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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Volunteering at Camp Chew 20-23 June 2019

Volunteering at Camp Chew 20-23 June 2019

Bio blitz
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

 

Youth Worker at nature camp for teenagers from disadvantaged, VME or rural backgrounds.

We desperately need volunteers from 20-23 June 2019 at Compton Martin & Chew Valley near Bristol.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Photocopyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Camp Avalon 2017

Photography copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

 

Volunteer tasks

By 17 June 2019 – split between volunteers

  • to prepare an Eventbrite report with contacts for children/volunteers.
  • to finalise the camp programme and e-mail parents/volunteers.
  • to finalise a breakdown of tasks with who is responsible for what.
  • to prepare and print parent consent forms.

Camp Avalon 2017

Photo copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig


On 20 June 2019 Campsite 10 am and 6 pm

  • to help move camping equipment from storage to the campsite;
  • to help put up 6 large tents;
  • to help set up all equipment needed for the campsite; and
  • to help do food shopping.

 

21 June 2019 1.00 pm to 3.30 pm 

  • to finish setting up at the campsite.

 

21 June 2019 3.30 pm to 5.00 pm

  • to travel back to Bristol with our driver.
  • to pick up the minibus before picking up children.
  • to ensure parents sign consent forms.
  • to remind parents that they need to both come to pick up their children for a camp feedback session and so the children can have their free gift.

Camp Avalon 2017

Photo copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

 

21 June 2019 5.00 pm to 22 June 4.00 pm

  • to be nature volunteers engaging teens in nature activities; or
  • to work as a youth worker engaging with VME children age 7-11 year olds at our nature camp;
  • to talk to children about nature;
  • to talk to children about how going outside helps with mental health;
  • to talk to children about the need to protect the environment
  • to talk to children about what they can do to help the environment and wildlife
  • to support nature volunteers who are providing expertise;
  • to supervise football games
  • to help with camp cooking, supervising toasting marshmallows, washing up and tidying up, serving meals;
  • to ensure children have the equipment needed for sessions;
  • to ensure children pack up all their belonging.

Working on our camps will leave you feeling incredibly positive about the future.

Media – to take photographs and video footage, interviewing the children about their experiences at the camp, how they have benefited and about how it made them feel from a wellbeing/mental health point of view.

Camp Chew 2017

Photo copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

22 June – 4 pm to 6.30 pm

  • to travel back in the minibus with the children;
  • to help set up a table and Gazebo outside St Pauls’ Resource Centre with literature from Time to Talk, a mental health charity;
  • to talk to parents with their children about the camp, how the children enjoyed getting outside, how it was good for their mental health and academic achievement, what the parents can do to carry on with that in terms of continuing to take their children outside and enjoy nature.
  • to then talk to the parents about mental health in order to raise awareness of the issue;
  • to let the children have their free water bottle after these discussions have taken place;
  • to if possible, video the parents about what they feel the benefits for their children have been.

 

23 July 10 am to 5 pm

  •  To take down tents, pack up campsite and put into storage.

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Podcast “all about me” for The Sound Approach by Charlie Moores

Podcast “all about me” for The Sound Approach by Charlie Moores


 Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

This is a podcast that I did for Charlie Moores from The Sound Approach (TSA) podcast. I am talking about birding in the UK, world birding, Race Equality in Nature, racism, twitter trolls and being President of Black2Nature.

The Sound Approach Podcast interview of Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

An edited version of this podcast is going to be on the Lush shop podcast which I am very excited about as Lush is my favourite shop and perfect for my teen vegetarian/almost vegan, environmentally friendly, low impact products that actually work and smell great to. Also, Lush is a Bristolian slang word which mean lovely or gorgeous. If you Add Gert to make it “Gert Lush” that adds “very”. So Mark Constantine, if you ever read this, I’d love to be a Lush Ambassador!

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BME in STEM – A Bristol University Report 2019

BME in STEM – A Bristol University Report 2019

Copyright BME in STEM Report

On 6th February 2019, Black2Nature attended a conference at Bristol University, BME in STEM organised by a first-year PhD student, Lara Lalemi

Lara Lalemi opening at BME in STEM Conference Panel
Copyright BME in STEM Report

The report produced is essential reading for anyone who wants to see an increase in diversity in the nature conservation, nature media and environmental sectors.

BME in STEM Report

Primary recommendations (for within 1-5 years implementation) are:

  • Unconscious bias training for all University staff and students, mandatory for members of committees or interview panels, and for personnel involved in teaching.
  • Instigate mentoring schemes aimed at supporting BAME accepted applicants, students, and staff.
  • Provide a diverse curriculum that includes BAME contributions to science and ensures diversity on teaching committees. Where it is not possible to find diversity in professorial staff, the introduction of BAME post-doctorates and postgraduates to the committee should be implemented.
  • Introduce anonymised applications in the undergraduate recruitment process.
  • BAME role models are needed at all career stages and can be provided through outreach activities, invited speakers and by ensuring the curriculum includes contributions made by BAME individuals to STEM.

