Bringing Community & Nature-Reconnection During Coronavirus


manchester bushcraft for kids

Live Wild exists to reconnect people of all ages to nature and create a sense of community and belonging for everyone through interaction with the natural world. The current coronavirus pandemic means that we are thinking creatively about how to do this based on the new circumstances, but we remain committed to supporting the local community and helping people to connect with nature, which feels more important now than ever. 

We have been reading all government guidance carefully as it is released, and are also tuning into updates from national networks such as the Forest School Association. The decision about whether to run programmes and courses, which are all outdoors and with small groups, is currently in our hands (although this may change).

Safeguarding and supporting the vulnerable in our community is of the utmost importance to us, and all of our programme teams are currently conducting risk-benefit assessments. We will inform those who have already signed up to Live Wild events about our decisions as soon as possible.

We are nature

As an organisation, we take inspiration from living systems in terms of how we operate. Ecosystems adapt to environmental challenges in a connected and supportive way, which is exactly what we intend to do in light of current circumstances. 

 

Getting people outside 

There is tonnes of research that confirms what we intuitively know and see every day: deep connection with the rest of the natural world boosts physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing, reduces stress, keeps immunity strong and creates resilience, both on an individual and community basis. In addition to this, the government is recommending time outdoors, fresh air and sunlight.

With this in mind, we are considering new offers that could better enable people to access natural spaces whilst adhering to government advice. 

Provisions for Children- Home School and Holiday Club

We now know that schools will close as of tomorrow. Our provisions for children and young people may consequently need to be cancelled, or they may be more important than ever. Many parents with work commitments may be seeking childcare options, and perhaps outdoor provision like ours present the lowest risk. We have a strong desire to support parents and children over the coming weeks and so would like to hear from you about what would be most useful at this time. In answering our Facebook poll, you will help us to get a sense of how we can best bring support and nature connection to you and your family.

 

With love and gratitude, Leona, Viv, Leonie and Sophie 

 

Spring Foraging in West Yorkshire- A Feast of Flowers, Fungi & Foliage Part I

By Sophie Wren

Spring is a highlight on the forager’s calendar – a time when nature provides a bounty of nourishing wild food that is full of vitality and nutrients. It’s also a time when our ancestors would have been welcoming back the sun and gathering the new green shoots, young tender leaves, flowers and even fungi offered up by the woodland and hedgerows. After the long dark nights of winter, finding these things for the first time would surely have been cause for joy and celebration. As we pass Imbolc, the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox, it’s time to get out foraging in West Yorkshire! In this series of blog posts myself and the rest of the Live Wild foraging team will introduce you to some of our favourite wild foods of the season.

foraging courses manchester

Please note, correct ID is essential, and the following is an introduction rather than a guide. We advise acquiring some decent foraging books, doing lots of research, and ideally going out gathering with someone who already knows their stuff. Myself and the rest of the foraging team- Leonie Morris and Miranda Cowan- will be introducing local wild foods and recipes on our upcoming spring foraging courses.

Ramsons (wild garlic)

Allium ursinum

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Pictured: Ramsons in flower, new ramson shoots, ramsons with pine nuts and needles prepared on a Live Wild foraging course, a jar of Leonie’s pickled ramson buds, and Miranda’s ramson pesto

Growing abundantly in the Calder Valley, it’s the smell that gives ramsons away and a rub of the leaves between your fingers will reveal a delicious garlic scent that is crying out to be made into pesto (to me, at least!). A member of the allium family, this plant is also reminiscent of spring onions and can be used as a substitute in salads, sauces and anywhere else you want to add a flavoursome oniony kick. You can eat this raw and I usually end up nibbling on a good amount whilst collecting, which leads to a fiery mouth and wonderful garlic breath. The dagger-like leaves have a subtle waxy sheen and the flowers, which come later in spring, are white and star-like. You can eat the leaves, flower buds, flowers, stems and seeds and I have experimented with pickling and fermenting as well as sauces like pesto. Because the flavour is in the oils, cooking can render ramsons tasteless. Throw them into your soups and stews right at the end and sprinkle some raw chopped leaves on top for extra taste.

Note that there are poisonous plants that could be confused with ramsons, especially the first new leaves of early spring: lords and ladies, daffodils, lilly of the valley and foxgloves. Get to know these and be sure to avoid!

