I’m pleased to report that there is hope…
I write having emerged from an intermittent path through a culvert of tangled scrub and thicket; in a wild regeneration area of Atlantic rainforest on the Ross Of Mull.
The day is still & bright, the wind calm & the sea an azure turquoise Watching the seals bask on the rocks, Its so idyllic it’s too much to fathom.
I’m now Full Time at Camas Outdoor Activity Centre, in the position of Deputy Coordinator as part of the resident team. The working day is 8am-10pm so it’s vital that all are congruent an motivated by the common life and culture we are creating together as a group.
The Mission statement is a slight elaboration of the maxim first uttered by an old lecturer of mine; the Sultan of Swarth and General of Gnarl; Mr Colin Mortlock.
‘Together we seek to enable growth, love and respect for Self, Others, God and the Environment.’
As well as the endless chores, I’m leading and supporting outdoor pursuits, but perhaps more of interest is that i’m championing an attempt to supplement the curriculum and support the mission statement at Camas with the four pillars of Village Building outlined by Jon Young. I’ve just arrived, so I’m outlining some intentions for the year here:
One: Deep Nature Connection.
The resident team and long term volunteers are experiencing ongoing training and mentoring in the Core Routines of Nature Connection; and are receiving support in delivering this work to the visiting groups.
In addition, those with a particular interest in developing their Naturalist skills are participating in the Kamana Naturalist Training programme.
I’m also finally fessed up to the reality that the scrapes and mischiefs that go on behind the scenes is where the real learning happens. It’s always the background culture which dictates the real curriculum. So, following in the tradition of Ernest Thompson Seton, Norman Ingwe Powell and Mark Morey; I’ve developed some ’41 Jedi Challenges’ as an initiation into self directed naturalist adventures; all of which I sincerely hope will bring some excellent ‘stories of the day’ back to the evening table.
This three pronged approach to establishing a culture of Nature Connection make an excellent foundation for exceptional high standard delivery of the John Muir Award for our visiting clients.
Two: Efficient Small group facilitation.
Our seven volunteers are learning and designing sessions using the Natural Learning Cycle. The culture at Camas already has a rhythm of morning and evening ‘reflections’, so all have a regular opportunity to design and lead creative reviewing sessions and practice the core routines of ‘Thanksgiving’, ‘Story of the Day’ and slowly work on the Art of Questioning.
As there are groups booked from the start of the season to the end of October, the team have ‘hit the ground running’, we aim for short and regular feedback sessions to guide our practice; with my meta goal of developing conscious competence in the Art of Mentoring for members of my team.
Three: Cultural Mentoring.
I’m also building capacity for group facilitation by building the acorn model slowly and steadily into the working culture.
We began this process as a team by a ceremony held by Abbi- our resident coordinator and myself on the eight handshakes of regenerative design; at the start of an intensive fortnight of induction. This led into training-outlining the indicators and attributes of deep nature connection as learning outcomes.
It is my hope that by working on slowing down and paying attention to establishing good Meeting protocol and creating containers for genuine peacemaking as a team culture; this will find natural and authentic expression when facilitating experiences for visiting groups.
More importantly, volunteering here at Camas presents and incredible opportunity for growth into the eight attributes; so creating regular opportunities for processing, letting go of expectations and identifying personal learning goals is high on my design list. Inquiry is ongoing.
Four: Village Building layer.
Whilst waiting for those elusive Elders to arrive out the mist and show us the way… I recognize that current work presents an immersive learning opportunity in regenerative design. Having completed my APIOL in 2015; I’m looking at how to strategise mentoring for myself and am exploring training opportunity and formal relationship with 8 Shields USA and an emerging 8 shields UK ‘heartwood’ group.
In the background, I’m still working on developing the excellent tools, resources & aptitudes I saw modeled at Coyote Camp in 2015. I’m in dialogue with our Technical Advisor and we are currently developing operating procedures for offering Static Solo journeys; part of an ongoing inquiry into contemporary initiation rites for adolescents.
On a wider level, I’ve been completely inspired by the story of the Misak’s ‘Life plan‘, brought to me via the incredible popular education efforts going on for indigenous groupings in Indonesia by Life Mosiac. With talk of the Galgael hosting a conversation with representatives from the Misak on a possible Govan version of Plan de Vida; I’m tending the internal embers of genuine grassroots revolution and the possibility of Sustainability in times where the ecological and cultural fabric is dangerously thin. Can we afford to hope?
A fair proportion of the Jedi Challenges being framed as group culture at Camas do, thankfully; fall into my own realms of interest. Just as well really.
This year, with the sea on our doorstep. I plan to be devoting a large part of my free time to Sea kayaking and Canoe Sailing; mainly because it’s a challenge for me and a challenge for the coracle.
I’m still playing with cleaving, riving and coppice crafts and am still on with the business of making the longbow.
ONGOING LINES OF INQUIRY:
As I write, A sustainability college prepare to plant hazels after foraging their evening meal from seashore and wood fringes. Denuded as it is, the Atlantic rainforest remains a cultural legacy here on the west coast of Scotland and I am keen to help it’s restoration by the collection, sprouting and cultivation of nuts.
With such incredible local efforts on Mull such as Tioran forest; I hope to set up some meaningful working relationships so I can actually help make a difference far from the grazing wooly maw.
Human Nutrition and ferment!
‘The science & art of fermentation is, in fact, the basis of human culture: without culturing, there is no culture. Culture begins at the farm. not the opera house, and binds a people to it’s land and it’s artisans.’ [from Sandor Ellix Katz’s book Wild Fermentation]
Now we’ve a professional kitchen, we’re on with the bread, the pop and other forms of radical acts of nutritive health. The Laverbread Revolution has begun!
Some illness in the family prompted some purposeful foraging last year for a crop of the Chaga mushroom. Since habitat is in decline in the part of the UK that it grows in, I’m interested in the possibility of cultivating it as a smallholder; current leads have led me to a pilot study in finland and I am searching for a supplier that sells inoculated dowels.
Rocket Mass Heating!
Following the success of the Inverness Rocket stove. I discovered on some of the forums a new and improved batch box version. I hope, following committee; to receive approval to build one at Camas Tuath in the winter of 2016.
Gaelic in the Landscape.
Slowly, tentatively I’m beginning the Sabhal Mor Ostaig access course curriculum and we are engaged in a mapping exercise of the Ardfenaig District. I’m painfully shy; but otherwise engaged when time allows.
Disassociation & other Fracking Narratives
Working on behalf of a community that actively supports ‘Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation’ whilst residing at an ex-salmon station generates some existential questions. I’m still sitting with the question of what is an appropriate response to the threat of fracking in the UK and the fact that we are importing fracked gas from the USA to Grangemouth.
With the simple and touching message brought by the Kogi via their excellent activist film Aluna; it is clear that protecting our waters is THE imperative. The salmon MUST be safe to return to it’s birthing grounds, and all waters lead to and from the sea.
Thus, with thanks to the ‘Great Book of Nature’ I’m raising the ecological flags of HAZEL & SALMON as symbols of cultural renewal. Join in.