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Stay Home Minnesota Challenge & Sit Spot Buddy Calls

posted Apr 13, 2020, 3:37 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Apr 14, 2020, 10:47 AM ]
by Kirsten Welge

Several years ago, a friend and I wanted to improve our wildlife tracking and awareness skills.

We made a simple weekly commitment to one another: 
  • We each sat outside in our backyards for 20 minutes, at least a few times each week.
  • Then, we'd call each other each week for 15 minutes:
    • I'd share a highlight from our time outside ("There was a gray squirrel that was chewing on the cedar fence post!"). 
    • My friend listened with curiosity, then asked questions to help draw more of the experience from my memory. ("Interesting! What was it doing right before that? Did it rub its face also? ...What did that sign look like up close? Did you notice older markings like that? Are there markings on other posts? ...Does this squirrel live nearby?")
    • Then, we'd trade places - he'd describe his highlight, while I listened, then asked questions to feel into his experience. 
It's a simple practice, but profoundly supportive for deepening our awareness of what's around us. 

Three years and countless hours of observation later, my friend and I still have our weekly calls. It remains a place for each of us to share our stories of animal behavior to someone we know will be ready to catch it, and reflect back our enthusiasm and interest. 

If you'd like to try this out, you're invited to join the sit spot challenge - and you can try out a sit spot call with one of the Tracking Project volunteers.

Stay Home MN Sit Spot Challenge: Now through May 8
  • Pick a spot near your home. It should be convenient and easy to get to, like your backyard or a nearby park. 
  • Register for free on this Eventbrite link.
    • Use password MWTP
    • Submit your name, email, and phone number for a sit spot buddy
    • We'll pair you up as folks sign up
  • Get in touch with your buddy and pick a good time for a 15 minute weekly call.
  • Sit at your sit spot for at least 20 minutes, at least three days a week. Notice what shows up while you sit: weather, sounds, your reactions, animal behavior...
  • On your weekly call: 
    • Share something you're feeling gratitude for. 
    • Then, take turns sharing a highlight and questions with your buddy. 
    • As your buddy shares her highlights, listen deeply, then reflect back what you hear - asking questions with curiosity.
    • Close with thanks.