Scarlet Elf Cups

Sarcoscypha austriaca

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Pictured: scarlet elf cups with collected water, scarlet elf cup and ramson pizza made by Leonie, and scarlet elf cups in the moss

What an absolute joy it is to encounter these vibrant mushrooms amongst the mosses in later winter and early spring, sometimes with little drinks of water still pooled inside them (or is it the magical mead of the elves?). They grow directly from fallen wood, and there are a few spots I know of around Hebden Bridge where they are very abundant. Just looking at them provides me with a lot of joy and entertainment, but eating them is a wonderful treat too. I tend to pick a few respectfully and leave plenty of cups remaining to continue their magic of decomposition, spore spreading and looking delightful. For me, a good way to approach foraging is to ask permission (in this case, I may address the elves), take what feels respectful and always leave some behind. These mushrooms can be roasted or fried, or even added to pizza, as Leonie has done in the picture above.

Note: correct ID is absolutely essential with mushrooms- please don’t take any chances! Also, once you’re 100% sure of what you’ve found, try a small amount first to ensure it doesn’t disagree with you.

 

Stinging Nettles

urtica dioca

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Most of us have been familiar with stinging nettles since we were kids due to the stinging. They’re incredibly abundant in our valley and the newly sprung plants are absolutely delicious. These vibrant plants seem to be full of life force, and are one of my absolute favourite wild foods due to their high protein and iron content, amazing spinach-like flavour and versatility. Nettle tea, soup, stew, curry, bahjis…the list goes on and on and is making me hungry. Nettles are full of vitamins, calcium, potassium and magnesium- a pretty incredible plant and ally for from a health perspective.

Note: harvest young nettle leaves from the tops of plants before they go to seed. Pick with gloves if you want to avoid stinging, although the ‘grasp the nettle’ technique can also work well. Submerging the nettles in boiling water for a minute takes away the sting.

 

About the author:

 

foraging courses west yorkshireSophie Wren is one of Live Wild’s foraging tutors, and joined the existing team to work alongside Leonie Morris and Miranda Cowan in 2018. Her initial fascination with the magical kingdom of fungi began around ten years ago when she found a chicken of the woods mushroom on her birthday and discovered it was edible. Mushroom foraging quickly became a general passion for wild food when it became apparent how much of the landscape was edible. She particularly enjoys experimenting with new wild food recipes as well as re-learning the art of traditional preparations. 

The Joy of Singing to the Trees

On a nippy but clear and sunny day last February, I was privileged to join Leona and Damian and a selection of fifteen or so other lovely humans for Live Wild’s Singing in the Woods event, in a secret woodland location in South Manchester combining two of my favourite things; singing and trees. What’s not to love?!

The day began with teas and some freshly made cleaver water to open the throat and clear the system. Then we got on with the business of raising our voices to the trees, combining in song from languages from around the world, encompassing a range of rhythms and vibrations but consistently infused with simplicity and joy.

During our lunch break, we lit the fire with a simple ceremony and accompanying song, and heated some curried soup to warm and soothe us for the afternoon’s activities

The group had mixed feelings about singing in public at the outset of the day. We all wanted to sing, but we had varying confidence about our abilities. When we began, our feelings ranged from unabashed enthusiasm to anxiety, nerves and outright fear, but not long into the day everyone’s inhibitions had been thrown to the winds in the safe and reassuring hands of our enthusiastic, experienced and knowledgeable facilitators. We sang, we danced, we harmonised and experimented and we lifted our hearts and voices to the trees. And actually, we sounded pretty good!

It is emotional and a little magical to sing in nature, it feels like a two-way exchange with the plants and wildlife. It’s well known that plants thrive when gardeners talk to them, I like to think that our vocal efforts were as well-received by our rooted audience as we were healed and nourished by the presence of the trees, the flowers and the accompanying chorus of the birds.

Leona and Damian will be singing again in Calderdale on Sunday 23rd June.

More information and tickets

 

It’s About Time- by Alan Creedon

When you delve into nature you delve into yourself

When I give myself the time to connect I allow another world to meet my own. It’s about the slowing of step and of thought into deliberate, coordinated movements. It’s ‘making something’ of time which is different to what I usually might. I will ‘mould’ time into an experience of connection.

Even if it’s just to have a moment to think about time, I will go into nature and slow. Often I ‘take’ some time to do something, but I’d rather ‘make’ or ‘create’ some time for it. This gives me a feeling that there’s ‘enough’ time whereas I could easily tell myself I’m ‘stealing’ a few minutes or  on ‘borrowed’ time. Why would I want to borrow time when I can create it myself?

There’s something about time that’s malleable. We don’t simply live in clock time because often a ‘moment’ can feel a lot longer that the clock will tell you. My six year old daughter came downstairs the other night at 10.30pm wondering why it was dark because she was in certainty that it was morning. Sometimes ten minutes can feel like an hour (definitely has happened to me when meditating!) and sometimes an hour can go by fast as a drunken night.

