In dialogue with a tree: A reflection on myself and my work after 9 months at Regent's Place

Tree,

I wonder if you can hear my thoughts sometimes, when I look at you in the fresh morning and when I say goodnight. You - beautiful, immense and tall in my garden. I wonder if you can feel my heart when I watch your long branches stretching in the sky, whilst I rest my legs at the end of the day. You are always there. So old, so present for me and for my family.

Dialoguing with you makes things easier for me, so I thought to write to you about what happened last month at work, and to share some reflections on how I feel at the moment now that Summer is almost here.

Well tree, a lot has happened in the last month. I am a human being, a woman, a mother and my story is not just a victory story. I hope you remember that Nature is my refuge and guide. At Regent’s Place I spend a good amount of time in the Urban Campsite, an indoor campsite in the basement of a building that we have populated with straw bales and a bell tent. That smell of straw reminds me of home but also makes me miss the outdoors, the touch of plants, the rays of the sun and the history that gives energy to a place. The Urban Campsite and Global Generation's work at Regents Place is really a new-born baby.

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Tree,

If you ask me how I feel, I don’t exactly know. Perhaps I struggle to embrace the predominant culture that surrounds our campsite; a culture that seeks order and control? Is it because our fingernails and our floors might get dirty, that sometimes it is hard to hear a hello and I feel unwelcome?

I love my job, I love what I do and I believe in the fusion of nature and young people as a key for social impact, but there is uncertainty in Global Generation’s new place to work. Is it the weight of bureaucratic rules imposed from elsewhere that makes me feel a bit trapped and foggy, struggling to express the best of myself?

Oh tree, can we really change things if we are caught in this concept of time and safety that builds constant fences between us? This need for certainty and perfection that keeps pushing away the wild? It is a strange time of my life; is it also a strange time for the world?

But Tree, despite these moments of vulnerability, I am infused by the pulsing life and beauty created by our young people in 184 Drummond Street and beyond.

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I want you to know that hundreds of children (from Netley, Richard Cobden and Christ Church primary schools) visited the Urban Campsite, where they made seed balls and left messages to Nature, and for your joy, they even drew lots of trees! It is great how the Community Manager and the Head of Campus at Regent's Place trust our work.

We hosted a group of young people from Haverstock School, making a nice healthy lunch, exploring leadership, imagining gardens and cooking together around the fire.

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Nature came with me to the Adolescent unit on the 12th floor of UCLH. We made notebooks out of recycled materials, designs for our milk float and lip balms with beeswax and essential oils.

There were times in which we planted with the children from the Surma Centre Homework Club, to make the beginning of a garden at the back of Surma Centre. What a joy it was to see their hands dirty with soil!

We went to a local park, litter-picking and reflecting on the life span of products that are part of our days. We explored the immense universe by impersonating some parts of the timeline. We wove willow fish and immersed ourselves in yoga. We helped at the Friztrovia Youth in Action community planting day, watering and planting new plants.

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And Tree, you’d love this. Some of the young people tried to imagine what a carpark would look like if it wasn’t a space for cars but for community and nature. A miniature campsite for people to relax, talk and fight isolation in the streets of our city.

If only you could see some of these moments. Here are some pictures that explain that wonderful energy that only young people and kids can create. Those images speak better than me.

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Dear Tree, I am almost closing my eyes but I thank you for opening up this space for reflection, for the successes and the challenges. A new month has started. There are new projects soon to be finalised and so I feel lighter inside. This could be a good restart. I am imagining myself sitting in the milk float full of lights. And wooosh! Out we go into the world.

Young people. Nature. Non-separation and social actions to change a culture. That’s what matters to me and that's what makes my legs steady and strong.