Two California Sea Grant State Fellows, affiliated with the Delta Stewardship Council’s (Council) Delta Science Program (Program), are carrying pens with them on a regular basis – just in case someone asks for their autograph. That’s because Meiling Roddam (M.S. Humboldt State) and Jennifer Bigman (M.S. Moss Landing Marine Laboratories) are featured in a rap video written and performed by the duo.
At its core, the 56-second video’s message offers the importance of public participation in the development of the Program’s Interim Science Action Agenda (ISAA), a plan that will summarize priority science issues that can inform policy and management actions and further the understanding of the Bay-Delta system.
The idea to create a rhythmic story about the ISAA originated during a poster session at a recent Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) Workshop held in Folsom. Bigman had created a poster describing the ISAA, and all poster authors were asked to describe why workshop attendees should visit their poster. But, instead of simply reading dry text, the conference organizes an activity called a “poetry slam” where authors read a short poem about their poster.
Bigman, not a fan of classic poetry, suggested she and Roddam instead construct something similar to a rap. Roddam took on the challenge choosing several descriptive and somewhat complicated words from the poster.
“I pulled words stated in the ISAA like the terms ‘collaboration’ and ‘adaptive management’ and ‘facilitate,’” Roddam said. “I then rearranged them so they would rhyme.”
Using her creative flair, Roddam then massaged the verses into lyrics befitting traditional rap refrains. Their initial presentation was a hit.
“The first time we performed it at the IEP Workshop we got an overwhelmingly positive response,” said Roddam. “People thought it was awesome and we won the unofficial contest.”
Following a well-received second performance during a Council staff meeting, it was suggested the two take their synergy and turn it into a video. And so, using locations in the Delta as a backdrop (in particular Clarksburg and Freeport), Roddam and Bigman set forth for their close-ups. They even dressed up for the occasion – looking like rappers.
“It was my idea to have the costumes,” said Bigman. “We decided on wearing ‘gangsta clothes’ like baggy sweat pants, baseball caps, and chains.” The dynamic duo even wore their brightly colored tennis shoes, which can be seen at the beginning of the video.
Shooting and editing took the better part of the day. The finished project, entitled Delta Rap, is now available on the Council’s YouTube page and can be viewed by clicking here.