The ‘with people’ principle.

Amongst some other top line tasks this week, I’ve been making content for the new website. Without a current community led plan, in an attempt to qualify a new webpage titled ‘Our Ambition’, this short blog is an unexpected outcome. Based on the ‘with people’ component of some current reflections on ‘Land Care’, ‘People Care’; & ‘Fair-Share’; here’s a wee blog entry….

With People

I believe FOGW can commit to doing this with people. To date, the land acquisition has profoundly influenced the livelihood of my household by providing employment; and the ability to locate us here as useful members of the parish. It follows, that with creation of capacity, opportunities for livelihood could be sought and extended to others in ways that support the wood. The opportunities to positively effect local economies and livlihoods, be that social enterprises, local charitable aims, low impact forms of business/ (eco)tourism, special interest and other affiliated groups cannot be over-emphasised; here is shared ground for our community to stand on and enact within.

There must be a way to balance our habitat restoration aims with a return of land to community ownership. After all, in the absence of commons, perhaps community buy-outs can finally offer our communities a landbase in which to create both capacity as well as a form of stewardship which allows biodiversity to increase and renew. Rather than becoming an isolationist reserve, this principle of doing it ‘with people’ is a choice to be made.

An active state of Health

‘Small cords – become strings – become ropes of relationship to creation’

I believe that the landscape at Glenan has provided a restorative milieu for some members of the parish for a long time, perhaps spanning multiple generations. There is ambition for the wood to be a safe, therapeutic and profoundly normal way for all local people to unwind and renew. Sometimes, creating a safe space is about giving implicit permission. After all, in a parish of 800 residents, no-one wants to be singled out and labelled a daftie.

Following a workshop with Camilo Brokaw at the Community Woodlands Association conference last year, I have decided to adopt the ‘Wild Ways Well’ methodology as the core component for planning and framing my guided walks. Wild Ways Well, developed by The Conserbation Volunteers (TCV) charity, is structured around the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, an internationally recognised framework for promoting good mental health in use by organisations all over the world including the NHS and the major UK mental health charities.

Wild Ways Well

Spend a certain amount of time off screen and amongst the canopy and the physiological and mental states tend to return to baseline. Nationally, we are experiencing a biodiversity crisis, the opportunity to experience the restorative gift of nature immersion is in decline, on our peninsula it remains a gift to be shared.

A Meeting space for vision

‘When you repeat something you enjoy over and over you get passion, support peoples passion over and over; you get vision’

To date, identifying peoples PA21 postcode has being the easy bit, finding other ways to identify as ‘our community’ remains elusive. I have ambition to locate all the different self-affirming ways that get people to say ‘aye’ to showing up in the wood, informally or to events.

Showing up to attend to the cadence and spaces between birdsong, to get the smell of humus in their lungs; the felt vigour of staying outdoors beyond the scope of the chore-of-the-season; to allow the potential for moments that naturally stir the field of possibility we call emergence. Aye to that.

Under the canopy, in the warmth & flicker of the fire; it is evident, the myriad motifs of living close to your ground are compellingly healthy for all the generations represented here.


Activities such as harvesting or managing natural materials, or engaging with their respective handcrafts or handwork, listening to traditional story-telling, grafting together on a shared task, making music or sharing food – all have very potent epigenetic components; and have capacity and context in this place to profoundly and positively effect human health and well being.

I’d like Glenan to be a space where there is a diverse array of opportunities for local people to encounter such internally cognised rewards convivially under the canopy; a programme of community engagement which caters for different tastes and motivations representative in the Kilfinan parish.

So where are ‘we’ headed?

In the realm of decision making, community led planning will require ‘all of us’ around the table. At once, ‘All of us’ requires an attitude of right mind – I’m no expert, but i’d suggest a mix of funds, strong ambition, rememberance, skilled communication, tending to grief/grievances, forgiveness, providence, external support, and letting go of fixed positions. For now, all I can say is we are hoping to dive into the working group planning process in the latter part of this year; and in my daily praxis I am endeavouring to listen and be inclusive.

It’s still January, Stay Cosy.

Freshly baked loaf