Tuesday 22 November 2011

Ekphrasis: World Diabetes Day Geoswag

Ekphrasis (writing about another art form) - Find a Flickr Image in Creative Commons that inspires you in some way (positively or negatively) and free write about it. Give yourself exactly 15 minutes to write without stopping. Don't think! Brave bonus: Publish without editing!

To be honest, I really had no idea where I was originally going to go with this post, so I went to Flickr, typed in diabetes, and looked at the results. On the second or third page I saw it: a photo of the front and back of the 2007 World Diabetes Day geocoin. Is a geocoin an art form? Maybe, maybe not, but oh well.

In 2007, the world celebrated the first ever United Nations declared World Diabetes Day, and in honor of that day the IDF (International Diabetes Federation) created a limited number of "unite for diabetes" geocoins and travel bugs to be placed around the world. 

What are geocoins and travel bugs, you might be asking yourself? They are a tradable, trackable item used in geocaching. Still confused? Hang in there. Geocaching is essentially a high-tech scavenger hunt. It's a "real-world outdoor treasure hunting game" in which "players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online." It is a rapidly growing hobby practiced by people of all ages around the world. In fact, at the time of this post, there are 1,582,243 active geocaches and over 5 million geocachers worldwide.

Basically, it works like this: players grab a GPS-enabled device, such as a smartphone, and download coordinates for geocaches in their area, by visiting www.geocaching.com. Go to the coordinates, locate the cache, and sign the logbook. Then log your find and share your experience online. Inside most geocaches you will find tradable treasures, such as toys, stickers, and other dollar store type items. In some geocaches you will also discover special trackable items, called geocoins and travel bugs. If you find one of these special items, grab it, and input the trackable number online when you post your "found" log. Then drop the item into the next geocache you find and log it again. Over time, these trackable items will travel the world.

A geocoin is a like a monetary coin, but with a special picture or symbol on it. There are thousands of different ones, including the WDD coin featured below. You'll notice on the bottom of the back side, there is an ID number, unique to each individual coin.

World Diabetes Day geocoin

Travel bugs are similar except that they have 2 parts to them. The main part is a silver rectangular piece, with the item specifics, including the trackable ID, engraved on it. Then a chain attaches the ID to an object, such as a toy, keychain, or WDD blue circle. The 2 parts have to stay together and they travel the world visiting different caches. The one featured below is my own, which we will place in a new geocache this week, in order of Dylan's 6 year diaversary.

World Diabetes Day travel bug

Geocaching is a great way to spend the afternoon as a family. Not only is it challenging and adventurous, but it's great exercise. My family has been geocaching for about 3 years now and have found caches in parks, beaches, under bridges, in trees, on telephone poles, and even on the side of a cliff. And we have cached in Canada, the United States, and Mexico! My kids love the search and discover aspect of it, and I love that it gets them outside running around and having so much fun that they don't even realize they're exercising. It's also taken us to so many new places, both near and far from our home, that we didn't know existed!

1 comment:

  1. i was so excited to see a post about geocaching! our family loves it for all the reasons you've mentioned here! and we even have one of those wdd geocoins we picked up recently. we need to send it on it's way in the near future! thanks for the post, it brought a smile to my face. :)