Nature Interpretation Workshop

One of my lecturers held a workshop for his new students in collaboration with the municipality. The aim was creating new ideas for nature interpretation in a nature area inhabited by garlic toad, red-backed shrike and sand lizards – and with a cycling trail going straight through an old barn!

KAa04191

60 students were working in pairs and groups to help the consulting firm arrive at new ideas for how to make this area appeal to different user groups – mainly families with children. From a giant toad to a lizard walk and a sandbox, lots of creative ideas were generated.

It was my job to be the press contact and we managed to get on regional television so I am fairly pleased with that result.

I think the project owner, the consultants, the students and the lecturer had a good time as well. There were a lot of post-its on the board afterwards, so who knows what might be seen on location next year?

http://www.tv2nord.dk/video/51886 @ 1:40 ish

Views of Nature

Hans Fink, in ‘Nature Through Western Eyes’, talks about different views of nature. Let me share them with you:

The Wild
Nature is that which is not culture, it’s the things that are untouched by humans, the uncultivated land. It relates, in a way, to the neolithic pioneer farmer who fenced in parts of nature and cultivated it. Nature is all that he hasn’t touched.

It might be hard to find any nature anymore when using this perspective.

The Rural and the Green
Nature is the thing that is outside the big cities and the farm land which would be culture according to the previous view is now part of the green land where we spend summers, leisure time and trot along nature trails. This view of nature seems to be a child of industrialisation – we romanticise that which we left behind.

The environment
Nature is everything that is ‘not us’, the things that are out there, and there is a duty for us to take care of nature, nature views become normative, we are stewards and custodians. This view of nature can be linked to conservation movements and the aim is to not affect nature too much.

The physical
Nature is that which obeys the laws of nature as opposed to the metaphysical things. One day, we will have understood things well enough that everything can be put in this category. This view of nature has traits of enlightenment, is what we would normally call scientific and sees nature as inanimate.

The Earthly
Nature is the non-divine and the non-demonic. It is the creation made by a creator, and is everything that is not magical. It is that which can be seen. Humans have a special role in this understanding of nature, because we have been created in Gods image, or hold certain mediator functions.

The Whole
Nature is all of the above, but nature is also all of the other things. You cannot have anything without it being nature – if it exists, it is nature. We often think that our relationship with nature is broken, but it is not possible, we are in nature and nature is in us. Instead, it is likely that it is our thoughts that play tricks on us when we think we can escape nature, be above it, or apart from it. Nature is holistic and talking about non-nature is really quite absurd.

Hans Fink says that while everything is nature, that does not mean that what we do with it is without consequence. Quite the opposite. But once a choice is made, that choice is ‘natural’, because from that moment on, it exists, as a fact and by virtue of existing and being real, it is part of ‘it all’, it’s now nature.

I’m in a film

A few weeks ago, I was invited by one of our nature interpreters to play a small role in a promotion video for the opening of a new section of the old Cattle and Army Road, the Hærvejen in the North of Jutland. I thought I would post it here.

The narration is Danish but talks about the many layers of history – how the main character could have been a peasant, a soldier, a merchant in different layers and different times. How if we could recall the images of past times, we’d have a myriad of memories and pictures available to us.

Being in the film was fun. Not tried that before.

All credit of course to the makers of the film, their names will appear toward the end of the video.

Learning new software

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into the Local History & Archives library and said something to the effect of ‘Hello, please teach me something relevant to my field.’ Of course, I used some slightly different words and the lady said: I’m afraid we don’t have any money to pay you and that the tasks we need to get done are perhaps too boring for someone who likes to work with interpreting things. Office tasks.

I said: That’s perfect! I have a few hours spare. How’s Tuesdays for you guys? Well, I didn’t say that quite like that either, but you get my drift.

Why is it perfect? Because I like to know all the work that goes into something before some front stage monster like me comes around and puts the icing on the cake. Because it teaches me skills. Gives me more contacts. Teaches me to adjust in a new workplace. Gets me more knowledge about my town. Because it might lead to problem statements for later projects. Because it teaches me more respect for other professions in my field and enables me to communicate better. Loads of good reasons.

So now I am doing data entries and editing records in a database of pictures of the town I live in. My ‘boss’ was impressed that she didn’t have to say things too many times. I have the advantage of having learned how to build basic databases myself so I can see behind the scenes and follow the logic, thanks to a friend who spent a few weekends teaching me. Thank you, friend.

Before I left, boss told me she would ask their nature interpreter to maybe let me tag along for one of their events. See, I am already getting more in return than what I put in.