Golden Spruce: Synthesis

For my synthesis project, I wrote a few paragraphs summarizing some themes of the book with an accompanying image that I felt represented what I wrote. [See as follows:]



“We use our backyard as a toolkit, often without fully understanding what we’re taking, what we’re using, and what value it has. Everywhere we look around us, there are tress, but not standing tall and majestic like they usually do when they’re overlooking their earthen kingdom– we see them in forms of things we write with, what we write on, what we use to clean things, and what we use to shelter us from nature’s tempest by giving us a roof and foundation. Trees, especially in the past, were seen as objects to be taken at our leisure, a profit, and an economic gain to be capitalized on. But they are not only trees. To the Haida, trees have ethereal value, and when they are used as totem poles, their beauty is still preserved and used also to preserve other things.

As we learn throughout the course of this harrowing journey of the book, everything, like the trees, has a supernatural equivalent and everything is interconnected. But we also learn that the dichotomy between things can be defined, whether it be between night and day, earth and ocean, or the supernatural and the real worlds.

By taking an axe, unforgiving and harsh in nature, to the trunk of the hallowed golden spruce, a symbol of resurrection and even resilience (because the mortality rates of saplings were against this tree, same as any other), Grant Hadwin (who himself was a study in contrast– a logger who believed more so in the preservation of trees, the ecosystems that relied on the trees, and the ethereal beauty of the woods) cut down the barriers between both dichotomy and interconnectedness– by falling the tree, he gave way to the logging mindset, but he also showed the unity between trees by treating it the same as the ones fallen before it.

In the end, there was no good way to about approaching this issue. Although Grant Hadwin succeeded in uniting so many peoples, what he did was also drastic– cutting down a tree of high moral and spiritual value. Cutting it down killed it, but it saved it from living a life only preserved by being considered a pet.”

The main theme I focused on was the dichotomy and interconnectedness found throughout the book, and how the almost ironic preservation of the “special tree” was such a prominent issue when meanwhile, “regular” trees are being used like disposable resources. In the first paragraph I talked about using our backyard mindlessly, and how we always admire trees (“majestic”; “earthen kingdom”) by likening them to royalty, but how there are trees all around us that we use everyday (pencils, paper, paper towels, and houses). I then talked about how trees were a focal point of economic gain for the loggers, but something to be revered by the Haida. The trees, I stated, were used responsibly, and when they were used to make totem poles, their beauty was still preserved by combining it with the beauty of capturing something else.

The big theme was that Grant Hadwin, a concentrated force of what was both in tune with nature and an instrument of mankind, was a conflict in himself. [See footnote] His action, cutting down the spruce destroyed the barriers of both division and unity. By cutting down the tree, like of all the trees before it, he achieved two things: 1. Subjecting the golden spruce (“the hallowed golden spruce, a symbol of resurrection and even resilience”) to its untimely death, using an axe (“an axe, unforgiving and harsh in nature”), he committed an act that further separated the natural world from the man-made; 2. By falling the tree, like the many before it, he broke the division between the Golden Spruce and all its predecessors, creating unity and a level of equality, if you will, between the trees. By doing what he did, he brought together bands of people of different creeds, beliefs, and goals. Too bad it took such drastic actions to do it.

18493645_454765424868060_1119691466_o(SORRY FOR THE QUALITY OR LACK THEREOF)

Looking at the picture, there are two main elements that I wanted to highlight. The picture as a whole was a line drawing, meaning I kept my pencil on the paper for the whole drawing (Which was no easy feat, considering I had to keep the red pen on the same line as well), which represented the inter-connectivity between all objects and life forces. The difference in colour, however, symbolized a contrasting theme: the divisions between forces (life and death, nature and man, land and sea, etc.), with nature being represented by pencil and man/materialism represented by red pen.

In the tree, I connected several words in the middle of the branches, which were just a small detail. The words that were put in are as follows: hope, Haida, resilience, spirituality, unity, balance, interconnectedness. The words don’t necessarily relate to what I wrote entirely, but I picked them up while reading the book.

