Date: 12/31/20 4:13 pm From: Beverly Wolf <Bev_Wolf...> Subject: RE: ADMIN: End thread!! Re: [birders] Orion Magazine | 9 Rules for the Woke Birdwatcher
Hear! Hear! to both Mary and Allen! Happy New Year and Happy birding one and all. My final words.
From: Mary Wise <auntyem...>
Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2020 6:57 PM
To: Allen Chartier <amazilia3...>
Cc: birders <birders...>
Subject: ADMIN: End thread!! Re: [birders] Orion Magazine | 9 Rules for the Woke Birdwatcher
As I said several messages ago in this thread, I feel that the original post was within the boundaries of acceptable posts as it related to birders and being inclusive to new birders. Since I am the administrator who reluctantly agreed to herd this particular group of cats, I get the final say. If you really can't deal with hitting the delete key, then unsubscribe.
Dr. Lanham's article was hopeful, uplifting, and poetic for sure. It might give some a sense that everything is OK, and that there isn't anything more to do. But very clearly, his 9 points is a "to do" list. I hope that during 2021 we all think about what we can do to increase the number and diversity of birders in Michigan. Volunteers I've had help me with bird banding over the years have been (and are) African American, LatinX, East Asian, South Asian, LGBTQ, men, women, young, and old. Some are seasoned birders, but more importantly many are budding birders. The diversity, interest, and opportunity is out there. Trust me.
Watching a flock of a single species, like Snow Buntings, wheel and swirl over a wintery field is certainly inspiring. But equally inspiring, if you have had the privileges that I have, is to watch diverse mixed species feeding flocks in the Andes, Amazon, or Himalayas, with 30-50 or more colorful species, often thanks to local birding guides of color. I think we all understand the excitement of diversity. Let's not ignore the human aspect. Maybe do as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (and others) suggest: Make a friend today who does not look like you today.
Whatever you do in 2021, I wish you the greatest success. And it seems that an old adage applies as always: Lead, Follow, or get out of the way. I plan to do a little bit of each, as appropriate.
Thank you Timothy, Juliet, Allen, and Marta, for your courage in speaking up, and all the others who expressed appreciation for April's link to Drew's article. The mission of "culturing and maintaining interest in birding in Michigan" is a human endeavor. To pretend that it's only about the birds and not the humans who care about them and their habitat, watch them, and count them is disingenuous. If we truly care about birds and the habitat they need to survive, we need as many humans as possible to join us in that endeavor and feel welcome and comfortable doing so.
I truly hope this list isn't only about numbers and locations and checklists. If it is, the numbers will continue to dwindle and the checklists will soon be barren.
I respect the right of Patrick and those who agree with him to express their opinion. I simply hope that they will take out their "feel" guide and consider the opinions of Drew and those who expressed appreciation of his article. Are you really advocating to sticking to "just birds," or is there something else that bothers you about Drew's article? I read factual statements in his piece, expressed in the language of poetry. What is it about those facts that bothers you? The fact that he points to the fact that many birds are named after slave owners or white supremacists? And that some people would prefer more descriptive names? Why is that so bothersome that discussion of it should be squashed?
We should probably end this discussion, but I hope that everyone who participated or watched on the sidelines will think deeply about the issues raised. Those issues are important to us as humans, and yes, to the birds, whose continued existence is unfortunately at the mercy of the decisions we humans make now - the decisions we make as to how we live to together as a society, how we use our resources, and whether we preserve the land. Driving to locations to catch a glimpse of the rare species, counting them, checking them off on our lists is not going to save them. We need every human possible to care about them. And posts that promote that is absolutely what we should be about.
I’ve been on this list for 15-20 years and completely agree with Juliet’s interpretation. Dr. Lanham’s piece is clearly birders content. If you can’t see that, perhaps you should remember that birding involves both birds AND people, with all of our societal issues. I’d encourage you all to read his book “The Home Place”.
The original poster's link was and is directly about birds and birding culture, and as such is absolutely the purview of this group. The author, Drew Lanham, is a celebrated ornithology professor at Clemson, and the piece is about birding. To object to a discussion of ways to make all birders feel welcome in our community, is to disenfranchise those folks who don't feel welcomed in our birding community.
Welcoming everyone isn't so hard, is it? How/why is it offensive to discuss birding culture? It is part of our list's mission, and more important than many bird related topics that have not generated controversy on this list.
I'm afraid that birders are subject to the same racism and prejudice that all of us succumb to, unconsciously or consciously. To deny that race in birding a topic for discussion on a birders group, is to accept that we are a racist group and that we like it that way. We don't like it that way.
