OptOutside: An Antidote to Black Friday
For the vast majority of human history, we lived in close contact with nature. Now 80% of us in the UK and more than 50% of the world live in towns and cities.
We’re losing our contact and our connection with nature.
Not only is this affecting our health and wellbeing - there are lots of credible studies that show how much we need nature for our mental, physical and emotional health, like this one from Stanford University - but also by spending very little time in natural and wild spaces, we don’t see what’s happening to them.
Fire Making Masterclass: Pictures from a Winter's Day Learning to Make Fire Without Matches
Pictures from last weekend's fire making masterclass led by Robert Fallon.
An exploration of what fire really is, how to make it without matches, and which natural tinders are best.
We played with:
• Fluffy seed heads
• Tree bark
Mid November, we were really lucky with the weather!
Now that more than 50% of the world lives in an urban area - by 2050 that's forecast to be 70% - we're all having less direct contact with nature, at the same time there's an increase in anxiety and mental health disorders, especially in cities.
A study by Stanford university shows clear benefits of spending time in nature: less brooding, less rumination and generally feeling better.
Their conclusion: we need to consider how to get nature back into cities, and give people more opportunities to interact with natural environments to get the benefits for our mental health.
The Science of Nature Connection
"Never in human history have we spent so little time in physical contact with animals and plants. Scientific evidence shows that we miss nature..."
There's lots of research that shows being in nature reduces stress, makes us happier, healthier, builds community and can give us a sense of oneness with everything.
So what are you waiting for?
Clip from 2013 Documentary Project Wild Thing, reproduced with thanks to the Wild Network.
Wild Black Friday Walk #OptOutside
Inspired by US outdoor retailer REI's #OptOutside campaign, we're holding a wild Black Friday walk on November 25th this year.
Black Friday is one of the holiest days in all of shopping. But do we really need more stuff?
How about connecting with nature, rather than camping outside a department store, or shopping online for hours.
As the big retailers try to pressure you into buying more things you probably don’t need, this year you can opt-out of Black Friday, escape the Shopocalypse, and get outside with a bunch of like-minded folk instead.
We'll check-in, walk, chat, do a sit spot, some impromptu foraging, appreciate the land, the trees, the season, have some meaningful conversations and some fun.
Some of the walk will be in silence.
More details here.
How to Use the Land as a Mirror: Lessons from a Mysterious Medicine Walk on the South Downs
Saddlescombe Farm nestles in the shadow of the South Downs
October. Outside the sun is shining and the air is clean and fresh. Inside, ten of us are sitting in a circle on the floor. It's a hard floor, but we’re on cushions, the woodburner is alight and no one is complaining.
We’re here at Saddlescombe Farm in the shadow of the South Downs for a Medicine Walk and Council, a ceremonial solo journey into the 'Mystery', a way of staying open to the land so that it can be a mirror for your inner landscape.
After a slow take-up over the last few weeks the event is full, and as we settle in, our guide, Rebecca Card, calmly explains what we’ll be doing today.
When she’s finished, one by one it’s our turn to speak.
As I listen to the others share their stories so that we can each find our own theme for the day, I'm surprised at everyone's willingness to talk openly about what's going on in their lives, and I feel a bit of an inner tussle: as organiser, I feel cautious about how much to share, as participant I want to say more.
When it’s my turn I also notice a familiar nervousness in front of groups, and in my first attempt I waffle, not quite knowing how to articulate what I’m feeling.
The morning has already started a little weirdly. There have been two last minute cancellations due to illness - we’ve found someone to fill one space but she’s worried about getting here on time - and my head is full of that and the small stresses and responsibilities of making sure the day runs smoothly. Plus there’s no mobile reception. And I’ve forgotten to bring milk.
I think back to earlier in the day: while Rebecca is setting up the room, I go outside to help guide people to the hall. Saddlescombe is part of the National Trust and as walkers and visitors turn up, I'm unsure if they’re here for us or not. I'm also mildly irritated that we won’t have the whole area to ourselves.
Author & Curator
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.