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When Science Embraces Art

Posted November 12, 2019 by LSC

This local stewardship group is aiming to inspire conservation through the arts.

Have you heard about the recently debuted video series, Wild Constructs, developed by Watershed Stewardship Grant recipient, Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society? This group has harnessed the powerful world of visual arts and fused it with scientific findings, to ensure their message resonates.

Conveying scientific principles to the public in an engaging way can be a challenge. In today’s digital era, people’s attention spans are short, and many do not immediately relate to scientific terms and jargon. To ensure their environmental messaging resonated with the public, The Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society (WGPPS) decided to fuse science with art, and so developed Wild Constructs, a series of six short but meaningful videos.

Fusing arts and science

In 2018 and 2019, the Society received funding from the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) towards a scientific study, which researched the environmental impacts of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road construction on the surrounding park and natural area. Then, with funding from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and other supporters they were able to bring their creative idea – Wild Constructs – to life. At its core, Wild Constructs is a compelling conversation between science, art, wilderness and community.

“This video series was a unique way to convey the scientific and ecological findings of the impact study,” shares Lisa Dahlseide, biologist with the WGPPS.

Filmed on Treaty 7 land in the Weaselhead Natural Environment Area, the videos feature nine talented local artists who share their creative responses to the biological and social impacts of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road. The videos include spoken word poetry, dance, storytelling, drum and song. Each video is set to original song compositions that weave in wild sounds from field recordings taken in the park over the past three years.

The videos help communicate the impacts that noise pollution and construction may have on biodiversity. In addition to creating awareness of the impacts on the overall watershed, the Society hopes these videos inspire a broader audience to become motivated to support conservation efforts.

“Through these videos, we wanted to inspire people to travel the path of connecting arts with science,” adds Lisa. “Expressing scientific principles through art has so much potential to reach and impact a wider audience.”

Lights, camera, action

The Society’s debut of the Wild Constructs videos in Calgary at the Plaza Theatre in Kensington on September 22 attracted more than 150 people. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Following the debut, the Society received calls from several local schools, asking if the films could be shown to their students, and has also received interest from University of Alberta professors.

While not yet broadly available, Lisa says the Society is hoping to present the videos at various film festivals throughout the province. They have already booked a screening at a festival in Edmonton in spring 2020.

Coming soon

If you’re itching to see the new video series, the Society will be working with Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) to bring Wild Constructs to Edmonton in April 2020. Stay tuned for details to be announced on LSC social media channels and in future Grassroots News editions.

For a sneak peek, view the Wild Constructs trailer here. You can also keep up to date on the Society’s Facebook Page.

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