Planting the Seeds for Environmental Stewardship

I worked on an environmental art project with a local Catholic school this fall, thanks to a great collaboration between Arts for Children and Youth (AFCY) and the Friends of Roseneath Park.  Roseneath is a small park located in central Toronto, sadly neglected and full of litter from a nearby parking lot, until the Friends group contacted AFCY to help deepen the community’s sense of connection to it.  They started with a community mural project this last summer – a photo of part of it is below.  I was invited to work with local school children in grades 3 and 4 to heighten their awareness of the park, and hopefully strengthen their sense of stewardship for it.  We used a ‘treasures and troubles’ approach, searching for the environmental strengths and challenges of their schoolyard at first, and then the park, working towards growing an understanding that both humans and more-than-humans share a desire for an environment that is free of garbage, with clean air, water, and lots of trees and plants.  The children relished an opportunity to learn outside, even in the chilly weather of late October, and took wonderful photographs of the treasures and troubles they found in the park – one example is below, of a maple leaf on a park bench (both treasures from the perspective of the young photographer.)  Back in the classroom, their drawings, photos and words formed the basis of their own sculptural books, one way to share what they have learned about local stewardship with others.

Roseneath MosaicPark treasures      T&T book



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