Society and the
A P.A.U.S.E. in Kenya – Project Update, July 3, 2013
Over this past year we have shared with you some of the milestones that have marked our involvement in the P.A.U.S.E. project, funded by the US State Department and designed to further cultural exchange between museums across international borders.
As you know, our partners have been the St. Louis Zoo and the National Museums of Kenya/Nairobi. One of the highlights was our hosting of members of the Nairobi team in April – now it has been our turn and Curator of Exhibitions Ben Johnson and I were privileged to escort two students from our Tucson Team – Celeste Patterson and Keli Beth Smith – to Nairobi for a week in June, accompanied by the St Louis Zoo Team of two students and two staff members.
Hosted by the National Museums of Kenya, our visit included tours of the Museums’ many research labs, hands-on planting in the Pollinator Garden at Uhuru Park, shopping in local craft markets, wildlife watching in Nairobi and Lake Nakuru National Parks, meals of African foods and group presentations where we shared the scope of our grant activities with local dignitaries.
The cultural exchange was a rich one, providing memorable and important experiences for students and staff alike!
A P.A.U.S.E. to Reflect – Project Update, April 12, 2013
This past week we hosted a wonderful group of students and team leaders from our P.A.U.S.E. project partners in Nairobi, Kenya – the National Museum. Dr. Mary Gikungu arrived late Friday night with Lawrence Monda, ICT Manager and three amazing students full of curiosity about Tohono Chul and Tucson – Grace Amboka, Carolyne Kambura and Brook Makonnen. In fact, for two of the students it was their first airplane ride and first trip outside their country.
So, we did it all for them, from a welcome reception on Saturday to a raptor-filled day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, from standing on the beach in Biosphere 2 to a picnic and their first “taste” of snow on Mt. Lemmon, and from classic Mexican fare at El Charro to pizza on 4th Avenue — what a treat for Ben (Tohono Chul Curator of Exhibitions) and I to share our love ofthe Southwest with them! It wasn’t all fun, though, as we also focused on the core subjects of the grant. There was a video conference with St. Louis and Nairobi on sustainable gardening and seed diversity, a tour of the Native Seeds SEARCH facility, a visit to the downtown Mission Gardens to learn about heritage fruit trees and time getting our hands dirty planting summer crops in the Ethnobotanical Garden along with members of our Tucson Student Team.
We were sad to see the students off to St. Louis for their week of cultural exchange with our partners at the St. Louis Zoo, but thrilled to know we will see them again in June when we travel with two Tucson students to Nairobi!
Now that we’ve completed our 4th and final long distance Learning Event video conference, we are well past the halfway mark and into the home stretch of the project, but there’s still lots to do and more updates to come. Stay Tuned!
- Jo Falls, Director of Education, Tohono Chul
Tohono Chul has joined forces with the St. Louis Zoo and the National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi) to involve 30 young people, ages 17-22, in planting pollinator-friendly vegetable gardens and building pollinator habitat sculptures for their local communities. At the same time, the students will reach out to residents of these urban communities, sharing messages about the importance of pollinators, improved pollinator habitats and sustainable gardening.
The year-long project is called P.A.U.S.E for Pollinators/Art/Urban Agriculture/Society/and the Environment. Its nearly $200,000 cost is partially supported by an $86,000 Building Global Communities grant from Museums Connect (formerly Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad) made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums (formerly the American Association of Museums). The remaining costs will be shared by Tohono Chul and its project co-sponsors.
The Museums Connect grant program was established to broaden and strengthen cultural understanding between people in the United States and abroad through collaborative and innovative projects facilitated by museums such as Tohono Chul.
The P.A.U.S.E. partnership allows each of our three institutions to contribute a distinctive and essential perspective on a global issue – the worldwide decline of pollinators. Linked to this issue is that of urban food systems with an emphasis on sustainable agricultural methods that respect the environment and support native pollinators.
Today we are witnessing a worldwide rise in food production costs coupled with an alarming global decline in native pollinators. More than 35% of the world’s food crops – one bite in three at the dinner table – rely on animal pollinators. At the same time, more and more people are living in urban areas (about 80% of the world’s population) without access to fresh and affordable produce.
For many urban populations, it is difficult to visualize open spaces as garden plots or pollinator habitat, creating oases that provide food for both people and pollinators. Many in the city are disconnected from the natural world, losing their sense of place and the importance of their role in protecting and promoting a healthy environment. Since the food cycle from field and farm to market and table is poorly understood, so too is the role of native pollinators in assuring our food supply and the overwhelming threats they face from pesticides, pollution, disease and habitat destruction. While local food movements and urban garden projects are increasing in popularity, many urban areas remain disenfranchised. Recognizing the challenges facing urban populations in preserving wildlife habitat, agricultural practices and food resources, the P.A.U.S.E. Project seeks to facilitate Youth Teams from each city in an exploration of their “roots.”
The P.A.U.S.E. Project
Three Youth Teams consisting of ten students have been recruited from each of the three urban centers, St. Louis, Tucson and Nairobi. The Teams will now interact with Museum staff and community experts in a series of Learning Events that focus on everything from native pollinators and urban gardening to artistic expression and project promotion through a variety of media. These Learning Events take place in each city with Teams linked electronically allowing for shared experiences and “cross-cultural pollination.” This April, members of the Nairobi Team will have the opportunity to travel to both Tucson and St. Louis to work with U.S. Teams face-to-face and one-on-one and two lucky members of the Tohono Chul group will be selected to visit Nairobi in early June. Finally, each Team works with local partners this spring to design and build gardens and pollinator habitats in each city, sharing all they have learned with their wider communities through social media and other methods.
Meet the Tohono Chul Youth Team
A freshman at the University of Arizona and one time Future Farmer of America, Jaclyn is presently majoring in Agricultural Technology and Ag Business. An advocate of sustainability, she hopes to move into the study of viticulture with the long term goal of having her own vineyard one day.
Shubha is a senior at BASIS Tucson North college preparatory school. Her volunteer work includes a year working at the Tucson Village Farm, part of the UofA’s Cooperative Extension Services and the 4-H Clubs. Preserving cultural traditions through food and sustainable agriculture is what interests Shubha the most.
Also at the UofA, Meagan is a junior in Conservation Biology in the School of Natural Resources. After spending two summers in Belize as part of a college course on environmental ethics and world philosophy, she developed a unique perspective on her own community and a future career dedicated to the environment.
Sade is a senior at Mountain View High School, looking forward to enrolling in MIT next year to pursue a possible career as a biomedical engineer. A former member of the Marana Community Food Bank’s Youth Farm Project, she is familiar with all aspects of food production from planting to harvesting and is eager to share her experiences.
A junior at the UofA, Lauren’s studies are focused on Conservation Biology with an eye to future field work as a researcher. A world traveler, she loves connecting with new cultures and finding ways to share her passion for the natural world in all its iterations.
Celeste, a junior in Biology at the UofA, is thinking about moving into wildlife rehabilitation when she finishes her studies next year. As an International Student Volunteer, she spent several weeks in a small village in Ecuador helping the residents build food producing gardens in their community and at their school and currently does lab work for a professor studying invasive plant species.
Mongolia was the destination for Anik, a University High School senior, when she participated in another State Department sponsored youth exchange program where she studied environmental issues like water and mining. She also volunteers with the 4-H High Ropes Course which uses experiential education to teach youth leadership and life skills.
Keli Beth Smith
Sculpture is Keli’s calling. She is currently studying fine arts at Pima Community College, but she also has experience tending the goats on her mother’s farm, working on an organic farm in Canada, managing a community garden in Ann Arbor and harvesting desert plants for food and medicine.