A letter to my nephew and nieces…

Dear Alex, Georgia, Olivia & Madeleine,

This year, I asked a 5th & 6th year class at a local school to join me and four other artists/teachers as the 2007 Parade Design Team. We’ve been meeting now, each Friday for the past three weeks and will continue until Earth Day–designing the parade and helping build it. These 30 students get to help us figure out the way we will “illustrate” the theme—which is “Global Warming-The Tipping Point”. The parade is a storytelling parade–divided into parade sections, which are nature’s five elements: air, fire, water, earth and center/spirit. We have it divided up so that 5-6 kids work with an artist/teacher and each take on one of the parade sections.

I’m the section leader for the Fire Section and my team of kids has come up with a crazy good idea for our float, puppets and masked “flock” (Each section has a group of similarly masked and costumed characters, we call a flock.). In our fire section, we are learning about global warming—we’ve decided to look at how animal agriculture causes more co2 (carbon dioxide) production, which leads to major runoff pollution and creates more global warming.

What we are learning is that BIG farms, with thousands and thousands of cows or pigs or chickens that are being raised for meat for supermarkets and places like McDonalds, are very unhealthy places for the animals themselves and causing a lot of environmental damage.

Did you know that one cow poops and pees up to 50# every day? This creates something called methane gas–which is part of the Co2 chain and a big part of the Global Warming problem.. Disgusting to think about 50# of dooky, but true. Now, imagine thousands and thousands of cows in one small area doing that EVERY day. It is super concentrated and super disgusting. It can actually burn it’s so strong. Yuck. What happens then is the dooky and cow pee seeps into the ground and eventually ends up in rivers and streams and that is MAJOR disgusting pollution.

As a gardener, I love using animal dung as compost to help “feed” the soil. I even learned to make a compost tea with llama poop last year. Here’s the recipe: take one shovel load of poop put it in a 5-gallon bucket and add water. Let it sit in the sun for 2 or 3 days, and then water your plants with it. They get a wonderful dose of very refreshing, compost tea! You can do this with your rabbit dooky. Rabbit poop is a very good manure to use in your garden. Anyways, manure is good for the earth. But TOO much is destructive, and that is what these factory farms are like. TOO big.

Okay, so we are taking this information and trying to make sense of it and formulate a creative solution for farm-animals with our fire-section in the parade. We’ll likely have several characters that hang out with the float, and we’ll have to come up with some kind of musical/band to accompany us. So far we have come up with these ideas: a giant Phoenix, a Giant Sun Puppet, Fire-Rebels on roller skates, a Dragon, a Giant Cow/Sun float with it’s mouth wide open, Cow and Pig Demons and some kind of Methane balls or rattles with a message about global warming inside of them…..We’re still in the planning and drawing stages….we hope to begin building some masks and costumes next week.

Why not ask your parents to come up and be in the Fire Section for the parade on April 21st? We’re gonna need help with that big Cow float….

love, Aunt Penny

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