Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Socializing At Kona Kai Now More Formal, Informative And Interesting

I don't know about you, but when I am in attendance at an event where I know almost no one, it helps if each person has a name tag with not only their name, but also where they are from and perhaps one other line with something like their profession.  This is nice because it eliminates having to ask the same questions at every introduction, which gets old quick.  Name tags would also become even more helpful if everyone you were meeting couldn't communicate with you at all; indeed, it would be essential to have a tag or someone to introduce you to learn anything about them.  Plants are like this.  You meet a plant you don't know, so you very politely introduce yourself, then to break the awkward silence in which you vainly expected some response, you proceed to tell it all about yourself, without so much as a hint of reciprocal sharing from the plant, which apparently has no idea of proper social protocol.  Admittedly, even I, as a botanist, have difficulty in getting plants to respond to questions I might have for them.  So, in an effort to ameliorate interaction with our silent photosynthetic friends, we have conducted research on about 50 of the plants on the grounds and produced display labels with interesting information about each plant.

Initially, Joe, Ronnie, and I worked to develop ideas for suitable label formats and categories of information to display on each label.   We decided on multiple label sizes depending upon how much information we have and want to display for a given plant.  After developing a preliminary list of plants we thought might be good candidates to receive a label, I set about researching each plant to verify information we already have, finding information we lacked, as well as hopefully discovering plenty of other interesting facts along the way.  The first step in this process is finding quality, reliable sources for information about each plant, which is always a challenge initially but once you know where to look and who you can trust, research becomes easier.

After the information was obtained and organized, Ronnie worked to develop beautiful templates for our labels, which we then ordered and have now placed throughout the grounds.  So although the plants stubbornly maintain their vow of silence, we've worked to provide you with a bit of an informative introduction to each plant on our display labels.  If you find yourself wanting to know more about them, you can talk to the front desk about a tour with yours truly and I'd be happy to show you around and give you a more in-depth introduction to the plants in our collections.  Below is an example of our larger ethnobotanical label and smaller simple display label for plants currently without significant documented ethnobotanical information:

Rick Hederstrom
Associate Director

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