Beyond the IBP and TPOTS

Here at the Upper New, we have tons of ELxD projects extending beyond the IBP (Interactive Basin Project) and The Pulse Of The Species (TPOTS). These incidental ecoliterate learning experiences are in various stages of design and development.

Read on through to find out how each of these projects is intended to complement or interact with the IBP and TPOTS as extended learning experiences.

Here’s a link to our pilot map of TPOTS and the IBP, using GaiaGPS.

Research Narratives

What are research narratives?  For anyone conducting any kind of research, we want to hear the story of the research.  

How would you explain your work to a middle school student audience?  This is a teaching and learning scenario.

Ideally, submitted research narratives could be placed on the map in the IBP, contextualized in geolocation for TPOTS engagement.  We’ve published one example of a research narrative on our website: Connect-The-Dots (by Stacy Boone).

We usually have a submission window open for Research Narratives for most of the year, with occasional breaks.

Visual Narratives

We hope creative people, visual narrative contributors will “pitch” a series of photos or daily hand sketches as a potential longitudinal “photo essay plus” that will be an ongoing story about exploring one or more basin neighborhoods/communities.  Ideally the image series should be daily and contiguous (7-14 days for the pitched series).

Our first thematic focus will be “Basin Stories” – so this is an almost seamless tie-in to the TPOTS project and IBP.  We hope to prompt pitches using the geocaches and kiosks placed throughout the basin.  Ideally folks will be able to download instructions to help them craft stories to pitch.

We intend to build a few of our own examples as well.

This is something we’ve codenamed “permagram.”   We are looking to bring in creatives as long term “permagrammers” to contribute to ongoing projects that will lead to visual publications in various forms and themes.

We should be able to make an official project announcement sometime in 2024.

Eco Challenges

As a learning focused organization, The Upper New is creating opportunities for people to challenge their conceptions and perceptions of reality (and our relationships with this reality), as a form of environmental education, so to speak.  One type of opportunity is something we’re calling Eco Challenges. You can read more about how we developed the concept on our Eco Challenges page.

Our hope is that TPOTS and the IBP will serve as mechanisms to encourage more and more people to accept and complete one or more Eco Challenges!  Currently have four eco-challenges live:

  • Eco Challenge: Write Me A Letter
  • Eco Challenge: The Soundtrack of Our Lives
  • Eco Challenge: Unplugged
  • Eco Challenge: Where Is Your Bioregion?

We have published an essay on our website that is a response to the Soundtrack of Our Lives eco-challenge

We’re working on a bunch more Eco Challenges as 2024 progresses!  A few concepts include: 

  • Can You Get There? (Wayfinding)
  • The Little Things (Subtle Changes)
  • Contain Yourself (Packaging)
  • Is That App Any Good?
  • Smart Cities?  Smart Basins?
  • Be Still, Now.
  • A (Sense of) Place To Live.

Eco Critical Reviews

One of our ongoing initiatives is to generate and publish a form of critical media reviews that we are calling an eco-critical review.  In 2024, this is a new endeavor for us, and we are still forming the boundaries of what, specifically, an eco-critical review is.

However, in a similar fashion to the connection with Eco Challenges, we are hoping that TPOTS and the IBP will connect The Upper New with people who wish to complete such reviews and would want to send us proposals for various types of eco-critical reviews.

We see this as one way that TPOTS and the IBP can inspire and foster critical ecological literacy.

Stewardship Stories

We are currently working with select individuals across the United States to begin developing stewardship stories, which are, essentially stories about how to do ecological stewardship.

What does it look like to do stewardship in reality?  What are all the ways stewardship can be practiced? Where is stewardship happening?

Stewardship stories can take many forms, starting as hybrid nonfiction works that may include audiovisual elements.  We’d love to see these stories transform into a podcast series, or perhaps a documentary video series we can host on Vimeo or YouTube.  In service of providing these stories as open educational resources (OER) we envision offering all of these media elements with Creative Commons licensing.

We are building our own stewardship stories as well, such as tracking the growth of several species of amphibians adjacent to Little Glade Creek in Glade Valley, North Carolina.

For TPOTS and the IBP, we envision putting these stewardship stories “on the map” to serve as models for aspiring stewards anywhere in the biosphere.  We want to inspire more people to figure out the many possibilities there are for actually DOING stewardship.

