Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager

This week, I’ve been working on an incredible RSPB project. Our Minsmere reserve is having a bit of a make-over and in the new year we will have a fantastic, dedicated learning centre for youngsters and families to come and be inspired about nature.

And then, the riots happened in London and my attitude shifted. Not about the project I must add; I feel passionately about our role in inspiring our future generations about the natural world. But, what really made me sad was starting to think about the future that we will be leaving for our children and grandchildren to grow up in.

I think it is safe to say that we have an ever increasing split in our society. One where young people are either driven by stealing clothes from Top Shop and abusing Blackberry messenger to mobilise mob looting or by climbing trees and getting on Facebook to sign a petition to safeguard sea-life.

In the world I see everyday, working for the RSPB, young people of all ages, are inspired to explore and have adventures. To get their hands dirty and discover bugs and stag beetles, and to be wowed by a red kite flying over head.  It seems to me that we have two, very different, diverging attitudes conflicting with one another.

When I saw the rioting taking place in London, a place I know and love, I was appalled. Totally sickened by the prospect that mindless acts of vandalism were dominating our society. And for what? What exactly will be achieved through such rage and aggression?

Whether there was a motive or not is totally irrelevant in my mind. Behaviour like this makes a mockery of everything that we have in our lives that is so precious. Our natural environment, our health, our futures.

So, what’s changed? Why are some young people so withdrawn from the natural world; one of the fundamental things that makes the word go round?

Blaming social media outlets like Twitter for this is not fair and isn’t an accurate reflection of this media forum. The RSPB uses Twitter everyday and it helps us to mobilise positive support for key conservation campaigns in a constructive way. A way that is listened to and taken notice of.

Inspiring people to take action in the right way has driven some key conservation successes over the years - the marine bill, the legal protection of our birds of prey, the wildlife and countryside act, and the list goes on.

For the children and families who will be coming to our new Minsmere learning centre and discovery zone next year, I hope that we are able to inspire them about the world they live in. Inspire them to become the naturalists of tomorrow and the conservationists who will really make a difference. Perhaps then, they will form that majority of society and have a greater impact than a mindless minority.

Photo credit: Carolyn Merrett (rspb-images.com)

Article in Eastern Daily Press on Saturday 13th August 2011

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