Creative sessions

Igniting the Wonder of Quiet Ecosystems with Animation – Wednesday 11.30 am to 12.15 am

Animation is a powerful visual storytelling medium that inspires wonder and connects with audiences of all ages. Spaces like tallgrass prairies may not immediately demand our attention, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t awe-inspiring. These and other quiet ecosystems require that we stop, look, and listen so that they might reveal their true complexity and vibrant range of biodiversity. Animation offers a creatively uninhibited point of view to tell these stories and amplify the voices of native plants, insects, and other animals that rely on these overlooked environments for survival.

Please join artist, Erin Anfinson, for a presentation on the inspiration, research, and creative process behind her animated film, “In the Tallgrass.” Following the presentation, audience members are invited to participate in a demonstration where they will learn how to plan and animate lively short scenes using stop motion and cut-paper puppets. By Erin Anfison from the Middle Tennessee State University.

Naturehood – connect with the wildlife on your doorstep – Wednesday 11.30 am to 12.15 pm

Connection with nature, especially within the urban landscape, is being lost. Join the Earthwatch team to learn more about Naturehood, a new community-focused citizen science project from Earthwatch Europe. Naturehood is tackling this disconnect by encouraging families to spend time outdoors and to connect with the wildlife on their doorstep. Naturehood promotes the discovery of nature through biological recording and builds the feeling of connectedness by encouraging action in private green spaces such as installing wildlife housing, planting for pollinators and increasing garden connectivity.

During this creative session participants will be introduced to Naturehood, and then split into small teams to complete a Naturespace wildlife survey. In an outdoor setting, the teams will explore their surroundings and record what they find. Using our resources, we would like participants to think about how the use of technology can facilitate an increase in nature connectedness instead of acting as a barrier, and how this can help families to think of their outdoor space as a way that works for both humans and wildlife. By Chloë Dalglish from Earthwatch Europe.

Making space for the future -Wednesday 12.15 am to 1 pm

“What would the world look like in 30 years if we achieved all our conservation goals?”
This session will be an opportunity for the group to take a step back and readdress this simple, yet surprisingly elusive question through guided meditation, creative expression and discussion. It is easy to get caught up in the humdrum of everyday life and forget why and what it is you are supposed to be working towards.

By releasing delegates from the day-to-day pragmatism of conservation and embracing some blue-skies positivity, Josiane Segar and Olivia Crowe hope that participants will be able to take the space to reflect on the kind of world we want to be working towards. By temporarily putting aside the “how” of conservation, they want to focus on the “why” and “what”. Having already brought this session to a class of conservationists at the University of Oxford, Olivia and Josiane are excited for this exploration to reach a wider audience of professionals and perspectives.
By Josiane Segar and Olivia Crowe from the University of Oxford.

Play: our adaptive wildcard -Wednesday 12.15 am to 1 pm

This high-spirited workshop serves as a timely – and playful – reminder that the times we feel least like playing are the times we need it most. Constant worry for the state of the world can trap us in a cycle of despair. Fear spikes our cortisol and adrenaline. While this may help us outrun lions and save our life under attack, sustained use of reserves make us irritable, reduces creativity, impairs our memory and leads to worse decision-making over time.

Play, however, releases the ‘Angel’s Cocktail’: dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, increasing our focus, motivation, creativity, generosity and trust. Everything we need to build a better future. So come with your ‘fun-socks’ on and be prepared to move as we explore different forms of play: social, imaginative and body, and how to bring the quality of playfulness into your work. In short, how to do serious things with a sense of play. By Laura Hamilton-O’Hara from Living Future Institute Australia and Alice Howard-Vyse from Humanise This. 

Empowering HOPE Through the Arts – Wednesday 11.30 am to 1 pm

This interactive workshop is designed for participants to engage in creative arts to foster “effective action, interest and wonder in the natural world.” Focusing on botanical content, the activities utilize the arts to awaken emotional connections to the flora that surrounds us – so vital for conservation efforts. Utilizing research by Fearn, Macedonia, Bloom, Wandersee and Schussler, these activities will demonstrate ways participants’ constituencies can gain knowledge and personal connections through motivating art activities.

Included in these will be poetry writing, creative dramatics and colour awareness. Participants will bring back to their work situations — creative, fun, cheap, and easy-to-do nature activities that can be adapted to a wide range of conservation issues and to a wide range of ages. By  Bette Perlman and Liza Hawley from the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia.

Wildeverse: Exploring the rainforests with mobile games -Wednesday 11.30 am to 1 pm

Over two billion people play video games but almost none are about nature or wildlife. Why are we not exploiting the immense potential games have for connecting people with wildlife? Internet of Elephants, a Kenyan-based enterprise, is aiming to do just that with its first full commercial game, Wildeverse: a mobile, location-based, augmented-reality game that allows players to become a scientist studying apes in Borneo and Congo, while exploring green spaces in their own cities.

In this interactive session, we will play Wildeverse and explore new approaches to delivering conservation messages and engaging wider audiences through game play. Key to our approach is the delivery of accurate information – the game portrays real animals and relies on real data – while acknowledging the anxieties and conflicting feelings around conservation issues. Playing Wildeverse will involve being outside and moving, after which participants can discuss their thoughts on tracking orangutans and gibbons in Oxford. By Rafael Mares from Internet of Elephants.

Track & Sign Walk

Animals are very good at not being seen. But don’t be fooled – they are living all around us. You probably won’t see any (non-human) mammals during your stay at this conference. But at least eight different species of medium-sized wild mammals (as well as maybe 10 or more species of small mammals) thrive and breed within 400 metres of the college buildings where you will be sleeping, eating and debating – right in the heart of Oxford city.

Through many years of special study, Bob Cowley has learnt to recognise some of the subtle Tracks & Signs animals leave behind. So on this short walk, he hopes to be able to open your eyes to this parallel world, by showing you evidence of several of these species.

Please dress appropriately for the outdoors, with adequate warmth and rain protection, and footwear suitable for uneven ground that may be muddy in places. And please note that, although the walk will not be long or strenuous, the uneven soft ground might not be suitable for somebody with mobility problems. By Bob Cowley, Chair of Oxfordshire Mammal Group & International Tracker Certification Level 3.