This Place Project
Loglands, Hull, U.K.
2022

Story Info

Story & Experience

This Earth Exchange came half way through a project we have been doing here in Hull called This Place, which has been about trying to explore our connections to Land, Community and our Selves… The Earth Exchange was for me an amazing part of the journey I’ve been on this month… i have been yearning for a sense of reciprocity between me and this land, and these simple rituals have really helped me sink deeply into the land that sustains me and that i call home. We have done a few Earth Exchanges this month, but here is an acount of the one on 25th June, which happened to coincide with our 3rd foraging walk, an 8 mile walk starting in the city centre, and ending on the city outskirts in a little known bit of woodland.

We met at 12, ate, blind herbal tea tasting, and a check-in circle, then we set off an hour late, through the industrial estates, 25 of us, 2 babies sometimes napping in slings. We stopped to see various plants and discuss their uses and dangers – mugwort, ragwort, plantain, nettle, dandelion, cherry, st johns wort, self-heal, hogweed, cow parsley…

It was a gorgeous day. We passed the last main road and went off-road on a track along the east side of Holderness drain, at some point the track was a lot more overgrown than when I’d checked the route out a month or so ago – midsummer nutrients bolstering the nettles and hogweed, so tall we worried it was giant hogweed, but we didn’t suffer any burns. It was nice to have a bit of difficulty, all of us in our shorts! Even in the city, a bit of adventure. I was carrying my daughter Kezzy and she slept through it.

We arrived a few hours later than planned to our destination. Tim suggested holding the Earth Exchange circle at a dried out pond he’d seen earlier, so we wandered down paths till we found it.

It was so great to do the ritual, i’m so glad we did – the check-in round was a mix of griefs and joys at being in such a lovely place very few of us had visited before or heard of, with the sun and wind making great climate, a fantastic clearing we were in, in the bowl of the pond, and willows all around us waving and rustling high in the air, bright green. But the rubbish in the woods, the city land we’d walked through to get here, the image of dried up water-source, climate change and the damage humans always do—all these were reasons to express sadness too.

Then we made our gift for the place—emanating from a centre point of a stick, moss, feathers, stones, we made a mandala-like sun-like explosion, flowers of purple, white, yellow, and discarded beer cans. Then after a while started picking up sticks and logs and branches lying on the pond-bed and sticking them back into the ground, making them upright like trees again, or standing stones. Some of them got adorned with moss and dried pond-weed, more feathers, and stones. There were quite a few of us, it was a real hive of activity!

We stopped and sat again in a circle to share again. It had meant a lot to people, there were tears and laughter—something had moved around, shifted, changed. Many expressed a new sense of responsibility, ownership, belonging—a desire now to care for the place. Great to do something irrational and a-modern, a-scientific, non monetisable, and to create joyfully together, playing like kids, and to be able to share together why this was so unusual or beautiful or touching. It was beautiful to make a gift for a place and to leave it there, imagining how weather and water and animals and other humans might react to and change it, and how it would eventually be gone. How this location will change over coming millenia, as it has over past millenia, and how awe-inspiring and cool that is, and how we are now a part of that. Whether or not organic life survives on earth, to zoom out and contemplate the huge amounts of time and the huge changes of geology and climate, and to feel one’s tiny but unique part in all that was really moving to me. There was the sound of two babies breast feeding as we shared, another reminder of natural life cycles and their tender moments of closeness, and a reminder of humanity, our humanness, not far from other animals, but unique and beautiful in this moment. We remembered that other people were doing this ritual in other parts of the world today. There was a sense of communality between this group of both old friends and new faces. Lots to be grateful for!

Then some of us hugged and started to leave, taking bits of rubbish we’d collected, and some stayed on to learn how to make cord out of nettles.

A good day

Why this Place?

Loglands, Hull, U.K.

During This Place project we have tried to visit different parts of the city, trying to get to know the land that we have access to…it doesnt seem like there’s much and most Hullians grow up just with concrete, but we started digging and found more and more wildness and beauty. This was the first time most of us had been to or heard of Loglands, on the East of the city, the poorer side.

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