Minority Ethnic peoples’ rural heritage

Minority Ethnic peoples’ rural heritage

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Mrs M and her granddaughter

An issue that I feel strongly about is getting Minority Ethnic people out into nature whether it’s in an inner-city park or a rural nature reserve. As I see it, nature and conservation are almost completely white and this needs to change. I have been talking to many nature charities about this and asking that they engage with minority ethnic people.

I have organised two nature weekend camps for teenagers, called Camp Avalon 2015 and 2016, bringing together young naturalists with you minority ethnic teenagers who have never been into the countryside. I also organised a conference called Race Equality in Nature last June with Bill Oddie and Kerry McCarthy as the main speakers and set up Black2Nature, an organised that will be working with the nature charities to improve the number of minority ethnic staff, volunteers and members that are from minority ethnic communities.

Much younger minority ethnic people haven’t heard anything about their heritage other than their knowledge that it is city-based, liked they and often their parents have experienced. So I decided to interview four minority ethnic elders who all came to Britain in the late ’50s and early 60’s and all have grandchildren living in central Bristol. I wanted to find out about their childhoods, especially about the ways in which they connected with nature and the outdoors.

I was hoping that young Minority Ethnic people when they heard these interviews, would gain a sense and understanding that their heritage is in fact a rural heritage, not an urban heritage.

This programme was broadcast on Ujima Radio today and had two of my interviews, firstly Gene Messiah who is 80 years old, came to Britain from Barbados in 1956 and secondly a 77-year-old lady from Jamaica who was embarrassed about being on the radio and so didn’t want her name mentioned. She came to the UK in the early 1960s. The first interview is 3 minutes in and the second 24 minutes in.

The first hour, 12 noon to 1 pm – http://listen-again.ujimaradio.com/index.php?id=33588

The following hour has an interview with Judy Ling Wong who set up the Black environment Network in 1987. I met with Judy today to discuss the progress I have been making with Black2Nature and talking to the nature charities and getting advice and inspiration.

Second hour 1 pm to 2 pm – http://listen-again.ujimaradio.com/index.php?id=33589

I will be posting the two other interviews shortly. These were particularly important to me as one was my maternal grandmother (nanu) Asma Ahmed who is 74 years old and came from Bangladesh in 1961 and the other is Akmal Khan who is 75 years old, came to Britain in the early 1960s and grew up in the same village as my maternal grandfather Feroze Ahmed (nanabhai) and so I wanted to know as much as I could about the village, as he died before I was born. I did all the recordings and editing myself and have some of my own recordings that I will add to the post shortly.

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Women March and sexism in birding

Women March and sexism in birding

Today we saw millions of people march in the USA, London and across the world in #WomensMarch to protest again Donald Trump bring the 45th President of the USA due to his disgusting, derogatory and dehumanising comments against women and his racism.

This is a day that shows that women will fight back against sexism and I felt it was a good day to re-post my two blog posts about sexism in birding, nature and conservation.

The posts are from Nov 2015 and Jan 2016, but nothing has really changed since the time I wrote the blog posts, except I have organised another Camp Avalon for young birders and Minority ethnic teenagers, a conference about getting Minority Ethnic people into nature called Race Equality and set up Black2Nature.

Please read if you haven’t already bit.ly/2jCGf13 and bit.ly/2kdjI9X.

Person by person, let’s change this world of objectification and misogyny.

Thank you.

 

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

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Avon Wildlife Trust Keynsham Group Talk “Born to Bird”

Avon Wildlife Trust Keynsham Group Talk “Born to Bird”

Last night I gave an one and half hour talk to Avon Wildlife Trust  (AWT) Keynsham Group. My talk was called “Born to Bird” about how I got into birding, my journey to seeing 4500 birds in the world and the conservation projects I am involved in. I was particularly pleased to do the talk without any notes and still not forget anything.

The organisers of the group said that normally their January Talks are very quiet, so apologised in advance in case there was a small audience.

Instead, my talk had a record audience with quite a few kids and teenagers there, which has never happened before. They had to bring out all the chairs and the room was packed with more than 60 people.

What was lovely was that AWT members came from around Bristol, not just Keynsham. It would be great if one day it was possible for me to give a talk in Bristol itself.

Ian Barratt, the CEO of AWT was also there with his two children, so no pressure 🙂

It was lovely to have a chat and meet his children and hopefully inspire them. I loved speaking to this group, particularly as the audience was great, laughing at my photos and jokes and being really interested in what I have managed to do. So thanks again. I even got invited back to speak more about Spoon-billed Sandpipers.

