I am two with nature. -Woody Allen
I found this quote this summer and it made me laugh. And then it stuck with me. It plays with that idea of being in sync with something else, being One- but after all my experiences this summer I think Two is a better way to describe the way we interact with the natural world. Nature brings us together. We are more than just ourselves outside. We are ourselves with bugs and plants and birds and the other people with whom we share our wonder at every new discovery.
I spent the summer working in Ecuador a second time, this time as a teacher. With The Biodiversity Group, I began to collaborate on a citizen science/ environmental education project that answered the question our science left behind: How do the human members of diverse ecosystems participate with more awareness in their natural communities? Our answer to that question: Biodiversity PEEK- Photography Educating and Empowering Kids. Armed with GPS enabled, waterproof, shockproof cameras capable of high quality images, I traveled this summer to Ecuador to live for two weeks each in Camarones and Tabuga on the coast of Ecuador, helping get the program off the ground. We worked with a local trainer in each place, a person who continues managing the donated cameras, uploads the photos, and makes the cameras available to be used for nature photography by the kids who live in their communities. The photos then, also become data for science.
Photos are valuable as scientific evidence, especially with the location data embedded in each photo. The act of taking photos opens one’s eyes anew to the place and life that thrives all around. We took our cameras to the river that wound through each pueblo and I watched as the kids slowed down to stalk dragonflies, as they collaborated with each other, working out achieve the best picture. In the end we enjoyed together the evidence of many eyes seeing. Students will visit the reserves nearby; protected forest areas that serve as examples of the biodiversity the region can support. Another objective of the program is to develop a closer connection between each community and the preserved tropical rainforest, coastal dry forest, and cloud forest habitats adjacent to each community. To do this work we partnered with two NGOs; Third Millenium Alliance and Ceiba. Our partnerships made our work more meaningful, another example of the Twosome nature of this work…
To share Biodiversity PEEK with you I have added some photos of the people I worked with, the kids I met, what it looked like as we explored the river, and some of the photos they took. Not only are we two with nature, with a project like this we can be hundreds or thousands, participating in a conversation of community and science all around the globe.
If you know someone somewhere who might like to read this blog in another language- just click on the tab at the top that says Translate this blog. You can read this in any language listed there- I do it too, just for fun.
Happy long weekend to all! To my students: see you next week!