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  • Writer's pictureLisa Wriley

Why are you doing this?

I was given these interview questions by Cheralyn Darcey, botanical alchemist, organic gardener, independent natural history scholar, artist, educator and the author of several books and oracle decks of nature magick, folklore, witchcraft and ethnobotanical traditions.

What are you creating? A game called EARTHCARE in Australia (and CONSERVATION 2 in NZ)

What drove you to create the game? I played a board game called CONSERVATION as a child and loved it. The original game was invented by R.J. Reynolds in NZ in 1976. It had such an impact on me that I wanted to re-invent it for a new generation.

Who is involved with the games creation? Many friends and family have been a great support to me. My Dad was one of my big supporters but he passed away very suddenly late in 2019 so he is with me in spirit now. My faith community, the Quakers have been very supportive as Earthcare is what we call one of our testimonies. The Quakers in the Blue Mountains, through the Nancy Shelly Bequest Fund, gave me a $5000 grant in 2020 to develop the game.

Many local businesses and individuals are involved: The BeanFarm graphic artist Nick Baron, Elia Bourke (illustrator), Centered Ceramics in Umina (a space to make the clay player pieces), Indigo Glass (stained glass off cuts), HiTech Electrical (aluminium off cuts), Lyn Thomsen (tumbling the glass and metal to make them smooth), Colleen Broadbent (sewing cloth wallets), Libby Bourke (sewing small drawstring bags), Gosford Printing at Kincumber (print the I CARE cards) and Cutting Edge in Sydney will make the boxes. I have a couple of options for making the recycled plastic counters, footprint player pieces and dice.

What was involved in creating it? (artwork, pieces, process of getting it together)

I first drew my version of the game onto calico (using sharpie textas) on a trip to NZ to try and find R.J. Reynolds (if they were still alive). With help from Quakers in NZ I found and met Bob the inventor in early 2019 (now a spritely 82 years young), showed him the game I had in mind and we have been emailing each other since.

In early 2020 I met Bob in Auckland and signed the legal paperwork giving me the rights to his game. Since then I have made slow, steady progress working on various aspects of the game - finding out how to cut and then tumble the glass, where to get the metal from, how to make recycled plastic counters and create a game that is new-plastic-free. I made a prototype and finally got a sample box and have now printed enough I CARE cards for the first 100 box games and 100 cloth games. My time to work on the game has increased while I am on two months long service leave from my campaigning job.

What sort of response have you had from people playing it?

I have had a very positive response -my nieces and nephews, from 6-11 years old love playing it. Adults have played it with me too, had a good laugh, given me valuable feedback and we have been making some small changes. Poor Nick, the graphic artist, we are up to version #14!

What do you hope to achieve with this game? I hope it will plant the seed of awareness, interest in and care for our earth. I hope it will inspire many people to avoid waste (by re-using, refilling and only buying products that last) and take part in a circular economy, where our resources are valued and kept in circulation for as long as possible. The worst place to land on the game board is The Tip!

Why are you crowdfunding it?

The quote to make the boxes and the boards prompted the need for a crowdfunder so I could make 500 and get the unit price down to a reasonable level. I am still waiting for the quote for printing on cloth..

What are your future plans should this game become crowdfunded?

I am setting up a Social Enterprise/ Benefit Corporation called HOPE - Helping Our Planet Earth, and have pledged that 50% of any profits will go to CONSERVATION, earthcare, permaculture projects. I hope that volunteers from local conservation groups will get involved in the box packing days. Naturally I want to make and sell thousands of the game - both the box version and the unique cloth version. After the Australian version I hope to launch a crowdfunder for the NZ version - or perhaps I will try for a grant for that one. The crowdfunder is pretty stressful! If I can travel to NZ in September Bob is keen for us to launch in Conservation Week.

Where can people find you?

If there is anything else you want to say, go for it!

I think playing games with children is an especially effective way to share stories and values and have great conversations about important things while having fun and a good laugh! This game is full of highs and lows, and opportunities to make good choices to get more points by using your I CARE cards wisely. You can play it competitively, comparing individual points or you could play for a set time eg half an hour and see how many points you get combined. Yes it is an old style roll and move game - it is a proven game style - truly recycled from 1976!

Some people are surprised how 'forward thinking' Bob was - but I think humanity has had plenty of warnings about the need to care for the earth, our common home, for a long time and we need to listen now more than ever. I hope my game can play a part in our transition to a more sustainable world.

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