Connection with nature through drawing

Pencil sketch of an ash tree at Hazel Hill wood to illustrate a post about connection with nature through drawing

I drew this ash tree at Hazel Hill Wood last weekend. Though it rises opposite a bench where I like to have a morning coffee, I have never paid it much attention. But doing a twenty-minute sketch I am discovering the tree. Climbing the trunk that rises without foothold for a third of its height. Noticing for the first time its rhythm – the trees spatial ordering. How one trunk becomes a thousand twigs, like a trachea transitioning to countless alveoli.

As I draw I see a space in the canopy to the left, one that I would not have noticed otherwise. I presume it is a space left by another tree that is now fallen, on the ground but leaving its imprint in the sky.

Continue reading “Connection with nature through drawing”

Planting parking spaces is a dismal affair

Oliver Broadbent holding a watering can in a carpark to illustrate his post Planting Parking Spaces

Planting parking spaces is a dismal affair.

When you water them, the water just drains away.

The rich soil underneath is capped.

Parking spaces don’t flower; don’t make nectar, don’t produce fruit that we can eat.

Insects stay away; birds fly over.

Never do they grow, rise up from the ground, spread their branches to oxygenate the air.

No one returns in 30 years time and says I planted that parking space.

No generation thanked the last for planting more.

Continue reading “Planting parking spaces is a dismal affair”

Questions to ask your colleagues in the biodiversity emergency

The biodiversity emergency requires us to change how we value and relate to the ecosystems that support us.

Values shift when we change our habits. Habits are the rituals and routines that form part of an organisation’s culture. Work the habits to shift the culture.

We see it in Toyota’s Improvement Kata, which uses habit to reinforce behaviours around improvement, adaptation and innovation. We see it in the ‘safe-start’ procedure used for meetings in safety-critical industries.

And so I’m wondering what might be questions that we might routinely ask each other of our projects in organisations that have declared a biodiversity emergency?

Continue reading “Questions to ask your colleagues in the biodiversity emergency”

Book notes – The Hidden Life of Trees

Black and white image of a tree canopy in winter, looking a bit like a series of river tributaries joining together.

It feels right as I take on my new role at Hazel Hill Wood to read the Hidden Life of Trees. This is an evolving post based on notes I take as I read through the book.

From the foreward: ‘The author’s deep understanding of the lives of trees, reached through decasdes of careful observation and study, reveals a world so astonishing that if you read his book, I believe that forests will become magical places for you too.’

Continue reading “Book notes – The Hidden Life of Trees”

#18 Hazel Hill Wood – Dawn chorus sonic lockdown therapy- show-notes

Black and white image of a tree canopy in winter, looking a bit like a series of river tributaries joining together.

30 minutes of uninterrupted dawn chorus Hazel Hill Wood, recorded at the end of March. Hazel Hill is woodland nature reserve and education centre helping frontline staff develop resilience and wellbeing through connection with nature. While people are prevented from visiting the woods during lockdown, the team are working on ways to bring the wood to them during lockdown. Listening suggestions:

  • Early in the morning
  • Over breakfast
  • In the background while you work
  • To clear your mind at the end of work
  • Late at night as you drift off to sleep
Continue reading “#18 Hazel Hill Wood – Dawn chorus sonic lockdown therapy- show-notes”

Appreciating concrete in Marseille

One of the thing things that I like about Marseille is the quality of the concrete tower block design. I’ve been riding in taxis back and forth across the city with my father who is undergoing cancer treatment in various branches of the city’s healthcare system and appreciating the architectural tour I’m getting.

In the centre of town these blocks remind me of bookcases: two monolithic, slick sides between which span the concrete shelves, on which sit the apartments like colourful books. It’s fascinating to see the different ways that windows, balconies and staircases are articulated in these concrete buildings. I point out towering souring fin walls, beautifully articulated fire escapes, and how paint is used to express the different elements of the concrete structures.

The rocky hills that rise up behind Marseille keep the city hemmed in by the sea. Standing on the high ground platform of Notre Dame de la Gard in the middle of town, you can see clusters of distant tower blocks that seem to bravely climb the distant slopes of the edge of the city, like pilgrims. I’m used to seeing tower blocks standing imposingly against the flat, grey London sky, but here these structures are rendered tiny by the massive hills behind them.

Continue reading “Appreciating concrete in Marseille”