It was a dark and stormy Thursday afternoon, a perfect time to start our Climate Change residency at Marvine with my pal, Bill Christine and Katie Santoro, our teacher/liaison. A good group of about ten 4th and 5th graders (yes, there is a difference) and they seem to be ready to be engaged.

Climate Change. 

I started out with my scarves and the list of potential Climate Change (CC) characters on the board. I got the kids up and dancing, having them interpret the various items like pollution, smog, etc. It was a very good way to start out the session. The kids were moving, dancing, creating before they had a chance to think about it. We then went through the list and voted to start with Wind Power. We then made a vocabulary list on Wind Power on the board.

Bill then led with his graphic exercises by having the kids make four doodles on a page, swapping them with another student, then creating characters from those doodles, and having the character make a statement. Again, Bill creates a creative moment that breaks the inhibition of making self-conscious choices and puts them in the moment, and gets the kids to interact with each other. Wise….

While Bill was working with the kids, I had a chance to write a verse from the vocabulary list, try out some chords (also giving a sound track for the kids as they drew), and start to formulate some musical ideas in my head. I put the verse up on the board.

We gathered again on the floor and shared our favorite pictures/statements. I then tried out my verse with the kids, just to put some air in the song as time grew short. As per usual, I asked the kids (later, Bill and Katie) what they enjoyed doing, trying to crystalize some of what we were doing, and hopefully making it better to communicate with their parents later on.

Now we tackled what our WP creature would look like, and the discussion was lively and engaged as Bill did his stuff on the board. We needed a tall post, wild blowing hair, and an interesting, smiling face (Bill invited one of the kids to draw it on the board). We had to name this creature. I came up with Gusty Breeze, which morphed into Gus T. Breeze. I asked someone to print this on the board under Bill’s caricature and she wrote Gus T. Brezz, which, as it turns out, is even more cartoonlike. A keeper.

Several nice reactions as we dispersed at 5 pm. The smallest girl in the class was knocking off several versions of our Brezz character. Another girl said that she wished she could do this every day. And even one of the 5th grade subdued girls cracked a smile as we fist-bumped on the way out.

It’s a new thing for me to collaborate with another artist, and Bill and I pulled it off with style. We both can lead, support and get out of the way when necessary. Katie helped tremendously by taking part, documenting the lyrics and taking photos. She is a vital part of this process so that Bill and I can focus on the kids.

A great start.