The axe, as can be seen, is sticking out of the trunk of the tree, with red dripping out of the “wound”. I put the blood on the trunk and on the surrounding stumps to symbolize the marks left behind by the logging industry. You can also see that the foremost stump has a log right in front of it, drawn in red. At first, I didn’t know if I wanted to have it coloured that way, but I realized that categorizing it as a material made the image more powerful. After all, the logging companies basically stamped their names on the trees, so I wanted to show that through making that log red. This shows that, although it’s an object of nature, as soon as it’s cut down, it becomes something to be used for consumer use.

*As a side note, I wanted to try and draw Grant Hadwin chopping down the tree, and draw him in both grey and red to denote that he is both a force of nature and man, with the interests of both parties at heart. (Somewhere along the line I realized I’m terrible at drawing people so for the sake of aesthetics I left him out.)

Confederation DoL

Unity, in different shapes and forms, whether it be promoting for, waging a war on, or being brought to light, transcends the tests of time and is something ubiquitous throughout Confederation. I mean, you’ve got John A. Macdonald, the father of Confederation, pushing for provincial rights, and the Maritime provinces creating unions to be heard. My character, Harriet Tubman, wanted freedom, equality, and equity for her people. Confederation, patriotic in connotation, had many different groups of people pushing for different things: central governments, federal-based decision making, a voice, — but overall, unity was one of the key themes that I picked up from our study of Confederation. After all, what says unity more than individual provinces coming together to form a country? So a question I have is, how was unity achieved and ignored in Confederation? What is unity in diversity? And how did unity in diversity tie into Confederation and the creation of a nation?

“While everyone conceded in the 1860’s that the object of the Fathers of Confederation was to produce the bases of one political entity, no one anticipated that this task would be performed by imposing uniformity on the diverse peoples and regions of British North America.” (source)

We all know, having read numerous papers highlighting both the good and bad of Confederation, about the exclusion that occurred. The First Nations, and even the Maritimes were ignored, and truthfully speaking, it seems regressive to create a country for the people without even including the people. We know about the attempts to assimilate Aboriginal people and the erasure of their culture, through residential schools, immersion, and abuse. When seeing these on paper, it becomes difficult to think that Canada is something built on the basis of unity.

However, we also need to realize that things were very different back then. This may sound really privileged and condescending, but from an outsider’s POV, I think that the divides that were put up increased the chances of stronger, permanent unity between different groups, because the drive to overcome them was so much stronger.

In conclusion, this document of learning was a way of creating a summary of the concepts we learned about during Confederation, using history and facts while also forming our own viewpoints on this interesting and pivotal act in Canada’s history. Do I believe that Confederation was an all-inclusive concept? Superficially yes, but digging deeper we can see that that is not always the case. However, the struggles that minorities and other groups went through and the beginning steps of compensation for such actions are what I believe has made the country stronger, because its attempts at at inclusiveness remind us what Confederation was meant to achieve.

In-Depth: #6

More than half way!

With adventure trip, year-end, in-depth and other projects coming up, it’s hard to choose a single focus when APRILMAYJUNE hits. I have been working on choosing a different solo piece, due to the fact that, after discussion with my mentor, this piece may prove to be a little too difficult for me. I will try to film a first version of it this weekend, if I’m able to learn the choreography properly.

I realize that I have been so obsessed with learning the moves down to the last detail, I haven’t really considered how to make the moves look visually appealing. Just because the moves are textbook doesn’t mean they look good, which is the whole purpose of performance. The concept of visual appeal was brought up by Kaleigh. After watching the video with us in class, she pointed out that for me specifically, my moves looked good (she was pleasantly surprised), but I needed to work on two things, which looking back on now, make me realize are HUGE elements to the performance aspects of dance: facial expressions and clothing adjustment. Throughout the dance, I only had two expressions: annoyed, and overly happy. I need to learn to maintain a neutral expression during the dance. I also constantly pulled down the edges of the sweater I was wearing (borrowed from Katrina), so note to self: wear a longer shirt next time. Another idea that I noticed while watching the video was that I need to work on my posture and angle with the camera. A lot of times, I was looking anywhere BUT that camera, giving me a paranoid appearance because I keep changing viewpoints. By “spotting”, I need to choose a single point to focus on while performing, something that I haven’t been doing. (Something else we need to work on is film quality, in terms of the resolution of the clips and finding a proper tripod and camera to film with to get a consistent angle.)

