A pocket wilderness in the heart of Houston.

West 11 Street Park

Wireless Wilderness

Wireless Wilderness Nature Tour at West 11th Street Park

“Our children are the first generation to be raised without meaningful contact with the natural world.”

“A kid today can likely tell you about the Amazon rain forest—but not about the last time he or she explored the woods in solitude, or lay in a field listening to the wind and watching the clouds move.”

Richard Louv. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. New York: Workman Publishing, 2005.

This groundbreaking book should startle those of us who were raised in a time when much of our play was involved with nature and the outdoors.  Technology has become so prevalent that it has reduced our ability to experience nature.  Computers, cell phones and iPods have displaced our children’s interaction with nature.

How do we win them back?

By using those same computers, cell phones, and iPods to introduce them to the natural world.

Friends of West 11th Street Park launched on Saturday April 24, 2010 a self-guided tour of the park that will be accessed through cell phone technology.

This Wireless Wilderness tour will be similar to the audio tours that are available for major art exhibits, and that are now in use at places like the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Program numbers on the tour will correlate with numbered markers in the forest. Each site will be marked with a small  (10 inch x 10 inch) sign that will indicate: (a) the site number; eg, #1, #2, etc.) and (b) the phone number to call to get access to the explanation of that site.

When the visitor calls the local phone number, they will get a voice mail system. They will be asked to punch in a site number, which will lead them to an explanation of the site. A printable file of the tour will be available at the website. As enrichment, the website will also contain links to additional information about the items seen on the tour.

Better yet, for the increasing number of people who have smart phones, there will be pictures, videos, bird calls, links, etc. right on your phone to help make your park experience even better.

The Wireless Wilderness tour will be dynamic rather than static, changing with the seasons and with the discovery of new and interesting things in the park. We have master naturalists on our board of directors, and are also working with well-known experts in the Houston area and with science teachers at local schools in order to develop an initial list of sites for the tour.

Images by Jeff Crandall.                       What will you experience in the Park?


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