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DISPATCH

From: Squirrel Census HQ, ATL, GA
To: All Squirrel Sighters, Partners, and Associates, Worldwide

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The sun shone through October treetops. The air glistened. Mosquitoes squeeeeeed by ears. Central Park hummed low, rich with activity and greenery and soil and the poignant wait, wait, wait for Autumn to finally show to the happy party. Throughout, the Eastern grays worked the acorn mines. And our legion of Squirrel Sighters, equipped with clipboards and pencils and buttons and curiosity, observed and appreciated and recorded the ways of Sciurus carolinensis. The Central Park Squirrel Census was on. Some days, the cloud cover came, and with it the drizzle and occasional sprinkle that dampened eyelashes and shoes. Other days, the flinty breeze brought sharp snaps of chill (finally), so that we-all bundled in layers and beanies and huddled in the slanted light as we prepped for another morning or afternoon of wandering hectares in that Mother of Parks, searching for our gray and cinnamon and black and white quarry. Over 300 volunteers. 350 hectares of park space, each roamed and tallied at least twice. Over 3,000 sheets of paper records. Man, the sheer number of emails and texts. As well, the city was abuzz with the very idea of a “squirrel census.” We made cab drivers laugh. We wore our navy and yellow buttons on trains and in restaurants and got asked if we were the ones counting all the squirrels. As a matter of fact ... The mayor’s office tweeted us. The media cut in, demanding clarification (and also enjoying the excuse to hock a “nutty” pun). Has the world gone so rotten that the idea of a census of squirrels so stretches our collective credulity? Did we help people, in our own small way, believe in something again? Maybe? Here’s another question: Has “Why?” ever been asked more often in a shorter span of time? Very likely. But for the record, it was asked a lot here. As was, “What’s the point?” Do you mean, Of life itself? Some even thought the entire Census to be an elaborate hoax. But the joke is on those Squirrel Scrooges. Because it was, and is, real. Nearly every morning and afternoon during the Census — from the North Woods and Springbanks Arch, to Gothic Bridge and the Reservoir, to King Jagiello (yahg-YELL-o) and The Ramble and Strawberry Fields, to The Mall and the Dairy Center, to that one overlook of bedrock upon which everyone and their most distant cousins, it seemed, stood to snap a pic with the City As Backdrop, to all the bijou and vast natural and manmade theaters between, including the small islands and sweet meadows and smiling softball fields — the loyal and dedicated Sighters strode into the urban-green (soon enough tinged with inklings of gold and coral), and they tallied the squirrels. They also kept eyes peeled for hawks, and raccoons, and pigeons, and falcons, and owls, and yes the dogs, the dogs off their leashes until 9 a.m., as giddy as dogs can be, what a life what a life, look at me look at me squirrel squirrel squirrel look at me!, as well as a few cat appearances, prima donnas that they are, and the hardworking horses, and the marrying couples, and the arguing couples, and the runners and runners and more runners, and bird watchers (nerds!), and those tufted titmice (which are not mice), and little-brother chipmunks, and rather wild middle-schoolers, tbh. Etc. And the Sighters met other humans. People a lot like them. People different from them. Older. Younger. Some, like squirrels, a bit feral. Others, also like squirrels, rather refined. All of them, to our eyes, inquisitive explorers game for adventure. And they — we — all saw the park in a fresh way. We knew the answer; we understood the point. But back to those squirrels: If we may take a moment to project our own neuroses onto them: the eyes black and pleading (or perhaps defiantly indifferent); the tail in flagrant flirtation mode (or maybe like, “Leave. Now.”); and the forepaws, oh the little hands, seemingly tidying up pie crusts of leaves and dirt after burying a nut; or maybe one hand tucked into the breast, kindly awaiting an answer to some unknown query; or both hands clasped together, filled with motherly or fatherly worry. What do we NOT know? is the question that hits closer to home. A Sighter sang a song, a cappella, at The Explorers Club. Then another Sighter sang a song, a cappella, also at The Explorers Club. Yet another explained the kuk, quaa, and moan. Still another hopped a train from Lancaster, PA to take part in a single 2.5-hour counting session. A park chess player came up with a squirrel haiku, right there on the spot. Sighters brought, unsolicited, squirrel-themed gifts to counts. They brought squirrel stories. They brought that poet’s intrepid life-spirit and a “Finally, someone is doing this” attitude. Sparks flew. Numbers got exchanged. Photos got texted. Wow. So many stories like that. Big navy totes, stuffed with essentials, and yellow-navy flags got schlepped to and fro. Hectare by hectare, Mother Park and her Citizens fell under our gaze. Until, at last, two weeks after it began, the final hectare’s squirrels got totally tallied (6G, afternoon count, four squirrels). The gentleman who committed the put-a-stamp-on-it act was soon-after serenaded by Sighter compatriots with a robust “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” and handed a favorite beverage. It all began with a Conch Blow at Mineral Springs. Sighters and Friends: Know here and now, you are all jolly good people. You helped accomplish something that had never before been done. You gave New York City something wholly original. Your names, all of them, are listed below in the spirit of sheer awe we feel at your work and generosity. Proof: There are still so many good things in this world. Now, we sit with our data stacks. We work in the glow of spreadsheets and documents. We sift for patterns and stories. We plot LON/LAT. We take objective viewpoints for scientific purposes. We also let our imaginations run fast — real fast, like, like, like, let’s say, like that squirrel we saw on Frisbee Hill, making a break across the open grass for a tree 30 meters away, as a loose dog won the angle and closed in on him. It was a happy ending, at least for the squirrel. But boy, they both ran fast! Anyway. Eastern grays do not hibernate. Neither do we. As the light dissipates and the air frosts, we will go quiet in our nest of work. As we do, know that we are thinking of you. From our vantage at Squirrel Census HQ down South, it hurts a little to muse about Mother Park, her city, and its valiant people; to feel the far-off vibrato communicating the hard truth that we are missing something, everything, by not being there. But a spring awakening is around the corner. And with the pink and white and yellow and red and even-especially the hot green buds, we too will emerge with our Central Park Squirrel Census Report, as well as a map of Mother Park that will knock your knickerbockers clean off. It will be the sum of all of our efforts. You will receive proper invitations to the festivities. We do it for you. We do it for the city. We do it for the squirrels. We do it because. Because it makes us happy. Until our next rendezvous, you have in our place undying gratitude and friendship. The Squirrel Census Team remains uncommonly yours and Ever True —

