This is the second entry in a three-part series on random ideas that I’ve cooked up this month. I present idea number two:
National Park Service Musical Centennial
The National Park Service’s centennial is just five years away. Surely they must be looking for ways to commemorate this event while galvanizing the public and exciting rangers and NPS employees all across the country.
Enter my idea: The National Park Service funds a (small) grant to commemorate the event, and makes the application process open to all NPS employees by creating an RFP (request for proposal) that is posted in every national park.
A subset of this idea: After hanging out with a lot of park rangers in Arizona and Utah, I realized that many of them are musically inclined and are looking for a way to combine their passion for nature, service and preservation with the pizzazz of theater and Broadway. Why not create an NPS musical? This could be done in a couple of ways:
a) A children’s musical where the animals and trees come to life as characters, accompanied by catchy educational lyrics (similar to the Animaniac’s “Presidents of the USA” or “Countries of the World”)
b) A several part theatrical production following a young girl’s journey through the Park Service. Act I showcases her awe-inspiring first visit to a national park as a child. Act II follows her experience as an older teenager taking on a seasonal ranger job at a different park for the summer. Act III features her rise in the ranks as she is promoted to a full-time interpretative ranger at yet a third park. The final act brings the story full circle as the young girl is all grown up and takes her granddaughter to her very first national park… a park that she worked her entire life to preserve for future generations.
(Check out the video below for an example of ranger goofiness and creativity: a new friend and seasonal ranger had to miss his college graduation in order to start the season on time. So we created a graduation for him… Grand Canyon style!)
You can take the story in a lot of different directions and places. (Questions to consider: Is the intended audience children or adults? Is the musical a traveling production to schools, is it performed strictly at the parks or is it built into a more sophisticated production that debuts in local theaters?) You could also choose an entirely different project to receive the micro-grant. But here is my analysis:
Win: Rangers get to showcase their creativity and take a shot at being selected as the winning project. Win: The American public and schoolchildren are exposed to an entertaining and educational musical production at little to no cost. Win: The National Park Service engages, excites and educates employees and the general public while raising their public profile. This is all done with a small seed grant. Win: Theater directors and educators have the opportunity to pro-bono consult on the production, which ensures that the project is a success while also getting their name out there and contributing to a “feel good” vibe all around.
NPS, are you listening?
posted by ayo