Sunny brought up the concept of synchronicity. In our previous dance video, there were two specific areas where we could have focused more on this: making sure the music was matched properly with the visuals (when layering the sound track over the original clips, we need to spend more time on the editing process, because that was extremely rushed last time). Additionally, you may notice that at 1:00, we are all doing completely different moves. Instead of trying to alter the move to fit all our physical capabilities, we tried to follow the move exactly (and failed in doing so). The “point” move in the dance, which appears several times as a recurring move, was also executed differently by all of us. Although I have already subscribed to the 1MILLION school of thought (accuracy is important, but dancing is, above all, an expression of ones’ creative and physical abilities and therefore, it is okay and even good to add your own elements to the choreography) I am going to apply their teaching styles more to group dances, as I have mostly been applying to it to my solo dances.

At the moment, Sunny has been giving me advice on choosing a different dance: ideas to keep in mind include 1. It’s okay to use a KPOP song, that’s the point of the project and 2. Ultimately, no one is going to care if you use a flashy, difficult dance that you can’t execute, so choosing an easier dance and doing it well is much better. Kaleigh has offered to help me work on technical aspects of the dance (as her 11 years of expertise is much more than my 11 weeks). I have many resources, including the internet, that I can turn to, so I am looking to keep my options open.

In-Depth: #5


Our first video is up!

(you can also watch the video here)


-I was impressed at how we were able to make up for the empty space left in the choreography, especially since we have 3 members instead of the 13 the choreography calls for.

Wishes (for next recording of this dance):

Location: The ground of the film site was not suitable for the sliding moves in the beginning of the dance. The gritty pavement resulted in limited mobility and scraped knees. Ouch. The background and lighting was fine, but next time, I would like to use a smoother floor, such as a gym, or even smoother cement.

Synchronicity: Because I finished teaching Katrina and Franny elements of the dance right up until the moment we recorded, we did not work on dancing alike. Often times, we were not matched up, either ahead of or behind each other.

Mastery: Again, it was difficult to schedule practice sessions, so it is easy to tell that there are some gaps to fill in terms of proper execution of dance moves.

Goals for next dance choreography (In-Depth Night):

Unfortunately, we still do not have a proper venue to practice in, so securing a practice space is my first priority. Although we still need to make our second recording of ‘Adore U’, we will be discussing possible group pieces sometime soon. For now, I will be focusing on learning the choreography for my solo piece, ‘Work‘ (choreographed by Sori Na from 1MILLION dance studio).

Additionally, learning the moves quickly, properly, and similarly (as in we dance with similar movements and are all in sync) is a huge goal. This can only come with proper practice. Although I can practice and learn the dance on my own, it is difficult making sure everyone is on the same page. We originally aimed to have 3 group dances, but gauging from how long it takes us to properly learn a dance with timing and proper moves, we limited it to 2 dances, and will film 2 versions of each to show progress between recordings.

For our next dance, a huge goal is being able to meet up at least once a week. With the upcoming adventure trips and such, we may have to meet during the week instead of weekends in order to accommodate everyone’s schedules. In terms of individual practice for my solo piece, I have no doubts that I will be able to learn and present a first ‘draft’ version of it maximum 2 weeks from now. Using videos alone, I know that I will be able to pick up the dance, and hopefully meet with my mentor to fine tune it.


De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

In consideration of De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, here is a conversation I had with Sunny (my mentor), a while back in February, after a practice session where had she helped us develop some of the trickier parts of the dance (where we had to compensate for the lack of members in our group, 3 instead of the expected 13). [Unnecessary pauses and filler words have been removed; M = Mimi; S = Sunny]

M: Hi Sunny, thanks for meeting up with today and letting us use the clubhouse, haha.

S: No problem, I really enjoyed it!

M: I was just wondering, I’m not really sure which piece I should choose for my solo on In-Depth. I’ve narrowed it down, but I feel like there are too many things to choose from, and there’s still a lot of time. [Green]

S: So… what are your choices?

