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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Camp Avalon 12-14 July 2019 Details

Camp Avalon 12-14 July 2019 Details

 

BLACK2NATURE

Friday 19 July 2019 to Sunday 21 July 2019

Camp Avalon 2017

Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Shapwick Heath, Somerset Levels

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Book onto this amazing nature camp for young people aged 12-18 years. Into its 4th year, Camp Avalon has attracted a number of teenagers to the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury, to spend the weekend birding and getting involved with nature.  It is aimed at those who have no experience of nature and have never been to the countryside or camped as well as those already interested in being outdoors.  These are the links to Birdgirl’s blog posts about the 2015 weekend.

This year we hope to have lots of teenagers who are Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) and or live in the city’s areas of deprivation as well as those who live in the countryside. We will have plenty of activities for both groups.

VME or inner-city teenagers may be accompanied by an adult if they wish but do not need one to attend.

Girls and boys are in separate tents with adults. DBS checked adults will be with the teenagers at all times. All food will be halal.

 

Camp Avalon – Friday Night

http://bit.ly/1PpG6tC

Camp Avalon Mothing Workshop

Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Mothing Workshop
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Mothing Workshop

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Camp Avalon – Saturday

http://bit.ly/21m0TVD

Camp Avalon Sketching

Workshop Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Sketching Workshop

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Photography workshop

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon photography workshop

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Bird Ringing Workshop

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Bird Ringing Workshop

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Bird Ringing Workshop

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Sunday
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Camp Avalon Birding Walk

Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Friday 12 July 2019 to Sunday 14 July 2019

Camp Avalon – Programme

The programme will be finalised shortly depending on final numbers.

Friday 12th July 2019

All activities dependent on weather

5.00 pm

Pick-up St Paul’s Learning Centre

6.00 pm – 7.15 pm (CS)

Time to socialize and play football

7.15 pm – 8.15 pm (CS)

Dinner cooked on fires at campsite

8.15 pm – 9.45 pm(PF)

Talk and evening bat walk
Led by Lawrence Armstrong

 

Saturday 13th July 2019

7.30 am – 8.00 am (CS) Breakfast at campsite

 

8.00 am – 10.00 am (PF)

Looking at moths (dependent on weather)
James Packer, who writes the blog The Somerset Birder and is a Somerset birder and bird photographer

 

10.00 am – 10.30 am (CS)

Refreshment break


11.00 am – 1.00 pm (HW)

Birding at Ham Wall, searching for Great White Egret, Bittern and lots of other great birds.  Meet at HWCP.

Led by James Packer

 

1.30 pm – 2.30 pm(CS)

Lunch

2.30 pm – 4.30 pm (PFW)

Bio Blitzing James Packer and Helena Craig

4.30 pm – 5.00 pm (CS)

Refreshment break

 

5.00 pm – 8.30 pm (CS)

Downtime and dinner cooked on fire at campsite

 

9.00 pm – 10.30 pm (MD)

Looking for Nightjar on the Mendips (dependent on weather)

Led by Chris Craig, Avon and Somerset, British and world birder

Sunday 14th July 2019

7.30 am – 8.00 am (CS) Breakfast at the campsite


8.00 am – 11.00 am (PFW)

Bird ringing demonstration
Chris Craig (with Mya-Rose Craig assisting)

 

11.00 am – 11.30 am (CS)

Refreshment break

12.00 pm – 1.00 pm (CS)

Lunch

1.00 pm – 2.30 pm (CS)

Bird Photography
Helena Craig and Chri Craig

2.30 pm – 3.00 pm (CS)

Refreshment break

 

3.00 pm

Finish

4.00 pm

Drop off St Paul’s Learning Centre

 

Key to locations

CS – Paddington Farm, Maidencroft Lane, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8JN, Telephone: 01458 832752.

PFW – Paddington Farm Woods, near to Camp Site

HW – Ham Wall RSPB Reserve, park in the new Ham Wall Car Park if open or Shapwick Heath Car Park opposite, Ashcott Road, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 9SX

MP – Stockhill Woods, Priddy, Mendips, Somerset BA5 3BE (drive through Wells and then follow A39 towards Bristol and Bath, turn left onto Priddy Road and at the crossroads (with the Hunters Rest on the corner) turn right, the woods are on your right and park in the pull-in before the car park).

 

HWCP – Ham Wall RSPB Reserve Car Park, Ashcott Road, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 9SX

 

Bittern, Shapwick Heath, Somerset Levels, March 2015

Photograph was taken by and copyright Mya-Rose Craig

 

Cost

£20.00 per person including food and camping costs

Grants

Free places are available to those young people (and parents/family if they wish to come) from an area of deprivation or who are VME. Camp Avalon recognises that there are almost no young birders from black or minority ethnic backgrounds and so hope that these grants will encourage disadvantaged young people to be able to attend. All equipment needed will also be loaned for the weekend.

 

Thank you to the volunteers who have offered their time in order to pass on their knowledge to young birders.

Black2Nature

Thank you to Paddington Farm 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 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.

 

Transport

Free transport is available to and from Bristol, with pickup from St Paul’s Learning Centre, Grosvenor Road, St Paul’s.

 

How to Book

Please book on Eventbrite or e-mail helenabcraig@hotmail.co.uk or text 07798818772 with your name, address, phone number and date of birth and your child’s name and date of birth with any dietary requirements. Please also get in touch if you would like to get involved by volunteering.

 

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Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari

Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari

 

This is a wonderful inter-generational book about a pair of 11 year olds set in the future where children have to work on farms as we have lost our bees.  This book is suitable for all generations will character across age ranges. I love the fact that the siblings have a father called Nabil, which is my cousin’s name.

 

Thank you Sita Brahmachari for mentioning me in her acknowledgements for the book. I am so proud.

 

Synopsis

Two children must risk everything to escape their fate and find the impossible . . . A brave, thought-provoking adventure by award-winning author, Sita Brahmachari.

Shifa and her brother, Themba, live in Kairos City with their father, Nabil. The few live in luxury, whilst the millions like them crowd together in compounds, surviving on meagre rations and governed by Freedom Fields – the organisation that looks after you, as long as you opt-in.

The bees have long disappeared; instead, children must labour on farms, pollinating crops so that the nation can eat. But Nabil remembers Before and he knows that the soul needs to be nourished as much as the body so, despite the risk, he teaches his children how to grow flowers on a secret piece of land hidden beneath the train tracks.

The farm Shifa and Themba are sent to are hard and cruel. Themba won’t survive there and Shifa comes up with a plan to break them out. But they have no idea where they are – their only guide is a map drawn from the ramblings of a stranger.
The journey ahead is fraught with danger, but Shifa is strong and knows to listen to her instincts – to let hope guide them home. The freedom of a nation depends on it . . .

 

To be published July 11th 2019

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group
Blogspot www.sitabrahmachari.com

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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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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

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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