Beginning with the question of ” Who is in your nature family?” Who do you look forward to coming home to and tending to at night or visiting on the weekend, or thinking about when you are separated? Draw your family including your nature family members.
This was one of the activities offered to teachers at a recent workshop run by HumaNature Connect (on behalf of the Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria) that helped to structure lessons and discussions with students that would improve young people’s sense of ‘who nature is in their life’ and the idea of kindness and respect as it relates to nature. These lessons and discussions were based on activities in the Respectful Relationships Curriculum.
The discussion had, highlighted that there is still a stigma around this topic of nature connection with people being labelled as ‘hippies’ and ‘ off with the fairies’ by their colleagues for using the language of emotions and intimacy that characterise connection with nature. One teacher said that a colleague asked her ” Why would you go to a workshop on nature connection?” as tho it was the most unimportant topic she could imagine. Nature connection is a buzz word in curriculum and in main stream language yet we have a long way to go in helping not just children but adults as well understand what the concept of ‘connection’ really means and to feel comfortable in speaking about emotions. We wouldn’t talk about our friendships with people as ‘human services’ but we talk about ‘environmental services’ as tho our only relationship with nature is a mechanical transaction. The only widely accepted exception is when talking about our pets who have cute faces and a strong sense of perceived aliveness, thus making it easier to feel empathy for them. What if we could bring to life all parts of nature, the clouds, the rocks, the plants. To do this we need to spend time tapping into the less obvious signs of life that we can only feel or notice when we take time to be with different part of nature. Cloud gazing, ripple making, mimicking plants growing, finding rock friends and just being with and feeling into (to help with this look for the book The other way to listen by Byrd Baylor). We also need to put ourselves in natures shoes and ask ” What would nature say to you for that act of kindness you have shown it?” “Would nature agree with your idea or plan to improve its health?
These are questions and experiences not only for our young people but ourselves as adults. Have a go…see if you can draw a stick picture of your nature family? (Could be the bird on the balcony, the plants in your house, the worms in your worm farm, the special tree you always sit under when you are on holiday, your dog). See if you can find the words for the emotions that you feel for them (there may be many both good an challenging) and write them next to your drawing. What would your nature family to say to you for your acts of kindness? Write your self a thank you card from your nature family.