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Fair Game at the Game Fair

Just to catch up with a quick report on the CLA Gamefair. Trout in the Town featured prominently on the WTT stand - with its artificial stream including an urbanised section for the first time. Features such as cobbled stream bed and concrete slab side walls were augmented with a couple of "fly tipped" black bin bags, an old pallet and a couple of bottles to represent typical problems faced by urban watercourses. This feature was a surprisingly effective draw (either to people who immediately "got" it - or, perversely, also for people who started to complain that the bottom end of our display looked a state......cue WTT "yes we think its unacceptable too: step this way and hear about our urban restoration project").
Entirely unexpectedly, it also turned into a spontaneous sociological experiment. Throughout the weekend the "fake" rubbish was supplemented by an increasing amount of litter deposited by the general public. A perfect illustration of the "permission" people feel to litter absolutely anywhere that there is an existing precedent. It only takes on person to break down the initial taboo - and everyone else will follow. What happend in our little artificial mock up of a stream is exactly what happens in real rivers everywhere, and it must be challenged. We have to destroy the concept of a river as a wet landfill. In its place we need to demonstrate the fantastic potential our urban streams have as vibrant wildlife corridors; and instill a proper sense of outrage at current common attitudes.
As well as flagging up the need to crusade against apathy toward casual fly tipping, some more directly positive news from the Game Fair was the terrific uptake of new memberships over the weekend. Given the current economic climate, this amazing result was especially heartening; and is a ringing endorsement for the Trust's aims and heartfelt beliefs.
If you think that what we are doing at the Trust is in any way worthwhile - join up (it costs just over 67 pence per week) so that we can do more in the future. If you join up, please email me on and let me know if the blog helped to convince you! Membership applications can be completed via the website .


Willb said…
Hi Paul

Interesting to read about the effects of rubbish on people's behaviour. We had a discussion about precisely this at a recent Don Trust meeting: one view that rubbish doesn't actually matter because things like shopping trolleys don't affect water quality, another that they do matter because people then regard the river as a dump site if it is 'unsightly'. Being all academic about it, does it say something about the relationship between natural science and social scientific ways of looking at things? Looking purely at the ecology would point to different priorities than looking at human behaviour; lesson: we need both!

Best wishes, enjoying the blogs

Paul Gaskell said…
Yeah in terms of restoration projects - securing funding, engaging local stakeholders and just general credibility with the general public - it seems to be pretty important to get on top of the fly tipping. Its very difficult to persuade almost anybody that a river is worth conserving (or even biologically viable) if it is full of scrap, plastic and tyres. That said, the biology often copes well with it (certainly compared to toxic pollution or nutrient enrichment). However, you do get things strangling themselves on plastic and tape from old video cassettes etc.

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