As part of the Creative Coalition, Dazed founder Jefferson Hack spoke to 18-year-old birder, environmentalist, and Black2Nature founder Mya Rose-Craig
Yesterday (November 9), the Creative Coalition, a three day festival by Creative England and the Creative Industries Federation, kicked off with a conversation between Dazed founder Jefferson Hack and Mya Rose-Craig, the founder of non-profit nature camp Black2Nature.
The 18-year-old British-Bangladeshi birder and environmentalist is often referred to as the UK’s answer to Greta Thunberg. She’s also the author of the popular Birdgirl blog and has a honorary doctorate in science from the University of Bristol (the youngest person ever to do so). During the conversation, Craig spoke about the importance of creating access to nature for BAME communities, how coronavirus has changed climate activism, the healing effects of nature on our mental health, and more.
The Creative Coalition is celebrating industry achievements amid the pandemic, as well as discussing what the future might look like, across the next few days. In an attempt to tackle this and build solidarity among self-employed creatives, the Creative Industries Federation also recently launched a community membership.
Below, we highlight five things we learned from Jefferson and Mya’s conversation.
INTRODUCE YOUNG PEOPLE TO NATURE
Craig spoke about her nature initiative Black2Nature, which aims to create access to nature for BAME communities, who are much less likely to live in rural areas, or have access to urban green spaces. “I’m a bird watcher, I’ve been going out in nature my whole life, and I wanted to give that opportunity to other kids,” she said.
The camps aim to introduce young people to nature through camping and activities like bird watching, bird ringing (where you hold a bird), and bioblitzing, where you identify as many species of plants and animals over a short period of time.
DIVERSITY IN THE NATURE SECTOR
Responding to the lack of diversity within the nature sector, Craig talked about the systemic issues that prevent nature NGOs in the UK from engaging with BAME communities, referencing the fact that only 0.6 per cent of environmental professionals are non-white.
“It’s a very homogenous sector,” she said. “There’s a lot of stereotypes around a certain type of person that will work in the nature industry, which is being very white, being relatively middle class, and privileged.”
But she maintains that change is happening: “Six years ago, people didn’t want to talk about race and diversity, it was very uncomfortable,” she explained. “People didn’t want to have those conversations or maybe even acknowledge that the organisations that they worked for might be discriminatory in any way shape or form. Honestly, the biggest difference is that those attitudes have shifted a lot, and now people acknowledge that there’s an issue – and they're trying to fix it.”
Creative Coalition 2020 goes LIVE at 11am! Join us for exclusive performances & groundbreaking discussion with @junesarpong@livlittle@BirdgirlUK@GeorgeThePoet@Dazed@Konnie_Huq@CarolineNorbury & Sir Steve McQueen. And its FREE https://t.co/ZUj1whQxIFpic.twitter.com/d7c0ro8ugG— Rachel Johnson (@RachelJ_CE) November 9, 2020
THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCESSIBILITY
Craig spoke about how lockdown highlighted the priveledge of accessing green spaces, especially in cities. “Whether it was because the local parks were locked up or because they didn’t have access to the countryside, people had the need to go out but they weren’t able to,” she said.
She also observed how the pandemic has changed the way people engage in climate activism. “A lot of young people still feel very strongly about this issue, even if they’re not able to go out into the streets and protests, and a lot of people finding different ways to express that whether it’s through a virtual protest, or signing a petition,” she said.
LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Craig spoke about the tendency for young climate activists to overwork themselves and burn out. She believes connecting with nature is key to coping with anxiety and staying mentally and emotionally well. “I think just taking a step away from social media, that constant news cycle, and just breathing is so important,” she said.
ENGAGE IN LOCAL NATURE INITIATIVES
She urged people to take part in low level rewilding projects to help “our environment recuperate from human activity”. “Pretty much every inch of our countryside has been degraded or affected by humans in some shape or form,” she said. “I think that rewilding is so important – we’re not trying to shift it back to how it was 1,000 years ago, we’re just making sure that we’re looking after the wildlife that we still have.” She added: “Rewilding could be letting the grass grow longer or planting trees locally.”
Creative Coalition runs between November 9 and 11. You can find out more here