M: I can send you the links, but I know for sure I want to use choreography from 1Million. I’m not totally sure if I can execute the dances, but they have choreography that I know for sure I can handle. Like, I know that I can’t do the crazy whacking and popping and locking, but I have the physical capability to do some moves.  I don’t know… I just really like the choreography. [White, Red]

S: That’s ok, I like it too, haha. I know you mentioned that you learned something before from there, so that’s good to think about while moving ahead. Just keep in mind that you want to choose something you can learn in a short period of time because you can’t be unrealistic about the dances.  [Yellow, Black]

M: I was thinking of doing ‘All I Wanna Do’, or ‘Half Moon’. Haha, I just mostly like the songs, but the dances are challenging– but not too challenging, if that makes sense.  [Red]

S: Well, I’ve seen snippets of the videos already, and I think that ‘Half Moon’ might be kind of difficult, but you’ll probably be able to do it. ‘All I Wanna Do’ would be more fun but you don’t have a partner. I think you should keep looking, because you still have some time.  [White, Red, Blue]

M: Ok, well I want to thank you again SO MUCH for helping us today! I’m sorry I keep saying this but thanks for being patient and helping us with the… iffy parts of the dance.

S: No don’t worry about it, actually I have fun doing it! Message me anytime you want and I’ll see if I can make it to your practices.

M: Thank you!!!

S: Bye!

The Moses of Her People: 1863

Why does the term “Free Blacks” exist?

I mean, are we so invisible that we’re either “free” or slaves?

I’ve been working for the Union. Freeing slaves. Saving lives. One can hardly call me invisible. I am living right now to serve God, but that is of my own choice. Although under the servitude of God, I am not a slave. The premonitions and visions I received must be for a reason.

After all, one does not choose to partake in a gunshot raid without reason, just as one does not choose to make 19 trips on the underground railroad within 10 years. It was not easy to hold a gun to peoples’ heads when they refused to move forward, as I could feel that they were scared. Terrified, even. “Move or die!” I would shout. And although maybe I might have been harsh, these times call for harsh. Besides, out of all of the 300 slaves I saved, including my sister and nieces, I never lost a single one. The easy way might have been for them to give up, but I moved them, and with them, I moved myself.

I am so grateful for British North America [Canada]’s opposition toward slavery. The underground railroad would have no purpose should it not have a destination. As a Union spy, I am able to see and hear the things that go on. I can hear it in the booms in the distance. I can see it in the eyes of the dying in the hospital, sick of dysentery, some of whom I couldn’t cure in time. This is still my goal. Fight for the Union, raid plantations, and lead as many people as I can to freedom.

No matter.

I am a servant of God. And I am doing good.

In-Depth: Post #4

For the past two weeks, there has, admittedly, not been a lot of progress. It has been quite busy for my team and I, with work and other things to focus on. As we have lost our practice space, there are few things that we need to be able to solve, the most important being a place to rehearse. As such, I have not been able to film progress videos, also due to the fact that I have not chosen a solo piece yet (see below), We have been finding ways to communicate our goals, progress, and  with each other and our mentor regardless of the loss of space. However, as the projected date for posting our first video approaches, we have made finding a new space our first priority. Since a location with a mirror will be of most effective use for us, I will try asking for permission to use the theatre backstage once a week in order for us to practice.

In consideration of principle #4, “What new information are you getting and what questions did you ask to probe further into the topic?”, I have been directing my focus these past two weeks into individual research on the topic of hip hop dance, common elements, and a dance to use for my solo part. Rather than use Korean music for my solo on In-Depth, I have decided to instead use choreography by the dance studio “1Million”, a Korean dance studio which focuses on hip hop dance not only with KPOP music, but with Western songs and remixes as well. Although physically and conceptually challenging, I believe that I will eventually be able to learn dances such as this and this. In the process of choosing a solo song, I had been excited about choosing dances that looked really cool without taking into consideration the possibilities that a) I might not be actually be able to physically execute the dance and b) by choosing KPOP music, although it is the focal point of my project, would I be broadcasting my project to as wide an audience as possible? I realize that this project is about striving to create something interesting for myself, I also want to be able to share this with other people, which competes with the original idea of the project. Point A: I want to be able to create something new for myself that helps shape my identity as both a student on the West coast and a Korean teenager. Point B: I want to adhere to the goals of the entertainment industry and cater towards my audience one step at a time (as many people are not used to the Korean hip hop style of dance, I figured that by combining Western music with said dance style, it would be an enjoyable experience for all audiences to enjoy), so by using familiar music, people will be able to further enjoy the performance.

