We’re delighted to introduce Domonic White, founder of Nature’s Racers, a group that encourages people of all ages to experience, care for, and protect nature. They do this through weekly runs, eco-clubs, quizzes, nature trails and other events.
“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”– Sir David Attenborough
Following the mantra of ‘Experience, Care, Protect,’ Nature’s Racers takes the quote by Sir David Attenborough as its inspiration. If he’s asked: “What is Nature’s Racers?”, Domonic jokes: “It’s not a thing, so much as (an) everything.”
He set up the group as a way of challenging himself, and inviting others to join him, in thinking differently about the natural world. Firstly, by taking the time to really notice and connect with it, secondly through education and open-mindedness, but most importantly by ensuring people engage with the urgent need to protect it.
Domonic started Nature’s Racers when his son turned three. At the time he felt his career was preventing him being the dad he wanted to be. Already passionate about animal welfare, fatherhood made him tune into the issues of climate change and mass extinction. Pressures of work and a three-hour daily commute, as well as lack of time at home, became burdensome, so with his family’s support they downsized their house and adopted a new way of life in Minchinhampton.
The first Nature’s Racers sessions were held afterschool at Amberley Primary School. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic these sessions are run online, and now involves children from five schools across the county.
Why the name ‘Racers’? Domonic says he feels uncomfortable with the combative language that often describes naturalists and those who seek to protect nature: “I don’t want future generations to feel they have to be warriors, join armies, or start rebellions.
“There’s enough conflict already in this world, and time is certainly no longer on our side. We need to hurry, and we need to unite. In every way possible, we need to act like we’re in a race.”
An online points-based platform supports the concept of racing, as well as nature trails and quizzes. It allows points to be awarded for eco-friendly behaviour and there are leader boards to keep things fun. On Sunday mornings the Nature’s Racers get together on Zoom and Domonic asks them to look for specific aspects of nature. The Racers then go for socially-distanced 5K runs in their respective locations, before reconvening for a second call to discuss what they’ve seen, and to allocate points accordingly. “We refer to them as runs, but some groups walk or even cycle with family members,” said Domonic. “It’s not about who is the best athlete, it’s all about noticing what is around you.”
All of this has been achieved without any external funding: “I’ll be honest that at times this new way of life has been hard, but I’m confident it’s necessary and that we can do so much more,” explained Domonic.
“I’m looking forward to working with Stroud Times and sharing thoughts on a wide range of nature and conservation related topics. I hope together we can help raise awareness about issues that affect us all.
“Connecting with the natural world not only helps with our mental health and wellbeing (especially during these challenging times) but it’s also essential for our very existence. With longstanding green credentials and thought leadership from many quarters, where better than Stroud to make the ‘Experience, Care, Protect’ paradigm really change the world?”.