Two years ago at their Annual Meeting, the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), muted the idea of supporting a pan European day to celebrate plants. Tomorrow, Friday 18th May, over 560 organisations in 39 countries will take part in the first ever international Fascination of Plants Day, with over 80 of those organisations in the UK!
I’m not usually keen on these ‘days’ and often wondered if they achieved anything. Having taken part in this one I can see why they keep going! I hesitated for a second before saying I would coordinate UK activities, knowing I had a great plant science network available through ArabUK to reach the academic community, and psci-comm, the science communication network to reach the practitioners, and of course the power of Twitter, how hard could it be?
As a nation of garden lovers there are also numerous horticultural networks to tap into such as the National Gardens Scheme, not to mention Natural England, The National Trust, Kew and The Eden Project. Tim Smit agreed to be national spokesperson and all was well.
Then we hit the slump. After a rush of enthusiasm we began to hit brick walls, organisations you would have thought would be keen to take part just didn’t respond. You don’t realise how many info@ emails addresses there are and how many are obviously not monitored or ignored. Frustration set in.
What was it that was so difficult? If you have an event already running around May18th, brand it FoPD and become part of an international celebration, free advertising on the web site, a free PR Toolkit to access, what could be simpler?
The electronic assault it seemed was just not enough and it was time to hit the phones, but who is the right person to talk to?
Time was against us, and even with part-time volunteer help, with the day job and our own events to organise, we feel we failed somehow. Following the initial rush new participants trickled in. Having said that, the breadth and depth of the UK are represented from Jodrell Bank to Stonehenge, what greater diversity could we ask for?
But we had FoPD fever and it wasn’t enough. Like a dog at a bone we couldn’t leave it alone, but time and resources beat us in the end. With 24 hours left to go we hope the Press engage in the Day and everyone who is taking part has a great time. To find out more and what’s going on around the UK and the world go to www.plantday12.eu and follow events on @PlantDay2012 .
Would I do it again? You bet.