“The sun will rise and set regardless, what we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us”.Chris Bickerton
In a world heading toward the dark, bent towards our own destruction, creating anything seems an impossible task. People are quick to tear you down. Bringing creative ideas into the light neigh on impossible. They die before they even pass between lips. Becoming nothing but a long exhale. So yeah, building things is never easy. Birthing an idea is hard.
Bringing an idea to create positive change in the community around you … even harder. For that you need people. A network of equally bonkers people. Good hearted, warm, patient, gifted, enthusiastic folx. You need the craft of self-belief, the art of devil may care, a healthy dose of denial and dog headed ness, a thick skin and probably a lot of other stuff too …
I’ve been quiet with my writing over these last seven months because I have been working towards creating a grass roots collective. A Network of folx across Scotland. Beautiful and diverse folx united under a wish – this signalling flag of a cause – to help conserve Scotland’s community folkloric heritage sites.
How could we do this? How could we bring re-enchantment back into these magical liminal forgotten places in communities, town, cities and the wild? Why had they been mostly forgotten? Does anyone actually care?
We question when we aren’t sure. We aren’t sure when we have doubts. Despite this the idea gestated and grew. Tempered in the dark of the imagination hardened by unbelieving. Soon there were others. The doubting lessened its grip and let in the light.
Baby Steps …
Other folx help you doubt less. (Or more if their mean, or actually trying to be helpful, so sometimes it’s for good reason, other times spite). It’s been a long road to find the others. The first person who had faith in all of this, who actually probably took the biggest step of everyone, I met under a corvid filled sky. We chatted, I was exhausted, but she brought such a magic with her it was hard not to be given wings like the crows flying above. I knew. Right then. The idea was the right one. Thank you Amanda, x.
The next wayside witch to find us and see the beauty in the idea was the enchanting Debbie Armour. She brought a beautiful, very welcome set of ideas she interwove with the seed we were nurturing. Her intense incredible voice, in both Scottish and Gaelic, holds fathoms and brought depth. Thank you Debbie. It’s been so amazing to get to work with you.
Others found us from across pub tables, drink fuelled late night conversations, tea and cake. These amazing people saw the idea/delusion and added their own yearnings. We explored ways to make it alive in a world full of naysayers. Worked together to help everyone’s journey become lighter. Became the midwives, the guiding hands and voices gently tugging the idea into the light. It’s hard birthing an idea. It’s harder yet to make it a reality.
This sprout of an idea was given a voice through the amazing (perhaps amazing is an understatement) gifts of Debbie Armour and Amanda Edmiston. Form by the ever-talented Julia Jeffery. Protected and cheered for by an amazing Kickstarter community. We created an album. Together. The Tales of the Taibhsear we named it. (A name makes it real). It sung and spoke of tales of lost wells, magic and wants us about how easy it is to lose our way if you don’t stand for something.
We created a platform. Dreaming bread and Skyrie Stanes was its name. A place, where diversity could intersect. Where we could come together to learn and experience a little of the magic we were wanting to entice back from the dark into an un-enchanted world. There was no hierarchy. No single religion. Just a beautiful diverse audience and tales and song and learning about the simple traditions and our connection to the land for all of us.
Support for the project was phenomenal. A share of the profits helped support the network to become a reality and enabled the first faltering steps to be taken in new shoes it could now afford. Guided by the power of song, art and story. The triad of the best fairy god parents. For the first time the idea was conscious and saw the others. Peering, blinking sparrow eyes staring from the betwixt. Thank you Debbie, Amanda and Julia for everything. I have fond memories of the whole process x
The dance of coproduction
Since the event in November 2018, it’s been a moving journey. The, as yet, unnamed sparrow eyed idea and I travelled all over Scotland meeting many amazing people. We sat together in churches, universities, museums and beautiful gardens and talked. And I listened transcribing everyone’s ideas and wishes as young sparrow eyes took everything in.
Our questioning doubts had turned into lighting strikes of optimistic curiosity. We talked of road maps others may have to help guide us. They spoke of different lands and ideas. We chatted about what is the magic of place. Pondered the question how such a diverse group of people could all feel the same way about certain places but for completely different reasons. We may not have agreed on the HOW but we all thought the WHY important enough to come together. To do something. We started making plans.
Thank you to everyone who came to meet in person and those who helped at every event. I hope you realise how unique and rare you are? Honestly, in a world where you can feel like you supported something just by double tapping or the like clicking apathy you are above and beyond the norm. Feel proud and don’t stop being present for things! The world needs more yous!
The idea played around us all. At first toddling about. Then walking and laughing with a new born’s glee. Eventually it found its own grace as it danced in turn with each of us. Rowan Morrison conducted the dance from behind the curtain. Without her help in creating the workshop plans I feel the dance would have been a lot clumsier. Maybe many a missed step. I thank you Rowan. You input has been truly amazing x
In Spring, this year, the idea was named. Baptised by committee. The Woven Land Network. It wears its name proud. Its Logo, a glyph, a shield to doubts it was born from. A simple symbol uniting us all. Like any name it tells our story and talks to our aspirations. We are about working together. Collective action. Connected- to place, land, our beautiful diverse communities and to the very liminal places we seek to conserve. The well spring. We are the weft and the warp, and the land we are upon, the thread weaving us together.
This network was created for everyone who wishes they could do more to protect at risk or vulnerable community folkloric heritage sites in Scotland. These sites include sacred and holy wells and springs, cairns, standing stones, stone circles, meeting places and other spaces tied to a community’s sense of place and self. You can read all about how to get involved and the story so far on the website thewovenlandnetwork.co.uk
In a week’s time we are throwing the Networks first birthday party at a SOLD OUT event in Fife.
Thank you to all those who provided donations but didn’t buy a ticket, to everyone who brought a ticket and extra special thanks to those who brought a ticket AND donated! It’s made a real difference. I don’t think we could ask for much more success at the start of the networks journey into the wider world. This success is down to all of you. Thank you for making it happen! I’m really looking forward to celebrating with you all.
On Reflection …
When I reflect on this journey it’s incredible to see how far we have come in such a short space of time. We already have over a 100 members and we are exploring interest from funders. The effort to get here shouldn’t be understated. This constant balancing act between day job and creating is hard. I realise it requires a lot of self-sacrifice and determination. Not just from myself but everyone involved. Dealing with doubt and anxiety all the way through has been tough. Grating immensely at times. However, the community around this project, even the cynical ones, have made it easier. They shared the burden and I’m so grateful to everyone who has faith in the process or questioned it. Thank you! Thank you for supporting the Network in the ways you do no matter how small. Everything helps.
With Thanks to …
There is a group of people who have been helping behind the scenes and listening and supporting each other through the crazy times. These are in no particular order Thomas, Ash, Michelle, Angela, Amelia and Ilona. Without your constancy I would have gone even more mad, so I thank you immensely! I’d also like to take this opportunity to everyone providing their time to support the event on the 29thof June. Counting in the names I have already mentioned and in no particular order a HUGE thank you to Jannica Honey, Jane Mather, Rowan Morrison, Samantha Donaldson, Erin Scheper, Ange and Daryl, Foragerium, Solar Ripe Herbs, The Riverside Bakehouse, The ecology Centre, Nathan Richardson-Read, Pye, & Jynx.
I’d also like to say thanks in advance to Sian and Skye for getting involved in the next part of the journey. I hope you know what you’re in for :)
“The sun will rise and set regardless.
What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us.”
I hope you might all agree; we are choosing to use it wisely.