It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been at this for two years now and we have scrupulously avoided media coverage, until now. Why would a new startup conservation project avoid traditional news media?
From the very first, we realized that if our efforts were going to succeed, we needed to build real relationships with community members. One of our directors, Eugenia Bertulis, kept emphasizing in our directors’ meetings that to grow organically – slowly, deliberately, and with integrity – that was the way forward.
And so that’s what we have been doing. We had meetings with the most significant civil society organizations in The Creek – Science World, False Creek Residents Association, False Creek South Neighborhood Association, False Creek Watershed Society, to name just a few.
And we connected with outdoor education teachers at elementary schools – Crosstown and Elsie Roy, and many, many parents of kids in the wider neighborhood. Our amazing UBC Sustainability Scholar, Maggy Spence, held many sessions with kids we met through our friendships with Wild About Vancouver, Sea Smart Summer Camp, Hakai’s Sentinels of Change monitoring project, and many others.
We had meetings with amazing people – Nikki Wright, the founder of SeaChange Conservation Society; Peter Ross, one of Canada’s foremost experts on ocean pollution; Linda Nowlan, director of UBC Sustainability; Dr. Chris Harley, the ocean scientist who has been leading the analysis on how our recent “heat domes” have literally cooked the intertidal zone, resulting in billions of marine life fatalities. And so many more.
And that’s the way we have grown, and how we will continue to grow.
Our main insight so far? People are eager – almost desperate – to make a real difference in confronting the linked crises we are facing: climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification – all of which can be directly linked to human behaviour.
This is a powerful notion, and one that will fuel our work in the decades to come. Ordinary citizens, engaged in community science, will tell the story. And if that work gets picked up by a conscientious, intensely curious reporter like Michelle Gamage of The Tyee – so much the better!