Annual Theme “All Things Bright & Beautiful” – Blog #8: “Bee-ing There”

Our recent series of Lent lectures have been a real success and a fascinating insight into the wider word of ecology and conservation.

We began, back in the dim light of February with the lovely Dr Ruth Valerio, who spoke about the work of A Rocha and the value of ‘living lightly’ on the planet. Ruth’s engaging talk highlighted several simple changes we can make, which would benefit ourselves and the planet.

Dr Ruth Valerio of A Rocha

Next up we enjoyed the cheerful tones of Dan Oakley, Dark Skies Ranger for the South Downs National Park, which stretches from Winchester in the west, right across to Eastbourne in the east. He introduced us to the now infamous ‘Frankie Howerd Memorial Gesture’ which reminds us to tilt our external lights downwards in order to help reduce light pollution, benefitting not only nocturnal creatures but ourselves as we become better able to appreciate the natural beauty of the constellations.

Our third lecture was actually a walk in the park, or rather, in the woods! Led for us again by the inimitable Dr Sara Collins, a group returned to the Forest of Bere (also known as 100 Acre Woods) to revisit the places we’d explored in midwinter, all those months ago.

Our fourth session took quite a different approach, when Sharon Court, our creative practitioner, led a reflective workshop using natural materials. Sharon created five different stations featuring wood, stones, water and flowers where people could engage in a guided meditation using those objects as the focus for their thoughts and prayers. Afterwards the fifth station offered a space to use additional materials to create something meaningful which could be taken home.

Our fifth and final session saw the charming Professor Dave Goulson sharing his love of bees – especially bumblebees – with a packed audience. Dave helped us to understand more about the nature of bees and the considerable challenges they face from a reduced habitat and increased use of pesticides. Particularly sobering was the knowledge that one farmer he’d spoken to was applying on an average field, twenty different chemicals, includingpesticides and fertilisers each month.

One consistent message throughout this series, which each speaker has reminded and encouraged us with, is that while the situation facing our environment may be challenging there is still much we can do to make a difference. From changing shopping habits and the direction of our outside lights, to planting wildflowers and taking time to reconnect with nature – all the small and simple changes we make, add up.

It is by bee-ing there (if you’ll excuse the misspelling!) that we can make the greatest difference. By educating ourselves, by being present and aware of

Professor David Goulson of the University of Sussex

the needs of our environment and what we can do to improve it – this is how we can and do make a positive difference to our world.

We’ve enjoyed the Lent lecture series so much, that we’re planning to sprinkle in some additional lectures throughout the remainder of the year, in order that we can include extra speakers we weren’t able to fit in. if you know of someone who might be a good addition to this roster, please email sharon.court@gmail.com with your ideas!

Also, look out for the Grassroots Festival on Saturday July 15th, which will provide more opportunities to meet local organisations and hear about their work, as well as TED-style talks from researchers at the University of Portsmouth. More details coming soon!

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