‘The Lady of the Lakes’ – A conservation story to empower women by Olivia Frost

‘The Lady of the Lakes’ – A conservation story to empower women by Olivia Frost


‘The Lady of the Lakes’ – A conservation story to empower women

All my life I’ve loved nature; to me, conservation has always seemed like an obvious and necessary route to pursue. However, when thinking about when this love of the outdoors truly began for me, there is one significant and inspirational woman that influenced me from a very young age. That woman is Beatrix Potter.

My name is Olivia Frost and I am a 23 year old student studying on the MA Wildlife Filmmaking course at UWE in Bristol, with an undergraduate degree in Conservation Biology. For me, Wildlife Filmmaking has always felt like the perfect outlet for sharing stories that matter – so now is my opportunity to share a story that I think needs to be told.

Beatrix Potter is a familiar name; most children grow up hearing her stories and admiring her dainty artwork. However, what most people fail to realise is that Beatrix was so much more than an simply an author and artist – she was a forward-thinking, independent and brave conservationist whose innovative land management strategies enabled the protection of an entire UK landscape.

Beatrix Potter defied the rigid and often misogynistic confines of Victorian Society to dedicate her life to preserving the wildlife, landscapes, communities and traditions of the Lake District, shielding them from greedy Victorian developers so that they could be protected for future generations to enjoy. Because of her work, we still have the pristine Lake District landscapes that we cherish today.

As a result, for completion of my degree I will be making a self-funded short film called ‘The Lady of the Lakes’ which will be pitched and shown to the BBC’s Natural History Unit. My film will represent Beatrix as the woman she truly was; feisty, quirky and an inspiration.

Brought to life through re-enactments, the short documentary-drama will showcase British wildlife and landscapes alongside treasured Lake District traditions, such as the maintenance of Herdwick sheep. As a result, I am really hoping that my film will inspire others to follow in Beatrix’s footsteps and become more involved with conservation. I would like to encourage others to appreciate natural beauty particularly that of the Lake District which only exists in all its wild glory today, because of the invaluable conservation work Beatrix carried out.

I also want to tell people about the real Beatrix Potter- she wasn’t a delicate, twee Victorian lady, but a passionate woman who fought to protect the lands she loved. Therefore, I am hoping to use my film as a tool to really empower and inspire young girls to become involved in science and conservation. Beatrix faced many hurdles as a woman trying to enter a man’s world of Victorian science and conservation, but she persisted and prevailed – similarly, I believe the young woman of today should be inspired to be strong and fight for their passions and beliefs.

As a result, I’m currently trying to raise some support for my film. I am hoping to reach as many people as possible with my project and need to raise the funds to make it. I’d really appreciate any support you could offer me and my film, however big or small!

Beatrix’s life story is a tale worth telling and I hope her actions will continue to inspire others to engage with nature and conservation, for many years to come.

To find out more and to support the project, please click here: https://uwe.hubbub.net/p/theladyofthelakes/pitch/

You can also follow the project on
Twitter: @tladyofthelakes
Facebook: @theladyofthelakes
Instagram: @theladyofthelakes
Wordpress: https://theladyofthelakes.wordpress.com/

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Speaking at the Bath Spa University Landscape and Change Festival

Speaking at the Bath Spa University Landscape and Change Festival

On 25 February 2017, I was on a panel speaking at the Bath Spa University English Department one day micro-fest Conference, Landscape and Change Festival.

The conference was made up of lots of different academics and artists, such as poets and writers from around the country. This is a link to the Eventbrite listing http://bit.ly/2qhy1yI.

Speakers:
11.30 – 12.45 Panel 1. Activism, Education, Community
Introduction
Madhu Krishnan (academic, University of Bristol)
Jess Tamsin (organiser, Protestival)12.45 – 13.30 Lunch13.30 – 15.00 Panel 2. Nature, Ecology, Engagement
Mya-Rose Craig (Birdgirl, Black2Nature)
Lila Matsumoto (poet and researcher, University of Nottingham)
J.R. Carpenter (artist, writer, researcher, performer)

15.15 – 16.45 Panel 3. History, Memory, Creativity
Olivette Otele (historian, Bath Spa University)
Edson Burton (poet and historian, Bristol) Tony White (author, Piece of Paper Press)

17.00-18.00 Panel 3. Publishing, Small Press
Lily Green (No Bindings press)
Sarah Hayden (poet, University of Southampton)
Camilla Nelson (poet, artist and researcher)

I spoke about Black2Nature, Camp Avalon and my Race Equality in Nature Conference. The audience were great and were really interested in what I had to say.

The event was organised by Dr Samantha Walton in the English Department.

It was the first time I had been to Hamilton House on Stokes Croft, Bristol even though it was close to my Nanu’s house and down the road from where my mum went to school. It was really brilliant to walk around the area, soak up the graffiti and shop in a vintage shop with charity shop prices; great for me with my love of pre-loved clothing!

Afterwards I heard from Samantha that almost everyone wrote on their feedback forms that I was the highlight of the day. With all these amazing speakers, that was fantastic to hear. Thank you to everyone who was at my talk.

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Facing Islamophobic trolls

Facing Islamophobic trolls

Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

As many people know, as well as blogging I am active on social media with a Facebook Page and Twitter, to talk about what I care about.

I am open about being British Bangladeshi combined with my Dad’s British heritage. I post a lot about what I feel is wrong about the world, whether this is about conservation,  environmental issues, hatred, sexism, LGBT rights, human rights or indigenous rights.

I rarely talk about my religion as this is personal to me but sometimes when I see Islamophobic posts, I respond as a Muslim being attacked not just an activist. When people tag me and say vile and disgusting things to me about my religion or my community, they are attacking my very heart. I can’t separate myself from what I was born into and what I’m part of.

