Last weekend, I did something a bit different from my usual science-ing: I got invited to give a workshop at ‘TADA‘, an organisation that gives ‘workshops for the future’, a Saturday school for economically disadvantaged children in the city of Brussels.
Those children come to school (mostly) by free will every Saturday, and learn about different professions in society. These weekly classes, every time with ‘real world people’ actually presenting their own jobs, opens up their world to everything that is out there and shows them how their future could look like. And they love it!
I went there as a biologist (a word they had never even heard before), to tell them about ‘life in the city’. I showed them that even in a big city like Brussels, us humans live together with a lot of wildlife and plants. I taught them how to search for traces of this wild world outside the door, and awed them with the diversity of species that they could find if they looked, even in the city.
They learned a lot, enthusiastically matching the different traces to the correct species. For me, it was another great excercise to broaden up my research, and highlight those parts that are relevant for everybody, even for the children of the suburbs of Brussels. That main message is: us humans are dramatically changing the ecosystem for plants and animals. By changing the climate, yes, but also much more directly by just living the way we live, in our cities, villages and far beyond. And that is important to realize, even (or especially so) if the feral pigeon is the only bird you’ll notice all day.