More than just an emoji? ?
Our biggest challenge towards creating fairer, healthier, more sustainable, more productive and more resilient landscapes is the competition for people’s time. I believe the question we should be asking ourselves is, how do we get people’s attention at a time when there is more information and distraction than ever before, at the swipe of a thumb?
Hello, my name is Rupert and thank you for taking the time to read this. I am passionate about promoting the dynamic and living landscapes that we call home. My ambition is to encourage understanding about how our complex surroundings are shaped by pressures from the local through to the global scale.
Let me tell you my story.
My childhood was spent growing up in the middle of woodland in rural England – the kind that has come to romanticise the British landscape for both nationals and tourists. In my childlike terms I was lucky enough to simply view it as a giant play area.
When I wasn’t at school I spent time exploring the woods and experienced how it provided for areas of life beyond my own enjoyment. During this time of discovery my eyes were opened to the homes the wood provided for birds, insects and mammals. In the occasional storm I’d help my dad collect up firewood from fallen trees to provide warmth in our home in winter. It’s not only these personal experiences that shaped my fascination but I’ve also learnt the uniqueness and extraordinary way trees can help solve some of our the most pressing concerns, for example how they lock in carbon dioxide, protect homes from flooding, clean the polluted air and help heal mental fatigue.
After leaving my family home for the big city to study, I never really left the woods. I followed my captivation of the woods by studying geography and environmental politics and since reconnected with my origins by working for the forestry service in England.
The forestry service is the landowner that looks after the public forests across the country. These forests are cared for to help wildlife to thrive, to produce sustainable timber and to provide access for people to enjoy them. Forest land cover in England makes up just 13% of land cover. As a result I believe that for many people the value of these places is simply reduced to their aesthetic quality because of their scarcity. It is my mission to deepen our value of these places moving them beyond novelty to living, evolving landscapes.
I lead on digital engagement with visitors to forests to promote their benefits for human wellbeing, local economy and provision for wildlife. It is vital to empower the youth in understanding the complex processes and impactful trade-offs we make in shaping our landscapes, which are almost as man-made as our homes.
My tool of choice is the visual communication of landscapes and the people connected to them, drawing on the power of their aesthetic value. I am passionate about impactful visual stories that hook people into a more important narrative and bring forward critical discussions. By using this medium I look to open up a whole new meaning to a place beyond its face value, bringing new ways to experience and connect with the aim to learn to embrace change. For me this is the antidote to a world where we’re a swipe from the next message and emoji just doesn’t say enough.
I also lead the support for sustainable development projects in East Africa, which focus around community-based diversification of income to protect livelihoods from shocks. This context has shaped my views and understanding of landscapes, from a different and distant tourist gaze. Utilising storytelling and visual impact to draw in attention and drawing on these mixed experiences I’ve developed my photojournalistic approach in sharing these alternative perspectives.
Using online engagement as my toolkit of choice I push the boundaries in my work by experimenting with new technologies, such as 360 video. My dream and inspiration is to more deeply connect people with the home we all inhabit and to challenge how our attitudes truly impact how our landscapes are shaped, perceived and understood. I am excited for the future where easily accessible immersive storytelling can impact understanding through a virtual sensory experience.
There is huge potential to connect more people to Global Landscapes Forum’s mission by creatively engaging them with stories of local and distant landscapes, to show how this world is interconnected. I would love this opportunity to bring my expertise in community management, collaboration and engagement through social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube – and online curation and content creation, with a strong focus photography and video multimedia.
I always remind myself – there’s more to the forests than their beauty in marking the seasons ??
Name, nationality and age: Rupert Barry, British, 30
Country in which you currently live: England
Which organization you work for, or which university you study at: Forestry Commission
Your mother tongue: English
Other languages you are fluent in: French