Black2Nature & me

Black2Nature & me

I am President of an organisation called Black2Nature, which I set up when I was 14 years old and is Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) led.  We campaign for equal access to nature for all, especially VME communities who are currently excluded from the countryside. We run nature camps,  arrange nature activities, organise race equality in nature conferences and campaign to make the nature conservation and environmental sectors ethnically diverse.

If you are able to donate money to us or you are able to volunteer for the nature camps or helping behind the scenes please contact equalityinnature@gmail.com.

I have organised eight nature camps for inner-city mainly VME children and teenagers, getting them engaged in nature by making it relevant to them and having plenty of VME role models. The most popular sessions are those where the young people can get close up to wildlife like bird ringing, mothing and even bio blitzes. The young people are all individuals and so, as such, like different sessions. The camp for teenagers is called Camp Avalon and is 2 nights and takes place on the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury. The camp for primary age children is called Camp Chew and is for 1 night and takes place in Compton Martin in the Chew Valley. Other activities are birding, nature sketching, nature photography, making nest boxes, looking for Nightjar, bats, mammal traps and camera traps.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Avalon 2015
Photograph copyright young brder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig bird ringing & holding a Marsh Tit
Photograph copyright young brder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

We ensure the young people attending our camps come from a varied background including different VME backgrounds and religions, White British young people from areas of deprivation within the city as well as those from affluent backgrounds in the countryside where they have little contact with VME young people with strong customs faiths. It is really important for community cohesion for the young people to mix together and spend time with people they do not normally get time with, to break down barriers and reduce radicalisation on all sides.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Chew 2017
Photograph copyright young brder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Chew 2017
Photograph copyright young brder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

After my first nature camp in 2015, I wrote to the CEO’s of the four biggest nature conservation NGO’s starting a conversation about the lack of diversity in their organisations, whether Trustees, staff, volunteers or members. I had a positive response from them but I decided that due to school I needed to meet them all together and save time!  The Natural England’s Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) Report March 2019 looked at how often children visited green spaces. 73% of none-VME children visited frequently, which drops to 57 % for VME. 75% of children from higher socio-economic groups (A & B) visited frequently whilst 65% for lower socioeconomic groups (C & D). Therefore, clearly, race and ethnicity have a larger impact than poverty, although this does have an impact.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Avalon 2016 Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

I have interviewed VME elders about their lives growing up “back home”. All talked about their rural childhoods, swimming, being out in nature and helping with family smallholdings. However, their grandchildren’s generation mistakenly thinks their heritage is urban, however, we can still engage them by referring back to their country of ethnic origin. 83% of British people live in cities, with a disproportionate number of VME living in bleak inner cities. NGO’s must, therefore, start to communicate with people from all ethnicities and backgrounds. The starting point is for their HR, IT and Finance teams to become ethnically diverse, which leads to improved performance. Therefore, these discussions led me to organise a conference in June 2016, called Race Equality in Nature Conference kindly sponsored by Bristol Zoo which I opened and then with the Key Speakers being Bill Oddie, Kerry McCarthy, Stephen Moss, Dr Richard Benwell, Monira Ahmed Chowdhury, Rachel De Garang & Jini Reddy and lots of experts in race equality, diversity and inclusion. Those who were there commented that it was the first time that those working in conservation had met and discussed the issues with those from BME communities or experts in racism. We had workshops on what were the barriers to VME people getting out into nature, what could be done to overcome the hurdles and creating VME role models.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig with Bill Oddie at Race Equality in Nature Conference 2016
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
Young Scots at Race Equality in Nature Conference 2016Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Since 2015, I have been leading the campaign to make the environmental sector diverse. Of environmental professions, only 0.6% are VME the second-worst sector for diversity after only agricultural ownership. I have had meetings with many of the leaders of conservation organisations, speaking at conferences and writing on the topic. This is an article that I wrote for the Chartered Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management. I was also the Minister for Diversity in Conservation in Chris Packham’s People’s Manifesto for Wildlife and was the first speaker at his People’s Walk for Wildlife.   I and Black2Nature organised another conference with Emmanuel Adukwu at UWE Bristol which took place on 2nd October 2019 called Race Equality in Nature: The Next Gen 13-30. As set out above and would like to invite you to take part. The speakers including Asher Craig (Bristol Deputy Mayor), Cleo Lake (Bristol councillor for the Green Party),  Zakiya McKenzie (Black & Green Ambassador), Lara Lemi (Bristol University STEM student and organiser of BMEinSTEM Conference, Chris Packham (Nature presenter), Stephen Corry (CEO Survival International) and Becky Speight (CEO RSPB). The conference aimed to work through the journey of a VME young person, highlighting the racism within the sector that needed to be addressed.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Youth Strikes 2019
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

We expect half of those attending will be in senior roles in the nature conservation & environment sector, nature media and environmental education with the other half being BME educators, conservationists & environmentalists and experts in race, diversity & inclusion as well as BME communities.

