(main image description: two people stand one in front of the other in amongst a pine forest with sunlight coming from straight ahead which silhouettes their bodies. They stand upright like the tall crooked pine trees that surround them: both trees and humans reaching their limbs out towards the light)
Dear Kinship Workshop participants, foragers, wildlings, wanderers and wayfarers,
Happy New Year!
This past year has been a busy one so I decided to combine the after workshop Round-Up posts with the end-of-year Review.
We have been running these workshops for 5 years now… from the tentative pilot in Dartmoor in 2017 to a full programme for the last few years. We are reflecting on this and are thinking on change. We want to meet the world better and with relevance, and will be taking some time next year for that (read on!).
Where we’ve been & who we’ve met
In 2022 we held workshops in Epping Forest and Woolwich Common in London, Dartington, Lizard Peninsula, Dartmoor, Kenilworth and two online workshops. We unfortunately had to cancel a couple of workshops: in Bristol and Tentsmuir Forest, but managed to meet the would-be Bristol participants in other workshops/ settings, and hold an impromptu workshop in Tentsmuir in the Autumn.
We met in forest, on common land, on coastline, on farmland, in parkland, gardens, meadow and moor, in river and sea.
(image description: a gallery of mosaic tiles showing all the Kinship Workshop posters from the 2022 season)
Please see below for a collection of photos from this year’s workshops
In November we began a second cycle of our practice group: a free monthly meeting for workshop participants and facilitators to meet during the colder, darker months to continue practice in the company of fellow practitioners. It has felt good to see and hear folk from different corners of this island – and beyond – coming together to share stories and experiences around the (virtual) fire. I look forward to continuing in the next few months.
Ape Action Africa
We decided to send this season’s donation from the net facilitation fees to Ape Action Africa. We know it will go to good use in supporting the fantastic work they do in providing sanctuary to nearly 300 primates in Mefou, Cameroon.
We wanted to share a couple here though as part of the Review, one from Paul who joined us in Dartington and another from Ruby who joined us in Cornwall…
…I particularly found it very moving to have this idea of being a herd included.
As I stepped into the river, following and being with my herd, even though I didn’t venture far into the water, I felt this connection with the others in my herd. To witness this group of my species carefully making their way down the river, was very beautiful. Seeing the skin of legs submerged in water, these clothed humans, moving together, but independently venturing out and back.
And I too found it lovely to sleep as a herd. That was so restful. And it was hard to explain why, other than feeling this kinship to the herd. A sort of protection by being together – something that I tend not to experience normally being with other humans.
I loved what I might learn from non-human ways of relating in groups. Regular, human family or wider community dynamics can feel very complicated to me. And I know that animal herds or flocks may have all sorts of complex dynamics and pecking orders. But just to drop all those more regular human relational complexities, and be with the herd, to feel my sense of belonging there, was quite profound and healing. Lots more for me to explore there.
…Many thanks for sharing your work and bringing it into the world.– Paul
Doing a kinship workshop is a disturbing experience – stay with me! – in that it disrupted my normal patterns of time, moving, thinking and feeling. Only as the experience progressed did I begin to realise how sorely needed this was. My body-mind was able to calm, regulate with the different landscapes I was in, and then become curious and playful. There were many moments throughout the experience when my usual thought patterns were completely absent, and it was as if a repressed self (one that doesn’t get much of a look in living under a hyper-capitalist and controlled society) was able to emerge.
Tom and Katye are really skilled at creating the conditions […] to slow down and rest, which I now understand is a great way to lay the foundations for grounded movement scores in quite wild landscapes. They also work from a deep respect for the land we live in, and as I deliberately paid attention to the land in the way they encouraged, I felt very happy and peaceful in a way that is difficult to describe.
All in all, the experience was a kind of ‘coming home’. Thank you to Tom and Katye.– Ruby
2023 (and bitterness)…
We want to take this 5 year marker as an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and indeed where we’re going. We want to check in on how Kinship can be as effective as we want it to be.
So in Spring 2023 we are invited to be part of a residency called Cultural Reforesting at Orleans Gallery (of London Borough of Richmond and Wandsworth). We hope to collaborate with some folk that we have already been in dialogue with this year about Kinship Workshop. Those people include Chand Starin Basi, Holly Thomas and Poh-Eng San. Together we will look at how Kinship Workshop transitions from meaningful experiences in nature into being sustainably active and activist in human thinking, in organisations and in communities. This residency will continue over the Autumn of 2023 toward piloting new ideas and methods with different groups of people.
We won’t run as many workshops next year to allow the findings from the residency to take root. We are however planning another Summer workshop in Cornwall, an Autumn weekend in the Chilterns at a great campsite we discovered this year, as well as an online offering. I am also dreaming about an extended coastal expedition that brings together some Kinship themes with what I have been learning over the past couple of years in terms of coastal foraging. Watch this space! (If you haven’t already, you can add your email to the bottom of any page of the website to receive notification each time we post something on the website.)
And what about the bitterness? Well…
Some weeks ago we caught up with Natifah White who was our ‘unofficial official’ intern in 2022. She joined several workshops over the season. We took some time to look back on the year and to share reflections on resources, her research on ‘archiving’ and other new ways of doing things. During this conversation we talked about foraging and particularly bitter weeds. We spoke at length about ‘bitterness’ and how important it is for health – not just, for example, in herbs like dandelion or plantain where bitterness has healing and curative effects on our physical health, but also how the capacity to sit with bitterness of feeling or situation can be so generative in terms of meeting change. We wondered how bitterness could be a single resource or theme for the coming year’s programme.
I want to send thanks:
to Katye for the skilful and endless wise words, planning, organising, supporting, visioning, countering and speaking up she does with me;
to the participants for coming to nourish and be in vibrant relationship/s with land and nature;
to Natifah for joining the programme, giving precious feedback and lending her wise thinking to what we’re doing;
to the lands in which we met for providing ground and holding us;
and the countless beings we encountered briefly, deeply, consciously and unconsciously.
A few photos from 2022’s workshops… 39 of them. Just a glimpse.
(image description: a collection of 39 workshop photos laid out in a mosaic format)
I wanted to finish with an excerpt from one of the 2022 Reith Lectures that Katye found a few weeks ago – it was from a lecture by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams about Freedom of Worship, which we thought struck a very close resemblance to how we experience our practice both alone and with others.
Sending best Winter Wishes from myself and Katye
I look forward to meeting you again soon