In order to contrast a focus on (automated) species identification with the use of mobile applications, one afternoon of the BioBlitz weekend at Ecodorp Boekel was dedicated to noticing biodiversity in different ways, using different senses of our body and engaging with the more-than-human relations in our surroundings. 11 participants joined these sessions, guided by Michelle.
After an intensive morning that solely focused on digital, image- and data-based forms of interacting with local biodiversity, the first part of this session focused on reconnecting with the environment through our other senses. In a grounding type of meditation, we closed our eyes, smelled, and listened to the environment. We observed the ways the wind carries biodiversity around, noticed the sky that contains invisible species, and wondered what lives beneath our feet inside the soil. We meditated on how biodiversity contains life, death, and the compost in between. We tried to notice living beings both close by and very far away. We reflected on our curiosities and imagined connecting to the creatures that we would like to get to know better.
With this short activity we tried to wake up some of the different senses that we can use to notice biodiversity beyond visual and cognitive forms. Michelle then invited each participant to take 10 steps in a desired direction and write down 12 different things they noticed about the biodiversity from that spot. This activity was adapted from a recent workshop I joined about air pollution, organised by Waag Society.
Participants noticed the different smells in their environment, the ways the wind felt on their bodies and moved the leaves. They noticed small sensations and irregularities on different plant species. They used distinct language techniques to name their surroundings that departed from taxonomic names and involved adjectives related to their personal sensations. Participants noted 'cooperating ants', 'shiny snail slime', 'bird shadow', 'prickly branches', 'humidity', 'crackling', 'worm minis', 'dinner time', 'vulnerable/strong', 'unity', 'the wind that travels through the trees', 'richness', 'crawlers', 'passing fluff', 'itch', 'bird poop', and many other small and sensory-rich observations.