Hi, I’m Rosslyn and I’ve been volunteering with the Edinburgh Shoreline project since February this year. I’m delighted to have returned to environmental work as the next step in what has been be a varied and enjoyable career so far.
Where have I come from? I originally graduated as a zoologist and started to work for an academic publication in York. They gave me the chance to move into their IT area where I discovered I wasn’t a very good IT programmer! Fortunately, I was a better organiser and people person, so I quickly gravitated towards project management. I moved back to Scotland when I had children and got into financial services. I’ve been very lucky to grow my career there moving from managing projects, to governing and managing change, to helping businesses understand their strategy so that they can identify the right projects to do. More recently I focused on understanding the people and cultural side of change and what makes projects and teams succeed or fail.
Why did I get involved? I loved my financial service experience but I always promised myself that I’d go back to my first love of environmental work and decided to go for it at the end of last year! I spotted the Edinburgh Shoreline project at Christmas and contacted Leonie, the Urban Biodiversity Office at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, to ask if she needed any voluntary help. After 20 years in financial services I was well out of touch with current environmental thinking and thought that volunteering would be a great way to work with professionals who could help me learn. Leonie’s very positive and welcoming response showed me that it was going to be a great fit. I’ve loved every minute, have learned so much, and I’ve been amazed and very proud of all that we have achieved so far.
What have I been involved in? Loads! Here are a few things:
- Finding best practice examples of shoreline management from around the world with Karen. The creative ideas have ranged from increasing biodiversity, which protects our coastline from storms and sea level rises more effectively than hard sea walls, the use of oysters to clean water and many ideas for community activities. All of these initiatives will be win/win as they will help the shoreline to better support plants and animals, and make it a much nicer place for communities to spend time in.
- Historical detective work with Elspeth to help us understand how the Leith shoreline has evolved over the last 300 years. This was fascinating to dig into, and the complex layout now makes a bit more sense. Having found the right timeline of maps we decided that a video might be a better way of explaining the evolution, so I had to learn new video editing skills to make a small video that is being used in the exhibition.
- Community discussions along with Leonie, looking at how we make temporary use of some unused areas of the shoreline that could be great green spaces, while considering how these ideas could then be built into future plans. Some promising first steps so far with Edinburgh council and the port authorities.
- Finding knitting groups who would help us to ‘knit the shoreline’ with Madeleine. This was great fun. I popped along to the world wide knitting in public day at Cramond and made a fish even though I can’t knit! I helped collect everyone’s work in the lead up to the exhibition, putting together a knitted Forth Rail Bridge (see the photo above!), which included stealing some of my husband’s new plumbing rods. He’ll never know…
- Producing information guides to give extra detail to those who want to know more after the exhibition. I’ve produced the following info packs to help you find out more on:
Birds Shoreline detailed file – birds
Mudflats Shoreline detailed file – mudflats
Oysters Shoreline detailed file – oysters
Greening the Grey Shoreline detailed file – greening the grey
Water quality Shoreline detailed file – water quality
Edinburgh as a SSSI Shoreline detailed file – SSSi
Edinburgh 2050 Shoreline detailed file – Edinburgh2050
I’m ashamed to say that before I got involved with this project I had no idea of how much shoreline Edinburgh actually had (a whole 27km!) or what it had to offer. There are definitely some parts that I can see need improved, but there are also some fantastic spaces out there today. I’m excited about how we keep improving these as the project continues.
Personally, I’m now well on my way to achieving my initial goal of getting back into environmental thinking, though I still have loads to learn. But I’m even more pleased with what we have achieved on the project, and the fun I’ve had being part of it.
For me, the key thing now is establishing real sustainable links between the communities along the shoreline so we can all more easily continue to work together on an ongoing basis after the project finishes. I’ve loved being involved so far, I’ve learned loads, and I would encourage anyone else interested to get in touch and see what you can do to help. There is plenty still to do!
If you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org