Last week I read the Natural Childhood Report from a consortium of UK organisations led by the National Trust. It talks about Richard Louv‘s concept of Nature Deficit Disorder, about ‘zero risk culture’ and mentions some pretty scary statistics.
In a single generation since the 1970s, children’s ‘radius of activity’ – the area around their home where they are allowed to roam unsupervised – has declined by almost 90%. (Natural Childhood Report)
This inspired me to take our three year old on an adventure. We are very fortunate to have some good parks near our home. Back Creek is ten minutes away and has a friends group that has diligently been working to revegetate it for many years.
At first Mr A wanted to stick to the path, I suggested we could go down to the embankment to the creek bed but he is naturally cautious and didn’t want to do it. Halfway along the path diverges and you can walk across the creek to a road on the other side. Here he was happy to get closer but not all that interested in the bubbling water. I tried to talk it up “Look A, it’s a creek! Can you hear the sound of the water? Isn’t it beautiful?” to no avail.
On the other side there was no path and I was reluctant to walk on the road so I headed off through the bush beside the creek. This was where the magic happened. A followed me into the bushes and was soon leading the way – being small gives you an advantage. He was proud of his ability to find a way through and took great pleasure in helping me find my way as well.
By the time we got to the end of the strip he was sold, I offered him a trip to the nearby cafe and he said he wanted to keep walking instead. We doubled back along the path on the other side of the creek. It wasn’t long before he led us down the embankment to the creek bed, braving a steep section on his bottom.
It was a rocky section of the creek and he led the way along from rock to rock, holding my hand to steady himself when needed. The rocks look sharp and I was very aware of the risks so I stayed close but I trust his caution and let him choose whether to hold onto me.
I asked how he was going, he said his feet ‘just trust the river’ I have no idea what he meant by this but it sounds really cool.
At one point the rocks gave out to boggy mud I asked if we should return to the path. He said ‘No’ and we continued on, working together to find the way along. Sometimes I lifted him over the water to get to the other side, sometimes we picked our way across rocks or plants growing in the stream. The whole time he was utterly engaged in figuring out how to keep moving. He barely had space to make up stories about it.
There’s something in nature that captures the imagination in a way that human constructions do not. There are very few activities that a 3 year old can engage in so fully for such a long period of time.
That night at dinner I asked him what he was grateful for today (a habitual question in our house) and without missing a beat he said ‘the creek.’
On Sunday I went to see the delightful Clare Bowditch do her Big Hearted Business morning tea thing. It was inspiring, it was energising, it was a relief to hear someone talk about passion for saving the world as an asset instead of rolling their eyes. It was also a profound eye opener. I hadn’t really considered that the work I want to do could be a viable business. I’m not actually sure that a business can be inherently ethical in the way I would want it to be, I need to think about it some more.
I spoke to lots of interesting people, it would have been great to do even more of that. I haven’t started a business but I’m branching out into new territory just wanting a career that I am whole heartedly involved in, that engages the best parts of myself. I need to speak to others who can affirm that that’s possible and that it’s a worthy endeavour.
At one point Clare started talking about marketing, what things come to mind?
slick, sales, targeting, awkward, segmentation, niche…
Then she asked – who knows what problem they are trying to solve?
I don’t know if it was because I raised my hand a little higher than the others. Perhaps the audience didn’t have a lot of people who really knew their problem. Maybe it was completely random but I suddenly found myself talking to my hero, Clare Bowditch.
The problem I want to solve is connecting people with nature, so that they understand they are actually part of it.
How are you going to do that?
I run workshops.
And what’s your background, is it therapeutic?
No, I have a buddhist practice and I’ve worked in the community sector for 15 years.
(Satisfied, Clare turns to the audience) Okay, so who here knows someone or feels that they themselves need to connect with nature?
Everyone. raised. their. hand.
(Clare turns back to me, nodding appreciatively. Thunderstruck I can barely bring myself to look around the room.) Okay so how are these people going to find you?
Ah, they can’t actually.
Right, thank you for your honesty, that’s what marketing is for.
That’s what this blog is for, so people can find me. I have the luxury of full time work, I’m not looking for an income, I’m looking for deep conversation.
I’ve had so many ideas and thoughts bubbling away lately. I thought perhaps it’s time to air them out. Let this be a space to launch interesting conversations and see what flies.
Next week I’ll be starting the We are wildness 30 day challenge. I thought it might be helpful to have a place to capture my reflections on the experience (and keep me engaged in it).
I will use it to let you know about the ‘Work that reconnects‘ workshops I run based on the work of Joanna Macy.
It’s an opportunity to share my experience of parenting, exploring ways to keep myself and my son connected to nature in the middle of suburbia. I’m about to embark on a new career, hence the bubbling of ideas. I am meeting someone different for lunch every week with a view to sharing ideas and expanding my knowledge of who is interested in the human/nature connection and what the current thinking is.