last day of august? back-to-school-“blues”? not if your family hosts a science fair/rock concert with a a giant tardigrade puppet

Yeah, we’ve been working on it for a few months. Tuck and Mom have had a vision they brought to life with Folkfuturism, and it’s taken a few years to get it running, but that trip to England to speak at Oxford University and a grant from the Philadelphia Autism Project were a good way to rev the engine. We knew we wanted to make a tardigrade puppet, but we also knew we wanted to work with our friend’s band, Mystery Lab Bag. Then, we were excited to see that Philly had its own chapter of Extinction Rebellion — a nonviolent, creative/visual protest climate change group which had its roots in the UK. We met some of the Philly chapter and wanted more people to know more about them. And so — an event was born. We got a second band on board (the popular and excellent Instant Smile), had some more people interested in presenting science experiement tables, SOMEHOW got performance artist Donna Oblongata to bring her “My Pizza My Idea” project to the event site (and was making personal pizzas in a tiny propane oven in a truck — they were EXCELLENT), and we held the whole thing at the infamous “punk rock church” — First Unitarian, at 21st and Locust.

We decided (by poll) to name our tardigrate Greta. I had predicted years ago that a hero for climate change for our planet would be a young autistic person, and to think that she arrived on our shores this week in a sailboat was almost too coincidental. Our Greta the Tardigrade was here to welcome the Philly chapter of Extinction Rebellion…

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…and our friends. Those slightly under the age of one were someone dubious.

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Best of all though has been the participation of our new friend Zac, whom we met through Philly AP, and who has been hanging out at the house on weekends, helping both with the tardigrade and with designs for Tucker’s large puppet for Kensington’s WEIRDO festival — and, just getting to know each other, talking about our families, movies, projects we want to do in the future. This picture is my favorite picture taken all evening, and I think Béla took it with my phone. It looks like the poster from a lost John Hughes movie. Kudos to Zac!

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Downstairs in the church, people were looking for tardigrades in some moss in a microscope.

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There was also a tardigrade craft table. I saw handpuppets being made, but did not get to make one!

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Here’s a short clip from Mystery Lab Bag’s set. I love that there’s a three-year old who has liberated LED-bouncy balls from the table about stims.

I didn’t get any video from Instant Smile’s set because I was dancing inside of a tardigrade puppet. They were really great. It was a great evening and folks kept asking us “When’s the next one?” and that’s a question I take very seriously.

Not bad for the last weekend of summer vacation; today, the kids played a low-key game of D&D with Tuck and another friend. Tomorrow, we clean up the school table, and get ready for business.

UPDATE: an attendee just sent me this video she made of the pre-band socializing part of the evening. It is so sweet and captures the vibe so well! We are very grateful to her for it.

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