This year, Julia Wilson has spent her holiday heaving straw bales to help with a natural build in south Devon. In the background you can hear a straw bale barn being constructed.
Julia mentions all the wonderful things on the planet, of which she is one: she’s studied horticulture, closed-loop systems, circular economics; she’s a feminist, thinker, doer, architect, environmentalist, and teller of giddy jokes.
Pause a moment and listen to how a storm gathers over the New Mexico desert with Lavinia Currier and her three dogs surrounded by pinon and juniper trees. Currier became a passionate environmentalist around the age of ten and has spent the last fifty years defending and trying to preserve our planet. She is also a poet, filmmaker, fearless horsewoman, rancher and more – a true woman of the wilds – she divides her time between New Mexico, Colorado, Hawaii and Virginia.
As a puppetmaker, woodworker and storyteller Shere Coleman creates small worlds that enhance the world. She is also an exponent of Feng Shui, a political and environmental activist and a wonderful friend who delights in laughter and adventure. Here she is at work deadheading roses on a hillside above the city of Portland, Oregon where BLM demonstrations and all manner of freedoms are being defended and honoured by Coleman herself, the Wall of Moms and many remarkable local citizens.
Anna Ilsley is an artist who paints strong female figures from a feminist perspective. She recently moved to Suffolk where she lives and works with her ICU nurse partner Tom, who has been caring for Covid-19 patients. Ilsley and her new baby take long walks, explore shingle beaches, shady ancient woodlands and care for The Wadd a wetland and environmental initiative in their village.
Rachel Donati feels life intensely, running in her veins and memories are strong connections with India and Italy, also a powerful sense of home that is interlaced with a soft spot for the thrill of adventure and the tap tap tap of stilettos. Donati has a poetic beat and vocabulary that transports us into her world where it casts new light on our own experiences and sometimes can make us re-feel past encounters.
Lena Stolle is sat on the steps of the composting toilet at Schumacher College. You hear the chimes hung just outside it, long and low, sending their reverberations through the redwoods.
It is evening, everything is lit from the side like stage lighting. Lena has been kneeling and stooping all day; and throughout lockdown – planting, weeding and growing. She shares a quote from Wendell Berry, written on the wall of the wooden compost loo. It is about one of the greatest, simplist of transformations, a true alchemy which can change how we think about our own waste, and unnecessary wastefulness.
“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
Lena is a grower at Schumacher College, a mindful clown, an environmentalist and has a singing voice which would lift even the greatest songbird’s heart.
Here is a Fenland walk from the generous Alice Willitts, plantswoman, writer, storyteller, environmentalist, maker of beautiful poetry scrolls. She lives in Cambridge and has loved big skies all her life.
In this audio we hear a new poem from Ilka Scobie, recorded with the drive of the city surrounding her like a sea gale, she sounds almost like she is on a boat, the cry of a whale deep below her.
Ilka Scobie’s work chronicles fifty years of ideas, feminist activism, observation, friendship and curiosity about life and the arc of time. Ilka is the embodiment of a poetry prism with many facets. She was born in Brooklyn, lived in lower Manhattan, moved to Shady in the Catskills where she homesteaded off grid, then returned to NYC where she teaches poetry in the NYC school system, writes for artlyst and performs her poems uptown and downtown unless she is in Soncino, Italy where she gardens for part of every year. She has written continuously since the mid 1960’s and has been involved with writers, poets and artists of all kinds including Janine Pommy Vega, Herbert Hunke, Jean Giorno, Ugo Rondinone.
In this recording, poet Ruth Padel offers sounds and senses from her lifelong connection to a familial forest touchstone. The place and pulse of her poem is somehow umbilical, the wind and birdsong become her breath and feelings.