Exploring the power of radical nature connection for collective action
A workshop-lab for socio-ecological change practitioners, educators, and trainers seeking to empower defence of the earth and struggles for social justice, hosted near Kóln, Germany.
As we witness the global system of industrial growth-based production collide with non-negotiable ecological limits, the need for collective action in defence of the earth and social justice has never been clearer. We are interested in how nature connection, ecopsychology, and ecological education can all play a part. Those of us who practice such work know how deeply transformative it can be and how it can offer insight, healing, connection and deep shifts in perspective. What can we do to make it more effective and powerful as a stimulus and support to social and ecological action? And how do we ensure that when working with these ecological and nature-based modalities we don’t inadvertently repeat the patterns of harm we’re trying to change? Join us on this part-training, part lab to find out.
Nature and ecology-based practice can support us to reclaim a healthy and integrated sense of self – rooted in the ecological, biological, sensory, and emotional, as well as rational dimensions of our lives. It helps us to reconnect with the sources of nourishment and inspiration that can flow into us from the web of life. And at its most potent, it can support deep shifts in perspective and experience that take us beyond narrow human-centred views of the world with the gradual emergence of what is sometimes called “ecological consciousness”.
Drawing from a wide range of sources, this workshop seeks to facilitate a deepened inquiry and exploration for participants in relation to their own practice. It offers experiences and content for fresh learning, as well as the unlearning of outdated modes and ideas, allowing the possibility of new forms of activism. Our hope is to create conditions for emergence and connection as a learning community for these 6 days.
We hope to help movements for collective change to be more effective by weaving understandings of the deeper issues at the root of our current troubles, and creating conditions for mutuality, connection and radical participation.
This work applies the benefits of nature connection – such as greater clarity, resilience, vitality, motivation, and connection with self and others – to leverage social change. It seeks to harness direct experiences of an ecological paradigm to the radical transformation of our relationships with the world in ways that are radical, explicitly anti-oppressive and politically informed.
From The Roots Up is an inquiry. It’s a work in progress. We want to share what we have developed so far, what we are learning and developing – and enter into relationships with other practitioners to deepen the inquiry together.
This event will bring together practitioners such as nature guides, social change practitioners, community organisers, Climate Change consultants, ecopsychologists, activist trainers, facilitators, and movement builders to learn and explore.
There will be time spent indoors and out, in whole and small groups, solo and in pairs.
We will be guiding most of the first few days and will then invite a more ‘Lab’ style of collective inquiry. Your participation and contributions will be of great benefit to the wider project (see below).
We will ask:
As a framework for this inquiry, we will share work recently developed by the Radical Nature Connection team from the Ulex Project alongside Toni Spencer’s work, supported by research work carried out by the German ecopsychology collective, Wandelwerk.
This workshop is part of a Europe-wide collaborative project inquiring into how nature connection, ecopsychology, and ecological education can empower collective action for socio-ecological transformation. This includes the production of open-source resources for facilitating this work, a training for trainers event and a handbook. Partners include Ulex, Transformative Education CIC, Wandelwerk and Vedeglet.
We will create space to discuss key challenges we face as practitioners, to share experience and approaches and to invite feedback on this work so far.
The event will be hosted at the wonderful Brunnenhof, near Cologne, Germany.
We are offering this event in the spirit of the ‘solidarity economy’, meaning that no-one will be excluded based on economic grounds. Attendance is ‘free of charge’. But please, to help support the economic viability of the event, consider making a donation to contribute to the costs. (Unfortunately we are unable to provide economic support towards travel to the event).
Kara is a facilitator of socio-ecological regeneration. As an educator, Kara devised and co-developed ‘Radical Nature Connection’ as an approach and co-holds this strand of work at Ulex. Kara delivers courses and lectures on Masters degrees on radical, decolonial approaches to nature connection, rewilding and ancestral skills (with a focus on foraging, tracking and trees) at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Schumacher College and independently. Kara works as a freelance writer and is active on socio-environmental issues within grassroots movements, and spends the Winter months working in conservation forestry, restoring ancient woodlands. Kara runs a Wild Recovery program for people recovering from addiction and chairs a charity that runs the 350-acre Cambrian Wildwood project, which is restoring wild habitats in the Cambrian foothills and creating access to immersion in wild nature.
Toni works with WildWise (‘Being Nature’ and Call Of The Wild), Ulex, The Emergence Network and Tough Cookie amongst others. She has an Action Research based MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice and is trained in a range of facilitation modalities; embodied awakening, deep ecology, trauma informed leadership, The Work That Reconnects. She says that her work as a facilitator, consultant, artist and mentor “seeks to support a homecoming to presence within the context of modernity. In the face of increasing socio-ecological crises, how can we follow the cracks in the dominant paradigm and listen to the wilder margins? How does this inform our work as activists, educators and community builders? What does Deep Adaptation, solidarity and decoloniality look like? Feel like? Taste like?” These question and more inform her poetry, pedagogy and prefigurative practice.
Other recent clients and collaborators include Schumacher College, St Ethelburgas, the Transition Town Movement and Encounters Arts. She is the founder of [the pause… in practice] and Acornucopia (The Feral Kitchen).
skills, insights, and practices for creating transformative teams and effective collaborations
new stories to change the world
Agency, theory and strategy - a deep inquiry
1. A thorny-evergreen flowering shrub, with a high capacity for regeneration and resilience. Its seedpods open in contact with fire and it reshoots from charred stumps. A successionary plant that grows well under challenging conditions. It improves soil fertility through nitrogen fixing, preparing the way for renewed biodiversity.
2. A traditional choice for igniting fires. Burns hot and bright.
3. A networked project adding nutrition and fertility to European social movements through training and capacity building. It kindles the realisation of social justice, ecological intelligence, and cognitive vitality.