Walking Forest 2020/21
During 2020/2021 Walking Forest will begin creating a web of relationships and actions led by women. Through research and links to various organisations we will reach out to make connections internationally and with partner organisations here across UK.
Early in the year we made trips to Coventry, Dalby and Glasgow visiting Dunsinane Hill, Birnham Wood and the COP venue on the River Clyde in Glasgow and in March we met in Stroud to plot each residency and met with Jojo Mehta from Stop Ecocide and activist Councillor Skeena Rathor, gifting them both seeds. It was the last time we were to meet for quite a while as the global COVID 19 health pandemic took hold of the world. COP26 was postponed until 2021; Season for Change rescheduled all live events to 2021 and all public life locked down.
With a fruitful research trip to Coventry in Autumn, we continue to work towards public residences in South Devon and Coventry and a mass participation event scheduled to take place at the time of the COP26 Climate Talks in Glasgow, 2021.
Our first online event with Coventry City of Culture took place on Monday 16 November 2020. Designed to be participatory and nourishing, this event invited participants to share and listen to personal accounts of: activism; campaigning; community organising and the setting up of alternative structures and systems to care for and protect the Earth. This gathering took place in the footprint of 2020’s cancelled COP climate talks.
We were delighted that Farhana Yamin (Climate Lawyer), Jojo Mehta (Chair of Stop Ecocide Foundation and co-founder global campaign Stop Ecocide), Dr Achala Abeysinghe (lawyer, tbc), and representatives from Stop HS2 campaign joined us. For more info follow this link
In March 2021 we held our South Devon camp online with women from across South Devon. Our guest contributors included Amy McDonnell from the Campaign for the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill; Gaby Solly on behalf of Culture Declares Emergency; Louise Romain from Stop Ecocide and Adam Owen from Moor Trees. The Coventry Camp takes place on 27-30 May, 2021. Find our more here
A land defender or earth defender is an activist individual who works to protect the earths land. They do not consider themselves to be simply demonstrators or protestors, but are performing a sacred duty through non- violent resistance to activities which endanger the land. ( From Wikipedia)
There are four strands to the work for this year and going into 2021:
- TREES – Gathering seeds, saplings and stories to mark the connection between women, activism and trees.
- MYCELIUM – Weaving a network of diverse UK and international communities, artists and earth activists of all ages. Drawing inspiration from mycelium connections under the forest floor (the threads of fungi which pick up, transfer and exchange nutrients and water between trees).
- GIFTING – Gifting of both literal and symbolic ‘radicle daughter’ seeds from the last standing tree in the Suffragette Batheaston Arboretum
- PROPAGATION CAMPS – Site-specific residencies and exchanges to offer activist training for women, connections to Women Earth Defenders around the world and an exploration of a regenerative culture based on the natural world, care and co-operation.
Residences are planned to take place mostly in woodlands and outdoor sites and include practical seed propagating and tree planting events combined with creative reflection and making through sewing, writing, drawing, dialogue and personal story sharing.
Each residency will involve workshops with women focusing on strengthening marginalised voices and inspiring action. These will include live links with international activists and stories from female activists around the world. Connections will be made between place restoration and climate adaptation; the relationship of trees and nature conservation to a ‘regenerative culture’ and well being, the history of women’s leadership in tree protection and rights across the world and our own Suffragette history in the UK.
These will culminate in public celebratory ‘tree’ days including performance, walks or runs and discussion connecting to wider narratives of the carbon cycle, ecosystems, climate justice and international Earth protectors. From these events we will gather participants and material to stage a mass public performance to coincide with the COP26 climate talks.