Mya-Rose Craig is a 20-year-old birdwatcher and activist who grew up in a village close to Bristol. She has been a birder since start (effectively, her first journey was at 9 days outdated) and, aged 17, turned the youngest particular person to see half the world’s 10,000-plus species of birds. Craig is additionally the founder of the charity Black2Nature, which inspires youngsters from minority ethnic backgrounds to spend time in nature. Her memoir, Birdgirl, is a lyrical appreciation of a lifelong obsession, and a strong account of the Craig household’s makes an attempt to handle her mom’s bipolar dysfunction.
Straight after this interview, you’ll be on stage with Billie Eilish on the O2 for her local weather pageant, Overheated. Do occasions like this offer you hope that your technology will have an effect on the local weather disaster?
Oh, it’s completely bonkers. But I at all times actually take pleasure in doing occasions like this, the place somebody with this large platform and large affect is utilizing that for good. It feels similar to going to Cop26 with Emma Watson. Just assembly these extremely devoted, passionate individuals, I believe: “How can you not feel hopeful about the future when these people just care so much, and are working so hard?” And I believe you do must be an optimist to be an environmental activist.
Are you going to hold round for Billie Eilish’s gig?
Basically my [university] exams ended yesterday and most of my associates’ exams finish as we speak, so sadly I’m going again to uni this night in order that we will all have a giant celebration.
You’re blowing out Billie Eilish in your associates. That’s spectacular loyalty!
Well, it’s going to be an excellent celebration.
What’s the attraction of birdwatching to you?
I’ve by no means been the kind of one that’s affected person sufficient to do meditation or one thing like that. So being outdoors is my model of mindfulness. But the factor I discover actually onerous to explain to individuals is, it’s not even that birdwatching is a pastime. I simply am a birdwatcher at this level: I’m continuously watching birds. I’m fairly often having conversations with individuals and watching the birds fly outdoors the window, and even simply watching pigeons hop round. I’m at all times conscious of the chicken life round me, as a result of it’s so intrinsically half of me and my identification.
Have you ever been self-conscious about doing it?
At major college, I don’t suppose I ever thought-about it unusual. But as I acquired older and was this painfully awkward teenager, I turned deeply conscious of simply how unusual it was. And it was this very bizarre dichotomy the place I used to be furiously embarrassed of my hobbies, however concurrently, I used to be completely incapable of stopping. But one of the good issues about getting that bit older is turning into mature sufficient to understand that individuals don’t care that a lot about what you do in your spare time. I do suppose nobody is extra self-centred than a really self-conscious teenager!
Was it troublesome writing about your mum’s psychological sickness?
On a private stage, it was actually cathartic. There had been quite a bit of issues that I had simply by no means thought of, or thought of inside the greater image. Just understanding way more explicitly that journey that my household had been by way of, and the best way that we had caught collectively and the best way we used nature – I hadn’t actually even registered that earlier than. I had a protracted dialog with my mum about it – the significance of having sincere conversations about psychological well being – and she was actually onboard about explicitly placing these particulars on the market.
Birding has historically been a really white, largely older exercise. Is that altering?
In the previous six or seven years, since I arrange Black2Nature, I believe there was a really, very sluggish interval of change. But I can’t emphasise this problem sufficient: it feels just like the nature sector is two or three decades behind most different sectors in terms of variety. It’s actually stunning. But to me one of the most important achievements was after I was capable of even have specific conversations about this problem with numerous nature organisations and CEOs. And they listened. And they accepted that there was an issue. That felt like a serious breakthrough.
You’ve simply completed your first 12 months learning human, social and political sciences at Cambridge. Are you a member of the bird-watching society?
I’m a member of the bird-watching society. But I can’t lie, probably the most lively society I’m a member of is the Taylor Swift society.
What do they do?
Oh, all kinds of issues. She’s placing out an album each six months for the time being. So we’ve membership nights, we’ve album-listening events. We went to a pub quiz as soon as that me and my mates had been type of horrible at. We don’t know sufficient about Taylor Swift, apparently.
In 2020, you turned the youngest recipient of an honorary doctorate, if you had been awarded one by Bristol University. Is it unusual arriving at college already being a health care provider?
Yes. I knew in a short time I might not be calling myself physician at uni as a result of I believed all my supervisors who really had doctorates would possibly get a bit upset. But it is very unusual. There are some completely insane issues which have occurred to me that I’m like, “Oh, eventually, it must sink in…” And it simply by no means does. The doctorate is one of these issues.
After college, are you open to what occurs subsequent?
Yeah, completely. I’ve no clue what I wish to do, which I inform myself is pretty regular most likely for individuals my age. But this kind of burning want to attempt to make the world a barely higher place – or no less than give it a go – was so constructed into me from my household that I can’t think about I’m ever not going to be participating with activism and campaigning in some form or type.