Make Cycle #6: GeoLocate Your Space! Reflections and Connections

Wow! What a world-wide whirlwind of a week! And what a way to engage in the final Make Cycle of the 2015 CLMOOC! A quick reminder to stick around for next week’s Reflections/Connections mini-Make Cycle so that we may exhale together! The past few days have been enlightening, inspiring, and (maybe) even a bit sweaty as we re-connected to our physical (and digital) public spaces. We saw makers connecting to places and to each other, solidifying Connected Learning principles into practice in many different directions.

The week’s theme of Geolocate Your Space provided another dimension to the global community that is the CLMOOC. That’s you. Collectively, we curated nearly 200 little windows into the public spaces in our piece of the planet on the collaborative Google Map. The collaboration brought together shared stories, images, videos and soundscapes, and reminded us all of how precious our cultural and environmental heritage is, no matter the nation. We brought a new lens to how we perceive our world.


Our CLMOOC Collaborative Map, via Kevin Hodgson.

Many of you stepped into someone else’s shoes as you messed around and tinkered with image-on-image layering to #RangerMe yourself, creating a new avatar or photos in celebration of the partnership between National Writing Project and the U.S. National Park Service for this Make Cycle adventure. The results were rather goofy, but celebratory.

rangerme collection

#RangerMe collage, via Kevin Hodgson.

This unplanned and impromptu activity also brought to light some tensions amongst ourselves about the role that uniforms and park rangers, and the historical legacy of the military in a nation’s history, play in our connections to public parks in our lives. Here in the CLMOOC, we encourage exploration of those ideas as part of our continued exploration of Connected Learning. Fred’s thoughtful post about this issue, as well as his digging back into personal history, brings to the surface how powerful stories can be in grappling with serious themes.

During the Twitter Chat on Thursday night, as we hiked together through many different topics — from spaces near and dear to our hearts, to how a nation’s story is told through its preservation efforts, to whose stories are not being told and more — Monica and others brought up the issue of rock cairns in parks. Cairns are handbuilt stone towers, often used as markers and sometimes, viewed as public art. Many parks and open spaces now ban the building of cairns, a fact that brought another pathway of conversation in the Twitter Chat.

We imagine this newsletter as a collective, open, public space, with your posts and sharing as the “cairns” which can guide us forward. We love cairns because they embody the openness of art and learning and exploration. So, put on those imaginary hiking shoes and take a short hike with us through some of the projects that our community created as we use our cairns as points on a map forward ….

Monica cairns

An example of cairns, via Monica Multer.


Cairn One: Equity and Access

Along with celebrating our cultural and environmental heritage by going outside and noticing our public park spaces, we also began to take careful notice issues of access and equity. Daniel pointed this out as he dug deeper into some statistics about national parks and noticed the racial makeup of visitors. This same point was recently the heart of an essay in the New York Times entitled Why Are Our Parks So White? by Glenn Nelson.

daniel post

via Daniel Bassill

It is an issue the National Park Service is taking seriously, as Megan, a park ranger who helped facilitate this Make Cycle, noted in a response to Daniel that became part of a larger discussion about outreach to youths, particularly in urban centers. Megan pointed out not just the Urban Agenda of NPS but also the Every Kid in the Park initiative on tap for next year. A space is not truly public if segments of the population lack access.

Cairn Two: Noticing the World

During the Twitter Chat, many of you shared stories of discovering spaces near you, either for the first time, or perhaps, noticing something about that space for the first time. Sometimes, as the KQED DoNow activity around microviewing the world showed us, we need to look closer to really notice something in depth. Grace found her space outside her front door in New York, and she shared a discovery of collaboration across public and private agencies, as art students work with city officials to create inviting areas for the public.

Grace post

via Grace Raffaele

Cairn Three: A Place, Changed

Sometimes, we both celebrate and mourn the spaces we call our own. Charlene documented this sense of both loss and discovery with a photo essay about the “park in my backyard,” where she both appreciated the park’s transition to more public domain and also laments the loss of private discovery afforded to her own family. When we mark trails and give people maps, and set in motion a script, we sometimes close off the sense of the “unexpected” that gives public spaces and parks their real beauty.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 2.54.20 PM

via Charlene’s HaikuDeck

Cairn Four: Where We’re From

We were so appreciative of friends from outside the United States to get involved in the Make Cycle activity. The pins on the GeoLocate Map were wonderful examples of how a collaborative learning space pushes against borders as open learning. And Wendy, who lives in Australia, took the whole GeoLocate to another level with her story of mapping out our personal history to GeoLocate ourselves in time and space and community. Her use of the map as metaphor is another example of creativity, and how one idea can be stretched into unexpected ways as emergent ideas and inspiration.

Wendy map

via Wendy’s map.

As we come to the end of this newsletter, we want you to know that we loved everything you did this week as we explored parks and open spaces in our lives. You are always welcome in the wilds of the Making Learning Connected MOOC, and in Jellystone Park, for that matter. Now, come here, you big galoot … we’ve got a Yogi Bear hug for you:


from Yogi Bear

We hope that you stick around to reflect with us and the rest of the CLMOOC community next week as we make some end-of-session connections to explore throughout the rest of the year. Look out for a newsletter on Monday with more info!

In collaboration,

Cris Constantine (@friendlymonster), Megan O’Malley (@flynnernynner), Josh Reyes, Andrew Buttermilch, Nicolette Lloyd (@VagabondNicci), Martin Christiansen, U.S. National Park Service; and Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax), Western Massachusetts Writing Project

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