2018 is coming to an end. I’m in France for Christmas and have been walking in the woods in grey and wet weather. Weather always looks worse from indoors. When you’re out, it’s something else.
I learned a lot this year from being outside. In September 2017 I trialled a residential version of Kinship in Dartmoor with a bunch of great and trusting folk. It went so well that this year, there were 3 residential workshops and a camping weekend. Having so much time in the residential workshop to be outside affords spaciousness in a way that feels rich. The hierarchy that comes with plans, ideas and schedules is toppled when out in nature. I realise time and again that I can plan schedules and figure things out all I want, and still, courses change and things seem to happen in the way they seem to happen. So all in all, being, communion and discovery is possible at any moment: in the conversations whilst washing up, in the lacing up of boots to head up to the moor, in the inbetweens.
Kinship the workshop still feels unknowable in an exciting way, and kinship the noun feels like it gets broader and broader in a way that I’m leaning into heart forward.
There are thanks to be given:
- Hosts Hilary Kneale on Dartmoor, Scottish Dance Theatre neighbouring Tentsmuir Forest, Debden House campsite and Stirling Steward & Simon Whitehead of Cych Valley, Pembrokeshire. The role of host facilitates the meeting of participants and landscape. It’s indispensable. Thank you for welcoming the work to your homes.
- Katye Coe, who has been at my side through the whole organisation and the delivery of most of them. Thank you Katye for the incessant support, and willingness to dialogue, dig, reform and reflect. Sometimes I wish I could stoically mastermind the whole operation… but I can’t and that’s just bullshit anyway. It couldn’t have been what it is without your being there. Thank you.
- The participants too. They met weather and wildness with presence, tenderness and generosity. And beyond their participation, helped to raise a total of £275.52 that was donated between Ape Action Africa, Animal Aid Unlimited and The Kerulos Center. Thank you.
- The radiance of land – unflinching, omnipresent, redemptive. The land is home to us all, human and other. Thank you.
In October, the World Wildlife Fund co-released a report stating that “Populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have, on average, declined in size by 60 percent in just over 40 years.” For me personally it was a significant blow which hit hard… The roots of Kinship began in activism: how do I, from the skills and resources available to me, contribute to the repair of relationship of humans to other animals and the landscape we share? I decided, that in this winter season, I wanted to be in conversation about what change is, what satisfying change looks like and how to be effective. I have spoken with Maarten Hunink (Not A Factory), Marjo Helena (socio- environmental development consultant), Rob Hopper (independent artist/ Wainsgate Dances) and Fiona Millward (somatic practitioner and independent artist). There are more to come.
In what I’ve learnt from the dialogues so far, collaboration and intimate conversations feel like bedrock foundations. I’ll write something up at the end of the cold season. They will inform the progression of the work. They might not change the format of the residential workshops as I trust the workshop’s form, but perhaps there will be off-shoots and collaborations.
Next year… there will be more. Dartmoor is ready for sign-up. And I hope to follow shortly once the dates and details have been gathered with: Hebden Bridge, East Sussex, Dundee & Tentsmuir 2, Brecon Beacons and fingers crossed – the Netherlands too.
It’s been a good year…
Although images don’t catch it all, here are some special moments:
With gratitude, Tom
header photo of Hilary in Dartmoor: TG