“Do you remember how old you were when you first heard about ‘The Tragedy of the Commons?’ asked a Fellow at the 2022 program. Last summer, Fellows worked on a wide variety of projects and proposed “moonshot” ideas, from commercializing sustainable seaweed to databases that potentially expose conservation-related corruption. One of the moonshot ideas that was arguably easier to achieve was the idea of fostering nature conservation from a young age by introducing the concept of “The Tragedy of the Commons” to children. The moonshot, proposed by Maggie Lee, received quite a lot of support from the 2020 and 2022 Fellows, who were all in Bellingham at the same time.
After the program ended in late July 2022, Maggie began work. She looked into the possibility of creating a children’s book with a simple and classic story of fishers around a lake and a crisis of fish stock depletion, a theme that was revisited by many Kinship Conservation Fellows faculty. With the kind help of Mary-Ruth Low (2020), who has experience publishing children’s books and actually happened to have with her a copy of one of her books, Maggie started exploring the avenue of making a picture book as well.
The project is on-going, but Maggie has already reached the following milestones:
- August 31, 2022 – Applied for funding from the Singapore government.
- December 1 – Obtained a small grant from the Singapore government with clauses to involve the community by providing free copies to underprivileged families and children with special needs, as well as doing public book readings in Singapore.
- January 4, 2023 – Two publishers in Singapore expressed interest in publishing the book.
- February 10 – Contract signed with one large Singapore-based publisher to publish a total of 7 books on eco-ethical and conservation values in a series named “Champs for Our Environment.”
- April 17 – First book, The Tragedy of the Commons – Resources, completed with illustrations. Also completed is the manuscript of the second book, The Tragedy of the Commons – Pollutants.
- May 8 to 13 – Meeting with Taiwanese publishers for the first translated version of the books in Traditional Chinese.
- July 3 – Presentation of the idea behind Champs for Our Environment as a novel way of instilling values of sustainability in children in Singapore.
- End of July (planned) – First book, What Happened to the Fish in the Lake? on shelves in Singapore, Malaysia, and online bookstores.
The project is now hoping to achieve a bigger impact by linking up with publishers from all around the world to launch versions of the book in other languages. This moonshot could not have happened without the trusting environment of Kinship Conservation Fellows, where no ideas are shot down and the genuine feedback from Fellows can be consulted, heard, and adopted. The idea could also only come to fruition with the help of other Fellows who built each other up and made them believe that success is indeed within reach. Maggie is also engaging in a panel discussion on the book with adults and children in Singapore in July 2023.
If you have contact with publishers who can help with distributing and publishing the book in English or other languages, please kindly let Maggie Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org) know.