A funny old week…

It started with a 1000-mile round trip to deliver a presentation in Derby, the place I grew up in. The talk was attended by an old school teacher of mine and a smattering of friends and family huddled on the back row (there were others there too you understand!) Weird.

Tuesday brought about a meeting to secure the 2020VISION roadshow in The National Forest – this from discussions that have stretched over the best part of 2 years. Relief.

Wednesday was a relatively normal day in the office although we did buy 5 Highland Cows as conservation grazers. Daunting. I also met with a mate of mine who revealed insider knowledge about a rather exciting reintroduction project about to be unleashed. Intriguing. This was also the day I heard the news about the Manchester police women being shot. Shocking.

Thursday took me to a photographer friend’s for an update on various matters and contrary to the usual frivolous nature of our discussions, today was more sombre as a member of his family is very unwell.  On returning home I was greeted with the news that our old Highland pony (he’s not ours actually but he lives with us) was lame and would need to be put to sleep. Sad and Sobering.

An early call yesterday created a meeting with a local landowner about a potential commission documenting a massively ambitious restoration scheme in the Highlands. Inspiring.

As I sit here writing, Amanda is busying around getting stuff together for our holiday to Yellowstone. Bizarre.

So what’s all this got to do with a photographic blog? Well if truth be told, I’m feeling a bit emotional; high emotion has been the common denominator throughout this last week. The more I think about the state of the natural world and what can be done to right some of the wrongs, the more I become convinced that we don’t use our unique capacity for emotion creatively enough. I read a while ago that generally speaking, people’s relationship with nature isn’t rational or scientific; it’s emotional. And it’s true. You can peddle all the ecological science, all the socio-economic data, all the conservation buzzwords you like, but for most people, nature is something they ‘feel’. Great photography is something that makes people ‘feel’.

As a nation we’ve done a pretty good job this summer ‘feeling’ the Olympics and Paralympics and what high emotion reigned for those few weeks. But spectacular as they undoubtedly were, these are transient events, moments in time. If only we, as a society, could harness that Olympic energy, that high-octane emotion and mobilise it for nature. That would be something worth getting up on Monday morning for. And Tuesday. And Wednesday.

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2 Comments

  • Hi Pete,

    I’m sorry to hear your pony has had to be put down and for being unable to attend the talk.

    I can’t fault what you’re saying about our emotional connection with nature and after a while of thinking about these topics, the clearer and more obvious this connection becomes. Simple right? Well, alright, but as you (or maybe I just thought it was you) have mentioned – coming to the realisation that nature/the environment is important and we’re bound to it is quite easy. The action people take after they’ve discovered this is the hard bit.

    Enter 2020Vision, Meet Your Neighbours, Living Landscapes and so on…

    I think you’re in for an emotional few years.

    Chris

  • I was invited to give a presentation in Lancaster Uni a couple of years ago, at a three day event attended by a throng of environmental professionals from most of the main agencies working around the UK.

    In the plenary session at the end a young woman stood, and in a voice charged with emotion related how one thing in the event had stood out for her: how important it was for her to be with other environmental professionals, and to be able to, simply, say how wonderful nature was. And to not feel ashamed. To be able to openly say how it made her feel, how it moved her, how it sustained her and made her ‘whole’. And to have people agree with her.

    Because……..she had been told by her line management that such talk in the workplace was frowned upon, that it was too ‘fluffy’ and ‘tree-huggy’, too nebulous and too likely to “give the wrong impression”. Instead she should confine her comments to “the measurable” the “scientific” and “the rational”.

    But what saddened her the most was that many other professionals she’d spoken with in the past 36 hours had had the same experience in their workplaces.

    I spoke afterwards with the young woman and several others, male and female, who confirmed that this was the case.

    If this is an accurate reflection of the restrictions placed on expressing one’s emotional connection with nature within an environmental agency, is it any wonder it is so hard to engage the general public………………..

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