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Fishes Feed Us

An informal education and public engagement project about the human consequences of collapsing ocean fisheries and how it unexpectedly led to youth advocacy.

This project involved multiple components: a dialogue on its international kids fishes blog; small animations of ocean creatures for the project’s web-pages; an extensive website documenting the project as an “open-source” model for others; and an innovative youth performance on the United Nations Plaza in New York City sponsored by the United Nations’ Environment Programme for their World Environment Day on June 5, 2007.

Boys moving as Ocean Catfish; I created the performative objects (above/below)

(above) Two of the three styles of cardboard fishes I created as the sole “performative objects.” (patterns are available to all)

Without ever mentioning the word “advocacy”… When leaving the U.N. Plaza after their performance, the kids (4th and 5th graders at a NYC public school in Chinatown) rushed up to me and said: “We must write a letter to The President (George Bush II) telling him about this situation in our oceans.” Their “doing” had inspired next-step actions by them! However, I came to learn that it was not out of empathy for Philippine fisher families losing their sole source of protein (fish), but was for fisher kids since they could no longer go to school because they had to fish all-day just to catch fishes the size of those in goldfish bowls in the USA.