I realized in my zest to spend more energy into creating this endeavor into something more I have never really explained my why. What do I mean my "why"? To explain it better than I, here is Google's explanation: "Your “Why” is a statement of purpose that describes why you do the work you do and why you live the lifestyle you do. It is your calling. It is your conviction. It is your mission statement." With that, 4 things happened a few years ago which made me reevaluate my "why", my purpose.
At work (my day job) we had to go through the exercise to figure out our "why" as an organization
I heard a wonderful talk by one of my hero's Kristie Reddick (I heart Jessica Honaker too she just wasn't on this episode) of the Bug Chicks about their why
I found John Muir Laws and his amazing group of Nature Journalers
I had a kiddo of my own and read Last Child in the Woods....it scared me
I had to really sit and think about what is was I wanted. To understand that, we need to go in the way back machine, so a little about who I am. I have always loved art and nature for as long as I can remember. I was one of those kids that had to be home by the time the street lights were on. I spent a lot of time by myself roaming the "woods" looking for anything to discover and talking to trees.... yup I really tried. The woods where just small patches,, maybe a couple acres of wooded area, that no one was sure who owned but it was accessible. Life was pretty cool It was a looking for tadpoles, turtles, whoops that head was actually a moccasin, stalk wild game (armadillo was the only thing I could sneak up on) make horrible little forts type of childhood. When I turned about 15 I really wanted to take the art part of my life further and for it to be my profession. I wanted to be an animator at Disney. All through the first few years of college that was my goal. I took a lot of art classes to prepare myself. Like most people though one decision changed my trajectory, I took an Environmental Science class. Enthralled and dishearten about what I learned I knew I had let that wild part of my soul sit too long. It was time to reignite it. The decision to pursue this line of study was also more practical. Out of the 2 schools I was accepted to one had night classes and was closer to home. This allowed me to work the 6 days a week I needed to survive and allowed my dumpy little car a break in mileage.
I don't regret any of those decisions. I have done so many amazing things and believe I have left the local Florida environment better than I found it. While I never stopped creating it was an occasional pastime. Then my partner and I had a kiddo. To say my priorities and outlook on life shifted would be an understatement. I dropped out of Grad school and became the best parent I could for my little nugget. At this time I realized how these younger kiddos have very little connection to nature. Not exactly science but just nature and the natural word around us. Watch any child between the ages of 4-8 and they are naturally artists and scientists. They are making sense of the world with all of their senses. They love being outside and have no qualms in drawing a picture for you and explaining what they saw and how they saw it.
At about 8-10 is where the kiddos start to lose this inclination. School may have beat it out of them, or an off handed remark about how boys are better at science or how Suzie made a better picture because she is so talented. Then these kiddos stop drawing, or diving deep into science because they aren't "gifted" or "talented" enough. They become adults who grow up to realize these things made them happy and why did they stop? It is all crap.
Fast forward to 2017 when I found John Muir Laws, another hero and amazing human I knew this was the thing I was looking for. A way to introduce people back into making a better connection to the natural world, being creative again in a way that also allows them to learn about nature and honestly, themselves. I talk about John all the time but for a reminder here is is amazing website:
2019 I had to do the why exercise at work. While my job is in the environmental field and I love the work, is this what is best suited for me personally? I am I using my voice and skills in the best way to move forward the conservation cause I care so much about? I adore teaching and love science communication (hence the whole reason for this website) I have so much knowledge and skills but it doesn't help if I am not sharing them. Cue the Bug Chicks.
If you have met me after about 5 minutes you catch on that I adore invertebrates, I think they are so underappreciated it kills me. The Bug Chicks are "doing the damn thing" trying to teach people how incredible and vital these little creatures are to humans. They also use their teaching to help people understand that insects can actually teach us a lot about ourselves. Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker seem like 2 of the most genuine people on the planet and that is what I strive for. After listening to Kristie's talk about her "why" there is no way I couldn't be inspired. Check out the talk and their website:
Lastly if you haven't read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv please pick it up ASAP. It is an amazing book and will really make you think about the trajectory of our society and the NEED for nature in all of our lives, but defiantly in children's lives.
OK so if you have made it this far, thanks for hanging in there. So here is my why:
To help people of all walks of life, age, and backgrounds to make a better and more creative connection with the natural world around them. To let them know all experiences in the outdoors are valid and putting your experience on paper can range from scientific record to spiritual awakening, to profound revelations about ones self. We need these different experiences and viewpoints to make us all around better observers and better humans. To use all of my skills and abilities to promote the message of conservation and connection with nature and each other.
One day I hope this can be my only focus and I can make a living doing this and conservation art. Until then I will continue promoting this idea, conservation, and the tribe we are building through this practice.