I have recently been doing some 'light' thinking about the meaning of life, about our motivations and drives (well, mine) that prompt us on our daily routines and keep us going. This thinking prompt me to take a closer look at my personal life and identify where my priorities lie. Out of this personal brainstorm, a common-theme keyword came out: 'inspire'.
Those who know me, also know that I can get a bit 'geeky' when it comes to nature, and particular those little critters that live on the seabed (but also when it comes to all of the little terrestrial invertebrates that many dislike). And I would really like to pass on my knowledge harnessing my passion for all of these things, inspiring some geekiness in those who surround me. By inspiring as many to slow down and take a closer look to the little things and the delicate balances, i hope to inspire respect and willingness to protect these spaces. Because, who would like to protect something they know little or nothing about ?
This idea, brought more questions to my head.
How do we influence and inspire others?
Well, I am lucky to have a few tools at my 'disposal', and you do too if you'd like to join me on my quest!
Teaching - of course, giving a lecture can be viewed as an 'inspiring' as well as 'educating' activity. I believe that this is the ultimate way of getting some of the messages across about how delicate balances can be in the natural environment, and how is it important to really understand how the system function (and what functions are there) in order to avoid potential cascading effects. Plus, I like teaching the scientists of tomorrow about how to do good, scientifically sound, research into these issues that we are facing. But I feel that the audience is 'selected'., thus you will only reach a limited number of ears. Not only they are university students (potentially from some privileged background), but also they have chosen to study biology / ecology / environmental studies - so they were somewhat already inspired in the past. I know for a fact that when I went to uni, like many of my fellow classmates, I was already in love with the big blue ocean. Although, uni did inspire me. I arrived wanting to study dolphin and whales, and instead ended up falling head over heels for all of the little colourful things attached to hard substrates.. life, uh?! and i definitely was inspired by many of my professors atPlymouth University..
Outreach - outreach can be many things. From leading a citizen science project, to involve 'end users' (like farmers) in the science, through to taking people and children outside to look at nature. I have to say that I have taken part in both activities
Creating (and sharing) learning content for all ages - whether it is a documentary, a podcast or a book. I have a little niece and i have recently bought her a really nice hand-illustrated book on the story of Sylvia Earle (the famous woman marine biologist, who else). This idea came after seeing on twitter this nice illustrated book (unfortunately only in Portuguese) about seagrass and its importance in the ecosystem. Books can be very educative, and I must say many also have some very beautiful graphics! (I would love to make friend with an illustrator...). Funny enough, I have recently found out that my friend Kirti has written and published a really nice book about mussels (available on amazon, just click on the link below) - I need to get some more copies to spread some more mussel geekiness around, because, you know, mussels are not just good food but they are also super cool, and can feel scared, cooperate and deal with quite someharsh environments!
So, if you can tell such wonderful stories through an illustrated book that will captures the youngs (but also fascinate the oldies) then you have a great power. Children can be inspired by many things. I remember being fascinated by the many documentaries i watched on tv (oh the good old 'super quark' with Piero Angela, the italian version of David Attenborough), and I have a feeling that they played somewhat a part (okay my parents also did take me out a lot, especially on the water) . On the other hand, I really don't remember school being very 'outdoorsy' or nature oriented, so I must have gotten my inspiration from somewhere...
All of this to remind to everyone reading that 'Those who are children now, will be citizen tomorrow, and it's only by inspiring them that we can ensure future conservation and a better direction for this world'.
I am a firm advocate that we should not underestimate their power...
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