My favourite way to slow time is to walk more slowly, to think more slowly and to sit.

So I go to where I can slow the most.

And that’s where rocks are and trees are, where I can sit and just be. I look at the trees and they tell me to take it easy, that I am who I am, and no matter what I look like, I can sit and just be, rooted to the spot. A tree has one place for all its life and I can call it patient and wise. I sit on a rock and it tells me of storm and rains, water and winds that shaped it through millennia and how it sits there and wants for nothing I could understand anyway. In the moments when I contemplate water – where it’s been and where it goes on its endless tour through air and ground – I feel like a passing breath of this world’s journey, a tiny but significant moment in its story.

We can’t save time in a bottle but we can place as much meaning as we can upon it. Create it, make it, stretch it, speed it up, slow it down, ignore it, whatever! I spend time in nature with intent because there I feel rich and so I spend as much as I can.

Make more time for nature.

Do you know what Nature Mentoring is?

Nature Mentoring is a really amazing way to enable young people to really deepen their connection to nature in a profound life enhancing way. It’s a relationship that is built between young people and their experienced and passionate adult mentors who over time will skillfully work to bring out the unique passions and abilities of each young person. In nature mentoring young people explore their relationship with nature, deepen their connection to themselves and each other and they learn outside in creative, inspiring and fun ways. Mentors take the role of the coyote sometimes, sometimes they are the teacher but often they are just there to draw out the inherent wisdom that is there to be gained through direct experience in nature.

So why is this important?

In modern times two major changes with regards to nature mentoring have occured.

  1. The role of the community and extended family has diminished massively. Some young people are lucky to have an uncle or family friend who takes a deep interest in their upbringing but on the whole the main or sole responsibility these days is laid at the feet of the overstretched nuclear (or not so nuclear) family and the under resourced target driven schools. We just don’t tend to have mentors.
  2. The second change is how much time we spend outdoors. One report said that children spend less than half as much time outdoors as their parents did. Green spaces are just not as accessible, safety is more of a concern and being indoors with computers and TV is much more appealing to our youngsters. Our children just aren’t going outside (an average of less than 4 hours per week in fact).

‘At Live Wild we strongly believe all children need connection, they need mentors and they need nature’.

Research shows that time with groups in nature impacts brain development, language, social skills, creativity, coordination, happiness, physical and mental health and wellbeing…..the list goes on. And research on positive adult mentors in out of school settings, both formal and informal are shown to support young people with confidence, self esteem, engagement in school and the ability to form positive relationships in future life and more.

The Eight Shields Institute (http://8shields.org/about/) in America has developed a model to work with young people based on experience and knowledge shared from indigenous cultures from around the world. This model has been bringing about great results.

We at Live Wild have been tracking this work for some time and in recent years have trained and worked with this model and ‘The Art of Mentoring’ (https://artofmentoring.life/aom/) in a number of projects. We know that there is now a growing body of knowledge and awareness of the benefits of long term deep nature connection mentoring and we want you to be a part of it.

With this in mind we are excited to launch the:

Monthly Nature Mentoring Programme 2018

Starting 14th January 2018 and then every second Sunday of each month.

For 5-8 year olds and 8-12 year olds

With only a few of its kind in this country and none in the north of england we are excited to offer monthly sessions in the beautiful woods near Hebden Bridge where we can really create a thriving healthy culture of nature connection with the young people we work with.

 Are you interested for your child or someone you know?

Email info@livewild.org.uk
Places are limited and booking is essential so don’t miss out

For information about when and where this is happening and details about how to sign up please email and we can send more information to you with full details. Please also feel free to pass this to anyone else you think might be interested.

Call 07979 207206 to speak to Leona one of our Nature Mentors.
And if you any questions at all please contact us.

Live Wild 2017 Celebration and looking into 2018

Live Wild
Here’s some of what we got up to in 2017!

Wildlings Holiday Club. We successfully ran our amazing Wildings Holiday Club throughout every school holiday!

‘This was the best day ever!’ Noah aged 8.

Adult Courses Our adult courses included Bushcraft, Foraging, Whittling and Nature Connection. So much fun was had eating foraged delights, cooking on the fire, connecting deeply with nature and learning in beautifully connective groups. Watch this space for more in 2018.

‘Wonderfully empowering, encouraging, inspiring-want to do more of it!!!  Just right – you packed an amazing amount in without ‘stress” Birgitta

  

Funded places Thanks to the Todmorden Windfarm Fund and CCFC we were also really pleased to work with 6 different Todmorden Schools and be able to offer 60 FREE places to children who  would not have normally accessed Wildlings. Amazing!

