Mark Sears on 2016 and his thoughts for next year.

It’s that time of the year again, that time of quiet reflection about what has gone before...

OK scrap that, it’s that time of the year again when we career towards the crazy busy finish line that is Christmas. What if it didn’t have to be like that? What if we took the time to approach Christmas in a slightly more reverent way? Our mantra at The Wild Network this month has been ‘let it slow’ even if it hasn’t always felt like we’re practicing what we preach.

2016 has been a tumultuous year in so many ways.

It's been challenging in ways that leave many of us feeling more uncertain, afraid and anxious about the world and what lies ahead. But in the world of outdoor play and learning it feels like a year of solid progress; a year when the evidence of the benefits of wild time for children, families, schools and communities has become overwhelming. Perhaps then the ultimate response to the uncertainty is to commit to more time outdoors, in our communities wherever they are in 2017.

On our part we’re now two years old as a stand-alone entity – it almost feels like we’re grown up. One million people around the world have now seen the Project Wild Thing film. We’re really proud of the impact that it has had and its ability to open people’s hearts and minds to this issue. Thank you to everyone that has screened it in his or her community and championed the film for us.

Our Wild Explorers partnership with Persil has increased the reach of the Wild Explorers App by six times compared to what we were able to achieve alone. Our mission is to grow #wildtime and that means we have to reach out beyond the early adopters of this movement, to the people for whom time outdoors in a natural environment is far down their priority list. By working with Persil we have been able to reach demographics in places we ordinarily would struggle to reach. Our aim is to hook more and more people onto the benefits of wild time.

So where do we go from here?

Well, to the woods preferably, but once we’ve had our fill of winter wandering we’ll be right back on it. Our focus next year is on breaking the ‘intention gap’ by finding ways to move people from awareness of the benefits into positive action. You can read more about the intention gap here; and more about how we intend to tackle it in our Wild Labs innovation project news.

We’re really excited by the many projects and initiatives that are happening in our towns and cities that show how wild time can be an everyday thing wherever you are. To support that growing idea we’ll be working on supporting city-scale wild time projects in 2017, as well as more local projects.

Lastly - and really importantly - we’re investing in our community. It’s you lot that are the 30,000 strong beating heart of our network. We had over 140 responses to our Wild Local call out to become local ambassadors and we know that it’s time to reach out and help you get going! So next year we’re going to be investing in our web platform, improving how it works, developing tools for how you can support your family, school or community to get outdoors and supporting local action where you live as much as we can. Feels like we’re going to be busy then. 

Until then, let it slow.

See you on the outside, Mark.

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