ERN European Rivers Network / SOS Loire Vivante Tel: 0033 (0)471055788
Fax: 0033 (0)471026099 e-mail: see www.sosloirevivante.org (contacte)
1997, Roberto Epple, ERNs Founder President ( ERN is a European
Network of NGOs working for rivers protection) ERN set up, with
it's regional Partner SOS
Loire Vivante, an educational project on the Loire basin,
"Rivers of pictures and flows of Words" . The project
has bee inspired by the very succesfull project "River
of Words", originally launched by the International
Rivers Network in USA.
France, the project was successfull with a large participation:
over 14 500 children distributed on the 15 départements
of the Loire river basin from 1997-2004, more then 30 exhibitions.
For pictures and docs
go to our french pages of the project.
the same time, another project has been implemented on the Elbe
riverbasin ( Czech Republic and Germany.) 180 schools distributed
on the whole Elbe river approached the scientific aspects of
the river (water analyses, measure of pollutions, biological
indicators) in the framework of the educational project "Schools
for a living Elbe" in cooperation with the DUH (Deutsche
Umwelthilfe). This project is know a independent program of
the Lebendige Elbe Project.
2003/2004 the "Rivers of pictures and flows of Words"
project will be implemented on the Rhine River in by ERN France
(European Rivers Network) cooperation with the other partners
of the RhinNet
project is after years of experience, ready to be adapted for
other River Basins. (under work : Rhone, Ebro, Danube).
It aims at developing, through art, children awareness of rivers
ecological problems to prepare them to be the future citizens
responsible for tomorrow's water.
The project takes the shape of a poetry and art contest for
schools (from primary to high schools) of the whole Loire river
also our presentation panels (engl/french)
river that wash away everything
is called violent
but noone accuse of violence
the banks that stemming it"
are invited to explore their local river, their own spot of
Loire, under its ecological and also cultural aspects, and to
talk about it through a collective work of art, plastic or poetic.
accompany them in this research, a pedagogical guide was conceived
for this project, which mixes an emotional with an objective
project focuses on the suppression of boundaries, at all levels:
· between art and knowledge: to create is also to learn
· between different disciplines (the river is a thread
between sciences, geography, history and literature)
· between ecological and social sciences concerns (the
river is a natural environment but also a rich cultural world)
are invited to explore their local river together with local
actors (NGOs for environmental education, fishermen associations,
artists, etc.), these local examples being the thread allowing
to evoke all subjects, the result of this research being expressed
through art. In this way, the artistic realization is supported
by reality, which should appear in the work of art, the various
works from the different local rivers therefore carrying knowledge
of the basin.
of the main preoccupations of the project is to ensure that
children efforts won't be discredited. "Rivers of pictures
and flows of Words" is a contest, but it is in the first
place a mean to create a dialogue between the Loire of the Mont
Gerbier de Jonc (the source) with the estuary, including all
tributaries, as well as tributaries of tributaries. First, the
collective work of art is the result of a work on environmental
education. This work starts from the exploration of the river
and go through the sharing of the results, a common reflection,
the participation of everyone. The contest also name winners
but we insist on the worth of the work of each class through
a strategy of exhibition of all the works (exhibitions all along
the Loire river, publications, online publishing).
intention of the "Rivers of pictures and flows of Words"
project is to integrate art as a way to knowledge and discovery
of the world and of the environment. The invitation to the child
to discover its "ecological address" helps him to
make him/her realize he/she is a part of a whole, to which he/she
is linked and that his/her actions have consequences on this
whole. The respect for nature begins on the banks of your river
To experience this responsibility prepare the ground for future
behaviours respectful of environment.
"ecological address" allows the child to define him/herself
within a natural entity based on the river and its tributaries.
This helps him/her realize the necessity to better know and
better protect the rivers. The contest, by developing the idea
of belonging to the Loire basin, develops an ecological awareness:
you have to protect your stream to protect the river downstream,
the global health depends on the action of everyone on a local
level. Therefore, whatever the town they come from, the pupils
realized they belong to a whole, as a poem - written by children
from Nantes and addressed to children upstream - can show :
" Be careful not to pollute our river because we, at the
estuary, we gather everything !"
artistic creation, a real education to environment is at work.
