Back my Illustrated Field Guide to Preventing Human-Elephant Conflict KickStarter!

Travel, Work

Trans Africa-Asia Human Elephant Conflict Education ProjectI wanted to let you know about a new project I’m involved with: The Pictorial Guide to Human-Elephant Conflict Education and Resolution.

Human elephant conflict is a serious threat to elephants in both Africa and Asia. You’re no doubt aware of the horrors of the ivory trade and poaching (36,000 elephants slaughtered every year!), but elephants in both continents are also in danger from the encroachment of humans into the animals’ habitats and other factors.

The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS) is spearheading an education and awareness campaign to combat these issues. The biggest challenge is the vastness of the area, and the scale and magnitude of the problem. The other challenges are that even though human elephant conflict is common to both Africa and Asia, there are regional, geographical, and cultural variables that have to be given consideration. Through its partnerships with local stakeholder organizations, the SLWCS is working with local communities that are the worst affected by human elephant conflicts. Developing the project from a bottom-to-top process through discussion with all stakeholders will ensure that the project surmounts these challenges effectively and delivers the final project product: The Pictorial Guide to Human-Elephant Conflict Education and Resolution.

I’ll be illustrating the field guide, which will be translated into regional languages, and laminated to withstand the rigors of remote wilderness application. It will be distributed in areas throughout Sri Lanka, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. It’s exciting to imagine that my drawings might help educate local communities and help to save elephants from threat!

The SLWCS has launched a KickStarter campaign with a goal of raising $20,000. Two weeks into the campaign, they’ve raised nearly $2,000—but that leaves only two weeks to raise over $18,000. (As with all KickStarter campaigns, the project won’t be funded—and you won’t be charged—if we don’t reach our goal.)

Take a look at the KickStarter page: watch the detailed explanatory video, read the FAQ, and check out some of the thank-you gifts. Please help if you can—and spread the word about this very worthy project.

The Dragon A.D. podcast

A.D., Publicity

The Dragon, a retailer based in the Kitchener/Guelph region of Ontario, just posted a podcast about A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge — and much more. Store owner Jenn, who was recently in New Orleans on a Habitat for Humanity excursion, discusses the book and present-day NOLA with store manager Amy. The conversation then segues into a discussion of the recent Sendai earthquake and tsunami. It’s a wide-ranging and serious discussion of the topics — just the sort of thing I hoped A.D. would spark. Check it out; well worth it.

PBS's NATURE Comic #2 wins award


Back in November, I posted a one-pager I did on compact flourescent lightbulbs for PBS’s Nature Comics #2. The comics also featured work by R. Kikuo Johnson, Lauren Weinstein, and Rick Veitch, among others. Well, the Association of Education Publishers just named Nature Comics #2 a 2008 Distinguished Achievement Awards Winner (in the Specialized Audience Instruction/Graphic Novel category). Congrats and self-congrats are in order!

Nature Comics is targeted at pre-teens and teenagers. It includes stories related to Nature shows "Silence of the Bees," "In the Valley of the Wolves," and "The Beauty of Ugly." The comic is available FREE OF CHARGE — to order, please e-mail You can also download a 1.4 MB PDF of the entire comic book here.

[cross-posted on ACT-I-VATE]

Phoebe sez: "Grass = Bleaugh"


This is Phoebe, taking over my dad’s blog to get something off my chest:

I hate to be a hater, BUT I THINK GRASS SUCKS! I’ve heard nice things about lawns and fields in the past, but I didn’t have to actually touch any of it. When they created urban parks, they put in plenty of paved spaces and concrete playgrounds in a concerted effort to appeal to city kids like myself, which they balanced with some grassy areas to appeal to “nature lovers.” But now there’s more and more grass starting to appear everywhere.

For instance, right near my apartment building, there’s a big grassy area in front of the Brooklyn Museum. Yesterday my mom and dad set me down there, so I could crawl around a bit or even practice “cruising” against the low wall which abuts it. But the instant I touched the turf, I just started to cry. Granted, it is “spring,” which is probably the most intense growing period for natural things like flowers and trees and the like, but it’s crazy out there: grass, grass, grass, everywhere you look! I can’t say enough how unpleasant it is to feel those sharp individual blades on my delicate little hands.

And today my parents brought me to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden! They wheeled me onto this big green expanse and just sat down, plop! in the middle of it. I wasn’t having any of it, even thought my dad plucked some individual blades to show me how “harmless” they were. To me, nothing about grass is appealing. It’s all natural, and green, and multi-faceted. And how can something be both sharp and soft—at the same time?! Sure, I saw lots of other kids running and rolling around on the lawn, seeming to have a good time. But even if I had seen, say, another nine-month-old I knew, that lawn was no environment in which to bite another kid’s arm or drool on their toys.

So now I know I can skip this grass stuff in the future and just stick to safe places like my living room rug or the kitchen linoleum. If nothing else, the experience reminds me why cities were created, and how anachronistic (and insulting!) grass in urban areas is in terms of its attempt to bring “nature” to the civilized world.