Once upon a time in a land far, far away….
That might be how we think stories should start but I much prefer the ones that start “You’ll never guess what happen yesterday on the allotment” or “When we arrived in the UK last year, we couldn’t believe how green it was” Because although there are some amazing and exciting stories told of going on bear hunts, tigers who came to tea or unrequited love. It is the stories that people tell each other every day that I miss. I miss hearing the chit chat and the natter apart from when a colleague phones to tell me about what happened to her today at Dawberry Fields Park “The couple who always walk round together, they waved to me today, it was lovely they recognised me” When we were out in parks all the time we got to hear everyone’s stories, now – not so much.
Oh, and there are amazing story tellers everywhere and not just in parks. You see stories know no boundaries, they flow from one person to another with no care of who is telling the story and who is listening. And if language becomes a barrier then pictures, gestures, dance, and music can fill the gaps and jump the barriers. Stories will not be contained they find a way to break through, to be seen and be heard. They can bubble out with excitement or pour out with sadness sinking to the floor with sorrow, but they will not stay untold.
Of all these common stories, this chit chat and natter, I love the ones about the earth. When you read the word earth what did you think of, the ground beneath our feet or the planet we live on? Strangely they are the same thing really. When we stand in a park the grass, the soil beneath and the rock beneath that is the planet we live on. We do not need to connect to the earth and to nature we are connected to it. We eat food, breath air, drink water and stand on our planet everyday we are totally dependent on it, most days we just don’t think about it that way.
I have hundreds of stories I could tell you, about crazy animal encounters, amazing weather phenomenon, wonders of nature, people who have shown me and taught me about the natural world and dangerous and dramatic journeys to far away lands. But I would like to hear your stories. Because my role in the Future Parks Accelerator Project in Birmingham which we call Naturally Birmingham, is to find out about you, who are you, what do you like, what don’t you like, what are your fears and hopes. What are you doing, what do wish you could do? I don’t want to present you with a form to complete, no one wants to complete a form. I wish we could just sit down with a cup of tea, or coffee or whatever you would prefer to drink, to chat about flowers and the weather and whatever it is you want to talk about, whatever story you want to tell.
The FPA project is making plans for Birmingham’s parks green spaces and the environment we live in. We want you to help us find out what those plans should include by telling us your stories. We also want to show people who make the decisions about parks, green spaces and our environment how important those green spaces are to everyone, all cultures, all ages, every single person in Birmingham, over a million people everyone of us as we arrive and as we leave we are connected to the earth and totally dependant on it. What does it mean to you? Why do you want to protect it? Do you run, walk or read in a park? Do your children play in a park, or perhaps they don’t have a park to play in? Do you meet a friend in a park, walk with your dog, ride your bike? Clear your head, fill up your senses, take a breath?
We really need your stories because this year, 2021, it’s all about you. Every story is important, and we want to hear them to help us see what we can’t see and hear what we can’t hear. Without you telling us we won’t know. We want to publish your stories as Blogs or Vlogs, so you could write them or video them. We want to record them as pod casts and host digital storytelling sessions for you to share your stories with each other. We want to gather pictures (after all a picture paint a thousand words), music, songs, dance, poetry. We just want you to change our point of view, enrich how we currently see green spaces, we need the story of parks in Birmingham to be diverse and different, it should have equity, empathy and harmony and that is hard for us to achieve without being able to weave all your stories in to the fabric that will make it.
So in a very practical way you can share your stories by sending them to us at Futureparks@bosf.org.uk you can let us know you want to share your story and we can help you capture it, you can share via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at Naturallybirmi1 or you will be able to join one of our online story telling sessions that will be advertised soon. We would love you to send us a blog that we can post on our Naturally Birmingham website, but you don’t need to be a blogger or a writer to share your story. Most of our recently publish blogs have been written by people who have never written a blog before. So please let us know if you want to share there will be more details coming soon and throughout January about how you can get involved.
Deborah Needle – Community Facilitator, Naturally Birmingham FPA Project