‘I don’t know what you did yesterday but I haven’t seen my daughter this happy and this excited about anything for a long time, she is so keen to come today….thank you” Parent

Forest School.Thanks to Pennine Prospects were also funded to run two 6 week forest school programmes accross Calderdale teaching children about our local woodland heritage. What a treat! Working with the lovely Field Lane Primary in Elland and St Josephs Primary in Todmorden we were able to inspire 60 children within their local woodlands and have fun getting into character as our cave women alter egos!

‘This has totally transformed the way my children play. Suddenly they want to play outside all time really creatively and imaginatively.  Thank you!’ Parent of St Joseph’s School child.

Monthly Nature Mentoring. And what a wonderful winter wonderland we had to play in on our Monthly Nature Mentoring Taster Day.

‘Nature Mentoring is a really amazing way to enable young people to really deepen their connection to nature in a profound life enhancing way’.

We know lots of people are interested in our forthcoming programme which starts on Sunday 14th January, but remember your child’s place is only secure once the payment has been made and booking form is received.

Click here (info@livewild.org.uk) to let us know you are interested and we will send you all the information you need.
Places are limited and booking is essential so we wouldn’t want people to miss out.

 

Live Wild passionately believe that we all need connection to each other to ourselves and to nature. For more information do not hesitate to contact us.

Our Web address is:
http://www.livewild.org.uk

Our mailing address is:
info@livewild

Spring 2017 Woodland Women Day

Wow! What a fantastic day in great company with many creative and inspiring women.  We began the day check in with ourselves taking some time to connect with our bodies and internal experience.  A few of the days treats involved harvesting birch sap, whittled our own roasting skewers, learnt fire starting techniques  and made a delicious lunch of foraged delicacies to cook over the flames. Thank you to every one who made it such an enjoyable time together.

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How can we inspire a culture of Nature Connection?

How can we inspire a culture of Nature Connection? that was the question posed at a gathering I attended in a swanky gallery in London last week. Not the usual setting for nature connection activities and not the usual people actually. There was a wonderfully diverse array of participants, ranging from bankers and business men to teachers, youth workers, festival organisers and yogis. It’s not uncommon for me to be surrounded by people passionate about nature connection, but they are usually always directly involved in the business in some way. This was different. The organisers at Way of Nature had reached outside the bubble and created some interesting possibilities.way-logo.jpg
Way of Nature is an exciting organisation that was established around 4 years ago. They have been successfully running a range of retreats and programmes to inspire connection and purpose as a response to the challenges of modern day life. No wonder they have been popular. Working with businesses to inspire transformation and unity, working with groups of men to create evolution of purpose and awareness, family camps, day courses; you name it they have been doing it and now they are hoping to expand the possibilities.
My first encounter with their work came a few months ago when a friend posted a link to an ‘Open evolution; joining in the future of way of nature’. I love big ideas. I also love what I do and I have a deep passion for sharing it and working towards a nature connected future. .Since I started my journey learning about the fields of ecopsychology, traditional cultures and other contemporary approaches, my fears and knowledge about the dire straights of our current industrial growth society have had to give way to my hopes for a life sustaining culture. There is so much potential for change and I truly feel that now is the time. I sense that Way of Nature, inspired and connected individuals that they are, are aware of the huge need for societal change but also have the skills to really think differently about how we reach the masses. It’s ambitious and bold and yet it seems that when a diverse range of people with an equally diverse set of skills come together,  some magic can really happen.
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I was only part of a portion of what was discussed, I heard talk of lobby groups, corporate interventions, tackling accessibility, education and media presence, the need for grass roots action, working with healthcare systems, it was vast and yet the power of the possible was present in the room. The post evaluation results and responses from the discussions and workshops that took place have not been released yet. The brave format of the open source structure of this call out are risky, the potential for rapid loss of momentum with nobody to call to account and motivate the members. However, if it works, if people rise to the challenge, use their power of personal entrepreneurship, agency, self motivation and collaboration then we are on to a winner. Using the metaphor of  mycelium webs – self organising of connections beneath the forest –  we are being invited to get connected,  build strength in numbers, in knowledge and emerge together to become much greater than the sum of our parts.  th-3
If any of this excites you then do make contact. In the spirit of abundance, I am hoping to start a directory of research bodies and organisations that deliver nature connection opportunities and I would love you to make this possible by forwarding contact details, emails, or websites that you are aware of in that fit this category. Way of Nature will also be happy to hear from anyone who feels inspired and available to get involved. Watch this space.
by Leona (Live Wild Outdoor Leader)