Making Contact: A Neuro Eco Ed Art Inquiry Into Collective Healing Using The Culture Of Bees As A Lens To Look At Home
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In this paper, I discussed 'making contact' as a way of connecting and transforming the perception of our individual and collective sense of 'place'. The premise was that, given the severity of climate change, and the complexity of collective, cultural change, we need a methodology and praxis that shifts the hierarchical societal schema to one that sees our fellow earthlings (animals, insects, plants) as our allies. I used arts-based methods of research and arts-based environmental education, combined with mindfulness meditation, to investigate becoming nature-based allies. Through this process, I hoped I could help myself and others to see the land as a 'place' filled with a multitude of varied, intelligent life forms, as opposed to a 'space' full of resources to use and discard. I did four community arts projects which used different mediums to investigate how we can belong, to ourselves and on the earth. I did this using bees as a metaphor for making our home on earth. Whether individually or communally, bees take on the responsibility of pollinating plants, thus ensuring that many beings may eat, live, and reproduce. These projects included an arts-based, environmental education lesson about bees; an environmental advocacy mockumentary about a mythical super bee in Maloca Garden; a series of outdoor, meditation and mask-making workshops; and a sculptural and sound installation of a human-sized beehive. I reflected on those four projects, and linked my reflections to the work of many diverse scholars who discussed themes of decolonization, imagination, community arts, education, meditation, storytelling and shamanism, in an attempt to show how these projects related to my idea of 'making contact'. The lessons that I learned were many and varied, including the immense need for quiet, meditative, arts-based spaces which help folks connect to their imagination, sense of wonder, and hope for the future of our planet.