Connection and placePosted: April 19, 2012 Filed under: Mapping 1 Comment
Since the last synthesis team meeting, I’ve been musing about connection, relevance, and place. Specifically, what is the essence of why the arts are important to learning, how do they connect with all other learning, and how does our concept of where and how that learning takes place support (or limit) that growth.
As I’m moving into a new role, I’m thinking a great deal about community and how organizations and institutions create, engage, shape, and reflect the communities they serve. I’m also thinking a great deal about nontraditional performance spaces, and ways to collaborate with a greater cross section of service providers to better support all of our children’s needs.
On a recent hike, I kept remembering a group I performed with back in Chicago called Theatre Hikes. They did docent led hikes through county and state parks, and at various stops along the way the actors (and we spent a good deal of time running across shortcuts to get into position in time!) performed a play-with each chosen spot along the hike corresponding to a new set design. At a time when many children may not have the opportunity to see or experience arts learning, when their exposure to nature and the outdoors can also be limited, and when childhood obesity rates are a national focus, are there any efforts being made already in the area (aside from possibly Mountain Playhouse at Mt. Tam) to combine developing a love and respect for the beauty of nature and outdoor activity with that of creating and experiencing the arts for children and families? If not, are there others who might be interested in exploring some options?
Last summer we took a trip to Oregon and we travelled along the Rogue River and went to Crater Lake. I was awe inspired by the surrounding trees and had a revelation about the spiritual nature of trees. I bought a book called Last Child in the Woods:Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder. I realized that I was mostly an intellectual environmentalist, and that there was no exchange for being IN nature to understand the profound importance and knowledge held there. I came back with an enthusiasm for experiencing nature that was parrallel to my passion for all children experiencing art. Many years ago, Constance Moore firstname.lastname@example.org organized an amazing arts learning experience for teachers and teaching artists connected to understanding and educating about our local watersheds. She organized some lovely lessons that were very Andy Goldsworthy-like. I think she would be a terrific resource for what you are talking about. I also think this idea goes to the shaping of a new shared vision, and developiong well-crafted language about the EXPERIENCE of arts to help facilitate an understanding for what matters most. Our planet is screaming for human beings to understand how nature works and to work with it. I think this is the exciting nexus of the STE(A)M conversations that are happening across the country and described in this blog (previous post) at a recent meeting at the California Academy of Sciences. Science and arts are powerful and necessary intersections for a healthy future.