Thank you for finding the words that I have had difficulty with today. I share your distress and some of your confusion. The description of the BIRDERS list, visible to everyone who subscribes, is as follows:
BIRDERS provides a forum for those interested in birding in Michigan. It contributes importantly to the goal of culturing and maintaining interest in birding in Michigan and appreciation of Michigan’s natural wonders.
And, the LIStOWNER has allowed that 6-word positing with a link to be posted, and allowed it to be discussed.
Carping that the list "rules" don't allow this discussion is clearly delusional. It also fails to put forth a single argument about an important question; why aren't there more birders of color? "Culturing and maintaining interest in birding..." means recruiting more birders not only to enrich our own experiences, but to increase the strength of our alliances in fighting to conserve birds and address climate instability.
Sadly, it is not a mystery to me why there aren't more birders of color, or why the few that are among us prefer to bird alone. It distresses me that if I post just one similar thing in the future, despite the list discussing "only birds" for 363 days a year, I would get the same shocking and unwelcoming responses as I've seen here, and that is very sad and counterproductive to the BIRDERS list, and to birding as a whole.
The original post was 6 words long and a link to something written by a birder and nature lover. The strong responses against the post and the repeated characterization of it as being off-topic, unrelated to birding, are confusing and distressing to me. Is it because the link was to a literary/poetic expression of one man’s experience? What line did it cross? Or was it the further responses saying in effect “I enjoyed that”, or “thank you”, that crossed some listserve boundary?
When we send an email to this list server, we send it to <birders...> <mailto:<birders...> , not <My_Agenda...> <mailto:<My_Agenda...> ! I agree with Bill, I think we need to get back to bird related subjects on this list server and check the other subjects at the door! We are not always going to agree with everyone else about every subject so why not share the birding activities and reports that we all enjoy and let it go at that. Ultimately, I guess it's up to the administrator of this site as to what will be allowed and what will not be tolerated. Usually when I see posts like this I hit the delete button, I think it's a shame we have to trudge through all the minutiae to get to the heart of what this site was initially intended to be… a place to share our passion of birding! Patrick J.
On Wednesday, December 30, 2020, 04:48:53 PM EST, 'THOMAS HODGSON' via Birders <birders...> <mailto:<birders...> > wrote:
Well said Bill!
Sent from my iPhone
On Dec 30, 2020, at 4:24 PM, 'Bill Sonnett' via Birders <birders...> <mailto:<birders...> > wrote:
This group was designed to bring folks with like interest (in this case bird watching) together. Strongly expressed opinions on almost any other subject (cats, guns, eating meat, abortion, religion, politics, etc. etc.) in the end will divide us. That is why there are other groups that specialize in these types of debates. I am 77 and have been watching birds all my life and have many friends who enjoy the hobby with me. Almost all disagree with each other on some subject, but we get together to celebrate our like interest. Most have the maturity to leave their differences aside and treat everyone with respect and enjoy what we have in common. With that being said, my vote is to stick with birds.
Thank you, Josh, for being the voice of reason. I agree that if one opinion needs to be honored, all should be. I agree with Patrick. I also agree with other posters who say all birders or, more appropriately, all people deserve courtesy and respect and that discussions about race are important. I just don’t think this board is the place to have them or that it should be used to promote one’s social agenda. As for “if you don’t like the post, don’t read it”, that’s nearly impossible. I don’t know what the post is about until I read it and, once read, it can’t be un-read if it’s objectionable to me. I subscribe to Birders to learn about/find news about birds. There are plenty of other forums for posting links and having discussions about social issues. Can we please stick to birds and the occasional butterfly?
Those speaking positively about the article are sharing their opinion no differently than the “PB” who posted their opinion. Just because you may not agree with the person doesn’t mean they can’t have an opinion. They wondered if this was the right place for the article. The list owner decided it was. Seems done to me.
I have been on this list for perhaps 2 decades. From the beginning, it has never been appropriate to complain to the entire list about what may or may not be within the (rather broad) guidelines of the list. Those inquiries are always to be addressed only to the listowner.
The posting in question merely provided a link that can be visited, or not, without providing any commentary on the content. Responses to this post, including mine, expressed approval and interest in the content, but did not share any details of that content. So, what could possibly be objectionable about that?
The content at the link discusses, among other things, how we should understand our fellow birders, appreciate the feelings and experiences of our fellow birders, understand how history has affected our fellow birders, explore ways to improve relationships with our fellow birders, and how we should respect our fellow birders. Anyone can disagree with these points of course, but specific arguments should be made on the content, not by attempts to shut these important conversations down.
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