Connecting with the natural environment

Our group has felt part of the Crowborough community from the very start – not only do many of us live locally, but our course has been embedded in the area – during one of our very first sessions we students could be spotted wandering around the local streets looking for an item that interested us for use in one of our sessions. Throughout the course (even the pandemic) we’ve been embedded in the local area; we’ve used the cemetery to support our learning, added to the Crowborough stone snake, visited the pub for celebrations, commiserations and debriefs, and ended our course having a celebratory Covid-safe drink on Goldsmiths field.

Our course took place throughout the course of the pandemic and associated lockdowns, and during this time we all came to realise the importance of being able to get out of our houses and in touch with nature. It was noted by local media that during the pandemic, use of local natural space had increased dramatically and, unfortunately, that littering and dumping of household rubbish had increased too. Some of our group members encountered this on their daily walks. We all noted not only the impact on the natural environment, but the impact that seeing this rubbish had – interrupting the much-needed restorative connection with the natural environment, so needed during the difficult times of the pandemic.

We decided that for our community project we would work as a group to stop being observers of this increased littering, and start acting to improve the environment for ourselves and others, individually, in pairs, and (whenever we were allowed to) in larger groups. In addition to carrying out general picking, we endeavoured to work towards clearing a well-known dumping spot that one of our group members identified had been littered for years. Despite completing our course, we have plans to continue our work and maintain this connection with the course and community.

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