Connecting with the land and each other. Reflections from an Earth Dialogue on the South Downs with Charlotte Du Cann of the Dark Mountain Project
We’re walking back from our morning recce and discussing how I’m going to introduce the Earth Dialogue she’s running for us at Saddlescombe Farm on the South Downs.
Part discussion, part encounter, part perception exercise, an Earth Dialogue is a way of connecting with the land using your heart and your felt sense, not your thinking mind.
So although I’ve discovered Saddlescombe was mentioned in the Domesday Book and later managed by the Knights Templar, Charlotte doesn’t want me to talk about that, or any other historical facts that could get in the way of the information people might pick up from the land for themselves.
We do want them to get a feeling for this place though, so when it comes to it I paint a picture of the history of the rolling chalk grassland that surrounds us: 60 million years ago southern England was deep underwater, the chalk hills forming as billions of plankton died and fell to the sea floor.
The short springy turf on top of the chalk coming much later - just a few thousand years ago - when we humans first cleared trees for sheep grazing, and aided by browsing rabbits.
An ex-fashion editor, Charlotte is one of the well-respected Dark Mountain team, she has a confidence and a warm, keen intelligence. She’s also a powerful presenter, and a quirky whirlwind of energy. She gets that from the land she tells me.
Dark Mountain is a creative response to the current challenging times of collapse, and is redefining the stories embedded in our culture, shaping what a successful and good life on Earth could look like.
It’s not airy-fairy though, there are sharp minds involved, and Charlotte is one.