“EcoAdventures” — Day three

Today, I felt that the group really gelled. It was one of those days where everything just went smoothly, and we all (including me) deepened our understanding. This was in spite of the fact that I had to totally re-arrange my carefully planned session for the day, to make more time for the project we started yesterday.

I don’t have time to write a good narrative account right now, but I’m going to post the session plan anyway, just to get it up….

Objectives for this session:
(1) Ecojustice can build bridges between diverse people.
(2) Spiritual practice time.
(3) We will engage in a sensory awareness activity.
(4) Have fun.

Activity — Time for activity [elapsed time]

I/ Introduction — 15 minutes [15]

A round of the Ecosystem Name Game as parents dropped off their children at children’s programs.

Opening by volunteers. Two participants, Eli Eel and Mike Moose, read some haiku that they had written since the previous session:

The trees are just so
The trees are just so very
The trees… Holy wow

Polar bears have fur
I do not have any fur
The ocean is cold
  [refers to the daily “polar bear swim” each morning at 7, in the cold waters of Saco Bay]

Good thing there is air
Better that there is water
…I dream peacefully

Imagine no grass
Nothing soft against your feet
That’s unnatural

So salty salty
My head is sandy sandy
Showering ends it

An ant, so small
To eat, would be a grand ball
My stomach would die

Gyrating Blue Jays
The sound shaking trees would make
Many little babes

I saw shooting stars
What if we were upside down
Falling at the stars

I kissed a frog once
Pre-squeezed by Ryan my friend
Taste of soot and dirt

II/ “Foxes and Rabbits”

A/ Game: Foxes, Rabbits and Leaves — 15 minutes [30]

Divide the group into Foxes, Rabbits, and Leaves. (With a group of ten, have 4 rabbits, 3 leaves, and 3 foxes.)

Leaves put hands up at shoulder level (as if about to give a high-five).
Rabbits have tails (pieces of white cloth to stick into back pocket).
(Foxes have no distinguishing characteristic.)

Rabbits have a Warren (a square of felt on the ground). They are safe from predation by the Foxes as long as they touch the felt.

To begin each round:

The Leaves form a broad circle around the Rabbit Warren. The Foxes stand among the Leaves.

When the signal is given to begin a round:
— Rabbits must try to “eat” (high-five) Leaves;
— Foxes try to catch and “eat” Rabbits by pulling tails;
— Leaves are immobile.

During each round:

Rabbits are safe and cannot be tagged when they are frozen in a crouched position, or when they are touching the Rabbit Warren. Rabbits may not move or get Leaves unless they are standing up.

Rabbits must eat in each round, or they will die from hunger.

Foxes must eat in each round, or they will die of hunger.

A round lasts 3-5 minutes. At the end of the round, Leader calls out “End of Round!” and all action stops.

At the end of each round:

If a Fox has not eaten one or more Rabbits in a round, s/he dies, rots away, turns into compost, and becomes a Leaf in the next round.

If a Rabbit has not eaten a Leaf in a round, s/he dies, rots away, turns into compost, and becomes a Leaf in the next round.
If a Rabbit is eaten by a Fox (whether or not s/he has eaten a Leaf him/herself), that Rabbit becomes a Fox next round.

If a Leaf is eaten by a Rabbit, s/he becomes a Rabbit in the next round.

Play three to five rounds (or more, if it’s going well).

B/ Presentation and sharing circle

(We were rushed today, and did not include the full presentation and sharing circle. But here’s how it would have gone if we had had time.)

Introduce Key Concept Statement: “Everything eats something else, everything gets eaten.” Point out how Foxes eat Rabbits, and Rabbits eat Leaves. And if either Foxes or Rabbits die, then they decay and become compost, which can then grow up into Leaves. Explain how decay happens: microbes eat the dead organism, and turn it into compost. Change!! And above all: Interdependence.

Quickly act out how this happens: have the participants do “mini-round” of the game in slow motion, at end of round see who “dies” and turns into Leaves.

Repeat KCS: “Everything eats something else, everything gets eaten.” If you don’t eat, then you die, and if you die you turn into compost, which means Leaves can grow out of you. We all depend on other living organism to live, and other living organisms depend on us to live. It’s all one big Cycle!! And above all: Interdependence.

C/ Variation

(We did not have time to do this part of the activity today.)

Obviously, this whole thing is oversimplified. But what happens if humans enter this interdependent cycle?

Introduce one Human, who can take one Rabbit and one Leaf for food each round, and if Human doesn’t get both, Human dies. There can be only one Human in the game, so Leaves and Rabbits killed by Human just turn into Leaves. Play two or three rounds.

