Post event: Online Nature Journaling Workshop

For the online nature journaling workshop which took place on International Earth Day, 22 April, we had five participants. It was a lovely group of women with different experiences of writing, but everyone brought their enthusiasm to the table. It was so lovely to have Gill Thompson, the Park’s Ecologist, there presenting around the different landscapes, fauna and flora to be found within the National Park, as well as giving it a personal flavour with insights into her personal delights.

The workshops was part writing and then going out into the landscape on the participants’ doorsteps. If we were meeting within the Sill, National Landscape Discovery Centre, we would have been able to walk out together, probably up to Steel Rig and along the crags for a bit of a jolly, making sure all our sense were open to the surroundings and what they had to offer.

But I think it worked well, with the hour outside alone and then coming back to the group online for the final task of creating something from the outing. What I used to structure their musings while out there, was something I picked up a few years ago from the book Writing Wild by Tina Welling. There’s three parts to the exercise; naming, identifying and interacting.

NAMING – serves to alert our conscious awareness to our senses.
Name what you see and then move into the other senses, notice the smaller things – e.g. the clouds, the tree, the straw coloured grass.

DESCRIBING – engages our senses and body responses on a deeper, more intimate level.
Choose one thing that attracts your attention and describe in detail e.g. lichen – the feather tangle, delicate filigree, soft against the finger, pale snowy green in colour.

INTERACTING – invites us to create a relationship with our surroundings.
It’s when you open yourself to place and allow an exchange, or interaction , between the outer works of nature and inner world of emotion, experience and memory.

Try it next time you’re outside and want to get some words down, record some kind of reaction that you can work on later once you get back home.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some of the women’s writing, as well as some of my own, once the Park has created a writer in residency page on their website. More details to follow soon.

Back at the Sill

Just over a year ago, the writers involved in Black Nature in Residence met at The Sill, National Landscape Discovery Centre to launch the project. The next week, identity on tyne, the coordinator of the project went into a self-imposed lockdown ahead of the national lockdown that was called a couple of weeks later.
Black Nature in Residence has been put on hold since then. Even though we tried to restart happenings in October 2020, things have been taking place virtually and very piecemeal.

Yesterday, as writer in residence for Northumberland National Park, I was able to return to The Sill and walk around the landscape again. It felt good to be back and just enjoy the open views safely.

Hopefully moving forward, I’d be able to continue to explore this vast and amazing county each week leading up to the end of this project in October 2021.