I am very pleased to announce that I am now a member of Countryside Connection, an organization dedicated to making new links and partnerships between farmers, vendors and artisans in rural locations in the UK and America.
This may not seem an obvious target for an urban playworker such as myself, but Countryside Connection does remarkable work in helping people work together who might otherwise have continued in isolation. They work from a core belief in the power of community, of human networks, to make positive changes – and so do I.
My page can be found here.
I’m making some links already, such as with a farmer who opens her fields to local schoolchildren to play on. Many people, particularly those living in cities, maintain an idea of rural childhood as idyllic and unspoilt, as being like something out of the Famous Five novels. This is simply no longer the case. Intensive farming practices and fear of strangers has limited children’s freedom to roam dramatically – many of the children arriving on this member’s farm have never felt soil before.
I should mention also that this remarkable organization is the brainchild of my mother, whose long-time dedication to farmers, artists and children manages to be both optimistic in imagining the possibilities of community and pragmatic in laying the groundwork for change.
I think it’s easy for people who work in play to concentrate on cities to the detriment of the countryside. Our idea of the urban poor is clear and long-standing, but if we’re adamant that ALL children need play, we need to be bearing them all in mind when establishing our own professional groundwork.