Elkins, WV, To Use The Ducks & Us Songbook Movie

Friendly, well-meaning neighbors and wildlife can make for a sour cocktail, as Barbara Nash of Elkins, West Virginia, discovered. She thought the ducks in her yard were cute when she moved there in 2006. Since then, the population of nesting ducks has ballooned, with neighbors frequently venturing onto her property to watch and share human food. The ducks stay all winter and prevent her from maintaining a garden or a manicured yard.

Ms. Nash petitioned her city council, leading to action by a city council member and the USDA Wildlife Services. Forty-nine ducks were euthanized by USDA Wildlife Services in May, 2010, in spite of a petition with 1000 signatures to leave the ducks alone.

There is a lasting solution, however: education. If the ducks were not lured from their natural river habitat by the promise of human-food handouts, then they may return to their normal population levels and migration patterns. The potential for disease and pollution could be minimized or avoided all together. And Ms. Nash might well get her yard back.

The mayor of Elkins found out about The Ducks & Us Songbook Movie, and plans to use it in a city-supported education campaign. “We’re pro-active advocates of education, art and consensus building, ” said Elkins mayor Duke Talbott in a phone call. After hearing a description of the movie’s human-inclusive narrative aimed at social change through better understanding of the needs of people and wildlife, Talbott said “We want to accomplish exactly those goals.”

For further detail:

The Ducks & Us On The Radio

Pamela Sackett was interviewed about The Ducks & Us Songbook Movie Sunday, July 18, 2010, on ‘Conversations’ with Lizz Sommars on these stations:

  • KMTT, 103.7 FM, ‘The Mountain’, between 6:00 – 7:00 a.m.
  • KISW, 99.9 FM, ‘The Rock’, between 6:00 – 7:00 a.m.
  • KKWF, 100.7 FM, ‘The Wolf’, between 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.
  • KNDD, 107.7 FM, ‘The End’, between 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.

The interview is also available on KMTT’s web site, www.kmtt.com. (Must scroll way down to find…click the black play button by the speaker icon on a gray background.)

The Ducks & Us Heads To The Movies

What do Columbia City Cinema, a one-stop, triple-screen neighborhood movie house seated in the most ethnically diverse zip code in America and Far Away Entertainment, a nine-location movie house with over thirty screens in the state of Washington have in common? Come July and August, both are getting behind Emotion Literacy Advocates (ELA)—a local, arts-based non-profit using the arts to promote social-emotional learning—by booking ELA’s latest creation: The Ducks & Us Song Book Movie.

Slotted as a pre-feature attraction, The Ducks & Us Song Book Movie is a children’s-style musical story with illustration, animation and video by Art Institute of Seattle interns and background vocals from the Northwest Boychoir. In under seven minutes, the movie wraps reading literacy, environmental literacy and emotion literacy into an empathic message for anyone who thinks bringing left-over bread, seeds and table scraps to the park benefits wildlife.

The big screen version is based on ELA’s learning tool, The Ducks & Us, an original song CD and study guide by ELA’s founding artist Pamela Sackett. The CD was incorporated into Seattle Audubon learning programs in 2008 and is distributed through the education and outreach arm of the Graham Visitors Center at Washington Park Arboretum. The concept grew out of Sackett’s devotion to healthy urban parks and her frustration, after spending a year trying to convince the city to post signs in strategic places.

“Apparently I have no fond memories of sharing my food with ducks, so I was free to embrace the science. I trusted the facts and wished I could convey their relevance to many park visitors who throw pizza, cookies, crackers, burritos and bread, thinking that wildlife needs it.” After her daily walk in the park, Sackett spent several months gently offering Progressive Animal Welfare Society flyers to folks, attempting to substantiate her requests to curtail the activity.

At an early point, a city of Seattle Parks and Recreation employee offered to assist. She approached an older man throwing food from his truck and, later, let Sackett know the man did not comprehend her request to stop. Sackett decided then to delve deeper, observe and converse with a wide range of people throwing food in the park.

“I came to understand how incomplete the science part of the equation can be, especially when it comes to behavior change. Just about every human circumstance has a social-emotional component, ” said Sackett. “An artfully told story can let people know they are heard and understood, as well as convey new information.”

Sackett parlayed quite a bit of good will in support of The Ducks & Us Song Book Movie project. A substantial in-kind contribution from Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, a Los Angeles-based company, will enable ELA’s digital movie to be projected on a sixty-foot cinema screen.

“I am confident that wherever The Ducks & Us Song Book Movie goes, so too will go an opportunity to learn how to engage with more open eyes, ” said Sackett.

Look for The Ducks & Us Song Book Movie at Columbia City Cinema and Far Away Entertainment screens in July and August. For more information, the tour schedule and to see The Ducks & Us Song Book Movie trailer, click here.

Click here for the PDF of this news item.

ELA Participates in Summer Event

Emotion Literacy Advocates™ (ELA) joined with the city of Seattle in the “Healthy Parks, Healthy You” event, Saturday, August 22, 2009, at Seward Park.

ELA gave out informational brochures and spoke with dozens of participants about The Ducks & Us Song CD and study guide, which was inspired by activities in Seward Park.

Our thanks to the Windermere Foundation and Silvia Wilson for support and enthusiasm in our educational mission!

The Northwest Boys Choir Sings for The Ducks & Us

ELA is developing a new learning tool entitled The Ducks & Us—an original song CD with study guide. The Ducks & Us focuses on wildlife safety and protection and compassionately juxtaposes the science of wildlife protection with the social-emotional nature of human engagement with wildlife.

ELA is excited that Northwest Boys Choir, conducted by Ben Kromholtz, elected to participate. Kromholtz arranged harmonies for the choir and directed the boys at an ELA-coordinated recording session at KUOW studios, September 24, 2007, engineered by Guy Nelson.

The recording session was a first for many of the choir members, ranging in age from 8 to 11, and gave them valuable experience in the rigors of recording, such as maintaining quiet and intense focus for long periods of time. The boys performed flawlessly, even with some last-minute changes in harmonies.

The Ducks & Us artfully demonstrates—through stories gleaned from a year of researching duck “feeders” in urban parks—hearing, understanding and including human needs with non-human realities for a systemic approach to environmental care and protection.

ELA is in process of study guide completion, working with a number of environmental educators and scientists—from Seattle City Parks, Audubon, PAWS, WA State Fish and Wildlife, Pacific Science Center and other non-profit environmental protection agencies—interested in integrating this learning tool into their programs. ELA is developing a web site for an interactive public awareness campaign and plans to offer the song in choral arrangement for youth groups and schools.

For further details, song samples, study guide excerpts and sponsorship information, contact ducksandus AT emolit DOT org.

Windermere Foundation Supports ELA at Street Fair

The Windermere Foundation joined with Emotion Literacy Advocates™ (ELA) to provide The Full Spectrum Birthday Song to children and families at the 2008 Educational Resource Street Fair.

Thanks to this generous sponsorship, over two hundred families now have a vital message of love and acceptance. In addition, ELA staff and volunteers gave away “Five Ways To Think Favorably About Feelings” brochures and raised awareness of the essential role of social-emotional education.