Our ’Service Projects’ have always been something we’ve had to explain - and in some cases convince - people of both in concept and in the spirit of stewarding the land. Over the last years Service have become a must in every program as participants are often required to do a minimum number of service hours to get credits. That has happily led us to the present tense where it becomes even more vital that ‘we’ give context to this land stewardship opportunity and to why it is so necessary.
Over the years, every single group we have hosted (with participants from 13 countries) has given some time to integrate into the land and leave it just a little bit better than they found it. Our team and our philosophy has been committed to the idea that planting, harvesting, preparing and restoring the soil and its inhabitants is a simple ‘must’. For some this concept of Service has been a burden, for others even the thought of it is a burden…for others it is something that has had a transformative effect on all sides. Our mantra has always been focused on this idea of a ‘model for the future’, which touches on the idea of restoration and preservation and a connection that isn’t just in the present tense but one that is strengthened for the future.
This year we have come closer (we feel) to an ideal Service Project. As with so much it is often the way something is communicated that determines how it is perceived and our great wish is that we encourage and create a platform for youth to forge a new and binding relationship with Nature.
Our Service leader Mark Deiling brings his own story to this endeavor and his own motives for engaging our learners, much of which focuses on healing. Mark arrived to us a couple of years ago by Antonio Wuttke, who has built up the entire biosphere of Hue Hue for the past 6 years.
Much of the ‘weaving’ and ‘felting’ (two of our methods for land restoration - more on these techniques in an upcoming blog post) is based around the idea of reframing land ‘ownership’ traditions to a more steward and restorative approach. We prefer to focus on how to best to steward the land rather than how to best economize the land and the question we ask of all (including ourselves) is a simple one: "How can I and the land benefit together in this time and space?”.
Yes, our Service Projects and Land Management systems are based on science and economy, but they take their deeper root and inspiration from the desire to forge better connections between us humans and the environments we serve and share.
…and besides, who says Service Projects cannot be fun?