Water finds its way
everything is connected
popeth yn gysylltiedig
it matters what you do where but it’s never just one thing that is affected
It’s common sense that everything is connected, right? Well, maybe, but patterns of interconnection and robust data can challenge us to step aside from what we think we know and explore new and more effective ways of living sustainably.
The Conwy River oozes out of the ground high in the Migneint Hills, a watery seep of countless rhylls following the course of least resistance and pooling together in the valley. It travels downhill, and north, to eventually reach the coast. We’ve been getting to know the river and some of the people who live in its valley, walking in the cloud-drenched higher lands, visiting the river as it widens and passes through reed beds and woodland, and strolling along the sandy edges of Conwy Bay. We were invited to give our response to the place and the project - the Environmental Internet of Things - by Professor Gordon Blair at Lancaster University, working in partnership with scientists and analysts from Bangor University, the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).
The Environmental Internet of Things is the first project of its kind to collect information from many different elements of the natural and worked landscape at the same time, and record interactions in real time, by taking measurements from soil, water and sheep. We’ve spoken to some of the scientists involved and to farmers, mussel fishermen and others to build a picture of the human element of the land – something that can’t be so easily measured with sensors and statistics.
The Internet of Things in the Wild project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through its Digital Economy Programme. It is being led by Professor Gordon Blair of Lancaster University, and is being delivered through a partnership involving Lancaster University, University of Bangor, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the British Geological Survey. There's more information on The Environmental Internet of Things Website.
The Environmental Internet of Things is a complex and in-depth research project using sensors to measure variables such as temperature, saturation, moisture and turbidity. It brings together some bright scientific minds to make sense of the data. As you can imagine, we found ourselves on a steep learning curve, but soon became engaged with the passion of the scientists and the Conwy Valley itself. Our collection of photographs and writing has been used for a mobile exhibition which will be shown in several venues (and has been displayed at the Royal Welsh Show) and we've created a booklet which is availalbe to view in PDF form here: Water Finds Its Way.
As for poetry, Harriet wrote a short verse and then used Google to work towards a Welsh translation but we knew this wouldn't be quite right. On the last of our trips to Conwy we visited Gareth Jones and his wife Ann, who farm in Eglwysbach and while we were there we asked them what they thought of the Welsh version. They considered it closely, word by word, and altered inaccuracies. When it came to the last line they spoke it out loud a few times, finding the right melody and the precise words for 'this' that felt right. It was a moment of magic that is captured in Gareth's reading of the Welsh: definitely one of our highlights in 2016.
Where the river flows
where the river flows lle mae'r afon yn llifo
where the sheep go lle mae'r ddafad yn mynd
what can we know beth allwn ei wybod
can you taste the soil a allwch flasu'r pridd
can you feel the mist a allwch deimlo’r niwl
all is connected mae bob dim yn gysylltiedi
this and this and this hyn a hwn a hon
Listen to Gareth reading the poem by clicking on the link here