One of the many lovely messages that I received after the talk:
“My mother and I thoroughly enjoyed last Friday evenings talk given by your amazing daughter. Your parents have given you golden opportunities and you have grasped them fully with both hands”

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

A recent article about me in the local newspaper, The Keynsham Voice, and the great work of The Avon Wildlife Trust

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Stejnegar’s Stonechat at Dungeness, Kent

Stejnegar’s Stonechat at Dungeness, Kent

This Stonechat species had been at Dungeness, Kent for over a month and finally we couldn’t ignore it any longer.

DNA results had confirmed that it was in fact a female Stejnegar’s Stonechat from Asia.  As such it would be one of a few records of this species for the UK. However, the bird wasn’t like typical records and so the DNA test is being carried out again, just to be sure.

So far neither the BOU nor UK400 are counting this species as a full species. However, the IOC World List that I follow does include it as a separate species. It’s almost unheard of for this to happen, where a new bird would be counted on my world list but not the UK list.

Taking all of this into account, we decided to go to see the bird on the basis that it made sense for it to eventually be added to the British list and at least hopefully UK400 would add it.

In any case, as it was a new bird for our world list, it was definitely worth going to see just for this.

We made a late start at 7.30 am but still arrived at Dungeness in Kent at 10.45 am. Although it had been raining on and off during the journey, Dungeness was really warm for January at 16 degrees, sunny with lovely winter light.

As we parked up, it was clear that birders were looking at the bird.  We had heard that the bird was mobile and so not necessarily easy to see. So, just to be sure, we grabbed our binoculars, jumped out of the car and stared in the direction that the birders were looking. We immediately saw the Stejnegar’s Stonechat on a nearby post, which was a lovely little pale Siberian Stonechat type species.

Stejnegar’s Stonechat, Dungeness, Kent
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

The pressure being off, we stayed for an hour, getting amazing views of the bird on nearby posts.  As the bird was mobile, we decided to stay where we were and wait for it to come close and be in the best place light wise.

Stejnegar’s Stonechat, Dungeness, Kent
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

From here, we went to the RSPB reserve and caught up with a few birds that were new for the year. We managed to see a great collection of birds including 2 Long-eared Owls, 1 Redhead Smew, 3 Slavonian Grebe, a 1st winter Caspian Gull and a Great White Egret. There were plenty more birds to try and see but unfortunately, I needed to be in Bristol for 6 pm as I was interviewing someone for Black2Nature. So finally at 2.30 pm, we dragged ourselves away from Dungeness.

I loved catching up with so many great birds and it made me contemplate year listing again, for a few moments! I do definitely plan to see lots more birds this year, especially focussing on the ones I haven’t seen for a while.

We also met Jonathan Nasir, The Random Birder, who was from Hackney, London http://therandombirder.blogspot.co.uk.
It was interesting to hear how he got into birding. His Dad had nature books on their bookshelves which Jonathan loved looking at and so he became obsessed with birds by quite a young age.

Postscript – A week later the second DNA test showed that this bird was in a fact a European Stonechat. The previous DNA test had been mixed up with the Spurn bird from later last year.

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Speaking at Association of Science (ASE) Educators Conference 2017

Speaking at Association of Science (ASE) Educators Conference 2017

Today was a really interesting day, as I did a one hour talk at the Association of Science Educations (ASE) Conference 2017 at Reading University.  The ASE is a membership organisation for Science teachers and I spoke to those teaching pupils aged 11-18 years.

It was interesting to visit Reading University and look around as well as Reading, I have visited Birmingham, Manchester and Cambridge.

My talk was about how they were a key part in the programme to get more BAME people into nature, by them concentrating on teaching secondary age teenagers about nature, conservation and environmental issues as well as trying to get them interested in and connecting with nature. I focused on the need to educate pupils about studying sciences, ensuring that they and their parents understand the professions that they can go into with say a biology degree, such as conservation or environmental careers.

I talked about the research, Camp Avalon, the Race Equality in Nature Conference and Black2Nature.

These are my slides and notes from my talk and it would be great if you could spread it to as many people especially teachers to read possible:

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AlHI1zymOkP6lRV-4q0zbGKfHl1q

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at ASE Conference
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig
Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at ASE Conference
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig
Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at ASE Conference
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

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