Friday, September 24, 2004

Frog in a pail

Trying to find a simple wildlife story which illustrates emergence / the tipping point I came across this simple tale with a similarly simple moral: The frog in a pail

Note to self: I must try telling this tale in a Cynefin anecdote circle and inviting the listeners to write down 'what they get from it'.

The Fens - a sense of place

He looks friendly - lets take a closer look Posted by Hello

Having lived on the edge of the fens now for 17 years I am beginning to understand their appeal and to appreciate the connections a person can have with their local environment.

Despite such a huge proportion of the fens still being subject to intensive agriculture there are small occurrences of special places which give you a feeling what the ancient landscape must have looked like.

At Flag Fen on the outskirts of Peterborough I have attended two years of evening lectures by some of the worlds most enthusiastic and dedicated archeologists including the great Francis Prior and his wife Maissie Taylor (get well soon Maissie)telling tales of marshes and causeways, of swords and bronze age huts. The connection with the moon has begun to fascinate me, especially the possibility that the causeways were re-built every lunar eclipse. see The Future in the Past.

THe picture above was however taken at Chippenham Fen, one of our National Nature Reserves. I had the immense privilege of meeting these two wonderful creatures and a few of their friends whilst doing some story collecting about volunteers on our reserves a while back.

Just looking at the picture brings back the memories of that day so vividly. I remember slowly approaching the pond and Kevin, the assistant site manager said "don't make any quick moves if you want to get a photo because as soon as they see you they will be over to meet you". I took the photo then stood my ground as they rushed out of the pond to greet me and soaked me as they butted and smelt us.

I often wax lyrically about telling stories and drinking real ale but meeting water buffalo as nice as these takes some beating in the 'perfect job' stakes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Paradise regained

"The older we get the more we realize that our lives have been influenced by certain places and certain people without our fully knowing just how much. They are there in our memory, like photographs put into an album and probably not looked at for another thirty years or more. Yet we always know they are there, that those moments were once part of our lives and that we are wiser because of those experiences".

These are the wonderful words of Edward Storey, the fenland writer and poet, written as a tribute to those who have protected Woodwalton Fen, especially Gordon Mason.

Last week I was privileged to record on video and audio the 50th anniversary of Woodwalton Fen as a National Nature Reserve (NNR). The day was a wonderful celebration of photographs, nature walk and memories with a very distinguished collection of people who had been involved in the fen over the years.

The sun came out, two marsh harriers and a hobby took to the air as we walked along past the reed beds, meres and beautiful grasslands.

My favourite quote of the day, from the speech given by our director, Andy in the shadow of the Rothchild bungalow, was "Here I am with my wellies on, bins (binoculars) around my neck, a glass of champagne in my hand and standing here with you all at Woodwalton Fen, what more could anyone want."

I now have 60 minutes of video and more than 4 hours of audio on minidisc to process into a priceless momento of the day.

More importantly the sense of connection, of belonging was so strong you could amost see it physically. I hope everyone came away as inspired as I was at the dedication and determination of the people, how wonderfully peaceful and historic the fen landscape can be and how visionary and revolutionery are the future plans of joining up our existing reserves into one large fen as part of the 'Great Fen' Project.

Gaping Void

I had already got to the opinion that memes, stories, ideas and beliefs could be potent attractors.
Added to this a belief that when we watch someone carrying out an activity, be it rowing, digging or missing a penalty that 'mirror neurons' fire in our brains ad we therefore 'fully' experience the experience.

I was therefore greatful to the David Gurteen web site for pointing me in the direction of a fellow blogger - Hugh Macleod, a creative director who helps to explain how dopamine is the explanation for all these and a whole lot more in his blog entry gapingvoid: note to self: synapses.

Read for yourself about the neurological explanation of addiction and the darker way that marketing and advertisers are using this knowledge against us.

Every picture tells a story

"Spent some time feelin' inferior
standing in front of my mirror
Combed my hair in a thousand ways
but I came out looking just the same"
Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story

I remember back in 1973 going to see Rod Stewart and the Faces at Sunderland Mecca and the Sunderland AFC Team were on stage with them (at least I remember Billy Hughes was there). I recently discovered that it was a Geoff Docherty who I have to thank for booking such brilliant acts in those days, thanks Geoff.

Anyway, 31 years on I am trying out an 'attractor' of sorts at work whereby everyone is being invited to bring in their photographs especially those featuring group shots. We then intend to scan the best and circulate/produce a Photo Cd for all staff.

The essential intervention in all this however is the act of discussing the photos with friends and colleagues. My hope is that a greater sense of belonging (Cynefin in Welsh), both to English Nature and to each other, will emerge.

A new beginning

After about two years of seeing my blog appear in Google searches I have decided to give it another go so watch this space.

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