If you’re interested in creating and sharing stewardship stories, please be in touch via email!

Perturbations: Features

We’re working on a feature article series called Perturbations.  Our concept for the Perturbations series consists of concise, well-researched evidence-based position papers (approximately 5000-6000 words) hosting disruptive perspectives about the relationship between humans, commerce, industry, and the biosphere (e.g., the “Deep Shifts” of the Fourth Industrial Revolution).

We want to foster systems wisdom and begin encouraging paradigm shifts as leverage points for intervening with complex systems, as part of a pathway to critical ecological literacy.

We should be able to make an official project announcement sometime in 2024.

For TPOTS and the IBP, we envision putting these stewardship stories “on the map” to serve as conversation starters across the biosphere.  We think many of these perturbations could be translated into podcast episodes, and we hope that many of them would lead to various discussion forms and panels, which we could host in a hybrid fashion, record, and release as OER.

Readers’ Theater

If you’re not familiar with the concept of readers’ theater, essentially it is a form of dramatic play where the actors read scripts live on stage, using inflection and tone to convey character to the audience.  No costumes, no sets.  This type of performance lends itself to recording for podcasts.

In Encounters with the Archdruid, John McPhee chronicles debate dialogues between former director of the Sierra Club, David Brower and three different men: Charles Park, Charles Fraser, and Floyd Dominy.  Many of these debates could easily be translated from the book into script format and performed as readers theater.

We hope for creative people around the world to draft scripts and submit them to us for consideration.  We’d produce the readers’ theater and release the performances as podcast episodes (or standalone productions).

For TPOTS and the IBP, we envision putting these theater episodes “on the map”, allowing curious learners to listen while looking at the map, or even, if possible, listen while occupying the physical space that is the setting for the story conveyed in the theater episode.

The Eco Bibliography

As part of our quest to foster critical ecological literacy, we plan to build and host an annotated bibliography, over time.  Our bibliography will have a twist.  An ecological twist.

One way to think about our eco bibliography: it will be a sort of reference guide for books that need to, or deserve, to remain in print.  Part of our approach to the annotation process will be to qualify the value of the resource in terms of whether or not that resource should continue to have a justifiable carbon footprint (either as printed ephemera using paper from trees, or as a digital entity consuming electricity when engaged with by consumers).

We’re still figuring out the relevance of the connection between such a bibliography and TPOTS and the IBP, but we imagine there will be some place-based elements to each entry into the bibliography, which might have some connection and interest for learners engaging with TPOTS and the IBP.

Seminars and Workshops

As an educational nonprofit, we plan to develop and offer a variety of seminars and workshops over time, offered both in-person and in hybrid formats.

Generally speaking, these workshops would be conducted in a hybrid environment online for people anywhere in the world to sign up and submit their work for review over the course of several months, meeting on a regular basis, probably weekly, most likely monthly, maybe bi-weekly.  In-person versions would function in the same system, with the exception of regular meetings happening entirely in real physical spaces.

Our first workshop in development centers around hybrid nonfiction publication, and how to create such works for publication.  We want to teach people how to be better writers in a multimedia hybrid digital format such as online publishing, taking advantage of the fact that they can provide supplementary materials that complement the words and pictures they put together to make an argument or explanation.  This could also include things like data visualizations and interactive media that allow for additional exploration as well as the inclusion of or how to write for preparation of audiobook formats that allow for people to listen while they look.  The nature of the writing will be one that involves the use of archival research through places like the Library of Congress (or anything that offers public domain resources) as well as creative Commons.

We see TPOTS and the IBP as one way to bring these workshops to the attention of interested learners.  We can also encourage workshop participants to submit completed works (or reflections) to become part of the TPOTS/IBP content archive, available through all modalities of interface with the project map, etc.

Other workshops/seminars we are considering for development include:

  • Deconstructing Anthropocentrism: Ecocentric Perspectives for Learning Content Creation and Delivery
  • Understanding the Principles of Systems Wisdom
  • Eco-Critical Engagement: Deep Shifts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Changing Our Minds: Pragmatizing Systems Thinking Mindset Shifts

If you’re interested in participating in the design of these workshops, or would be interested in participating as a student when we launch, please be in touch via email!