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Paula, Deb, Margaret and our new SPL desk

Our friend, educator, math guru, and obviously very talented artist, Deb Williamson, told us that she’d like to make a Sense of Place Learning desk for our new office.  We said that would be great, but had no idea what to expect … and are we ever amazed! Deb says she found this old desk by the roadside (what a find!) and let her creativity fly. Our SPL logo is tastefully emblazoned on the front, and the sides and back are adorned with photographs that Deb took all around Pittsburgh (how “sense of place” can you get?).  Open the lid and you’re in for a real surprise — Deb created a piano keyboard desktop, complete with the Sense of Place “maker’s mark” and gold scroll.

We imagine that this desk is going to inspire us to do some really great things.  Thanks a million, Deb!

Deb Williamson's one of a kind design

Move over, Steinway!

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When we heard that the 2010 PAEE conference was titled, A Sense of Place: Our Outdoor Heritage we knew we had to submit a proposal. Our topic is the disappearance of the passenger pigeon, which is an issue that is directly connected to the history and ecology of the conference site, Blue Bell, PA. We are looking forward to meeting and working with environmental educators from across the state, and hope to see you there.

Pigeontown to Blue Bell: Exploring Local History, Heritage, Ecology and Art through the Disappearance of the Passenger Pigeon

WHEN March 12, 2010 9:40-10:40 PM


The Iroquois celebrated the passenger pigeon in dance. Early explorers described “infinite multitudes” of the migrating birds that blackened the sky with their sheer numbers. Estimates of passenger pigeon population in North America at one time reached 5 billion. Through deforestation and overharvesting, however, the population began to decline in the late 1800s, complete devastation quickly followed and finally, extinction in 1914. What does it mean to lose a population of billions of birds in a span of 100 years? The Sense of Place Learning model invites participants to explore the social and ecological implications of the loss of the passenger pigeon through folk song, photography, local stories, environmental investigation, and  hands-on activities in math and science.

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