Jamie Allen, Creator
Stewart Haddock, Senior Associate
Josh O’Connor, Field Commander
Nat Slaughter, Chief Cartographer
Donal Bisanzio, Squirrel Scientist
Sally Parham, Logistics Chief

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Our Esteemed Partners and Sponsors
(You Supported Us When We Needed It Most)

The Explorers Club
NYU Department of Environmental Studies
Macaulay Honors College BioBlitz
Constellations
Todd A. Larsen, Esq.
Scott Lowden

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MailChimp
Gene Kansas
Whole Foods
Apparel Manufacturing
Kurt Thometz, Airbnb Superhost

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Squirrel Scouts
(Those Who Helped Us Lead the Way)

Tiffany Bai
Kate Koza
Thaddeus McRae
Natasha Zaletel

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Alpha Squirrel Sighters
(Those Who Went Above and Beyond the Call)

Hallie Ayres
David Baram
David Becker
Peter Bondi
Stuart Bowler
Steven Boyarsky
Kathy Bussman
Carlos Calle
Linda Chan
Jennifer Chen
Kevin Chen
Sunny Corrao
Christine DiGangi
Anne Fearon
Marie-Elise Goetzke
Rebecca Graham
Martin Grym
Stephanie Hao
Ken Hittel

Liz Johnson
Ryan Jurado
Holly Kuczynski
Sara Lazor
Denise Lu
Amber Martin
Christine Meyer
John Murray
Kelly Reidy
Alicia Rios
Patrick Roos
Meryl Schumacker
Jed-Angelo Segovia
Aparnaa Seshadri
Chelsea Smith
Catherine Wang
Ksenia Winnicki
Erica Wong
Cindy Yao

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Honorable Squirrel Sighters

Raquel & Eva A.
Gustavo Ahumada
Magdalena Aichinger
Alexandra Aiello
Elizabeth Albert
Avery Allen
Josey Allen
Laurie Allread
Robert Andon
Rebecca Andrews
Maria Andrukhiv
Kate Angell
Mariana Arellano
Muantawan Arsrairas
Nancy Asiastasio
Carla Astudillo
Edgardo Aviles
Kelly Bailey
Mark Bailey
Ralph Baker
Mia Barker
Mary Beth Beasley
Maura Beaton
Nancy Becker
Pack Berger
Emily Bergmann
Tom Berkovitch
Amanda Bielskas
David Bimler
Debra Blank
Linda Bonanno
Nick Bond
Victoria Booth
Jade Bourke
Dylan Bousquette
Luc Bousquette
Melissa Bowling
Matthew Brinkman
Bryan Brown
Claudia Brown
Brady Bryson
Ethan Bryson
Michelle Byron
Kristin Carder
Audrey Carlsen
Evelyn Casanova
Sarah Celentano
Blanche Chang
Grace Chang
Erin Chapman
Jerry Chen
Saryn Chorney
Ulyana Chuvasheva
Christa Clay
Sara Clugage
Allie Conti
Amy Cooper
Robert Coover
Dario Corsi
James Crugnale
Eleanor Cummins
Tim Decker
Regan Deming
Rubens Denis
Cassie DeWitt
Dianne DiBlasi
Andreanna Doering
Erika Doering
Jack Donaghy
Christine Elliott
E. Stuart Faith
Madeline Finnegan
Andrea Fishback
Dinah Foley
Maddie Franke
Hadley Franklin
Indigo Fray
Maria Leather- Fray
Warren Fray
Mike Frederick
George Frole
Chelsea Frosini
Eri Furusawa
Rebecca Gadzult
Gabriel Galperin
Nina Galperin
Judy Garza
Lori Genetti
Patricia Gilman
Cassandre Girard
Mathieu Girard-Reydet

