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Engaging Environments: being active in nature

Green space work as a labour of love. The fourth post in a blog series about the Engaging Environments project in Birmingham written by our former Community Engagement Officer, Rob Tilling.

It is very clear why Jackie* attends our green space work sessions; she loves to labour. Being a volunteer on other organised work projects across the city, Jackie came to us to work. Typically, she will look towards taking on the most labour-intensive role at any session. This may involve barrowing and lifting, digging and mattocking or just endurance. No matter what though, she will always look for a taxing job.

Upon arrival at a session, Jackie will simply request “you just tell me what to do” and after a brief explanation she will work independently for long periods. Having much experience in the green space work we carry out, she could make many decisions herself, but she always waits to be instructed.

Jackie’s drive is apparently quite different from other volunteers’, but she does enjoy being with other people. She is a respected and valued member of the local volunteer work community and her absence at work sessions would not go unnoticed.

When work requires more dexterity, technical skill, socializing or being run, Jackie tends not to attend. She is very clear that she is coming to work and that she wants to be worked hard during these sessions. 

*name has been changed to protect anonymity 

 


This blog is part of a series of vignettes written by our former Community Engagement Officer, Rob Tilling. Rob shares his experiences and encounters with different volunteers who took part in our NERC-funded ‘Engaging Environments’ project in Birmingham. The aim of 'Engaging Environments' is to adapt citizen science projects such as Earthwatch’s Naturehood programme in a way that meets the needs of different communities and to make environmental science more inclusive. Rob established a series of locations – allotments, areas of council land and neglected green spaces, where people can come together and undertake practical tasks which are good for wildlife and nature but also for their own wellbeing. In line with the mission of Naturehood, the aim is to inspire people to take action for wildlife in their own gardens and green spaces. The NERC 'Engaging Environments' project continues. A documentary about this project can be watched here.

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