From the Roots Up T4T

22 to 30 April 2023

Exploring the power of radical nature connection and ecological learning for collective action

This Training for Trainers, hosted in DEvon (UK). aims to support trainers, facilitators and educators who want to use nature-based and eco-systemic approaches of education and facilitation for activists and change makers seeking to empower defence of the earth and struggles for social justice. 

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 the deeper transformations needed? For those of us facilitating social and political change making, how do we weave a more embedded, participatory and ecological understanding into our work? 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 training for trainers to find out and to learn how to weave this approach into your own practice. 

Nature-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”.

  • How can we ensure that the transformative power of this kind of education carries people beyond personal concern to strategic organising and action?
  • What are the implications of integrating radical analyses of structural power into eco-educational work – and vice versa?

Drawing from a wide range of sources, this training seeks to facilitate a deepened inquiry and exploration for participants in relation to their own practice, and support them to facilitate this for others. 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. 

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. It offers ways to bring a taste of more beauty, relational and care based organising, pre-figuring the worlds we long for without denying the troubles.

There will be time spent indoors and out, in whole and small groups, solo and in pairs. We will create space to discuss key challenges we face as practitioners, to share experience and approaches and practise the application of the content and methods. There will be opportunities to bring live issues, projects or ideas to the learning community and trainers.

Guiding questions include: 

  • How can we learn from nature – and as nature – in ways that can empower our movement building and our practice?
  • How does an ecological way of thinking and experiencing the world shift how we understand change, power and culture?
  • How can the disciplines of ‘eco-learning’ better motivate and sustain collective action?
  • How do current activism and nature-based education perpetuate or repeat patterns of extraction, separation, power over and human centricity?
  • How can we make this work truly empowering, inclusive, and transformative?
  • What is emerging in the margins where the overlapping of different practices, themes and lived experiences are acting as fertile ground for change?
  • What are the questions we should be asking? 

Who is it for?

  • Experienced trainers, facilitators and educators
  • Those with experience of either of the two areas that form the basis of this enquiry  (i.e ecological education/nature connection facilitation or participation in socio-political movements)
  • Those motivated to focus on collective agency and change processes

This training will not cover basic facilitation or pedagogical training; rather, it is intended to offer additional skills and content to existing training and facilitation skills. Whilst you don’t need to have experience of nature facilitation, we do ask that you have some form of existing personal nature connection practice that you wish to integrate into your training or facilitation work. To participate fully in this training, you will need to feel comfortable enough outdoors to be outside in all weathers and are happy to get a bit muddy!

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 in related fields. It is supported by research work carried out by the German ecopsychology collective, Wandelwerk, and input from the ecopsychology perspectives from Vedeglet (Hungary).

Please Note: Participation in this training will involve a little bit of preparatory work. Once accepted we will send more information and some invitations to reflect on your practice, and what you wish to learn (or un-learn) by joining us. There will be some minimal pre-reading.

This training  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, this training for trainers event and a trainers manual. Partners include Ulex, Transformative Education CIC, Wandelwerk and Vedeglet.  

The Venue: On The Hill is located in the beautiful Teign Valley in South Devon, who provide land-based experiential learning opportunities to a wide range of people.We will be working in their large cob barn and in various parts of this landscape of hill and valley, food growing and wilder spaces. Accommodation will be in bell tents with mattress and duvet with a few options for live in vehicles or solo camping. Some different needs can be accommodated but the site is not yet fully accessible. More details available on request.

Food will be mainly grown on site – cultivated and wild and mainly vegan.

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 and to support others on very low incomes. (Unfortunately we are unable to provide economic support towards travel to the event).

Contribución sugerida
En la economía solidaria: €300/€500/€950
(ver los detalles de nuestro enfoque hacia Economía solidaria)

The Team

Our Name

Ulex: Latin (argelaga Catalan, gorse English) noun:

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.