Monday, August 18, 2014

A big day at the Science & Sustainability Community Expo.

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday, and many hundreds of people moved between the numerous stalls and activities at the Community Science & Sustainability Expo, at the Kent Street Weir on the Canning River in Wilson, here in Perth Western Australia. 
Part of National Science Week, this event was based around the Canning River Eco Education Centre. Tragically, we have a Federal Government made up of climate change deniers, who do not believe in science, who de-fund scientific research and who are committed to dismantling anything related to renewable energy! However, despite this tragedy, it is great to know that out there in the community there are hoards of people like you and me who do value science and are committed to reducing our footprint on the planet! It was a joy to be at the Expo today for all that it stood for.

Busy busy. People galore.

Mind you, I didn't get to see a lot of the exhibits, as I was absolutely flat out with the woodworking activity we were running today. Bursting out of our three 3m x 3m gazebos, we had 9 of the small benches out, with 27 hammers out, and 4 saws at the sawing station. For much of the day there was a queue of people waiting for a hammer to become available. I do a lot of festival gigs in the year, so I have a good idea of how much wood I would expect to go through at an event such as this... however today we used up far more than I could have imagined! We all but ran out of the pieces of wood that I take to these events.
Two big drums and 5 bags worth. It was a lot of wood, which generated a lot of pleasure as it was transformed by kids and adults into an amazing array of creations using only saws, hammers and nails. Wonderful stuff.

Parents and kids alike experiencing the joy of wood together.
Hardly room to move.
Part of our broader message.
Wood recycling fits in with the whole sustainability message. All of my benches are made from recycled timber, and all of the pieces of wood the kids use have all been rescued from the waste stream too. These small pieces of plywood and pine are cut up by me. It is a constant process, keeping up the supply for school and festival gigs. A big source of this material is beautiful Yellow Pine from the USA - from packing crates, which I gather up, de-nail, cut up into little pieces and bag up. This lovely material, which we also use for much of the project work we do with kids in schools, is much nicer than any Pinus radiata or Pinus pinaster we grow in Australia due to the closeness of the growth rings. Our climate is too mild and even. The European grown pine similarly has nice close growth rings. I get a bit of that in packing crates too.  

Some things take a serious amount of concentration!
Megan shows a few tricks at a bench.

It is great to see kids and parents creating things together. It is one of the reasons our activity is such an assett to any festival or public event. It helps to build community, invites participation from the passing throng, and sends kids back out into the crowd clutching their aeroplane, dolls furniture, or whatever they have made, with beaming faces. They have also left with a few new skills and experiences up their sleeve.
Then there are the messages: the importance of wood in the broader scheme of sustainable living; the simple pleasures of hand tool woodworking; the benefits of us creating things together away from isolating electronic gismos; and the way using hand tools helps to foster body awareness and hand-to-eye co-ordination.
... and that is just the start of it!   

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