W: Britt Bates P: Lori Joe
Meet FarmBot. It’s a wooden garden bed, not unlike your typical Kootenay raised bed that boasts an abundance of organic vegetables, except that it has arms. They raise and drop by themselves, as FarmBot plots, plants, and weeds the garden. We can thank the youth of Kimberley for this imaginative piece of robotics, which now happily resides at the Kimberley Independent School. And we can also thank the Kimberley Youth Action Network, which creates the space and resources for ingenious ideas like FarmBot to come to life. “It’s completely driven by the kids. We let them have free rein,” Lori Joe tells me. But this isn’t an image of free-wheeling and havoc-wreaking that she’s painting for me: it’s of a group of intelligent and inspired youth who are consciously and collaboratively paving the way to our future — and it’s certainly looking bright. Lori is a well-known and locally celebrated visual artist in our community, but right now, she’s wearing her other hat: Youth Coordinator for the Kimberley Youth Action Network. It’s a facet of the Basin Youth Network, an initiative funded by the Columbia Basin Trust that takes many exciting forms. In this particular one, Lori and her crew of local kids and teens are committed to inspiring and engaging our community’s young people through imaginative questions and hands-on, participatory solutions.