The mission of the Arlington Natural Connections Project is to promote a sense of connection to the natural world by combining an artistic and natural science approach. We maintain a strong local and regional focus: this connection starts right here, in our own back yards and in the public places in and nearby Arlington Massachusetts, USA.
Our most active current projects are the September 2010 launch of our website and the ongoing creation of the “Scenes of the Season” photo slider for the home page.
In the past we have contributed pieces to the 2009 and 2010 “Images of Arlington” springtime exhibit at the Arlington Center for the Arts. An assemblage of natural materials contributed by Arlington community members in 2008 was displayed for over a year in the elegant reading room of the Arlington Robbins Library. A short nature video “Signs of the Season” from winter 2009 is available online.
Our first projects were collections of natural materials. Creating these provided a focus to get out into nature and actively engage with the surroundings. Displayed indoors, they provide a reminder of the beauty and diversity just outside the door or around the corner, and a fond souvenir of the time spent.
A SHORT HISTORY
The Arlington Natural Connections Project started as a personal “hobby” for me. Each month I would collect a few elements from the natural world – leaves, flower petals, small branches, bark, rocks – and then display them in a collection in my home. I was amazed at the beauty and variety of natural objects that surround us, at all times of year. This was fun, and provided a sense of connection, calm, center and abundance within our always-changing world.
I wanted to expand this, and share it. In Fall 2007 I saw that the Arlington (MA) Cultural Council was accepting grant applications for Arlington-based projects in the Arts, Humanities and Interpretive Sciences. My idea was to encourage individuals and families to create displays for their own homes, and to take the project to a community level by creating seasonal displays with contributions from many, and exhibiting them in a public place.
The proposal was funded by the Arlington Cultural Council for 2008. A display and information session was held at the Robbins Library in February 2008. A Nature Walk through the Winfield Robbins Memorial Garden and the area surrounding the Whittemore-Robbins house was created for Town Day in September 2008. Participants in each of these events contributed natural materials that were assembled into a collection that went on display in the Robbins Library in October 2008.
As the project evolved, its goals expanded to a wider range of artistic and natural science projects to promote an enhanced sense of connection to the natural world, as described occasionally in the project weblog. The launch of a full project website in 2010 to complement the weblog is an exciting new development that I hope will go on to realize it’s rich potential.
Joe Snodgrass, Founder, Arlington Natural Connections Project
We hope to build the website into an interesting and useful resource for connecting to nature while maintaining our strong local and regional focus. We will to continue to create new works for display and new projects. Collaborators are always welcome. We are specifically looking to find an intern interested in participating in the practical aspects and the creative development of the project.
COLLABORATORS AND ADVISORS
Joe Snodgrass, founder of the project, moved to Arlington MA with his wife and life partner Sally Naish in 2002. He is a professional scientist, trained as a physical chemist at the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore MD) and Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland OH). Long standing interests include bicycling, music, gardens, food and libations. He is grateful to the Arlington Cultural Council for taking a chance on him as an artist, helping to revitalize some long-withered roots.
Sally Naish of Light and Shade Garden Design frequently consults on questions of plant and tree identity and all things horticultural. She also contributes by providing invaluable suggestions on our website and other written and visual materials.
Larry Osgood is a talented Arlington photographer who has collaborated by providing wonderful high definition studio photos.
Andrai Whitted created the website infrastructure and overall design. He continues to be a valued partner as the site evolves.
Donald Miller is a gifted naturalist, whom we turn to frequently for identification of wild plants. We thank Don for the his enthusiasm for the natural world, which he shares on his “Third Saturday” nature walks at Arlington’s Great Meadows.
Thanks also to Sharon Shaloo and Susan Murie, my advisors from the Arlington Cultural Council.
PHOTO OPS: We are always seeking photo contributions from Arlington photographers to include in our “Scenes of the Season” photo slider. We are most interested in scenes that capture a specific timepoint in the ever-changing natural world of Arlington. Examples would include the first budding of a tree, a major storm, hottest day of the year, first snowfall.
INTERN: We are seeking an intern and creative partner to participate in our growth and development. A strong personal connection and interest in the natural world is essential. Good communication skills: writing, email, web page editing. (Do you have a blog? journal?) Gregarious personality and excellent people skills. Useful background education/skills: journalism, communications and public relations, writing, web-page design (WordPress with themes), natural science, art/photography. Interest in helping to create and define an organization focused on enhancing personal connection to the natural world. Limited current funding for stipend/salary but hope to evolve to more fiscally viable organization.
WEATHER CONSULTANT: To field questions about weather, and contribute occasional pieces and work with us on weather-related projects.
ENTOMOLOGY CONSULTANT: To field questions like “What’ s this bug?”. The insect world is fascinating and relevant. I am currently very interested in learning more about spiders, crickets, cicadas and the origin of the wonderful night time sounds in late summer and fall.
LOGO DESIGN: While we have lots of ideas, activities and vision we don’t really have a great logo. This would be a wonderful contribution from a local graphic designer.
Contact: (email Joe Snodgrass)
SUPPORT AND FUNDING
The Arlington Natural Connections Project is grateful for funding provided by the Arlington Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. The mission of the Arlington Natural Connections Project is to promote a sense of connection to the natural world at the local level by combining an artistic and natural science approach.