Aside from contingencies in venue and preparation, our group still stands to keep to our timeline. Aside from some details that were missed because of rehearsal configuration, the dance is near complete and will be ready for filming within the next two to three weeks if we can get a rehearsal in this week. Hopefully by next Friday, I will be able to add an additional post, with a progress video from a possible Friday rehearsal and an update on filming.

Socials Précis

Source: Samuel Adams: Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution by Benjamin Irvin

Amazon Link and Title Review (1 | 2)

Author Irvin provides with both a factual and insightful recount of one of the enigmatic Founding Fathers and figures of the American Revolution, and his involvement, as a New Englander, with the Siege of Louisbourg, one of the most critical roles in the strained relationship between Britain and France. Irvin provides insight into historic recounts and detailed dates and terms, giving us an relatively accurate reflection on one of the Founding Fathers.

In-Depth: Post #3

Ah, the rush of in-depth.

These past three weeks, Franny, Katrina and I have been chipping away at the dance choreography (progress video to be uploaded after next practice session!)

Progress Report:

Since the last post, I have met with my mentor, Sunny, as well Franny and/or Katrina to practice the dance weekly, learning it almost to the point of completion. We’ve had very good progress so far, with minimal roadblocks. The only major one that can be pointed out is the fact that we’ve had to make some noticeable adjustments to the dance choreography, because there are only three people in our group, and seventeen in the original KPOP group. Thanks to Sunny, we have been able to fill in most of the gaps, using our own moves as well as most of the original dance to be able to complete the choreography. It’s very easy to get carried away in terms of liberties with the choreography (after all, it’s not like anyone in the audience has a Ph. D. in KPOP dance), but Sunny reminds us to keep the original choreography as a skeleton, and mold the parts we need to around it. Using this video as a guide, which I have found to be very helpful in noticing, learning, and implementing the tiniest details of the dance, we have near-completed the choreography. By modifying the dance to meet the circumstances of the group, we have actually been able to learn it faster, making our practice session more efficient and yield a higher success rate.

Mentor Update:

For the past two sessions, our practices tend to go something like this: listen to our song, outline goals for progress, learn any new parts, review parts, run through dance several times, complete a ‘random play’ dance, and run through dance several more times. Wait, what do I mean by ‘random play’ dance? This obscure term refers a popular Korean trend (especially in the entertainment and music industry, examples here and here), which may seem extremely odd and overly exaggerated to an outsider, but is a very common activity that is participated in on Korean variety shows, where the hosts of a show play music at random sections and the participants dance to the corresponding choreography. It sounds and looks kind of ridiculous to someone who isn’t Korean or doesn’t invest themselves into that sort of thing, but I feel like I have stumbled upon a common interest between my mentor and me because of this. Dancing has always been a passion of mine, but I didn’t know how much enjoyment I could get from dancing to these random, flashy KPOP songs with my mentor. The actual dances themselves, being only 20-second snippets from several pieces, were not difficult, but rather the act of having to make a half-second switch from one dance to another made it challenging. I found myself in awe of Sunny’s ability to make these quick changes, and made me respect her even more (cheesy as it might sound).

