OpenLab: Blue Trail was recently awarded $10,000 from Alliance Data and its Epsilon business to help further the innovation and construction of 10 interactive art-design-tech installations that have been designed for San Francisco’s waterfront. Ideally it will consist of an interactive art and technology “trail” that engages people in art and ocean sustainability. Each installation has been designed to introduce the mystery, beauty and fragility of the world’s oceans and to inform the community on ocean conservation.
The grant is especially significant since it was made through Alliance Data’s Internal Grant Rewards Program that encourages employees to request financial support for their favorite nonprofit organization. “Our employees have a unique opportunity to blend our distinctive skill set and our commitment to the community by bringing awareness and enhancing the experience of Blue Trail’s project,” said Dana Beckman, senior manager of external communications for Alliance Data. “Through this partnership with Blue Trail, Epsilon employees are able to share their expertise with the organization.”
“I’m thrilled about the award and especially excited to have created a new partnership between Epsilon and UCSC OpenLab,” said Associate Professor of Art and OpenLab’s founding director, Jennifer Parker. “Together we intend to develop a mobile app that will enhance public education of ocean health and sustainability. The app will be based on OpenLab’s Blue Trail: Oceanic Scales project that has involved over 35 UCSC students working across the disciplines of art, computer science, ocean science, gaming, and engineering. This is a wonderful opportunity for UCSC students to gain industry experience and real-world knowledge. I’m hopeful that our partnership between the public and private sector will be an example of new collaborative visions for environmental initiatives that could one day become the norm.”
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The first of its kind in the world, Blue Trail, which began in 2012, is a collaboration between Jennifer Parker and Lisa Zimmerman, founder of the San Francisco-based public art consulting firm, 7Story. OpenLab is a Research Center UCSC founded by Professors Jennifer Parker and Enrico Rameriz-Ruiz, and part of UCSC’s Arts Division. The Center targets complex education issues of national significance regarding the ability of art and science researchers to collaborate on research endeavors. The goal of the OpenLab is to help change the current status by providing shared research facilities and create a network for collaborative discourse fueled by academic communities, arts and science communities, and industry.