Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Passenger Pigeon Origami Party

Last weekend we hosted an Origami Folding Party in honor of the Passenger Pigeon.  The passenger pigeon used to be the most abundant bird in North America.  The flocks would literally darken the sky for 3-4 days as they passed.  So it is almost unbelievable that in a matter of about 100 years, habitat loss and over-hunting caused their numbers to fall from around 3-5 billion to zero.  (For a brief history of the passenger pigeon, click here.)

George is helping to organize a celebration and talk at Xavier in conjunction with the Cincinnati Zoo on Wednesday, October 29 (for more info click here).  The title of the talk is "The Legacy of Martha: The Last Passenger Pigeon and the Rise of Conservation."  Martha was the last passenger pigeon in the world and she lived (and died) at the Cincinnati Zoo.  2014 marks the centennial anniversary of her passing and the extinction of the passenger pigeon.   

"How does this involve origami?" you are thinking.  The plan is to fold 2000 origami passenger pigeons and place the whole flock outside on the lawn of the Xavier mall to raise awareness and to publicize the talk.  When George told me this I was super excited because I love idea of combining birds, origami, and conservation.  And what could be more fun than hosting an origami folding party?!  How often does one get that opportunity?  Plus I knew it would be great fun to make the invite (below).

We had a great turnout for the party.  Fifteen intrepid origami folders showed up and we folded from noon to dinnertime. 

As the hours passed the pile of birds began to grow.

George and I even folded a giant origami bird out of a 6 ft.square to greet people at the front door.

In the end we folded around 400 birds.  Now only 1600 more to go!

If you are interested in folding your own origami passenger pigeon visit foldtheflock.org.  They created the beautiful origami design and have an amazing website where you can download a pdf for free.  Plus they have some nice videos about the passenger pigeon.  Definitely worth a visit!

As I was writing this blog entry and looked up the original population numbers it is mind-boggling to think how this could happen to a bird that was once so abundant.  It breaks my heart to think about it and makes me wonder about our future on this planet.  Although we can not change the past I do hope that we can learn from it.  And I hope that by remembering the story of the passenger pigeon we are all inspired to live a little lighter on this planet.

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