Communication between us has improved a lot too. Since I find it very difficult to open up in social situations, reverting to my hermit crab-like tendencies is usually the easiest thing to do when faced with a new challenge or meeting a new authority figure. However, through mutual understanding and the ability to respect each other on an equal level, this sense of anxiousness has gone away and I find it very easy to ask her for her opinions, discuss things with her, and converse with her. Before, I felt like I was questioning her authority by asking her to repeat something, as if she didn’t teach it right the first time. Now, however, I am comfortable enough to ask to her explain things again, or to demonstrate a certain move for us


Since Katrina had not been able to join us for a session (due to a water polo tournament), there are some important things we need to fill her in on. Luckily, she has been able to learn the dance on her own, but the parts that we have had to fill in need to be taught. Hopefully we will be able to meet for a session soon. I am very lucky to be in a team where I can rely on all my team members to learn their own parts, because it means that the time we have together is used efficiently and not wasted by having to go step by step on basic moves. By the next blog post, I hope to have the first version of footage ready to post for people to see.

Another goal I have been working towards is working on my solo performance for In-Depth night itself. Popular Korean dance studio, ‘1MILLION’, has a YouTube cover of a popular Korean hip hop song called ‘Half Moon’, which I have been looking at and learning for quite a while. Although I know without a doubt this will be challenging conceptually, physically, and mentally as I have never danced to anything this difficult before, I’m up for the challenge, and am very excited at the prospect of learning this.

Until next time, let’s all hope for some progress and success to come our way!

An Exploration of Resurgence: The Destruction of a People and its Rise to the Surface

In the short time period we’ve been in this class, we have already begun to learn about the indecencies and errors of our past as humans, especially in Canada. We know what cultural genocide is, and we know its branches. We are beginning to understand the reasoning behind the courses of action, and its effects on different cultures. Over the course of this past week, we’ve done a reading about residential schools, the sixties scoop, and cultural genocide in Canada, and how it affected the masses of Aboriginals, changing the course of their existence. We have learned about reconciliation, what it is, and how people are striving to achieve the positive change and rehabilitation between two nations that reconciliation hopes to bring. We have learned about the past, and about the present, but we haven’t learned what happens between those stages, which begs the questions: Why is cultural eradication so negatively effective? How do some cultures bounce back from such extreme actions? By all means, Canada has a peaceful connotation, one of freedom, one of religious and cultural freedom.

This course has led us to explore the darker sides of human history, devoid of happy unions, or new exploration of a completely new land. For this topic in particular, there are several important things to touch on, several of which I hope to explore in this post. Some of these include themes of revenge, quiet submission, and rebuttal. For the purposes of this post, here are some of the goals I had while writing:

  • Notice trends, patterns, and outliers in cultural genocide in other regions, not just Canada
  • Observe why some cultures can bounce back and why others can’t
  • Explore different forms of cultural eradication and the different effects they have

In-Depth: #2

                The 2nd semester is gearing up, and in-depth is already starting to feel like it’s in full swing! Katrina, Franny, and I are ramping up our practice times and are beginning to schedule regular times to practice biweekly (weekly if we can manage it).

                These past two weeks, we have finalized our song choice. We have decided to stick with, “Adore U”, the light-hearted, energetic dance song by the boy group “Seventeen”, using their mirrored dance tutorial (where the video is flipped, so we can copy the moves exactly), a dance tutorial by YouTuber @Charissahoo, and with the help of Sunny Ko, our mentor whom we met with this weekend.

                As of now, Katrina and I have met with our mentor once, and are scheduled to meet with her again sometime this week. She has very generously agreed to give us tips about blocking, dance techniques, and how to fill the spaces in the dance with different moves (since we are only a group of 3), as well as provide us with a venue to practice in. We were able to learn the first minute of the dance, using different tutorials and the help of Sunny, relying on each other to learn the dances. Where one of us had troubles with the dance, the other would learn it in order to help out.

                Right now, I have no problems with my mentor or my group members, other than the fact that schedule is quite an issue right now. However, since this project can also be completed individually, I don’t have too many worries, since I know that I have to rely on my other group members to learn their own parts. Although this is a group project, we need to be to be independent and find our own opportunities to learn on our own (not everything has to be in a group, just occasional meetings). I agree with my mentor in that I like her approach to helping us. She does teach us and help us in the way of learning and teaching us the moves, but also helping us make up parts of the dance where we have an insufficient number of people.

           All in all, we’ve had a bit of a slow start. But the next few weeks are looking to be very productive, with lots of learning and posting going on.