Graduation and Goodbyes

Today was a big day at L&M. It was graduation day for some and my personal last day before starting maternity leave.

In the three short years we’ve been here we’ve seen lots of kids come through our programs. While we’re lucky that our community keeps us all connected, we’ve come to expect that we’ll miss sharing the ins and outs of sharing our day-to-day with the playschoolers we’ve come to know so well and for so long. One of our graduates started when she was barely two years-old and has spent more than half of her life playing each week with us at L&M.

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While I know my replacement Monique will be wonderful, I can’t help but think that part of me will miss the day-to-day with  my wonderful colleagues and all the families who have come to form our community. Cameron, Grace and Megan are much more than coworkers or even co-founders. They are true friends who I’ve had the privilege of working along side to bring The Lion and The Mouse from a vision to a reality. Their hard work, ingenuity and passion inspires me on a daily basis and I am excited to see what they and Monique have in store for The Lion and The Mouse in the coming year. Even more than that, I am grateful that my own son is part of such a vibrant and caring community and will one day be a proud L&M graduate himself.


Snail Playgrounds

Over the past couple of weeks our playschool kids have been loving their Adventure Play. They love to build, love to climb, love to destroy. We provide them with real tools and materials because we believe that (even at the age of 3) they can build real things if we give them the room and the support they need.

Yesterday the kids decided to include some pint-sized friends in the fun. With a few buttons and other beloved loose parts they made an Adventure Playground that was just the right size for SNAILS :).



(I couldn’t help but share are a few photos of the amazing swings the kids have been building for themselves. Can’t wait to see what they do with our new stock of construction materials for spring!)


We LOVE mud (but like really really love it)

This week has been wonderfully muddy and at L&M we love mud. We love mud kitchens, mud puddles, mud baths. One time last summer the day camp kids even gave Megan a mud makeover and it was THE BEST.

In fact, we think that most people out there love mud too. It’s often when our kids are at their muddiest that people stop to watch them play. This week I was walking home with my son after he had spent a particular muddy morning outside with me in our parent & toddler group and a muddy afternoon outside again in the playschool when someone stopped us on the street with a big smile and said, “My goodness, that is one muddy, happy kid.”And he really was.

Unfortunately, a lot of people miss out on the joy of messy, muddy play, whether it’s because they’re too shy, too busy or too underdressed. So with that in mind, here are some of the highlights from our week. I hope that they inspire you to suit up, get dirty and get playing!


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SETC & Transform(er) Montreal: March is Conference Month!

Spring is a great time for reflecting, evaluating and growth. This month I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to attend two two-day conferences in connection with my work at The Lion and The Mouse and am excited for what these deep conversations will bring.

For the Social Enterprise Toronto Conference (SETC), I hopped on the train mid-week to meet other social enterprises and their supporters. While the climate and culture in the Social Enterprise Sector, as they call it in Ontario, is quite different from ours at home in Quebec, it was inspiring to see the ways in which some of the non-profits were using technology and business acumen to leverage their resources and increase their impact. I was particularly inspired by Furniture Bank, one of the five stops on our bus tour, where we got a behind the scenes look at how they combine streamlined operations, analytics and a sky’s-the-limit culture to help their organization do more with less (and even more with more!).



This past weekend, Megan and I both had the privilege of connecting with other members of the Social Economy, as we say here in Quebec, at Transform(er) Montreal. While in many ways it felt like a homecoming  (Megan and I met studying Community Economic Development in Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs), I am sure it went deeper than roaming our old classrooms. With the conference’s focus on the Social Economy’s potential to democratize the world around us, we had the chance to revisit many of the conversations that led us to start The Lion and The Mouse and to reflect on how the structures that govern our daily lives can be adapted and put to the service of an inclusive and empowered community.

I was particularly touched by the key note given by Brianna Wettlaufer, founder and CEO of Stocksy United, who spoke openly about the difficulties (and importance) of creating inclusive and democratic social enterprises and the difference that makes in the every day lives of Stocky’s photographers. You can see the beautiful notes from her presentation taken by Paul of Percolab in the photos below.



All in all, it’s been a busy few weeks that have left me feeling highly motivated to take the successes that we have seen at The Lion and The Mouse and build on them even further. It is nice to be reminded from time to time that, as a social enterprise, it is not just what we do but HOW we do it that has an impact. We are governed by our members and the board they elect and that matters. We strive for transparency and consensus building amongst our staff and that matters too. While we spend most of our time thinking about the world of early childhood, it’s important to remember that in our every day activities and lives we are also building a world for these children to grow into.