Products of Change

DRIVING SUSTAINABLE
CHANGE TOGETHER

Tue 01 Mar 2022 | by Rob Hutchins

Life on the EDGE | One team's mission to get nature trending again

What’s purple, squawks like a chicken, and has a little snout nose? No, this isn’t the set up for what could quite possibly be the crudest joke you’d ever hear from the Products of Change platform, but for many of you, your very first introduction to India’s Purple Frog. We’ll forgive you for not knowing. This elusive little amphibian does, after all, live underground to only emerge one day a year for a breeding session. Feel free to draw the similarities with anyone you might know or work with, if you like – we’re keeping out of it. What else is little know about India’s Purple Frog is that it belongs to a class of animals described as EDGE – Evolutionary Distinct Globally Endangered – and it is categorised as such by a team of scientists, researchers, and content makers that has made it its mission to shine a spotlight on the little purple creature, and other EDGE animals like it, to help preserve the planet’s biodiversity. That team is called On the EDGE and it is thanks to it, that India’s Purple Frog is now the star and protagonist of its very own mobile app game. Because this is what On the Edge does. It’s a foundation whose purpose is to reconnect people with nature, and that means taking nature to the platforms on which Gen Zs are operating today.

Save the Purple Frog is just one of the mobile app games On the EDGE has developed around an endangered species.
“We believe that over time, particularly since the industrial revolution, people have lost their connection to nature, and their love and understanding of it,” Beth Blood, co-founder of On the EDGE, tells Products of Change. “By reconnecting a broader segment of society to nature, we hope people will choose to live more in harmony with nature, include it in their everyday thinking, and consider it whenever they make everyday choices.” The bleak message to emerge from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week is a difficult one to ignore. Amid the stark warning that we now ‘only have a narrow window of opportunity’ to lessen the impact of climate change, has come the recognition of the role that nature – and biodiversity – will have to play in buffering the impact of the climate breakdown in the coming decade. And so, conservation of the natural world is now more important than ever. And so is giving it the platform it needs. “To re-establish a connection, we are producing content that is mainstream and incorporates popular culture,” continues Beth. “Everything we produce will speak through the eyes of species and nature, but it will be produced in a way that resonates and is relatable to our audience. Our content is produced with Gen Z in mind, but we hope it appeals to all age groups in some way.”
On the EDGE founder Beth Blood (pictured left) and the On the EDGE mobile title, Kakapo Run (right)
That’s why in the Frogger-esque mobile app game, Save the Purple Frog you’ll be tasked with navigating our hero – a species of frog as old as the dinosaurs – through its real-life dangers, from pouncing snakes to the cars and trains that have endangered its home in southwest India, as it hops its way to the breeding ground where the frog lays its eggs. Likewise, Kakapo run sees players get their kakapo to safety by crossing a danger-ridden New Zealand to Sanctuary Island, fighting off hungry stoats as well as many other foes along the way. “By playing the game, you’re helping raise awareness for biodiversity and protect the Purple Frog in its real habitat,” says Beth, who set up the grant-giving organisation in 2018, moving from the financial services industry in Australia to pursue a creative means of connecting people with nature. “Besides content, we support numerous projects on the ground, our focus is on species that aren’t well known or as charismatic in the traditional sense,” she says. It’s true; tigers, elephants, and orangutans will often get the column inches, leaving the equally – if not more so – endangered species, such as the Kottigehar Dancing Frog, The Indian Pangolin, or the Great Hornbill, somewhat left in the cold. “The injustice I feel when I think of how we treat animals and nature is what caused me to focus on conservation,” explains Beth. “The feeling that all inhabitants had a right and should have a voice in how they live is what drive me. “I don’t have a storytelling background, but stories are what impact me the most. When I began to explore how I wanted to contribute and support species, the ideas I kept coming back to always had story at its heart. “I came across a set of weird and quirky species via our new CEO, Jonathan Baille, who was the Director of Conservation at ZSL, and they had my mind whirring with all the possible stories we could tell about them that would engage the youth in a fun and entertaining way.” And that is no small feat. Biodiversity isn’t necessarily the hottest topic among the 15 to 24 year old audience, not when pop culture is so central to identity and interests with in that age bracket. It’s why On the EDGE’s mission is to present nature in a way that integrates it within the platforms and content-scape those audiences gravitate to.
On the EDGE will roll out more content to highlight the need to protect some of the world's most diverse and endangered animals
“While climate change is a huge issue, not many people realise how dire the situation is for our planet’s biodiversity,” says Beth. “Extinction levels are at an all time high. This is mostly due to habitat loss. Climate Change, while historically hasn’t had much of an impact on species extinction, is starting to and the impact will only increase. “By producing content which is free, using mainstream and popular culture techniques, we believe we are democratising how nature is viewed and accessed, and hopefully help people engage, relate and see nature as a cool thing to include. “Right now, if people even think about nature, it is something that I out there, somewhere far away, and it is something they will get to when they have the time, if at all.” So, what is the One The EDGE plan, then? Well it doesn’t begin and end with one mobile app game about the Purple Frog. Developments are well underway to work with animation and production studios to roll-out swathes of content, aimed at hitting the 15 to 24 year old sweet spot, or as Beth puts it, “the generation that stands to inherit the crisis we face today.” “You have to tell these stories in a real, engaging, and can-do personality and tone,” she says. “It’s not about positivity or hopefulness, but rather an emotional connection, love and appreciation, and showing that we can make a difference. “Anything earnest or fear mongering drives people to despair which aggravates the disconnection as we shut down to block the fear and sadness. People want to be a part of something, and be fully engaged in it. I believe we are all tired of feeling helpless.” It’ll be long form and short form content, short and long form documentaries, and a suite of new gaming titles through which Beth and the team aim to engage and encourage audiences into action in the coming months. Ask her what’s next for the team, and Beth will say just as much. “It’s more and more, and more and more content. We are going all in on producing as much content as possible to reconnect people with the natural world. If not now, then I don’t know when,” she says. “Our goal is that in five years’ time, we will be known as the place to go and find entertaining content that happens to be all about nature, and by doing so, we will have engaged a broader segment of the population in the fight to preserve and restore the planet’s biodiversity.” And that’s everything from India’s Purple Frog and beyond.