A while back I wrote a piece about the need for environmental charities to embrace the 21st Century and engage more innovatively with social media, before castigating one for doing just that. I know, I can be a bit of an arse occasionally.
Now while the Green movement has shown itself to be pretty new-media-savvy – the #greensurge on twitter is really gathering momentum – most environmental charities are still a little slow off the mark, still a little set in their ways, still a little misjudged. There’s definite scope for the larger use of social media platforms for means other than self-promotion and marketing.
Well, I can toot my own horn a little about a very, very, very small project where I’ve been attempting to do just that. Last month I used Flickr to set up a Fixed Point Photo project on Tooting Common – (Fixed Point Photography is, in it’s simplest form, taking a picture from the same point on a repeated basis over a long period of time. It can be used to show changes in vegetation etc. both seasonal and over a period of years). It was so simple even a luddite like myself could manage it – it took barely 2 hours, including the time on site actually taking the pictures – and though it hasn’t really got many people involved yet (it doesn’t really need that many, to be honest), it’s an easy way for absolutely anyone with a camera to help with surveying and monitoring. I’m hoping that it’s an idea that other greenspaces might take up too, as an easy way to engage and fill gaps of knowledge.
And it’s not the only way you can get the public involved in survey work. Citizen science projects are booming, they’re a great way to get the public involved, increase a sense of ownership and fill knowledge gaps. They don’t even need a great deal of training – take the Tower hamlets online bee survey, a great project that involved a wealth of new volunteers in 2014 (and one I shall be stealing the format of in 2015). So for those working in the sector – it’s time to get inventive with Facebook and Twitter, let’s see what we can come up with.