This Is Our Place – a nature writing project for London

News

Spread the Word, in partnership with London Wildlife Trust, is delighted to announce that This Is Our Place, our nature writing project celebrating London’s wildlife, nature and the diverse communities of the city through words, postponed due to the Covid pandemic, will now take place in 2021.

Nature writing is a powerful way of connecting people to the natural environment via creative self-reflection, mindfulness, and imagination. It opens up the conversation and supports the exploration of key themes such as climate emergency, healing and spirituality.  However, there is currently a bias towards publishing white, middle-class nature writers. London, as one of the world’s most vibrant and green capital cities (47% green), is the perfect setting to address this imbalance of voices, engage local communities with nature writing and connect people to their local green spaces.

This Is Our Place exists to reimagine how we live in London and reflect on our individual and collective relationship to nature and place. We want to see nature writing being created and read by a multiplicity of people, reflective of the backgrounds of the citizens of our great city.

Ruth Harrison, Director, Spread the Word, says: “Spread the Word is delighted to be announcing our partnership with the London Wildlife Trust. Over the past year we have seen the critical importance of nature and green spaces for communities. We want to read and hear nature writing that is reflective of the communities in which we live. This is Our Place provides a space for and invitation to London’s writers and communities to engage with our green spaces and create new nature writing that reimagines how we live in London.”

Leah McNally, Director of Strategic Projects & Engagement, London Wildlife Trust, says: “London Wildlife Trust is excited to be working in partnership with Spread the Word on This is Our Place. We look forward to hosting the project on our nature reserves across London and being inspired by writers that are currently under-represented in nature writing.”

Spread the Word and London Wildlife Trust are pleased to announce the appointment of the This is Our Place five writers-in-residence; Anita Sethi, Jackee Holder, Laura Barker and LiLi Kathleen Bright (who will work collaboratively in the role) and Elspeth Wilson. The writers-in-residence will lead in-person and online workshops, create a new commission, and develop nature writing activities for people to do in their own homes or outdoor spaces if they can access them.

Elspeth Wilson, writer-in-residence, says: “Writing about nature should be open and accessible to all and we urgently need new voices and perspectives on nature, particularly given the challenges of climate crisis and unequal access to outdoor space. This Is Our Place fills me with hope about the future of nature writing and environmentalism; I can’t wait to see what new writing comes out of the project.“

Anita Sethi, writer-in-residence, says: “I’m thrilled to be a Writer in Residence for Spread the Word’s exciting This is Our Place project and have the opportunity to contribute my love of nature and expertise in running workshops. Nature is vital to each and every one of us but not everyone has equal access to nature – I’m looking forward to working with both Spread the Word and the London Wildlife Trust to celebrate nature, wildlife and diverse communities, and help all to feel as if they have a place in the natural world.”

Jackee Holder, writer-in-residence, says: “There have been many important times in my life when I have found solace in the company of trees. I know myself in a way when I am in nature that is wholesome and real. I love creating physical, creative and emotional spaces where others can make nature connections that are meaningful and true. I am delighted to be a part of This Is Our Place writing residency working alongside such an awesome gathering of writers and artists.”

Laura Barker, writer-in-residence, says: “I’m super excited to be a writer in residence for This is Our Place. I’m pretty obsessed with nature, and I’m currently learning how to graft fruit trees. I’m also germinating San Marzano tomatoes and canary creeper seeds in kitchen roll on my bedroom windowsill. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to spend more time in nature with my incredible fellow writers in residence and hopefully get more people interested in the amazing things outside has to offer.”

LiLi Kathleen Bright, writer-in-residence, says: “Combining trees and writing with crafting workshops is a perfect trio and Spread the Word has been instrumental in developing my writing practice. So you can probably imagine how excited I am to be part of This Is Our Place. I keep bursting into grins when I think about it. Cannot wait to meet all the participants, and bubble over with enthusiasm alongside them. Let’s get creative in nature!”

London’s communities will be able to get involved in This is Our Place by:

  • Downloading a free writing pack from Spread the Word’s website from mid July 2021;

  • Taking part in free nature writing workshops in-person at select London Wildlife Trust reserves in August 2021;

  • Attending one of free nature writing online workshops in August 2021;

  • Entering the This Is Our Place nature writing competition with the opportunity to be published in the This Is Our Place anthology;

  • Coming along to the launch of the anthology on 27 November 2021.

All of the workshops and celebrations will be held in wheelchair-accessible London Wildlife Trust locations. BSL interpretation will be available for one in-person workshop, one online workshop, and the anthology launch.

Workshops are for adults and bookings will open in July 2021. Spread the Word and London Wildlife Trust will announce that bookings are open on our websites and on our social media.

This Is Our Place is funded by the Emergence Foundation.

Published Monday 15 June