26Habitats and 26Pledges

- Philip Parker

Philip Parker has another update on the latest from the project, and what’s still to come.

#26Habitats has been launched and met with a fantastic reception. Throughout September the work of 26 of our members has been published and so far the project has enjoyed 140k impressions and more than 8,000 profile views on twitter with retweets ranging from naturalist Brigit Strawbridge to The Poetry Society. Lydia Thornley’s beautiful illustrations for each centena have hugely added to the impact of the posts.

Kathryn Brown, Director of Climate Action at our partner organisation The Wildlife Trusts, sums up the project: “In 2021, the whole world has seen the effects of increasingly extreme weather, on nature and on people. In amongst all of the data, trends and projections, it can be easy to forget the cultural and emotional value the natural environment holds for people, everywhere, and the connection that all humans have with nature. We’ve seen, too, throughout the COVID pandemic how important nature is to people, but also how fragile it is. We mustn’t lose sight of that, alongside what the science is telling us. Through original art and words that tell this equally heartbreaking and inspirational story, ’26 Habitats’ brings all this to the fore beautifully.”

There was a well-attended Zoom launch party on the evening of 9 September, including some of our New Zealand members (see below for the reason for their pre-dawn presence). Catch up with these wonderful poems here.

26Habitats is the opening volume in a trilogy of interlinked projects. We now look forward to the launch of 26Pledges on 4 October (World Habitat Day). A further 28 members have reflected on the centenas and wild places of 26Habitats. They have meditated on what we as individuals can do to have a positive impact on the biodiversity and climate crises, and each day a new haiku and background piece will be published on the website. Look out for the daily social posts with #26Pledges.

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is held in Glasgow in November, at which point the final volume of our landmark trilogy commences. Underlining the global nature of the crises, our friends in New Zealand will launch their own 26Habitats, with writers focusing on their priority endangered environments such as drylands and offshore islands. Like the UK project, each will compose a centena, and they are also working closely with artists. Their partner is Forest and Bird, the country’s leading independent conservation organisation.

– Philip Parker

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