investigating the secret lives of wild animals around Dreamspace
As part of Dinacon, I put together two classes at Dreamspace about finding, understanding, and telling stories about the lives of wild animals that live right outside the door. These are entry-level classes designed to introduce students to their local ecosystem and give a sampling of tools and techniques for how they can investigate and interact with their neighboring natural world.
I co-taught the classes with a longtime collaborator and fellow Dinasaur, Jasmine Gutbrod, and two volunteers from Dreamspace, Sayu Ambiharathinam and Gabi Mohanalingam. One class was an adult class, for Dreamspace members who were interested, and the other was a class for gradeschool-aged children from a nearby orphanage. Both classes had about twenty students and met for about an hour each day, for six days. We also ran a 3-day intensive workshop for Dinacon participants that was a condensed version of the class, as a prototype for how to train teachers to run classes like this with their own students.
The big idea behind these classes is that, wherever you may live in the world and whatever animals live near you, you can use the same process to find animals and follow stories about their lives. That process begins with going outside, looking around and asking yourself a simple question: if I were a wild animal, where would I go when humans aren’t around? The answer is different, of course, for different species, environments, seasons, and hundreds of other variables, but the way you figure it out is always the same: by empathetically watching the world around you.