For another variation: Let Human take as many Rabbits as s/he wants, and Rabbits cannot freeze to escape Humans (i.e., Humans get more efficient at killing). Also, the Human can choose to kill a Fox. If Human “eats” two or more Rabbits, one of those Rabbits turns into a Human.

III/ Time to work on EFA project (see Monday’s session plan) — 1 hr. [1 hr. 45]

The video group went to the beach and videotaped one of the staff naturalists. The writing group made lots of progress on their blog post.

We’ll continue this project tomorrow, when we hope to complete it. I’ll post the completed projects on the blog when they’re done.

IV/ “Micro National Park”

A/ Introduction — 10 minutes [1 hr. 55]

Leader intro: “Welcome to Ferry Beach Micro National Park. I’m the Park Superintendent, and I’m glad you have all come to be Park Rangers here at our new Micro National Park. Our new Micro National Park is known for its incredible beach and its amazing green forest, of course, but there are other wonderful things in the park: bizarre wildlife, trees that are so big you can hike up them, incredible earth formations, and more.

“Since Ferry Beach National Park is a brand-new park, we need to build some trails so that our visitors can find all the wonderful things in our park. So here we are at Park Headquarters, and we want all the trails to begin here, to make it easy for visitors.

“Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to give each of you Park Rangers these amazingly huge trail markers [show popsicle sticks]. You should put the amazingly huge trail markers in the ground along the trail at points of interest, such as mountains, trees, places where wildlife has been sighted, etc.

“Of course, as you know, this is a Micro National Park. That means that our most important park rule is that the bottoms of your feet cannot touch the ground, so we do not crush the bizarre wildlife and amazing plants in the park. So you should go around on your hands and knees, and keep your face close to the ground — because all the most interesting things in our park are right down on the ground. The second most important rule is to go Slow as a Slug, so you have time to appreciate all the wonderful things along the trail.”

Pass out ten popsicle sticks to each person.

“Any questions?”

B/ Creating trails — 10 minutes [2 hr. 5]

Give about ten to fifteen minutes to create trails.

C/ Hiking on trails — 15 minutes [2 hr. 20]

Give each participant five pieces of “Micro National Park money” (M&Ms). Tell them they can charge however many “dollars” (i.e., M&Ms) to guide another participant along their guided tour. Remind them that this is a Micro National Park. That means that our most important park rule is that the bottoms of your feet cannot touch the ground. So the park rules state that everyone has to go around on hands and knees (and you as Park Ranger will enforce the rules).

Ask participants to tout their trails, by telling the name of the trail, and giving a short description of what someone might see on the trail. Then split participants into two even groups. Have half become tourists, the other half offer tours to the tourists, charging however many “dollars” they can. Give time for participants to go on tours, then switch groups. (If more time, let participants do more tours.)

D/ Micro National Parks everywhere — conversation

“Micro National Parks show us that even a tiny, undistinguished plot of ground can be amazing and beautiful if we change our point of view. What about doing the same thing on a slightly larger scale for our own neighborhoods?

Tell participants about your own neighborhood. I said:

“New Bedford Harbor is a Superfund site, filled with PCBs. It is a marine industrial zone. Yet I’ve come up with an impressive list of birds and marine invertebrates that I have identified in my area. Also, I take note of all the diverse human ethnic communities.

“What if I started giving tours of my neighborhood as if I were a park ranger, showing off the natural beauties and the cultural wealth of my city? It might be interesting to treat my city like a National Park, where everyone is equally welcome, and where we are committed to having a clean and accessible environment.”

Conversation:– Would such a concept change relationships between human communities? Would such a concept change human relationships with the rest of the ecosystem?

VII/ Journaling time — 15 minute [2 hr. 55]

Time spent in special place with journal.

VIII/ Closing circle — 10 minutes [3 hr. 5 — we went late!]

One participant, Amanda Anemone, read some haiku she wrote during journaling time:

Bird calls, sap drip
In my special place I feel
Naturally part.

Brave and beautiful
Tiny cherub fills my cup
Teamo mucho
[referring to her young daughter]

My little beefcake
chubbers, Tootie McFartson,
Jackson is my man.

(I was particularly fond of the juxtaposition between the first and second haiku, which linked experience in the woods with the Amanda Anemone’s human family.)

We had time for announcements.

For the closing, Jen Jellyfish sang a version of “Eliza Jane,” with verses relating to sense of place. (Mudcat folk music site has info on this song.) I’ll try to get some of her verses and post them here later.

Continue with Day Four.