An invitation to CPA members
Kamalamani, a member of Climate Psychology Alliance, looks back over the past six years of the ‘Edge of the Wild’ UK ecopsychology gathering and looks forward to this year’s event which she’s co-organising with CPA’s Judith Anderson, James Barrett, Nick Davis and friends
This July those of us practising various forms of ecopsychology will meet again at the Green and Away tented conference centre in Worcestershire. A small group of us sponsored the first one in 2012, with organising help from fellow ecopsychologists and a few of us who were then on the steering group of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR). There had been many previous gatherings and events, but not held nationally on an annual basis. Early events were organised by the ecopsychology group which emerged following the founding of PCSR in 1995, founded by Tania Dolley and Hilary Prentice, with Mary-Jayne Rust later joining, pioneering the birth of ecopsychology in the UK. Tania, Hilary, Mary-Jayne, and Moira Lake, another early member, continue to make an important contribution to the event as they return to the ‘Edge of the Wild’ year after year.
Over the years the community has strengthened and grown, with spin off groups meeting regionally between the annual gatherings. We have started to establish traditions, for example: each day beginning with social dreaming held beautifully by James Barrett; a Friday night ‘open mic’ of music, poetry, song, and stories held by Robbie Breadon and Fi Gilmour; river swimming; and a rich programme of workshops and invited speakers. The event has welcomed people who come along to find out more, as well as offering a meeting place for the more established community of ecopsychology and ecotherapy practitioners.
There’s a few things I love about this event. Returning year after year to the land by the River Teme is an important part of the process. The fact that the venue is lovingly built, sustainably run, and then dissolved every year after a few months of summer events seems wholly relevant to the practice of ecopsychology. The hosts are incredibly welcoming, with volunteers gathering from all over Europe. Not only do they look after us well, with delicious food and non-stop tea, they are also curious to find out what we’re doing and why. I appreciate the deepening of this community through these regular meetings as much as I appreciate the programme content. Over time friendships are building, ideas are sparked, practice is shared. It’s a place I can breathe out and feel slightly less mad and peripheral. For once I’m in good company in being concerned about and engaging with climate change, or the 6th extinction crisis, or our deadly consuming habits, and supporting others to engage with those themes. That’s a relief. Of course, working with such big themes means the event has an edge – how could it be otherwise? – but it’s an edge that I generally experience as being lovingly worked with and held.
The ‘Edge of the Wild’ programme has been rich and varied. In terms of speakers, the following people have been invited to past events: philosopher Isis Brooks, and artist Chris Drury, wilderness guides from the Animas Institute Bill Plotkin (Animas founder) and Geneen Marie Haughen, ecocide lawyer Polly Higgins, Druids and therapists Phillip Carr-Gomm and Gillian Kavanagh, eco-linguist Arran Stibbe, relational body psychotherapist and ecopsychologist Nick Totton, Jungian analyst, art therapist and ecopsychologist Mary-Jayne Rust, psychotherapist and founder of the first ecopsychology group meeting in the UK Hilary Prentice, and cultural cosmologist and traditional African doctor Colin Campbell.
Personal highlights for me have been listening to Polly Higgins, facilitating and being in workshops – Judith Anderson’s energy workshops and her energy healing circle last year spring to mind. I’ve also really enjoyed hearing the elders of our community speak: Hilary Prentice talking about the 'The Wild Goose, the Condor, the Eagle and the Blue Jewel' in 2016, Mary-Jayne Rust asking how ecopsychology can help our world and Nick Totton urging us to face the future in 2016.
In 2014 a themed approach to the event started to emerge which that year was entitled ‘outside language’ followed by ‘a challenge offered’ in 2015 and ‘heartlands’ last year. This year’s theme is ‘fraktured psyche’ which emerged from the social dreaming of the organising group during their first meeting last autumn. The invited speakers – well, it’ll be more of a conversation and a journey, in fact – are the anti fracking activist Tina Rothery a celtic shamans Karen Ward and John Cantwell, putting us in touch with our care and action for other-than-human and more-than-human life in different ways. There’ll also be a programme of workshops aimed largely at deepening and broadening our practise of ecopsychology, following a call for more practice-based work in the past couple of years.
So please come along – it would be great to see even more Climate Psychology Alliance members there! Booking information.