Since the Brexit referendum started, I have been regularly attacked by Muslim hating trolls. Some might say that they have the freedom of speech to do that, but I don’t agree. They don’t have the right to come onto the social media of a child (age 12 when these particular trolls started) and say hateful things. Because I have been bullied on-line so much, my parents check my accounts during the day and block trolls before I can see them, which I think ends up being 1-2 times a week. However, I still see plenty of them. I don’t respond, I just block them. Although it’s hard to forget something you have seen and is stuck in your head. I’ve never mentioned it before as it’s been something we’ve dealt with on our own as a family.

The hate against Muslims is everywhere.  I see it school, on TV, on social media, in all my local shops where papers like the Daily Mail stare up at me from the shelves with their racist headlines, from parts of my white family who think it’s OK to buy the Daily Mail or Sun and leave them lying around when I visit or who want to argue about race, Islam, terrorists or refugees. Basically it’s everywhere.

Since Donald Trump won the election in the USA, these racists trolls have the space to shout out louder. On Sunday 29th Jan 17, 4 particularly vicious trolls made me angry. I don’t know how they found me or how they knew I was Muslim. I blocked them and then tweeted this:

“I am a 14 year old Muslim birder. I have had to block 4 Islamophobic trolls today. That is what life is like 4 UK Muslims, let alone in USA” @BirdgirlUK

The link is to me tweet is

https://twitter.com/birdgirluk/status/825791555927736321

After tweeting, I went out birding and then came home and went to bed early. I was expecting a few close friends to like it but was shocked when I saw in the early hours that  I’d had a huge number of responses. It was overwhelming. In the end my tweet had 766 likes, 412 retweets and lots of supportive comments (and a few more trolls of course). Almost all were people I had never heard of, many from the USA. Some were birders I knew, birders I didn’t know, teachers, villagers; people all around me showing me that they were “with me”. The quote that sticks in my mind from the comments is Michelle Obama’s “as they go low, you go high”.

How many normal birders read that tweet and think to themselves, you know what, I’m going to reply to that child’s tweet and tell her why it’s OK to hate Muslims. Who thinks you know what, I’m going to tweet her and tell her what I think about Muslims or why Brexit wasn’t racist or why Trump is doing the same think as Obama etc. What kind of people are they? What has any of that and the anti Muslim comments that go with them got to do with my tweet? All the positiveness gave me the courage to speak to the Bristol Evening Post when their reporter Michael Yong contacted me.

This is the article on the front page of today’s Bristol Evening Post, http://bit.ly/2lzUKG2. If you are a UK birder, you may notice a few errors, but they’re not really important to the current issue, so please don’t focus on them.


Since talking about it, I do feel better but I think it will be a long while until I am able to read the Evening Post article or deal with some of the comments. It is just too painful….

Postscript:
There has been a very supportive article in The Sun, a right wing  racist tabloid newspaper, about my Islamophobic trolls. What is really ironic is that they have caused much of the hatred in the UK against Muslims with their own Islamophobic articles. I am hoping that a few of their readers will see this article and maybe think about the impact hatred has on people or a child like me. We haven’t read the article as my Dad is from Liverpool, so we boycott The Sun anyway because of the nasty lies they told about those at Hillsborough just a few days after the disaster in 1989. This is a recent article in the Guardian about the Sun and Liverpool Football Club http://bit.ly/2kcJQkQ. This is the link to The Sun, but I don’t want to encourage anyone to look at the article unless you are really interested in The Sun and it’s usual racism http://bit.ly/2laOgwA. Maybe they will use the  article to able to say that they’re not racist?

Another local article is the following one in SomersetLive http://bit.ly/2lzYKqo

This is another article in the Local Newspaper The Somerset Guardian


I think what has been hardest to deal with is the lack of support from those around me in school and outside in the white rural area where I live. I have always been aware of the few Minority Ethnic people where I live, but it is only now that I realised how little they understood or the impact of being the only muslim in my school of 1200 pupils.

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Horus the Peregrine Falcon and series of books

Horus the Peregrine Falcon and series of books

I was given a copy of this book by John Miles and absolutely loved it. If I’d had a book like this as a younger child, I would have been so happy with it. I do appreciate that not every child is as obsessed with nature and birds as I was, so I wanted to know what ordinary children would think of it.

So I took the book to every babysitting job that I had for 6 months, read the children the book and carefully watched their responses. What I saw was that all children loved the book. It didn’t matter if they were boys or girls, pre-readers or almost at secondary school. It was a big hit!

So based on my research I would thoroughly recommend this book and all the books in the series for any age child. There are very few storybooks about the wildlife around especially birds that do stand out, also they are very educational as well.< The books are by John Miles, quite a well-known birder and writer. The illustrations are by Barry Robson and are beautiful. I have done a video review with my 8-year-old niece speaking, so have a watch https://youtu.be/4GsBfui73u8

This is the link to the Amazon page for this book http://amzn.to/2kCc39X

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Article in Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing

Article in Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing

This is an article by Samantha Walton at Bath Spa University about my Camp Avalon weekend camps for young naturalists and BAME young people, Race Equality in Nature Conference in June 2016, Black2Nature and the Green and Black project in Bristol all working to getting more Minority Ethnic people out into nature and engaged with the environmental movement, http://bit.ly/2kCgL7E

I am going to be speaking at Bath Spa University about these projects on Monday 8 May 2017 at 4.30 pm if anyone would like to come.

Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Bill Oddie at Race Equality in Nature Conference
Stephen Moss at Race Equality in Nature Conference

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