An Environment and Nature Companion looks no different from you or me but happens to be a lot more interested in nature than your average city-dweller. They clean up trash from the street and they’re very aware of every man’s-rights. If you ever come across a Companion in their natural habitat – the woods – they usually sport practical shoes and pant legs that protect them from ticks. They might also have a faint bonfire smoke scent to them.
A group of volunteers, called Environment and Nature Companions, aka support-hippies (I just made that up) have started their operations in Jyväskylä. We’ve already had Culture Companions to accompany people in theaters and museums but now the concept has been extended to nature as well. Awesome!
I was chatting with one of them on Twitter after seeing a news article she shared about the activity. The article itself was about Tampere but she (Ritva) mentioned that the same kind of operations take place in Jyväskylä. I asked a bit further and read on companion activity in general (in Finnish). Ritva told me that there are a total of 20 companions in Jyväskylä and they can be contacted via their Facebook group Ympäristöluotsit Jyväskylä (also in English).
I was in awe! To be able to call one of the coordinators and ask for a buddy to accompany you for bird-watching or to tell you about the history of your city’s nature sites.
A Companion is a volunteer, not a guide but you can study and appreciate nature or culture with them all the same. A Culture Companion can get you into locations for free or with a reduced price. Needless to say, Nature Walks are always free of charge but with a Companion you get to learn stuff!
Culture Companion classes are starting soon, by the way. Join, why don’t you! Instructions can be found here (in Finnish). I’m going to wait if they arrange more classes for Environment and Nature Companions, since this blog is, in itself, sort of a Companion (even though I think it’s me who needs a chaperon).