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Meet the Grants winners (2023) -

Meet the Grants winners (2023)

Dear friends,

The talented winners of the first round of Grants have kindly answered a few questions in order to introduce themselves and their amazing work, ongoing projects, and future plans. 

In no particular order, the winners are:

Giselle Ragoonanan

Giselle is part of the Caribe Indigenous community in Trinidad and Tobago (who call themselves the Kiari Ierette). A naturalist and field biologist with a particular interest in avifauna, throughout her life Giselle has had a burning passion for conservation and fieldwork. Her greatest joy is closeness to the lords of the air and the rainforest, blissfully surrounded by the purity of untouched nature.

Birds are part of the essence of the Earth, they are master circumnavigators, weevers, sound specialists and keynote species for environmental changes.

She is also director of ARC Conservation – a community-led grassroots organization working to promote rainforest habitat protection in Trinidad’s Northern Range hills. Giselle is passionate about reuniting humans with nature and building rural community capacity while integrating indigenous knowledge with science. 

The indigenous people have a connection to land and sound; we listen before we seek, we listen before we speak.

Here are her thoughts on field recording and her plans for utilizing the Grant money: 

“Field recording has been a dream of mine. To operate a field recording program means getting to delegate and teach acoustic monitoring to citizen scientists and community members [and about] the wonders of nature through soundscape. There are so many organisms we sometimes cannot see in the forest, the birds, the insects, the powwow sound of fungi, the wind traveling with messages from the trees while mycelium transports nutrients. Nature soundscapes are the dream of any naturalist. My goal with this grant award is to purchase field sound equipment as a resource for project building and community education.” 

👉 You can connect with Giselle on Instagram and via the ARC Conservation account. To support indigenous community-led conservation, please visit her GoFundMe page.  

Martha Mutiso

Martha has explored her love for nature through guiding, writing, photography, filming, and sound. She’s always loved listening to nature sounds, especially birds, bats, frogs, and crickets, but when the world went quiet in 2020, she was amazed at how frequently she could hear birds in her typically not-so-quiet urban neighbourhood in Kenya – including barn owls, late at night.

Sound recording in Masai Mara, Kenya

“In 2021, through the Jackson Wild Mentorship Program, I was fortunate to be mentored by Ben Mirin, an acoustic biologist, science communicator, educator, artist and media producer from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology. Through this mentorship I was able to gain an in-depth understanding of sound, recording techniques, and field recording gear.

“I’ve continued to develop my bioacoustics skills by undertaking online courses with Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wildlife Acoustics, as well as interacting with other field recordists from around the globe. I’ve also been privileged to have access to local scientists who identify my wildlife recordings, especially amphibians. In return, I continue to explore bioacoustics as an emerging tool in wildlife conservation, as well as contributing to wildlife monitoring studies.

“I’m grateful that through the field recording grant and training I’ll be able to record and share unique nature sounds from Kenya, as well as contribute to local wildlife conservation efforts.”

👉 You can connect with Martha on LinkedIn, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, visit her website, and listen to her recordings on SoundCloud.

Lynn Nandar Htoo

Lynn has been living in Yangon, in Myanmar/Burma, since 2016, when she began performing as a singer-songwriter on the underground music scene. 

“I began learning music production on my own, particularly during my free time, because I wanted to develop my own sound. I participated in ‘Soundscape Studies: Thinking with Sound’ workshops in 2022 and sound design classes at the Yangon Film School. I’ve worked as a sound designer and composer ever since on animation and film projects. I became interested in ambience-creation and field recording after working on film projects, and began to enjoy going out into the world to record sounds for creating different ambiences.

“The grant is a fantastic opportunity for me because I will learn how to record nature sounds in depth, and I am confident that I will be recording more whenever I travel. My goal with this project is to travel to natural places where few people have been, to record and preserve their sounds for others to cherish. I believe that by capturing and sharing the beauty of nature through sound, we can encourage more people to appreciate and protect our planet.”

