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Monday, May 20, 2024

House of Hackney announces #WeAreNature campaign

The #WeAreNature campaign calls for UK dictionaries to change definitions of nature to include people and is being led by a collective of lawyers, researchers and campaigners that work on behalf of nature and B Corp British interiors brand, House of Hackney.

Yesterday saw the launch of #WeAreNature, a campaign that sees a fast growing group of organisations, charities, academics, artists, activists, school children and individuals call on UK dictionaries to change their current definitions of ‘nature’ to include humans, a first symbolic step in a wider campaign to reconnect people to nature and add to the momentum for urgent action on climate and biodiversity breakdown.

UK dictionaries do not define nature as including humans. Those behind the #WeAreNature campaign and supporters believe that current definitions do not reflect the growing scientific evidence and overwhelming consensus that humans are part of nature and a wider ecosystem.

They say nature does not have a voice or a say in the decisions we are taking that are driving the climate crisis and destroying biodiversity and believe one of the reasons this is happening is because we have separated ourselves from nature and the simple truth is that “we are nature”.

The Oxford English Dictionary currently defines nature as: The phenomena of the physical world collectively; esp. plants, animals, and other features and products of the earth itself, as opposed to humans or human creations”

Our language, words and definitions have a huge impact and influence on society; and the aim of the campaign is that anyone searching for the meaning of nature will see there is a wider alternative and this could impact court cases, legislation and education.

The question campaign had a recent win when the Oxford English Dictionary agreed to modify their definition of nature to the extent that the wider definition: ‘Wider sense: the whole natural world, including human beings’ is no longer described as being ‘obsolete’ and they made the entire entry for nature free and accessible for all, so that the  historic use of the word and the wider definition are available to the public free of charge. However, the main definition which you see when you search for nature remains the same, and excludes humans. This is based on frequency of use, and not something the OED say they can influence or change.

#WeAreNature and its supporters are calling for:

  • The Oxford English Dictionary to pledgeto keep the frequency of the use of the word nature under review, and to amend the main definition if and when the wider sense of the word becomes the most frequently used definition.
  • For remaining UK dictionaries to follow the Oxford English Dictionary’s precedent and update their definition of nature to include humans, or acknowledge a wider, alternative definition which includes humans. There is evidence of its use historically right up to the present day, and so the wider definition should be made available for all to see.

#WeAreNature is being led  by Lawyers for Nature, a collective of lawyers, researchers and campaigners that work on behalf of the natural world and B Corp British interiors brand, House of Hackney. The two first came together when Lawyers for Nature worked with House of Hackney to help them appoint a director for Nature and Future Generations to its board, in November 2023.

Jessie Mond Wedd, Consultant, Lawyers for Nature said: At the moment nature does not have a voice in the decisions we take that are scientifically proven to be driving climate breakdown and destroying biodiversity. Our view is that we have separated ourselves from nature and see ourselves as exceptional rather than interdependent on nature and this is a root cause of our behaviour as a species towards our natural world.

Frieda Gormley, Co-Founder, House of Hackney said: “We are living in times of mass disconnection from nature. We have forgotten our connection to the natural world; that we are part of nature and that we need nature. But within this is a story of hope. We are witnessing the rising of a collective remembrance and yearning to reconnect, and this is just the beginning.

If you agree that we need to change how we talk about nature to help restore our connection with the natural world please sign the petition at:

https://www.change.org/p/change-uk-dictionary-definitions-of-the-word-nature-to-include-humans 

For more information about We are Nature visit: www.wearenature.org  

 

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