Leah Barclay | Listen(n) Project in California for National Park Week
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Listen(n) Project in California for National Park Week

Listen(n) Project in California for National Park Week

Open your ears to the sonic environment during National Park Week America’s largest celebration of national environmental heritage begins on April 18 with events and activities happening across 400 national parks.

Hosted by the National Park Foundation and National Parks Services, National Park Week celebrates the vibrant culture, rich history and iconic landscapes of National Parks across the country. The National Park Week program features Arizona State University’s Listen(n) Project, which explores technologically innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to acoustic ecology in National Parks across America.

During National Park Week, the Listen(n) Project team is hosting presentations and workshops that foster community-centered listening experiences in Joshua Tree National Park and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California. Conceived in 2013 by Arizona State University professor Garth Paine, the Listen(n) project examines how new approaches to listening increased awareness of the acoustic ecology can inspire environmental stewardship among local and global communities. The project has already gained significant international attention and has been featured at some of the world’s leading acoustic ecology and conservation events, including the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia and SxSW Eco in Austin, Texas.

Listen(n) engages local placemaking through deep listening and sound recording community workshops, providing local communities with the tools and skills to document the acoustic ecology of their local park. The Listen(n) created a user-friendly online database and portal for community members, researchers and artists to share their sonic experience of park environments globally. The project has formed diverse partnerships and promotes creative projects to be shared with larger communities. Dr. Paine and visiting researcher Dr. Leah Barclay will lead field recording workshops and demonstrate the value of listening to the park environment through a series of public presentations during National Park Week. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to contribute to the Listen(n) online database and online community portal, which is a dynamic and inspiring model for soundscape presentation and digital archiving of sound, media art works and community storytelling.

The Listen(n) team will also contribute to the ‘Find Your Park’ campaign on FindYourPark.com. Launched April 1 by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, Find Your Park is a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and setting the stage for its second century of service. ‘Find Your Park’ is also the theme for this year’s National Park Week. It is an exciting opportunity for the Listen(n) Project to engage in a national conversation about the value and future of America’s National Parks. One of the crucial components of the Listen(n) Project has been the development of rich digital media environments that can be used to engage local and global communities including the elderly and disabled without access to these precious places. Given the current challenges of environmental degradation, the Listen(n) team has created novel virtual reality experiences (EcoRift) which facilitate remote embodied experiences of natural environments through sound to broaden discussion about the value of pristine, yet fragile ecosystems.

As the National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016, it continues to foster new ideas to engage communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs. National Park Week offers programs that enable communities to protect, preserve and experience nature. The Listen(n) Project underscores the NPS vision by creatively exploring the rich sonic environments of parks. Assisted by Dr. Sabine Feisst and Dr. Daniel Gilfillan from the Humanities and Sciences, the Listen(n) team documents the parks’ acoustics and offers path-breaking virtual reality experiences of parks, responsive community listening workshops in parks and realizes music and art projects inspired by the sounds of parks with the goal of studying, protecting and preserving the parks’ acoustic ecology and building community capacity and environmental stewardship for the future.Follow the Listen(n) Project during National Park Week using the hashtag #ListenProject and #FindYourPark on social media platforms and on www.ecolisten.org