The Storytelling Project Aditya, Dhruv, Tara, and Seema | Photo: Giulia Correia August 15, 2017 Seema Jindal Wearing many hats, Jindal realized she's not the spokes, but the hub of her life Stephen Hunt Seema Jindal’s creative life doesn’t stop at the door to the room in her Calgary home that she converted into a painting studio. It extends beyond that, to writing, raising a family that includes two teenage children, and doing innovative work as a consultant. Jindal takes some of the lessons she’s learned as a painter, poet—and parent—and applies them to running Earth Educators, Inc., a social business focused on providing experiential learning that connects participants to nature, personal growth and sustainable living. Back in March, Earth Educators worked with Palisades School in Jasper in the hopes of taking close to two dozen Syrian children out to experience the national park, in order to (hopefully) forge an emotional and geographic bond with their new home. “After moving to Calgary from India, when I went to the [Rocky] Mountains, that is when I first felt—I’m home. Now as a Canadian Citizen, I would like to contribute back to the community,” Jindal says. “I realized that it is very important to connect the new immigrant youth with that feeling, because for the older generations of immigrants such as their parents, making the shift to a new country and culture is not easy.” The Syrian children’s Jasper field trip ultimately was postponed, but hopefully will still happen in the future. It’s just one component of the work Jindal does as one of the principals at Earth Educators, a company she co-founded with Mark Van Engelen. Chatting with Jindal over a cup of coffee at Bell’s Cafe and Books in Marda Loop, she lists off a string of innovative efforts that blend a commitment to teaching children sustainable living, a passion for local culture, and imaginative new ways for institutions to measure outcomes that once seemed unquantifiable. They experimented creating a social enterprise with Calgary high school students at the Calgary Career and Technology Centre to grow and market micro-greens to local restaurants. “It is interesting to see how the skills and strengths of the students come forth and they are able to identify what areas they would like to work in with regards to the project,” says Jindal. “It helped them make some money for school trips, and not rely solely on the school’s funding.” There’s another Calgary school that signed up for aquaponics workshops, which taught children other creative ways to grow food. The Meetup Group, Sustainability Walk and Talk launched by Earth Educators initiates walkabouts around different natural areas of the city, where Calgarians meet, walk, and talk. “It enables people to appreciate our city’s green spaces while networking, sharing and forming new relationships,” says Jindal. “It’s amazing the number of connections people make at our meetups while walking in nature, I guess it’s better than sitting in a closed room and trying to network.” Earth Educators has also transformed the evaluation process through Social Return On Investment. “You may be doing great work as an organization, but how do you articulate it qualitatively and quantitatively?” Jindal asks. Redefining and reorienting an organizational outcome is a kind of institutional version of the personal mindfulness Jindal has has implemented and applied to her own life as well. Years ago, she quit her full time job to feed her creative urges and the desire to live a more fulfilling life. She emerged as a professional artist with her signature blue figurines and sunflowers, and would help budding artists in conceptualizing and marketing their works. She has been featured in 20 art exhibitions and her works are owned by art collectors in different countries. Currently, she also creates mandala paintings for healing. Aside from her work as a board member of the Calgary Centre for Global Community, or her work on diversifying the city’s arts scene with Calgary Congress for Equity and Diversity in the Arts, Jindal provides her expertise to a non-profit in India, NeoFusion Foundation, which introduces street kids to the performing arts and supports schooling. It’s her way to give back to the community she lives in and the country she came from. She also loves cooking for her two teenage children and husband. “It is therapeutic to cook with love,” she says. With her passion for health and food, she is currently writing a book—Listen to Your Body—with two other authors and hopes it will be out next year. Jindal appreciates every present moment she gets and views her varied creative interests as different dimensions of her life which she strives to fulfill to live a wholesome life. “It is important to give back, to celebrate life and be grateful for it,” she continues. Some of those spare moments are spent urban hiking in Fish Creek or at other little hidden sanctuaries around Calgary. “Working from home gives me flexibility,” she says, “I can paint, I can write, or [be] working—so it becomes easier to slip into these roles very easily. Why live a creative life? “It’s like asking,” she says, “why does it matter to be alive?” About The Storytelling Project On November 16, 2015, Calgary Arts Development hosted a working session with approximately 30 creative Calgarians from various walks of life. Many of the small working groups voiced the need to gather and share more stories of people living creative lives. That need has turned into The Storytelling Project. The Storytelling Project raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, effecting positive change and enriching others’ lives. Have a story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.