A participant at one of our ecotherapy and mindfulness workshops said:
"I've been to two of these day events now and really enjoyed them. Rob and Sebastiana led the various activities with warmth and kindness, guiding us into a deeper awareness of ourselves through being present and alive to the natural
world. A nourishing oasis in a busy life!" Amrta, artist
A volunteer on one of our land care days said:
"Planting trees at Bramfield has been a great way for me to reconnect with the precious natural environment and brought me together with a community of like-minded eco-conscious individuals which, in itself, is also personally healing." Nigel, sustainability professional
HOW ECOTHERAPY EAST STARTED
Ecotherapy East was founded by Robert and Sebastiana Black. Since Autumn 2020 we have been rewilding a 12-acre meadow in Bramfield, Suffolk, which we became stewards of after Rob's aunt passed away. As the pandemic hit, and with our ongoing concern about the climate emergency, we and our friends felt called to take action in some way. We began to plant trees on the land.
Since then, with the help of volunteers, we have planted over 300 trees and created patches of wildflower and a labyrinth. Our team has been tending the trees regularly. Rob and other helpers built a compost toilet from reclaimed wood, and we purchased a yurt where we will host events. We are committed to increasing biodiversity on the land in any way we can. We aim to reduce the use of machinery to the minimum. For example we are training a group of local volunteers to sythe the land.
Rob and I are both experienced counsellors, expressive arts therapists and mindfulness teachers. We also both trained in ecotherapy. We are passionate about mental health and supporting people to heal our disconnection from the natural world. We have been running Mindfulness and Nature events in East Anglia since 2016. We feel a sense of urgency about offering this work more widely. As our connection to this beautiful piece of land and its ecosystems is growing, we want to begin offering workshops and events here to help people access the mental health benefits of Ecotherapy on our meadow! More about us: www.robertblackcounselling.co.uk/mindfulness. www.sebastianablack.co.uk/ecotherapy
We have set up a Community Interest Company which will help us to develop and expand our work. We are fundraising for some basic infrastructure. We need a shed to store our equipment, such as the yurt, gazebo, chairs and tools for tending the land. We are also seeking funds to provide a reliable and safe water supply. These things will help us to look after the land, our volunteers and community that come to tend the land and to participate in trainings, nature walks, ecotherapy and other courses and workshops.
We have already invested our own time and resources into this project because of our commitment to our work and vision. We are now asking for help from you and others like you who may be inspired by what we are doing.
Here is more about our vision and aims for our community interest company:
- To offer ecotherapy, mindfulness and expressive arts therapy workshops and sessions in a natural setting. This will provide opportunities to reawaken people's awareness of the natural world and themselves in it.
Learning mindfulness whilst spending structured and unstructured time outdoors, participants will gain clarity and insight into their mental health and wellbeing, and put these into an ecological perspective. Research shows that this deeper connection to the “more-than-human-world” often increases emotional wellbeing and reduces stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Participants will be encouraged to develop internal resources, inspired both by nature and the support they receive in the group.
- To inspire and foster a greater ecological awareness and sense of connection with the world around us. This will encourage us all to take better care of our environment. This addresses the joint crisis of loss of connection to the natural world, and to our own sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, as well as the nature and climate crisis.
- To create a sense of community around ecological issues and love of nature, bringing a sense of belonging and connection whilst being part of a group.
- To give communities hands-on experience of planting and tending wildflowers and trees, managing a meadow, and planting an orchard, including growing and harvesting fruit.
- To enable the community to learn to look after the trees, wildflowers and other habitats and species on the meadow throughout the year in a sustainable, chemical free fashion that has a positive impact on the environment and the land. Learning a more reciprocal way of interacting with the natural world, often leading to taking greater responsibility and feeling motivated to protect nature. Helping the community to gain self-confidence, improve team skills, become environmentally conscious, acquire nutritional skills and create wildlife habitats.
- To organise educational and practical training to promote environmental protection and improvement, sustainable development and awareness of the interconnected challenges our society faces.
- To provide opportunities to participate in nature walks, talks and discussion groups where participants will have opportunities to learn, gain understanding and knowledge regarding ecological issues and re-wilding land. These events will stimulate thinking and sharing ideas regarding environmental protection and sustainable development including biodiversity, recycling, renewable energy sources, and societal challenges such as inequality, social isolation, climate and ecological breakdown and their associated impacts.
- To offer a venue for workshops and educational opportunities that fit with our values.
The water supply and wooden shed is small beginning of an adventure ahead of us that will serve the human and more-than-human world.
Many thanks from us and the beings of the meadow!!