Elevating community concern around any constituency requires raised awareness of a problem, and the actual constituents to demonstrate a need. Polar Bears would obviously find themselves right at the bottom in the Sound Shore area. But the kids in the Roots & Shoots program at the Mamaroneck Library realized that ignoring the plight of this distinct local minority puts us all in the same sink or swim situation.
With the temperature of the Earth rising, Polar Bears are losing the ice flows that serve as pit stops in their oceanic fishing trips of survival, according Children’s Librarian Marcia Hupp, who has been advising the 3rd grade (and up) activists since 2000. Swimming until they sink, she says, that makes everyone a little emotional so choosing that program last year was a no brainer.
Part of a national organization founded by Chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall, Roots and Shoots requires school age children to take on causes of their choosing that impacts people, animals and the environment. They made posters, filmed public service announcements and turned cupcake making (and selling) into a bit of drama. “One of the kids wrote a script about a bunch of kid chefs that were demonstrating how to make to make Polar Bear cupcakes,” she says.
Turning out to be pretty cute, she says, the whole affair was turned into a DVD by the local cable TV station, and the kids had no problem giving top billing to a walk-on without a speaking role. At the Bronx Zoo, she recalled, as the kids were getting a special Q & A tour from the experts, the resident Polar Bear was splashing around in the background and putting a show on for the camera.
Universally appealing, she says, and Roots & Shoots has the hardware to back up the claim. “Hanging on by a Claw,” was the national winner in the children’s category at the Hometown Video Festival.
In past years, the acclaim has been a bit more limited, but the inspiration hasn’t. Using the rising number of frog species on the endangered species list as an environmental yardstick, they made similar outreach to the community in hopes of increasing our amphibious attention span. “The more people who are concerned, the more chance there is to make a difference,” she says.
Of course, sometimes the best approach is a more direct one. Two years ago “Roots” was promoting green roofs in a season that there was extensive water damage to many structures in the area. “There are various succulent plants that had they been planted on roofs they would have absorbed much of the water and the damage,” she says.
Acting mostly as a facilitator to keep things moving, she says, “they handle all aspects of these projects and achieving a cooperative consensus is a process they are learning about,” she says, and in that, they are cultivating the most crucial natural resource we have.
Rich Monetti interview of Marcia Hupp