2020 RDLS event guidance: Black Lives Matter

We are not suggesting a specific species/ ecological story for Lost Species Day events in 2020. Instead, we invite organisers, if they wish, to use this year’s RDLS as an opportunity to explore the ways in which white supremacy has shaped their organising spaces and thinking, and to consider how their work can or does contribute to and strengthen the growth of the intersectional environmental movement. We will host an online event in November on this topic with the specific intention of spending time learning together and moving forward in clear and energised ways that help embed anti-racism in all Lost Species Day activities going forward.

Here is a brief guide to the kinds of activities and processes we encourage for Lost Species Day. We offer these suggestions in a spirit of collaboration and learning, reflecting on mistakes and moving beyond fragility and defensiveness, in service of a fundamental shift away from white supremacy in people’s bodies and minds.

We encourage Lost Species Day event organisers to do the following:

  • Talk about species in their relevant cultural, ecological, historical and political contexts. E.g. if discussing extinction/ endangerment due to deforestation, think also about forest communities facing increased danger due to COVID-19 and persecution. Or, if your event marks the disappearance of a local bird, research the processes that drove this. Recognise and discuss how they harm some people and benefit others. Isolating animals from their context risks de-politicising extinctions and obscuring the webs of relationships that underpin biodiversity.
  • Consider accessibility and inclusion. Work actively to amplify the perspectives of people affected by the drivers of extinction. Simplistic storytelling that reinforces frames that ‘other’ and exclude can be a kind of violence. Can you make the event feel safe and accessible for all prospective participants? Think about:
    • Who is organising the event?
    • Who is invited?
    • How is the event being promoted?
    • Whose voices and stories will be heard?
    • Whose memories will be shared?
  • Think carefully if you are planning to use practices from cultures other than your own. If you are interested in a specific cultural practice, consider inviting someone grounded in that culture to lead or explore it with you. We recognise that this is a complex area, and that cultures emerge from many influences.
  • Acknowledge and learn about colonial atrocities, past and ongoing, that underpin white supremacy. Structural racism is a foundational part of people’s contemporary lived experience in the UK and the global north, often unrecognised by white people. Events where white people grieve ecological loss may not feel like safe places for Black people and people of colour, who often face microaggressions and other harms when issues of racial violence are being addressed (or not) in mixed spaces. The attendance of non-white participants is not necessarily a marker of the success or inclusivity of an event.
  • Build solidarity: listen to and amplify the voices of people on the front lines of ecological harm. Indigenous and place-based communities are the stewards of 80% of Earth’s intact biodiversity. Celebrate peoples who have been caring for biodiversity and resisting climate change and colonialism for centuries.
  • Support, amplify and donate to Black and indigenous environmental activists and environmental organisations. Read, follow – and where relevant offer platforms to – Black and indigenous scientists, scholars, artists and thinkers (see resource list below for further inspiration).

There are many ways to participate in Lost Species Day – please do whatever you prefer. If you would like to contact us at lostspeciesday@onca.org.uk to let us know your plans, we will add them to the map of events.

How to join RDLS 2020

  • Join and share the FB event
  • Like and share our FB page
  • Let us know if you hold an event, and we can help promote it
  • Document your event and share any images, text etc with us via Twitter or Instagram @lostspeciesday, or email us at lostspeciesday@onca.org.uk. Use the hashtags #lostspeciesday and #lostspeciesday2020
  • We also welcome blog posts for this website.

About Remembrance Day for Lost Species 

Remembrance Day for Lost Species, November 30th, is a chance each year to explore the stories of extinct species. These stories lead to the stories of critically endangered species, ways of life, and ecological communities. Set up in 2011 in response to species extinctions resulting from human activity, Lost Species Day is an opportunity to make or renew commitments to all who remain and to collaborate on creative and practical solutions. The primary intention of the day is to create spaces for grieving and reflection. Previous activities have included art, processions, tree planting, building Life Cairns, bell casting and ringing, Regenerative Memorials and more. Explore this website for examples of past events.

Lost Species Day is a voluntary initiative supported by a loose collective of artists, activists and charitable organisations.

Image credit: Wren by Jackie Morris