To go from a practical study to an artistic production give
children an opening
to their fantasy ; towards more autonomy
and freedom to think
On another way, the work of art
includes a part of reality
fantasy here is a vehicle
allowing to translate reality in a richer, more global way.
The awareness that local heritage is a part of a wider heritage
allows the child to realize what its place is in the community,
which is made of a geological history, microclimates, specific
fauna, flora and cultural traditions.
aim is that the child lives this responsibility in a concrete
way, including him/her in an educational project worked out
through a collaboration between the schools and the local actors
of an area.
To take part in the contest is to take part in a dynamic of
exchanges where everybody is telling, through its art, its river
story while discovering the rivers of the others. Each work
of art represents an interpretation of the local river heritage
and the exhibition of the works is a way to re-form the basin
in a symbolic manner. The exhibition "strategy" therefore
allows to develop the children's work and gives all its dimension
to art as a vehicle for communication and knowledge.
works of all the classes, once they are put together, create
an artistic map of the basin
intended to travel along
the river and its tributaries. The schools of the whole River
basin put their works at the disposal of ERN for the itinerant
exhibition. Everybody, children and adults, living along the
river, are invited to consider their belonging to the basin
and to discover the treasures and the diversity of its natural
The winning works are also presented on Internet.
The potential extensions of the project.
are numerous: exhibitions of the children's works together with
those of local artists in various types of cultural places (local
galleries, "Loire houses", etc.); operations showing
the value of the river heritage (local history, ethnography);
artistic events; theatrical events on the theme of the river;
plastic creations born from this dynamic around the river heritage:
installations, events on natural sites, etc.
The impact of the project: methods of
impact of the project can be analysed through the number of
but also through the quality of the collective works of art
expressing the growing awareness of children:
which can be read in the artistic work : the jury noted that
the works were the results of a real research : references to
fauna and flora, pollution, elements of the local river.
- which can be read in the initiatives born from those works
the school teachers revealed that a deep work on ecological
awareness was present during all the contest, going along an
active, creative and emotional participation of children.
participating classes are invited to describe their approach
in a systematic way : from which angle did they explore the
river, which tools did they use, what were the concrete results
and how those have been brought into play in the artistic creation.
A summary of their discoveries has to be joined to their artistic
work and this document is presented to the jury when the winners
pedagogical strategy around the creation are numerous and varied
: to read a map; to search for documentation; to go out on the
ground with local groups, interviews of local actors (fishermen,
farmers); visits of sites, of water treatment units; scientific
analysis, walks just meant to hear and
artistic work is mixed with a research work combining scientific
as well as artistic preoccupations: for example to gather elements
in nature for the artistic creation implies observation, identification
To search for indications (for example,
to determine which fish species are living in a river) will
make the child become familiar with documentary research or
interview methods (ethnology, sociology, journalism) with its
varying reliability (necessity to decipher, to match up with
other sources of information). Knowledge is nourished through
different ways: for example, the underlying impregnation born
when all the readings of the year were on the theme of the river.
them to appropriate the project, the "project pedagogy"
leads the pupils to the desire for knowledge. The interest of
the project seems to be "self-feeding": the children
testify their wish to know more about the theme, while the teachers
take part to the contest several years in a row to extend their
work. The contest often generates other activities: a decoration
of a river beach with a mosaic of pebbles, a rearing of tadpoles
a perspective of pedagogical support, of an assessment of the
project and also to create a network linking all the educational
projects on the European basins, a pedagogical meeting took
place in the Château de la Source on the 12th and 13th
of June 1999. This event was the opportunity for different actors
working on the Loire river to meet (Water Agency, Maison de
Loire, environmental NGOs, inspectors of schools, etc). They
shared their experience with teachers from the Loire basin and
with German and Czech teachers working on the Elbe basin.
its last edition, an assessment form about our programme was
given to all the teachers to put in light the positive and the
negative. This assessment is very clear and shows that the richness
and the originality of our pedagogical guide are really appreciated
The project, renewed each year, is a long term project. With
the creation of a growing network of actors and the appearance
of local and as well as cross-country dynamics (inter-basins
exchanges), the project will inevitably grow. Continuity is
an important aspect of the project, the results of the work
with the pedagogical guide have to be communicated, exchanged
and shared to stimulate a dynamic around the basin concept as
well as actions for environmental protection.