When we last posted here on the blog a couple months ago, we were well on our way to shifting our business focus towards a creative design and consultation emphasis that centers on creative interpretive projects and place based illustration.
This shift is still happening, and we have been grateful for the tools of modern communication that still allow meetings even as we practice social distance.
But we’ve also put a pause on some of the plans for transition to shift our focus on ways that we can serve families in new ways as we all adjust the the new temporary form of normal.
In this post, we share the changes and new services we have been developing in response to the COVID19 pandemic as we navigate closures, adapt to new regulations, and support families through this changing period.
A New Project to Support Exploring Nature from Home
We are living in a time when the most responsible thing that all of us can do is stay home to keep ourselves and others healthy. The park closures and restrictions that many of us have been experiencing might feel frustrating, but they are a small price to pay for the many many lives saved through the actions of social (physical) distancing and staying closer to home.
Yet staying home doesn’t mean cutting off access to the outdoors. Instead, it encourages a redefinition of what going outdoors means.
Local neighborhoods, parks, trees, and even sidewalks provide opportunities for focused explorations. The travel limitations encourage us to look more closely around us, to listen and slow down.
We may not be able to visit waterfalls or mountains right now, but there is still a lot to explore and learn about when we take the time to notice the honey bees on a flower, the changing colors in spring blossoms, and the earthworms in the ground.
For the last month we’ve been working on shifting our business to attend to this new way of experiencing the outdoors.
Our focus has been on creating high quality material that can provide families around the country with easy ways to maintain a sense of normalcy, help kids explore the outdoors, and support creativity and the imagination, all while staying close to home.
To support this kind of focused exploration, we came up with a creative project that’s easy to access, fun to use, and stimulating for kids of all ages called “Explore Your Own World.”
What is Explore Your Own World?
It’s a series of downloadable activity books with all kinds of tools to help kids stay engaged, curious, and connected to the natural world. Each issue features a different theme. The issues build on one another like a set of (fun) lesson plans.
We designed each issue to feel a little like a comic book not only because we LOVE this aesthetic ourselves, but also because comics have a cheery bold style that kids appreciate.
Our children are taking on a lot right now. They are on screens more than ever. Their parents are stressed. They have limited access to friends.
The simple, fun, booklets like the ones in this series can be a great reprieve from the pressures of school, new regulations, and the challenges of boredom.
This series has been coming out on a bi-weekly basis for the month of April. In May, we will slow down production to every 3-4 weeks. To learn more about this series, head to the “Explore Your Own World” page.
Create Your Own World: Imagination, STEAM Learning, Building Projects
We have also launched a second creative project for families a focus on inspiring creativity, supporting STEAM learning, and building imaginary worlds.
This downloadable series of activity booklets called "Create Your Own World" is designed for slightly older kids ages 4-12.
Looking for ways to support your child’s imagination? Needing new and more creative ways to incorporate STEAM based learning into your child’s life? Have a kid who loves building, making, imaginary friends, or fantasy worlds? Then this is the series for your family!
The issues have a similar aesthetic to the Explore Your Own World booklets (bold colors, strong graphics, a bit of silliness thrown in :), with new issues available on alternating weeks with the other series. Learn more about this series at the Create Your Own World page.
The PDX Explorers Club: New Benefits & Temporary Changes
If you live in or near Portland and have been familiar with us for a while, chances are its through our monthly trail packet service. Since we founded our business in 2017, we have been providing families with hand made packets for family trails in the Portland area that include all kinds of hand-on materials to empower and engage kids.
This project, known as the PDX Explorers Club, has temporarily shifted focus during the crisis to concentrate more on the kinds of activities you can do closer to home. This means less emphasis on trails and a focus instead on exploring your neighborhood.
For April, we sent a packet to subscribers with an activity booklet and stickers about spring flowers and pollinators.
If restrictions are still in place in May, subscribers will receive a packet with a booklet, craft activity, and stickers that focus on birds, squirrels, and other neighborhood wildlife.
Once more parks begin to reopen, we will resume our regular schedule of trail-based packets. This summer’s packets tentatively feature Powell Butte Nature Park, the Lower MacCleay Trail in Forest Park, and Battle Ground Lake (learn more about summer locations in this earlier blog post.)
We have also added new benefits for subscribers for the months of April and May. These include:
If you have been thinking about signing up for this subscription plan as a gift for your children or a friend, this is a great time to do it.
Deadlines for monthly trail packet delivery are typically the first of the month, though we are being more lenient in April and May (order by May 4 to get on the May packet).
This kind of gift will bring joy that's long lasting. During "Stay Home" regulations, children will receive mail with activities for nature exploration at home, and once the restrictions end, they’ll be set up to receive packets for local family trails.
New Booklets, Stickers, and More at the Online Store (at least Temporarily)
In our last blog post we announced that we would soon be closing the online store where booklets are available for individual purchase. This timeline has changed in the wake of the pandemic.
Our new plan is to keep the online store open until the end of May.
Over the past few weeks we have added new booklets, stickers, and trail packets to provide more activities for creativity, nature learning, and fun. Have a look at what’s available now, and check in again in a week or so as we continue to add another product or two.
NOTE: These items will only be available for individual purchase for the public for a little while longer.
Once the store closes, access to these products will only be available to PDX Explorers Club members and to organizations, schools, or groups that work with us one-on-one in partnership projects. Email us at email@example.com if this is something that interests you.
None of know what’s ahead in the coming months, but no matter what, we will be here, using our creative and pedagogical skills to support families, organizations, and other businesses get through this.
Thank you for supporting us, supporting the educators and nature based organizations in your community, and all the small businesses that help make communities vibrant and whole!
Bryna R. Campbell