BRICOLAGE ON THE DART

The Flow Partnership’s Water Summer School is being run at Dartington on the banks of the River Dart in South Devon in June 2018, drawing attention to the practical water work done by local communities and farmers to protect water in our rivers.

The Community Action in Water using Citizen Science session was run by Elina Bennetsen, a water policy officer and activist from Belgium, and Rafaela Scheiffer, a Holistic Sciences graduate originally from Brazil. In the session they demonstrated their accessible ‘bricolage’ approach, which gave the participants the opportunity to test for themselves the Dart’s water quality by assessing oxygen levels (through the presence of particular macroinvertebrates), acidity, biodiversity and microplastics. We used a wide range of equipment, from a netted bundle of broken bricks (submerged for weeks prior to colonize the tiny creatures) and a DIY drainpipe sieve to a smart phone microscope.

The results….? All good on this occasion – the Dart appears to be relatively healthy…for now.

Citizen Science is a way for people to be involved in useful scientific data collection, to democratize science. Information gathered through individuals’ observations, grassroots action or technology-mediated crowd-sourcing can be pooled to great effect. Citizen Science is considered a research approach like any other and the field is growing rapidly, with new tools, initiatives and sharing platforms to help address volunteer training and data accuracy.

In the natural world, Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab is a pioneer. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world contribute bird observations to the Cornell Lab each year, gathering data on a scale once unimaginable.

Citizen Science is also a key part of The Bioregional Learning Centre’s River Keepers Programme. But it’s not the whole story. At root, there is a cultural problem – of taking water for granted and treating rivers as bottomless waste-disposal units as this article in the Guardian describes.

Not an easy problem to solve. River Keepers are needed who will look out for our rivers in a million different ways–not just out on the water. Threats come from elsewhere; broken oil tank spigots, the next micro-bead sensation, back-garden weedkiller. And what happens when (unlike today’s experiment) the river is turbid, unhealthy, dying…? We need a movement of people giving voice to our rivers, now.

Archive

OTHER POSTS…

River Dart Charter Making Workshop

Over 1,200 people so far have participated in creating the UK’s first River Charter for the Dart at Dartington. You are invited to join us to build a culture of care for water by giving a voice to our river and naming ourselves as co-stewards. Free and open to all....

“Water has an incredible memory”

It's easy to think of a river as a thing... water moving from source to sea, a corridor through a landscape, part of the hydrological cycle, what a boat floats on, or the thing that floods. Rarely do we give ourselves time to experience a river as part of a dynamic,...

Emergency – who calls it?

In his excellent article about Resilience, Michael Lerner emphasizes the importance of relevant, practical and local actions and points out that it is emergency planning that brings people together across political, cultural, sectarian, and ethnic lines. Thinking...

Common Sense

We have been having some lively interactions with some lovely academic researchers recently. The common ground is that we all want impact goals that are truly transformational. Our approach is to start in-place, have conversations and get all sectors talking to one...

BLC Annual Review

- BLC ANNUAL REVIEW 2018 Bioregional Learning Centre is delighted to have published their 2018 Annual Review - it tells the story of a hugely exciting 2nd year for the Centre and gives some tantalising clues about what's coming in the year ahead. Let's just say that...

Research Studies Are Like Truffles

- RESEARCH STUDIES ARE LIKE TRUFFLES BLC recently participated in an experience that was so much more than a workshop. FoAM is a network of transdisciplinary labs at the intersection of art, science, nature and everyday life. Their most recent UK AccessLab paired...

Oxford Real Farming Conference

- OXFORD REAL FARMING CONFERENCE BLC will be playing a key role at the 2019 Oxford Real Farming Conference. Isabel Carlisle will be chairing a panel discussion on 'Bioregions: a powerful way to reconnect people to land’ at this always lively event in early January...

3rd Archimedes Screw Fest

- 3RD ARCHIMEDES SCREW FEST The 3rd Annual Archimedes Screw Fest celebrates the River Dart and its most spectacular new landmarks - the twin turbines of the Totnes Weir hydropower scheme. Event date: 6th October, 2018 Time: 10am-4pm Admission: Free Join us as we...