Connecting with the power of nature to defend the earth
Resilience is all about connection: Deeper connection with ourselves, deeper connections with each other, and deeper connection with nature. Today we face immense challenges – social, ecological and political. We can be daunted by the scale and extent of the problems. We can feel overwhelmed and undermined. Where can we find the resilience and strength needed to meet them? How can we stay rooted in a wider connection with nature so we stay inspired to engage passionately in these times? This training is a collaboration between the Ulex Project and Ecodharma and hosted at High Heathercombe in the UK.
Photo by Pedro @aquila59/flickr
This course brings nature connection, meditation and mindfulness into relationship with activism and social change. We ask: How can we draw on the power of the heart, the fire of the imagination, and the dynamism of the body to empower social change through nature connection?
Nature connection work can help us to bring forth an ecological consciousness – an empowering sense of connection and identity that affirms our solidarity with life. Deeper nature connection can be a source of nourishment, empowerment, and wisdom. It can help us to live fully present in our times. As the Shambala Mind Training Verses say: “Remember that you are the inheritor of the strengths of thousands of generations of life.”
This course will help us to remember – to regain the power and nourishment that comes from recollecting who we are and what we are part of. We understand the transformative and integrative power of immersion in non-human nature. We want to support others to re-connect with that source of nourishment, well-being, and inspiration. Our approach to Nature Based Practice and Learning integrates insights and methods from ‘nature connection’, deep ecology, and contemplative traditions.
This course is for activists, organisers, and people involved in other forms of social change work. It is especially suitable for people committed to action in solidarity with the earth, working for climate justice, environmental protection and a transition to sustainable societies. It will support participants to spend time out in the wilds connecting with the teachings nature offers. We use tools such as mindfulness practice and meditation in conjunction with elements of bushcraft, nature based education, systems theory and group process, as well as ecological and evolutionary learning, and solo time in wild nature.
Connection with wild nature is an important aid to developing an ecological sensibility and sense of connection with the web of life. This can support action towards a sustainable future for all. These experiences can be nourishing, enriching, and can demand that we radically re-orientate our sense of who and what we are. This course will help us to remember and refuel – to regain the power and nourishment that comes from recollecting who we are and what we are part of.
The course will be hosted in collaboration with the Ecodharma Centre and held at High Heathercome, on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park, an extraordinary and wild place. From this supportive base, Nature Based Practice and Learning can help us step out of the human-centred world for a while – to wander deep into tangled woodland, to lie on mossy rocks, to clamber up lofty tors and granite hill-tops weathered over the last ten million years, to traverse blanket bogs, heaths and meadows and maybe catch sight of more-than-human kin in the form of otter, greater horseshoe bat, buzzard, skylark. There, in these places, we find connection with something larger than ourselves.
Who is it aimed at?
Anyone with on-going experience of action for social change: those involved in direct action, on-going campaign work, community empowerment and anyone involved in socially engaged action addressing ecological, political and social justice issues. We embrace a broad definition of activism, including: Resistance – action preventing further damage to ecosystems and social justice; Renewal – action focused on developing and creating alternatives for healthier societies and communities; and Building Resilience – action supporting increased resilience in communities to weather the uncertain times ahead.
To support this we will be exploring and sharing a range of relevant methodologies, design principles, and specific tools. These include:
– Creating frameworks for deep reflection, analysis, and the sharing of experience.
– Learning to broaden our sphere of awareness and minimise our sphere of disturbance, so that we can learn from our natural surroundings.
– Training in techniques for observation and understanding of the natural systems we live in.
– The application of participatory and experiential learning to sustainable activism.
– Methods of opening up and holding spaces for exploring the emotional dimensions of activist experience – including strong and difficult emotion.
– Exploring group dynamics and tendencies: creating safer spaces to support deep personal learning and transformation.
– Experientially re-membering how ecological consciousness arises through relationship, as an emergent property between humans and the wider natural world.
– Explore how to read the landscape and understand its stories, revealing the deep-time processes which connect us with a vast evolutionary journey and reflecting on the human story and our own individual place in the unique times we are living though.
– Working with natural crafts such as: firelighting, natural cordage, crafting with wood through whittling and coal burning around the fire.
– Applying mindfulness and compassion-based reflective approaches to self-awareness and increasing emotional resilience.
– Tools which integrate embodied and somatic approaches to personal and group change.
This training is a collaboration between the Ulex Project and the Ecodharma Centre and hosted at High Heathercombe Centre. Due to the financial approach of the host organisation, this course is not offered as part of the Ulex Project’s solidarity economy. There are a range of options available:
Solidarity Rate: £400
Waged Rate: £365
Unwaged/Concession Rate: £170
We don’t want lack of finances to be a barrier, so some bursary places are available. We are particularly excited to hear from People of Colour, women, trans folk, non-binary folk and disabled people. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For bookings please complete this application form and if you have any questions contact Mel on +447791 601737 or email email@example.com
May (she/her) is an experienced nature facilitator, who’s been helping people to connect with nature for over 15 years and with Forest School Camps (FSC) alongside many other organisations. Most recently she co-founded the Natural Resilience Project, which builds personal resilience though connection to nature with migrant women in cities across the UK.
In her free time May is a passionate campaigner and activist, and for the last decade or more has worked on a range of issues, often with an environmental emphasis. With Plane Stupid she focused on aviation, and went on to help establish Grow Heathrow, a squatted community food growing project in the path of the proposed 3rd runway. After many years spent fighting dirty big business, and standing with communities being damaged by extractive industries with Reclaim the Power, her activism most recently joined the dots between the aviation industry’s ties with the UK home Office’s brutal process of deportation by charter flight. She was one of the Stansted 15 defendants in a long running court case which spanned between 2017-2019.
Lindsay (she/her) helped launch the Ulex Project in 2017, a pan-European training centre which supports sustainable organising for systemic change. Prior to that she was involved in full-time climate activism for a couple of years with the Campaign Against Climate Change and Reclaim the Power. As a facilitator, Lindsay’s work is underpinned by practice in Buddhist meditation for close to two decades, with training in both MBSR and MBCL, and she’s worked across a number of spheres including the NHS, to share Mindfulness and Compassion tools which prevent burn-out. She is passionate about how meditation practice can open up notions around identity, grief, the sacred and interspecies solidarity. Following on from a year of breast cancer treatment in 2019 she is currently working on a novel detailing some mental health road maps for traversing illness and exploring crisis as an opportunity for greater kinship with the more-than-human world. She will shortly begin a nine month long journey into hunter-gatherer life-ways, indigenous belonging and rewilding as a student of The Old Way.
building a climate justice movement for the long-haul
skills, insights, and practices for creating transformative teams and effective collaborations
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.