One of the key aspirations when we set up a new biodiversity partnership was to bring together separate causes, groups and individuals and improve the flow of ideas and information between them. The thinking is that a great deal of positive practical work and advocacy for nature goes on quietly and unnoticed which could be better shared across the area. By sharing and networking we hope that grass-roots projects can offer mutual support and encouragement, solve problems and generate new ideas, learn from each others successes (or mistakes!) and generally grow into a friendly supportive network for nature.
The crucial element to this it to encourage people to talk about what they are doing locally and make connections with others attempting similar things. Connecting for Nature has set up social media accounts with the most popular and widely-used channels, namely Facebook and Twitter but as time goes on and more is learned hopefully we shall expand our range.
Many people have grown up with electronic communication. Some have known nothing else – they cannot imagine a world before mobile phones and wi-fi. These people are sometimes called ‘Digital Natives’, notionally those born after 1980, since they are so immersed in the omniprescent digital world that they cannot imagine how we lived before the internet. They expect everything and everyone to be available to them, quite literally in the palm of their hand, through digital channels. They always turn first to online resources to find out information about a place, a club an event or an activity.
Anyway, this digression, interesting though it may be underlines the importance to of all of us, of any age, making efforts to embrace the digital communications era. If we don’t then how will we reach and preach to the younger generation, the next generation of naturalists, landscape managers, campaigners and leaders.
If you are not familiar with Social Media, then read on for a brief description of the outlets we use for Connecting for Nature, the links will take you directly to the sites. They may be viewed online by non-users (eg those who don’t yet have a Facebook or Twitter account), but to interact and respond you need to have an account of your own. If you need guidance with this get in touch and we will try to help.
This online forum is about joining people together with a common interest in biodiversity-related work in our part of Yorkshire. It is a Group rather than a Page meaning that all members can contribute (and are encouraged to do so), not just the users who are ‘Admins’ for the Group. The Facebook Group now has over 130 members and steadily growing. Because this is run in parallel with the more official email list of Partnership members, it is much more informal, immediate and sociable, allowing anyone to comment and respond to pictures, news, links etc. We are trying to be liberal in our membership thus ‘anyone who cares about nature in Ryedale, Scarborough or the Howardian Hills’ can click the button to request to join. Then an admin can approve you. Members can ‘share’ a post or page or event from elsewhere on Facebook, which is quick and easy or write their own words to accompany a photo so there’s no reason to be shy. Come and add your voice to speak up about local biodiversity. What’s close to your heart? Do share news, stories, questions, requests.
Our a Twitter account, @CFNature is growing in following (94 accounts follow it at time of writing) but is necessarily biased to the Scarborough end of our patch as most tweets are generated by Tim (who entered the twittersphere in 2012 as @CarrsWetland). We do have the capacity to share the account details with other users who can tweet as @CFNature now and then – please contact Tim (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more.
Instagram is a hugely popular image-based social platform for mobile devices with millions of users worldwide. Users can take a photo (or short video) or select one from their phone’s gallery, crop it (traditionally Instagram uses square images), apply filters add captions and hashtags and share or ‘Instagram’ it. Other users can comment, like, share the images they like. Generally speaking the best examples of Instagram accounts are about quality not quantity. Our intention is to post a striking nature image every week or so. The ‘bio’ part of the account profile offers a handy place to promote the other social platforms, twitter, Facebook group and this blog. Its also great fun. Try it for yourself!