Nature and culture are often viewed as two distinct concepts. Nature is wild, it is 'out there' rather than 'in here', and sometimes it feels as though you have to make the choice to immerse yourself in the natural world. Yet it is a part of our culture, and of our everyday lives: it is the tiny green shoots emerging between the pavement cracks, the droplets of rain on the end of our nose, the crow perched on the tallest branch of the tree on the corner, creaking a sombre tune.
If we remind ourselves that nature is not just conservation and climate change, it can often be surprising how many opportunities we have to immerse ourselves in its restorative powers, allowing it to influence our lives and choices, and therefore our culture. The arts and environmental charity Common Ground aims to remind us of just that.
Projects both old and new mark a return to that 'age-old intertwining of human life and the natural world', and range from creating community orchards, to celebrating local customs, or 'distinctiveness'. Their intention is 'to connect people with their local environment through music, art exhibitions, film-making, publishing, community gatherings and education, creating the inspiration and some of the tools that can help communities make meaningful, long-lasting connections with their home ground.'
Reading this reminds me of all of the things Creative Countryside is aiming to achieve, and of the ethos that the magazine will adopt. So intertwined are our goals, that you can read all about one of the oldest Common Ground projects - Apple Day - in the first issue (September 2017). But as we transition into spring, perhaps one of the most pertinent and engaging resources from the organisation is last year's edition of LEAF! (the newspaper for trees, woods and people) which features green men, nest building and seasonal food, and can be downloaded from this page.
Of course, there are many more projects you can get involved with, but if you're not quite ready for that yet, I'll leave you with a few ways that you can reconnect with nature and your local environment this season:
- support local initiatives by attending events and gatherings (how about heading along to your local Wildlife Trust event?)
- stick up for local trees and woods by joining (or starting!) your nearest Tree Charter Branch
- get inspired by watching rare and unseen footage of local festivals, village life and lost crafts
- read nature-inspired poetry or books (come back next week for a list of recommendations, or sign up to our newsletter for seasonal suggestions).
It's easier than you think to connect your life and culture to the natural world, so what are you waiting for?
Eleanor is obsessed with stories. She writes for a number of online spaces including This is Your Kingdom, edits Creative Countryside, curates #aseasonalyear and teaches at Chalk House. In addition, she is currently studying for an MA in Creative Non-Fiction Writing. You'll find her roving the fields of the Lincolnshire Wolds or planning her next rural adventure.