Isaac Amoasi Arkoh

Isaac is a 34-year-old Ghanaian broadcast journalist and nature enthusiast, who has worked with several radio stations in the country. As a radio presenter, he developed a fascination for nature sound recordings and was lucky to travel to some of the most beautiful and intriguing places in Ghana, to make recordings and conduct interviews for the radio. 

“The beautiful sounds of nature captured by my recording devices often left me in awe. Whenever I drive on the roads, I am thrilled by some of the sounds that I hear. I usually break the drive in an isolated location (Ghana has several forests and lonely roads). I kill the engine and enjoy nature, recording some of these sounds to relive the moment later. Recently, I collaborated with a German-language media company to record sounds for their radio documentary on cocoa.”

What does he think about the Grants?

“Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to for awarding me this grant. The timing couldn’t have been [more] perfect. My lifelong dream has always been to use nature sounds to tell the Ghanaian story. Ghana boast rich natural habitats and it is tragic that we cannot share these beautiful sounds with the rest of the world. The grant will enable me to do so: to share the echoes of the castles, the roar of the oceans, and the cries of the varied fauna. I want to let the world hear the birds that sing at dawn and the chaos of our market on a busy day. 

“Thanks to this grant and the education that comes with it, I will be able to achieve my dream of becoming a [full-time] world-class natural sound recordist.”

A Bhaskar Rao

Bhaskar is an alumnus of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, where he studied Film and Video Communication Design, and the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Bhopal, in Planning, Policy-making, and Development Studies. As an independent professional, he works on films, animation, installations, performances, content writing, and research projects, collaborating with people and organizations in India and abroad. 

As an academic, he teaches as a visiting faculty member for Film, Sound, Music, Advertising, Space Design, and Social Design at various design, media, and technological institutions across India. In March 2022, he self-published his first book, the Hindi-Urdu poetry compilation Khayal Darzi.

Sound Workshop, NID Andhra Pradesh_India
Sound Workshop NID Andhra Pradesh, India (A Bhaskar Rao is second from left in photo)

His core objective as an artist, designer, and researcher is to explore and promote environmental research, education, design, art, and storytelling practices through observation and the creation of multi-sensory experiences. 

“I feel this program will help me extend and expand my vision to create tools, methods, and frameworks which enable and encourage interpretation and re-imagining of the [combined] natural and human-made world that we live in. 

“Also, I would like to incorporate the perspectives and technical expertise I will gain through the mentorship, and experience of the program, in my practice as an academic. Apart from synthesizing the learnings from this program to teach field recordings as a tool for field research, documentation, and publication, I feel the program will also help me design workshops and curriculums for soundscape ecology for schools, colleges, and other alternative education systems in India which I am associated with.

“I plan to explore, through research and field recordings, the human/nature conflict in ecologically sensitive areas of India, along the following sub-themes:

  • “Human accountability for changes and modifications in the natural environments we inhabit, with a much-needed shift from human beings considering themselves detached observers and not an integral part of what is happening
  • “Effects of human interventions on soundscapes in ecologically sensitive areas, while the interventions are happening. This could be a study of how soundscapes encode changes and modifications of ecological processes; how ecology responds to human interventions and how careful listening (along with recording) can be a qualitative and quantitative way to assess these changes   
  • “Finding parallels between settlements that have undergone extreme ecological changes due to human interventions and settlements currently experiencing similar phenomena, and exploring the possibilities of capturing and further studying these crises through the medium of sound 
  • “Soundscapes as a continuously evolving living heritage.”

👉 You can listen to examples of Bhaskar’s work on – ‘River Parvati’ and ‘River Godavari’ – as well as further recordings on SoundCloud.

Watch this space for updates on these successful applicants’ work and for opportunities to join the ranks of future Grants winners.   

Featured photo courtesy of Martha Mutiso is a completely free streaming service of 700+ nature sounds from around the world, offering natural soundscapes and guided meditations for people who wish to listen to nature, relax, and become more connected.

Check out our recordings of nature ambience from sound recordists and artists spanning the globe, our thematic playlists of immersive soundscapes and our Wind Is the Original Radio podcast.

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