2018 Amongst It projects
A strong relationship with the natural world is fundamental for our personal wellbeing and foundational to our ability to steward nature as a state.
In 2018 we’re supporting 9 projects to try a variety of ways to deepen individual connection to nature and to more widely celebrate how highly valued nature already is in South Australia.
We hope to use what we learn to kick-start a state-wide celebration, a Festival of Nature.
Forest Bathing is based on the Japanese practice of “Shinrin-Yoku”, and is the practice of ‘bathing’ ourselves in a forest or natural environment, for the widespread health benefits that brings. The Cancer Cure Centre will provide 6 nature bathing experiences of 3 hours each for up to 12 participants for cancer patients.
Participants will be provided with invitations to connect with their senses to the nature around them, and experience a sense of mindful presence. This project will promote the health and wellbeing benefits of time in nature, and help provide respite for patients from the worries and demands of cancer treatment and adjusting to life after treatment.
Ngarrindjeri Elder, Major (Moogy) Sumner (AM) will run an experience aiming to connect people to nature—to the land they walk on.
He will take a group of South Australians down to Ngarrindjeri country to learn the story of the river and the Milky Way, to participate in reed weaving, and scout out native foods.
Major Sumner was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2014 for his services to the Indigenous community for many decades. He has been a member of the South Australian Aboriginal Advisory Council since 2011. He is also a member of the World Council of Elders. Major Sumner wants to show to the Australian people that Aboriginal culture is about sharing and working together for the benefit of the whole community.
After years of arduous and painstaking experimentation, we have finally bridged the arboreal communication gap.
In preparation for the Adelaide Fringe, South Australian botanists, linguists, and engineers worked through the night to refine the technology to enable humans and trees, finally, to communicate.
To establish contact with this lemon-scented gum, send a text in greeting to 0447 305 392.
You may find her distractible, idiosyncratic, and inscrutable, so, please, be patient. We recommend asking her thoughts on those topics with which she has greatest familiarity: herself, Adelaide and surrounds, and the Adelaide Fringe. You may also find she has some words of wisdom on deeper matters if you ask her the right way.
In her opening weekend, more than 4,000 text messages were sent back and forth to the tree.
Freerange Future will develop a creative signage campaign—a series of public invitations and reminders to notice, touch, smell and enjoy nature throughout the city and suburbs.
The signs might be stuck on the pavement, attached to buildings, or stuck in the ground. They may feature such calls to action as “Please feel free to take off your shoes and feel the grass between your toes,” or “ATTENTION...to this beautiful place,” and placed in public spaces. It is hoped that this may lead to the development of a sign design kit that may be hired by other groups to develop similar signage in their own areas.
Inspired by Place—this bioregion, the earth, the evolving universe—Being Onkaparingan, run by Community Health Onkaparinga, aims to explore processes, strategies and narratives that take participants on a journey beginning with the existential question ,“Where am I?” (rather than “Who am I?”, so prevalent in modern thinking). Through a series of workshops and experiences in nature, they will explore the Onkaparinga bioregion ecologically, geologically, historically and experientially relating this back to what this means for “Who am I?” and “What am I meant to do?”.
Organisers hope that this may be the start of a movement in the region. Participants will be encouraged and supported to continue meeting regularly and to ‘teach forward’ the concepts and practices. Their objective is to create a community of people who not only tell this story in their own lives, but also share the story with the wider community.
In April 2018, Friends of Morialta and Black Hill will host a number of local scientists and naturalists for half a day in one of their regular ‘mini bio-blitz’ activities. However, in addition to the biological surveys, for the first time, they plan to host a number of activities which will connect people with the natural space outside of the survey event.
These include sessions for Forest Bathing, Meet a Tree, and Nature Art. It was felt this was a valuable addition to the set of projects, as it focused on a popular natural environment familiar to locals, engaging an active Friends of Parks group, and would enable us observe what it might look like to give a science event an Amongst It flavour.
This project will be kickstarted at the Tumby Market @ the Bay event on 12th March, 2018—an event already proven to draw the community together and bring tourists and their dollars into the town. It profiles local produce, food stalls, community fundraising groups, photography, live music and art in a beautiful location along the foreshore.
Instead of the usual bouncy castle, long line-ups for face painting, and sugary drinks, the organisers will hold a cubby building competition for family groups to build a structure on the beach. A Play Space Kit containing logs and sticks, vines, pinecones, gumnuts, rocks and fabric will be allocated to each family group.
Awards for Best Structure, Most Creative, Quirky & Quaint could be announced later in the day, with follow up articles in the Port Lincoln Times, the Tribune, Cleve, newsletters and beyond. Further interactive photography activities and displays from Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula are also proposed.
It was felt that further funds should be allocated to support projects owned by local indigenous voices as Amongst It deliberates on how best to centre these voices in our work. These funds were set aside to be made available to a Kaurna or Ngarrindjeri group that would be interested in running a nature connection project informed by their own stories and spiritual connection to Country.
Work to secure an appropriate partner for this work is ongoing.
Still to be finalised, we hope to support an overnight camping and nature connection event in or around the Adelaide Parklands. This event would focus on wildlife in the city and will also be a community capacity-building exercise.
The event would be designed for people without camping experience, to give them the skills and confidence to go camping after the event. Participants would get hands-on camping experience in a safe environment. During the event, stories and ideas would be shared for camping and connecting with nature around South Australia. Guides would help participants set up a campsite, and activities would include presentations about campsite locations and camping activities, and storytelling sessions with camping and nature experts.
About collaborative prototyping
In 2018, we are testing our theory of change by supporting a variety of different nature connection projects. To facilitate that, $20,000 of small grant funding was allocated by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) in order to support the development of Amongst It projects. This funding was distributed by Amongst It partner Conservation SA.
We were excited to see that demand for funding vastly outstripped our prototype budget, indicating strong interest amongst the community. Despite a brief promotional period, we received applications requesting a total of $96,603. The Amongst It grant panel decided to allocate $17,000 to 7 grant applicants and $3000 to further develop two potential projects that we felt were missing from the line-up.
The grant recipients are detailed above, and these project prototypes will run between the February and May 2018.
We hope to use what we learn to develop a clear understanding of successful ways to build positive nature connection and more widely celebrate how uniquely important nature is in South Australia.
If the process and these projects are well received, we hope to build toward a Festival of Nature in 2019 that can support a much wider variety of nature connection and celebration all across South Australia.