2nd in our NATURE NOTES series...

Finding space for deep connection as well as activism

by Mark Sears

We’ve made it to the end of the cycle, our events season which a few short months ago was at its peak and busy has ended; we find ourselves just one cycle of the moon away from the shortest day as the pendulum begins to swing the other way again, back towards the light.

It feels to me that the urgent plight of our planet has come into sharper focus this year. With the IPCC report giving us 12 years to limit climate catastrophe and reports articulating our role in bringing about the 6th mass extinction of species now making it mainstream, we can no longer ignore the perilous state we find ourselves in. The call to take action and to up our individual and collective game feels loud and clear. We need to prepare ourselves for fundamental and unprecedented change and we need to do it now.

In 2013 I was one of the first cohort of people on the Call of The Wild course run by WildWise in partnership with Schumacher college. I was in the midst of a profound period of personal change, recalibrating my own place in the world having spent nearly 15 years working in big brands trying to use creativity and innovation to solve problems. I knew there was a need for something deeper, not just on a personal level but also on a collective level but didn’t know where to begin. I was a bit lost. When I saw the advert for Call of The Wild on a cold, crisp November day - 6 years ago almost to the day, I knew immediately that this was what I needed to be doing.

So I booked on and life has never quite been the same again. Little did I know that Call of The Wild was not the end game of a process of change but the beginning of a whole new heap of trouble! 

Fast forward 5 years, I was asked by Chris to step into the bridging role for the 2018 Call of The Wild. The bridging role is usually made up of people from the previous year who act as a bridge between this year’s participants and the facilitation team. With 5 years of journeying under my belt since my first Call of The Wild I felt like a long, old bridge but I jumped at the chance and leapt once again into that river.

The second time has perhaps been even more potent than the first. The process of spending six long, occasionally challenging, often beautiful and always transformational weekends together helps form a deep connection to a tribe of wonderful, passionate humans, each with their own wounds and deep gifts but all prepared to journey together to explore our relationship with the earth.

So here I am, this time on another bright, crisp November day, trying to make sense of that journey. Once again trying to work out how to make deep nature connection a part of my own daily life even amongst the complexity of life with two small children. This year I’m really feeling the ever more urgent need to act whilst all the time witnessing new forms of direct action to protect the earth from fracking, as well as seeing the Extinction Rebellion movement bound into life.

For me personally it has been an awkward, tender and complex time.

One of the questions most alive in me is how can we as people taking a lead in nature connection, find space for deep connection as well as activism, especially when things are so urgent? How do I honour my deep seasonal need to build a big bear den and find space to rest and replenish myself for Spring? How can we be both active and attend to our need for rest and reflection? Is such a balance even possible?

There are no easy answers to these deep questions of course. But I am drawn to one of the themes from the first weekend of Call of The Wild; the importance of the humble sit spot. A sit-spot is 20 minutes spent daily in nature in a place close to where you live where the only intention is to sit and notice ourselves and the changing rhythms of the world to which we are connected.

It seems to me whether we are drawn to enter the fray of activism on the front line or whether we need to spend the time in a process of deep contemplation and composting we all need to up our game.

It feels to me that the single thread that links those two courses of action is to simply pay MUCH MORE attention to the world out there, a world that is much much bigger than any one of us.

Paying more attention might mean taking time to sit at dusk with the tawny owls who are extremely active right now, marking out their territories ready for next years breeding season. It means being observant to the passing of the geese as they head off to their winter feeding grounds or noticing how the earth slows as it goes inward. It might simply mean paying attention to the dying of the light or just noticing our own feelings and how our own needs show up when we stop moving.

Perhaps then to spend time focussing and connecting is precisely the base we need for the kind of activism we so urgently need in the world right now. To be more active we need to be more connected and to be more connected we might need to slow right down and honour our own place in the small patch of the earth we call home.

I’m off out to sit for a while.

Mark Sears joined us in the office and in the woods in 2018 following 3 1/2 years growing The Wild Network from a film led movement to a thriving community of people seeking to rewild childhood. Mark brings with him many years of experience from the creative industries and he now works on projects that lead to the rewilding of people, organisations and communities. Mark was one of the first cohort of 'Wolves' on the Call of the Wild programme and is now exploring ways for WildWise to develop new programmes around organisational rewilding and how we might scale the impacts of our youth mentoring and training programmes.

Some more reflection on this theme in this blog from Positive News

Bookings for 2019 Call of the Wild are now being taken. Enrol here.



Nature Notes 1: In praise of nothing by Chris Packe