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Friday, November 20, 2015

Remembering Project Bow from A Decade Ago

In the early years of Project Bow, we used to put out an annual DVD in which we chronicled our methods, successes, challenges and hopes for the future. The 2005 Project Bow DVD was the first of these.

The 2005 Project Bow DVD
In those days, I would work with Bow tirelessly all day long, then edit the video in the evenings. As this was our first DVD, then opening sequences were both instructive and lyrical, prospective and retrospective.

If you want detailed information of our earlier methodology, including things that did not work for us, such as the EasyTalk device, and how we eventually settled on printed menus, then the next section can be illuminating. on the other hand, if you are easily bored, you might want to skip this part, as it lacks dramatic tension.

The next part introduces the program that was instituted when Bow turned three, including the menus instead of templates, the Floortime sessions and the internship program.

Part Four continues with Floortime methodology.

As the Fall internship comes to a close, there is some manifest success, as when Bow spontaneously uses his words to invite a stranger to play, but also some dramatic conflict, as Bow attempts to display rather than simply say "No" to an offer of play.

The interns sum up their accomplishments, and then it is time for Sword to engage Bow in play using the Hebrew lexigrams. The very final part of the 2005 DVD features the music of Bettine Clemen, and has me summing up the real problem: that Bow is such a great non-verbal communicator that he sometimes does not see the point of using his words.

The closing credits of the 2005 DVD are my favorite part, as we watch Sword and Bow playing together, both outside and indoors. Do you recognize some of the scenery from my walks? This is the same place we are living in now, but so much has changed. It is not just that Sword and Bow have grown up, but also that new trees have sprouted up in the field behind us, and now we have a much better environment for the local wildlife.

Bow holding up the 2005 Project Bow DVD today
As Bow and I look back on ten years of the Project, there is a sense of great accomplishment. Bow had his breakthrough in 2007 and can spell. He is no longer limited to lexigrams. But there is also still much to accomplish, including some way to safely get Bow back outside to roam in the fine natural setting that we have right outside our doors.

For the deer, the borders of our land are marked by the fact that they are not hunted here. But how can we mark the borders for Bow, so that he, too, understands that it is not safe for him to leave the perimeter? By the same token, how do we keep strangers out?

Sometimes I stand on my land, and I look into the adjoining field, and I worry that during hunting season someone could just walk across. I've never seen anyone do that, but it worries me.

It's so beautiful out there in my overgrown pasture. Let's hope we can find a way to make that work for Bow.


  1. I hope your future efforts for Bow can be realized. Have you considered opening a Patreon account in conjunction with the videos you make about Project Bow. Many YouTube creators have these, and people will donate to the account as they appreciate the content of the videos. This would be a way for people who are interested in Project Bow to perhaps support the future efforts to give Bow the freedom to once again move around outside.

    1. Hi, Julia. I am not familiar with Patreon accounts on Youtube. Is this something new? I will try to look into it and see if this would be something that might help.

  2. It is, but a lot of youtube personalities have one. I am still thinking about creating one, but I have not thought about how I want to present it. I think since you have a Project Bow DVD this would be something to offer to certain levels of pledgers on the site. For instance, people who pledge 25 or 50 dollars get certain rewards from the person they want to support on that site. These pledges help youtubers buy better cameras, finance art projects, or devote more time to various projects. You seem to have this outlined well with project bow, so I just think you would have more concrete things to present on such a page than I would. I am thinking about doing it myself, but I just have not considered how I want to approach it.

    1. That is very interesting. I will definitely look into it. I would want to be careful though, because I want to make sure that is a solid, solvent site, and not something shady.

  3. Unlike some people, I don't think you should part with Bow, however, I think your biggest issue is giving him room to roam. I don't see how any intelligent being could be happy spending 24/7 in such a small enclosure. Have you considered turning your land into a Chimp sanctuary? You could solicit non-profit donations and perhaps even get Bow a mate. Hope you don't mind the unsolicited advice, but this is the internet afterall

    1. Hi, Scott. Turning my property into a real sanctuary for a limited number of chimpanzees is precisely what I would like to do. But I don't want to get caught in the trap of Federal regulation, 501(3)(c) exemptions, the possibility of being audited if someone does not like political statements I have made, and even the requirement of a board consisting of two other people besides me, who could outvote me on every decision.

      I went so far as to consult with an attorney about this, and she said: "Can't you put your husband on the board?" "I don't have a husband," I told her.

      I have done all my research on my own, with donations from family, but without giving anyone a vote. I feel this is very important, because once you have a board, the board can change, and I know of researchers who got ousted from the board they set up, and then lost their apes, and are now fighting battles to regain custody, which are taking an enormous toll on the apes and on themselves. I don't know of a safe way to expand without losing control.