We stand together. There is stillness around us, inside us, as the old woodland of Queens Wood envelops us, nourishes us and grounds us. We stand together. Tuning in to our senses, hearing the birds singing, feeling the wind against our skin, the sensations of hot and cold. Feet firmly rooted in the ground. And then we split off, each finding our own spot to connect with the forest with an open heart, to slow down, and ask 'what is the land telling me?' As I sit against an oak tree, looking at the canopy of branches and leaves I see the complexity of nature and yet feel its simplicity. For a brief moment I am out of my head and everything makes sense.
Back in the cabin we listen again. This time to each other's experiences, and amongst our differences, we find that common ground, coming from the forest floor. We listen to Emma tell her story about Rainbow Girl who created noise and colours in the forest and we worked in groups with clay in response to the story; creating what a city means for us, which as an organisation that aims to bring nature and the spirit of the forest to some of the most concrete areas of inner city London, helped us to explore aspects of what we do and why we do it from a different angle.
At the end of the morning, these words make their way on the page in front of me:
Roots below me
Interconnected branches above me
I am held in a web
The complexities surround me
Play with my head
I can stay there
But the trunk I lean on
The trees around me
Continue to grow
The buds come out every year
The birds sing sing sing
The wise trees
Say slow down
I feel small
I feel big
I am alive
There is creativity inside of us
All around us
Life is creative
It is what has made us
A force we can't hold back
Cities we build
So much life
So much potential
If only they could be built
By listening to nature
Maybe we can
It is up to us
We can all act
Strip away the guilt
After a delicious lunch prepared by the Queens Wood Cafe, Sharon Wright facilitated a session for us to feedback, reflect on and shape our direction of travel over the next 5 years ... do we grow more or consolidate? Do we do more with others or more ourselves? Do we go for incremental change or step change? The prevailing message I took with me is let's root down, let's grow deeper roots through meaningful relationships in each of our locations. Growth over the next years is in depth, not in breadth.
When exploring how we tell the stories of Global Generation, Silvia, Julie and Denise came up with the following poem:
Global Generation Changing the City
We create safe spaces.
We work between things,
like the wildflower between the paving stones, and the garden between the high rises.
We are the mycorrhizal fungi that you don't see.
We work behind the scenes and connect all living things.
We get wet. we get cold, we get tired.
We moan, we cry. But like nature,
Nature, can we sow the seeds of transformation in your skin?
Nature, can we together refresh the tired, grey face of the city?
Nature, can we be your voice in the city?
Can we together make the city your home again?
The day ended as it started, in the woods. Standing in a circle. This time with Kiloran leading us in song. I left the day feeling grateful for song, grateful to the team and grateful to the trees for grounding and growing all at once.