Chris Durant has created a board game called Fur and Feathers that teaches kids about animals and their relationship to people and the planet. The Pleasant Hill resident is going to donate 15 percent of the proceeds from the game to the Contra Costa County Animal Shelter in Martinez.
Martinez Patch asked Durant some questions recently about her game.
What prompted you to invent a board game about animals? I wanted to find a way to teach children some of the things that took me a lifetime to realize and that I wish I had known sooner. Let’s take food for an example. I am certainly not pushing vegetarian or even vegan on anyone but I do want children to a least learn that there are alternatives to fast food hamburgers and chicken nuggets. It’s about choices and sometimes choosing to eat a healthy meal can have a larger impact on our health, animals and the environment as a whole – even if it’s once in awhile. I also believe that children can really help make an impact on animal issues and that we should start trusting them more often to make their own choices. The issues of animal adoption and spaying/neutering should be taught sooner rather than later. I think that once a child learns something, they are empowered to make their own choices moving forward and that is a wonderful thing.
What are some of the best things about this game? Fur & Feathers has no negative consequences (“lose a turn” or “go back to start”). During testing, I noticed the reactions of children when they landed on a “lose a turn space” and I realized that even a moment of a child feeling bad about something like that was simply unnecessary. I was delighted to actually have the power to remove those types of spaces. This game teaches children that they can take care of pets, order healthy foods and make a difference in the lives of animals. It has the ability to bring families together and start conversations about animals, our food and our planet. Did I mention that Fur & Feathers is fun and teaches counting, strategy, reading and comprehension and lots of interesting animal facts too?
How had to response been for the game so far? The response has been tremendous, I am very excited. I was set on creating a traditional board game that was fun and educational and I really wanted to get families off of the computer and away from the television, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. I think in my own small way, I have done that.
In what ways do you plan to donate back to animal rescue organizations and sanctuaries? I plan to start locally and branch out as things progress. My first project is to provide more dog beds and toys to the local Martinez Animal Shelter. I had a chance to visit recently and while I was so pleased to see the new building and many, many improvements, I couldn’t help but think about the dogs that didn’t have beds. Based on their criteria, I need to purchase specific brands so once I raise the funds I will work with them directly to ensure I adhere to their policies. They also need usable, clean towels and blankets year round. That is such a simple way to help animals but I don’t think most people even know about it. There is a bin located in the lobby for these donations.
Next, I plan to focus on the cats next but to be honest, I didn’t even make it to the cats when I was there, I was too overwhelmed with the amount of dogs. I did notice that the facility is very clean, there were volunteers walking dogs and cleaning and I even heard music playing in some of the back kennels. That was really nice to see, they have done an amazing job at that facility and I can only hope that other counties have the ability to do the same. I even saw bunnies an guinea pigs too and they were very well taken care of. It’s a great place to adopt a pet.
Lastly, my daughter Sara and I recently visited a Farm Sanctuary that is located just over two hours away in Orland, CA. We met rescued chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs and cows and learned their stories and how they arrived there. It was very powerful to see how forgiving these animals are. Some have been through unimaginable things yet allowed us to pet them and send them love. There was a little pack of goats that followed us when we tried to leave, they were so sweet.
What do you hope children will get out of this game? I hope children get time with their parent(s), become empowered to make healthy, compassionate choices and have a really good time doing it.
Do you have plans for future games? Yes, we have four more games in the works. It’s all a matter of funding at this point.
What influenced your choice to have Fur & Feathers made in the USA? Having this game produced in the USA was very important to me, I refused to even price it from other countries. We are in such a crisis and I feel that even small jobs like this one can add up. The game was created, illustrated, printed, assembled and is stored in the USA. Some of the smaller components (spinners, pawns, die) came from the UK but I plan to find them in the US next time around, I am sure they exist.
Where can people purchase Fur & Feathers? The easiest way to order Fur & Feathers is directly from our website www.AnimalMatters.com or on Facebook. I am willing to offer free delivery to local (Concord, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Walnut Creek) residents through October 31, 2011. They can email Info@AnimalMatters.com to address that with me. I will also donate a minimum of 15 percent of all local sales to my Martinez Animal Shelter project.
TODAY IN HISTORY (from Wikipedia):
1971 - Having weakened after making landfall in Nicaragua the previous day, Hurricane Irene regains enough strength to be rebranded Hurricane Olivia, making it the first known hurricane to successfully cross from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific.