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 micro-aggressions 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).
Resources and further reading