Ecological Consciousness and was one of the first to take the Forest School Practitioner training in Canada. (More dots connected.) It seems meaningful work was always just outside my back door. 

Felicia Ollenberger - ECE, Forest School Practitioner

Felicia Ollenberger - ECE, Forest School Practitioner

Growing up on a few acres in a small town in British Columbia my childhood was wild and free as I was able to explore the vast forests and mountains that surrounded me. When I moved to Alberta in 2014 I struggled to adjust to city life and finding that same sense of comfort that I once had in my own backyard. While attending Bow Valley College to achieve my Diploma in Early Childhood Education I was sent to Common Digs as a practicum placement. This is when my love affair with Forest School began, a completely new concept to me at the time and one that has forever changed my life. I now feel whole in my new city as I get to explore a new and different landscape and best of all I am able to share this joy with my students. I am passionate about the benefits that nature can have on all of us, especially small children and I feel lucky to be apart of it.

Educational Collaborators

Tara Power, CCES Nature Kindergarten Diversity Curriculum Collaborator

Tara Power, CCES Nature Kindergarten Diversity Curriculum Collaborator

I first started appreciating the Prairie landscape a few years ago. Prior to my awakening, I saw the Prairies as dull, brown and plain. It wasn’t until one run where I found myself, seeing silvers, purples, reds and pinks, in amongst the brown that I fell in love with the landscape I call home. My wish is that people, of all ages and abilities have an awakening like mine. Where they come to love, cherish and appreciate the land around them ~ Tara, B.Ed.

Sayward Wilkinson Blanc,   Calgary Nature Kindergarten Lead Educator & Curriculum and Arts Collaborator

Sayward Wilkinson Blanc,

Calgary Nature Kindergarten Lead Educator & Curriculum and Arts Collaborator

Sayward Wilkinson Blanc, Calgary Nature Kindergarten's lead educator, is an Alberta certified teacher who has been teaching for 14 years, most of that time in the Kindergarten classroom. She is also an artist and has been following the Reggio Emilia philosophy since 2002 and is a founding member and past president of the Calgary Reggio Network Association. She believes strongly in the power of Reggio's tenant of the environment as the third teacher and of the power of children's learning through nature. Sayward has studied in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia on four study tours and one summer institute.