Seneca Park Zoo
Photographer and environmentalist David Liittschwager has been documenting the biodiversity of ecosystems around the globe for more than a decade. Using a one cubic foot frame set in nature, he records everything that moves in and out of the cube within the equivalent of a 24 hour period, and creates a stunningly beautiful portrait of the rich biodiversity of one tiny piece of the world. Assessing biodiversity in a community is important for science and to better understand the health and vitality of the organisms living there.
In 2015, the Seneca Park Zoo society decided to bring the replication to Rochester. The Seneca Park Zoo replication of One Cubic Foot in the basin of the Genesee River – to assess and spotlight the health of the Genesee River – provided a portrait of the biodiversity in its ecosystem. Once declared one of the United States’ most polluted rivers, the Genesee River is being brought back to life through the efforts of many, allowing the reintroduction of North American river otters and lake sturgeon. By providing invaluable scientific information and baseline data regarding the plant and animal species living in the Genesee, One Cubic Foot heightened awareness of water quality and other environmental issues in the river.
The Cause Collaborative was hired by the Seneca Park Zoo to help with development strategy - creating a project that would sustain creating a project that would grow and be sustainable. The team was also tasked to help with project management and implementation - from creating and leading an advisory committee through the Zoo’s network and resources, to managing volunteers and staff to spread awareness locally for the project. We also provided marketing and event strategy, managing local grassroot awareness campaigns at summer festivals by bringing a giant human-sized one cubic foot display that festival goers would interact with and start the discussion to learn about the One Cubic Foot efforts.
The project was highly successful - leading to the measurement of over 200 species found in the Genesee River. The organization of the advisory committee was vital to the success of the project, allowing awareness of the project to spread organically via word of mouth and PR. The project held sold out events at the George Eastman Museum with Liittschwager as the keynote discussing the river project, and at Rochester Contemporary Art Center displaying the portraits from the River in February of 2015. Since its launch, the project is now part of the Zoo’s annual plan and the team even took a group of Allendale Columbia students this year to Madagascar to replicate the project.