This month we have been exploring the theme of “Making Space for Nature” from a wide range of different angles. We started with an editorial piece which argued that one of the key things that nature can bring our work doing Transition is a sense of wonder. Something to do with glowworms apparently. We grabbed George Monbiot before he went on stage and talked about his book Feral and the concept of rewilding.
Writer and founder of the charity Write to Freedom, Caspar Walsh, talked about the vital role nature can play in the healing of young men. “She, it, whatever it is”, he told us, “works on them and softens them up so I don’t have to do all the work”. Ecopsychologist Mary-Jayne Rust talked about the impacts being separated from nature can have on us, and the benefits we get from making space for it. “When was the last time you heard of an activist going on a pilgrimage for eight months?” she asked.
Isabel Carlisle introduced us to Community Charters, and the potential they have for making space for nature at the community scale. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, and of the theory of Nature Deficit Disorder, talked to us via Skype. “If we’re not careful”, he told us, “environmentalists and others who care about the future of nature will carry nature in their briefcases, not in their hearts”. Mike Jones, who builds natural play spaces for kids, talked about the need to make space for “the primodial nature of kids”.
Aniol Esteban of New Economics Foundation reflected on why we need to make space for nature in economics. He told us:
Nature contributes to our mental health. It delivers mental health benefits and physical health benefits. It delivers a wide range of societal benefits. It contributes to our education. It can help reduce levels of crime. It can help urban regeneration. There is a huge range of areas and ways in which nature contributes to our wellbeing – individual wellbeing and collective wellbeing.
Hayley Spann, one of the participants in One Year in Transition, reflected on “what nature taught me”. We had a review of the first mainstream novel about Transition, The Second Life of Sally Mottram by David Nobbs (see right). We also talked to the author about where the idea came from, and what makes a good story. We had a recipe for “Transition Plum and Almond Cake”. Mark Watson reflected on the importance of ‘Making Space for Flowers’, and the many ways in which his Transition initiatives, Sustainable Bungay, create opportunities for people to encounter and benefit from nature.
Rob Hopkins reflected on how different our approach to managing water and drought would be if we took forests as the model on which we based it. He also responded to a critique of Transition by Ted Trainer and explored why the language we use to talk about this stuff really matters. He also went on the Peoples’ Climate March in London and reflected on how that was.
We heard from Transition initiatives about their experience of making space for nature in what they do. Hilary Jennings of Transition Town Tooting talked about the Tooting Foodival. Chris Bird wrote about the Transition Homes initiative in Totnes. Cara Naden discussed the many ways in which Transition Langport make space for nature. “I believe we all have an inherent bond with nature”, she wrote. “It makes us feel happy and healthy and makes us feel we are doing something positive and worthwhile for the benefit of wildlife, each other and ourselves”.
A very rich and thought-provoking month we hope you’ll agree. Our theme for October will be Transition and development. We hope you enjoy that too.