The Earthseed Outdoor Learning Lab project, one of Saul’s initiatives in the EFS program, is inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s novel, Parable of the Sower specifically, the text’s concept of “Earthseed.” This spiritual belief system that centers on truth, knowledge, adaptatbiltiy, growth, nature, & community was used as the core value system to imagine the lab. The project asked students to survey Saul’s campus & select a piece of land to reclaim as an outdoor lab devoted to sustainability & environmental justice. The project was made up of three components: (a) a written proposal, (b) a map model, and (c) an annotated bibliography. In their work, students considered both the conceptual & functional aspects of building this space for the Saul community. The lab, an outdoor classroom, will be used to share & exchange information around taking action against climate change. Overall, this project is a cross-curricluar in nature. Students imagined & developed the structure of the lab in their 10th grade English course. This work was then surveyed by 11th grade horticulture students who have recently begun to clear invasive species from the land & will begin building the lab in the 2022 academic year.
In reflection, I believe year one of this project was successful. Using a combination of student choice & Youth-Led, Participatory Action Research (YPAR) was both challenging & rewarding. At times I felt like the work was less detailed than I’d hoped despite structured scaffolding. Moving through this process for the first time & supporting students in owning their work proved to be a delicate balancing act. In reviewing student written proposals, I see areas of growth for myself in supporting the research portion of the project. That said, I felt really proud to observe the ideas and perspectives of students in regards to building a space that expresses and engages with climate justice & action.