Wednesday, June 3, 2015

River Journey Poem

The River Journey poem puts some of the essential questions and goals of the project into poetic form.
"How do we know the water's worth?"
"What is flowing in our sink?"
"Please speak a word for water's worth."

How to use this poem...
At the beginning of River Journey, on August 27, 2014, in opening circle, staff and the guest River Journey leader recited the opening poem, titled for the project. This launched the River Journey experience for the year. After the poem, a River's Edge teacher led an interactive water-values activity, passing around a pitcher of water from the school's kitchen sink and inviting the holder to say what they value about water.

In Fall: The poem was recited also at Kaposia Landing, after the students completed their journey from upstream to downstream - connecting their sink to the Mississippi River in both directions.

Recently: The poem was imprinted on the shelves of an artwork for the project, called Journey Bottles.

Today: The poem was recited in opening circle today, as part of a closing ceremony.

More about the poem
River Journey is designed based on the Earth Systems Journey (ESJ) model for art-led environmental education. The ESJ model builds from an aesthetic/artistic core concept, or a “poetic infrastructure.” The poem serves as the overarching “story” of what is going on, and is also a departure point, or preamble, to the student and staff creative/scholarly work that will further develop the project. It is like the creative/aesthetic/poetic “skeleton” that student creative/scholarly work “fleshes out.” The poetic skeleton is reflected in the project title, guiding words/text, and at least some of the art/interactive activities.

This poem was inspired by the path of water through the school, the planned journey, the chosen focal point of water flowing through the school (the kitchen sink),  and on the research question (quest) that the staff posed about value. The title of the poem uses the short version of the title the staff chose for their application of the Earth Systems Journey at River’s Edge Academy. The first four verses come from “The Downstream/Upstream Song,” also by Jonee for a similar project, and reflects the common water story shared with that Earth Systems Journey—and our larger collective shared water story.

This is a working poem; it's job is to remind project leaders and participants of the underlying story and the underlying questions of the experience.

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