Nature Lab Block Island Experience (BIX) DEADLINE: February 12, 2020
Thousands of years ago, retreating glaciers left behind a pile of rock and rubble off the southern coast of Rhode Island that today is a popular vacation destination, combining inland rolling hummocks and hollows with dramatic cliffs, dunes and sandy beaches. Native American habitation dates back to 500 B.C.: they referred to both the island, and themselves as “Manisses”, translated as “Little God’s Island”. Today it is about 50% conservation land, mostly held by the Nature Conservancy, which lists the island as one of the “last great places” in the U.S. It shelters several rare species and one rare ecosystem found virtually nowhere else on earth, and also serves as an important stopover in the Atlantic Flyway for migratory songbirds.
The Block Island Experience (BIX) is the ideal introduction for students to gain a deeper understanding of the local ecology and become inspired by the diversity of life in this unique island setting. It’s also a chance to consider more deeply people’s relationship with nature, the cultural and philosophical underpinnings of today’s environmental issues, and how they relate to issues of social justice both historically and today. Partnering with Rhode Island Natural History Survey scientists (http://rinhs.org/) and artist Amy Bartlett Wright, students will spend a week with the Nature Lab’s marine scientist and ecologist Jen Bissonnette and entomologist Ben Gagliardi exploring Block Island’s inland, coastal, and marine environments while keeping a visual journal of their experience. Students will be guided through a deeper understanding of the ecosystem around us and explore ways to apply a deep biomimicry approach to their work at RISD.
Activities and topics scheduled include:
• Daily nature drawing and painting sessions
• Bird netting and banding at Bluestone Banding Station
• Salt marsh birds and ecology
• Beach seining and plankton collecting
• Native plants and insects
• Star gazing
• Meeting local artists
• Local geology and land history
• Local Native American history and insight from the Narragansett Tribal Nation
• Biomimicry in design
No prior experience with science or sustainability is required, just a desire to learn and a commitment to engaging fully in the experience.
Application Deadline: Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 12:00 PM (Noon)
BIX Dates: Sunday, May 31 to Saturday, June 6, 2020
Cost: Fully Funded! Thanks to generous funding from RISD alumna, all participating RISD students will receive a full scholarship to cover the cost of attending, including round trip travel from RISD to Block Island via van and ferry, all sessions on the island, equipment use, food, room, and board.