The start of something special
Psst. Did you know?
There is something very exciting happening just across the parking lot here at Vitala Foods.
The Bakerview EcoDairy is about to get a makeover with the launch of a new partnership with the wonderful folk at Science World British Columbia.
In coming months, we will have plenty information to share about the EcoDairy’s new look but in the meantime, we thought it important to pay a visit to Science World and find out how the whole thing started.
“For us it all began 25 years ago,” Science World British Columbia president and CEO, Bryan Tisdall says, leaning back in his chair a little.
(make yourself comfortable, this may take a while)
Since its inception, Science World has always had a provincial mandate but never a permanent location outside of its inimitable ‘Dome at False Creek’ location.
While community outreach is an integral part of the organization through programs such as Science World on the Road, Tisdall admits its initial approach was a little flawed.
“There was a time at which we thought somewhat arrogantly, that the way to provide service throughout the province was to go out and do it to you. That we will go into your community, into your kitchen, into your school and tell you all about science and technology and why it’s so important in your life,” Tisdall said.
“Over more recent years, we’ve done something that you would probably think is obvious but we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s both more efficient and effective to work with community partners. People who live in those communities, who know those communities, who are treasured by those communities.”
Tisdall says the partnership with the Bakerview EcoDairy could represent the beginning of Science World’s expansion into some of BC’s far-flung corners in years to come.
“Clearly we see this as – I don’t want to say an experiment – but as a model. Looking forward 10 years from now – I don’t want to pre-judge the results of the EcoDairy – we would anticipate that we would be in many communities in the province in partnership with organizations indigenous to those communities,” he said.
Tisdall said the attraction to the EcoDairy lies in its symbolism of a key industry to not only the Fraser Valley, but the entire province.
“We also look for opportunities where there is a linkage so not only can we assist in telling the EcoDairy story more effectively in their community but hopefully we can use the EcoDairy story back here at our False Creek location to tell the agriculture story more effectively.”
While the cows themselves will remain untouched, the EcoDairy tour experience will be overhauled with interactive exhibits designed to engage individuals and groups of all ages with an emphasis on storytelling.
“We want to be very conscious that it’s not going to replace what you have now with something entirely different. It’s going to take what the EcoDairy has that’s really good – the barn is really good, the cows are wonderful actresses – what you want to do is maximise that,” Tisdall said.
“You try to make the experience sensual, whether it’s touch, feel, see, hear, rather than just telling them, so the entire experience we will try to make more immersive.”
So what’s the secret to creating an engaging environment visitors want to come back to again and again?
The answer may lie behind-the-scenes at Science World. Amber Didow is responsible for the creative project development at Science World and works with a very talented team. “The process we undergo for exhibit development is multi-faceted. We work in a challenging design environment that needs to take into account many things. The ages and stages of our visitors, story, content & educational messages, physical use, ebbs and flows within a gallery space, and community partners. Ultimately we strive to create the best engaging and educational experiences for our visitors.”
Through a door on the ground floor, down the hall, past the workshop is a cluttered office with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Ken Spencer Science Park. It is here you will find one of Science Worlds talented team members – Rob Lunde – senior storyteller.
“My job in particular is to try and locate the bits where there are salient bits of content and try to engage your visitors and get them excited and want to tell their friends,” he said.
Lunde and his colleague exhibit designer, Jodie Braaten are in the process of putting together a storyline for the EcoDairy project and will then begin work on conceptual drawings and exhibit concept documents.
The key to conveying information is “edit, edit, edit”.
“The key thing about education is you have to edit down. If you want to make people understand, you have to edit down so that you find those gems of information you want people to leave with – the take home messages,” he said.
During our visit, Lundy was preparing for Science World’s latest exhibition AMPED.
Surrounded by all manner of musical equipment, it is clear he is in his element as he describes the process of staging a major show from scratch.
“I get to play. This is my desk, I have a drum set here, I have a guitar here and a keyboard over here and I’m listening to one of Hedley’s songs,” he said.
But what’s the best part about his job?
“Really the best part about it is you get to meet incredible people. We seem to work well and play well together. We don’t have to be separated too often.”
Photography by Tanya Goehring | Post Photography