The Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project (CWPP) began distributing two new local wildlife cards at the Honk! Parade on October 8, 2017.
Raúl Gonzalez III drew urban raccoons for one of the new cards. Known as Raúl the Third, Gonzalez is the Pura Belpre award-winning illustrator of Lowriders to the Center of the Earth and Lowriders in Space.
Organizers say the Cambridge Wildlife trading card series is intended to be a child-friendly form of informal biodiversity education. At the 2016 Honk! Parade, the community organization launched the series by distributing free Great Blue Heron and Wandering Glider dragonfly trading cards.
The CWPP, an unincorporated nonprofit community association, also unveiled a new giant backpack puppet depicting a Northern Cardinal as it marched in the parade. Children at two community workshops created the cardboard feathers for the puppet. The Beautiful Stuff Project‘s resident artist, James Holton Fox, created the bird’s head and put the puppet components together.
“When people normally think of cities, they think of pigeons and squirrels.”
High school student volunteer puppeteers roamed Harvard Square on October 9 distributing the cards. One depicts a pair of foraging raccoons, one peering out from inside a garbage can. as well as cards featuring another local species, the Red-winged Blackbird. The blackbird card features an illustration by local independent “not-at-home”-schooler Amireh Rezaei-Kamalabad.
“I’ve always lived in Cambridge, so I was excited to do an illustration that related to native species in my home city,” writes Rezaei-Kamalabad. She continues, “When asked to draw a red-winged blackbird, it reminded me of the first time I ever learned about them. In middle school one of my science teachers took us on a field trip to Danehy Park to observe the wildlife there. That was when the teacher first pointed out the Red-winged Blackbird and how it likes the marshy reeds at the bottom of Danehy’s hill.”
“I’m always surprised to learn about the variety of animals that live in Cambridge. When people normally think of cities, they think of pigeons and squirrels. But, learning about the many other animals that live in the city serve as an important reminder that the place we’ve built our home was originally belong to these animals. Art is a great lens to learn about biodiversity through and it allows people to make very personal connections to nature and the environment. Being able to participate in the trading card project has been a great way to use my artistic skills for raising awareness.”
Cambridge Wildlife, the Honk! marching group associated with Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project, participated for its fifth year in the parade from Davis Square, Somerville, to Harvard Square on October 8th.
The small but multigenerational group featured an owl stick puppet, original made by a father-son duo at Cambridge’s Center for Families at a CWPP workshop in 2015 led by Sarah Peattie, of the Puppeteer’s Cooperative. The owl was renovated this year by volunteer high school artist Miriam Álvarez-Rosenbloom.
In 2016–17, the Cambridge Arts Council awarded the CWPP funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council Local Cultural Council grant program for the second time, enabling the production of trading cards as well as other activities. Click here to sign up for updates from the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project.