Juliana Gittler
Yekaterina Gluzberg
Terry Goggin
Daniel Goldberg
Reut Gonen
Aaron Goodwin
Chutima Googijwatana
William Green
A.J. Grieco
Kim Grochowski
Sarah Gross
Leslie Gursky
Lilian Guzman
Emma Hannemann
Huck Hannemann
Jessica Hester
Patricia Hickey
Jonathan Hirko
Susan Hittel
David Hoffman
Lauren Holle
Christopher Holtz
Benjamin Hoser
Carol Huang
Kathryn Huff
Natasha Huljev
Nina Ippolito
Colin & Kai Jerolmack
Travis Jones
Clement Joseph
Acacia Judge
Gene Kansas
Riian Kant-McCormick
Constance Katsafanas-Eza
Dan Kaufman
Shawn Kay
Danny Kim
Sondra Kitchen
Kerry Kline
Jennifer Kornder
Samuel Krichavets
Keren Landman
Colette Laroya
Severine Launay
Larry Lawton
Oliver Lazarus
Jessica Lee
Maya Lee
Martin Legrand
Karl Leopold
Louise Leopold
Andy Levine
Ian Levinson
Suzy Levinson
Emily Liebert
Laura Lincks
Emily Lipstein
Dakai Liu
Tiffany Lui
Martha Mahaffey
Michele March
Anjali Marok
Lindsey Marx
Sandi Marx
Taly Matiteyahu
Evan Maxwell
Valerie McCarthy
Erin McGill
Tom McNamara
Julie Meredith
James Messer
Jonathan Metzelaar
Ian & Leo Michaels
Theodora Michaels
Breeana Moore
Helena Morrissey
Jack Morrow
Michelle Morrow
Adam Moses
Sara Moss
Kathrine Mott
Colleen Mulvey
Shane Mulvey
Aubrey Muñoz
Tara Murphy
Paul Murray
Edith Nachbagauer
Raffael Nachbagauer
Liz Need
Andy Newman
Phorphorn Niranviroj

Pamela Nullet
Sean O'Rourke
Joseph O'Sullivan
Laura Oliff-Maxey
Ben Owens
Maggie Owens
Nika Padidar
Sapna Parikh
Caroline Parr
Ann Passer
Ankie Patel
Deepak Patel
Ruth Patkin
Douglas Pickard
Brooke Pierce
Delaney Plant
Byron Pop
Leandro Portugal
Milena Portugal
Xiomara Portuguez
Heather Quick
Jorge Quintana
Caterina Ramos
Samantha Randazzo
Maddi Ring
Casey Riordan
Jules Rochon
Cindy Rodriguez
Kailen Rogers
Kim Rogers
Arturo Romua
Una Rose
David Rosenthal
Arthur Roski
Marvin Salinas
Noemi Salinas
Yvonne SanMartino
Kristi Saylors
Kaitlyn Schwalje
Evi Seely
Eric Seftel
Pearl Barker Seidman
Antonia Shann
Rie Shoji
Geralyn Shukwit
Miriam Sicherman
Judy Siegel
Shelley Simmons
Kaitlin Simonson
Chui Skidgel
Jerilene Slaughter
Nat Slaughter III
Maria Slusarev
Barbara Snow
Ronald Snyder
Noah Solorzano
Chris Stokes
Akiko Sugita
Sheryl Sulistiawan
Meg Tansey
Alex Tereshonkova
Audrey Thorne
Katrina Toal
Heather Tomko
Myrella Triana
Lisa Twenter
Joaquin Valverde
Vivian Vargas
Albert Velasco
Sarah Velasquez
Paul Velazco
Gianna Velazco Kline
Moira Voss
Alicia Wallace
Trevor Walsh
Shaoyou Wang
Kim Wetzel
Sarah Whittier
Nancy Widjaja
Marija Willen
Kim Willis
Heather Woodson
Kyra Wu
Elliot Yood
Miriam Young
Hayley Yudelman
Colin Zaug
Duncan Zaug
Kelly Zaug
Mike Zaug
Amy Zimmerman


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