Andy Goldsworthy (Ashley and Margarita) says he "works to understand
nature, to get to the heart of things", i.e. how nature works. The fact
that Goldsworthy's work teaches others about nature is a side effect rather
than his main objective. I have done workshops with people of all ages from
preschool to elderhostel doing Goldsworthy explorations of places; it works
wonderfully. There are numerous other artists whose work serves us as
"environmental interpretation" this way; I've written a couple of articles
about it. Check some of the books in the bibliography I sent out under
Recycling into art (Larissa, Lisa , Lindsie & others) Excellent idea.
I'm contacting Jo Hanson, whose work I have mentioned previously, to ask
her for some specific ideas. The last time I saw her the back of her van
was full of "flowers" made from recycled materials, for a "garden"
installationl Please, please, don't believe the our environmental problems
are solved by recycling--a current consumer myth! Reduce (consumption of
EVERYTHING) and reuse are the more important components. Everywhere else in
the world--particularly developing countries I've been in, people are way
ahead of us on getting the most out of an item, with a few exceptions (can
anyone come up with creative uses for plastic bags, applicable to real
life?). A Kenyan artist we brought to Montana was absolutely astounded at
the "wealth" available at the landfills and junkyards; could not believe we
discarded stuff in such good condition, couldn't believe we didn't have big
bottle deposits on most of our supermarket packaging, etc.
Recycled toys--Dionne--excellent; I saw wonderful toys made from recycled
materials in Kenya--trucks made from cereal boxes and bottle caps, etc.
One of the projects done with street children there has them making
mineature bicycles and tricycles scrounged from wire at the landfill, then
selling them in the tourist market to support themselves.
Endangered Species Mandala--what a wonderful lesson plan! wish I could see
the results! To present the species with the habitat needs and the
elements which have reduced it to this status is so wise. Learning the
connections between animal and plant species, the interdependencies, and
the effect of changing one of these elements, is such a major lesson for
all of us!
Oz issues Bob Greaves--thanks for the overview, sounds depressingly
familiar on the political side. What is the public attitude toward the
wildlife? Preservation efforts ?
Schoolyard Habitat: A book just brought to my attention: WILD SCHOOL
SITES, "a guide to preparing for habitat improvement projects on school
grounds." They don't know about making art a component of the project, but
it is a good place to start. May be free from:
Project Wild, 5430 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, Md. 20814, (301) 493-5447,
fax (301) 493-5627; they probably have a website. Many state wildlife
departments sponsor Project Wild activities along with Project Learning
Tree (yeah, Ron, I know it has some of the same political problems, too.)
Don't believe everything they say about the joys of hunting, for example.
Other helpful books: ATTRACTING BACKYARD WILDLIFE by Bill Merilees,
THE BATHOUSE BUILDER'S HANDBOOK from Bat Conservation International
WOODWORKING FOR WILDLIFE Nongame Wildlife Program/Section of
Wildlife/ Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources/Box 7, 500 Lafayette Road/
St.Paul, Minn 55155-4007
Again I suggest the first contact should be your state wildlife
division for the many free handouts they have available which will be
targeted at plants and animals native to your area.
Water Issues in the desert and the west: I don't know how AZ is about
water conservation; my observation is they are very careless in the private
swim pool/golf course/mall fountain division (interesting expressions of
our denial of our new, non-native places). LA now has mandatory
xeriscaping for all new landscaping--long overdue here also. Colorado
developers are selling new subdivisions for which they know the water
source will run out in less than 20 years. Eventually the lack of water
will be our saving grace and be the real end to growth; if we are wise and
lucky it will happen before we destroy the places and the water sources for
the other species. Or perhaps, like oil, we will be willing to go to war
to defend our excesses. Schools, especially ones under construction, could
be models for alternative construction and use patterns. In my experience,
they, too are in denial.
Commercials: Mark G, another insightful commentary, outlining how it all
works. My take is that much of our overconsumption is manipulated by the
psychology of the advertizing. How else could the richest, most
comfortable society in history feel they are deprived and "deserve more"?
We are taught that we don't measure up, that we are inadequate, so we
should feel bad. BUT we can feel good about ourselves IF we purchase the
latest ..........which turns quickly into yesterdays latest so then we will
need to be convinced to need the newest latest......... Do you all find
that children, adolescents, insecure in the best circumstances, are the