We had a board meeting last week. It was fine, I mean it was better than fine, we’ve got a highly engaged board, we achieved loads and got through a whole heap of tough decisions to help us move forward. But afterwards I felt tired, yearning for space to defragment and re-focus.
So I cleared my diary the next morning and ran off to the Ashdown Forest for some Wild Time and it was magical. A space to let my mind wander and find my creativity. I spent time just listening, simply being and I came back refreshed and smelling of wood smoke, just the way I like it.
The 'busyness' of business
One of the challenges we’re facing at The Wild Network is how to grow sustainably. We’re focussing on how to move beyond a film led movement into an organisation that through collaboration with our network tackles the deep-seated systems issues that are driving our children to become disconnected from nature and wild play. This focus requires effort, which seems to be deeply correlated to time spent in front of a screen, writing emails, presentations and proposals. Growing this movement is as time consuming as it is vital and we’re a small team making it happen.
But, through our constant 'busyness' are we not just becoming part of the problem rather than the solution? I'm trying to find ways of getting the undoubted benefits of Wild Time without having to ‘run away’ to the woods for half a day at a time.
Tackling the barriers to Wild Time
When we ask you to sign up to the network we ask you to nominate the barriers that are most relevant or pertinent to you as an individual or organisation. 96% of you nominate ‘the rise of screen time’, closely followed by ‘time poor parents’ as the second biggest barrier.
These are precisely the issues I now find myself facing and as we grow I find myself really questioning how we might create an organisational culture where we ourselves find balance in our everyday lives. After all, if we’re going to be part of a movement that changes the prevailiing conditions disconnecting children from their true wild selves, what hope have we got if we can’t do it for ourselves?
Everyday Wild Time
It strikes me that part of the issue is the lack of everyday wildness in our lives. Wild Time is often seen as something that we need to fit in, or that has to be travelled to, prepared for, something external. What would it look like if we were to find the wildness in the everyday, in the urban as well as the rural? Simple snack sized wild interludes to be taken in the morning before the school run, at lunchtime, between Skype calls. How can we make it as routine as checking our emails?
One of the practices that I have been enjoying exploring with my daughter is the simple act of noticing the sunrise. It is a tradition as old as the human race and there is something magical about the simplicity of sitting and noticing the silent return of the daylight to our lives in the form of the sun’s energy. There really isn't anything much more primal, vital and real for a human and It takes just 5 minutes to do. Depending on where you live you don’t even have to go outside, although its probably better if you do!
If we can start to find those simple moments in our own lives, how might we start to do that with our children, as parents or as teachers? How can we let the wildness into the everyday, in rain storms and spring showers as well July sunshine?
I’d love to hear your ideas for how you bring wildness into your everyday life and into the lives of the children you care for, teach or look after?
Here’s to everyday Wild Time, long may it prevail over email.
I am Director of The Wild Network and dad to 4 year old and 3 month old wild things. Striving for ways to deliver on our mission of reconnecting children with nature whilst finding ways to deepen my connection to my own wild side. You can get hold of me on firstname.lastname@example.org or track me down in the woods.