Inhabiting the Forest

(Notes from the conference session at Evolving the Forest, Dartington Hall, 19-21 June 2019)

Our children have been slowly disappearing from public life and in our forests independent children of any age are now a rare sight. Taking note of Tim Gill’s (Rethinking Childhood) observation that “the visible presence of children and youth of different ages and backgrounds (…) is a sign of the health of human habitats, just as the presence of salmon is a sign of the health of the river”, this should be of great concern to all of us.

For this reason Inez Aponte, our Communications Manager, hosted a panel discussion at the Evolving the Forest Conference at Dartington Hall, called Inhabiting the Forest. The panel consisted of Roger Worthington, Head of Recreation and Public Affairs at Forestry England, Mark Renouard, Co-founder of Earth Wrights, Independent Artist and Educator Anne-Marie Culhane and Chris Salisbury, Founder of Wildwise.

We discussed the importance of forests to childhood and community wellbeing and explored how we might encourage healthy, regenerative relationships between children and nature.

Continue reading “Inhabiting the Forest”

Sticks, crabs and mud – Talking play with Laura Bingham

Age: 26

Profession: Adventurer, speaker, explorer

Mother to Ran (2)

Laura opened our new play space at Sacrewell, so we decided to ask her some questions about her own experience of outdoor play.

Remember playing outside? What are your strongest memories of outdoor play as a child?

The first thing that comes to mind is how my Dad used to mow the lawn in stripes and how the mower would leave these lumps of grass in lines and I would challenge myself to crawl from one side of the lawn to the other side across these lumps and stripes. A simple thing like mown grass can be so much fun. I still love the smell of it.

I also remember being in the car and looking out for trees lined up in a perfect four. I was convinced that they were portals into the fairy kingdom.

What is the riskiest thing you ever did as a child?

Well, drawing on the nicely painted walls of the house didn’t go down well – that was pretty risky. But in terms of physical risk…when I was six years old, we started visiting my family in South Africa roughly every two years and I would go microlighting and wild water rafting. That’s quite a risky thing for a small child. But I always felt safe with my parents looking after me. Continue reading “Sticks, crabs and mud – Talking play with Laura Bingham”

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