Soundscape Support Team

Sharing Soundscape Awareness & Advocacy

Can we actively 'reach into cyberspace' and help connect people to the wild through technology? And how do we encourage the upcoming generation of 'digital natives' to have direct experience of the natural world, outside of the wired one? Is *virtual nature* a viable alternative for the urban-locked ecologist? These discussions can help form the direction for future efforts and how we address bioacoustics in the 21st Century. Kick off the conversation and add your thoughts.

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I've found that with friends who found out what I do, after listening to my recordings they often comment later about an experience in their backyard that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. You know, something simple like a common sparrow on the lawn eating a snail. To me that's a positive influence , they took time to look outside of themselves and contemplate nature, something us urbanites don't do very often...
I suppose you could say that if you can't take them to nature, take nature to them. If that means via the internet then thats all good, the message is the important part, not how they get the message.
just my thoughts...

Yes, Grant, I totally agree with you. However recorded soundscapes are shared (tape, CD, online), the real benefit is that hearing compelling soundscapes can open listeners' ears to the places where they live. And Kat, I suppose that the urban human may well revel in "virtual" experiences of nature's voices, if these are not readily accessible where they live, though i must say that it's so hard for me to imagine this sensory deprivation on an ongoing basis!!

I am finding myself seeking out interesting online radio players, generally hosted by a particular label (this week i am totally loving radio!). This lets me sink into a particular genre or tone of music for awhile; complementing this is various online services that provide a more eclectic mix.

With EarthEar's recent relaunch, we're trying three approaches to online sound: generous samples on each CD page, a popup EarthEar Radio loaded with between 2 and 3 hours of diverse tracks, and a sound blog. We just got going, with minimal outreach so far, so I can't report on what folks are finding the most interesting among these.

It is wonderful when you see the 'light go on' in people's faces when they realize there is a word for a thought they hardly knew they had, '...soundscape'! It's as if we suddenly help people find their wolf ears. Opening these perceptions amid the busyness of today - or at least providing the reminder that a rich, sonic world is at risk - is a cheerful task to my thinking. Playing recordings, sharing stories about accessing the natural world, even through connection to media, is a worthwhile and important effort. Each bit of energy: mental, physical, and practical that we commit to present the acoustic side of wilderness, wildlife, creativity, and our role in protecting or expressing it is a way of extending the accessibility to others. Love the idea of sound blogs beginning to become more specific as the community galvanizes.

Hi everyone, first post on the Soundscape Support Team forum, happy to be a member. I think there are many issues here with helping people to connect with nature through sound. One of the chief ones I believe, is the increasing disconnect of humans with nature but also a loss of any type of meaningful relationship to ‘wild places’. Without an emotional attachment to something we are much less likely to understand it, if we don’t understand it, no positive relationship will be formed. So I think the way ahead is to try to help people develop a relationship with nature on a deeper level. When this happens there is a change of consciousness or awareness that begins to challenge our original ideas of what nature means. In short, when we love something, we want to protect it.

Really our ‘competition’ is a culture based on materialism, instant gratification and growth. Most see nature as a commodity, for human use. So getting back to the original question. I think soundscapes can help to promote awareness but it needs to be done as part of a consciousness shift within society. With growing awareness of Environmental problems, education is going to be key to sustaining eco-systems in the decision makers of tomorrow, and this is where I think soundscapes can play a huge role. The question is how do you compete? It means people spending meaningful time in nature or for those who cant, free access to soundscapes online, new curriculum’s developed for schools that don’t just teach biology but ecological awareness, access to online resources for teachers, etc. Perhaps this is where we could begin to play a bigger role. I had someone give a cd of my soundscapes to a teacher who plays them during class, I hear the affect is really positive, it gives the classroom a whole different mood.


Great comments, Mark and I, for one, truly thank you for them.  Yes, we're collectively very far down the line environmentally-speaking -- and it's now really time for all who can to collectively develop, share, and promote a new kind of camaraderie, solidarity if you will, in support of an eco-viable soundscape as indicator of a more sustainable and healthier way of living in nature, in our communities, and with each other. I think the sharing of soundscape awareness, as in providing your soundscapes to local classroom(s), is a good way to start.  But where do teachers go to get more good information about sound, nature, and quietude that will forward this connection in a way that helps students know how to listen and what to listen for? Also, since they are the next generation who will vote to develop or protect these habitats, information is vital.  Making the case, though, to sometimes leaving technology behind, just how to BE in the natural world, how to be sustainable, should certainly be a part of it.  I like your idea of encouraging educators to learn more about soundscape. As we keep sharing, this may be organic, but being organized is certainly more efficient.  Actively introducing what we know about soundscapes within other forums, seminars, social networks, and via more 'tweets' (that can get info searchable on-line) may also help.
I think the bottom line is we need to help kids develop relationships with nature on a level where they also develop their own awareness but grow to see nature as a part or extension of themselves. But yes really to put it bluntly.. we need to get in their faces! But in order to do this it must be appealing for them. So things like interactive websites that cater to their own local area would help a lot. It has been done with things like recycling, that  passed through schools here in Nova Scotia quite a few years ago, the kids ended up knowing more than the parents. So why not nature awareness? There is a nature awareness camp near me called Redtail Nature Awareness, do a search for them on google, they are really hands on, the kids come to them and they spend time there, learning about themselves through nature. There isnt any reason they couldnt expand into the ever growing online world. I guess to understand a soundscape you need to know what your hearing as you said Kat....
Redtail is near you?  Are you good at speaking in public? :D  Maybe they would be interested in having you visit and share a bit about your own awareness of soundscape with the kids, or perhaps just meet with the docents to encourage them to add a bit of active listening into their programs.  I also am beginning to think that it's good to share any enthusiasm for the outdoors with students.  Many only get the most dire eco-messaging of the need to save the earth, how to save, we must's the 'why to save' that's being eclipsed in the message, and everybody sometimes needs to be reminded of just how cool it is, how interesting, and how much fun  it can be to explore - and celebrate - wild habitats and creature life.
Yes, Redtail is about 20k away, they are WAY ahead of the curve on listening for the most part. But there is likely quite a bit I could do there.  I plan to work a bit with them this summer all being well, and yes public speaking, not a problem! I will let you know how it goes. Your right though Kat, kids hear a lot of the negative all the time. I used to take high school kids up into one of the National Parks near me with a biology teacher friend, it was a weekend of hiking, nature awareness and fun and I know in just a short time (3 days) we really affected some of the kids in a very positive way. Imagine if each one of us on this forum went to a school to talk about nature and soundscapes, it could have quite an effect over a period of time.
That's sounds hopeful, Mark.  If you do these visits, perhaps you can take a few snapshots or podcast and post to the site.  We'd love to get a sense of your outreach and share this positive effort. Cheers!
Will do Kat...

Great discussion, even if I'm arriving very late.  I completely agree with Mark's comments about promoting nature awareness by our kids.  I've been teaching wildlife tracking for a number of years, which is another way of getting kids outside (even though I teach adults generally) and learning what wildlife is in their area.  For me, listening has always been a part of tracking - part of the awareness of your surroundings.  Being quiet gives you a much better, if not the only, chance of being able to see the animal you are tracking.  But my world was completely rocked when I picked up a microphone and put on headphones.  I had no idea how much I had been filtering out (and part of me wishes I never had picked up a mic, 'cuz now I can't not hear the "noise" anymore).  But it has created a huge awareness in me about how much sonic impact we are having on the world around us.  My career is changing directions...

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