Here Is Some Free Summer Edutainment

An unabashed promotion of the Conservation Commission's Summer Edutainment Program (with some other ramblings).

This summer, the Conservation Commission (with support from the Barrington Land Conservation Trust and the Barrington Public Library) is sponsoring a (mostly) weekly series of free environmental talks and movies to inform and entertain our town citizens.  My hope is that these presentations will entertain and raise a little environmental awareness in the process.  

It’s been some effort for me to put together a program that is broad enough to appeal to our diverse citizenry (and with a limited budget), but at the 11th hour (as is always the case with me), I think I have finally it put together.  The series will be advertised in the local paper (and, opportunistically, here), so I am putting you all on notice to keep your eyes open for these events. 

The first talk is on Wednesday, June 29, from 7 to 9 pm in the library auditorium.  A local activist of sorts, Chip Osborne, will be talking on natural lawn and turf management, an approach I’m hoping to help develop for town sports fields. 

Chip knows what he’s talking about.  He’s been chairman of the Marblehead, Massachusetts' Recreation and Parks Department and has 35 years experience as a professional horticulturist (Google him).  Okay, all you weed’n’feed addicts out there; an expert is coming to help you!  Take advantage of this!

Enough promotion.  This effort has taught me some interesting things:

  1. People are easy to get; movies are expensive.  I’ve taken advantage of the speaker’s bureau at URI, which can supply speakers on many subjects for a very modest fee.  We had one URI speaker, Kate Venturini, give a talk last year on sustainable coastal landscaping and she was great (and is returning this year for a different talk).  However, getting public viewing rights  for a movie that you can watch for free on the internet is expensive.  Somehow this smacks of a corporate predatory practice, and it makes me want to violate laws.
  2. Environmental movies are either preachy or boring (many of them, anyway).  In trying to  select movies that are fun and educational, I’ve had to sift through some dogs.  So many  movies have a doom and gloom, end-of-the earth message that leaves one feeling depressed and helpless.  How can we be inspired to make positive changes by watching a dispiriting and fatalistic movie?  Now I understand (I do!) that many of these subjects are serious, but get off your high horse already.
  3. I am truly a science nerd (although this is not really a revelation).  Not the pocket-protector, coke-bottle-glasses type, but I get a little thrill from science minutiae.  I recently read an article that discussed how, on the water surface, water molecules (composed of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms: H-O-H) straddle the gas and liquid interface, where one hydrogen in the molecule behaves as a gas and the other hydrogen behaves as a liquid.  This is fascinating to me!  But then, I’ve been known to read layman’s books on particle physics for fun.  Should I bring in speakers or movies to talks about subjects like this?  My better sense says no.

So, I settled on a combination of educational talks on gardening/sustainability topics for those so inclined to learn, some subversive environmental movies, and a few flicks for the kiddies.  I hope this spans the range of interests out there. 

The whole summer schedule will be advertised shortly in various media, so please look for it and save it.  I encourage (plead, actually) people to attend these events.  They’re free, a good reason to get out of the house for a few hours, and (hopefully) will be entertaining and thought-provoking. 

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Elaine Cunningham June 20, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Gardening/sustainability! Subversive environmental movies! Science nerdiness! (Although I prefer the term "geek.") The tiny Julie Andrews who lives in the back of my brain just burst into a chorus of "These Are A Few of My Favorite Things." Looking forward to this series!


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