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Cora & friends in Marseille

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

This past May, the Follow Your Heart book launch-workshop series made its third stop in the south of France where the authors, master's student Laura Vita, and a group of childhood educators gathered to explore ecological and emotional education. Although not her hometown, Emily has been living in Marseille, FR ever since the three authors begun working on developing Follow Your Heart: the school for multipotentialites, so it only made sense to host a third event in this vibrant city—the birthplace of Cora.

Vieux-Port, Marseille. Photo taken by Emily Murray

In the weeks leading up to the event, posters were hung with care in a language school and children's book store to spread the word of this intimate, Saturday afternoon event. The circle of language teaching assistants and childcare providers that Emily had built a community with the past year were invited as well. Keeping up with the dynamic, iterative approach to this workshop series, this book launch was focused more towards young adults rather than children with the purpose of having deep conversations around ecological and emotional education and multipotentiality. But, of course, we had to have a little human for some extra creativity inspiration. Among the 20 adults (ages 20-51) who participated, there was one little girl named Anna who kept the event lively and giggly. At just two years old, she was one of Emily's most beautiful little inspirations over the past year while working on Follow Your Heart.

Despite Marseille having 300+ days of sun each year, the book launch fell on the rainiest weekend of 2023. Luckily, the event was held in the recently renovated office space for the company Prozon where the guests enjoyed a big, open space filled with natural lighting and plenty of yummy snacks. The guests mingled for the first part of the event, passing around copies of the book, until the 3 authors and visiting master's student presented the project.

Workshop guests reading the pages of Follow Your Heart: the school for multipotentialites.

Photo taken by Igor Peftiev.

Following the formalities of presenting the book, future plans for the Follow Your Heart educational movement and a reading of The Story of Cora, the authors and participants worked together in a fairly informal setting to get to know each other and discuss the themes of Follow Your Heart while working on a couple of activities. In one corner of the room, participants were asked to take time to reflect on the question "What does Follow Your heart mean to you?" and anonymously write their answers on what would become a co-created piece of artwork. Majority of the activtiy time was spent using arts and crafts materials to decorate recycled cardboard cutout letters to spell "Follow Your Heart"— an activtiy that has been ongoing since the first book launch in Somerset, UK. Another component of the workshop was the multilingual library corner with illustrated children's books in both English and French that covered the themes of ecological literacy and emotional intelligence to showcase some of the resources that connect to Follow Your Heart.

Left to right: "Follow Your Heart" arts and crafts activtiy; "What does follow your heart mean to you?" activtiy; authors presenting the book. Photos taken by Igor Peftiev.

The co-created "Follow Your Heart" cardboard cutout activity led to some wonderful insights that left the authors and master's student feeling motivated and fulfilled in their endeavour to spread the message of their book. The participants were not given any specific instructions other than to create and although there was a sense of unease at first, everyone was talking and working on their piece of "heart" art in no time. Towards the end of the activtiy and event, participants reported that they felt calmer and said that creating for the sake of enjoyment and expression was not something they had done in years. Listening to the conversations of how this simple activtiy impacted adults who took a break in their busy lives was a reminder that Follow Your Heart is for all ages and that carving out time and space for creativity and imagination is beneficial for all.

The next event for Follow Your Heart will take place in a more formal academic setting as the team heads to Tromsø, Norway mid-September 2023 to present their research and work to the funders and a community of educators, marine and geoscientists, and local children!

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