A South African capacity development initiative that works with children and their educators in diverse communities. Earth Junkies promotes ecological citizenship by creating learning arenas which foster lasting, empathetic relationships with nature, and aim to eventually reach thousands of children globally and leave communities it touches enriched and enabled through a narrative project centred around a story about Mother Earth who is sick, and has a fever.
We at the Earth Junkies Foundation believe that kids are often more closely connected to the earth and wiser about it than we give them credit for. During this time of climate change, we see them as the leaders of learning to live more wisely with the earth. The Earth Junkies Imagination Adventure learns from children in communities around the world to encourage and empower existing positive relationships with nature. The abilities we hope to inspire and build on include imagination, empathy and creative action to enable each child to find their way of speaking for and nurture their environments and to respect lessons from their own cultures.
With the funding we’ve received from APE, we can continue our work with children across South Africa and further refine and develop our practice in preparation for an overland journey from Cape Town, South Africa to Amsterdam, Holland which will commence in March next year. Through the journey, we will get to work with many, many different communities, whose collaborations will be shared with each other, building an Earth Junkies network of people who can continue to share with each other.
Part of the experience is each child imaginatively thinking about their promise to Mother Earth. These emerge through carefully crafted creative strategies that encourage different expressive forms such as drawing, writing, storytelling and movement. These promises are then put together into a document of what children want for the earth: the world’s first Global Children’s Charter for the Rights of Mother Earth which will act as a voice for children in international environmental negotiations and also contributes to the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth drafted in April 2010 in Bolivia.
We have already worked with hundreds of children across South Africa and the funds awarded to us by APE will allow us to refining our methodology through a new summer programme starting in November 2012 which focuses on:
- Seeing, feeling, and exploring Mother Earth all around us.
- Imagining what it must be to be other living things.
- Articulating our values about the natural world around us.
- Contributing to the Children’s Charter for the Rights of Mother Earth.
UPDATE ON EARTH JUNKIES, JANUARY 2014
Earth Junkies is an on going project, with the distinct aim to build a GLOBAL CHILDREN’S CHARTER FOR THE RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH. That being said we have strategized our work into distinctive phases: 1. Sprouting, 2. Tree-Trunk, and 3. Branching. Our project model is based on the growing of a tree, and we like to see the Children’s Charter and the Earth Junkies facilitation of this charter in this way. We are still in the sprouting phase, and our APE UK grant was used to help us germinate some of our primary ideas and plans. This grant has certainly helped us develop some roots and to clarify and consolidate not just what we want to do, but HOW we want to do it. The most important part of this phase was collaborating with a widely diverse group of children, and to find ways to ensure they are contributing to the project as individuals, and are not merely guided by adults.
Earth Junkies had a busy year last year, as we push further into Africa and discover new bright young minds and radiant hearts, and with their help perfected our methodology for building the First Global Children’s Charter for the Rights of Mother Earth. With our APE UK grant we managed to work in two different rural communities, Hekpoort in South Africa and the community of Mala, in the Manda Winderness on the shores of lake Malawi in Mozambique. In Hekpoort, we worked with a school for five days, developing our approach to creative social learning for ecological citizenship. We worked with the children and teachers alike to develop new ways to approach environmental education using sensory personal experience and imaginal-story-telling. We were able to consolidate this work in the community of Manda, and we also collaborated with the Manda Wilderness foundation working with their team who focus on community conservation. In Manda we conducted five days of workshops and worked with each child individually and then in groups. We also developed a new approach to developing portraits of young ecological citizens aka “Earth Junkies”, and we took these pictures back to the community, so that the children could see themselves as a individual contributors and developers of the First Global Children’s Charter for the rights of Mother Earth. Almost all of these children had not seen their own pictures before, and were so proud of their contribution to this global effort towards protecting the rights of Mother Earth.
We have now gathered 726 days contributions to the children’s charter and are sharing each child’s promise and commitment on our Facebook page. Through this experience and action-based research we realised that we would have a greater impact using social media, radio and television, and have adjusted our work to focus on capitalising on this impact.
This is the link to our new web movie (just a small note about our domain, we have had problems with our website, and so we have the earthjunkies.org site on hold for the time being and are using www.earthjunkies.weebly.com Here is the video link): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdQhb3m9TXE
A side note is that through this work with Earth Junkies, we have also been able to create another project that emerges with the same goals and ethos of our EJ work. The goal is to encourage ecologically sensitive and ethical tourism, and that engages people with their own inner realities and inspires them to reflect on their impact on the planet when traveling and going on vacation. We found that this is also a fantastic platform to promote those projects and destinations which are doing good. This project is entitled the Good Holiday, and our work with the children and community in Manda has been captured in this article on the site: http://thegoodholiday.com/a-lens-into-mala/