For 2017 – 2018, we have decided to make Stick Around a focus of our community fundraising. If you want to find out how your donation will be put to good use, you have come to the right page!
Stick Around is our Forest Education programme for grown-ups. (Well, why should the children have all the fun?) The programme focuses on three types of activity:
- being active and physical in the natural environment
- being creative with natural materials
- being mindful and reflective in nature
At the same time, everyone gets to know each other, and in some ways get to know themselves too.
Each Thursday, a group that is open to all meets at the Orchard 1 – 3PM, often starting with a gentle yoga warm-up or checking-in with a well-being score out of 10. Tea and (sometimes biscuits) feature each week as it’s nice to take a break with one another. On other days of the week, groups of people in a recovery programme for substance misuse come for their sessions.
What happens in Stick Around?
Some of the physical work involves conservation or gardening. Participants have built a giant willow basket to house a pile of leaf mould in the orchard, and created a water collector near the storage units. Many a time we’ve added woodchip to the very muddy paths around the estate, and helped clear shrubby growth from old paths so that everyone can access them better.
More creative work has included taking photographs and using them in a Calendar. Participants also want to create sets of gift cards or cards with messages to help others be reflective. They have made wreathes, candle jars, and viewing frames using sticks and leaves. On a more practical level, they have made signs to indicate some of our work stations around the site – the compost bins, cob oven and cage for storage. In contrast, some people have made several mandalas which draw on nature images and patterns, and used these as a meditative practice.
The natural environment is a wonderfully restful place to be, and we are so fortunate at Highbury to be able enjoy this natural space. (The nearest main road is only a few minutes walk away, but the trees do absorb the sounds and the place is quiet only 3 miles from the city centre!) But we can engage with nature even more deeply just by reflecting on certain aspects such as life cycles and the changing seasons, themes and patterns, and closed loop systems where waste produce become resources for something else. Session leaders use tried and tested techniques to help participants reflect on their own well-being, such as the Five Ways to Well-Being, Wow Now How, and the Five Questions.
And in the next few months …
This year we have received funding from the Big Lottery to develop the programme so that it becomes more self-sustaining. This means there are opportunities for people to develop their skills in craftwork including green woodworking, such as making a peg rail, welly-holders and so on. When we’re ready, we will sell these and hope to find a few salespoints in the local community. We also want to engage more closely with the support organisations involved, collaborating over personal recovery plans so that participants who need this process can get the best out of our programme.
If you would like to get involved as a participant, or as volunteer assistant session leader, please contact Liz/David on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also looking for artists and crafters, especially if you make from wood – to co-run some of the sessions.