BME in STEM Conference Panel

Copyright BME in STEM Report

 

A detailed action plan summarising all of the recommendations can be found at the very end of this document.

Within a year of submitting this report, a follow-up review will be conducted to assess how far the university has come in implementing these changes.

 

Panel and Speakers:

BME in STEM Conference Panel

Copyright BME in STEM Report

    • Cllr. Cleo Lake; the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of Bristol
    • Dr Erinma Ochu MBE; Lecturer in Science Communication and Future Media at the University
      of Salford
    • Dr Emmanuel Adukwu; Senior Lecturer (Biomedical Science) and Employability Lead –
      Coordinator UWE Africa Network and Africa Week at UWE
    • Dr Mark Richards; Senior Teaching Fellow and Head of Physics Outreach at Imperial College
      London
    • Professor Fred Manby; Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at University of Bristol
    • Professor Christina Hicks; Lecturer in Political Ecology at Lancaster University
    • Nasra Ayub; Undergraduate Education Officer at University of Bristol Student Union Doctoral College

Cleo Lake at BME in STEM Conference Panel

Copyright BME in STEM Report

 

Facilitators:

    • Mr Sammuel Zubair; University of Bristol
    • Ms. Rebecca Scott; University of Bristol
    • Mr Robiu Salisu; University of Bristol
    • Miss Nuzhat Tabassum; University of Bristol
    • Miss Angela Suriyakumaran; University of Bristol
    • Mr Khalid Hammad; University of Bristol
    • Mrs. Helena Craig; Bristol local
    • Dr Mark Richards; Imperial College London
    • Ms. Jenny Hawkins; University of Bristol, GW4+

BME in STEM Conference Panel

Copyright BME in STEM Report

Helping Members:

    • Ms Sally Patterson; University of Bristol
    • Miss Tumi Edun; University of Bristol
    • Miss Vicky Phung; University of Bristol
    • Miss Maggie Kadembo; University of Bristol
    • Mr David Nzewi; University of Bristol
    • Miss Nana Agyare; University of Bristol
    • Miss Mwaka Sipula; University of Bristol
    • Mr Jamie Davis; University of Bristol
    • Mr Julio Mkok; University of Bristol
    • Miss Emma Crossley; University of Bristol
    • Miss Mae Masters; University of Bristol
    • Miss Joanna Clowes; University of Bristol
    • Miss Marla Mbemba; University of Bristol
    • Dr Natalie Pridmore; University of BristolREFERENCES
  1. http://www.rsc.org/globalassets/02-about-us/our-strategy/inclusion-diversity/cm-044-17_a4- diversity-landscape-of-the-chemical-sciences-report_web-2.pdf accessed 10/03/2019.
  2. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/inclusion/race-in-the-workplace/ accessed 10/03/2019.
  3. Higher education student and staff records, HESA, 2017, https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-andanalysis.
  4. Dualeh, BME Attainment gap, Bristol SU, 2017, 1-37
  5. https://medium.com/@erinmaochu/connecting-people-place-re-thinking-bme-in-stem-
    bce9faf44cbd accessed 03/03/2019.
  6. R. Glover, T.G. Harrison, D.E. Shallcross, Acta Didactica Napocensia, 2016, 9, 79-97.
  7. L Muller, S. Roberts, R. C. Wilson, J. J. Remedios, S. Illingworth, R. Graves, T. Trent, J.
    Henderson, J. Wilkinson, M. Wilkinson and A. Desai, Phys. Educ. 2013, 48, 17
  8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-40497882 accessed 10/03/2019.
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/may/05/bristol-university-slave-trade-
    history?fbclid=IwAR1vL6MUOdyu6ueTy8Mb6Tn1PuFI07R13mFlMEJ9CWHxeVAjW6Af2Bjb7m4
  10. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alumni/13ristol-alumni/prominent-alumni accessed 10/03/2019.

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Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing Conference with Bristol Festival of Nature on 13 June 2017

Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing Conference with Bristol Festival of Nature on 13 June 2017

On Tuesday 13 June 2017 at the Watershed in Bristol, I was a speaker in a panel at a one-day conference organised by Bath Spa University with The Bristol Festival of Nature.
I spoke about Camp Avalon, Race Equality in Nature Conference, Black2Nature and encouraging Black Asian Minority Ethnic people out into nature and engaging.

Afterwards, we answered questions as a panel which was the first time I had done that formally, which I really enjoyed.

This is their blog post about the event http://bit.ly/2sZbuvf

It was really amazing to get so much positive feedback and someone approached my mum a couple of days later at an event to hear that my talk was spot on and in their opinion the best of the day!

Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Watershed
Copyright Mya-Rose Craig

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