Over the past two months, our class engaged in a team-building and drama activity that was developed by the Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators. The unit plan can be found here: http://www.code.on.ca/resource/building-community
The class was divided into two random groups, by drawing coloured cubes from a bag. Each student was asked to develop a role for him/herself, within his/her community. Then each group was given several tasks to complete, including making up a name for their town, identifying a mayor and town council, designing a map and flag, and developing a town philosophy and list of special features. Mrs. Black displayed the community profiles on foam boards (click on any photo to enlarge it):
After community profiles were complete, students were told that the Ontario Government had identified the area between the two towns as a potential new landfill site for refuse from Toronto. They were told that the forest area between their towns would be clear cut, a highway would be built south of the two towns, and an interchange and access road would provide dump trucks with access to the landfill site. Students were told that the towns would be financially compensated for any inconvenience the project might cause, and that the highway would likely bring them more tourists.
Residents of both towns were then invited to dress in role and attend a large group discussion about the landfill and highway project. A lively debate ensued. Students saw few long term benefits, but identified many negative possibilities associated with the project:
- loss of important wildlife habitat due to clear cutting of the forest between the two towns
- noise from the highway and dump trucks
- potential for accidents and spills involving dump trucks
- pollution of the land, air and water by materials in the landfill
- loss of revenue, because the forest to be clear-cut supports Maple Ridge's syrup industry
- unsightliness that would drive away tourists
- potential for crime in their small town, because of easier access from the city
- loss of revenue due to the need for greater police presence, to deal with increased crime
In the end, the class reached consensus; every student felt that no amount of short term financial gain could adequately compensate them for the hardship the project would entail. When the government representative came to the meeting to address any concerns, she (Mrs. Black, in role) was peppered with hard questions and comments about the landfill and highway project. On behalf of the government, Mrs. Black reluctantly agreed that the towns' environmental concerns may have some merit and agreed to order an environmental assessment.
Students were congratulated on their role-playing and debating skills, and told that they did a fine job identifying potential issues with the proposed project!
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