Alumna Opens Up About “Unfurling Ferns” Multimedia Project

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We love to catch up with recent alumni, and today we’re sharing news from a really recent alumna, Scarlet Labbé-Watson, one of our 2022-23 Youth Environmental Leader Scholars. Scarlet just returned to Watershed School in Camden, ME, after participating in Maine Coast Semester this fall, and she’s already hard at work on a new project, “Unfurling Ferns: An Exploration of Climate Change through Music and Poetry.” The project is set to debut at the Rockland Public Library (and virtually!) on May 4, 2023.

Scarlet (front row in overalls) during a particularly muddy Chewonki science field lab.

Unfurling Ferns is a unique multimedia performance that combines the beauty of music, and  poetry, to raise awareness about environmental issues. Scarlet’s inspiration for the project came from her violin teachers, Josie and Sophie Davis, who use multimedia concerts to shed light on climate change through the blending of visual art and videography. After participating in a poetry reading at Rockland Library, Scarlet realized she could do something similar at the venue using poetry.

Preparing for Unfurling Ferns has been quite the undertaking for Scarlet, but she’s been up for the challenge. Alongside performing in the event, Scarlet has been working tirelessly to develop the program, secure additional musicians and readers, coordinate with the library, and promote the event through various channels. “It’s been a lot of emails!” Scarlet admits. She had to act fast when a musician dropped out (she went through five prospective candidates before finding someone who said yes), and it was harder than expected to find music that represented people of color and women which also matched the skill levels of her collaborators. Another important aspect of the concert was gathering the young poets who wrote poetry for her concert and deciding how to pair them with the music she selected.

Of course, hardworking Scarlet overcame these many obstacles. Now, with just a little over a week left before Unfurling Ferns’ debut, she’s over the moon about how it’s coming together and the attention it’s attracting from the larger community.

At its core, Scarlet hopes Unfurling Ferns inspires people to think about their impact on the environment, reflect on their place in the world, and consider the community effort required to begin reversing the effects of climate change. And, she also wants the audience to have fun. “Climate change is a hard subject, and my goal isn’t to be depressing or fatalistic. Rather, I want to use poetry and music to inspire people and help them engage with the material,” says Scarlet.

Scarlet (right) and a Chewonki semester-mate explore the Chewonki frog pond.

We’re beyond proud of Scarlet’s work and have no doubt that Unfurling Ferns will be a hit. Be sure to mark your calendars for May 4th and join us in supporting this incredible project!


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