Reflection by Genevieve Rudd
Our Yarmouth Springs Eternal artists spent the day at Green Light Trust this week taking part in EarthWalks training, led by Jon Cree and Mell Harrison. EarthWalks, as Jon explained in his potted history to introduce the day, is a branch of Earth Education. The wider movement was developed in the 1970s and can be found internationally. EarthWalks aims to facilitate four different thematic aims of the experience, to inspire Joy, Kinship, Love and Reverence.
The EarthWalks approach has a set of guidelines to support the facilitator and participants. Jon’s own experience of this work spanning over three decades was to underpin the external understanding of ecology and earth crisis through internal felt experiences. He emphasised that the earth and us are simply made from Air, Water and Soil, and it’s this fundamental connection that can facilitate the all important ‘flow’ of an EarthWalk experience. For me, this became clearest when Mell drew the lines on the palms of our hands and, later in the workshop, we laid under a tree and connected the patterns with the branches above us.
Jon and Mell guided the training group through their own spin on EarthWalking, which expressed something about their personal identity and approach to leading the concept. We walked together and alone, in conversation and in reflective silence. We took a barefoot walk and a blindfolded one; experiencing Frithy Woods on our fronts, backs and up close (which made me grateful for a dry, sunny day!). Guided by our facilitators, together we used simple props to experience views in the tree canopy and shared memories linked to early nature-touch.
Finally, to draw the day to a close, our Yarmouth Springs Eternal group gathered by the campfire to consider how we could take these ideas out into the project and beyond. There were lots of ideas to absorb and after a day in the fresh air to blow the Lockdown cobwebs away, I think we all slept well that night!
What I’ll take away from the workshop is a menu of approaches that could inspire ‘nature connection’ over ‘nature contact’. I’m inspired to think about how these approaches could work in Great Yarmouth town centre, streets, parks, river and beach environments, as well as the woodland location we experienced during the training day. Also, there was an overall sense of resonance with the activities we engaged with. They felt similar to some of my trusty artist/educator warm-up techniques and aligned with the Beach School introductory training I’ve taken part in, so to connect the dots back with the Earth Education movement was interesting, and piqued my interest to wonder where its earlier roots are found…
Further Training and a thank you
The EarthWalks workshop attendance was funded as part of the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants fund, which is supporting the delivery of the Yarmouth Springs Eternal project, as well as other development and project support opportunities.
Over the Spring Equinox, also supported by the Arts Council fund, our project lead Genevieve Rudd took part in some additional training from Mayes Creative. The remote short course has featured photographers, artists and an archaeoastronomer exploring the light/shade dynamic of this time of year.
In addition, Genevieve has been accepted onto a clinical supervision programme for artists leading creative health & wellbeing projects from Arts & Health Hub over the next 6 months. This supervision will support Genevieve to project manage Yarmouth Springs Eternal with personal and professional support.
Whilst we’re still early on in the Yarmouth Springs Eternal project, the funding has been significant in helping to start to fulfil the project vision, whilst nurturing the practitioners involved.