I have often said it is not just the things we do in Global Generation that make a difference it is the stories we tell. Some of the stories have been borne though introducing the practice of what we refer to as Free Fall writing to the young people involved with Global Generation. Free Fall writing is a practice inspired by Barbara Turner-Vessalego, who wrote the book Writing Without a Parachute (2013). It’s wonderful to see these stories making their way out into the world, as I did at a recent Free Word Literary event dedicated to how writing can engage people in social and environmental action.
Global Generation was approached by Sophie Wardell the organiser of the event in the hope that one of us would come along and speak about how we engage people in taking environmental action. She had no idea that writing is a cornerstone of our practice. To cut a long story short I picked up the phone and it became clear that we had a lot of different things to contribute to the event. I was honoured to be asked to sit on the panel with five fantastic writers who had been asked to write a 1,000 word-commission about our changing environment. We were also asked to provide the food from the Skip Garden Kitchen, our special brand of home-made bread and tagine. But what was most exciting was Sophie’s full hearted response to our three minute film ‘Dear Nature’ which is a completion of young people’s thoughts about nature. It became obvious that we should show the film at the event. This was followed by three of our young Generators who read some their own free fall writing.
Here is are some excerpts of what they read:
“Nature is something deeper than the eye can see, it is something that can’t be defined. It can be used for things … it is love, it is art … it is to be treasured and as humans it is for us to protect it” Ayisha
"Nature is the thing that connects everything, from our inner nature, the one that we find and name wherever we are to the outer nature that we have threatened, destroyed and applauded” Ranya
“You couldn’t possibly fathom what nature means to me because you are not in my shoes” Samika
As the girls boldly stood up and shared themselves through their words to the audience of over 50 people, the atmosphere in the room deepened. We were now ready to invite the audience into the process of free fall writing themselves. The Generators, offered their top tips,
‘Relax and enjoy … let yourself be surprised … don’t read back on your words as you are writing’
The next step was to introduce the practice of sitting still, guiding everyone into a silent contemplation of the movements of nature inside ourselves. From the place of silence, I invited us to begin writing, with the start line, ‘nature means to me’. Several people stood up and read what they had written in the moment. As so often happens, they were not necessarily people who viewed themselves as writers, but they were surprised by the poetry that came in an unedited way.
Afterwards, the generators took on celebratory status as many people came and spoke to them and offered opportunities for us to share the writing side of Global Generation’s work at future events. There was interest in how we embed the practice of writing into the very practical business of hands on environmental action. We received a number of emails after the event. Here’s how one of the audience described it.
“I too was impressed by the Global Generators. My kids grew up with the Woodcraft Folk but we didn't do much writing with them so this was a revelation” David Thorpe
And this is what one Generator wrote about her experience of the evening.,. :
“My experience tonight was invigorating. I’ve never ever felt my lungs constrict so much. Maybe because I was an amateur in a room of professionals and having to share my inner thoughts and believing the judgement would come back … only to realise that we were all like-minded people sitting in a room full of unfathomableness” - Samika (written before she caught the taxi home)