Links

Camp Avalon

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/06/camp-avalon-in-making.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/06/camp-avalon-friday-19-june-2015.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/06/camp-avalon-saturday-20-june-2015.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/07/camp-avalon-sunday-21-june-2015.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/06/camp-avalon-review-and-planning-for.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2016/07/camp-avalon-2017.html 

Diversity

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2016/06/how-ethnicity-and-wealth-are-impacting.html

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Zero waste on the go – Guest blog from #WasteNothing Challenge

Zero waste on the go – Guest blog from #WasteNothing Challenge

In April this year, Bristol Waste Company launched the Bristol #WasteNothing Challenge.

Fifty households, of all shapes and sizes, from across Bristol have signed up to try and reduce their waste and recycling down to zero over the course of a year. Through their activities we have been finding out all sorts of interesting ways to avoid creating waste.

Having a few lightweight bits of kit in your bag ready for whenever you leave the house could make a huge difference to the amount of rubbish you create when you’re on-the-go. Here are some of our top tips for reducing waste away from home.

 

Be Tupp-aware

Are you going somewhere there might be food? Having a clean container, like an old ice cream tub, with you means that you can swoop in and save any tasty leftovers to eat later. Some shops and take-aways will also let you use your own containers.

 

The last straw 

Having a reusable straw in your bag means you can whip it out when ordering a drink to make sure they know you don’t want a plastic straw ending up in your glass.

 

Refill, not landfill 

Taking a refillable water bottle with you will save you from buying drinks in single-use packaging. Loads of places will let you refill your bottle for free, and you can download an app that shows you where here.

 

Pack your bag 

Take a backpack, take a reusable shopping bag and produce bags or simply re-use existing ones.

 

Be a snack detective 

If you are buying food and drinks on the go, try to either buy things without any packaging or check out what packaging it comes in to see if it can be recycled. Or alternatively, plan ahead.

Comments from Mya-Rose Craig AKA Birdgirl

At our camps, we try to ensure that we have virtually nothing to throw away. Atendees bring drinks bottles, all our plates and cups are reuseable and we have no straws or baby wipes.

Ensuring that the children and volunteers who attend our camps learn about nature conservation and environmental issues through our discussions.

Discussing how our camp being vegetarian benefits the planet, why litter is bad for the environment and wildlife and why we are aiming to make our camps zero waste. Often when they arrive, they think nothing of chucking litter on the floor which we have to discuss with them. Having recycling boxes close by help.

Total waste from Camp Chew March 2019

Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

 

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Philosophy behind Black2Nature camps

Philosophy behind Black2Nature camps

Camp Chew March 2019
Black2Nature is committed to Enabling Visible Minority People (VME) and those from disadvantaged and deprived backgrounds to get outside into green spaces where ever they find them and so engage with nature, by Working with nature conservation & environmental organisations, Nature TV & media & nature education sector to adopt diversity as a core value, ensuring their staff, volunteers, trustees and membership become diverse; ensuring training on equality, diversity and inclusion and VME communities; carrying out monitoring throughout their organisations and committing to making change;

Enabling those from VME and areas of deprivation to access nature and as the outdoors is essential for physical activity and health, mental well-being, enjoyment of our beautiful planet and to ensure our cities become sustainable;

Sports at Camp Chew March 2019
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Ensuring that the children and volunteers who attend our camps learn about nature conservation and environmental issues through our discussions;

Discussing how our camp being vegetarian benefits the planet, why litter is bad for the environment and wildlife and why we are aiming to make our camps zero waste.

Total waste from Camp Chew March 2019
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
Thank you

Thank you to Compton Martin Village Hall and the many people who have supported Black2Nature and these camps and to Chew Valley Ringing Station and the birders who have offered their time in order to pass on their knowledge to young birders. Thank you also to Yeo Valley for the donation of ice cream and butter.Thank you to Opticron for the donation of five pairs of compact binoculars and discounted optical equipment to this project and to Bristol Ornithological Society for the donation of £2500 for 20 pairs of binoculars.

