The Okanagan Institute T H E   O K A N A G A N   I N S T I T U T E


Slightly Higher in Canada : What follows is a prospectus, apologia and explanation of why, in spite of appearances to the contrary, it is still possible to prevail. As Will Durant proclaimed, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Robert MacDonald

Robert MacDonald
SEPTEMBER 22. 2015

Greetings and welcome to Fall – the harvest season – which begins on September 23, early in the morning at 4:21am. The autumnal equinox is when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south. The celestial equator is the circle in the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles. It can be thought of as the plane of Earth’s equator projected out onto the sphere. We live inside the cosmic, looking out in awe.

We’ve had quite a number of enquiries about the whereabouts of us and our projects – primarily our long-running event series EXPRESS and our regular newsletter FRESHSHEET. Here’s what’s happening:

Both projects were important to us, and provided much of the creative engagement that is our core mission, but their time has passed, at least in their current form. After almost 300 events featuring more than 700 presenters in 5 communities over 8 years, and more than 200 tirelessly curated issues covering a broad range of topics and territories, we feel that we have accomplished what we set out on, and it's time to change up and move on.

That's not to say that we won't be hosting events, developing publications and fermenting collaborations going forward. In fact, we have already booked two events for later this fall, and several more for the winter and spring. And our sturdy little newsletter will still be going out on a regular basis informing readers of our activities, egging on the usual suspects, exploring ideas and activities that will no doubt benefit you, me, us and them. Thus we have our new INFORM, which, along with this spiffy new website, will keep you “informed” about our progress.

We are, in particular, concentrating on our culinary arts, story teaching/telling and creative aging projects, and actively seeking contributions from creatives of all shapes, sizes and proclivities. If you are one such, take this opportunity to get in touch. We intend that these initiatives deliver the same level of engagement as has become our habit, be responsive to the rapidly changing social and economic landscape and contribute to our evolving creative mandate. In other news, we are reaching out to writers and notioning a platform for delivering informed and imaginative works in a variety of genres.

We appreciate the many messages of encouragement for our efforts and curiousity about our whereabouts and wellbeing. We hope we can continue to deserve your support for and interest in our works.


Sage-ingSage-ing¶ The 17th, Fall issue of Sage-ing, our Journal of Creative Aging, is now online. Please drop by for a visit.
  • Our intrepid editor, Karen Close, is giving the keynote address at the Creative Aging Symposium in London Ontario on October 1st, if you happen to be that way.
  • Otherwise, the ever-popular and stimulating HeART FiT class at the Rotary Centre on Tuesday mornings are just the thing for satisfying those creative itches.
  • In addition to that, Karen will be leading a series of talks on the topic of Creative Againg at the Library on Gordon Drive this fall. More will be forthcoming - watch this space.

    Passionate PlatesPassionate Plates WE ARE LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO EAT and don't mind getting some flour and crumbs on their clothes.
  • Passionate Plates is an opportunity to play with, cook and most importantly eat a wide variety of Okanagan-grown and produced ingredients, and learn how to make the most of the bounty of the seasons.
  • There will be 1 or 2 Monday 4-hour midday sessions a month over the next 7 months. They will be fun, convivial, enlightening explorations of flavour, with an emphasis on Mediterranean-style ingredients, methods and styles. Bring your taste buds!
  • It's also an opportunity to explore the ideas around sustainable food production, healthy food choices and smart eating while experiencing some serious culinary delight.
  • Best of all, it's free. There are only a dozen spots for each of the 12 sessions, and they're filling up fast. Get on over to HERE and sign up today.

    Writiers are encouraged to contribute stories to our website and newsletter, and participate in our upcoming reading series, starting this winter. Story School will be fun, and you don't want to miss out. Get in touch if you're interested in writing, reading, contributing, coordinating or collaborating. It's the best thing since watercress soup.

    Of special note, our friend and colleague Dona Sturmanis is offering 9 new writing classes September and October in Kelowna. Curious Beyond Words, Kelowna's first writing school, was founded by Sturmanis a year ago. The idea was to hold informal, informative writing classes with a maximum of 12 participants in a casual, comfortable setting. For more information and registration, visit, email or call 778-214-6318.

    The Leap Manifesto was released last week by a coalition of Canadian authors, artists, national leaders and activists. It lays out a vision to transition our country off fossil fuels while simultaneously improving the lives of most of us. Climate change is presented not just as an existential crisis but an opportunity to make our political and economic system more just and fair. If you haven't already, go on over and read it.


    Sage-ing : Get your grace and gratitude on. New issue just released!
    Passionate Plates : Come eat and learn with us. Yummy.
    Publications : Read all about it, that, them and the other thing.
    Story School : Narratives are the marrow of our lives.



    Robert MacDonald

    This summer I have been rummaging almost daily in my small garden, adding new elements, taking some away and tidying and tending others. I have a vision of the garden I want it to eventually be, and I've spent almost five years working toward it, knowing full well that it will never be finished.

    My humble garden is an urbanized homage to the variegated and breathtaking cottage gardens that I encountered on occasion during the days and weeks accumulated over a dozen youthful years of holidays, retreats and escapes walking the coast path that rings England.

    I learned that many of these cottage gardens had as much to do with bees and chickens and vegetables as with wisteria and foxgloves. In the 18th century cottagers with reduced land access (as a result of the destructive enclosure laws) were encouraged to use cottage gardens to feed their families. The ornamental elements owed much to the kitchen garden of the Elizabethan dooryard and the herbs that lived in it. At first medicinal and other functional herbs predominated but they too had ornamental value, and it was hard to tell if the tall spires of hollyhock were central because of their medicinal or ornamental utility.

    “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” - Mark Twain


    Thank you for your interest in the initiatives, publications and events of the Okanagan Institute. Please use the form below to give feedback on our programs, request information, subscribe for updates or register for events. The more information you provide, the better we can serve you.

    Email address

    I want to receive updates from the Institute by email.
      I want to volunteer and/or contribute to the Institute.
    Passionate Plates: please send me information on dates, times, and other stuff.

    Please be assured that we do not share or distribute this, or any other, information in any way. We will only use it only for contact purposes related to this website. We take this assurance very seriously.

    Okanagan InstituteOkanagan Institute
    THE OKANAGAN INSTITUTE is a group of creative professionals that have gathered around the goal of providing events, publications and services of interest to enquiring minds in the Okanagan. We partner with individuals, organizations, institutions and businesses to achieve optimal creative and social impact. Our mission is to ignite cultural transformation, catalyze collaborative action, build networks and foster sustainable creative enterprises. We invite the participation by all members of the creative community.


    This is meant for educational purposes only. Ask your doctor if “information” is safe for your mental health. Not responsible for damage or harm, however caused. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. Void where prohibited. Some assembly required. Batteries not included. Contents may settle during shipment. Use only as directed. No other warranty expressed or implied. Do not use while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. ... FOR MORE, GO HERE.

    Copyright © 2007-2015 The Okanagan Institute for Creative Engagement Society | Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
    For information, to contribute, to comment or to complain: