All summer, PLAY was busy with friends.
Whether meeting with researchers at the Children’s Environments Research Group, planning projects, or spending time at Stony Brook University with Pat Wright and graduate students, it’s been a fun summer. I even got to spend time with Stephen Nash in his incredibly rich lab/ office/workshop space before it disappears, who pioneered scientific illustration for conservation education and primates. So much fun talking to him about everything, including insights on natural gardening. Did you know that if you put mulch (dead leaves) on top of soil, it gets so healthy, there’s no need to dig?
Katherine Kling, a new PhD student, at Stony Brook University has begun to work on grants and planning for the PLAY Projects! We put in our first big grant for SOS (Save Our Species) to respond to the Lemur Action Plan with a radio and storytelling module for lemurs and ecological identities. She’s done lemur research in Madagascar, worked with Disney Parks on conservation education, and our education friends at Anna Nekaris’ Little Fireface Project. She adds a ton of enthusiasm, creative energy, experience in conservation education, and the practical skills we need to get going.
Since August, we’ve started brainstorming ideas for working with women artisans to outfit the educational activities with local, sustainable designs. The Pat Wright Lab has basically become an art studio, featuring the Alicia Lamb, and Kate Thompson, Stephen Nash‘s intern in scientific illustration, as well as Jana Grabner from Austria. Jana did all her graduate research and projects in Madagascar using art for conservation education: on sustainable art education with WCS, designing the MFG education centre with friend, Alain Rasolomampiandra (the PLAY artist).
Project #1 is planning packs for community-led education, around storytelling, since stories draw on perspectives and agencies for engaging with each child as a social actor. We’re also imagining a Forest Camp, since we know that if the forest relates to home, opportunities to experience life in the forest need to be available. And Project #3 will experiment how to use Centre ValBio botanical spaces as a child-friendly workshop for planning PLAY sustainable activities.
All these projects are meant to be scalable, but our aim for this summer is to identify funding to start small and pilot, then prepare for programs. It’s incredible to find these Madagascar-loving students, who are eager to use their research and design work to support possibilities, truly, for and about Madagascar’s capability to shape their own lives.
It’s a new era for conservation, and THESE PEOPLE ARE SHINING STARS! Yay yay yay!