Thank you also to Go Outdoors for discounted camping equipment and Blenheim Scouts for discounted use of their minibus. Thank you also to Burns Price Foundation, Quartet Community Funding, Community Access Support Services and Alpkit for helping to fund our projects.

 

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Kit List Camp Avalon for those being dropped off

Kit List Camp Avalon for those being dropped off

CAMP AVALON KIT LIST
For teenagers being dropped off

 
Please note: This list is for guidance 
Please label everything with the child’s name
General
Small holdall or bag to carry belongings
(no large suitcases, large bags or plastic bags)

Completed and signed parent consent forms

Camping Gear
2 Season sleeping bag or duvet
1 Folding camp or garden chair
1 Torch/phone with a torch
Mealtimes
Plastic drinks bottle (to carry a drink during activities)
Extra blanket for sitting on (if you have one)
1 small packet of snacks or sweets (must be vegetarian and nut-free eg jelly tots)
Clothing (in addition to what they arrive in)
The number of clothes must be sufficient for 3 day/2 nights with a spare set of clothes in case of rain or cold
1 Warm comfortable clothes for bedtime (it might be cold)
3 T-shirt
2 Warm tracksuit-top/fleece/hoodie
2 Outdoor trousers or tracksuit bottoms (jeans are not ideal but acceptable)
3 Pairs underwear & socks (thick socks if you are wearing wellies or boots)
1 Walking boots, wellies or old trainers
1 Warm waterproof coat
1 Cap (so no hair styling needed)
1 Woolly hat (if the weather is cool)
Other items
1 small towel or flannel
Washing kit (minimum of toothbrush and paste & comb)
Bin liner (for wet/dirty clothes)
Suncream and hay fever medication
Medication – must be named, in a clear plastic bag and handed in or if needed kept in a safe place
1 mobile phone may be brought but is not needed
1 pair binoculars (if you have or can borrow them)
1 digital camera (if you have one or can borrow one)
Do not take to camp:
Anything electronic, except a mobile phone, such as electronic games, MP3 players, I-pods, etc. They are too easily lost or damaged
Shell suits/nylon clothes – extreme fire injury risk
Aerosols, matches, lighters, or any other flammable liquid or gas – these are dangerous
Anything valuable
Any food items
If you are not sure of anything on, or not on, this list, or do not have items then please ask Helena Craig, who can be contacted on 07798 818772 or campavlonuk@gmail.com 

Camp Avalon 2017
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

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Camp Avalon Kit List

Camp Avalon Kit List

CAMP AVALON KIT LIST
Please label everything with the child’s name

Please note
Please do not send your teenagers with any food (it will be taken away), duvets, sleeping bags, pillow or cushions. We will provide sufficient food and snacks, have to be careful of allergies and do not want a group of teenagers on a sugar rush.

General
Small small school backpack to carry belongings
(no large suitcases, large bags or plastic bags)

Clothing (in addition to what they arrive in)
The number of clothes must be sufficient for 3 days /2 nights with a spare set of clothes
1 Warm comfortable clothes for bedtime
2 T-shirt
1 Warm tracksuit-top / fleece / hoodie
1 Outdoor trousers or tracksuit bottoms (jeans are not ideal but ok)
2 pairs underwear and socks (thick socks if you are wearing wellies)
1 pair old trainers (as it might  be muddy)
1 waterproof coat
1 Cap (so no hair styling needed)

Other items

1 drinks bottle (to carry a drink during activities)
1 thin blanket (if you have one)
1 small towel or flannel
Washing kit (minimum of toothbrush & comb)
Plastic bag (for wet/dirty clothes)
Suncream and hay fever medication as pollen counts higher in the countryside
Medication – must be named, in a clear plastic bag and handed in or if needed kept in a safe place
1 mobile phone may be brought

Do not take to camp:
Any food items including sweets/snacks
Anything electronic such as electronic games, MP3 players, I-pods, etc. They are too easily damaged or lost
Shell suits/nylon clothes – extreme fire injury risk
Aerosols, matches, lighters, or any other flammable liquid or gas – these are dangerous
Knives or pen knives
Anything valuable

If you are not sure of anything on, or not on, this list, or do not have items then please ask Helena Craig, who can be contacted on 07798 818772 or helenabcraig@hotmail.co.uk


Camp Avalon 2017
Photography copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Work With Me

If you would like to know more about what I do or what services I offer, you can find out more below.

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